6 Quick Questions

Survey Clipboard Research Questions Who What Where When Why How

Picture purchased from depositphoto.com

Sooooo I spent most of this week planning a murder. (Nope, it wasn’t of a co-worker (surprisingly)).

It’s one of the quirks of being a writer, we get to do fun stuff like that!

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 to 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. Especially for those newly formed ideas that attack you while you’re driving to work! (or is that just me?)

You can probably guess from the picture on this blog post, what the questions are. 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.


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 time of day (eg: at rush hour), time-frame within the plot (eg: after the big fight!) etc.

In fact when you use these questions, you can build up a series of questions to help you solidify your ideas and/or identify areas that need to be worked on.

Personally I think questions are a writers’ best friend. My plots are drive forward by the questions I ask. I use them to constantly improve my work.

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


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 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:


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.

Remember keep asking yourself more questions until you have all the answers. 🙂


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

Pop over and visit me at my other places on the web, it will make me happy. 🙂

Happy writing


3 thoughts on “6 Quick Questions

  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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