Does your story begin with some sort of conflict—either internal or external?
Does the beginning set up the bigger “conflict” of the entire novel, the issue that drives your protagonist toward his/her end goal?
Is your protagonist conflicted or is embroiled in some external conflict?
Are there too many conflicts going on in the book? Too few?
Is there an overarching conflict present in the story that is key to the premise and grows to a climax and resolution?
Does your protagonist face one conflict or obstacle after another (each worse than the previous) that force him/her to have to make a tough decision(s)?
Does the conflict serve the interest of the story or is it just thrown in the book for excitement?
Does the overall plot come across clearly in the novel?
Is the plot goal for the book laid out from the start and does it resolve at the end of the book satisfactorily?
Are there subplots in the book that work with the main plot? Are they also resolved?
Are the setting, locale, time of year, date, etc., clearly and consistently developed?
Is it easy to follow the passage of time from scene to scene?
Are the scenes strung together in a cohesive fashion and drive the plot?
Are there scenes in the book that do not serve the plot and don’t seem to have a point?
Is the plot interesting and engaging? Are the themes and issues touched on in the plot universal elements that readers will relate to?
How does the pacing of the story feel? Does the book drag in spots due to excessive narration or from uninteresting scenes?
Is the writing over-wordy or vague, slowing down the pace of the scenes?
Are sentences too long and/or repetitive?
Are the scenes moving at a good clip to keep interest or do they need trimming?
In faster action scenes, does the pace speed up with shorter sentences and paragraphs?
Is tension created at the outset of the book?
Is the protagonist compelling enough to heighten tension by the reader caring about him/her?
Are scenes adeptly left hanging in order to create tension?
Are elements/clues/details needed to propel the story presented in a way as to invoke tension (make the reader keep reading)?
Setting and Locales
Does the author portray a believable, interesting setting that draws the reader in?
Does the setting seem to fit the mood and serve the plot?
Are there too many or not enough (or too repetitive) locations in the book?
Are any locations boring or not good choices for the scene?
Does the author spend too much time describing the setting? Not enough?
Is the setting portrayed through the eyes of the characters or presented in flat narrative?
Point of View (POV)
Is the overall POV of the book consistent?
Is there only one POV character in each scene and is their “voice” distinct from all other POVs?
Are there any scenes told in a POV that would be better in another POV? (if multiple POVs in the book)
Does the author do a good job getting into the head of the character(s) or do they tend to tell rather than show what he/she is thinking or feeling?
Does the writing style seem fresh, original?
Does the overall tone and style of the writing work well for the story?
Does the author’s voice come across unoriginal or derivative?
Does the writing have too many clichés or sound like the author is trying to impress his/her audience with complex words or sentences?
Is the protagonist clearly presented and the major character in the plot?
Is the protagonist sympathetic from the start?
Are the characters rich and developed or flat and stereotypic?
Do the characters behave and speak consistent with their backgrounds and upbringing?
Does each character have depth—a past, a need, a fear, a dream—and are these brought out clearly in the story?
Do the secondary characters enhance and enrich the protagonist’s story?
Is there too much or not enough description of the characters? Is the description shown from the eyes of other characters and not just “told” by the author to the reader?
Are there too many characters or too much time spent on secondary characters that detracts from the main plot of the story and the focus on the protagonist?
Does the protagonist have a clear character arc that shows growth/change/decision/resolution to the end of the book?
Does each characters’ speech and style of talking fit their personality?
Is there too much or not enough dialogue?
Is the dialogue stiff? Uninteresting? Too wordy?
Are there places where dialogue is unnecessary filler and accomplishes little to reveal character or advance the plot (or reveal back story)?
Does the dialogue sound natural?
Are there places where the author uses dialogue to fill the reader in to important information info dump)?
Does the book work? Does it hold together overall? Does the premise make sense and is it engaging?
Is this a book with enough universal themes or topic that would draw in readers?
Is the idea/premise of the book original enough to draw interest?
Does the book feel too long or too short? Are there scenes that seem to be missing and what are they?
Does the book have a theme or point that is well delivered or does it seems to be missing any point at all?
Is the theme worked into the book and brought out in the title and opening and closing chapters?
Are all the plot points satisfactorily resolved at the end of the book?
Does the reader get a sense of completion and resolution at the end of the book or is the ending vague, confusing, or dissatisfying?
Is it clear what audience the author is writing to or are there problems (for example, a book written for young adults that might be too technical or sophisticated for their age group, or too much sex or violence that may be inappropriate)