Thursday, January 6, 2011

Inner Workings Part 2

Happy Thursday All,

Wow the first whole work week in the year 2011 is almost over. Time loves to fly (I think it uses Continental or American Airlines--my experience with these airlines has been good, by the way, just in case someone's wondering). Bad joke, I know--goofy sense of humor jumps up again.

Over the years I'd ask this one friend "What if?" Questions. Now, these "What if?" Questions are entirely fine for fiction writers--in fact, they're pretty much a must. Like asking "What if I set this story in the future?" "What if vampires were real?" "What if the heroine was a short, stout elderly woman who bashed people over the head with a cane?" (Okay that last one, I don't know of any author who actually asked themselves that one, and I haven't, but I thought it was funny).

Someone I know once told me (years ago, this might have changed by now) they didn't deal with "What if?" questions. Now, we weren't talking in terms of writing--we were talking about impossible things actually happening in the real world--but not for a story--for reality.

However, if fiction writers quit asking themselves "What if?" they and their readers would be in for a real jam.

Part of writing is asking "What if?" For example, when I was writing SURREAL I asked myself:  "What if the hero and heroine meet in the heroine's dreams?" and "What if they thought the rift would close separating them forever?"

We have to ask those impossible questions as if they're possible because fiction isn't always about what's reality--it's about what makes a good story.

I don't know of any witch who lives in the woods in a Gingerbread House and eats little children, but for Hansel And Gretal it works.

We don't know what the year 3020 will be like, but if Sci-Fi writers quit asking "What if in the year 3020 they had these types of space ships?" Their stories wouldn't get written. Shoot, Gene Roddenberry might not have come up with Star Trek if he didn't explore the possibilities of what was currently impossible.

If you're an accountant and you're working on bookkeeping you obviously can't contemplate "What if?" if the "if" isn't a part of the equation. It wouldn't be realistic and it wouldn't make the bookkeeping accurate.

Or Doctors can't contemplate when they're in the middle of an emergency "What if I could duplicate myself 90 times?" Because they have to focus on the task at hand (and nobody wants an unfocused doctor working on them).

However, for writing and careers like that, the "What if?" question is incredibly important. We must ask ourselves "What if?" every story we write. In fact, nearly every scene and word. Because the minute we quit asking "What if?" and quit looking for possibilities in the impossible, that's the minute our stories quit being open to what could happen.

So...what "What if?" questions do you ask when writing your novels?

Have A Thoughtful Thursday!


Melissa said...

Great post! My daughter is the Queen of "What if" questions. LOL I think she could have a great career in law. :) "Surreal" sounds like may kind of story. Great title too! A few of my what if's: What if the brother she never knew she had kidnapped her child. What if the man she plans to ruin has a twin who's a cold blooded killer and she's just become his next target. Oh, I love this game! LOL

Bethany said...


GREAT "What if" questions. You got me intrigued. I have a sister who's a lawyer...maybe your daughter and her should contact each other LOL Happy writing :-)

Ciara Gold said...

I'd be lost without my "what if" questions. In fact, I'm working on a bunch right now to see where to go next in a wip I'm working on. Fun post.

Bethany said...


Thanks...I think I might need to ask some "What Ifs" on a couple of WIPs I've got going, myself. LOL Happy Writing :-)