Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Why

Okay, not really why but that is part of today's topic. The real topic is questions but that didn't start with a W. But many questions do, the ones in the WWWWWH method often used in news writing. Those stand for Who, What, When, Where, Why and How for those that are confused by all the W's and the one H. They are all questions and in novel writing, questions are important.

Some questions have been asked in my reading group lately that really got me thinking. They are the same kind of questions that I've heard discussed with other novels. One of the first times it was really mentioned that I remember is with The Forest of Hands and Teeth but is very relevant to dystopians like the one we are reading in my group. "How did the world (society) get to this point?"

Yeah, not a W question either but I'll get there. The issue with that question in particular is often times there is no answer (or none that the readers are told). Often the story is focused on what the character does in the world and how they look into the future. Not knowing how the world got to that point can hinder some readers but for me, I don't really mind that factor. But it's not always easy because books should bring about questions and most of those questions should eventually be answered.

Readers expect answers.

They(We) don't need answers to every single question. However, the story should bring up questions throughout and if it's a stand alone they should be answered in that book. Series is a little different because some questions can be answered later but if the questions keep mounting it's going to be very tough answering them all in the end. Brandon Sanderson is having to answer all the questions presented in the Wheel of Times series, for example, and it definitely can't be easy considering Robert Jordan created such an amazing world Sanderson has to use for the ending.

Questions are an important part of that little thing known as inquiry and imagination. They create a story and can mean many things to different readers. Make sure to always ask questions.

Does your story give the reader questions?
Are those questions eventually answered?
Do you want to know how the world in dystopians ended up that way or is okay not to know?


Cheree said...

Ooh, my story definitely raises questions, but it takes me several drafts to make sure all those questions are answered. I love having to ask questions and searching for those answers, it's what makes the story interesting to read.

Sarah McCabe said...

As a reader I want answers and I want them ALL. A single question left unanswered will drive me batty. That's why I don't generally read the genres that habitually leave questions unanswered in the name of "making the reader figure it our for themselves". I'm a smart gal, but when I'm reading a story I want the author doing that work, not me. That's why I usually stick to fantasy which is written for geek like me that want every singly detail fleshed out. ;)

Loralie Hall said...

I think it depends on the story how much information gets revealed about the world. However, I think it's important the author know the answers to as many of those questions as possible, even if they don't share all that information with the reader.

Great post ^_^

Jules said...

Guess I'm weird but my stories usually come from a question. The story is my answer :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Dawn Embers said...

Cheree - Good to hear. I love asking questions and finding answers too. It does make things fun.

Sarah McCabe - lol. Well, some of the books I've read would drive you batty. I am not a fan of certain cliffhanger endings cause they leave everything up in the air.

Loralie - That is very true. Not all stories will be the same with the questions and answers.

Jules - That makes total sense. The "what if" that starts many stories is a question.

L'Aussie said...

An excellent choice for W, Dawn. Yes, it's very important to give readers question they need answers to - the page turner...


Donna Hole said...

I do try to keep my readers questioning the world they live in. Culture, ingrained beliefs, judgmental attitudes. I like to present situations and have the readers make of the answers as they will.


Dawn Embers said...

Denise - Thanks. :-D

Donna - Hey. That is another set of questions that books can do, very true.