If there is absolutely ONE THING that you’re going to have in your story to keep it interesting… what do you think it is?
Probably taking into account that this is my intro, you’ve most likely guessed questions. And you’d be right!
- Learn how to utilize questions in your own writing
- Plan some out
What is the first thing that happens in a book that keeps the reader reading?
What is the thing that happens throughout the book that keeps the reader reading?
And what satisfies them at the end of the story?
Questions and answers.
The answer is like a treat. We tempt the reader with it, and they chase after it. They want to know who the character’s parents are, why that secondary character is so secretive about their past, and how they’re going to stop the villain who’s about to blow up the world.
Of course, we cannot just keep a reader interested by only presenting questions. They won’t care unless they care about what’s involved – such as the character, as we discussed earlier in this series.
Question → Answer and Another Question
As it is said, for every question there must be an answer. But in a book, for every answer, there should also be another question. We give the reader that treat, letting them know that it’s worth it to read, because they’ll eventually find out what they want to know. But we need to continue setting a trail.
It’s even better to have multiple questions in a book. The characters are looking everywhere, but even when they get an answer, there’s only more questions. It really builds up the suspense and mystery.
Just keep in mind: like good side-conflicts (which was also discussed earlier in this series) you can have too many. That’s too much for you to remember and your book to hold up while still being good. The reader might get frustrated or annoyed as well, so be careful when walking that fine line between an awesome amount and too much.
If you take a look at your book, you should be able to see the answers stacking in a way they couldn’t without one another. One answer begets another. This way, you know that all of them are important. You can’t just throw in useless ones and expect them to have the same effect as a well-constructed question and answer. They must somehow advance the plot, and be necessary to the character.
You could, of course, use a red herring. But that’s a topic for another time.
Now It’s Your Turn!
Look at your own book. From line one, there should be some type of question. As you answer each, make sure something new rises to take up its place, like some sort of question hydra! 😆 You’ve got this. 😃
What books have you read that use questions really well? For me, Keeper of the Lost Cities comes to mind. 😉
Do you like to use questions in your book?