Author Tips: Writing Fiction

Wendy Orr shares some of her tips on writing stories and novels

Friday, June 30, 2006

Creating stories with "What if...?"

The vital spark in creating a story isn't what you notice, but what your imagination does with it – and the simplest way to get that started is to ask yourself questions.

Flipping through my writer's notebook and finding the comb hanging from a tree: I've already wondered 'Why?" and found some possible answers. Now I start wondering, "What if..."

What if it were a comb made of fantasticly filigreed gold, inlaid with rubies?

Something so beautiful..... What if it had magical properties, was just waiting for someone to slip it into their hair? What if its magic could only be activatied by the one special person that it belonged to?

What if that person didn't know they were the owner... didn't want the powers but couldn't shake them? What if someone else was searching for the comb? What if it fell into the wrong hands?

What sort of magical powers could it hold? Beauty in the eye of all beholders... or the power to see beauty in everything... or power to do good... to do evil... to fly...

Once you get into one of those streams, let it flow. Jot down all those thoughts, no matter how crazy they are. I didn't know what sort of story I'd be suggesting when I started writing this, and yet these questions seem to be leading to a classical fantasy, perhaps a quest, a battle between good and evil. Tease out the questions more and you can lead it to comedy, drama or tragedy.

Or you could tease it out in some other way entirely.

What if there was a drop of blood on one of the tines of the comb....


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