How to Get Great Quotes: Start With the Right Questions

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Many authors have trouble interviewing people, especially if the authors are experts. To make a story or a person come alive, you have to ask deceptively simple questions that encourage your subjects to reveal themselves.

Many years ago, one of the great documentary producers at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation made a list of the best questions. They’re a great way to prepare for an interview.

Here they are:

  • What happened?
  • What was the turning point?
  • What did he or she say?
  • What were the options?
  • Why?
  • What do you mean?
  • Can you give me an example?
  • What’s it like?
  • How do you feel?
  • What went through your head?
  • What do you make of it?
  • How would you characterize that?
  • What does that tell you?
  • What are the implications?
  • How did it turn out?
  • How did you deal with it?