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#atozchallenge : Q is for Questions #fiction #writing #quotes

Theme: Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing
The A to Z Challenge is chugging ahead, and I’m struggling to keep up, blog visits, comments,
making friends. I’m writing a story a day on Daily (w)rite, and that itself is proving to be daunting.

But I shall win this thing, and I’ll do what best I can to be a good cohost. Visit my fab fellow cohosts if you haven’t yet– (Lee, Alex, Tina, Jeremy, Nicole, Heather, AJMJ,  Pam and Stephen!)

Today we talk Questions on Amlokiblogs– the sort of question a writer needs to raise or answer in the process of writing fiction. Here’s what authors who know what they are talking about have to say on the matter: 

I think kids want the same thing from a book that adults want – a fast-paced story, characters worth caring about, humor, surprises, and mystery. A good book always keeps you asking questions, and makes you keep turning pages so you can find out the answers.—Rick Riordan

I’m always looking, and I’m always asking questions.—Anne Rice

I am a person who believes in asking questions, in not conforming for the sake of conforming. I am deeply dissatisfied – about so many things, about injustice, about the way the world works – and in some ways, my dissatisfaction drives my storytelling. —Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

At first, I see pictures of a story in my mind. Then creating the story comes from asking questions of myself. I guess you might call it the ‘what if – what then’ approach to writing and illustration. —Chris Van Allsburg

Sure, a good story raises lots of intriguing questions, but there is one question at the white hot center of all the others.This is the “Major Dramatic Question,” or MDQ for short. Every good story has its unique MDQ. Think of it as the story’s nucleus. It’s a centrifugal force that propels the story along its path of action,  accelerating it steadily and breathlessly toward a climactic conclusion. And once the MDQ is answered… the story is over. — Daniel Noah

Do you ask questions as a reader? As a writer do you try to raise questions in the minds of the reader, then answer them?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Nana Prah says:

    A diverse gathering of quotes. Thank you.
    Nana Prah

  • Lisa says:

    I am continually asking not only myself questions, but my protagonists as well. Sometimes they ask questions back! Great point and helpful to keep in mind. Liked the quotes…

  • I have heard that readers get engrossed in the MDQ. To get the answer to the major dramatic question they will keep reading the book.

  • Debbie says:

    Questions create intrigue, which makes for a good story. 🙂 I've been remiss in not visiting here sooner. First timer with the #AtoZChallenge and it's a little overwhelming. Can't imagine how you have the time for other things. Kudos!

  • Andrew Leon says:

    What if I'm not looking for a fast-paced story, Mr. Riordan? What if I would rather have something that is well written?

  • klahanie says:

    Hey human, Damyanti,

    I notice my human put up a pawsting for you to enjoy on a hopefully, relaxed Sunday. He switched the comments off so you and your adoring alphabet fans could just listen, visualise and sense some tranquillity.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend, my dear human friend.

    Pawsitive wishes and doggy breath kisses,

    Penny 🙂 xx

  • Joyce Lansky says:

    One has to be at a certain level to ask a good question.

  • Oh, great post on Q &A. It got me thinking about my next work. The MDQ. Write on!
    Play off the Page

  • Questions is something that make me do mixed emotions with my face!!! But then Questions are a great way to learn!

    Participant|AtoZ Challenge 2014
    Smile, it makes (y)our day!

  • Another great post from you Damyanti, and on a similar vein to my own, although as you know I fine-tuned the questions.
    Yes, as a reader I constantly ask questions, sometimes about the story, and on occasion the writing and why something was dealt with in a particular way.
    As a writer, apart from the constant questioning of ever aspect of my own work, I do have, like you do, those individual questions: why? when? who? what? where? It makes what we do and how we do it, what it is.

  • I think that Anne Rice said it best. It's important for people of all ages to always be looking, and asking questions. This helps enhance both the reading and writing experiences. Damyanti, you are doing a great job co-hosting A to Z, and I know you'll get through it with flying colors!


  • klahanie says:

    Hi human, Damyanti,

    Yes, quite the struggle to keep up with the amazing alphabet challenge. Still, here I am pawing away. Anybody fortunate enough to read my incredible stories will sense that questions create more questions. I feel that there's a dialogue going between the reader and I, the lovable dog.

    Please relax on Sunday, dear human.

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny, the friendly host of the Alphabark Challenge! 🙂

  • Tina says:

    MDQ is a nice, catchy abbreviation to remind us that there has to be one big conflict that drives the story, or there isn't a story. I do enjoy books that keep me wondering and guessing and thus clicking that button. I was going to say turning the pages, but I don't do that anymore 😉
    Tina @ Life is Good
    A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014

  • I've heard it called may things over the years, but basically, all books build to a big moment when all seems lost, then everything is resolved, questions answered, etc. I love it being referred to as a question that's answered rather than a big horrible moment, though.

  • I like the quote about the MDQ. I have to think about that one and use it.

  • I find myself agreeing once more with everything on the topic. I want readers to have a love/hate relationship with the characters, based on their personalities, and question their actions as the pages turn.

  • Questions add to the tension, therefore, I try to always leave a few unanswered.

  • There's a couple of serialised stories on the A to Z that are keeping me asking questions, and therefore hooked on them: Anna Tan is doing a fey-based adventure that is revealing more and more about the central characters as the story continues and Katie Doyle's piece is about witches, a mystery that is ramping up the pace now. 🙂
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles – A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX – A to Z Drabblerotic

  • For sure, as a writer there are important questions that I ask about the characters and their motivation. I do the same as a reader, however, at the end of the story, I expect that all my questions will be satisfactorily answered.

  • As a reader, I like to be taken on a ride and not try to solve all the riddles and questions myself. I like for the story to reveal itself. As a writer, I think it's important to raise questions and doubts—this will make your reader worry for your characters—and give enough clues to foreshadow the answer.

  • It is always important to keep the question in mind in all your writing. But fun to make them guess.

  • cleemckenzie says:

    I go along with Alex. You have to know the major question in your story and make the reader want to find out what the answer is. And, of course, kids need a page turner. They love fast-pace stories. Ann Rice is a fascinating author. She scares me, but I enjoy every minute.

  • Then one of the keys to writing a good story is determining the Major Dramatic Question.

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