- Are the characters unique and compelling? Do they come alive on the page?
- Is there strong circuitry between characters?
- Can we recognize the protagonist’s deepest desires? Do those desires pull us through the story?
- What is the protagonist’s inner and outer journey? Is there sufficient conflict? Is there sufficient growth?
- Are we rooting for the protagonist?
- Do secondary characters play an important role? Are there too few characters?
- Is character revealed through action and lively dialogue (or is there too much telling)?
Plot and Pacing
- Has the writer built a strong appetite in the reader? Does the ending satisfy that appetite?
- Has the story begun in the correct place?
- Is the protagonist faced with one conflict after another? Do the conflicts escalate?
- Does each scene have an objective? Does every event affect the protagonist?
- Do the subplots serve the story?
- Are there setups that have not been successfully paid off? Have all of the payoffs in the end been successfully set up?
- Has a strong sense of time and place been established?
- Do the details create strong images and layer the story with resonance?
- Are there enough locations in the story?
- Do we see familiar things from a new perspective?
Voice and Density
- Is the voice original and compelling?
- Has the writer taken significant risks with the storytelling?
- Is there a density to the writing so that every scene does multiple jobs?
- Do we trust that we’re in the hands of a fine storyteller?