Countdown to a Story

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Here's a checklist that you can review right at the start of the writing process, during the writing to be sure you're on track, and afterwards during review and redrafting.

  1. Are my themes clear to me? To my readers?
  2. Have I decided upon a genre? Why do I choose to write in this field?
  3. How far has the 'territory' of my story been explored before? How? By whom? With what results?
  4. Am I bringing something fresh to this field? What? How?
  5. Am I using the motifs of the genre deliberately, constructively, effectively?
  6. Do I know enough about my characters? Are they 'in-formed' and clear in my mind?
  7. Is the storyline mapped out clearly?
  8. Have I considered variations, twists and alternatives within this overall plan?
  9. Do I have an idea of the extent of this piece of work? Have I settled on a plan-of-work in terms of when and where, how long and how often I’ll write?
  10. Does my overall plan incorporate a chapter and/or scene breakdown? If not, will it help me to have one?
  11. Are the themes, genre, characters, storyline and breakdown congruent – do they fit well together?
  12. Are the background and settings for the story clear and appropriate?
  13. Do I have at least a working title?
  14. Whose point of view will the narrative take? Would an alternative point of view be more appropriate, effective, original?
  15. How do I feel as I prepare to begin this work? Am I confident, excited, filled with a creative buzz? (If not, what must I now do to achieve that resourceful state?)
  16. Do I have a first scene/paragraph/sentence in mind?
  17. Have a considered a more powerful way of beginning the tale?
  18. Have I organised my working time so that I can write without distractions?
  19. Is there anything else I need to attend to before I begin?
  20. Do I have a hot cup of tea nearby?

You can also use a 'count up from a story' once the first draft or subsequent drafts have been written.

  1. Am I broadly happy with the outcome?
  2. Am I especially satisfied with particular passages?
  3. Do I know why I am pleased with them?
  4. Am I particularly dissatisfied with any parts of this story?
  5. Do I know how to fix them?
  6. Can I use anything from this story in any future projects?
  7. Can I 'repackage' the story in some other way? Could it generate a sequel?
  8. What have I learned about writing by making this story?
  9. What have I learned about myself by writing this story?
  10. Do I know how to prepare this story for submission?
  11. Have I researched the market so I know where to send it?
  12. Do I know how to count down towards my next project?

— Steve Bowkett

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Author: Kevin Machin Date: November 8, 2017 6:00 am
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