1) Hook – How does my story begin? A strong hook should introduce a main character or initiate the plot, excite the reader and create interest in reading further.
|Now, here's a strong hook!|
3) Voice/Tone/Mood - Voice, Tone and Mood derive from an author's unique literary style in telling the story. Most importantly, I should keep them consistent throughout and create the specific impact I intend.
4) Creativity/Uniqueness - Is my storyline unusual? Does it offer a fresh treatment of a common plot or even a new and unique theme?
5) SPAG - Spelling, punctuation and grammar. Occasional typos are to be expected in a manuscript, but very few such errors should be in the final version. In this day of spell/grammar check, significant SPAG may be interpreted as a lazy writer who did not bother to review the entire work.
6) Quality of description - Narrative imagery and descriptive dialog should exhibit high standards of writing and feature the concept of "Show; don't tell." Good balance between narration and dialog provides my readers with different perspectives and varying pace.
7) Character development - Vibrant characters drive stories. Are my main characters fleshed out and believable? There is a place for flat or static characters in a story, but main characters should be dynamic and compelling.
8) Pace - Pace enhances the reader's experience. It should rise and fall at critical points to generate energy in the story. Artists and advertisers have long known the value of “white space” for making their subject matter stand out. Pace serves that same purpose. Slowing pace allows readers to “rest” after fast-paced story elements and whets their appetite for more.
9) Genre clarity – Some authors mix genres successfully while others drift from one theme to another. I always try to stick to the main genre. I hate buying a mystery novel and discovering that the first half of the book is a romance story that the author thinks will build better reader-character connection.
10) Guidelines and Formatting - Did I follow submission guidelines? Submission guidelines are clear, and there is NO excuse for deviating from any requested manuscript formatting or submission requirements.
How does your WIP stack up in these critical areas?