Last week we started to look at some questions all authors should ask as they are beginning to write a new book. If you missed it, here’s the link to that. Today, as promised, let’s continue with that list.

  1. What’s at stake? If the story question isn’t answered or if the protagonist doesn’t attain their goal, what happens? There need to be consequences, if there aren’t there’s no real reason why your protagonist should work toward achieving their goals or answering that question. Having something at stake (and it doesn’t need to be a life or death situation) also increases the suspense in the story, which leads to readers turning pages. Truly, if there is nothing at stake, why should the reader keep on reading?
  2. Where’s the urgency? This is similar to the last question, but it adds in a time factor. Something is going to happen if our protagonist doesn’t solve their problem within a set amount of time or before some other event occurs. Once again, this adds suspense and the need for the reader to keep turning those pages. They must need to find out that the character achieves their goal before this thing happens. Or they must achieve their goal so that this other thing doesn’t
  3. Give me the elevator pitch of your story. This really isn’t a question, I know, but it is something you need to have at the top of your mind from the time you begin writing. You need to know what your story is about and you need to be able to tell someone what that is within a few minutes (the time it takes for the editor to whom you’re trying to sell your work to get on the elevator and before they get off again, ergo, elevator pitch). I know it’s not easy, but try writing a sentence—just one—that tells someone what your story is about. (Next week I’ll write a whole blog post on how to write an elevator pitch because it’s a great topic and something every author – whether they are actually trying to land a traditional publishing deal or not – needs to know.)

The thing is, everyone you meet who has even the slightest interest in your life and knows that you’re a writer is going to ask you what you’re writing now. You need to be able to tell them before their eyes glaze over. Also, knowing your elevator pitch is going to help a great deal when you have to sit down to write your book description. So, this is a really important one.

If you’re having trouble writing this either wait for next week’s blog post 😊 or start big. Write a paragraph about what your book is about. Then cut it down and cut it down until you end up with just a sentence or two that summarizes the whole thing.

So, there you are, six questions that you need to ask yourself when you begin writing. As I said last week, it doesn’t matter how you write, just having the answers to these questions in your mind, or even better, written down, will help enormously as you sit down to write your novel

Good luck!