Asking the Right Story Questions

Question marks
Important Questions:
In his book, Screenwriting, R. G. Frensham quotes William Goldman as saying: “Movies are about story: is it well told, is it interesting? If it isn’t it doesn’t matter how talented the rest of it is.” This is also true of the novel.

So, how do you give yourself the best chance of writing an interesting, well-executed story? This post offers some suggestions:

Having chosen your story idea, you should begin to implement it by going from the general (idea) to the specific (individual characters and events). Here are a number of questions intended to help you clarify, expand, and tell your story in an effective way. Write a paragraph in answer to each one.

Nine Questions whose answers will help you write your story:

1. Why do I want to write this story?

2. Who do I think will want to watch/read it?

3. What is it about?

4. Who is it about?

5. Why is it about this character rather than that?

6. What is the importance of background or setting?

7. What is the most fitting genre for the story?

8. What is the moral of the story?

9. What is the main theme of the story?

In answering these questions you are preparing the soil for planting and harvesting. It gives you the time you need to probe your own motivation for writing the story and forces you to think about its deeper structures.

Summary

Answering a number of pertinent questions prior to writing your story helps you to explore the elements, structures, and motivations that are necessary in telling a tale that is interesting and well-executed.

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Stavros Halvatzis

I'm a writer, teacher, and story consultant.

2 thoughts on “Asking the Right Story Questions”

  1. Thanks for the comment. Theme has many inflections. People sometimes loosely use it as an indicator of mood, or, the big idea behind the story. For me the theme emerges only at the end of a story after the final confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonist, or, the antagonistic forces, has occured. The outcome of this confrontation then “proves” the theme. In simple terms, if the the protagonist wins, and he happens to be a “good guy”, then “good triumphs over evil” is a theme. Or, vice versa, if the “bad guy” wins”. More often than not, then, the theme contains a moral resonance, somewhere within its layers, although this is not an absolute requirement.

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