Short Story: Checklist

In a valiant attempt to focus on nano this year, I decided to chronicle my journey creating a humorous short story as a series of blog posts I could schedule over November. (And beyond Bawhahahaha)

At this point I have an idea, a character, an archetype, at least thought about the ending twist, reviewed some humor approaches, wrote a first paragraph, and layered in the try fail cycles. I had a week to get a first draft and the week was almost gone.  At this point I had a day left.

  • Short Story: Finding the perfect title

My first draft was ugly.  I needed a checklist to help make sure I was on the right track.  There were probably a hundred different lists out there.  Most were geared to novels.  In the end this was the list I used.

      • Did I start with a hook?
      • Do I know who the main POV is and where they are located?
      • Do I know anything about the POV’s attitude or their code?
      • Do I know anything about the rules of the world they live in?
      • What does the POV want? Why?
      • Does the POV get what they want right away?
      • Is there a ticking clock?
      • Do the stakes keep getting raised?
      • Can the POV walk away from what is stacked against them?
      • Does the ending satisfy what you set-up in the beginning?
      • Is there a twist at the end?

Once I was happy with the structure, then I read it out loud.  I listened for long and awkward sentences and unintentional alliterations.  Was there a stronger word?  Could I backload my sentences putting the strongest word at the end?  Could I do anything punny to add to the humor?

Luckily I had a buddy in the class with me.  So Once my eyes started crossing on my own, we swapped crits.

What else would you add to the checklist?

2 thoughts on “Short Story: Checklist

  1. 1. Can I imagine the reader wanting to read the rest of the first paragraph after the first sentence, the rest of the first page after the first paragraph and the rest of the story after the first page?

    Question – what’s the “tray fail” cycle? Typo on try-fail?

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