Noticing Magic Everywhere

Kate Comings' journal


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4000 Questions? The ultimate writing prompt

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I couldn’t resist this book. I was grocery shopping at New Seasons this morning, and it was on a table along with notepads, coasters, books, and ornaments. “4000 Questions for Getting To Know anyone and Everyone,” by Barbara Ann Kipfer. What on earth? I leafed through it–being asked a bunch of arbitrary questions makes me feel like a bug under a magnifying glass, but whoa–these are wonderful writing prompts!

When I’m writing a character, I’ll grab a notebook and my trusty fountain pen and plop him or her in a chair and ask questions. It’s a tried-and-true method of finding out things you never knew about the person. This book has all the questions I never thought to ask. A few examples…

Childhood: What has changed most about the neighborhood where you grew up? What activities besides eating went on at the kitchen table in the home you grew up in? What did you do when you came home from school? What are the stupidest rules your parents had?

Friends: Would you lie to keep a friend out of trouble? What do you find interesting about people? What traits do you not like in other people?

Romance: Define “commitment.” What is the scariest thing and the most rewarding thing about commitment? What is something someone said or did that you found extremely attractive? What words would you love to have whispered in your ear?

Outlook: Are you jealous of other people’s success? How do you deal with things you cannot change? Do you like snow? What do you hate most?

… and thousands more questions. I can’t wait to see how my characters respond to some of these.

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