Master Authors and the Four Key Questions

Successful stories ask readers four key questions:

‘What will happen next?’

This question forms the basis of even the most primitive tale or piece of drama. Keeping the reader or audience in ‘suspense’ and having them surprised by unfolding action are two signs that a story is driven by this question.

‘What is really going on?’

The ‘glue’ that sticks readers to successful fiction is composed of mystery. Having something happen ‘under the surface’ of the story’s action means that readers and audiences will ‘stick’ to the tale and, if the mystery is strong enough, won’t let go until things are resolved in some way.

‘What is the right thing to do?’

Constructed figures called characters are given choices. The more ramifications their choices have, the more gripping is the moral dilemma involved. Successful fiction thus involves readers and audiences at deeper levels by engaging their sense of what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the context of the tale.

‘What is this really all about?’