I found this info thanks to a link from Jane Friedman’s blog, No Rules. Friedman is an editor at Writer’s Digest. Her blog is a great collection of her thoughts, links to good info and the like. This particular link was to Glimmertrain, a literary journal out of Portland, Oregon. They have a mini-interview posted: Charles Baxter: Five Questions. Baxter shares five questions to ask yourself about a story. I think they’re helpful. Here’s what he says:
There are about five questions you can ask yourself about stories, and they’re not foolproof, but they’re useful. One is, what do these characters want? Second is, what are they afraid of? Third is, what’s at stake in this story? Fourth is, what are the consequences of these scenes or these actions? And the last one is, how does the language of this story reflect the world of the story itself?
I can handle five questions. That’s manageable. My favorite out of his list is what a character is afraid of. I think that tells a person a lot. Now, to put these to use.