Friday, August 28, 2009

What If?


“What If” is one of the most important questions we, as writers, can ask ourselves.
What if all of the Earth's volcanoes exploded tomorrow?
What if my grandfather started speaking to me while in a coma?
What if conjoined twins' souls got separated during surgery?

Well, you get the idea. Asking "What If" helps strengthen our writing. We can create more complex plots, sharpen our timing, and deepen our characters. But too often we get fixated on the wrong What Ifs and negatively impact our writing.

What if that agent doesn't like my query?
What if I don't get published?
What if everyone laughs at my Illusions’ Mini Excerpts?

Wait- you don't ask yourself that last one? Hmmm...must just be my “friend”.

How has asking "What If?" improved your writing?

11 comments:

Suzanne said...

Sometimes I ask, "what if I stop?" and the thought makes me sad... so I don't.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I'm in the process of asking "What's the worst that can happen?" for a new book I'm plotting. I learned that from author Ally Carter.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

You're so funny...I hope your 'friend' tells you nice things too!

I ask myself a lot of 'what ifs' when something isn't working in my book. What if I did it this way? or that way? or backwards? Brainstorming with 'what ifs' has helped me free my mind from the trench it tends to think in, many times over.

Jody Hedlund said...

It definitely helps my creativity thrive!

Tess said...

This post is a great reminder to me...always to be thinking what if, how come, who else????? So important to our writing :)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

As one of my characters in my book says, "What if is dangerous game to play." BUT, it can be fun if you play the positive version. :)

Robyn Campbell said...

Oh the 'what if' questions. I ask myself those all the time. I finally stopped answering myself. I know I'll find the right agent and my novels will one day be sitting on the shelf's of all the book stores.:) Hmm, better go write! :)

Damyanti said...

This is how I get most of my short stories. From this single, two-word question.

Nat said...

"What if" is a great tool in writing. I also like to ask myself, "how can I make things even worse for the MC?" It helps to add tension and conflict.

jdcoughlin said...

What if I never get...you know. won't say the word...but that one usually pops up every day at breakfast. But the idea of using as a writing tool is great. I tried it today. Made me think about my characters in a much deeper way, more dimensional. Thanks!

Anetta said...

okay, so i'm not a writer....just a silly cousin. but when my kids say, what if?.....i always answer, what if the world was a burrito? and then i answer it myself by saying, i'd eat it! because in real life you can't always be worrying about, what if?... all the time or you might just go a little crazy.