Tough Question

Tough Questions
The main character puts into words the major
problem he or she is facing
Helps students identify and recognize the
importance of this moment
Be alert for a difficult question the character
asks of himself or of a trusted other
Not a simple question, like What’s for lunch?
Rather, it troubles the main character, which
then gives you insight into the internal conflict.
Once we notice tough questions, you ask, What
does the question make me wonder about?
We all ask questions like “What’s for dinner? Or “Where are
my shoes?” all the time.
Those are questions to which we certainly want answers,
but they aren’t what we’d call really tough questions.
Tough questions are those questions we sometimes ask
ourselves, or someone else, that seem at least for a while, not
to have an answer.
For example, “Am I brave enough to say no?” - when you are asked
to do something you know you shouldn’t do.
When you share a tough question with a friend – or just
think it to yourself – you’re really sharing something that
bothers you.
In a novel, we call that the internal conflict – when a
character asks himself/herself or a friend a tough question.
Authors often show us these Tough Questions
in fairly straightforward ways:
The main character either asks a trusted person or
him-or herself a question that obviously doesn’t
have an easy answer.
Often Tough Questions show up in pairs.
 For example, “Why won’t they talk to me anymore? Why is
everyone treating me this way?
Occasionally, the character might not ask a question,
but might say something like…”I wonder if…”
Once you notice the Tough Question, it’s
important to stop and ask yourself,
“What does this question make me wonder about?”
Signpost I Noticed
My Notes About It
Rainbow Fish
Tough Question – “Why
doesn’t anybody like
How can Rainbow Fish
not realize the answer –
he isn’t a friendly fish.
He should know better.
Rainbow Fish
W.W. – octopus gives
R.F. advice – give a scale
to each fish – won’t be
prettiest but will be
Friendship is more
important than beauty.
R.F. won’t be prettiest
but will have friends and
not be lonely.
Rainbow Fish
T.Q. – asks himself “How R.F needs to realize that
could I ever be happy
it doesn’t matter what is
without them?”
on the outside, but rather
what is on the inside.
T.Q. asks nurse “Do you
think Kenji is out there
What will happen to
Sadako? Will she be on a
In your reading tonight, be on the lookout for
our sign post – Words the Wiser or Tough
If you don’t find one as you’re reading tonight,
then listen to things your parent says to you or
listen to conversations that you hear on
Write it down and then answer the question:
What’s the life lesson and how might it affect me or the