Saturday, January 7, 2012

What if...

Okay, I'm reading through K.M. Weiland's book Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success and I'm finding it very helpful.  (Check out her blog for writers at Yes, I was a panster, but it just wasn't working for me. So, I got this one for Kindle.
 I also got it, because a new project I'm working on easily has the potential to be absolutely brilliant, and I want to be able to give the magnificence it deserves.
 So I'm in the chapter on premise sentences, and there's a section on asking the famous question "What if?" to generate new ideas and possibilities for the story. She used her novel Behold the Dawn as an example.
I use these because I can see pencil on the pages. Old school, I know
I took it a step further, and asked What if... and then on the next line in my notebook, I asked another question that led from the previous question, for half a page. This isn't a small notebook either.
The process helped come up with a whole lot of new ideas compared to what I started with. It's fast, fairly easy (For me), and shows whole new paths the story can go.

I'll do an example here. Let's do something fairly generic.

What if there were aliens in outer space? Now we have the question that sends us on our path of discovery, but it's the answer that will give us conflict and plot.
What if those aliens wanted to conquer Earth? More of a specific idea, than anything that can help us, but it suggests conflict.
Wait, what if there was another group of aliens fighting to defend Earth? Now the pot is boiling. Why are the two fighting over Earth? What makes Earth special? Why does the one want to conquer it? Why does the other want to defend Earth? How long have they been fighting?
What if Earth holds a very important secret? What's the secret? Who put it there? Why Earth? What makes it so important that war would be fought over it?
What if someone from Earth discovers the secret? Now we have a main character. Now, how does the keeper of the secret respond to the secret, and the responsibility that comes with it? What does he/she do with it? What forces the protagonist into the conflict between the alien forces? What inner conflict does he/she have to face to succeed? What's the goal? Who is the protagonist?
What if the villains find out and seek to capture the secret holder or someone close? Now we have the antagonists actively seeking to thwart the hero, which leads to more questions. How do they do it? Who is the person kidnapped? What can you do unexpected?

 Getting the picture of this method? It forces you think about your idea in more specific terms than usual, and reveals new pathways.

 Can you think of any answers or other questions? Will you use this for one of your projects?

Remember, always ask the question "What if?".


Feel free to leave a comment, I really enjoy hearing what others think about my projects.

However, I do reserve the right to delete any comments I find that do not apply.