Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"What If?"—A Most Useful Writing Tool

Occasionally, the characters that lead the stories I write come to a halt, peering in every direction, confounded. Or they stand still, staring blankly into space, unable to move—and I experience the dreaded writers' block. My muse has abandoned me. But, rather than sitting and wracking my empty brain for something to write, I know what to do.

The remedy for my ailment is to draw a tool from my bag of writing tricks and put it to use. I call that tool my what-if list. I've just come to a standstill that threatens to turn into a writer's block in my current novel, "Fugitives on Planet Eden" (working title). Instead of turning away, I pick up pen and paper to write in longhand, as fast as I can, listing all the "what-if" scenarios I can think of to get my characters moving again.

The "what ifs" can be as outrageous or as mundane as my mind can conceive them. I keep the pen moving, writing everything I think of. When I run out of spontaneous ideas, I evaluate the list and choose one—or two or three or four—of the scenarios that my brainstorming suggested.

This is exactly what I did just now, and voila! I'm back in business. Not only do I see the path my characters will take and the situations they must confront in chapter 24, I also know what is likely to happen in two or three subsequent chapters.

I may even be looking at a sequel or two. And that's okay. It's happened to me before, giving me a six book series, Miranda and Starlight, and the trilogy of twins about Kendall and Kyleah Ralston. (Kendall's Storm and Kyleah's Tree)

Yep, I predict that David and Lletia (my protagonists)—and their possible offspring—will confront many more obstacles, dilemmas, and dangers on Planet Eden. But, we'll have to wait and see.

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