Before I graduated, I invented a new story rubric that operates like a radiating spiderweb. It’s not a tool for the instructor, however, it’s a self-evaluation tool the learner can use to evaluate their own use of whatever core foundational structures of story they want to isolate and improve on.
Those are my important eight aspects of fiction, but it’s entirely customizable. For example, I can lump internal and external conflict in the same zone, but I probably divide that section in half to isolate internal and external conflict for learners who can’t use them interchangeably. The goal isn’t for the instructor to get the learner’s prose from 2 – 10. It’s to get the learner to learn how to get from a 4 to a 6 on their own.
I think my My Forgotten Last Scale breaks down what is the last thing the reader remembers about a piece works the same way.
The average story is forgotten.
A good story is a story where the reader remembers the premise until they forget it.
A very good story has one aspect to it — a scene, a character, or even a phrase — that the reader will remember for a long time.
An excellent story is a work where the reader could forget the premise, characters or a single event that occurred and yet never forget how they felt when they read it.
Again, the goal isn’t for the instructor to get the learner from unmemorable work to excellent. We can only guide the learner to how to learn how to get to the next step. Learning, like tension, is a process that occurs inside the learner. It’s not a passive activity.
And it’s not helped by the belief that the learner just needs to be discovered rather than learn their craft. That comes preinstalled in most writers even before they start their first book. The belief is one of the biggest mental blocks that keep the underpublished author underpublished.
The answer to “how do I play in the NHL?” is “start when you are born male and turn four.” The answer to “how do I produce the work that can move the reader?” is “start now.”