- Is there a hook that pulls the reader into the book and causes him to ask a question?
- Does the story start with compelling action?
- Does the hook immediately establish tension?
- Has the story’s world been set up properly and made clear to the reader?
- Is there a strong sense of time and place?
- Does whatever goal set up in the opening appear feasible?
- Are the protagonist and antagonist introduced in a way that gives a strong impression?
- Do the characters have a purpose for being in the story?
- Are the characters sympathetic or reasonably unsympathetic?
- Have the hero, heroine, villain and their obstacles and goals been introduced?
- Is it clear why the protagonist cares about his goal?
- Does the hero/heroine continue to be committed to his goal?
- Is it clear who is fighting the hero or heroine? Or is it clear that the conflict is between the hero and heroine?
- Is it clear what is at stake and what the characters will lose if they don’t reach their goal?
- Does the hero have a plan to solve his problem?
- Do the characters act as they are expected to?
- Is it clear why the antagonist is doing what he is doing?
- Do the characters have a perceptible growth arc? Can they do something at the end of the story that they couldn’t do at the start?
- Does the hero/heroine learn a lesson by the end of the story?
- Do the main characters cause the resolution of the ending?
- Are the conflicts being made clear to the reader throughout the story?
- Are there multiple levels of opposition: internal, external, relationship?
- Do the complications escalate throughout the story?
- Does a moral argument add depth to the story?
- Do the internal conflicts increase the external conflicts?
Are the actions motivated in a believable manner?
Are motivations provoked by circumstance?
Are motivations planted ahead of time?
- Does the romance deepen as the story moves along?
- Does the plot slow down?
- Are portions of the plot confusing?
- Is there trouble keeping up with the subplots?
- Is there trouble keeping up with all of the characters?
- Have revealing scenes been used, or do they need to be tweaked?
- Are there resting places for the reader and characters after major plot points?
- Is there a continuity of details: descriptions of items in a room, scenery, etc.?
Turning Points/Plot Points
- Are there at least two plot twists where something unexpected happens and takes the story in a new direction?
- Do the major plot points move the story forward?
- Are the turning points appropriately foreshadowed and well-motivated?
- Do the plot points steadily build tension with more and more being at stake for the characters?
- Do the characters react to the turning points in a believable manner?
- After the turning points, does the protagonist make a decision that changes his goal or attitude in some way?
- After the first turning point, does the protagonist’s decision lead to the main action of the story?
- After the second turning point, does the protagonist face an apparent defeat and everything looks lost?
- Does the black moment build logically from major plot turning points?
- Does the ending flow from steadily building tension?
- Does the resolution tie up all of the loose ends?
- Is the mystery or suspense element tied up before the romance?
- Does the hero/heroine resolve the main conflict stated at the beginning of the story?
- Is the ending unexpected, yet believable?
- Is the ending satisfying for the reader?
- Does the ending lead back into the story?