Lesson Two the Story Question | Writinghood

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Improve your writing Lesson Two the Story Question Posted on September 29th, 2008 in Writing by Christian M Archer]]>1

Explains how having and knowing your story’s question keeps your tale on track.

What is the story question? Your hero has a goal. As we discussed in Lesson 1, he won’t be able to achieve that goal easily. The story question centers on what the hero wants. Within a couple of pages you want your reader to ask themselves the story question.


The story question, and how much the reader cares about the answer to this question, will determine how interesting your story is.

Examples of story questions: To find your story question, write a statement that defines the hero’s goal, and then change the statement into a question.

  • S: Marty wants to win the Karate Championship.
  • Q: Will Marty win the Karate Championship?
  • S: Joanne wants Mitch to fall in love with her.
  • Q: Will Mitch fall in love with Joanne?
  • S: Indiana Jones is looking for the treasure.
  • Q: Will Indiana Jones find the treasure?

What does the story question do for me? The story question acts as a rudder for your story. The majority of the events in your story should support and advance the story question. In a novel, there may be subplots (miniature stories inside the main story) and side trips, but the main fuel for your story should be the story question. If you find 30 pages of ‘story’ in your book that has nothing at all to do with the story question, then you either have to cut out or down on this passage or re-evaluate the strength of your story question.

Read more in Writing« Lesson One ConflictA Guide to 30-day Novel Writing 4 »

The Bottom Line: From the beginning of your tale, the reader should be led to care about your story question. Answering this question in an original and entertaining way is what good storytelling is all about!

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