Tag Archives: process

Writing Tip: Ask Questions

The act of asking questions is a very old and sacred one that can make great things happen.  It is no less powerful in the hands of a writer.

As writers, we need to continually ask questions.  The more questions asked, the better the piece. You can develop a series of regular questions if you like, but be sure that you ask  questions wherever you can.

The first question you might venture to ask is, what am I going to write about?    A better variation might be: What do I want to say about this?  The difference between a topic, say “The Rings of Saturn,” and an angle like how they are, in fact, made up of little particles.  Play with your questions to get to them right.

Probably not on your first draft, but definitely on subsequent drafts, question the words you’re using.  Is this precisely or exactly the word I want here?  There are so many variations in words.  Just look at a Thesaurus.  I found over 70 words that could stand in for Special all with different shades of meaning!  It is the writer’s job to ask questions until the word that rings most true appears.  It’s helpful to take a step further and ask if the word assures understanding or clouds it?

All through the writing process, it’s imperative to ask questions.  Does this follow logically from what I’ve just said? Are my paragraphs holding a single theme?  Too often writers jump around within one paragraph.  We learn in fiction that the action has to flow from one paragraph to another.  If you’re going to change places you have to let your readers know.  Following a path makes it easer to keep attention rolling along.  How is my path to walk?

Question sentences too. Do I have too many short sentences?  Can I combine them?  Do I have too many long, run on sentences, that, perhaps, have too many thoughts, too many directions, too many clauses?  I like to question the last sentence of the paragraph, particularly.  You might ask yourself, what is the thought (and the word) that will linger in the reader’s mind?

And of course, when is the right time to end?  Have I said all I needed to say? Before you conclude ask, Does this say what I really wanted to say? If it doesn’t, you may need to ask another set of questions. Asking if what you’ve written is true to what you wanted to convey could be the most important question of all.

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