Last week, I read an article that I found very interesting. Entitled “The Disappearing Book,” the article was about the fact that the rise of the digital world might entail the downfall of the printed book. Although I was impressed with the story on several levels, the fact that the author asked several questions throughout the work was particularly intriguing. In contemplating this reality, I have concluded that asking one’s audience questions can be a great literary technique to employ.
To fully understand the significance and efficacy that Kelly Applegate’s article about the digital age had in my mind as her reading audience, I will share the paragraph in which she asked several important questions:
“I think we should be asking some questions before books disappear from not only our shelves, but our lives. Is knowledge and information processed differently in the brain by being read off of a monitor instead of a printed page? How does the under-funded rural school compete with a private school housing state-of-the-art technology in terms of learning? If we continue to have students learning from a mouse and a keyboard, what will become of the thousands of physical classrooms and campuses of large universities? And where are we going to put all those other books we’re just not going to use anymore anyway?”
As made plain by the nature of the questions themselves, they are relevant and thought-provoking. Because we are living in the Information Age, many people are thinking critically about what role the disappearance of books may have in the learning process. In posing several questions related to this very reality, Applegate asks her readers to consciously consider how the rise of digital books could alter the worlds of education and learning. Thus although other portions of her article are interesting, it is likely Applegate’s decision to ask questions which will provoke her audience to conceptualize an answer. In so doing, her readers will engage her work actively rather than passively.
Personally, I have often thought of whether asking questions when writing was a good idea. While I have considered the fact that it is a great way to make the reader critically engage my work, I have also thought of the fact that some might find it an irritating distraction that detracts from the impact of the points I am making. In considering the issue further, however, I have concluded that asking questions in one’s written work is indeed a great and simple way to make one’s reader think critically about your ideas.
Upon consideration of the fact that asking questions in written texts can stimulate one’s audience and cause them to engage your work by formulating answers to your questions, the efficacy of doing so becomes plain. I hope you will consider posing some of your own questions in the next piece you put together. Good luck!
Related Articles From Jocelyn:
Writing Tips: Another Side of Assonance
Writing Tips: Conflating Sensorial Elements
Writing Tips: Using Speed to Enhance Your Narrative
Jocelyn Crawley holds B.A. degrees in English and Religious Studies. Her work has appeared in Jerry Jazz Musician, Nailpolish Stories, Visceral Uterus, Dead Beats, Four and Twenty, and Haggard and Halloo. More work is forthcoming in Thrice Fiction, Faces of Feminism, and The Idiom.