Fiction Ed’s Blog: The Five Ws

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What Are The Five Ws?

I was reading about ‘The Five Ws’, this week – who, what, when, where, and why.

They’re the basic questions we use to gather information, solve problems, and even investigate crimes.

Known as ‘the reporter’s questions’, I wondered if they might help aspiring “Friend” writers get their story synopsis in good order before going ahead and trying a first draft.


Let’s start at the beginning – with ‘Who’.

Whose story will you be telling?

Who is the main character, and who are the supporting characters?

Are the characters relatable?

If you’re writing a serial for the “Friend”, who are the viewpoint characters, through whose viewpoints the story will be told?


What is happening, or has previously happened, in your story?

Does it have a clear beginning, middle, and end?

Can the plotline be summed up easily?


Our next ‘W’ is when.

When will your story take place – is the setting contemporary, or historical?

Is it seasonal, or suitable for ‘any time’?


Let’s look at setting, now – the ‘where’.

Where is the story taking place? In one place, or multiple places?

Home, or abroad?  City or country? Indoors or outdoors?


Our final ‘W’ is why. Why do your characters act in the way they do – what are their motives?

Why does the story resolve as it does?

Why does the reader want to read on and find out what happens?


And finally, a curveball; not a ‘W’, but often included with the 5 Ws – it’s ‘How’.

How did it all happen? How did everyone get to this place? How do the characters relate to each other?

Answering the Five W questions can help give you a ‘frame’ to hang your story on – giving you a clearer picture before you go ahead.

Best of luck!


Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!