Fatal Flaws in the First Draft


  1. No signature. What did the protagonist want? What obstacle was in her way? How did she (or did she not) overcome it? What is the overarching goal that unites the short-term goals?
  2. Tension is stated, not shown. Don’t talk about being stressed. Show it.
  3. No depth to the backstory that would cause the protagonist pain or inner turmoil.
  4. All scenes must have something at stake. Every scene should show the character acting toward her desire (move the story forward). Every scene must have a goal.
  5. Too many secondary characters with no special personality. Reader shouldn’t need a scorecard.
  6. Important secondary characters fade in and out causing the reader to forget about them and then be surprised when they show up again.
  7. Not enough foreshadowing of the climatic moments. Build tension and then set off the bomb.

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