How to Write Trivia Part 1

A Simple Guide to Writing Playable Trivia Questions

So most of the time if you're around trivia you're probably going to be on the receiving end, right? Well that doesn't have to be the case as there are hundreds of companies out there who are willing to pay good money to anyone who can competently write a trivia questions. In fact, it's a little harder than you might think. But if you just follow these steps you'll be on the way to writing excellent, informative, and (most importantly) fun trivia in no time. So before you commit to a question you've written, for whatever reason, you're going to want to ask yourself some questions of your own:

#1. Is it Interesting?

I decided to start with the most important, yet likely vaguest, one. Remember, people are nearly always playing trivia because they want to have fun, and this is possible even if player's are missing questions. How, you ask? By making it something that the players would want to know anyway. Give them something that they can tell at a proverbial cocktail party, or something that at least makes them feel like they haven't wasted their time if they missed it.

Not every question can be expected to be like this, but if you work hard at your trivia a good number of them should be. It's not hard to find either, as there are plenty of websites offering up crazy trivia facts about celebrities, the natural world, and pretty much anything else. Just make sure they're accurate! More on sources later.

Example:

"What technological marvel was first revealed on 07/08/07?"

"The Boeing 787!"

#2. Is it Gettable?

Also extremely important. Remember when I mentioned “fun” like two paragraphs ago? Well keep in mind that getting questions correct is usually the most fun occurrence that happens at, say, Bar Trivia (unless your friends are just that interesting) so you're going to want to make sure that most of the teams get most of the questions correct. It's fine to have some stumpers in there from time to time to separate out your better teams, but if the less capable teams feel like idiots all the time they're not going to come back. You can't please everyone, because you're excellent teams/players are going to be looking for one thing while everyone else may be looking for another, but it's much better to lean on the side of easy so that everyone can enjoy.

Example:

"What is the largest country that speaks Portuguese?"

"Brazil!"

#3.Do you Think Maybe Not Everyone Knows what You Know or are interested I what you are interested in?

This is a common rookie mistake and trivia writers will frequently think of great trivia questions regarding things with which they are very familiar and then act like everyone will not only agree to how awesome that question is but is also an idiot if they don't know the answer. Well I've got some news – asking about “Vadaghast the Brown” is not a reasonable Lord of the Rings question if you're engaging in general trivia and it's not fun for a person without an Asperger's Syndrome level of knowledge regarding Lord of the Rings to get asked it. In other words, always keep in mind who your audience is.

Additionally, don't lean your questions too far towards the things you like, even if they're not too difficult. Like NASCAR but hate baseball? Too bad! You're not only going to need to ask about both but you're going to need to ask more baseball questions because it's a more popular sport. Remember, this game is not for you, it's for your players.

Join me next time when we get a little deeper into what makes or breaks your trivia game!

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