Authoring Self Editing Checklist

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Quick checklist adapted from Kirt HIckman's "Revising Fiction".Buy his book for explanation. These are just the checkboxes.


  • Self-Editing Checklist

    (* Adapted from Revising Fiction by Kirt Hickman)



    Determine your theme.

    World building (as needed).

    Physical World (Map?)

    Moral codes


    Domestic Politics

    World Politics


    Paranormal Elements (if any)

    Scientific Advancement

    Day-to-day life (how does it differ from reality)

    All must mesh into a coherent whole


    Determine the following for each major character:

    Physical traits

    Style of speech

    Character flaws

    Special skill

    Definable personality

    Identifying criteria:





    Backstory (doesnt have to actually be in your story)

    Arc of change

    Characterization pitfalls:

    Make sure each character has a unique personality

    Make your hero strong-willed

    Remove clichd character traits

    Dont forget secondary characters

    Fill out character profile for each character


    Verify Plot Basics

    Make sure you have a hero the reader will care about

  • Give your hero a noble goal

    Make the stakes high

    Put a difficult obstacle (threshold guardian) in your heros way

    Make sure your hero performs the action most responsible for resolving the central conflict.

    Make sure your hero goes through life-altering change

    Make sure you havent lost the thread of cause and effect anywhere in the manuscript

    To Build Suspense:

    Make at least one character especially violent or adversarial

    Spring surprises

    Mislead your reader

    Do your worst (the situation can always degenerate)

    Take away that which is most important to your hero

    Haunt your hero with memories of past failure

    Turn the environment loose upon your characters

    Employ phobias

    Never make anything easy

    Show that the danger is real

    Impose a deadline

    Prevent your hero from running away

    Include a final twist near the end

    Use these techniques in combination

    First Draft (do the following for each scene):

    Select a viewpoint character

    Make a setting card

    Write the scene

    Make a scene card


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