Checklist for fiction writing

Back in the days of iron men and wooden computers, I was a denizen of Compuserve.

I remember in the Compuserve Writers Forum a gadfly named Alex Keegan who ran a private writers group called Boot Camp. They had developed something called The Grid that they used to critique every story the members submitted; the pet name for those critiquing were “critters”.

A post retrieved from the Internet Archive gives some idea of how critiques used the grid to basically weight how each component of the story. A 2013 post on Keegan’s siteshows how he intends the Grid to be applied. (See also, his post on why he believes his grid is a better way to critique.)

Far as I can tell, here’s Keegan’s grid:

  • Opening
  • Character
  • Dialogue & Voice
  • Plot & Structure
  • Theme
  • Seduction (Show-Tell, Author Intrusion, 'Carry', Dramatic Flow, Fictive Dream)
  • Language
  • Pace & Pacing
  • Ending
  • Bonus

It inspired me to write down the following list of things I’d like to remind myself of or check myself against when critiquing my stories:

  • character
  • setting
  • dialogue
  • tone
  • interest
  • conflict
  • advancement of plot
  • sensual hooks
  • energy
  • transitions
  • narrative
  • pace
  • backstory

(originally posted 2006-06-30, updated for

Michael E Brown @brownstudy