Sunday, August 15, 2010

Questions you should answer before writing

So I was sharing my new writing process with one of my amazing critique buddies and she asked me what are some questions to ask when writing each scene and chapter, and I thought "Why not post them here?"

1. What does my main character (MC) want? (Goal)
2. How does my MC feel about it? (Emotion)
3. What are they doing to get it? (Action)
4. What (More importantly who) is standing in their way? (Conflict)
5. How do they react to it? (Reaction)

I've also learned that scene's can't have neat endings. There has to be a hook on the end. The MC can't just get what they want. That stops the story; instead they have to have some unfinished business that leads into the next chapter.

After you answer all these questions then take your answers to #4 &5 and ask yourself "What if..." (Tension)

For example Chapter 1 of UNDISTURBED

1. Deyan wants to make it through the rest of senior year without having her secret exposed.
2. She feels like a fraud and a fake, but she has no other choice.
3. She wears gloves and hides among the elites to keep people from singling her out.
4. Bobby's campus hotties list draws unwanted attention that she fears will lead to questions.
5. She's on a mission to find him so he can remove it.
Also the side story require the same questions and since it's the first chapter it requires a bit of set up and introduction.

The tension in the scene: What if...

What if her friends weren't speaking to her because they were jealous over the list?
What if girls started mimicking her?
What if guys started paying her more attention?

All these things make life worse for Deyan on top of her original problem, her secret. The chapter ends on a cliff hanger and there's set up for chapter two.

Six questions that will ensure each chapter and scene is a good read. Oh, I almost forgot one last question to ask yourself about every action your character takes or doesn't take.

What will happen if they don't or do________? (Stakes) These should be high and upfront. It will make the reader care about your story.

Any ways,

That's what I've learned so far. I'm still reading and studying the craft and I'm confident that applying these elements will create stories worthy of turning the page.


  1. It's great that you have such a detailed process T.! I'm sure it helps tremendously.

  2. THose are great questions to ask and fulfill in every chapter. I'm gonna make sure they're easily answered in my first chapters especially!
    Great post!


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