Novel Critique Checklist


  • Are the characters unique and compelling? Do they come alive on the page?
  • Is there strong circuitry between characters?
  • Can we recognize the protagonist’s deepest desires? Do those desires pull us through the story?
  • What is the protagonist’s inner and outer journey? Is there sufficient conflict? Is there sufficient growth?
  • Are we rooting for the protagonist?
  • Do secondary characters play an important role? Are there too few characters?
  • Is character revealed through action and lively dialogue (or is there too much telling)?

Plot and Pacing

  • Has the writer built a strong appetite in the reader? Does the ending satisfy that appetite?
  • Has the story begun in the correct place?
  • Is the protagonist faced with one conflict after another? Do the conflicts escalate?
  • Does each scene have an objective? Does every event affect the protagonist?
  • Do the subplots serve the story?
  • Are there setups that have not been successfully paid off? Have all of the payoffs in the end been successfully set up?


  • Has a strong sense of time and place been established?
  • Do the details create strong images and layer the story with resonance?
  • Are there enough locations in the story?
  • Do we see familiar things from a new perspective?

Voice and Density

  • Is the voice original and compelling?
  • Has the writer taken significant risks with the storytelling?
  • Is there a density to the writing so that every scene does multiple jobs?
  • Do we trust that we’re in the hands of a fine storyteller?