Editor's Checklist

Most of us here at FB Literary are writers as well as readers. But what happens when you've competed your manuscript and it is time to do some editing? After you do a round or two of revisions on your own, you'll probably want to find some readers to give you feedback. And if some of those readers are friends and family, they might need some guidance so that they can provide the type of critiques that you'll find most helpful. Here is a list of questions I'm compiling for my family and friend editors:

1. How is the pacing?: Does the story get boring anywhere? Are there sections where there is too much action and the pace should slow down? Does the action feel rushed or slow?

2. Does the dialogue work?: Can you believe that the characters would talk this way in this situation? Do the characters have a distinct way of talking, or are their voices interchangeable? If you read the dialogue out loud, does it sound believable? Do any of the characters say things that should be implied instead of directly stated?

3. Do the descriptive passages serve a function?: Can you visualize the environment? Is there too much description - does it slow down the plot? Is it useful? In keeping with the tone?

4. Does the plot make sense? Are there any holes in the plot?

5. Do you feel like the characters are distinct people who you are getting to know on the page? Do any of the characters seem like another's doppelgänger?

Line edits (the little stuff):
6. Are there any scenes or phrases that can be cut entirely?

7. Cliche watch: Are any of the phrases hackneyed? Are there any particular lines, paragraphs or scenes that seem cheesy? 

8. Does each chapter pull "double duty" somehow - developing the characters and moving the plot forward, for example?

Of course, I'm not the only one honing my editorial process. Nathan Bransford, author of the Jacob Wonderbar series, has an excellent checklist.

And you - what input do you want from your readers?


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