How to Write Study Guide Questions for Your Novel

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Have you thought about adding study guide questions to your novel?

If not, maybe you should. It might help you market your book to study groups and bring out the deeper meanings in your story.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the content of your novel have a central theme that’s controversial?
  • Will readers relate to your characters on an emotional level?
  • Is there a historical event that ties into your story?
  • Is the theme of your novel one that fits a certain readership?
  • Are your readers people who are deep thinkers or who read to learn something?
  • Will your book teach something about the world, sacrifice, or anything in general?

If you answered YES to these questions you could benefit from a study guide.

But how do you write the questions?

First, look at the study guides from your favorite authors for examples. Here are questions from LIT LOVERS on the THE BOOK THIEF. (Btw, this is a great website to load your book and include study guide questions. CACHE a PREDATOR is there, and I will be submitting my next novel too.)

Secondly, think of how you get a quiet child to talk. You don’t ask YES and NO questions. You keep the questions detailed so the child has to think a little deeper. The same is true with study guide questions.

Thirdly, lead readers with your questions. Think of the interviews you did, or will do at blog posts, for your novel. You ask the questions to lead to the answers you want to give.

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Here are a few guidelines and examples from my soon-to-be-released novel, SCATTERED LINKS.

  1. Ask open-ended questions. Example: Describe how Oksana’s life was different in Russia than the US.
  2. Relate the questions to your story. Using focused questions will help keep readers on topic. Example: Why does Oksana bond with a horse more than her adoptive parents?
  3. Ask a question that doesn’t have a wrong answer. Example:  Do you think RAD, reactive attachment disorder, is more prevalent in post-intitutionalized children or foster children in our country?
  4. Make your questions clear, not ambiguous. Help readers understand your question. Example: What did Oksana leave Ruzina in the orphanage?
  5. Make the questions thought-provoking. How many children are being re-homed in our country as a result of RAD? (Re-homed is when parents place their RAD children in other homes because they can’t parent them with this disorder.)
  6. Compare and contrast. Example: What does our country do with unwanted children versus other countries? Which way is better?
  7. How did the book affect you? Example: Where were the emotional scenes?
  8. Project into the future. Example: If Oksana were a real character alive today how would her past affect who she is as a mother, employee, or wife?
  9. What did you learn from the book? Example: What did you learn about Russian adoptions or RAD from reading this novel?
  10. What was the style used to write this book? Example: Which point-of-view character was the book written in and what tense? Would you have liked to read the book from Katie’s POV? Why or why not? What genre was this book? Even though the main character was thirteen do you think adults would like this book more or the same as a teen?
  11. What do the characters do? Example: Was the scene in the animal shelter believable?
What are some great study guide questions you’ve noticed in books or in your own?

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Comments

  1. Super post!
    There are lots of ways to use study questions for added value to readers, and to increase the impact of your book’s message. I’ve seen some novelists (e.g., Loree Lough) include study questions in the back of the book. Or you could post them on your website as a bonus download.
    When I first wrote my dramatic comedy, The Sacrifice Support Group,” for my local churches to perform for Lent, I added discussion questions for the audience. When I decided to publish TSSG, those questions grew into a whole Bible study titled Giving It Up for Lent, which I just published last week. 🙂

    • Great thoughts, Linda. I’m going to put my questions in the back of the book. Have you put your book(s) at LIT LOVERS –at that link I shared? I can’t imagine the questions growing into a Bible study. Cool! I love that. You’re making me think outside of my box. My questions would be great for adoptive parents before adoptions too. It’s something to think about.

      Have a blessed holiday. I’m thankful for you!

  2. Thanks, Linda. Good points and timely. I’m at the point of writing a discussion guide for my novel – Go Away Home.

  3. Where were you a couple of months ago!! lol I’m bookmarking this page…great suggestions.

  4. Thank you so much for those awesome hints and tips!! I will be creating a Study Guide to accompany my new Teen Novel for sure now 😀
    Great Post, many thanks! The Reality Writer
    http://www.reality-writer.blogspot.ca

  5. This is right on time and really helpful. I was looking for suggestions that will help me create questions that will really add to the experience of my book and this post is of great use. Thank you.

    • Yay, I’m thrilled to know that it helped you. Thanks for taking the time to let me know!

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