I’m re-working the outline and first few chapter for my fourth Detective Jackson novel before I send them to an editor. Things were bothering me, so I went back to the basics and decided to share my 8-point checklist.

Plot. Is your plot logical? Do you have important scenes that would make a reader say “No one would ever do that”? Is your plot both linear and complex?

Story arc. Does the protagonist evolve? Is the narrative smooth or does it have gaps that will confuse readers?

Point of view. Is your POV consistent for large chunks of text? Do you tell each scene from the point of view of the character who has the most to lose?

Dialogue. Does each character use distinctive word choices?  Do you break up long conversations with body language and movement?

Information dumps. Do you have big chunks of exposition that slow the story down? Can they be broken up or shared as dialogue?

Characters. Are your characters both believable and unique?  Is their behavior consistent within the story framework?

Language. Do you use of mix of long and short sentences? Are there overused words or phrases (of course, just, even, that)?

Unresolved issues. Is every plot line resolved and questions accounted for?  If something is bothering you, it will bother your readers.

What have I missed? What else is an editor looking for?

  1. I really like this. It is definitely the most concise and thorough listing I’ve seen. I especially like the question about using the pov of the character with the most to lose. I’m copying it to my desktop now. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for this. It sure to help a lot as I head into draft two of my novel. –Montgomery Maxton

  3. L.J., I enjoy visiting your blog for all of the great writing advice you offer. As such, I have selected yours as one of seven Kreativ Blogger Award winners. Thanks for all of the great posts!


  4. As always, great advice and tips, L.J. This is a good list to print out and keep handy as you move into the editing phase.

    Straight From Hel

  5. Good list, LJ. These are the basics. You can still fulfill every point and still not interest any agents. Suck City.

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