I have this system of going back in my story so far and asking deeper questions about that scene. I plan on answering these questions in the actual story.

Is this a good tactic because it makes me think more about what is actually happening in the novel.

2 Answers 2


I don't know about "deeper questions" in a scene; but I generally reread what I have written, in its entirety, six to twelve times before I am satisfied. Even a 250+ page novel. And that is on top of re-reading and rewriting scenes a few times as I produce them, with an occasional "start from scratch" on a scene.

I do this because by the time I finish a piece of work, I know my characters best, what they are capable of, where they are headed. I don't want the beginning of the work to be inconsistent in the slightest way with the end. If possible, I can add foreshadowing, or early hints of pathologies or decisions to come later; basically I can justify a few character traits or skills I now know are crucial to the plot turns or final resolution.

But most importantly I can rewrite things that are out of place, delete things that are wordy or over-explained, and I have enough mental distance from the previous visit to this writing, that I can be brutal with myself, or recognize my writing did not actually describe or convey what I was really imagining. (A problem for other writers too; when they read what they were just imagining, their imagination fills in the gaps for them so the writing seems good: But if they come at it 'cold' after a few weeks or months, they can see the words are not doing the job after all).

"Deeper Questions":

I'd be careful about this, it sounds dangerous. The questions you should answer are those that, if unanswered, could degrade a reader's suspension of disbelief. But those kinds of questions should be pre-emptively answered chapters before the reader would question something in a scene!

The only other kind of question you should answer are those central to the plot or what happens next (or happens later). Delete answers to questions that do not "matter", meaning the answer doesn't ever have a use later in the story. Answers like that are just stuffing to make a story longer, which dilutes action and impact. It is boring.

Do not satisfy your own desire to be thorough, or prove how much you know about some topic: Every time you do that you take a chance of giving readers an excuse to stop turning the pages.

  • Scary. Thanks for the warning! I seem to have taken a liking to ramble and clean up my grammar mess without fully reading what I wrote. I go back and fix some details up and find that I don't like some parts and would rather have them cut out. Aug 25, 2017 at 22:08
  • I also just read a part that I though needed to be expanded. It was too vague and it really stressed me out. I found it easier to come back and ask deep questions Aug 25, 2017 at 22:11

It never hurts to go back and reflect on the story. See what you may have missed, details that could have been added. Details that could be moved around or deleted because you realize that the story went in a different direction than you thought it would.

Everyone has their own review style and referencing your past writing for the future chapters helps ensure you keep consistent. Not all questions need to be answered. Just the ones that the readers need to know.

If Jon walks into the store every day at the same time, we may not need to know why. It could be chalked up to just part of his daily routine. However, if it's to demonstrate some form of OCD or deeper meaning that helps the story, then yes, we need the answers to that.

So bottom line is, Yes it helps you to reflect and think about the story and in staying consistent. It also helps to see where your story is lacking and where you could use more details/less details. In general, we would not be where we are as a society if we didn't start challenging reasons and forcing people to ask why. Socrates is a big reason why this line of thought was developed. So always ask why and you will never be short of answers.


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