Tuesday, October 6, 2020

As a Writer, Always Have A Question

by PeggySue Wells @PeggySueWells

Anytime and anywhere, always be ready with a quality question. 

I was at a meeting where several high-profile experts were on the program. At the end of the presentation the emcee said, “Does anyone have a question?” Here was a grand opportunity to tap brilliance and I couldn’t think of a single intelligent thing to ask. I just sat there like a mollusk, unable to string words into a query.

Ever since that learning experience, I have several other-centered questions at the ready. Whether seated at a dinner with people I don’t know, waiting at the dentist or post office, shopping, traveling, or talking to a wrong number, I can engage in conversation. People have fascinating stories, experiences, and expertise. Many serendipitous meetings have provided connections, research for my projects, and led to interviews.

One of my favorite questions is:

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened in your work?

Talking with New York Times bestselling author, Richard Paul Evans, I opened the interview with, “How has your faith impacted your writing?” 

He immediately brightened. “No one has asked me that question before. I would love to talk about my faith.”

Wrapping up an interview, or when I sense the energy is lagging, I ask my guest, “What have I not asked about that you would like to tell people?” Inviting someone to share the passion of their heart, and talk about what is currently making their eyes light up, shifts the conversation to extraordinary. This is where the interviewer gets the good stuff.

Here are a handful of questions you can keep at the ready. 
Add your own to this list and when you get the opportunity, engage in conversation. We can learn something from everyone, and it’s all material for your writing.
  • If you could go back and talk to yourself at age 18, what would you say to yourself?
  • What person in your life has had the most influence on you?
  • If you had a do-over, what would you choose?
  • Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
  • Who are your heroes, living or dead?

Tropical island votary and history buff, PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, Wells is the bestselling author of twenty-eight books including The Slave Across the Street, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, and Chasing Sunrise. Optimistic dream-driver, PeggySue is named for the Buddy Holly song with the great drumbeat. At school author visits, she teaches students the secrets to writing, and speaks at events and conferences. Connect with her at www.PeggySueWells.com, on Facebook at PeggySue Wells, and Twitter @PeggySueWells.


  1. These questions are excellent, and you're right, asking the "question that no one has ever asked" often elicits the very best material of all. I use it often in my interviewing. Thanks for sharing, PeggySue!

    1. With your experience, what other questions would you add to this list, Lori?

  2. Interesting and helpful post this morning, PeggySue. Thank you for sharing. These are wonderful questions.

    1. Diane, thanks for stopping by and for your kind encouragement! Write on!

  3. I am going to print this and refer back to it from time to time. As always, PeggySue, you've given us good, useful things to think about. Thanks!

    1. A fellow writer said she used these questions at a retirement party to interview the guest of honor. The audience enjoyed learning more about someone special and the party was far from boring.

  4. Great ideas, PeggySue! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you for your feedback, and congratulations on your new book, I Love You To The Stars!