Saturday, July 11, 2009

Basic Checklist by Cheryl St. John

1. What kind of story is this?
Which genre/line are you targeting?
Do you have a theme or a story question?
Have you set the tone/atmosphere?

2. For each character, do you know:
his or her internal goal?
his or her external goal?
a prime motivating incident?
a prime motivating factor?
Have you chosen believable character traits?
What does each character stand to lose if he/she doesn’t achieve his/her goal?
Why doesn’t the character quit?
Why does the reader care about him/her?

3. Did you chose the best place to start the story?
Did you use a hook?
Is this the point of change?
Are you trying to tell too much backstory too soon?
Does the first sentence/paragraph/page draw the reader directly into the story?
Why does the reader go on?

4. Are you placing events in escalating order?
What is the external conflict? Does it feed into the internal conflict?
Have you planned a logical resolution?
Have you set the pacing by the increase and decrease of tension?
Does each scene move the story forward or characterize?

Is there a dilemma or decision at the end of each scene/sequel?
Is there a proper balance of dialogue and narrative?

5. Does all dialogue reveal information/move the plot/characterize?
Does it move the story quickly?
Does it sound like real people talk?
Did you use contractions?
Does each character have their own internal/external voice?
Do you use dialogue tags properly at the end of speech?

6. Are conflicts resolved in order of importance, minor to major with the internal last?
Are resolutions logical?
Did you plant seeds to foreshadow?
Is there a black moment and a come to realize?
Are all the loose ends tied up?
Is the reader satisfied? Will he/she buy your next book?

7. Did you go back over the ms for proper manuscript form, spelling, punctuation, grammar?

8. Did you stay in viewpoint?

9. Did you use active, not passive voice?

10. Did you have someone you trust read the manuscript for continuity?

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