Monday, May 27, 2013

So what if?

I'm working on the premise for my new book and in a book I'm reading about outlining, it suggests that you ask yourself "what if?" so you can create an extensive list of options for your story. Not all the "what ifs" will be good for your story, mind you, but in order to cover all the bases, you are instructed to write them all down. Then, you can eliminate the extraneous one that don't work.

My working premise, so far:

Ari, an unhappy apprentice, attempts to solve the riddle of a puzzle box he finds in the ruins of Chaldea, and is faced with the challenge of magic gone awry.

My what ifs, so far:

  • What if puzzle box can't be opened?
  • What if Ari sells the box to a magician, who opens the box and falls under the spell of what's inside?
  • What if Ari opens box?
  • What if Ari and his friends fight with what's inside, but lose?
  • What if what's inside begins to haunt the land and Ari must stop it from destroying Chaldea.
  • What if Ari likes what's inside and joins forces with it?
  • What if Ari's enemy makes him trade the puzzle box for his sister's hand in marriage (Ari is in love with her)?
  • What if Ari's enemy opens the box and falls in league with it?
  • What is Ari goes to King with Puzzle box and offers it to him as a pledge?
  • What if King opens box and causes havoc throughout kingdom?
So here we have only ten different ideas that are different avenues to take my story. Here is the catch: I have to decide which, if any, are going to be incorporated in this second book of magic and mayhem that I'm working on.

How do you create your premise and decide where its going? Do you do an outline? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?


  1. I'm very much a planner. I do something similar to this task, for a novel-length piece I'll list about 40 things that could possibly happen in my story (just dot points). I pick the ones I like and they become chapter ideas. I only need about 15 good chapter ideas, plus a few to link chapters and I'm all set :)

    1. Charmaine: Sounds like I could learn a lot about planning from you! This is my first novel that I've outlined, and so far, I'm chomping at the bit wanting to write the story. But I like the idea of getting all the ideas mapped out first.

  2. Love your "what if" approach. We use that in art all the time, too! :-)
    Now you've tickled my imagination...

    What if Ari got the box opened but it sucked him inside to another dimension or time?
    What if the contents of the box splashes on Ari, and he becomes invisible?
    What if Ari discovers the real reason the box was locked: that whoever looks inside loses the power to speak... or see... or hear... or whatever, until "something" is solved...

    ha ha ha, this is fun.

    1. Rettakat: You have definitely piqued my imagination in another direction! My brain is running with the time dimension thing and I might incorporate it in the book. Thanks!