Ask The Hard Questions

Live to Write - Write to Live

As regular readers know, I write mystery novels. “Whodunnit” is important, but “whydunnit” is as important. The why has to hold up to reader scrutiny. We’ve all read books where the “why” makes you throw it across the room.

As a writer, the “why” is a real challenge, and takes a lot of background work, very little of which will end up in the story. It involves asking some hard questions, some of which will make you uncomfortable. Of course, that discomfort is the signal that you need to keep drilling down, and asking more questions.

There are two areas where you need to ask the hard questions while writing.

Character Development: Characters are motivated to do an action, which is one why. But characters also have quirks that could create interesting backstory, or are good for you as a writer to know about as you build your narrative arc. Sam…

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