Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
The Six Journalists Questions are a great way to get a feel for your novel. If you actually know the answers. Sometimes, at this point, you may only know some of the answers. Maybe you only know the what and where, but not quite who, why or how. Or maybe you know everything but the how. The trick is to figure out how to answer the questions you don’t know. And there are a ton of ways. There’s the clustering or freewriting that we’ve already talked about. You just focus them on answering the question you still need answered. Or, sometimes, you just need to ask other questions. If all you know is that your main character is going to be a college girl in Texas, sometimes the what, when, where, why, and how don’t seem like the right questions. Starting with things like “What are her goals?” makes it easier to figure out what should be happening to create a story. For my novel that I’m prewriting, here’s what I have for my 6 questions.
Who: A girl and her boyfriend. Both have superpowers of some kind, though I’m not completely sure what they all are. Her name is possibly Wren, but that was the name of my main character’s daughter in my last NaNovel, so I’m not sure if I’ll keep it. His name is either Hawk or Storm, but again, name issues. I don’t want to seem like some weirdo about bird names and I’m worried about the automatic assumptions that people would make about a character named Storm.
What: In the process of escaping from her abusive caretaker, they discover the identity of her mother. And the identity of her mother leads them to discover a superhero conspiracy that’s been covered up for over 16 years.
When: My novel is going to be roughly contemporary. Obviously, there are going to be some differences, since superheroes and thus, super-villains will be commonplaces.
Where: No idea where, yet. Maybe I’ll stick close to home and use an alternate Kansas City. Maybe I’ll make a place up. Or maybe I’ll pick someplace I wish I could go, like Chicago or New York.
Why: This question could either apply to why the girl ends up discovering the conspiracy, or it could apply to why the conspiracy and whatnot in the first place. I know the answer to the first why. I’m still working on figuring out the second why.
How: This one is all sorts of up in the air. I know that in my dream, one of the crucial pieces of information was a book detailing the mysterious and tragic disappearance of a socialite. But I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep that or not.