What If…

How do you come up with your ideas?

I recently shared lunch with a dear writing friend. The talk turned to our works in progress.

“How do you come up with your ideas?” she asked.

I have no problem coming up with ideas. My mind is constantly running amuck. Many writers are not as fortunate. So where do ideas come from? Here are a couple of things you can do generate ideas, or take the beginnings you have to a new depth.

What If…

I15384997 - what if 3d text surrounded by question marks. part of a series.n Conflict & Suspense by James Scott Bell, he talks about playing the “What if…” game. Take any event, anywhere you are, any thing you are doing and ask, What if. My friend and I did this as we sat looking out the window of the restaurant.

·      What if one of the cars out there on the street is carrying a cache of weapons on the way to an old employer’s office?

·      What if someone put a bomb in one of the cars?

·      What if there was a man on the way to break up with his fiancé?

·      What if one car was full of balloons and supplies to set up for a surprise party?

·      What if someone was driving their newborn home from the hospital?

·      What if a scientist had a time machine that was jostled by a pothole, and triggered so he drove his car in to 1385?

James Scott Bell talked about seeing a billboard of a woman getting sunscreen put on her legs. Here are some of his what ifs:

·      What if the man applying the lotion was sent to assassinate her, but he’s fallen in love?

·      What if they are having an affair?

·      What if it isn’t lotion but something that will turn her into a half woman/half squid?


What if is a lot of fun and can generate many possible plot lines to play with later.


Make it worse

This comes from a class another great writing friend took from Donald Maass author of Writing the Breakout Novel. You have the beginning of an idea. How can you build on it, and take it from an idea to a full novel?

Go back to the what if about the man driving to break up with his girlfriend.

·      Make it worse.

He has a terminal illness and doesn’t want to leave her as a widow before their first anniversary.

·      Make it worse.

After he as crushed her with the break up, he realizes how very much he needs her, but there is no going back.

·      Make it worse.

He is abducted by an alien life form who cures him so he can save their planet from destruction.

·      Make it worse.

In order to save the planet he has to battle a creature, save a princess, and marry her. But he still loves the woman he left behind on earth.

These are some fun ways to get the creative juices flowing. Have fun. Play alone or get some writing friends together and play as a group. There will be no end to the possibilities and your “To be Written” file may soon be larger than mine.

What if …

We all had too many stories to complete for God’s glory to keep working at anything but writing?

Michelle Janene Murray blissfully exists in the medieval creations of her mind most days. She published Mission: Mistaken Identity in 2015, helps edit the Inspire anthologies, and is working to expand her personal press to publish other authors.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

5 thoughts on “What If…

  1. Those are super cool! I’m going to start using these two ideas as games in my car with my kids…. and see where they go with them. I don’t have a whole lot of trouble thinking of what to write, but I think these ideas will help me to write more creatively. Thank you!

  2. Thank you Janene for these tips that spark my imagination. What if I use them to get deeper in writing devotionals? I’m going to sit down right now and give it a try!

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