Writing Tips

The Half-Blood Prince Guide to Question Arcs | Better Novel Project

More great information on adding question arcs to your story from my favorite site, The Better Novel Project! ❤

This is a guest post by Jed Herne, author of the forthcoming novel, The Aeon Academy. A question arc in your novel can help build suspense: Suspense: a state or condition of mental uncertainty or excitement, as in awaiting a decision or outcome, accompanied by apprehension or anxiety. The desire to know the answers to riddles or mysteries will keep many readers hooked.  Let’s look at how a question arc captivates readers in Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince.  What are Question Arcs? When readers have a question and are waiting for the answer, you have a question arc. Question arcs run from when the question is first raised to when it is fully answered. One question that propels the plot in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is: What is Draco Malfoy’s mission? This question arc begins on page 37 (Bloomsbury Children’s Paperback Edition, published 2006) in chapter 2. It concludes 511 pages later on page 548 in chapter 27. Thus, it lasts 85% of the book’s length. All up, readers are reminded of the question arc 36 times (through internal dialogue, conversation, narrative events, etc.). The below chart shows each reminder’s location in the book: Notice that these 36 reminders aren’t evenly spaced. There are barely five in the first third of the novel. Why? Well, for one, minor plotlines and secondary question arcs propel readers through the first bit of the novel. Also, reader curiosity and excitement is at a high at the start, especially when they’ve been waiting months for the book. After the initial burst of excitement, readers want the story to go somewhere. Rowling delivers with a cluster of four reminders around the 20-24% mark. This affirms the importance of this question arc, suggesting it will form the story’s backbone. How Rowling used a Question Arc […]

Source: The Half-Blood Prince Guide to Question Arcs | Better Novel Project

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