What if I shrunk to this size when I went on a Super Diet?
One of the best plotting and planning exercises for fiction writers is simply title What if...? Asking this question can trigger myriad thoughts or possibilities for a story.
Sometimes we see something that catches our eye when we're out walking or shopping or at a ball game. Try the What if...? prompt silently. Have a small notebook with you? All the better. You can write your thoughts immediately. What if you saw a woman running on a jogging trail but who was wearing a cocktail dress and high heels. What if she was being chased? What if she was having a breakdown of some kind? What if she was just a kooky girl? What if she had a jogging date in the morning but had only gotten home from a date minutes before? There are all kinds of scenarios to dream up with a scene like this one.
Here are some questions that might trigger some possibilities for stories. Make them about first person singular or about a character you name. For practical purposes I'll use 'you' in many of these.
- What if you fell into a lake wearing heavy clothing and shoes?
- What if you joined the circus when you ran away from home at age 14?
- What if you hopped a freight train while running from a gang?
- What if you ate a possibly poisonous mushroom?
- What if you adopted a shelter dog that was so ugly no one else wanted it?
- What if you got locked in the zoo grounds at night?
- What if you got on the wrong plane?
- What if you saw a fight between two men and tried to stop it?
- What if you ate yourself into the worst shape you'd ever been in?
- What if you were a victim of road rage?
- What if you used road rage to a little old lady in a slow car?
- What if you won the lottery?
- What if you wanted a child and ended up having quadruplets?
- What if you found the love of your life only to discover he was married?
- What if you only joined the army to spite a girl you were dating?
- What if your oven blew up while you were on the back porch?
Start with one What if...? keep going. Ask what if...? this happened. Then, what if...? this occurred next and so on. Before you know it, you could have a complete story outlined. Try this exercise. It's kind of fun.