Burning Questions, What Are Yours?

Years ago, in a critique group I was a part of, we used to talk about Burning Questions.Neon-burbank-tolucalake-817102-l

It began when I was working on a novel and got stuck halfway through.   I didn't know where I was going and couldn't see my way to the end, so I sat down and wrote a series of questions that I thought readers would be asking by that point in the novel.  Hence, Burning Questions.

The novel never did get finished.  It was no doubt doomed from the start because I plunged into it without a clear idea of where I wanted to go, or what, precisely, I wanted to say.  There's a big debate among novel writers as to whether one should outline or not outline.  People on each side of this debate hold their opinions as strongly as Birthers and Bush Bashers.  Wait, we no longer have Bush Bashers, do we.  Okay, call them liberals then.  You know what I mean.

I am a firm believer in doing whatever works.  If writing outlines works for you, then do it and don't worry about what those other folks say.  But if you like to be all loosey-goosey and let the writing and characters take you wherever they want, go for it. 

For me, what works in writing novels (and short fiction, come to think of it) is some kind of loose outline.  And when I say loose, I mean loose.  It is really more like a vague list that gives me at least some idea of what's ahead.  Along the way, things change, characters come alive, new ones walk on, which is all part of the fun.  And I revise my list when it is apparent that things aren't going to go the way I think they are.  But then I write a new list.  This keeps me on track. 

Then there are blog posts, which have always been more free-flowing for me.  Usually, I'm pretty good at keeping myself on track, but sometimes I start off in one place and end up in another, quite unexpectedly.  This post is an example–I started off wanting to ask what your burning questions are, and then got sidetracked by talking about where the term came from….and that led into a discussion of outlining vs. not.

Ah well, it is Monday and I slept late.

But here's the original Burning Question part.  I am wondering what yours are.  Truly and all.  Do you have questions, concerns, or ideas about writing?  About the writing life?  About a writing career?  Or maybe you have some questions about creativity?  Motivation? Inspiration?  Getting your butt to the computer regularly?

Whatever your questions are, I want to know them.  I'll do my best to answer them in posts, or even an email if that seems more appropriate.

So bring 'em on, lay them on me…anything, anything at all.    Comment away!

Photo by xurble, found on Everystockphoto, my fave, and used under Creative Commons 2.5 license.

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8 Comments on "Burning Questions, What Are Yours?"

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Christi
Guest
02/08/2010 12:31

My burning question…am I really going to make it in the publishing industry?
It is huge, and keeps me up and night with all the time and energy, and time spent away from my family.
Christi

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
02/08/2010 14:28

That, I must admit, is an excellent question. I think it has to be answered in terms of the satisfaction you get from writing and networking and everything else having to do with your career.

Walter
Guest
02/09/2010 05:51

I’m starting our as a writer. My burning question is: does it need talent to be a good writer? 🙂

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
02/09/2010 08:21

Walter, that’s such an important question, I’m going to devote a blog post to it. Thank you!

bechtoldlifework@sbcglobal.net
Guest

Hi Charlotte – I love the idea of burning questions. I think my biggest is – what’s truly motivating me to write a book? Or perhaps a better way to ask it is – how can I get to the core motivation, doing it for the love of it, and put aside all the other crap about comparing myself to what others are doing or what I think I should be doing?

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
02/09/2010 16:13
I think the best way to stay with your core motivation is to put process over product. For the length of time that you are writing first draft stuff, make a deal with yourself that you will focus solely on process, on allowing the lovely core to emerge onto the page. Once you are in the editing phase you can then move on to concerns of a product nature, such as where does it fit in the marketplace and how will I get it out there. Again, such a good question I think I’ll write a post about it. Thank… Read more »
Jessica
Guest
02/13/2010 02:28
I’ve finally worked out what my burning question is. (It’s a slow burn question apparently.) In a book I was reading recently, the author said she discourages writers from going back to their older work and resurrecting it. She said those were the subjects of the younger writer, but you have changed since then and should move forward. She encourages saying goodbye to that work and trying something new. However, I have heard many writers say their finished books came from ideas they had many years ago. Just today I was reading a blog by a writer who has been… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest
02/13/2010 08:04

Jessica, You’ve probably already guessed my answer…since this is such a great, and complicated question, I’m going to devote a whole blog post to it. Also, it couldn’t be more timely, as I’ve just been organizing my office and the floor of it is currently covered with stacks of old work. So stay tuned, I’ll write more on this next week.

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