Take the 2-minute tour ×
Writers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for authors, editors, reviewers, professional writers, and aspiring writers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm writing a short story. And I realized the opening is filled with question marks:

Ming was disturbed by the faint sound of a piano. He put down his guitar tuner and glanced at the clock. 12:01. Isn't a little late for practicing? Curious, he pressed his ear against the wall. The song was coming from the apartment next door. It seemed to be classical music. Probably Mozart or Beethoven. But weird, Ming thought, no one is living in there. And there was a good reason for it: the ceiling in that room was constantly leaking. It was so serious that—after many attempts to fix the problem—the landlord finally gave up.

Now, however, it wasn't the sound of water but of a musical instrument.

He put on his jeans, grabbed his key, and exited his apartment.

The hallway was silent, as usual. Moonlight streamed through the window, giving the walls an eerie blue hue. Ming stood before room 312 and eavesdropped again.

To his surprise, he could no longer hear anything. Had he imagined the whole thing? He thought of knocking on the door. But what would he say if someone came out? Oh, I thought the piano was being played by a ghost. Sorry for the disturbance.

Ming realized the absurdity of the situation. What was wrong with him tonight?

Is this a bad practice? If so, how to fix it?

(I thought of starting the sentences with "he wondered" instead: He wondered if he had imagined the whole thing But this adds three extra words.)

share|improve this question
    
I just want to say I find myself using these sorts of questions a lot when writing in the 3rd person, and have trouble determining when they're appropriate to use. If anyone has some guidelines to share, it'd be appreciated! –  J L Sep 18 at 18:43

2 Answers 2

The questions are fine. They tell us what is on Ming's mind.

I would put first one in past tense (Wasn't it a little late...) to match the surrounding tense.

share|improve this answer

I agree. The questions don't detract here. It builds some suspense in your writing, so I like them. It makes the character seem very unsure of his situation, too, which fits with the story.

If you wanted to leave them out, you can just narrate what he's thinking. You might want to do this later, so I will give some examples how to do it.

He put down his guitar tuner and glanced at the clock. 12:01. Isn't a little late for practicing?

You might say: It was a little late for practicing.

To his surprise, he could no longer hear anything. Had he imagined the whole thing? He thought of knocking on the door. But what would he say if someone came out?

"Maybe he imagined the whole thing."

The second question takes a work around. What is he feeling here? You can let the reader know why he's afraid of someone coming out, so use a description. This is a bad example, but you'll get the idea:

"The thought of confrontation left him tongue tied."

Ming realized the absurdity of the situation. What was wrong with him tonight?

I suggest a work around again to tell us why he thinks somethings wrong with him. Is this out of character for him, maybe? "Always priding himself on his objectivity, what insanity it was to be chased by shadows and the bumps in the night"

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.