Another rubric for creative assignments: short stories

I have used a holistic, comment-based rubric for my short story assignment in Creative Writing for several years. After reading all this information about rubric, I decided to revise it into a point-based, more analytic rubric. I also changed the point values because the short story ends up being one of the longest assignments in the class, so I changed it from 100 to 150 points (I plan to decrease the points in their literary critique since that is a shorter overall assignment). I hope this new rubric makes the expectations of the assignment clearer to students and make grading more objective and clear.


Here is my original rubric (with examples of comments and a grade):


Short story rubric 



Fiction technique Description Your story Comments
Character development Are the characters well developed through a variety of character techniques (such as dialogue, using gestures, observations, etc.)?


ok Good character but I wanted to know more about her—and see her more in action. So much of the story is summary that we only get general info on her.
Plot Is the plot interesting and original? Is the plot condensed enough to develop in the length of the story?


ok Good idea for plot—just need more scenes and less summary to make the story more effective.
Story beginning Does the story start with action or dialogue instead of summary?


Needs work It’s most effective to start with dialogue and/or action. You begin more with an introduction or summary.  I would suggest just starting with the first scene—let the background  of the characters come out through the plot.
Scenes Does the story contain scenes that let the characters act and move and not just a summary of events or time periods?


Needs work Good at the start but try to let the action and dialogue show things—try not to explain everything. Also you need more scenes—to really move the action along and help the readers get into the story and characters.
Grammar and style Does the story contain college-level writing and an interesting writing style? Are there too many grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors?


Needs work Avoid using second person (you) in fiction.  Also some comma splices, apostrophe errors, run-ons, and other errors are getting in the way of your ideas.
Dialogue Is the dialogue in the story natural and realistic? Does it help develop characters, action, and scenes?


ok Use a comma between speaker and dialogue. Just need more dialogue in scenes.
Setting and detail Are the setting and details in the story well developed and unique?


Good Great detail about the city but need more details in some places–scenes would help with that.
Overall comments Great start here–see comments above for ways to improve the story.    
Grade 84/100 B  





Here is the first draft of my new rubric:


Short Story Assignment 

            Write a short story (possibly using a character/characters you have developed in class assignments (week three discussion assignment). Think about all the elements of fiction which the fiction lessons and your textbook discuss.  Try to write a unique story in your own writing style.  Try not to fall back on common plots, stereotypical characters, etc.

Length:  6-25 pages (1200-6000 words)

Format: Double-spaced, in RTF format.

                Name the file as:  yourlastname_story  (for example: swing_story)

                Make sure to have title page with name, name of story, date, etc.

                Make sure to start a new paragraph when a new character speaks.

                Make sure to use correct capitalization, spelling, and grammar. See this website for grammar review if needed:




Fiction technique Excellent On the right Track Needs Development Comments


50 points

□   Plot is original and surprising (had tension), but not shocking. It engages audience throughout story.

□   The plot is condensed enough to develop in a short story (time is condensed)

□   Beginning of the story engages audience and begins with action or a scene and not summary or background.

□   Ending is satisfying even if it’s abrupt or doesn’t wrap up all ideas.

□   Story meets word requirements.

□   Plot is interesting but may contain some confusion, clichéd ideas, or vagueness.

□   The plot is fairy condensed but may span too much time or have too much history or summary.

□   Beginning of the story is interesting but may have too much summary and not enough action.

□   Ending is ok but could be more satisfying or original.

□   Story meets word requirements, but needs to be longer, ideas need to developed further.

□    Plot is not engaging, doesn’t contain tension, or is clichéd.

□   The plot tries to cover too much time or is confusing to follow.

□   Beginning of the story has too much summary and background—needs a scene and action.

□   Ending is clichéd, shocking, or unbelievable.

□   Story does not meet minimum word requirements.

Character development


20 points

□   Characters, especially main character, is developed well through multiple techniques (dialogue gestures, description, action, etc).

□   Characters are unique and not stereotypes or one dimensional

□   Character relationships are well developed and interesting.

□   Character makes some significant change in the story.

□   Characters, especially main character, is developed well but needs more showing and less telling. Need to have the character in action more.

□   Characters are interesting but may be a bit stereotypical or one dimensional at times.

□   Character relationships are interesting but may need more development.

□   Character makes some changes but they might not be enough or realistic based on the plot of the story.

□    Characters, especially main character, are not developed enough. Need action, dialogue, background, etc.  

□   Characters are stereotypical or one dimensional.

□   Character relationships are not developed or unrealistic.

□   Character does not make any significant or realistic changes throughout the story.



20 points

□   Multiples scenes are used in the story to show and not tell the story

□   Scenes are in a clear and logical sequence even if flashbacks are used

□   Scenes are interesting and effective

□   Story has some scenes that develop ideas, but may need more scenes and less summary.

□   Scenes are in a clear order but may need some reorganization.

□   Scenes are good but may need more action or tension

□    Story is mostly summary and needs scene to develop characters, tension, and ideas.

□   Scenes are not in a clear order and are confusing.

□   Scenes are unrealistic or uninteresting or unoriginal.



15 points

□   Dialogue is natural and not stilted or awkward

□   Dialogue is effectively used to develop characters, give character background, and develop tension.

□   Dialogue uses correct quotation mark placement and  is indented with each new speaker


□   Dialogue original but may be stilted or inconsistent at time (need to use contractions, for example)

□   Dialogue gives some character and plot details but could be used more to develop those traits.

□   Dialogue uses mostly correct format, but may need some corrections like a comma between speaker and quotation or correct indentation.


□   Dialogue is not used enough or is stilted and/or inconsistent (need to use contractions, for example or character’s voice changes)

□   Dialogue needs to be used to develop characters and details more effectively.

□   Dialogue does not follow correct format (indent with each speaker, comma between speaker and quote, correct quotation marks, etc.)


Grammar and style


20 points

□   The story is written using college-level writing skills in a professional manner.

□   The story does not contain many errors in spelling, sentences errors, pronoun use, apostrophes, or other errors.

□   Style of the story is consistent and engaging and not wordy or overly passive.

□    Story uses appropriate and consistent point of view.

□   The story is written at college level but may have some inconsistencies.

□   The story contains some errors in spelling, sentences errors, pronoun use, apostrophes, or other errors.

□   Style of the story is mostly consistent and engaging but may have some wordiness, vagueness, etc.

□   Story uses appropriate point of view but may shift once or twice.

□   The story is not written at college level.

□   The story contains many errors in spelling, sentences errors, pronoun use, apostrophes, or other errors.

□   Style of the story is inconsistent and engaging contains too much wordiness, vagueness, etc.

□   Story shifts point of view multiple times and for no logical reason.

Setting and detail


15 points

□    Setting in the story is clear, unique, and well developed.

□   Setting is an important part of the plot or tension in the story.

□    Details in the story such as colors, clothes, music, objects, are unique and used to develop characters and plot.


□   Setting in the story is clear but could developed further.

□   Setting could be used more as part of the plot or tension.

□   Some of the details in the story such as colors, clothes, music, objects, are unique but could be used more to develop characters and plot.

□   Setting is vague or unclear.

□    Setting has no relationship to the plot or characters.

□   Story needs more details like colors, clothes, music, cars, landscape, etc. to develop characters and plot.

Paper format


10 points



□   Story was submitted on time in the dropbox with correct file name.

□   Story follows paper format (double-spaced, one in margins).

□   Story has unique title and correct heading.

□   Story was submitted on time in the dropbox with correct file name.

□   Story follows paper format (double-spaced, one in margins) with one or two minor errors.

Story has a title and heading but may have some errors.

□   Story was not submitted on time in the dropbox and or has an incorrect file name.

□   Story does not follows paper format (double-spaced, one in margins).

□   Story has a not title and/or no heading.

Overall comments        
Points / Out of 150 points Grade:    






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