What is the conceptual hook/appeal of your story?
What is the theme(s) of your story?
How does your story open? Is there an immediate hook? And then…
- what is the hero doing in their life before the first plot point?
- what stakes are established prior to the first plot point?
- what is your character’s backstory?
- what inner demons show up here that will come to bear on the hero later in the story?
- what is foreshadowed prior to the first plot point?
- is it located properly within the story sequence?
- how does it change the hero’s agenda going forward?
- what is the nature of the hero’s new need/quest?
- what is at stake relative to meeting that need?
- what opposes the hero in meeting that need?
- what does the antagonistic force have at stake?
- why will the reader empathize with the hero at this point?
- how does the hero respond to the antagonistic force?
- how does it part the curtain of superior knowledge…
- … for the hero?… and/or, for the reader?
- how does this shift the context of the story?
- how does this pump up dramatic tension and pace?
- how does the antagonistic force respond to this attack?
- how do the hero’s inner demons come to bear on this attack?
What is the second plot point in your story?
- how does this change or affect the hero’s proactive role?
- how does it meet the hero’s need and fulfill the quest?
- how does the hero demonstrate the conquering of inner demons?
- how are the stakes of the story paid off?
- what will be the reader’s emotional experience as the story concludes?
And how, upon closer examination, the list envelopes all of the four elemental components of the Six Core Competencies (concept, theme, character and structure), leaving the other two (scenes and writing voice) to your brilliant execution.
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz