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Listed below are a summation of "coverage" checkpoints utilized by various screenplay and novel ms readers in both Hollywood and New York. Not every publisher intern or assistant will necessarily employ all these categories (a mistake), however, they're a great checklist for you, the aspring author, to help ascertain whether or not you're meeting your goals for a successful commercial genre novel.


  • Originality, freshness - high concept

  • Clear target readership?

  • Hook Quality


  • Act Zero backstory development

  • Exposition delivery
  • Effective setup with inciting incident

  • Plot line arc, and subplots (if appropriate)

  • Well designed reversals (major and minor)

  • Pinch points (at least two)

  • Catalytic situation driven

  • Conflict, tension, rising action,

  • Every scene relevant (i.e., to driving plot forward)

  • Effective, believable climax

  • Resolution/Denouement


  • Antagonist Quality and Role

  • Consistent opposition

  • Protagonist goals

  • Sympathetic protagonist

  • Protagonist arc

  • Secondary character quality and roles


  • Scene length and structure

  • Effective transitions and cliffhangers
  • Quality prose narrative (genre appropriate)

  • Tension on every page

  • Dialogue mastery
  • Narrative composition (quality of set and engaging circumstances)

  • Cinematic imagery (both static and dynamic)

  • Proper point-of-view

  • Appropriate use of craft technique

  • Interior Monologue and rumination


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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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