This article addresses what I find is the most pressing issue in developing a novel. It’s the one I come back to again and again, hoping I’ve made it work and struggling if I think I haven’t.
In some ways, I think this article may distill the question down a bit more than I like; sometimes there’s a story question embedded in another story question, and both have to be answered. In Blood Lies, the obvious story question is whether Ted will find out who murdered Alejo. But the larger question that drives and even overrides this one is whether, in the process, Ted will become the man he needs to be to respect himself. So a corollary question to ask in working on story questions is whether the two (or more) questions serve each other. Does finding his best self help Ted find the murderer? Does finding the murderer help Ted find his best self?
In any case, in many unpublished novels I read, it’s the story question that’s missing–or just isn’t compelling. So this article is an excellent primer on this central issue in fiction.
Both the story question and the story problem are vital for crafting cohesive stories and strong fiction. A discussion of the story question in fiction.
Source: The Story Question is Vital