Dumb Questions for Smart Writers

We discussed what was a good question to ask writers during Newbie Writers Podcast Episode 21. 

Without good questions, we cannot get great answers. It seems rather obvious, but people don’t always follow the obvious course.Elephant ear skirt

I have walked out of author interviews. Not because the author wasn’t marvelous, often she was. What drives me from an presentation or key note or panel are the lame questions.   At a recent book signing,  Natalie Goldberg prefaced her question and answer period with the plea, “And don’t ask me what color pen I use to write.”

Fair enough. In the case of the pen question, I think sometimes we think that the writer possesses something magical that we in turn can purchase ourselves. Maybe Goldberg uses a magic pen, something that can be acquired at the Harry Potter theme park.  We want to know where to get the magic.   Maybe that’s a better question, where do you get the magic?  I’ll guess right now that’s an unanswerable question.

But how can you get a great, interesting answer if the question is so terribly mundane? Here are some better questions to ask a writer next time you are in a conference or at a book reading.

  • What made you fall in love with writing?
  •  How do you feel while you are writing?
  • What other authors do you admire?
  • Who influenced you? (Ask for particulars, maybe those writers will help your work)
  • Do you listen to music when you write?
  • If you were not an author what would you be?
  • What are the last five books you have read?
  •  Do you mentor emerging writers? Do new writers need mentors?
  • What do you sacrifice to write?
  • What is the most demeaning thing that has been said about you as a writer? How did you react?
  • What do you find to be the most challenging thing about writing?
  • What is your schedule when writing?
  • (The holy grail) What do you think makes a good story?

I hope the authors will not only answer your questions, but thank you for the opportunity to utter an intelligent response.

I am migrating this blog to be part of NewbieWriters.com  Until we have complete lift off, both blogs will publish simultaneously.  Sorry Panda.

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