Playing the ‘what if?’ game


Joe’s Post #108 — One thing I love to do as a writer is brainstorm. And eat donuts. But since writing about donuts appeals to only a few people, let me talk about brainstorming for a bit. Again.

After reading all my 5/5/5 writers, I went through their posts, mining ideas from their thoughts and observation. I wondered how I could use them in my own stories. Not that I want to steal their ideas, no, I want to take some of their experiences and turn them around a bit.

sheriffLet’s look at Silk’s post. Having a character without internet in today’s modern times creates some huge challenges. Romantic challenges. What if a character had just got a text that said, “If you still think we have a chance, meet me at-” and the text goes out. What wonderful complications would be created? Or a criminal case where your character had to get something faxed to her that would prove that the villain was actually the villain and not just the handsome sheriff who everyone loved?

Or what if someone simply tries to go a day without the internet? Or a week? Or a year? What great complications would arise? What if…?

And that’s how I love to create stories. What if.

Austria apartmentWhat if there was more to Karalee’s hay stacks than just stacks of hay? What if they were really stacked that way for a very dark reason, one none of the locals would ever talk about, one linked to the disappearances of a pair of UN workers last week?

Or what if they look like penises for a reason that’s not all sick and twisted? Personally, I can’t think of one, but others might have an idea.

Or what if, after holding your grandson in your arms for the first time, he goes missing? I mean, hey, you wouldn’t be some buff Vin Diesel guy out to find a child, you’d be older, perhaps a little out of shape, perhaps completely unskilled in detective work, perhaps with a bum leg, but what would you do to get that child back?

Or what if you always wanted that feeling and took a child?

I think it’s a vital part of the story-telling process even if you never even write that story. Think of it as exercise for the brain. Or practice for when you are actually writing a story.

For me, by constantly looking at something a little sideways and playing the ‘what-if’ game, I hope that when it comes to writing my own story, those cool twists and turns will make my readers think, “man, he’s a nutjob”, or “I never saw that coming.”

Honestly, I’d be happy with either of those thoughts.

But I do wonder what other writers do to exercise their brains? Does everyone play the ‘what if’ game? Or am I a nutjob?