35 Questions to Ask When Critiquing a Novel

Are you beginning the editing stage of your novel? Did someone ask you to critique their novel or are you asking someone else to critique yours?

Here are 35 questions to ask yourself to dig deeper into that story.

Editing Checklist: 35 Questions to ask when Critiquing a Novel

1. Does the opening of the story hook you? Do you want to read more? Why or why not?
2. What are the conflicts (internal and external) in the story? Is a conflict known right away? What do you see as the central conflict of the story? (Thanks, Thomas Weaver!)
3. Are there too many conflicts happening in the book at once? Or is there not enough?
4. Are all the conflicts important to the story and help drive the plot forward?
5. Is the plot clear and believable from the beginning?
6. Is the plot interesting? Will the readers be able to relate to points in the book?
7. Is the plot resolved at the end of the book? Is the reader satisfied at the end?
8. Does the author create a believable setting?
9. Is the setting vividly described? Are there too many details or not enough?
10. Is the setting, time and date period, all consistent throughout the book?
11. Are there enough locations in the book or not enough?
12. Is the protagonist clearly introduced as the main focus of the story?
13. How do you feel about the protagonist? Do you sympathize with him, care about what happens to him, and do you share his emotions? Does the character feel alive?
14. Does each character have a background, hobbies, etc.?
15. Are the secondary characters helpful and push the story forward? Do they each have a purpose?
16. Does each character grow by the end of the book?
17. Can you see the characters? Are they described well or not enough?
18. Are there too many characters or not enough?
19. Does each character have a unique voice and personality?
20. Can you hear the dialogue? Is there too much dialogue or not enough?
21. What is the point of view in the story? Is it consistent throughout the novel? Do you think the POV was a good choice for this particular story?
22. How is the pacing of the story? Does the story drag at some points? Do some parts happen too fast?
23. Is each scene easy to read and flow well right into the next?
24. Are there scenes in the book that don’t drive the plot forward?
25. Does the author show instead of tell?
26. Does the overall tone work well for the story?
27. Was the book too long or too short?
28. Did the first and last chapters work?
29. Does the title fit the plot?
30. Is the book appropriate for the targeted audience?
31. What do you think the moral of the story is? What message is the author trying to get across to their readers?
32. What’s one line that you loved for whatever reason?
33. What is the strongest part of the novel?
34. What is the weakest part of the novel?
35. What is your overall impression of the story?

Have any other questions you would ask? Let me know in the comments below and I may add them to the list!

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31 thoughts on “35 Questions to Ask When Critiquing a Novel

  1. This is a good mix of questions. Many of them can be answered with a simple yes or no (easy for the beta reader to respond to), but some require more detailed feedback.

    To the questions about conflict (#2), I’d add, “What do you see as the central conflict of the story?” It’s possible that the reader sees a conflict right away… but that isn’t what the story’s about.

    • Exactly. Answering all the questions may be a bit much, but it’s definitely a good guideline.
      Hm, that’s a good point and worth noting. Thanks, I’ll add it!

  2. Thank you for that. It will be very useful as I’ve just started editing my latest novel. Just one point. You ask what the moral of the story is. I don’t think stories have to have a moral or try to teach us something. Sometimes they are just a story, told for pleasure.

    Yes, sometimes an author tries to get a point across with their story, but personally, I read for the fun of the story, not to be preached at.

    • Thank you, I’m glad you’ll find it helpful!
      Yes, every story is different. That’s the beauty of a list like this. You can pick and choose which questions to look out for. 🙂

    • Thank you! I recently just updated this post, too, with 57 questions. Feel free to check that out. I’m glad you found this post helpful. 🙂

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