6 Questions Writers Must Answer In And Within A Novel

6 Questions Writers Must Answer In And Within A Novel


Writers Write creates and shares resources for writers. In this post, we look at the six questions authors must answer in and within a novel.

We sometimes overlook the obvious when we write. We become obsessed with sentence structure, descriptions, characterisation, world building, and plotting instead of looking after the basics.

What are the basics? Every good story, and this includes essays, short stories, novellas, memoirs, and novels, answers six simple questions.

The six questions are:

  1. Who is the story about?
  2. What is the story about?
  3. Where is the story set?
  4. When is the story set?
  5. Why does this story matter?
  6. How does the story unfold?

This is based on journalism. Every writer of news stories is taught to answer the 5 Ws and the 1 H in the opening paragraph of an article. As writers of fiction, we take a bit longer, but a good story should answer all six.

There are other ways to use the six questions in a novel:

Characters:

Answering these six questions about each character will bring them into sharp focus. It helps you to remove unnecessary information and to create a clearly defined purpose for each one.
  1. Who is she?
  2. What is her story goal?
  3. Where is she (physically) going?
  4. When will she try to achieve the goal?
  5. Why will she do it?
  6. How will she do it?

Plotting:

These six questions will help you to discover if you have a plot.

  1. Who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist?
  2. What happens to them in order to start the story?
  3. Where does this happen?
  4. When does the story take place? (Create a timeline)
  5. Why do the characters act and react?
  6. How will the story goal be achieved?

Scenes:

It is also a useful technique to use when you write scenes and sequels in your novel. Try to answer all six in every scene you write.

Happy writing, everyone!

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 by Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. 9 Famous Anti-Social Fictional Characters
  2. The 10 Secrets Of Resilient Characters
  3. 17 Screenwriting Scenes To Use In Your Novel

Top Tip: Find out more about our workbooks and online courses in our shop.