Guest post by Kelli Wilkins
One of the most common questions writers are asked is: “Where do you get your ideas?” In my last blog, we learned that ideas are everywhere and many story ideas often come from observing something (people, surroundings, conversations, etc.) Now we’re going to take our powers of observation and imagination a step further and ask “What if?”
“What if…” is a great way to generate new ideas for articles, short fiction, and novels. Most stories start off with a “what if” premise (What if there was a school for young wizards? What if aliens invaded?) and develop from there. As a writer, you can use your imagination to create endless “what if” scenarios and build stories around them.
Playing the “what if” game is also a great tool to help you if you’re partway through a story and develop writer’s block or if the plot fizzles. Ask yourself “what if” and send your characters on a new adventure or alter their lives in a new direction. (What if the hero discovers the heroine has a secret love child? What if the heroine finds a hidden room in the castle?) Using “what if” can take your story into uncharted waters and deepen the plot, add emotion, or otherwise raise the stakes for your characters.
“What if” is a great game to play, whether you’re using it as a tool to help move your writing along, to jumpstart a story, or for fun as a writing exercise. Play the “what if” game the next time you’re observing your surroundings and watching people. (What if the red car doesn’t stop for the old man in the crosswalk? What if the woman in the restaurant is waiting for her secret lover?)
Just for fun: Here are some wild “what if” questions you can use for writing exercises:
…a fisherman found a live mermaid?
…archeologists uncovered a UFO while excavating in Texas?
…your character inherited a haunted house and knew the ghosts?
…a killer picks his victims according to their birth sign?
…the weird goth kid down the block really is a vampire?
…a man in the witness protection program won the lottery and his secret life was revealed?
Once you start thinking in terms of “what if” keep asking yourself more questions to take the scenario further. For example, “What if a character murders someone and buries the body in his cellar? Then, what if his wife comes home and finds him covered in dirt (or blood)? What if the wife’s brother is a cop?”
As you can see, once you start the “what if” game, the possibilities are endless, and you can take the story anywhere.
This is the second of a four-part series. Next blog, we go In Search of… ideas.
Kelli A. Wilkins
Kelli A. Wilkins divides her time between writing romance and horror. Her romances vary in genre and range from sensual to super-sizzling hot. Kelli invites readers to visit her website www.KelliWilkins.com and blog http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com to catch up on all her writings.