MS Coverage Categories for Self Audit and Comparison

Michael Neff, the founder of Algonkian, has been contributing advanced fiction craft articles to AuthorSalon.Com and Algonkian Writer Conferences. This forum contains a portion of these articles.
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MS Coverage Categories for Self Audit and Comparison

#1 Post by MichaelNeffWriter » 24 Jun 2014, 05:09

To all writers. Below is a set of "coverage" categories we developed for writers and members of the Author Salon Novel Writing Program, as well as our Algonkian writers. Consider using the below for honest self-coverage of your story and narrative. Rate yourself first, then ask select critique partners to do the same thing.

- Michael Neff


The below "coverage categories" are not always typical of what every agency uses, however, they are comprehensive and now in use by the AUTHOR SALON NOVEL WRITING PROGRAM. They provide a checklist for dissection and discussion of the novel among professionals on staff, and a checklist to enable a superior self-audit on the part of the writer.

Such a break down of coverage also allows an easier feel for a novel's film potential. This can be extremely important, esp if the agency works with Hollywood or engages in actual production.

Note, in this example, MARKET VALUE FIRST:


Originality, freshness, high concept
Clear target readership


Act Zero backstory development
Concise, 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


Antagonistic force
Consistent opposition
Protagonist’s goals
Sympathetic protagonist
Protagonist’s arc
Supporting characters


Scene length and structure
Effective transitions
Clarity of spatial set
Comprehensible prose narrative
Tension on the page
Dialogue mastery
Exposition delivery
Narrative composition (quality of set, tension, cinema, character interactions)
Cinematic imagery (static and dynamic)
Proper point-of-view
Wise use of craft technique
Interior Monologue and rumination

Michael Neff of Algonkian Writer Conferences

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Re: MS Coverage Categories for Self Audit and Comparison

#2 Post by skecanj1 » 14 Oct 2015, 02:29

Excellent points... great guidance. It helps a great deal to see things like this put into words even though I sense/feel/"know" a lot of them. I'm very much given to outlines and bullet points - your take on this subject is invaluable. Thanks.

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