It's good to see someone - someone in the business, what's more - pointing out one of the things that's clearly wrong with modern fiction. On the rare occasions when I've made it to the end of a recently published novel, I'm nearly always left with two thoughts: 1. So what? and 2. That was surely about a third too long. I don't suppose Claire Armitstead often concurs with 1 or she wouldn't be in the job she's in, but she seems to agree with 2 - much to the chagrin of the publishing industry, an industry which, it is clear, has only itself to blame.
Another scourge of contemporary fiction (encouraged no doubt by the 'Creative Writing' industry)is the fashion for present tense narration. Philip Pullman has called it 'a silly affectation' and he's surely right, at least in those cases where there's no good reason for it; it's a lazy short-cut to bogus immediacy and 'significance'. Worse still is the use of the present tense and the impersonal 'he' or 'she' to lend spurious mystery and yet more 'significance'. Any book that begins in such a mode is almost certain to be worthless. Unless it's this one:
'From where she lies she sees Venus rise. On. From where she lies when the skies are clear she sees Venus rise followed by the sun. Then she rails at the source of all life. On. At evening when the skies are clear she savours its star's revenge...'
That's Samuel Beckett. The rules don't apply.