How to Learn From Stories
- How long is the short story or novel?
- Are there chapters? Sections? Parts?
- If it’s a short story, how is it structured?
- When and where is it set, do/how do these things appear to matter, and how are they conveyed?
- From whose point of view is the story being told? Is it the story of one, or more than one of the characters?
- Is there dialogue? If so, what does it contribute to the story? What does it tell you of the characters?
- Is the language modern, plain, elaborate, colloquial?
- Are there short or long sentences?
- Are the sentences ‘properly formed’, or broken down? For example, ‘Get this. Bravery. That wasn’t even in it. Heroism? Maybe that was nearer the mark.’
- Would you say that the story was a ‘page-turner’?
- Is it full of ‘researched facts’?
- Is there much ‘internal’ psychological or emotional detail, or is most of the novel or story taken up with ‘external’ events or description?
- How do you learn of the main characters?
- Are the minor characters sufficiently clear or too flat?
- In your opinion, is it clearly aimed at a certain type of reader?
Thanks to Future Learn and The Open University for their excellent free course at https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/start-writing-fiction/. I don’t own copyright to this material but I’m sure that The Open University won’t mind a free plug in exchange.