Writers Checklist – Take your writing to the next level

Every author needs a writer’s checklist, so I created one for myself and the community. This will probably evolve over time and again this was created for me so please add your own quirks and flares to it to make your own writers checklist. Ultimately, my checklist is a tool to remind me of the things I think are important and must be thought about when I am writing. 

Some author checklists for writing are built for the purpose of assessing the writing when complete, possibly as a means to catch some spelling and grammatical mistakes before handing it over to a line editor, or deep diving into the edit themself. This however is a handy checklist to use when you’re writing. A list of writing ideas that one should consider when penning their next best-selling title. An ingredient list, a strategy, a sequence of actions to incorporate into your outlines, chapters, paragraphs and sentences. You could say that this writer’s checklist is a set of writing prompts that I trust to streamline and get me the most out of my writing time and process.

Writers Checklist – Take your writing to the next level

Show Don’t Tell

The principle of “Show, Don’t Tell” is one of the most important writing techniques to master. So, instead of simply stating facts or emotions, good writers show readers what’s happening through vivid descriptions, dialogue, and sensory details.

Showing rather than telling allows readers to experience the story more fully and draw conclusions. It creates a more immersive and engaging reading experience. To apply this technique, writers should:

  • Use descriptive language to paint a vivid picture in the reader’s mind
  • Incorporate dialogue that reveals character traits and emotions through subtext
  • Describe actions, gestures, and body language instead of stating feelings directly
  • Utilise sensory details (sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures) to make scenes come alive
  • Reveal information gradually through characters’ thoughts, reactions, and interactions

By mastering the art of showing rather than telling, writers can craft richer, more compelling narratives that leave a lasting impact on readers.

Is your character showing or Telling?

Characters Motivation 

Understanding and effectively portraying a character’s motivation is crucial for creating compelling, multidimensional characters that drive the story forward.

Motivation is the driving force behind a character’s actions, decisions, and behaviours. It’s what propels them to pursue specific goals or react in certain ways to the events unfolding around them. To effectively convey character motivation, writers should:

  • Establish clear goals or desires that shape the character’s actions
  • Explore the character’s background, experiences, and beliefs that influence their motivations
  • Use inner thoughts, dialogue, and actions to reveal their underlying motivations
  • Create obstacles or conflicts that test the character’s resolve and commitment to their motivations
  • Show how the character’s motivations evolve or change throughout the story

By delving into the complex web of motivations that guide each character, writers can create more believable, relatable, and engaging narratives that resonate with readers on a deeper level.

What is your character’s motivation in this moment?

Backstory Consistency

A well-crafted and consistent backstory is essential for creating believable characters and a cohesive narrative world that readers can immerse themselves in.

The backstory represents the history, experiences, and events that shape a character’s personality, motivations, and actions. Inconsistencies in the backstory can undermine the credibility of the story and break the reader’s suspension of disbelief. To maintain backstory consistency, writers should:

  • Clearly define and document key details about each character’s backstory
  • Ensure that character actions, dialogue, and reactions align with their established backstory
  • Avoid introducing new backstory elements that contradict previously established information
  • Use backstory details consistently across different scenes and narrative threads
  • Periodically review and cross-reference backstory details to catch and resolve any inconsistencies

By maintaining a consistent and well-developed backstory, writers can create a rich and immersive narrative world that feels authentic and believable, allowing readers to fully engage with the characters and their journeys.

What part of your character’s backstory brought them here?


Creating a sense of excitement and maintaining a gripping pace is essential for keeping readers engaged and turning pages. A well-paced narrative with thrilling moments will leave readers eagerly anticipating what happens next.

To build excitement and control the pace effectively, writers should:

  • Start with a compelling hook that immediately captures the reader’s attention
  • Vary sentence lengths and structure to control the rhythm and flow
  • Use cliffhangers or unresolved tensions at the end of chapters to build suspense
  • Increase the stakes and raise the conflict as the story progresses
  • Incorporate high-energy action sequences or dramatic revelations at strategic points
  • Balance intense moments with periods of relief or reflection to maintain contrast
  • Avoid excessive exposition or unnecessary details that slow down the momentum

By masterfully managing excitement and pace, writers can craft page-turners that keep readers invested and emotionally engaged from beginning to end, creating a truly captivating reading experience.

How is the pace of the chapter you’re currently writing?

POV And Head Hopping

Maintaining a consistent and clear point of view is crucial for creating a cohesive narrative and avoiding reader confusion. Head hopping, or randomly shifting between different characters’ perspectives within the same scene, can break the reader’s immersion and clarity.

To effectively manage POV and avoid head hopping, writers should:

  • Decide on a POV (first-person, third-person limited, third-person omniscient) and stick to it consistently
  • If using third-person limited, stay within one character’s perspective per scene or chapter
  • Use clear cues or scene breaks to signal shifts in perspective between characters
  • Avoid abruptly jumping into another character’s thoughts or emotions within the same scene
  • Develop a deep understanding of each character’s voice, thoughts, and perceptions
  • Ensure that the narrative perspective aligns with the chosen POV throughout

By maintaining a consistent and well-defined point of view, writers can create a seamless reading experience, allowing readers to fully immerse themselves in the characters’ perspectives and better connect with their journeys.

Who is telling this part of the story?

Senses – Sounds, Touch, Sight, Taste, Thought to Evoke Emotion.

Engaging the reader’s senses is a powerful tool for creating immersive and emotionally resonant scenes. By vividly describing sights, sounds, smells, textures, and even tastes, writers can transport readers into the heart of the narrative and evoke specific emotions and reactions.

To build scenes through the senses and evoke emotions, writers should:

  • Use descriptive language to paint vivid sensory details that bring the scene to life
  • Incorporate specific sensory impressions that align with the desired emotional tone (e.g., harsh sounds for tension, pleasant scents for comfort)
  • Describe physical sensations, such as touch, temperature, and texture, to create a sense of realism
  • Leverage figurative language and metaphors to connect sensory details with emotions or abstract concepts
  • Highlight specific sensory details that resonate with the character’s emotional state or experiences
  • Vary the sensory descriptions to create a multi-dimensional and immersive experience

By skillfully crafting sensory impressions, writers can create visceral and emotionally resonant scenes that deeply engage readers, allowing them to experience the story on a profound level through the characters’ perspectives.


The setting and location of a story can be much more than just a backdrop – it can be a powerful tool for enhancing the narrative, revealing character traits, and evoking specific moods or emotions.

To make the most of locations in your writing, consider the following:

  • Describe locations with vivid, sensory details to transport readers into the scene
  • Ensure locations align with and reinforce the story’s themes, tone, and mood
  • Use location details to reveal aspects of a character’s personality, background, or emotional state
  • Leverage contrasting locations to highlight character growth or internal conflicts
  • Incorporate symbolic or metaphorical meanings into the descriptions of significant locations
  • Vary location descriptions to maintain reader interest and avoid repetition

By treating locations as active elements rather than passive settings, writers can create richer, more immersive narratives that resonate with readers on multiple levels. Locations can become characters in their own right, shaping the story and leaving a lasting impact on the reader’s experience.


Incorporating seasonal elements and weather conditions into your writing can add depth, atmosphere, and symbolism to your scenes and narratives.

To leverage the power of seasons and weather:

  • Use the weather to reflect or foreshadow a character’s emotional state (e.g., a stormy day for inner turmoil)
  • Describe seasonal details to establish a specific time and place, grounding the reader
  • Employ weather as an obstacle or challenge for characters to overcome
  • Contrast or mirror a character’s journey with the changing seasons
  • Explore symbolism associated with different seasons or weather patterns
  • Use vivid sensory details to bring the season/weather to life for the reader

By thoughtfully incorporating seasonal elements and weather conditions, writers can add layers of depth, resonance, and atmospheric richness to their stories. These details can reinforce themes, heighten emotions, and create a more immersive reading experience.


Culture plays a significant role in shaping characters, settings, and narratives. By thoughtfully incorporating cultural elements, writers can create authentic, nuanced, and thought-provoking stories that resonate with readers.

To leverage the power of culture in your writing, consider the following:

  • Research and accurately represent the customs, traditions, beliefs, and values of the cultures you’re portraying
  • Use cultural details to add depth and richness to characters, settings, and plot points
  • Explore cultural conflicts, clashes, or misunderstandings as sources of tension or character growth
  • Highlight the diversity within cultures, avoiding stereotypes or monolithic representations
  • Incorporate cultural idioms, expressions, or perspectives to enhance authenticity
  • Explore how cultural identity shapes characters’ worldviews, motivations, and decision-making

Culture can become an integral part of the storytelling experience, enriching and enlightening both characters and readers alike.


Crafting authentic and consistent dialogue is crucial for bringing characters to life and creating a believable narrative world. Each character’s language patterns, word choices, and speech rhythms should reflect their unique personality, background, and cultural influences.

To ensure language consistency in your characters’ dialogue, consider the following:

  • Develop a distinct voice for each character based on their age, education, profession, and regional dialect
  • Incorporate idiomatic expressions, slang, or unique speech patterns that align with the character’s background
  • Maintain consistency in a character’s language throughout the story, unless there’s a justifiable reason for change (e.g., character growth, situational factors)
  • Use dialogue tags and action beats to reinforce a character’s language patterns and mannerisms
  • Periodically review dialogue to ensure it remains true to the character’s established voice and avoids inconsistencies
  • Pay attention to the rhythm and cadence of a character’s speech, reflecting their emotional state and personality

By maintaining language consistency in dialogue, writers can create fully realized, multidimensional characters that feel authentic and engaging to readers. Consistent language patterns help to solidify a character’s identity and contribute to a cohesive, immersive narrative experience.

As you can see there are a number of things I try to keep in mind when writing, to make sure that my story develops in a way that will hopefully be enjoyable to the reader. Hopefully, some of these ideas can be implemented into your own writing checklist, adapted, highlighted, tweaked etc. 

Check out my collection of FREE indie author resources for today self publishing author. 

Stay awesome and get writing. 

See you on the best sellers list.