My First Reader is my most valuable weapon in my war on my own sucky writing. I trust my first reader with a huge and terrible burden and she manages to come through again and again. That said, I’m always looking for ways to improve the feedback I get from my reader and I came up with a few questions to that end.
I’m going to share these questions with you and hopefully they’ll be helpful while you hone your craft as well.
- Does the lead character have a clear goal throughout the story?
- At what point was that goal dropped?
- Why was that goal dropped?
- Is the barrier between the lead character and their goal sufficiently compelling?
- Can you feel the emotions of the lead character clearly enough at all times?
- Too much: dialogue, introspection, description?
- Is the dialogue memorable?
- Five most memorable bits of dialogue.
- What are your five favorite moments out of the text?
- What are your five favorite sentences?
- What questions remain after finishing the book?
- Does the book conclude with finality?
- If the book doesn’t tie up all lose ends that bother you, what are they?
I find it’s most helpful to hand your First Reader these questions with the first few pages of the book, so they can keep track of their answers as they go. These give a fresh perspective on the books strongest and weakest parts.