- Does the opening hook you in?
- Is there too much backstory in a lump? Or maybe too little information provided?
- Does the beginning compel you to keep reading?
- Can you identify with the main character? Do you care what happens to him/her?
- How well are the characters developed?
- Does each character feel unique? Or are they run-of-the-mill, flat, or stock characters?
- Are extraneous characters bogging down the story?
3. Grammar, Sentence Structure, Mechanics:
- Does the author have a strong command of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and mechanics, or will he/she require significant editing help?
- Does the author vary sentence structure to create rhythm, or does the writing feel monotonous?
- Does the author treat setting like an afterthought, or has it been given an attentive eye?
- Does the story have a real sense of place?
- Does the author get too hung up on describing setting when it is not integral to the progression of the story?
- Does the dialogue seem natural, organic? Does it seem forced?
- Does it drive the story forward or simply fill space?
- Do the characters use many clichés?
- Are conversations interesting or are they too mundane?
- Does the basic premise of the story make sense, and is it believable within the story’s context?
- Does there seem to be something really at stake throughout?
- Does tension drive the story forward, or does it fizzle out and fall by the wayside?
- Does character voice feel unique? Does it feel apropos to the character’s nature and background?
- Does the authorial voice tell too much instead of showing?
- Could the story work better with a different POV?
Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: FIRE UP YOUR FICTION, CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS, and WRITING A KILLER THRILLER, as well as two clickable time-saving e-resources, QUICK CLICKS: Spelling List and . She has also organized and edited two anthologies. Website: www.JodieRenner.com, Facebook, Amazon Author Page.