This has been developed from various workshops, tip sheets and classes taken — please feel free to take this, add, delete and create your own checklist.
1. Does it cover the hero and heroine’s relevant character traits and goals in a fresh way?
2. Does it tell the scenes with the most conflicts–internal and external–for the hero and the heroine, with an emphasis on the main character’s conflict?
3. Does it offer specific dramatic scenes for the main turning points, detailing what happens, where it happens, escalating the risk to the main character’s goal, and offering harder and harder choices for the main character in each of these scenes?
4. Does it have scenes that show a developing relationship, including attraction and hero and heroine compatibility, with mention of the feelings of the characters, and also telling what is keeping a relationship from working between these two?
5. Does the story include scenes with sexual developments between the characters and how those scenes impact character conflicts, compatibities and emotions?
6. Does it tell all characters’ motivations–including for any villain or antagonist?
7. Are the characters fresh? Are they developed by looking past cliché to what is core and specific to the characters?
8. Do the characters make choices that come from within that specific person, rather than from the writer manipulating the story? Can you say, “Yes, if I were this person, I would make this choice.”
9. Does it raise questions to keep interest going–and then provide answers to all questions raised?
10. Does it include a scene that is the climax or black moment, and make clear the resolution of the story with an ending that wraps up all story elements?
11. Does it include a strong theme that is woven into the scenes and character choices–and which is revealed strongest in the climax of the book and the character’s ultimate choice?
12. Is the voice active, with all extra words cut, and with the best possible word choices with the clearest, most concise writing possible in a tone that matches the tone of the book?