We’re nearing the end of National Novel Writing Month, and I’m almost shamed to say that I’ve barely made any progress on my novel, but that’s not to say I haven’t put my efforts elsewhere.
What I’d like to talk about today is the magic of the open-ended question: What if?
I’m a stickler for drawing comparisons between fiction and reality, but what I’ve come to find (most notably in the past week or so) is that writing a story that takes advantage of that can be most enticing.
There have been hundreds of cases where I’ve stopped to wonder “What If?” What if I went left instead of right? What if I said yes rather than no? This can be a great start to a story, if you’ve got nothing on your plate to write. Simply write about a specific scenario, preferably something recurring in your life, such as work, school, etc. and turn it upside down.
Scenario: Mike drives straight home from work every day and always passes by a peculiar-looking store that he never goes in.
Story: One day he decides to go see what’s inside.
It doesn’t sound difficult, and it isn’t, but it’s one of the simplest things we don’t take advantage of enough.
There’s always the saying “write what you know.” But what I’m saying is to literally write what you know, such as your every day life, and then send it into the unknown. You may not know what will come of it. Mike might walk into that store and find it to be ordinary, but perhaps the disruption of his routine will bring about some other unexpected occurrence. Think the butterfly effect.
It’s an exercise in imagination. It doesn’t have to be grand, but it should certainly interest you. You should want to know what would happen, because in reality it’s a question you probably ask yourself as much as I do.