A Writer's Checklist

I always have this notion that when I'm done writing a story or manuscript that I'm finished. But in reality, the fun is just starting. There are rounds of reviews and edits to be done. (More than I would like to admit.)

Here's a checklist that I put together of things to look for as I go through the draft reviews.

1. I look at my character names. Make sure that you don't have two or three that start with the same letter or sound. (e.g. Kate, Katie, and Caitlyn or Jones, Johnson, and Jacobs) It can be hard for your readers to keep them straight.

2. Look for repeats in your storytelling and dialogue throughout the entire work. If you're not giving new facts, make sure to remove the duplications.

3. Root our passive sentences. (e.g. The ball was thrown by Jake.) Rewrite these to active voice.

4. Look for overused words. Use your search feature to find and eradicate them. My overused words are just, that, only, and in a few minutes.

5. If you're writing a series, make sure you don't repeat too much from previous books. But you do need to provide some background on characters or big events. We talked about this in critique group this week. We were reading the third book in a series, and a new person asked if the two characters were in a relationship. The rest of the group knew from reading the other works that they were dating, but it wasn't clear to the person who started in the middle of the series.

6. Look at your transitions between paragraphs. Are they smooth? The reader should not get whiplash from any abrupt shifts.

7. Look at the last paragraph of each chapter and make sure readers are compelled to keep reading. Don't give them a reason to drop in their bookmarks.

8. Look through your sentences for "be" verbs. See if you can rewrite these without "was" and "were."

What else would you add to the checklist?