Avoid this technique for better writing.
There is no technical name for them but you have probably come across them in quiet a number of books. They typically come right after a paragraph in which something amazing or unbelievable happens- The very next paragraph is a short italicized sentences wanting to know, who, what or why. You can almost hear the whiney italicized voice with the set up and delivery: Jack walked from the rubble with only a slight limp. He was alive.
This technique comes in six forms, who, what, when, where, why, how.
Why Writers use them
The main reason writers resort to the italicized questions is to add suspense. Usually what they fail to realize it that they are following up an already suspenseful paragraph with a repetitive end cap. In a since, it is over compensation. Writers do not what their readers to miss out on any part of their story and in an attempt to drive home the amazing scene that just took place, the writer over sells.
Sometimes the technique is used to show what the main point-of-view character is thinking. This is an especially easy way for the author to get by without an explanation. If the author does not know how to adequately answer the question for the reader, they literally write it off by showing that the main character doesn’t know either. Therefore, do not expect to learn how or why.
Why they should not be used
The reader is already asking the question. It doesn’t sound as whiny or cliché in their head but they are in fact wondering, who is that mysterious figure who seems to be following the protagonist, or, just how in the world did jack come walking out of the rubble without a more severe injury? Of course, all these questions do need to be answered, but a good writer will realized that they have already been asked by the reader.
At its best it is annoying, but more likely the technique is offensive to the reader. To tag on a line that asks a question the reader is already asking insults the reader and doesn’t give him/her enough intellectual credit. Readers want to follow the story, not be led through it, and that’s exactly what the italicized questions do- they say, ‘think this,’ or ‘wonder that.’
The Question is too obvious. Most of the time the answer already exists, and the reader already knows what it is. In this situation the reader is being made to fell suspense over something they already have figured out.
There are numerous other reasons to avoid this technique; it can change the voice of the scene or passage, it can break up the meter and pace of the story, or even tip the reader off to a surprising twist, but when it comes right down to it, the italicized semi-rhetorical question technique sounds amateurish in your story.