So, years ago I attended a workshop in which Michael Hauge's resources were shared. Michael is a screenplay writer, novellist and teacher who shares amazing resources on his website. http://www.storymastery.com/
Once I found Michael I downloaded everything I could find, printed and bound it all in a book. It's now a sort of novel writing bible I use to make sure my structure actually works, thus getting me the contract.
One of the most useful and quick references he provides is this - 'Key Story Questions'
Michael Hauge’s key story questions for novels
1. Who is the hero or protagonist?
2. Why will we immediately empathise with the hero? In other words, why will we identify with her when she is introduced?
3. Where is the hero at the beginning of the story, before anything new occurs to get the plot going? What is the everyday life she’s been living and how does the story show that?
4. What is the hero’s longing (deep desire he’s just paying lip service to) or emotional need (which the hero won’t admit or is unaware of – usually this is to connect with others in some way).
5. What opportunities presented to the hero at the first key turning point?
6. What new situation is he placed in as a result of that opportunity? Is it by choice, or is the hero forced into it? What will the hero have to figure out, or adjust to, in this new situation?
7. What specific, visible goal or finish line does the hero want to reach by the end of the novel – in other words what’s the outer motivation?
8. What’s the outer conflict – what makes that goal impossible to achieve?
9. What is the hero’s greatest emotional fear?
10. What wound – what painful event or situation in his or her past (usually in adolescence) – led to that fear?
11. If the novel contains a love story, why is the romance character the hero’s destiny? Why did they choose each other, out of all the other people they’ve been involved with?
12. What is the hero’s identity – what protective persona keeps the hero from facing and overcoming her emotional fear?
13. What is the hero’s essence or truth? Who would she be if her identity were stripped away? In other words, who does she have the potential to become, if she’s courageous enough?
14. What is the hero’s arc or character growth? How does she gradually make the transition from her identity to her essence? What gives her the courage to do that?
15. What is the story’s universal theme – how does the arc for the hero provide the reader with a prescription for living a more fulfilled life?
16. What deeper issues – political or social – does the novel explore?
17. What other successful antecedents for the film – recent, successful novels similar in market demographic, genre, style, tone and/or story, that you can point to and say, “ because those made money, this one will make money.”
18. What is the passion for this project – what do you love about it?
19. What are the biggest weaknesses in the story right now?
20. What makes this a novel – why will thousands of people want to spend their time and money to read it?
Story mastery.com 2010 Michael Hauge
Below is the jpg. Right click and print.