Checklist for Story Information

Your goal is to keep readers immersed in your movie (turning the pages) until the end. Missing or misplaced bits of story information confuse and distract readers, which bumps them from your movie.

Glossary (my jargon)

Movie (in the mind) = Stories we read
Film = Stories we watch on a screen.
Povcha = Point of view character/s (the head/s we inhabit).
(note: if you are writing in a distant POV – in nobody’s head – you will have no Povcha

The Checklist

  • Transition – Put at the start of a scene and anywhere there is change of time/place/topic. E.g. A month later… / At the insane asylum… / Now that it was over, he could…
  • Backstory – Put at the first mention of characters/objects/places (that have backstory) – just enough so readers feel oriented. More can be added later.
  • Backfill – Put early in a scene (if time has passed since the past scene), so readers feel grounded in the plot.
  • Inner monolog/running thoughts – You are in charge of what Povcha thinks — have fun with it.
    • Check for withheld thoughts – write what Povcha thinks when s/he first thinks it.  This adds tension.
  • Setting/visual imagery – Crucial to immersing readers in your movie and keeping them immersed.
    • Check for withheld images – You are in charge of what Povcha sees and when s/he sees it. Show what Povcha sees when s/he first sees it (to avoid annoying readers).
  • Mood: Make sure your verbs, adjectives, similes/metaphors and sensory details convey your intended mood.
  • Emotional Truth (ET) – Don’t confuse with “emotional.” For example, in Star Trek, Spock’s ET is that he is logical and unemotional. In films, ET is acted. In prose, everything can have ET, including weather, setting, animals and inanimate objects. Povcha’s ET will be the most psychologically complex. ET gets stories published.
    • Check for withheld ET – Write Povcha’s reactions when s/he first has them.
    • Check for inconsistent ET – e.g. Make sure Povcha’s thought/action matches his/her mental state.
    • Check ET Shifts – Make sure you’ve slowed down to show Povcha’s mood changes, epiphanies, changes at his/her core. Slowing down allows readers to feel the change.
  • Theme: In the context of writing a story, Theme is the major emotional issue a story is about.  For a detailed explanation of Theme, go back up to the “Resources” menu.

Happy self-editing!