Art of Asking Questions – The Secret to Compelling Stories

The other day, I was working on a client deliverable, a case study. I had just about enough material, including a brief by the client to craft the story. 

Yet I stood lost as a plethora of questions puzzled me. 

How should I begin? 

What should be the structure of my story? 

How should the narrative flow to establish a connect with the audience? 

Where can I find relevant and credible information? 

How do I weave a story that goes beyond stating the obvious?  

With overwhelming tides of chaotic thoughts within, I stood at the entrance of a maze. 

How to navigate through the maze left me pondering. 

“Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing”, says Warren Buffet 

I was perturbed.  

It was important for me to quench my queries and set on the right direction. 

I shared my dilemma in our morning session at We-Storytellers. What emerged was an intuitive framework, the 4Cs of Asking Questions – Clarity on Story Arc, Context in Exploration, Course of Discovery and Credibility of References.  

Let’s elaborate more on this framework. 

  • Clarity on Story Arc 

Clarity of thoughts is the foundation, the first step to seek relevant answers.   We ask questions to develop an understanding of the story arc and frame  the basic construct or the structure of the story.  

  • Context in Exploration 

Context setting comes next. Every story has a setting. There must be a  context to what is being communicated. The unraveling of context requires  us to diagnose the associated linkages and identify gaps in the information  at hand. The gap diagnosis not just establishes the context but also sets us  on the right path of deeper discovery.  

  • Course of discovery  

Course of discovery is then clear and we have the right questions to decode.   Hereafter, when we interview the subject matter expert, our discussion  stays the course. We have the structure in place and know exactly what to  ask. The discussion then leads to further research that corroborates or  validates the key findings.   

  • Credibility of references 

Credibility of information is at the core of any query. As we dig deeper into  the subject and seek references, our focus is on finding authentic and  credible sources.  

The 4Cs of Asking Questions determine the strength of a story. At every step of this discovery, I found myself juggling different hats. Sometimes, a journalist; probing to seek clarity, sometimes a doctor; diagnosing to validate the context and at times detective; looking for credible information. Staying on the course, asking questions all the way, I unleashed the power of 5Ws and the Hthe cornerstone of any discovery. 

I could now see the case study taking shape as a compelling narrative. The fog of confusions vanished and clear vision emerged. One clue led to another and eventually the mystery was resolved.  

I found myself at the other end of the maze, with a comprehensive and engaging story that not only stated facts as they were, but put them in context, equipping readers to get the complete picture. 

The secret sauce for great stories is the art of asking questions. That’s the mantra to funnel your ideas, to stay focused and to get to the crux.  

Not asking questions is a sign of ignorance. As the Chinese proverb goes, “He who asks a question remains fool for five minutes. He who does not ask remains a fool forever.” 

Have questions? Connect with us at www.we-storytellers.in and we will help you navigate the maze. 

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