How to Write Compelling Discussion Questions That People–Including Yourself!–Will Want to Answer!

How to Write Compelling Discussion Questions

What makes a good discussion question? The kind that not only generates a conversation in others, but also makes you, the originator of the question, want to answer it, as well? Read on to find some of our tips for crafting discussion questions that get people talking!

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Go beyond “yes” or “no” questions–or questions that will only generate a sentence response.

A compelling discussion question requires an answer that needs at least a few paragraphs to answer. On a basic level, this means going beyond questions such as, “Do you like to reread books?” (which could prompt one to answer simply, “Yes,” or “No”) and adding a little bit more, such as, “Why or why not?”

However, it also means avoiding questions that would generate easy responses that do not in turn generate more discussion. For example, a question such as, “Where do you like to store your books?” even though it is not a “yes or no” question, will likely receive simple answers such as, “On my bookshelf” or, “On the nightstand.” There is not a lot more to say in response, except perhaps why (“It’s convenient,” or, “I ran out of room on the shelf”) and even that requires only another sentence. Furthermore, these answers are unlikely to generate further discussion from other readers unless someone comes up with a really novel and useful way to store books. The conversation will end with each person saying where they keep books and no one really talking to each other.

In the same vein, questions with numerical answers may not necessarily generate much discussion, either. A question like, “How many times have you read your favorite book?” or, “How often do you visit the library?” again requires only a short answer: “X number of times.” A really thought-provoking question needs just a little bit more to get people talking.

Instead of asking questions that have an easy, one word or one sentence answer, try asking questions where respondents might have to think through different possible answers. For example, a “how” question would make people consider multiple outcomes. Take a question such as, “How could the library be improved?” or, “How do you decide what to read next?” Respondents can probably think of several changes they would love to see in their library. And they probably have various answers for how they decide what to read next because what they want to read might vary on their mood, their available free time, what reviewers and websites they have been reading, and more.

But thinking through possible answers might also mean that mean that, even though a respondent might immediately think of their answer, they can also imagine other people answering differently. For example, “Do you think the public library is still relevant? Why or not?” might automatically make many people want to scream, “YES!” But they probably also realize some people might want to scream, “No!” To write a convincing response, they will have to demonstrate why they think the library is still relevant by providing examples and anticipating counterarguments. Their answer will have to be at least a few paragraphs, and it will be easier for their answer to inspire a continuing conversation.

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Get controversial.

An easy way to generate discussions that continue for awhile is to think about questions that generate controversy. This could mean tackling trending topics (such as when Twitter get upset at people calling their book exchanges “libraries”) or responding to questions that still continue to energize and divide the bookish community (like whether Susan Pevensie was treated fairly by C. S. Lewis). Controversial questions do not have to be questions that make people angry–just questions that have multiple potential responses people might make. They are questions that do not necessarily have easy answers, but ones that might require some more research, thought, and nuance.

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Do some research.

The thought of doing research might make some bloggers cringe. They aren’t in school, after all! But looking up information is key not only to answering questions, but also to generating new ones. The internet will often take hold of an idea and present it as fact, and others will usually take that information at face value. Try questioning others’ takes! Reading up on the issues will often present new facets to be taken into account, which might raise thoughts such, as “But why?” or, “What if?” or, “How?” or, “Then what?” Follow these thoughts to generate new, invigorating questions that can in turn become a discussion post. The nuances of a question are often what make it fascinating, and these nuances are often only revealed after some research provides a fuller picture of the issue.

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Much of this advice boils down to one thing: when crafting a discussion question, try to imagine how other people might respond. If it seems like they might only have a reflexive one-word or one-sentence answer, that means either that they do not find the question interesting (They’re responding in a kind of, “Well, of course!” way) or that the question itself might not be that interesting (It happens.). Ask questions that require some analysis from responders, ones that make them consider different points of view than their own, or ones that enable them to imagine different possible answers. The types of questions without easy answers are the ones most likely to generate a conversation, since people will offer different perspectives, thus keeping the discussion going.

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Additional Resources

What are your tips for writing a compelling discussion question?

10 Post Ideas for Book Blogs When You Haven’t Read Anything Recently

Creating content for a blog can sometimes seem quite the struggle, especially if you have not read any books recently and have nothing to review. But book blogs can talk about all things bookish–there’s no need to limit yourself to reviews or even memes. Here a few ideas to get you started posting.

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Recommend read-alikes.

This is one of the most common book blog posts, but always a welcome one! You can do a straightforward recommendation, like our post recommending books if you like Nancy Drew. Or you can try to capture some of the enthusiasm for something trending, like our post recommending books for fans of sea shanties or YA novels for fans of Bridgerton.

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Create a personality quiz.

People always enjoy taking a personality quiz! You can try a standard one like our “Which Female Character from Murder on the Orient Express Are You?or you put your own spin on the personality quiz, like with our “How Obsessed with The Lord of the Rings Are You?” quiz.

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Highlight some of your favorite author’s books.

Sometimes a beloved author has one book that really stands out to readers and that gets all the love. If readers are into one book, however, they may interested to learn that an author wrote more. We highlighted some of our favorite authors’ works in posts like “Beyond Anne of Green Gables: The Other Novels of L. M. Montgomery” and “A Brief Introduction to Tolkien’s Non-Middle-Earth Books.”

Another option is to take a really long series like Redwall or the Discworld books and create a guide explaining what each of the books are about, how they are related, and where new readers might like to start. This allows you to draw on your extensive fan knowledge to create a post you might not have realized will be really helpful to others!

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Post some book trivia.

Put all your bookish knowledge to use with some fun trivia-filled posts! We’ve done posts such as “Ten Things You May Not Have Known about J. R. R. Tolkien,” “Classic Books with Lesser-Known Sequels,” and even a series on bookish misconceptions.

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Weigh in on a bookish controversy.

This does not have to mean something really controversial, where you are afraid of backlash, but could mean a question avid readers keep returning to. For example, we weighed in on whether the Chronicles of Narnia should be read in publication order or chronological order. Think of some issues your bookish friends have strong opinions on, such as whether a certain book counts as canon or if poetry excerpts or songs should be in the middle of books. Then explain your stance and watch the discussion ensue!

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Create a discussion post (or several) based on a specific book.

Many book bloggers seem afraid to post a discussion about a specific title, rather than on a topic that is merely generally bookish. However, our book-specific posts are some of our most popular! We’ve posted on everything from not liking the ending of King of Scars to whether Tolkien’s female characters have any depth. We have even weighed in on the great Team Keefe vs. Team Fitz debate being held by fans of the Keeper of the Lost Cities books.

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Talk about a childhood favorite.

Even if you have not read them in awhile, you probably have strong memories about your favorite childhood books. Tell readers why you loved them–and if you still, do! For instance, we’ve written posts such as Why I Still Love Nancy Drew to showcase our love of childhood favorites.

On the flip side, you could discuss a childhood book that disappoints you now or that you never liked at all. We’ve written on Why I’ve Never Liked The Giving Tree and Why I Never Liked The Rainbow Fish.

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Compare adaptations.

Plenty of books have film adaptations! Try talking about your favorites, such as which film version of Little Women is best, whether you play the Nancy Drew PC games, and more!

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Show some library love.

Readers love the library! Even if you haven’t read anything recently, you talk about other bookish things you love: the thrill of browsing, library resources you love the most, libraries you have visited, what your dream library would look like, and more!

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Share blogging tips.

Bloggers are always looking to improve, and our posts with some of our tips are some of our most popular. You can share everything from graphic design tips to a list of places to how you plan your schedule to a list of resources bloggers can use for editing images. We have a whole page of blogger resources!

What are some of your favorite non-review posts to write?

Also check out “How We Come Up with Discussion Post Ideas!

10 Discussion Post Topics for Your Book Blog that Get Comments


In the past several years, I opened January with various discussion post prompts for book blogs, including:

I try not to overlap prompts, so that’s 102 prompts right there! And you can check out our Classic Remarks page for discussion prompts related to classic literature.

For 2021, however, I want to highlight 10 discussion post ideas that are practically guaranteed to generate discussion on your blog. There are not necessarily the most original post ideas — bloggers have been talking about them for years — but they are popular post ideas. People have thoughts about these questions, and writing a post about them is sure to get you some comments!

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Are Negative Reviews Valuable? Or Are Negative Reviews Cruel to Authors?

This topic came back in December 2020, when a few authors berated a booktuber for making a “Worst Books I Read in 2020” video, and other authors and reviewers entered the fray, debating both the value (or lack thereof) of “worst of” lists and then of negative reviews in general. If you missed the chance to talk about why you do or not like, read, or write negative reviews then, however, I have no doubt another opportunity will arise in 2021 and beyond.

Read Our Post: Negative Reviews Aren’t “Mean;” They’re Integral to Selling Books


Do You Comment Back on Other Blogs?

Another perennial favorite: Do you comment back on the blogs of people who leave comments on your blog? Why or why not? Do you expect other people to do the same? Do you follow people (or unfollow) based on whether they answer comments on their blog or based on whether they comment back on your blog?

Read Our Post: Do You Comment Back?

What Are Your Bookish Pet Peeves?

Maybe people just love to complain, but a post about things that drive you nuts in books is sure to get people responding in the comments, whether they agree with your or actually enjoy the things you hate. Just keep it light instead of actually insulting authors or books!

Read Our Post: 10 Bookish Pet Peeves


Do You Like Writing Book Reviews? Do People Like Reading Reviews?

Although book reviews are generally considered the primary content of book blogs, a lot of bloggers don’t actually enjoy writing them! And bloggers have long noted that reviews often don’t get as many page views as other types of content. So, do you like writing reviews? Or reading them? Can you blog without writing them at all?

Read Our Post: Can You Run a Book Blog without Book Reviews?

What Makes You Follow a Book Blog?

While we all love to support other book bloggers, there are only so many blogs we can follow and read! Explaining what makes you click that follow button and become a regular reader is always a popular topic because it helps other bloggers brainstorm ways they might want to approach how they blog.

Read Our Post: 5 Things That Make Me Want to Read Your Book Blog

Do You Have a Set Reading Goal? What Books “Count” or Don’t Towards the Goal?

At the end of every year (and then at the beginning of the next year!), bloggers and readers begin discuss reading goals: how many books they read vs. how many they’d hoped to, whether they believe in having a reading goal at all or just reading at leisure, whether they’re judging people for “inflating” their reading goals with picture books or graphic novels or audiobooks. While most bloggers seem content to let other people set their goals however they wish, the topic of reading goals always gets discussions flowing.

Read Our Post: Don’t Stress about How Many Books You’ve Read This Year


Should Adults Read Young Adult (Teen) Books?

It feels as if we should have settled this issue somewhere around 2012: people can read whatever they want, and books “for teens” or “for children” can still speak to adults. Yet every six months or so, some major publication seems to publish an opinion piece about how adults shouldn’t be reading young adult books, and then the blogosphere gets talking again, publishing their own posts responding.

Read Our Post: The Debate over YA Is Over


Should Book Bloggers Make Money? How Would They Successfully Monetize?

I’ve been blogging for ten years now, and book bloggers have never regularly made money or received payment from sponsors the ways booktubers or bloggers in other niches do, in spite of how much labor they put into marketing books for publishers and authors. Whether book bloggers deserve to be paid and how they can make money if they choose to monetize is a topic that comes up time and again. Here’s to hoping 2021 is the year bloggers who are interested in monetization finally start making a decent blogging income.

Read Our Posts: I’m Okay with Not Being Paid to Book Blog and What Would Happen If Book Bloggers Made Money?


How Can You Support Other Book Bloggers?

Want to support other bloggers? Want to let your non-blogger followers know how they can support book bloggers beyond just reading their posts? Sharing ways to boost book bloggers is always a hit.

Read Our Post: 7 Concrete Ways to Boost Book Bloggers


Do You Care about Your Blog Stats?

Some bloggers are deeply invested in their stats and growing their audience, while others blog purely for fun and don’t care at all. Discussing your approach to stats (to look at them, or not to look?) and sharing tips on how to improve stats, if that’s what you’re into, will get other bloggers talking.

Read Our Posts: Is Stress about Your Blog Stats Holding You Back? and Book Blogger Stats Survey Results: 2020


How Do We Come Up with Discussion Post Ideas?

Do you need more discussion post ideas, but do not know what to write about? At Pages Unbound, we draw inspiration from a variety of sources. Here are some of the ways we think of our discussion pieces, along with examples for each category.

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Book Trends

What do you see happening when you read? Do you have bookish pet peeves? Things you wish books or the book market would do differently? Or maybe there are tropes that you love and you want to talk about them?

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Blogging Trends

What do you see happening around the blogosphere? What are other blogs talking –or not talking–about? Join in the conversation, or start one!

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Blogging Concerns

What are specific concerns or questions book bloggers have specifically about blogging, not just about reading? What are your takes on those topics?

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Blogging Tutorials

You can also create guides to help new bloggers get started or to help seasoned bloggers improve. Bloggers often help each other out by sharing their expertise on things like graphic design, scheduling, social media, and more.

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The Reader Experience

What are things readers worry about or talk about?

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Literary Analysis

Sometimes, when you are reading a book, you have thoughts about it! Share you observations about how a book portrays a character, what messages it sends, or what themes it raises.

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Personal Observations

Sometimes, you just notice things, perhaps while reading or while browsing at the bookstore, or visiting the library. You can turn your musings into a post!

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Reading Widely

Reading other people’s opinions and responding to them is an easy way to create content while continuing the conversation! You might respond to other blog posts, but also to newspaper or magazine articles, scholarly journal articles, recent studies, and more.

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Library Love

At Pages Unbound, we obtain most of our books from the library and, consequently, appreciate all their good work. We like to write about why libraries are awesome–how they help the community and what types of resources they make available. You could write about your love of the library, resources you have found helpful, tips and tricks, and more!

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Discussion Post Prompts

If you are still stuck for ideas, we periodically post lists of discussion post prompts. Feel free to use or modify any one that seems of interest to you! We also run Classic Remarks, a weekly meme that encourages discussions around classic literature.

52 Discussion Post Prompts for Your Book Blog in 2018

52 Discussion Post Prompts for Your Book Blog

If you’re looking to add more discussion posts to your book blog in 2018, we have you covered! Here are 52 ideas to get you started, which is one for every week of the year! (Feel free to modify them as necessary.) You can also check out our previous post with 30 Discussion Post Ideas for Your Book Blog or our archive of discussion questions focused on classic literature. (Plenty of bloggers are still answering these questions, so don’t worry that the weekly meme is “over.”)

You can also check out my Bloggiesta mini challenge for creating a discussion post strategy and my post on writing a memorable discussion post.

52 Discussion Post Prompts for Your Book Blog

  1. What are  your goals for your blog in 2018?
  2. What advice would you offer to new book bloggers?
  3. What are your favorite cozy winter reads?
  4. Which books would you love to see made into musicals?
  5. What book has had a significant impact on your life?
  6. What are your favorite bookish items (besides actual books)?
  7. What do you think makes a compelling romance in a book?
  8. What are some of your bookish pet peeves?
  9. Do you lend books to other people? Why or why not?
  10. What are some of your favorite classic books?
  11. How have your reading tastes changed over the years?
  12. What are some of the prettiest books you want to feature?
  13. What makes you follow other book blogs?
  14. What types of characters would you like to see more of in books?
  15. What are some of your favorite books from your childhood?
  16. Do you think there should be more religion in mainstream fiction? Why or why not?
  17. Who are some of your favorite book bloggers?
  18. What do you think about representing sex in YA books?
  19. Do you listen to audiobooks?  Why or why not?
  20. What is great about your local library? (If you don’t have one, what would your ideal library offer in terms of books and services?)
  21. How do you decide when to get rid of books?
  22. Have you ever dressed up as a fictional character?
  23. What do you think of representing “dark” topics like drugs and death in middle grade books?
  24. What lessons have you learned since you started blogging?
  25. Do you think any film adaptations are better than the book?
  26. What books could you simply not get into?
  27. If you could add one interactive feature to reading books, what would it be?
  28. What do you like about your favorite genre?
  29. Do you read nonfiction? Why or why not?
  30. What do you love about reading?
  31. What recipes from books would you love to try? (Real or fictional)
  32. What do you think about adapting classic novels for children?
  33. What do you think of required reading in schools?
  34. What book did you receive as a gift that is really special to you?
  35. What modern books do you think are going to become classics?
  36. Do you write in books? Why or why not?
  37. What books do you want to see more bookish merchandise for?
  38. What does your ideal bookstore look like?
  39. How do you acquire most of your books?
  40. What book(s) were you surprised you ended up liking?
  41. What books have you owned for a long time but haven’t read yet?
  42. If you could teach a class about any topic in literature, what would it be?
  43. What fun facts have you learned from reading?
  44. What do you think of wordless picture books?
  45. Who is the greatest villain in literature?
  46. Do you need your protagonists to be “likable?”
  47. What’s the most unusual book you own or have read?
  48. What bookish items do you love to give as gifts?
  49. What are some of your favorite opening lines from literature?
  50. Have you always been a reader? What got you interested in reading?
  51. What books are you looking forward to being released next year?
  52. What have you changed about your blogging style in the past year? 


30 Discussion Post Prompts for Your Book Blog

On Literature

  1. What would you like to see more of in X genre?
  2. Do you think there are any problematic representations of romantic love in books?
  3. What do you think of required reading in schools?
  4. Do you read classics? Why or why not?
  5. What’s your opinion of Shakespeare? Genius? Overrated? Confusing?
  6. Have you ever read a book in a second language? What was the experience like for you?
  7. Tell us about your favorite childhood books.
  8. Do you like characters who have vastly different sets of morals from your own?
  9. Do you think characters should learn something by the end of the book? (Learn to love their bodies, learn to be confident, etc.) Or can they end somewhere similar to where they started?
  10. What underrepresented fairy tales should get adaptations?

On Reading and Books

  1. What do you love about your local library?
  2. How do you organize your books?
  3. Do you get rid of books? How do you decide which ones go? What do you do with them?
  4. Do you have an official reading schedule, or are you a mood reader? Why?
  5. What books did you “have” to read for school did you end up really liking?
  6. Do you collect different versions of the same book? Why?
  7. Have you ever destroyed a book?
  8. How did you become interested in reading as a hobby?
  9. How have school literature classes influenced the way you read?
  10. What do you think about turning books into art?

On Blogging

  1. What makes you want to read a blog?
  2. What is some of your best blogging advice?
  3. Have you tried blogging advice that didn’t actually work for you?
  4. How do you balance blogging and real life?
  5. What are some of your favorite blogs you want to recommend to others?
  6. What made you want to start blogging?
  7. What are some of the best things about the blogging community?
  8. What have you learned about writing from blogging?
  9. What have you learned about reading from blogging?
  10. What did you not know about blogging before you started?
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See Also