Rule M: Make checklists for your story

Pohick Bay with the sun sparkling off the water
One of my details jaunts including going to Pohick Bay in Lorton, VA and writing down smells and sounds.

We’re onto the letter M in Linda’s Rules of Writing of the A to Z Challenge and on Making checklists for your story.

This is one I’ve been playing around with more recently.  Most of the time when I’ve seen writing checklists from other writers, they cover things I automatically fix without thinking.  Or worse, they’re like what the army used: Pages and pages of pages and pages, to try to cover every possibility.  So I think the checklists are unique to each writer, because we all work differently.

I’m not detail-oriented.  They’re very fleeting for me, vanishing into the bigger picture.  I’ve been working on a scene in a restaurant, and I’ve been having a hard time pulling up the things that happen in a restaurant.  I go in them all the time, and yet, the details aren’t there for me.  Even something simple like sounds is very elusive.

So I’ve been building a checklist of details for places.  I go to a place and sit in it or wander around and write down whatever I see, hear, feel, or smell.  Then, when I’m struggling to pull up details for a scene, I can refer back to the checklist to joggle my memory.

What kind of checklists do you use and why?

Caption: A to Z Challenge Logo