Before reading my rough draft through, I composed three questions that I attached via Post-it Note on the arm of my chair (and perhaps that initial act was my downfall).
· Does it hang?
I use the term “hang” to describe logic, chronological order and truth. Have my main characters deduced reasonable conclusions from the facts I’ve presented. Have I revealed information too soon or not soon enough? I’ve completed my research at this stage of my novel, but as I read—I asked myself if I presented the best case. Could other evidence produce a stronger case? If I changed that evidence now, how much of the current story would I have to revise, and would I make the case stronger to the detraction of another aspect of the story? Would additional research help?
· Are the characters real?
What can I do to increase the appeal of my characters? Would a secondary character be more memorable if I gave them a distinctive trait, or would the trait seem an unnecessary artifice? Given the background and traits that I’ve given each character, do they act and think in a congruent manner?
· Does the reading lag anywhere?
During the critique process, my group worked in twenty page intervals making pacing evaluation impossible, but it is important. I’m thinking of combining and condensing two chapters that fall at about page 120. What could I do to propel the story forward?
What are the priority questions you ask yourself when you read your rough draft for the first time? Does anyone have a better method for documenting changes than Post-it notes?