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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book Club Discussion Questions

Okay. So you've published your book and you're marketing the bejeebers out of it. Some nice person from a local book club says: "My group wants to read your book next month. Would you mind providing us with some discussion questions?"

Wait a minute.

Elevator Pitch. Check.
Review request letter. Check.
Press Release. Check.
Media Kit. Check.

Nobody ever mentioned that I needed discussion questions. Oh well . . . one more document for my marketing arsenal.

Today's post is going to help you get those questions ready in no time.

Here are some generic questions you can start from --

DIRECTIONS: While reading a book, a club member should reflect on these questions, and research other supplementary materials. This is most important if you are leading the book discussion.

•Did you like the book? If you have read any of the author's other books, how does this compare?
•What is this book's message?
•How did you feel about the characters? Whom did you like or not like and why?
•What did you think of the ending?
•In a movie version, who would play what parts?
•How did you feel when the character did or said....How do you think the character felt when she did or said...?
•If questions...e.g. If the characters had done this instead, how would the story have changed?
•What do book reviews say about this book or more generally the author, and her past works?
•What did you think of the plot line development? How credible did the author make it?
•What moral/ethical choices did the characters make? What did you think of those choices? How would you have chosen?
•How authentic is the culture or era represented in the book?
•Why do you think the author wrote this? What is her most important message?
•How do you think the main character's point of view is similar or different from the author's point of view or background?
•What is the author's background (her style, stature and focus)?
•How does the setting figure as a character in the story?
•Are the characters' actions the result of freedom of choice or of destiny?
•Is there any moral responsibility that was abdicated?
•Are there any symbols that may have cultural, political or religious reference? e.g. flag, tree, rose.
•What type of vision does the author use with her word choice? Is it optimistic, pessimistic, prophetic, cautionary, humorous, satirical, venomous, cathartic?
•What effects do the events (time, nationality, physicality) have on the character's self or personality?

And you can customize the above with questions tailored specifically to your book. Here are some custom questions from my book, The 19th Element --

● The book details an al Qaeda-backed terrorist attack on a nuclear plant.
-- How would you attack a nuclear plant if you were a member of a terrorist organization?
-- What did you think about the members of the terror cell in the book? Weird? Interesting? Believable?
-- In your opinion, is the attack, as described, plausible? Likely?
-- Did you find the technical and scientific details of the plot realistic? Interesting? Boring?
-- Do you believe that nuclear security has become too lax, as the book implies?
-- What did you think of the reaction of the nuclear plant’s combined security force when Beck tried to warn them of the threat? What about Gunner’s reluctance to back Beck’s theory?
● Beck articulated a number of his life philosophies during the course of the book. Do you remember any of them? If so, how do you think his philosophies reflect on Beck’s character? Is he a person you can trust to do what’s “right”? Do you agree or disagree with Beck’s philosophies?

That's not all of my questions. But you get the idea.

Now when a book club asks you for discussion questions for your book, you've got a place to start.

That's it for today.

Cheers!

John

PS. Thanks to Holly in Plum City, WI for her contributions to this list.

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