What if and why are two of my favorite things to ask. I’m notorious for asking them in writing and in life. (I think I ask often enough I drive my husband a little nuts, to be honest). I’ve what if’d everything from the idea that we are really all just microscopic beings on the thumbnail of a giant (hey, I was twelve) to the slightly-obsessive emergency kit I packed for the drive through a snowstorm for a family emergency (hey, I’m a California girl… how was I supposed to know those flutters weren’t a storm? and we MIGHT have needed those empty tuna cans and tealight candles for heat… really, we might have). And I ask why more than an eight year old. Just ask my eight year old, she’ll tell you!
A psychologist might refer to it as catastrophic thinking (taking what if to its highest degree of drama) but for a writer, it’s mighty handy. After all, the question of “what’s the worst thing that could happen” is what provides me with plot and conflict. Better yet, what if is what keeps the reader turning the pages. When I read a book, I’m always wondering, always asking -what’s next? Why? When I’m writing, I love to think what if, and use that to keep tossing conflict and issues at my poor characters for them to figure out. Why is always in the back of my head. Why do they do this, why don’t they do that?
This what if process can apply to any type of story, from paranormal to historical to suspense. My stories are pure fun… of the sexy kind. But that what if angle is always there. For instance – in my May 2007 Blaze debut I asked myself what would happen if a cop went undercover for the first time and was totally out of his element. Why would he be so uncomfortable? And what if, at the same time, a bad girl was dared to prove she was still just as bad as always. Why does she care what her friends think? What if she ended up with the wrong guy? Tada… DOUBLE DARE was born. I kept asking why, pushing the what if’s and why’s, playing with the idea, but that core question was the premise of my first sale and the heart of Audra and Jesse’s story.
For my upcoming January release, DOES SHE DARE? I asked what would push a gal with major goal setting tendencies to create the ultimate Man Plan. Not only was it fun to ask the what if’s for this story, it was even more fun to keep adding to them. What if this goal-setting gal wrote a Man Plan? Why did she think she needed a plan to hot up her sex life? What if the hottest dream guy she could imagine showed up on her doorstep? What if he got his hands on her plan? What if he was the one guy who could ruin everything she’d worked for… would she risk it? Why? (See how that works?)
What if and why -they are my favorite writing questions. How about you… do you ever ask what if? Do you make up stories to go with the question? When you’re reading, do you ever ask yourself why on earth the character is doing THAT???
I know I do…