Have you ever hit a snag in your writing? Fallen down a plot hole you hadn’t realised was there? Not sure how to get yourself out?
Questions! Using questions can get you out of a lot of issues when writing. I’ve talked about The Power of Questions before but I feel I need to talk about it again!
Are you writing a novel?
Chances are then, you will constantly be generating questions for yourself.
Well, you should!
We all know writing a novel is hard.
You have to build a landscape, create characters, give voices, design conflict, structure a plot… there’s a lot to think about.
As well as all that, you have to be consistent, you have to remember subplots, tie up loose ends, keep characters on track.
How are you supposed to remember all that?
Glad you asked. You use questions!
If you are not generating a shit-load of questions throughout your brainstorming, writing and even editing phase, then you aren’t looking deeply enough at your manuscript.
You need to ask yourself questions. Period.
Here is what I do
When I am actively working on a manuscript, one of my early processes is to assign a Question Pad.
I snag a simple, lined, ringed pad that is small enough to fit in my bag and I carry everywhere.
(I have like a bazillion of these types of pads from when I got obsessed with stationery shops in my teens)
I mark it with my WIP title so I know only questions regarding THIS project go into this pad.
Here is my current question pad for my novel Dark Hart.
There is usually a pen, threaded through the rings so that I always have it handy… you know how sneaky pens can be, always running off and getting lost…or stolen!! Damn you pen-thieves!!
Why ear-mark a specific pad? Why not use your phone or just write questions down on any random piece of paper?
Truthfully, I have done just that in the past… and I can tell you, it is a freakin’ nightmare. You end up scrabbling around trying to find the question you wrote on some random scrap of paper two weeks ago.
Or you end up scrolling endlessly through your phone looking for that one question. Or more likely…watching your phone die as you try to hurriedly make that note before it gives a death rattle…and you without a charger!
Having a Questions Pad keeps all my important questions in one place.
What do you put in the Questions Pad?
lol No, obviously I put in questions, and these can be anything – stuff about my characters, stuff about locations, queries about when the sun would set, what is the 0-60 acceleration of x car, would Y character react this way.
I just put down everything. Small questions, big questions… whatever I need to address gets written down.
What do you do with the questions?
Nope again, I answer them. When I have time, I pull out the pad and read through the questions.
This is great for killing time while waiting at the doctor’s surgery, queuing at the bank, while bored at work! I am a big believer in using all this “dead time” productively.
I always leave 2 or 3 lines between each question (more if the question is pretty intense) and it allows me to write in the answer beneath.
All my questions are numbered so if I need more space to answer, I flip to the back of the pad, write down the question’s number and put down the answer.
Then when I’m writing I get out the pad, flip through and put my answers into the manuscript.
What good is writing all these questions?
Questions keep you consistent.
They give you a deeper knowledge of your writing. They help to clear up any weak spots and allow you to create stronger characters. Questions help you look at your writing with a critical eye.
Do you ask yourselves questions while you write?