Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What is your QUESTION!

Just finished another short story. Gads. How many is that? I dunno. Lots.

This one is called A Dog Named Scat and I didn't quite get the ending snippage I wanted, which means a future re-write before I submit it.

What's the problem with Scat? Its story question is the problem.

See, I like stories with a big QUESTION about them.

A mystery.

A certain pull that keeps the reader turning pages. A what the hell happens! tingle on the back of their neck.

Suspense. I don't care what the question is, it just needs to be a question.

Will they survive? Will she leave? Will he win?

What's going on with Grandpa and the dog? That's my Scat question.

And the answer to that question is simple and predictable, even though I tried to upend the reader there at the last with some topsy-turvy writing.

So, later I'll go back a re-write Scat. This is the second time I've written that story. The first time I got the first scene and a rough draft. The second time I nailed the story, but not with the umph I want.

Now don't say, Third time's a charm or I swear by all things Holy I will reach through that computer screen and smack you. Not in writing it ain't. Fifteenth or twentieth time is the charm.

And that's if you're doing it right.

Gutpunch. Savvy. Witty. I need all that in my writing.

And a question. What is the QUESTION? I need my question.

For Scat, and for EVERY story I write, every chapter, page, paragraph and sentence, the question is this: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

So I ask you, my fellow knuckers: WHAT IS YOUR QUESTION? And what is your goal with that question?

My goal is that Holy Grail of questions, the Reader Question, the big RQ. Dear Reader hits those two words (THE END) well before they are ready and responds with: Dude, what happens next?

- Eric


Nighfala said...

The question for my novel: Why would a beloved son turn against his father and try to murder his brother?

Jessica Bell said...

Um, let's see ... Why would a woman consider leaving her husband and daughter for four months?

Matthew MacNish said...

Can kids with Katana and Staves learn to wield Ch'i energy in time to save themselves?

God that was bad. I could do better if I tried (I hope).

Eric W. Trant said...

These are freaking awesome yall! I should've made this a blogfest instead.

Lightbulb moment, eh.

How does a soldier stationed thousands of miles away from his family save his son from a spiritual attack by an earthly demon?

- Eric

Anonymous said...

I try to leave my readers asking this at the end of every chapter.

For me, the phrasing of each question wasn't important. "Which leg?" "Did the sharks get her?" "What did the note say?"

Because, like you said, they all really ask the same thing. What happens next?


Wine and Words said...

Question: Did I do the right thing? Is there really any way to know for certain?

Goal: Peace

Good luck with Scat. I look forward to making his aquaintence. Grandpa too.

About Me said...

Here's my question on a fly:
Can a woman survive post-apocalyptic Chicago while on the run with an orphan who desperately needs someone to believe in?

Theresa Milstein said...

What happens next is always a good question to ask.

Since I'm in the early stages and have some rough idea of where the story is going, I now need to iron out some of my protagonists friends. Who are they? What do they want? What are their families like and how has that shaped them?

Mia Hayson said...

Um, my question is can you really trust the ones you love? Hehe

AND WTF is this door doing here?

I know, not so amazing. BUT I have a little award thing for you at my blog today :) hope that makes up for my lack of good commenting.

Unknown said...

Heard of the book, Thirteen Reasons Why? THAT is a book with one BIG question. Seriously, a must read.

Anastasia V. Pergakis said...

Okay here's my question:

Why the worms!? Oh wait, that was for you Eric, not someone reading my novel. *cheesy grin*

GREAT post, and you should turn this into a blogfest! I have so many novel questions that I can't really ask them in a comment. Don't want to steal all your comment space here...

Anway, if I don't shut up I will end up doing that anyway so...yea...toodles!

dolorah said...

I have a premise written down somewhere for the first novel; but I guess the essential question is: At what point do you abandon love.

Yeah, yeah; really cheezy. Now where did I put that premise.


Eric W. Trant said...

Ben: I'll have to check out that book Thirteen Reasons Why.

Harley: Why the worms? They are my muse, that's why. ;)

All: THANK YOU for sharing your questions. It's kinda fun to think about this. It's not a logline, or a tagline, or a hookline, but it's that unwritten question embedded in every reader's mind throughout your story.

- Eric

Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...

Hello, Eric, I'm bouncing in from the far, far away world of three-part-time-jobs-putting-food-on-the-table land. I've missed reading your (and everyone else's) posts and am catching up a wee bit.

Hmm, my Q? Will Sammy get her sh*t together in any redeemable way, shape or form?

As someone up there said...that was on the fly and all...

~That Rebel, Olivia

Eric W. Trant said...

Olivia: Three part-time jobs? My question to you: How do you do it!?

- Eric