20 Questions to Ask Yourself When Starting a New Story
As it is a Monday and the start of a new week, what better time to have a look at story beginnings. Below the break we have 20 questions from writers Alan Chin and Cheryl Reif that you should ask yourself before starting your latest story.
The Twenty Questions Are:
- Who is your audience? Why will they read—and keep reading—this book?
- Who is the heart of the story?
- Who is the protagonist?
- What is your main character’s flaw or weakness?
- What would a person be like who has the worst possible version of that flaw?
- What is the worst thing that the antagonist could do to stop the protagonist from accomplishing his goal?
- What is their clear and tangible external goal?
- What does your main character need or desire?
- What does the protagonist stand to lose if they don’t accomplish the goal?
- What skill does the protagonist have that can help him accomplish this goal?
- How can you show the elements most important to plot and character, rather than just telling the reader?
- What is the “ordinary world” of your main character’s Hero’s Journey, the status quo that changes as the story begins?
- What is the “inciting incident” in your main character’s Hero’s Journey—the event that sets your character on a new path?
- What background information is absolutely essential to know in the opening paragraphs and pages? What information does NOT need to be revealed until later in the story?
- Where is the story going?
- What event could occur that would force the protagonist to step outside their comfort zone
- What event would raise the stakes enough to force the protagonist to commit 100% to accomplishing their goal?
- Should the protagonist overcome their goal or not?
- How are you going to surprise your reader?
- What promise does your story make to your readers, and how will you keep that promise?
The questions have been taken from Writing Tip: Story Starter Questions from Alan Chin‘s website A Passage to Now and Ten Questions to Ask When Beginning a Book by Cheryl Reif from her website Cheryl Reif Writes. Both have additional questions so check out both articles.