6 quick questions every writer should ask

So, I spent most of this week planning a murder.  It’s one of the quirks of being a writer, we get to do fun stuff like that!

banner 6 quick questions every writer should ask, photo of a clipboard and checklist

One of my current manuscripts… (yes, my brain hates me and has refused to let me just work on a single manuscript) …wasn’t working as well as I wanted it.

Thankfully, I had an epiphany and came up with a nice big partial plot change.  However, due to this, I need to murder someone.

As this was a new part of my novel, I did a quick 6 question run through.   I find these can be really good to get some facts down, see where your issue may be and get your ideas focused.

One thing I like about this basic technique is that it can work for almost any genre. Remember it’s a quick, basic focusing method (not for your massive intricate web of subplots).

In fact, if you are new to writing, I do suggest using this on your bigger plot points to help sort your thoughts.

So let’s take my murder… I then simply ask myself some questions.

MURDER

Who? – Who is the victim?

Why? – Why are they being murdered?

What? – What was used to kill them?

When? – When does it happen?

Where? – Where are they murdered?

How? – How is the body found?

Already I have a nice setup for this murder.  Now obviously these don’t have to be the questions I ask.

I can also ask “Who is the murderer?” and “How does the murderer get caught?”

Not to mention questions like “When does it happen?” can refer to a time of day (eg: at rush hour), time-frame within the plot (eg: after the big fight!) etc.

Let’s take a different plot point to put these questions to.

ROMANCE

Now, say you have two characters who you want to get together in the story. Get some details down:

Who? Who are the two characters you want to get together?

Why? – Why are do these characters end up together?

What? What is stopping them from getting together right now?

When? When do they finally become a couple?

Where? Where do they first meet?

How? How do they meet?

These are just a few questions you could come up with.  This works great for romances that are dealing with conflict such as issues arising that stop them being together or maybe that they start out hating each other.

Again, these are just simple questions, keep asking yourself more to build up the backstory.

Okay, let’s try one more:

QUEST

So, for any fantasy writers, there is a possibility you may send your characters on a quest (because who doesn’t love a good quest!).

Who? Who is going on this quest?

Why? Why are they embarking on this quest?

What? What is the route they will be taking?

When? When does this take place?

Where? Where are they heading?

How? How many make it to the end?

This nicely gives you a starting point.  You can decide how many questers are venturing forth!

Is there a royal decree that is sending them on this quest?  Well, question 2 is the place to find out. Question 3 can make you think of whether they travel over mountains on yaks or on an airship.

See?  All these questions can be good for building up the basic foundation of a newly formed idea.

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Hope you enjoyed this post if you did please consider following this blog.  I upload new posts on Fridays at 18:30 GMT (mostly).

Yes, I know, managed to miss my deadline again… sorry about that. It’s not been a great today, had a panic attack and in honesty, it’s taken me a while to come down from it.

Promise my next article (which is actually half written) is going to be on time!

Visit my Tutorial List page where all my writing posts are listed in categories and with links for quick and easy access.

Happy writing

Ari

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3 thoughts on “6 quick questions every writer should ask

  1. Great way to put things together 🙂 I usually stop at “why” and make all the other questions “why” as well (like why isn’t it working, why is he doing this, why is he using that, etc.), but I like it better the way you put it!

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