Most of my thoughts and efforts this past week have involved questions--asking them, not answering them. For example, I've been pondering a good icebreaker question to ask the ladies in the Bible study that I'm co-leading next month. You know, that inevitable "Can you tell us something about yourself?" opener in a new group that helps folks get to know each other--but doesn't make shy people break out in hives and run for the Ladies Room. Our previous leader was so good at finding just the right question to ask; always discerning, with a touch of whimsy. Like:
"What's your favorite ice cream flavor?" Or "What's your choice--salty or sweet?" And the ever-popular, "Can you share something that people might be surprised to learn about you?"
I remember my answers: "Pumpkin." "Salty." "I'm an author."
It's my turn to come up with a new icebreaker question. And (because I'm a salty, pumpkin-loving writer) I may just set a little scene before tossing out my question. Something like:
"You've got the evening to yourself--just you, the TV, and big bowl of popcorn. You're going to treat yourself to a movie on DVD. So . . . you curl up on the couch, pick up the remote, and . . .
1) What kind of movie are watching? Comedy? Action thriller? Romance? Sci Fi? Classic oldie?
2) What color is your Snuggie?"
The other questions running through my mind this week have to do with finishing up my third Mercy Hospital book, CODE TRIAGE, scheduled for release in September. I've completed the edits and all that remains is to come up with a dozen or so Book Discussion Questions. These are the questions that appear at the back of a book, a sort of bonus that invites the reader to dig a bit deeper in experiencing the story. I've done these questions for both Critical Care and for Disaster Status. And, because I'd never been asked to do them before, I first read examples from other authors' work. I noticed that the questions not only addressed the story's events and characterizations, but invited the readers to reflect upon their own experiences. I gave it my best shot, and came up with this question for Critical Care:
ER nurse Erin Quinn finds it difficult to trust. She forces herself to try, despite “red flags” warning her about the sincerity of her boyfriend Brad. Have you had that experience in your life? What are signs you might be heading down a wrong path--anxiety, a “sinking” stomach, or sleeplessness? How easily do you trust? How readily do you turn to God to provide the answers to these nagging doubts?
Book Discussion questions are provided for both group discussion (book clubs) and for individual reading. Not all novels include them. While I've not been involved in many book clubs, I do find that I enjoy reading questions included at the back of a book, especially if the author wrote them personally. For me, it's a way of gaining insight into what the author thinks is important in the book--and if I "got" that from my read. Sometimes I feel that way when I've watched a movie that I found thought-provoking, or which has an ending left open to speculation. I'll sometimes Google reviews and see if other viewers were thinking along the same lines as I.
So . . . I'm writing questions for Code Triage. And wonder, how do you feel about having discussion questions at the end of a novel? Do you find them helpful? Have you included them in book club study? Do you skip right past them?
I'm curious about your thoughts.
Oh, and before I go back to work on those discussion questions--there's one last little matter I need your help with:
You've curled up on the couch, have your popcorn and the remote . . .
What color is your Snuggie and what kind of movie are you watching?