Creative writing checklist

Creative Writing ChecklistEdit

Write what you like to read...

Your characters (round not flat - "give me me") should have characteristics:

  • Physical/biological: age, height, size, state of health, assets, flaws, sexuality, gait, voice.
  • Psychological: intelligence, temperament, happiness/unhappiness, attitudes, self-knowledge, unconscious aspects.
  • Interpersonal/cultural: family, friends, colleagues, birthplace, education, hobbies, beliefs, values, lifestyle.
  • Personal history: major events in the life, including the best and the most traumatic.
  • Relationships: what they really think, what is communicated, what is disguised

These people should be as complex as possible and never yet encountered in fiction, or at the least...

  • Habit
  • Talent
  • Ambition/desire
  • Needs (unconscious)
  • Fears
  • Weaknesses
  • A secret
  • A best friend (confidant)
  • A worst enemy (and why)
  • Pocket contents
  • Something precious lost recently
  • A name (boring name for wonderful life, flashy name)
  • Action is character, shows our character

...and should be described by:

  • Make a summary of what the character is like.
  • Show him or her through appearance.
  • Show him or her through a habitual or repeated action.
  • Finally, show him or her through a speech in a scene.

Use a journal to build ideas for character.

  • Consider all the influences that go into the making of your character: age, gender, race, nationality, marital status, religion, profession.
  • Know about your character's inner life: what s/he wants, thinks, remembers, resents, fears, dreams, denies.
  • Know about your character's behaviour, what s/he wears, buys, eats, says, works at and plays at.
  • Know how your character speaks and how this changes according to context, mood and intention.
  • See and describe your character vividly, how s/he looks, how s/he moves, his or her possessions and surroundings.
  • Focus on your character's contradictions and conflicts in order to create a complex person and also to generate plot.

Finally, you should be able to name what you like and dislike about each character and how that pertains to their role.


Your Story structure could have:

  • Resolution (start at the end): External vs. internal conflicts end differently - end state
  • Hook: at the beginning, starting state, usually boring, often a prologue with action
  • Plot-turn 1: conflict introduced, beginning to middle
  • Pinch 1: force characters to action, often introduces villain
  • Midpoint: "lets do something about this situation"
  • Plot-turn 2: "the power is in you"
  • Pinch 2: jaws of defeat, "all seems lost", loss of a mentor, bad guys win
  • Resolution: (The end)

AND Lots of Try/fail cycles

  • ! Most stories have at LEAST two plots, each of which can be mapped out using this system. Create a matrix and then spread out these events, combining them only to make big scenes.


Your plot should have:

  • A problem...provides a story
  • Beginning (dilemma)
  • Middle (confrontation)
  • End (resolution) - even in bad condition


Your setting could be:

  • Plenty of description
  • The conflict or antagonist
  • Described by all the senses of the characters
  • An extra descriptor of the characters
  • Based on research like photos
  • A trip for the reader to the location of the setting


Once you're done with writing, bury your manuscript for a month. Then read it aloud to yourself and look for...

  • Clarity of characterization and plot
  • Construction like a nice jigsaw puzzle
  • Color as if you were there, seeing, feeling and believing

Continued Reading/ViewingEdit

See alsoEdit