You are up in the mountains hiking with a friend. Along your path you come across a lone pint size milk carton. You’re a fiction writer, and you’re looking for ideas for another story but coming up with zilch. The hike in the mountains you feel will do you some good and perhaps get the wheels of creativity going. The milk carton accomplishes this goal as soon as you see it. It’s as if an electric spark shocked that story center of the right side of your brain. In an instant, your mind has a‘What if ‘ scenario in place.
What if the milk carton had drops of blood on it, and the blood belonged to someone who vanished without a trace 50 years ago? The blood is fairly fresh too.
In reality, the milk carton is just a milk carton and it most likely belonged to another hiker. They finished the milk and didn’t want to take the carton with them, so they left it there. BOOM. That’s it. BUT, what you did with your ‘what if ‘scenario is put a twist on reality. That’s what fiction does. I love to put a creative spin on things. It makes life interesting.
What do you think about when you’re standing at the top of a mountain? What’s going through your mind? Is your imagination poking at your brain? Is fear setting in? There weren’t any side rails along the road on the way up, so you’re wondering how you’re going to get back down without going over the edge. Getting up there was easy. What if you get stuck on the way down (if you climbed up)? Questions questions.
Story ideas start with questions. Usually they’re ‘what if’ questions, but that doesn’t mean they have to be (see above questions for examples). I like the ‘what if’ questions only because that’s what my brain goes to automatically. Below are some ‘what if’ questions you can steal. Remember, one what if question can create more than one story.
What if you were eating in a Chinese restaurant and received a fortune cookie made gold?
What if someone knocked at your front door? You answer it and it’s your late grandfather. You give him a hug and immediately that takes you back in time to his era.
What if you’re walking to the elevator in the busy office building you work in, and you suddenly realize you’re alone. You’re the only one in the whole building.
What if you stumble upon your parents who aren’t your parents but they look like them?
What if the spiritual realm became visible only to you?
What if a one hundred dollar bill was found stuck in your second story bedroom window and you know it’s not yours?
What if you bit into a cookie and found a ring inside with an inscription?