It is the question of "What if?".
When it is time to start a new story, brainstorm a part of the plot, or even hear a news story that plants a seed of a story in your mind, you begin to ask the question....what if?
- a young woman is held captive in a convent?
- the young woman escapes, disguised as a boy?
- the woman is beaten along the way by ruffians?
- the woman is saved by a handsome knight?
- the the handsome knight is on his way to her father's castle for a tournament?
- he takes her on as his squire (thinking she is a lad), promising to give her safe passage?
- she falls in love with the knight?
- her gender is discovered when she is injured in a fight?
These are just a few of the questions I asked while brainstorming my first story. A story starts with a germ of an idea. When you ask "what if", you can find many different directions that your story can go. When you are brainstorming a story idea, try to think of as many different ideas as you can. Having my heroine's gender discovered at the very beginning of the story would have made it an altogether different story. The tension would be stronger, but then my hero would not have been able to get to know my heroine the same way as he did while she pretended to be a boy.
The question of "what if" is a powerful tool for the writer. Get a pen and paper out and start your list of "what ifs". You might even try a mind map, branching off in different directions...wherever your "what ifs" take you. See what you can come up with.
Better yet, let's experiment and see what we can come with. I'll start and you come up with a "what if". Let's see what kind of story we come up with through our commenters today.
What if a woman was in an airplane, about to skydive for her 30th birthday, when she discovered that Gerard Butler (or whatever cutie-pie you would like to envision) was sitting next to her?
*This is a repost from a couple of years ago.