Anne Hathaway, awareness, Becoming Jane, beta readers, characters, cliche, copy edit, critical analysis, critique, drafts, editing, editorial team, GMC, goals, hooks, immersive, magic, manuscript, motivation conflicts, Muse, narratice, objectivity, outline, passive voice, POV, publishing, Self-critique, stakes, story logic, telegraphing, twists, writerly checklist, writing
Having a group of beta readers and an editorial team is ideal for polishing a work before publication, especially considering it takes 1-2 years to get a manuscript ready for print, not including the year(s) that go in before it’s even sold. Always,my books are a team effort, especially the collaborations. But even though writerly insights com from such critique and review, I also aim to continually develop Self-critical capabilities, and that means building specific skills through practice.
This takes objectivity and awareness, a kind of stepping aside and walking around the work to see it from a new perspective. One of the most valuable ways to support this ‘walking around the work’ is the ‘crit-checklist.’ Below is my current version. It’s what works best for me.
Crit-Checklist for the Amassia Series
1) Is my Muse on board? Create the space by showing up through a daily writing practice
2) Does the story have legs? Original AND marketable ideas and characters?
3) Impactful beginning and ending, hooks, twists and Macs (magics)
4) Are the characters real? Check each GMC – goals, motivations, conflicts.
5) Is the world immersive? No incongruent events/characters?
6) 1st Draft – check pace, conflict, continuity, growth arcs, heart. Do we care?
7) 1st Draft Revisions – check structural logic and continuity for meaning
8) Create the Outline – re-check narrative flow, stakes, internal logic
9) 2nd Draft Revision – copy edit, tighten to word count and clean it up
- check passive voice
- adverbs and adjectives
- out of synch metaphors
- spelling, grammar
- POV consistency
- how can it matter more?
10) 3rd draft revisions – chapter by chapter and scene by scene evaluation
- begins with an impact?
- ends with a hook?
- page turner?
- any dead spots?
- proofread – proofread – proofread
11) Personal quirks:
- Am I telegraphing events before they happen?
- Is there TMI (too much information/exposition)?
- Are the characters GMC strong and believable?
- Are transitions fluid?
- Is the narrative free of cliche, been there done that, this-again feel?
Note: my preference is not to focus on spelling/grammar/outline until the story is down. Too much critique in the early, vulnerable, stages of writing can pinch off the creative flow, for me anyway. You?
I’d love to hear your approach. I know there are many published, working and emerging writers who drop into the 11th house. Tips? Experiences? Projects? What’s up?
For a growing list of posts on writing and publishing, links are here.
Namaste everyone, and happy writing!