Thursday, March 1, 2012

Where do you get your ideas? What if I told you....

Hi everyone!

Happy March! Recently I was asked the famous question: "Where do you get your ideas?” Since this is a popular topic with readers (who may wonder "How on earth did you think of that?") and beginning writers ("I need an idea for...") I thought it would be a good time to share a few insights.

One way to think of ideas is to play the “What if…” game. Most stories start off with a “what if” premise (“What if there was a school for young wizards?”) 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 writing a story and get stuck with a fizzling plot. 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. I used the "What if?" game to write my two pararnomal romances, Confessions of a Vampire's Lover and Beauty & the Bigfoot.

Confessions of a Vampire's Lover began with the premise, "What if an avid surfer falls in love with a vampire at the beach?" From there, I let my imagination wander. And Beauty & the Bigfoot sprang from the premise "What if a cryptozoologists daughter falls in love with Bigfoot?" And what if she never believed Bigfoot was real, until her father brought him home?

I also used "what if" as I wrote The Dark Lord. As Katarina explores the castle, I had fun playing with all sorts of "what ifs". What if she went into the closed off wing of the castle? What if she found out about Lord Adrik's first wife? What if Lord Adrik was blaming himself for something that wasn't his fault?

“What if” can be a great game to play, whether you’re using it as a tool to help move your writing along, to start a story, or just 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?)

Here are some wild “what if” questions you can use for writing exercises:

What if… 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 birthsign?

…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.

And to add to the fun, I had a sci fi story included in an anthology titled, What If.... so it must be a good idea!

Until next time,

No comments:

Post a Comment