I've been reading excerpts of people's writing that they post on various message boards (I don't sleep at night. This is the kind of thing I do.) and I've picked up on three very clear warning signs of really, really bad writing.
1. Including the word "mother" anywhere within the first paragraph. Particularly if said mother seems to be dead or inexplicably missing. I've never heard anyone refer to their mom in casual conversation as mother, and if they did I get the feeling it would usually not be followed by an onslaught of cryptic allusions.
Examples: "Mother always said..." or "Mother would have loved the..." followed by anything. Anything at all. The more absurd the better.
2. Mentioning the narrator's eye color. This is usually used in conjunction with very colorful similes, and makes its way into the first sentence.
Examples: "As I sipped the milkshake, my piercing amber eyes glimmered like a tiger in the black of night."
3. Excessive adverb love, especially after dialogue.
"Does this look like a morgue?" Brenda challenged sassily
"Why do you think we gave you goody bags?" He cheerfully bubbled
"You should know by now I'm allergic!" she spat