Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What Is the Question?

I read an interesting statistic recently – that children ask an average of 144 questions a day. That sounds about right, since many times with a young child especially, the first Q&A only brings on more questions.

To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science. Albert Einstein

We authors might not be young children (any prodigies out there in the Brigade?) or Einstein, but I bet all of us ask more questions than the average adult. If we didn’t, there’d be a severe shortage of science fiction romance to enjoy! I’m not in any way a structured writer – I use no tools, not even a spreadsheet, I don’t outline, I don’t work with Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat system of plotting – but I do ask questions. I know some people go very VERY indepth when getting ready to write a novel, ‘asking’ their characters all kinds of questions from his/her childhood pet’s name to what’s their favorite color, create elaborate bios…I sincerely applaud you if that’s one of your tools. I figure out the hair color and the eye color and then I’m off, seat-of-the-pantsing. All things about my hero and heroine come to me as I write. In my latest, Star Cruise: Marooned, I discovered my heroine had brothers and they’d abandoned her in the woods one day when playing hide-n-seek. I didn’t know this until the plot called for the hero (and me) to have an explanation for why she’s terrified of storms at night in the forest.

Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions. Edgar Cayce

Getting back to questions though, my novels usually start with me asking one (or two) big questions, usually “What if…” What if the Titanic was an event in outer space? What if my heroine was caught in an uprising like the 1857 Sepoy Rebellion but on an alien planet in the far future? What if a luxury cruise liner puts its passengers ashore on a nature reserve planet for four hours of fun but then the crew abandons them? What if indeed…

A good book always keeps you asking questions, and makes you keep turning pages so you can find out the answers. Rick Riordan

The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose. Margaret Atwood

I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these 'how' and 'why' questions. Occasionally, I find an answer. Stephen Hawking

So, what questions do you ask when you start plotting a new book?

Meg Antille works long hours on the charter cruise ship Far Horizon so she can send credits home to her family. Working hard to earn a promotion to a better post (and better pay), Meg has no time for romance.

Former Special Forces soldier Red Thomsill only took the berth on the Far Horizon in hopes of getting to know Meg better, but so far she’s kept him at a polite distance. A scheduled stopover on the idyllic beach of a nature preserve planet may be his last chance to impress the girl.

But when one of the passengers is attacked by a wild animal it becomes clear that conditions on the lushly forested Dantaralon aren’t as advertised – the ranger station is deserted, the defensive perimeter is down…and then the Far Horizon’s shuttle abruptly leaves without any of them.

Marooned on the dangerous outback world, romance is the least of their concerns, and yet Meg and Red cannot help being drawn to each other once they see how well they work together. But can they survive long enough to see their romance through? Or will the wild alien planet defeat them, ending their romance and their lives before anything can really begin?

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Amazon best-seller Veronica Scott is a three-time recipient of the SFR Galaxy Award, is the USA Today/HEA SciFi Encounters columnist, and has written a number of science-fiction and fantasy romances. You can find out more about her and her books at https://veronicascott.wordpress.com/


  1. We must be twins, Veronica. I ask the same questions. What if? And how? Little kids keep asking why. As writers, we should, too. With every answer, we should ask why again. And again. Good post.

  2. The question I always ask myself is 'why would anyone do that?!' Coming up with motivations for deeds and behavior is the starting point for any character driven story I scribble out. Why would a person try to stop committing events to short-term memory? Why would a person volunteer to go to a plague colony forever?
    I just found this blog and am so happy I did. I want to know what questions others have asked and what answers they've found!


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