Monday, August 18, 2014

Checklist after first draft

Ana's new first draft checklist.

Larry Brooks posted the slides from a powerpoint presentation in his latest blog post. One had a check list of essential story elements that an author should have defined after completing his or her first draft.

I revised them to check my WIP, now that words are flowing more easily again, and got a boost of confidence. I checked off every point.

1. What the protagonist wants, what she needs, and why for both.
2. What strong external antagonism or antagonist blocks the protagonist's path.
3. If all sub-plot threads are resolved by the end.
4. The first plot twist, aka the turning point that sets the protagonist on his or her story quest. (Story quest is defined by the story's core dramatic question.)
5. A strong dramatic story arc.
6. The main character's story arc that shows emotional growth and ultimate change.
7. A strong midpoint that energizes the second half of the story.  No sagging middle.

A story needs these to be elements. You might not get all down pat in the first draft, but IMO, no one can finish a good final draft without them.


  1. This is a great list Ana! Thanks for sharing. It's a good one to print out and cross-reference with when you're writing/editing.

  2. Agree with Debra that this is an excellent list. The only one I'm not sure about is the 'external' antagonist, as sometimes an 'internal' antagonist can be just as powerful in blocking the character's progress.