- Next make a scene list, describing what each scene does.
- Do you need to make major changes to the plot, characters, setting, or theme (fiction) or the focus of the topic (nonfiction)?
- Does each scene fulfill the synopsis goal? How does it advance plot, reveal character, or both?
- Does each scene build and lead to the next? Are any redundant? If you cut the scene, would you lose anything? Can any secondary characters be combined or eliminated?
- Does anything need to be added or moved? Do you have a length limit or target?
- Can you increase the complications, so that at each step, more is at stake, there’s greater risk or a better reward? If each scene has the same level of risk and consequence, the pacing is flat and the middle sags.
- Check for accuracy. Are your facts correct? Are your characters and setting consistent?
- Does each scene (in fiction) or paragraph (in nonfiction) follow a logical order and stick to the topic?
- Is your point of view consistent?
- Do you have dynamic language: Strong, active verbs? A variety of sentence lengths (but mostly short and to the point)? No clichés? Do you use multiple senses (sight, sound, taste, smell, touch)?
- Finally, edit for spelling and punctuation.
- Does it make the story more believable?
- Does it help readers picture or understand a character or place better?
- Does it answer questions that readers might want answered?
- Does it distract from the action?
- Could it be removed without confusing readers or weakening the story?
- For illustrated work, could the description be replaced by illustrations?
Chris Eboch is the author of over 60 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure used in many schools; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Learn more or read excerpts at www.chriseboch.com or visit her page on Amazon or Amazon UK. (For other countries click here.)