Novel Writing Checklist

We’ve put together this checklist to help you decide whether your novel is ready for submission to agents, or for self-publishing.

It’s just a guide, don’t take it too seriously!

Details on each of the checkpoints can be found below.

You can get a PDF version here.

Novel Writing Checklist

Great core concept

Is the central idea unique and interesting? Is it appropriate for the genre you’re writing in?

Intriguing Title

Is the title unique? Does it suit the genre?

Well-structured plot

Have you considered plot structure to ensure your novel can stand up in terms of story development, stakes and pace?

Clear writing style

Is the writing style easy to follow for the target readers?

Compelling opening

Is the first line intriguing? Do the first few paragraphs and pages draw the reader in, introduce the key characters and themes and raise interesting story questions?

Gripping Story Hooks

Do you raise a series of overlapping questions that are resolved at various points, with others being raised?

Pivotal mid-point

Does a major event happen near the middle where the main character has to face a serious threat to their existence or beliefs?

Increasing stakes and tension

Do the stakes and tension rise throughout the novel, with some lulls of calm to avoid reader fatigue?

Satisfying (but not predictable) end

Does the end make sense with regards to the story that has been told? Is it satisfying? Does it avoid using plot devices such as deus ex machina to create a convenient ways out of difficult situations?

Completed at least three drafts

Have you completed at least three drafts of the novel, including breaks of at least a week between each draft?

External feedback

Have you received feedback on the entire novel from at least three other people, all of whom are either writers or in your target audience? And none of them your mother or partner?


Have you used a software program to proofread the novel to eliminate as many spelling and grammatical errors as possible?

Genre research completed

This should really happen at the beginning, but have you studied at least three books in your genre to see what techniques they use?