Checklists

Checklists. We all have them. We use them to keep things that need to be done someplace other than in our minds, where we can oftentimes forget to check things off, or ever add new items in. I have checklists all over the place. Checklists for grocery shopping, for cleaning the house (because I’m such an awesome housekeeper — NOT!!!), for projects I’d like to do, and more.

Why?

I love the satisfaction I get when I can look at a list and check items off as being done. Yeah, it may be weird, but it’s just my thing.

I use checklists in my day job as a tech writer all the time. That helps me keep track of what needs to be done, and also what needs to be checked before I can call a project complete. There are so many items such as logo placement, company name use, copyright issues, marketing terms, software names, etc. that all need to be checked before a document or help file can be released into the wild. That’s one of the big things about tech writing — once you’ve written it and released it, it’s true — whether it really is true or not. So you have to check everything before you can call it done.

IMHO, the same should be done with any literary piece, especially when you’re just starting out and making your way in the world of the fiction author. There are so many things to check before your baby should be let out of the crib. Is there backstory in the first 5 pages? Are you in the right POV? Are you using too many ‘ing words at the beginning of a sentence? Are you introducing every single character you have in the first chapter? Do you hero and heroine meet soon after the story starts? How’s your grammar doin’?

On and on these checks go. There are so many, and each one should be looked into. Many times you do this as you write. The best authors can tell when things are not quite “right” and can fix them right away. Others, for example newbie authors like me, may sense there is something amiss, but we have to have something we can use to run through things and make sure we’re not straying too far from the “tools for successful writing” path. That’s when a checklist like this can sure come in handy.

I’m making up a checklist as we speak. It’s based on one I used as a tech writer, and it does contain some similar items. However the differences between creative and technical writing has never been more clear to me than looking at the items on each list that must be checked off before a work can be called “complete.”

So tell me, do you use a checklist? Does it help?

Check back next week for more Manuscript Monday musings when I’ll be most likely talking about working on my never ending short novel, Destiny’s Awakening.

Until then, Ciao and good writing!

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