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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Brilliant Story Questions for Novel Writing

 As writers we are prone to follow behind the muse, our tongues hanging out, lapping up every drop of inspiration she deigns to let fall from her slender fingers. And then she disappears. Argh! What to do? It appears she's led us up a very interesting path, full of twists and half-obscured objects we cannot resist, but where are we actually going? Thanks to writer Nicole Murphy, I have found Michael Hauge, script writer for Hollywood and awesome, awesome, awesome teacher! (that was a little pathetically worded, I know). There is so much fabulous free advice on his website. Check it out here: story questions for novels. or read below. Michael's website is packed with brilliant ideas, some of which are so simple and obvious, yet we need reminding sometimes and Michael has the experience and wisdom to put it onto digestible chunks.

Who is the hero or protagonist?

Why will we immediately empathize with the hero? In other words, why will we identify with her when she is introduced?

Where is the hero at the beginning of the story, before anything new occurs to get the plot going? What is the everyday life she’s been living, and how does the story show that?

What is the hero’s longing (deep desire he’s just paying lip service to) or emotional need (which the hero won’t admit or is unaware of -- usually this is to connect with others in some way).

What opportunity is presented to the hero at the first key turning point?

What new situation is he placed in as a result of that opportunity? Is it by choice, or is the hero forced into it? What will the hero have to figure out, or adjust to, in this new situation?

What specific, visible goal or finish line does the hero want to reach by the end of the novel – in other words, what’s the outer motivation?

What’s the outer conflict -- what makes that goal impossible to achieve?

What is the hero's greatest emotional fear?

What wound – what painful event or situation in his or her past (usually in adolescence) – led to that fear?

If the novel contains a love story, why is the romance character the hero's destiny? Why did they choose each other, out of all the other people they've been involved with?

What is the hero’s identity – what protective persona keeps the hero from facing and overcoming her emotional fear?

What is the hero’s essence or truth? Who would she be if her identity were stripped away? In other words, who does she have the potential to become, if she’s courageous enough?

What is the hero’s arc or character growth? How does she gradually make the transition from her identity to her essence? What gives her the courage to do that?

What is the story’s universal theme – how does the arc for the hero provide the reader with a prescription for living a more fulfilled life?

What deeper issues – political or social -- does the novel explore?

What are the successful antecedents for the film -- recent, successful novels similar in market demographic, genre, style, tone and/or story, that you can point to and say, "Because those made money, this one will make money."

What is the passion for this project – what do you love about it?

What are the biggest weaknesses in the story right now?

What makes this a novel – why will thousands of people want to spend their time and money to read it? © 2010 Michael Hauge


cheers, Dawn

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