Not long ago the members of one of my writers' groups were talking about a novel's checklist. No matter where you are in your current WIP, I believe this will come in handy. If you're just starting out and playing around with characters, this checklist will keep you aware of the reader who will someday lose herself in your masterpiece. If you are preparing to send your finished manuscript out into the world, go through the checklist to make sure you've crossed all your T's and dotted all your I's.
1. OPENING – Is there a hook to capture the short-attention-spanned reader’s interest? Does the book start in the right place, or is there too much backstory?
2. CHARACTERS – Are the hero and heroine vivid, likeable characters? Do characters have that “something special” that makes them come alive? Are they described well? Do they change and grow from beginning to end?
3. PACING – Does the pacing flow throughout the book? Does the reader want to keep turning pages?
4. DIALOGUE – Does the dialogue sound natural and realistic? Does the dialogue build characterization and move the story forward?
5. SECONDARY CHARACTERS – Are the secondary characters believable? Do they provide a valid addition to the story?
6. SETTING – Is a time and place established? Is the setting easy to picture without taking over the story?
7. POINT OF VIEW – Is the POV for each scene wisely chosen? Are the POV transitions smooth and important? Does the writer avoid head hopping?
8. STYLE – Is the author’s style unique and appealing? Does she have a voice all her own?
9. CLICHÉS – Does the writer avoid clichés in plot, characterization, dialogue and narrative? (This doesn’t mean tried and true plot devices can’t be used. But they need to be done in a fresh way that makes you want to read on.)
10. Would you recommend this book to a friend?
Print this off and keep near your workstation. I guarantee it will come in handy while you're editing your book.