When I dig into pages, I have a little list next to me that gets filled in as I read. I’d like to share it so writers can hopefully analyze their writing with an editor’s perspective in mind.
The Hook – did the story pull me in right away and wrestle me to the floor like a rabid dog?
The Conflict – did I feel that the “what is at stake in the story” aspects produce proper amounts of tension, and the authors use that tension?
The Characters – did I align myself with the characters? Were they compelling and three dimensional? Did I care about them and what happened to them? Do they react logically to the unfolding story and conflict?
Setting and Mood – did the author suck me in and make me feel like I was really in the story, living it?
Pace and Style – how well does the author move the story along, and how effective is their writing style – their voice?
Resolution – does the story have a satisfying ending, or do I walk away feeling cheated or unfulfilled?
Grammar and Spelling – eeeek! Do I really need to go there?
Overall enjoyment – after I finish a story, I let it marinate and try not to formulate any strong opinions. Am I still thinking about the story three days later, or did I forget it the minute I put it down? This is an important litmus test for me because I can love a story the minute I finish it, but how do I feel three days later? This tells me whether it’s a story I really believe in and will fight to the death to sell. An example of this is when I read a story and loved it. I wanted it, but my submissions committee had some concerns. A week or so passed, and I couldn’t get the story out of my head. I called the agent – who was ready to tear me a new orifice – and told her I wanted the book after all. That book is going to be a big hit; I just feel it in my bones. It all started because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
If all systems are go, I order up a pitcher of the beagle’s margaritas and contact the agent. Negotiations; that’s another post altogether and requires more tequilla than we currently have in stock.