What place do questions have in novels? I’m not talking about the questions characters ask each other, but rather, the ones they ask themselves. After all, aren’t many of our internal thoughts questions? Will I get home before it rains? Can I afford another book? Will my daughter go to sleep at a reasonable hour tonight?
So shouldn’t our characters do the same thing?
When it comes to internal questioning though, there are two ways you can write it. Consider the paragraphs below. (From Reckless Rescue of course!)
He wondered if this was the planet he was looking for. His heart rate accelerated. He coudln’t think of any other reason for its absence from the star maps. This area had been explored long ago and the surrounding star systems mapped. He wondered why they had missed this one. For the first time since he started this journey, he started to believe he might just do this.
Could this be the planet he was looking for? His heart rate accelerated. What other reason could there be for its absence from the star maps? This area had been explored long ago and the surrounding star systems mapped. Why not this one? For the first time since he started this journey, he started to believe he might just do this.
Which one reads like you’re actually sitting inside the characters head? Which one is more exciting?
All this month I’m participating in the A-Z blogging challenge, writing a blog post for each letter of the alphabet, on every day of the month except Sundays. Check back regularly to see what else I have in store for you.
Interesting question as to which is more exciting? I like the questioning one, though the first is also clear and intriguing. Maybe a mix of questions and statements? Actually I think I like the 2nd one better! Nice post Rinelle, thank you.
Susan Scott’s Soul Stuff
I think you do need a bit of a mix, constant questions would get quite annoying! But a few thrown in here and there seem to keep the action moving a bit more to me.
This is a ‘question’ that always runs through my head when writing. Sometimes the 2nd one works and sometimes the 1st is better. I wish there was a rule of thumb 😉
Probably it has to do with what you’re trying to achieve? Questions up the tension, make the situation seem more immediate and active. Whereas ‘wondered’ type statements slow things down, and distance you a little (which you want in some situations).
I love good internal monologue, it really makes a book. For me, questions are essential to developing plot too. When I was trying to make Dragon Wraiths ‘work’ (it’s quite complicated) I spent hours walking the dog, thinking ‘why?’ ‘Why would the dozen want to kill wraiths, why is Leah the last wraith? And in my romance, I needed the protagonist to be pregnant when she really couldn’t be, so the questions were ‘why isn’t she on the pill – she is but they failed – why – because she took antibiotics – why – an ear infection. I think it enables you to make sure the plot is plausible. I read a great ‘how to write book’ that said the further you question the further you get away from a predictable plot
Yes! I ask a lot of these types of questions as I try to make my novels work. I’m stuck on some at the moment actually!
Hmm, accidental pregnancies, they’re my favourite types of stories. 🙂 Can’t wait to read it when it comes out.
Excerpt 2 for the win!
Thanks Dionne. 🙂
The rhetorical question onslaught definitely has more tone than the declarative-based passage for me. It has more ups and downs to its rhetoric.
John at The Bathroom Monologues
Thanks John. I’m glad it works. Ups and downs is a good way to describe it I think.
I like excerpt # 2. It seems to me that most modern books are now written in a clipped, punchy manner. The extreme in this sort of writing to me would be the Hunger Games series which has multiple fragments instead of complete sentences. Since this seems to be the new trend, I’ve been trying to modify my writing style a bit. I tend to write long and fluid sentences. Merging the way I naturally write with the way most readers want a book to read is a delicate balance. I certainly haven’t perfected it yet, and maybe I never will. 🙂
I should be doing OK then. I have so many instances of the grammar checker telling me “fragment, consider revising”.
Hello, Rinelle! You make an excellent point. The second one is a much quicker pace and has stronger tension. Good advice here!
Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines
Thanks Laura. Hope it’s useful.
Second one is more immediate, and we’re with the character all the way. First one reads distant to me … too many filters.
I love questions in stories and use them often … only thing is I have to remember to provide answers at some point.
Silvia @ Silvia Writes
Remembering to provide answers is a really important point, thanks Silvia.
I think the second post is more exciting. The potential and anticipation is always sure to get the reader hooked.
Also, thanks for commenting so often! I really appreciate it.
Hi Marjorie. Good to see you over here. I’m enjoyoing your blog. 🙂
I like excerpt two better, it is more exciting and It feels like you’re inside the character’s head. The paragraph seems to be a bit more concise.
Thanks Dan. The general consensus seems to be the second paragraph, which makes me happy. 🙂