Monday, April 21, 2014

"What if?"

I went to a home make-over meeting with my best friend, Maxine a few weeks back. I was able to try all sorts of interesting things, colors, shimmers, and the like. I felt very pretty when we were done. Of course, they handed out all sorts of forms and flyers then gave us the old "join the fun" sales schpeel, and that was when I nearly checked out. One of the flyers they gave us was entitled : What if? Those two words grabbed my attention and my imagination went into overdrive. 

This is a phrase every author asks themselves when creating a character, plot or scene. What if? That question leads to much more exciting possibilities than the normal, and this happened next routine.

Instead of going for a drive, what if the driver loses control and the car goes off the road and into a tree?

What if...

...the heroine falls deeply in love with the bad guy?
...there's a storm brewing outside at the same time there's a fight brewing inside the house?
...the poor old lady next door has a sale to raise money and someone returns a platinum piece of jewelry from her $5 box to the owner, rather than take advantage of the old woman?
...the noisy drunken neighbor turns out to be more than just loud and obnoxious, he's a serial killer, too?
...your boyfriend in high school turns out to be your father's child from an affair? hid $1,000,000.00 in your house rather than trust the banks and it catches fire and burns to the ground? get lost in the dark forest near your home and go back to a time centuries before you were born?'re in your twenties and you find out you have a heart defect they can't fix?
...your adult child curses and hits you when they are drinking?
...your husband of five years dies in his sleep?
...your toddler hides in the clothing racks at a side-walk sale and you can't find her, because someone snatched her out from under it and walked away? won the lottery and were hit by a truck on the way to collect?
...your hip length hair gets caught in a boat motor and rips it out of your head?
...your funny uncle touches you in a private place?
...your weird aunt seduces your teenager?

See what I mean, your imagination goes all over the place with the possibilities. That's what authors do every time we write. What if it is winter instead of summer when the heroine gets lost in the mountains? It goes on and on and least, it can if you will let it.

The next time you're stuck or feel like the story is moving to slow, think about What if...and let the imagination soar. Brainstorm ideas, no matter how weird, one of them will work, you just have to find it.

Enjoy the ride, my author friends. 

Patchwork Family, the second book in the feisty family series came out in March. You can get it wherever books and ebooks are sold. Visit for more information about the author, novels, reviews and events.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Bonnie,

I agree: "what if" is a great way to brainstorm an idea. Also, you don't have to accept the first or second "what if" idea you have.

Bonnie Tharp said...

Hi Jacquie,
You are exactly right, you can just let the ideas keep on coming until the right one is there. Do you find that your first idea is usually the one you go with?

Jacqueline Seewald said...

My method is to let characters live in my head for quite a while, then do a rough outline, then an initial draft. I put the work away for a while and come back to it after a month or two, writing something else in the meantime. Once there's a rough draft I can examine with fresh eyes, I go into editor mode. Often, I have new ideas and want to make changes at this time.

Susan Oleksiw said...

I love playing out what-if scenarios. Then the problem becomes choosing the scenario to follow. Good post.

Bonnie Tharp said...

It's nice when you have choices, but I, too have trouble when there are too many. :-)

Carole Price said...

Good post and good reminder what to do when stuck.

Bonnie Tharp said...

Thank you for your comment, Carole.

Anonymous said...

pretty nice blog, following :)

Bonnie Tharp said...

Thanks for the follow. There are lots of talented authors blogging at Author Expressions. Welcome!

Mary F. Schoenecker said...

A good post, Bonnie. I especially liked the stimulative many "what ifs." Wish I had it ten years ago!

Bonnie Tharp said...

Hi Mary, Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. What ifs can lead you down some interesting paths.

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