Classroom Exercise Playwriting

One Hundred Questions

Written by Lindsay Price

I adore using questions and answers as part of the writing process. It’s an excellent way to get yourself out of writers block. It’s a great method for creating specific characters. For creating a thesis for your work. It’s something that should be at the heart of every project: what question is being answered here?

So I was thrilled to come across this writing exercise over on Read Write Believe, which was taken from How to think like Leonardo daVinci.

It’s very simple. You free think out a hundred questions. Then boil it down to ten. Then one. Then try and re-ask that one question in as many different ways as possible (there’s an example over on Read Write Believe.)

What a great way to hone your thinking from broad to specific!

You can use this as an individual project with your students or as a collaboration exercise. In the middle of a playwriting unit, have students examine the play they’re working on. What are 100 questions you can ask about your work? What are the 10 that jump out at you the most? What is the most important burning question? How many ways can you reframe it? Use the 100 questions technique to get students to focus on their main character. What do you learn about a character after asking 100 questions about them? It’s one thing to come up with 10 or 20. 100 really forces you to think outside the box.

In a collaboration exercise, your students not only have to work together to come up with a 100 questions, but to cull them down to 10. Use this technique in the middle of a Theatre History Unit. What are the 100 questions each group can ask about Ancient Greek Theatre? Which 10 jump out? What’s the most important question? How can you reframe the question? This technique allows students to look at Theatre History in a whole different light.

What about Shakespeare? In groups, have students pose 100 questions about Hamlet. What can they ask about the language? The characters? The story? The relationships? The ending?

Students spend so much time answering questions. What if they’re the ones doing the asking? What questions do they come up with?

Click here for a PDF of the 100 Questions Exercise!

About the author

Lindsay Price