Okay. By now you’ve taken advantage of the Sub It Club Critique Partner Matchup.
- Does the story start in the right place? All manuscripts, whether picture books, early chapter or YA should begin with ‘the day that is different’. You may have heard of authors who write their first draft, then go back and throw out the first three chapters. That’s why. (In addition, many editors/agents don’t like a book that opens with dialogue. Just sayin’–think twice. Make sure it works.)
- Look for a beginning, middle and end. Even for chapters. Even for picture books. There has to be a reason for each page to exist. (If you lose a sense of momentum, this might be the reason why.)
- Is the progression linear? Flashbacky? Alternate? Does it feel like the story is spooling out appropriately or are you confused by the switching timeline? (Another hint: don’t start with a flashback. Peeps hate starting with a flashback. General rule of thumb: no flashback in the first quarter to third of the manuscript. Also, most agent/editors despise a prologue. If you’ve got one, it better be a true enhancement to the plot and not just a sneaky way to get in a little backstory.)
- Does the main character solve the problem too easily? Does the main character actually solve the problem?
- Check the ratio of setting description to narrative to dialogue. Too much of any of these makes the story drag.
- See if the story is balanced–does the writer spend too much time leading up to the climax? Does the climax take too long? Does the ending tie up too many or too few loose ends?
Good structure makes it easier for the reader to actually, you know, READ. And get lost in your story.
Next time: What a Character