Four and a half types of sentence

Putting sentence types together

Using questions to explore a character's thoughts

The next snippet shows the inner thought process of a girl trying to overcome a monstrous spirit. What effect do the questions in this snippet have?

How could a girl like her defeat a creature as powerful as this? She didn't dare touch it. Perhaps she could lead it into a trap or push it off a cliff—except she had set no traps and there were no cliffs here.

Was the stream the answer? Lead it to the water's edge and shove it in? That might work, but she had no idea how to find her way back to the stream.

KoyasanDarren ShanSource

The questions in this snippet achieve a few different things:

  • They reflect the character's fear and uncertainty.
  • They make the passage more dynamic, inviting us to think of our own solutions to the threat.
  • They help frame the character's thought process—from a wide perspectice of the problem ("how could she...?") to solution-focussed ("was the stream the answer?").
Fragment or question?

Let's try writing our own versions.

Why wasn’t I getting in trouble? Mum had caught me red handed. The jam jar was open and my hand was covered in bright, raspberry red goo—but she was just standing there.

Was she waiting for me to say something? To explain myself? I looked from my hand to my motionless mother. There was no way I could explain to her what had actually happened.

Where would Fernando have hidden the locket? He knew I needed it to save my brother. But he also knew how dangerous it was.

He wouldn’t have destroyed it, would he? Just set wire cutters to it until every chain link was severed? I had to believe that wasn’t the case.

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