I ask these questions when revising my own work, or when I’m reading a critique partner’s story.
Beginning Middle End:
1. Is there a clear beginning, middle, and end?
2. Does the beginning hook the reader?
3. Does the middle move the story forward, building tension along the way?
4. Does the ending elicit an emotional response, laugher, tears or a tug at the heart strings?
5. Is the plot logical?
6. Who is the main character?
7. Is the character someone or something a young child will want to follow on a journey?
8. What does the character want? AND is their goal (or a reevaluated goal) achieved in the end?
9. Does this character emotionally evolve/learn/change by the end?
10. Is there a problem or conflict?
11. Does the character actively attempt to solve the problem?
12. Do the stakes increase as the story moves forward?
13. Is there a point where the character appears defeated, followed by a climax where ultimate success is achieved?
14. Is the problem solved by the main character in an unexpected way?
15. Are there enough unique illustration opportunities to fill 32 pages?
16. If illustration notes are used, are they absolutely necessary?
17. Is the writing focused on the action and emotion of the story, not on description?
18. Is the word count low (<500), with each word serving its purpose?
19. Does the language suit the mood of the story?
20. Does the story beg to be read aloud, over and over again?