Friday, May 7, 2010



I'm asked this question about 60 gazillion times a day by my 4 year old daughter.  This does not include the 100 times I ask myself this question about other things that go on in my head.

The answer to her repeated question is usually --because that's the way it is.  This usually will give me about 10-15 minutes before she asks why again.

My daughter is curious--why do cat's wash themselves? why is the tree trunk brown? why can't I have a toy? why do I have to drink milk? why do I take a vitamin? You get the picture.  I could answer these with the actual truth but I know once I start to explain another why question is brewing.

So I got to thinking--why am I so obsessed with writing? Easy answer--because I love it and well it makes me happy.  You already knew that.

I started to use the why question for other areas of my writing adventure--one I already posted about this week. Why suffer (put myself through the anguish of questioning my writing ability) through critiques? Another easy answer because they will only make my WiP better and I should get used to people giving me their opinion because this is only the beginning.

Then I applied it to a chapter of my WiP.  Why is this chapter necessary? and it developed into more questions. Does it make sense? Does it flow? How does it fit with the plot? Why is that character chewing gum? Is that necessary?

O.k. maybe I started to go overboard but it made me realize why my daughter asks so many questions. She wants to know and understand. Just like someone who might read my precious story. They too would want to know every detail and why a certain character or chapter or anything is relevant to the rest of the story.

I'm not trying to stress you out even more so please don't take it that way. I sometimes get overwhelmed by thought of certain pieces of my WiP. Mainly because I have a long way to go and there are parts to my WiP that need major reworking. When I question-- why-- it sometimes helps. The --why--question is also helping me cut the fat so to speak. Things that may have slowed the pace down are now being cut. It was great to write these pieces because it helped me understand the story but they need to go.

Here are questions for you:

Do you ask the --why--question?

Does this help you in your revisions?

Does it seem you have to trim or cut a lot more than you thought?

*****Breaking News****Get over to First Novels Club or Frankie Writes.  Frankie has an agent!!! Go congratulate her!!! So excited for her!!!

Go check out a new blog by Chimera Critiques Erica Spickard-- She is also having a contest.Ends May 27th.

I also wanted to tell everyone that I do appreciate all of your comments.  I hope you don't get annoyed that I don't respond to them. I want to, I really do but lately I have had time constraints and I'm teaching my son how to sleep on his own again (after his surgery it has been murder.) I'm usually working on 3-4 hours of sleep a night so please forgive me. I do read all your comments and take all of them to heart. So keep commenting. I'm trying my best to return your kindness.

Have a great weekend!


  1. I don't usually ask the why question, but my 4yo does all day long!!! worse,my 2yo is a total copy cat, so he's starting it too. Fun times!

    And I hear ya. if I want to write, it's when I should be sleeping. So I'm often tired and not wanting to spend all my time blogging!

  2. I'm sorry you're going through a tough, sleep deprived time.

    I ask a lot of why in regard to my WIP. If I know why the characters feel a certain way, I know why it's important. Like you, if I ask why a scene is in the manuscript, I know whether or not it's worth keeping.

  3. Guess I just don't obssess over why. Maybe I've lost that child-like attribute. I look at my work in terms of how it can be better and does it flow.

  4. I'm 6 and 7 year olds are always asking questions, especially the annoying 'What If?' ones.

    I'm now asking a lot of questions while editing my wip. It makes a huge difference. :)

  5. I hear ya with the why- on all accounts. As for my WIP, I find that I don't ask why with it. All of the chapters makes sense to me- but, when someone critiques it and asks Why, I see it- or begin the process of wondering it myself. make sense?

  6. i do ask the why questions. It makes me feel like i'm covering my bases

  7. Great post Christine. I don't know that I do this consciously but I suppose I ask myself this question all the time without really thinking about it. I think if you write fiction you must ask yourself why all the time. And of course what if too.

    Yay for Frankie!

    Today's guest bloggers are Lisa and Laura Roecker!

  8. This is a great post and thanks for the shout out and I hope you start to get some more sleep! *hugs*

  9. Don't sweat the comments. We all have real lives we must attend to at some point. lol.

    As to the why? Oh yes, every day I ask myself why more times than I care to remember. And Monster Baby learned the hard way that when she asks a question I will tell her the truth.

    "Why is the sky blue?" Now the easy answer, of course, is "Because that's the way God made it. Isn't it pretty." But no, not me, I said, "It's the light refraction off the sun as it appears in the atmosphere because the shadow of the moon is blocking the iridescence from the super nova as it appears on the backward trail in the cosmos." I'll never forget the look on her face. She never asked me another why question.

  10. Why? Always a good question. Thanks for reminding me. ;)

  11. I forget to ask why. Why? Because I forget that I already know whats about to happen, but my reader doesn't, so I forget those tiny details in my WiP all the time. My crit group always, and I mean ALWAYS points out the "why, why, why". I don't know what I would do without them, honest.
    I need to get in the habit of asking myself this question more often.
    Thank your for the link to my contest! Enter! lol. I may be upping the prizes this weekend to include my first--you'll just have to check it out to find out.
    So in a nutshell, I don't ask why nearly enough. Well, I ask why painfully when I have to do revisions. I usually trim the fat, and add the good veggies in a revision.

  12. I ask this all the time. Why am I doing this? Is this what I really want? Why am I angsting over all of this?

    I wish I'd grow out of it...

  13. Why?

    Man's immortal question. Right on up there with how, where, and when.

    To ask them intelligently is how we write better stories, more realistic, more ensaring.

    I always get something stimulating and thought-provoking from your blog. Thanks, Roland

  14. Hey - no one expects you to reply to every comment you recieve! Not even superwoman could do that:)

    I haven't really asked the "why" question yet, but when I get to revisions, I will!

  15. I've been slacking on my comments, too. Whenever I actually have time, Blogger takes the low road to stupidity. I definitely ask "why," like, all the time. And I do think it helps me with my writing. If I have to ask "why," then my readers are going to be asking "why" and that's not good, unless I want them to be asking "why."

    WHY did I say WHY so many times in this comment?

    Hope you get some rest! :o)

  16. Les Edgerton has an excellent section about why questions in HOOKED. Your post reminds me of it.

    Have a great weekend! :-)

  17. Hi Christine,

    This is Callie from Chimera Critiques. I hadn't gotten over here to comment yet. I follow so many blogs, and between that and gets time consuming. Great site though, I'll be sticking around!

    I didn't ask why enough in my first manuscript. Hence the entire rewrite. sigh. I think it's a really important question! The most important thing I have to remember is, why does this need to be in here? I have a tendency to not trust the reader enough and to over-explain. I used to have all these rambling internal monologues by my MC, explaining all his thoughts. Luckily, I've gotten rid of most of those. Sometimes I still fall into the trap though!

    So yeah, why why why am I saying this? Can I take it out and keep my word count down to something people will actually read? That's the big one for me. lol...

  18. P.S. I'm trying to follow your blog, I clicked the follow me button, but I'm not coming up as a follower. I'll check back, maybe it's just taking a bit to come up. I figured I'd let you know though, in case you are having a problem.

  19. Ha! This post totally cracked me up because my kids are SO in the why stage of life. I never thought of applying that to our writing, but it's definitely good advice.

    Have a wonderful Mother's Day!

  20. You make such a good point about asking "Why?" That can help us see so many things about our manuscripts that we might not have seen before.

    No worries about the comments. I hope you're able to get some more rest soon!

  21. Thank you Christine for making me sound so sane now.

    I actually did ask those "why" questions of myself at some point, and believe it or not, for the same reasons. My kids' curiosity. It bled over into my revisions one day, and helped me so immensely to see some of the problems that I knew existed, but couldn't quite grasp before.

    Who says profound inspiration has to come from an expert? Well, I guess our family (and not just the kids) are experts at asking why we do what we do. Good practice for standing in front of that all important agent/publisher/target audience.

    Thank you for your encouragement on my blog fest entry. I appreciated your comments, though I elected not to personally comment on everyone tonight. Such a weird experience for me I'm tempted to go back and rectify the error.

    I happen to glance over at your side bar, and what jumped out at me was the "your are my sunshine award". Now I must go listen to that song, and the mood is definitely not conducive to a bad girl theme. :)

    Have a great weekend.


  22. Wow way to go Frankie!!

    I think your 4 year old seems to be a helpful little thing even though a pain when they ask the question why a little too often!!!

  23. Thanks for the links! And don't worry about not responding to commments - we understand!

    The "why" question is oh-so-important. If I don't know "why" something's in my wip, then it probably needs to come out.

    Have a great weekend and a happy Mother's Day!

  24. My kids are 6 and 4, so you can imagine how many times a day I get to hear the "Y" word! They have even asked me why 'why' is not spelt 'Y'!!!
    But no, beyond a point, I do not use the why word on my WiP- don't want to drive myself and my readers crazy by piling on the details.