Tuesday’s Tutor: What’s Your MDQ?

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

At June’s WIFYR conference (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers), Cheri Pray Earl, my excellent teacher, asked us to identify our current book’s MDQ.

Our what?

Our MDQ—Major Dramatic Question.  I’d never had it put that way to me before.  She pointed out that many genre’s have a rather obvious MDQ: the major dramatic question in a Romance is “Will they get together?”  For a murder mystery—no surprise here—it has to be “Who Dunnit?”  For a Western, “Will Good triumph over Evil?”  (Which will often be the question in fantasy or sci-fi as well: the characters just wear different costumes there.)

So I was writing a fairytale mash-up: kind of a combination of The Princess on the Glass Hill, which I was surprised to learn almost none of my writerly friends were familiar with, and Cinderella with touches on an old Greek legend, three magic tinder boxes, and a possible whiff of East of the Sun and West of the Moon.  I realized, pretty quickly that morning, that it was all about getting the MALE “Cinderella”-type and the Princess together.

Oh, no!  I was writing a Romance!

I don’t normally even read romances.  On the other hand, most of my favorite historical novels contain a good dose of romance, so I guess . . .

Anyway, figuring out my MDQ—will Ashlad and the Princess ever get together—has been very instructive.  The answer—SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT—is, of course they’ll get together . . . after much travail!

Which brings us to the next questions:


What are their lives like before they get together?

  •  She lives with her wicked King/Father in a glass “castle”
  •  He lives —well, think a mild version of Harry Potter: poor, picked on by brothers, alienated from struggling father


What interrupts their “ordinary” lives?

  • He meets a witchy woman who gives him 3 magic tinder boxes, tells him to follow his heart
  • She refuses the demands of her King/Father to choose a suitor


How will he escape his mundane existence and get to see the world?

How will she escape her imprisonment and avoid marrying a “prince” she doesn’t love?

  • He will have to master . . . hmmnnnn
  • And she will have to . . .

Check with me as I discuss my WIP on July 31 . . . OR . . .

Wait a little longer and read my book: Glass Mountain Princess

And, BTW, what’s your MDQ?

See you day-after-tomorrow for Thursday’s 13!

 Have questions about writing (grammar, punctuation, getting published, etc.)?  Brenda Bensch, M.A., a teacher of multiple decades’ experience in Utah’s university/high school/community ed. classrooms (English, fiction/non-fiction writing, study skills, drama, humanities, debate, etc.), invites you to “Ask The Teacher” at http://BenschWensch.wordpress.com


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