you have finished your book,
now what

by Vivian Beck
When you finish your book, your first instinct is to pop it right into the mail. You're certain you will have an auctrion on your hands with a six-figure deal twenty-four hours after it arrives on the editor's desk.  Take my advice, file that manuscript away and let it rest.  This will allow you to put some distance between you and your project.  Three or four weeks later, you’ll be able to spot mistakes, repetitive words, inconsistencies and flaws you didn’t see before. You may even think of a more creative plot or twist for your story.

Checklist for Critiquing--what to look for?

Set up--Does the set up of the story fit the line you’re targeting?  Do you use the hooks the editors want? If it’s a romance, is it romantic?

Conflict--Does each character have internal conflict?  External conflict?  Are they woven together to drive the story forward?

Goals and motivation--Do each character’s goals and motivation make sense and make you want to root for them? Do they conflict with the other characters’?

Characterization--Do the characters have depth? Are they likable and sympathetic? Clichéd?  Trite?  Immature?  Do they sound the same, or are they individuals?

Plot--Does the plot make sense?  Do you have turning points throughout?  Twists and unexpected surprises?  Does the plot heighten the tension and the internal conflict?

Details--Are historical, setting, technical details about a job, police procedural details, accurate?

Setting--Do you get an idea of the setting? Does it set the mood, tone and enhance the story?

Backstory--Is all the backstory up front or does the author weave it in?  Does each character’s backstory affect his behavior, emotions, conflict?

Inconsistencies--Are there inconsistencies in plot, character, timeline?  Transitions--Do we know where the characters are in a new scene? Is there a time change?

Point of view--Do you switch POVs or head hop within a scene?

Pacing--Is the story dragging? Is it interesting? Are there exciting
turning points, emotional moments? Is the relationship building? Are there obstacles being thrown in each character’s way, forcing them to struggle to reach their goals?

Writing skills--Is the grammar and punctuation correct? Is the language fluent?  Easy to read? Is the word choice appropriate?  Do you use clichéd phrases? Repetitive words?

Dialogue--Does the dialogue sound natural or is it stilted or choppy?  Do you have long speechy sections of dialogue, or long stretches of narrative between dialogue?

Balance--Is there too much narrative?  A balance between narrative and dialogue? Are your chapters and scenes consistent in length?

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