Types of Narrative Questions
Narrative questions are posed by a story to sustain tension and keep the reader interested. The reader will want to know what will happen to the characters, how they will react in various circumstances, and if they will get what they want in the end. Four types of narrative questions include the outcome question, dramatic questions, emotional questions and thematic questions.
The Outcome Question
The narrative question that is most central to the story is the outcome. Readers typically learn about the desires of characters at the beginning of a story, and then continue to read to see if these desires are fulfilled. Generally, the outcome question is answered at the climax. For example, the outcome question for "Cinderella" may be "Will Cinderella live happily ever after with a prince?" Most of the plot is devoted to pursuing the outcome question.
Like the Outcome Question, dramatic questions are closely related to plot points. They are questions, such as "Will the truth come out?" that keep the reader in suspense. Sometimes, they are linked to the actions or events in a story. For example, in "Cinderella," a dramatic question may be "Will Cinderella get to the ball?" Dramatic questions are continually raised and answered through the course of the plot. In this way, the Outcome Question can be considered a type of dramatic question.
Emotional questions deal with the feelings of characters, especially when their expectations are fulfilled, denied or altered. An emotional questions may be framed as "How will Character X react when she finds out about Y." Emotional questions tend to be associated with interpersonal struggle and can be asked and answered various times throughout the plot. An emotional question may concern how will Cinderella feel when she finds out that she has to miss the ball.
Thematic questions can be ask and answered in various ways. The complexity of the thematic questions are often related to the type of story being told. A literary story will have various sub-textual questions posed throughout the piece, while the themes in fairy tales often come in the form of morals. For example, in "Cinderella," the thematic question may be "Can true love overcome any obstacle?" The thematic question in "Beauty and the Beast" can be posed as, "Is it rewarding to love someone for what's inside and not their appearance?"
Clayton Yuetter has worked as a professional writer since 1999. His writing has appeared in many journals and websites such as The Milk House, The Country Folks, Progressive Dairyman and Three Times Daily. He received a Master of Arts in writing at the National University of Ireland, Galway.