While teaching, I used a wonderful resource (see below) to help students connect with text. Basically, you ask questions about an author's purpose to increase your understanding of story structure.
And it dawned on me recently: what a great way to look at our own writing! We want readers to actively engage with our stories, don't we? So, I took a few of the book's Queries (interesting choice of words, no?) and modified them for writers. Hope you find them useful.
- What's the basic story you're telling? (Think of your pitch here.)
- Is everything in the text relevant to this story? (Don't create drama just for its own sake; if it doesn't further the narrative, out it goes.)
- Do your scenes present POVs the reader can easily follow? (Zoom in and zoom out, as needed.)
- Does the story flow, or is it bogged down in certain areas? (If you stop, your reader will, too. Guaranteed.)
- Are you using age-appropriate language? (Tricky–you don't want to "dumb down" your story.)
- Is the plot clear? (Confusion and ambiguity can kill a reader's enthusiasm for your story.)
- How have you revealed your characters? (Actions vs. description.)
- If you asked readers to explain the meaning of a scene or chapter, or even the entire work, would their responses match your intent? (One of many reasons to be thankful for critique partners.)
What do you think? Did any of these help?