Story Question -How To Discover Your Central Question

By on April 8, 2021

Do you know what your story questions are?

Every good book has one central, dramatic question that acts as the very essence of what your story is about. If you don’t know what yours is, don’t worry! Here we’ll help you understand exactly what the central question is, and how to discover yours. 

What Is the Central Question of any Story?

The dramatic question revolves around the central conflict your main character faces. Typically, this conflict is presented immediately to the reader. The sooner your reader understands the question, the sooner they will feel engaged and wanting to find out the answer!

The question may take the entire book to resolve. However, each point of progression should serve in getting one step closer to discovering it. 

Getting this question right may be dependent on the genre you are writing in. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, the question was whether the two families would ever make peace? In Gone with the Wind the question was whether Scarlett O’Hara would be able to win Ashley Wilkes? In The Silence of the Lambs, the question was whether Clarice would be able to hunt down Buffalo Bill and put an end to his killing spree. 

How To Discover What Your Central Story Question Is?

The heart of your story should be a question, a dramatic, captivating question, and one that will have readers turning those pages to find the answer to it. When thinking about your plot, can you narrow down what the true essence that drives your narrative is? What is it that’s driving your story? Why is your story being told in the first place? Consider your protagonist's objective and whether or not they will end up achieving what they set out to achieve?

 Finding the answer to these questions is what creates the core of your story, from which all other parts develop and grow. Whatever the character's external goals are, this is where you should look for the central question, what do they desire most? This needs to be something tangible and something that is made clear to your readers. 

Central question examples

Examples of central questions might be whether your characters will end up together - this is often the question in classic romance novels. In dramatic, crime fiction, thriller, or suspense novels the central question usually revolves around whether the bad guy will be discovered, caught, stopped, or overcome. The key to discovering the question is knowing your story inside out and having a robust goal for your protagonist and an understanding of whether, in the end, they are going to achieve it. 

Finding your central question will help guide your book and keep you focused on what’s important. So if you don’t know what the central question to your story is, it is probably time to find out!

Now you understand how to find your story questions, why not read about how to create a theme in your novel?

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