It may have killed the cat but it is meat and drink to a writer. As a writer you want to know stuff. More than that–you need to know.
Disparate things such as the speed of an African Swallow (unladen) or what they are talking about in the supermarket when they say, over the PA system, ‘All available staff report to the warehouse for the two-thirty rumble’. Or maybe, what does that big red button do? Why do Mrs Goggins’ twins have blond hair when she has dark hair, and where is Mr Goggins? What happened to the Onecan?
It’s our inquiring mind that inspires us to ask questions and to search out the answers. Although sometimes the questions are so interesting or thought-provoking that we don’t really care about the answers. And then again, sometimes the answers matter so, so much we almost don’t dare to ask the questions. Even the nickname of my favourite genre is a question: Whodunit?
It turns out the two-thirty rumble is not, as I’d surmised, a bare-knuckle fight taking place daily in the warehouse, with the staff standing around shouting and cheering and placing bets; nor is it some kind of special food fiesta where they all help themselves to whatever cake they fancy, and end up chucking it at one another in a glorious sugar-fueled food fight. It’s just the call to collect stock from the warehouse to fill up the shelves in store. I was actually really disappointed when I discovered this–by asking!–I so much wanted to believe in a strange other world out back of the store. The truth was far too ordinary.
To ask questions must be the driving force behind any novel; questions carry first the writer, and then the reader, on the journey all the way through the book to those satisfying words ‘The End’. Ask yourself questions. What am I afraid of? What matters to me above all other things? What would I do if…?
Fiction writing is all about asking questions–Who? Why? How? When? Did they get caught? Who by? How? When…?
It is our job as a writer to raise questions, then depending on our chosen genre or sub-genre, to either answer them meticulously one by one, or to leave them hanging in the air.