steering the craft

how to pop the (dramatic) question

 

Ah, the suspense! Some questions are big ones, with potentially life-changing outcomes. Waiting for the answer makes our hearts race a little faster than usual!

That rush of energy readers feel when a high-stakes question is finally answered is an essential part of good storytelling. In stories, we call these dramatic questions. There's something the readers are waiting to find out, and the outcome matters a lot. Discovering the outcome is why they keep reading. 

Dramatic questions can be peppered all through a narrative, in small, medium, and extra-large sizes. In a well-structured tale, there’s almost certainly a central dramatic question propelling the whole book, from first page to last. 

And yes, I do mean first page! It’s never too soon to let your reader in on what the book is about. But you have to know what that question is, first.

Do you know what the central dramatic question of your book is? Does your reader?...

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