- Is there enough going on in your story? There’s no good having an interesting character if you don’t give them enough to do and say. Likewise a great plot with a dull character will result in plot being killed off slowly.
- Are your characters real to you? True to themselves?
- What is their overwhelming characteristic that differentiates them from others? Can you tell your characters apart? Their way of speaking should differ too. They could have pet words, formal ways of speaking etc to tell them apart.
- What are your characters likes and dislikes? What are their tastes - think everything from food to music to clothes to being in the country (or do they prefer the coast?).
- Have you given thought to your world’s geography? Where it is in the universe? How is it governed? What is its weather like? Does it have regional climates?
- Do you have a dominant character? How have they come to be that way? Do they get away with being dominant? If so, why?
- Are you enjoying your story? If not, why would anyone else? Do your characters grip you? I find writing about someone who doesn’t have a problem with hypocrisy, Eileen, an absolute joy.
- Can you talk about your stories/novels? Can you sum them up quickly? Are you enthusiastic about them?
- When you get rejected short stories, are you trying to rework them and send them on elsewhere or just trying them as they are for another market?
- Are you open to positive criticism? The great thing is no writer gets it right first go. Very little can’t be improved with some vigorous editing. Incidentally you will come across negative criticism. Rise above it. A lot of this stuff will come from those who are insecure or vindictive. Use criticism as a tool. Examine what is said. Is there any truth in it, something you can use to improve your work? If not, happily ignore!
Regardless of what genre you write it, answering certain questions will help you work out your outline (and as a result your plot). Some questions I have found useful are:-
I'm Allison Symes and write fairytales with bite, especially novels and short stories.