COME ON IN
Readers in general are slightly more intrigued by a question rather than a statement. It makes them think they are part of the action. But writers by definition begin their writing as omniscient narrators and usually continue as know-it-all voices as the text moves along.
Only through an act of stylistic guile do writers sheds their omniscient perch in a narrative or exposition and feign a more humble role. Rather than declaring by authorial fiat that “All men are created equal,” a more guileful approach would be to pose the question, “Are all men created equal?” Or, perhaps, to distance the writer from the statement: “Jefferson said, “All men are created equal,” or moving to an even more remote position: “Who was it who said that all men . . . ?“ Even a simple conditional clause, can brighten up sentence by offering a premise as being debatable: “If, as some say, all men are created equal, then why is it that . . . ?
In all these cases, the question, the suspicion, or the recourse to another voice or mood provides a way of drawing the reader into the imaginative dialogue as a participant. It works because it makes the reader part of the process, an assistant to the investigation. Don’t you feel a little more on the inside when the writer wants to know what you think? Well, do you?
Convert these statements into questions, or a speculation, or a condition.
1. The clown sat and watched the dog drag its dish up the staircase and then down again.
2. There no better way to get out of washing a paint brush every time you put it down for the day than simply popping it in a plastic grocery bag and twisting all the air out.
3. After they left Dallas, the couple chose to take an indirect route to New Orleans.
4. Bill ate at KFC every Thursday.
5. Hegel chose to regard thought as a binary process.
6. There is much controversy around the question of how World War One started.