In the spirit of Christmas and with only twelve days left to this celebration, I wanted to write a checklist that we can use when revising our work (hopefully before we open our gifts).
1) Read, read, read! You can get inspired, emulate style, and learn more about your genre by reading someone else’s work.
2) Read your story aloud.
3) Have a fellow writer read it.
4) Strengthen your scenes by being an actor and playing the main character (or any character you may think is weak). Relive the action in your head.
5) Polish your dialogue; make sure it flows and it’s not contrived.
6) Check the tone. This means the author’s attitude toward his subject: grave, amused, scientific, intimate, aggrieved, authoritative, whatever.
7) Make every word count; that means use strong verbs and adjectives.
8) Keep in mind the story arc. The purpose of a story arc is to move a character or a situation from one state to another.
9) Let the plot guide the story. A short story must immediately pull the reader out of her world and drop her into the world of the story.
10) Put your work away for a few days and then come back to it. Tired eyes never see mistakes.
11) Punctuation is everything, period! Be mindful of your commas, semicolon, and especially those exclamation marks; they’re not Christmas tree ornaments.
12) Edit, edit, edit! You can never do enough editing. Any good writer knows that editing is at the top of the list, like the star at the top of the tree.
Do you use a checklist? Are you counting your days to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, or getting published in 2012?