Like many authors, I’m often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” Most of my stories start out with one simple question: What if?...
That’s how my middle-grade science fiction eBook SEVENTH GRADE (ALIEN!) HERO began. After watching a falling star (which is really a meteor), I asked myself “What if someone were to find that meteorite? And what if the meteorite turned out to be a tiny spaceship? My story was off and running!
As a fourth grade teacher, one of my major tasks is to help students become good writers. It never fails when I give my students a topic to write about, one of them says, “But I can’t think of anything to write!”
That’s when I play the “What if?” game with them. It’s a game I play with myself when I write a story. For example, here is a possible writing prompt: Write a short story about being lost. The “What If?” game might go like this:
Start with the setting:
· What if I got lost in a mall?
· What if I got lost in a forest?
· What if I got lost in an amusement park?
· What if I got lost in a haunted house?
· What if I get lost on another planet?
After you have decided on a setting, think about why you got lost:
· What if I stopped to tie my shoe and my family went on without me?
· What if I was camping and went to fetch some wood?
· What if I was visiting a friend and he ditched me as we rode our bikes?
· What if a bully was chasing me?
· What if I ran away from home?
Next think about the characters in your story:
· What if you’re lost by yourself?
· What if you’re lost with a dog or cat or horse?
· What if you’re lost with someone you hate?
· What if you’re lost with a young sister or brother?
· What if you’re lost with a space alien?
You might also want to think about the time and weather:
· What if you’re lost during a tornado or hurricane?
· What if you’re lost late at night?
· What if you’re lost when it’s really hot?
· What if you’re lost and it snows?
· What if you’re lost for several days?
Another thing to think about is how you’ll solve the problem of being lost:
· What if you follow your dog (cat, dog, horse) home?
· What if you climb a tree to see where you are?
· What if you wait until morning?
· What if find a safe place to stay until after the storm?
· What if you work with your enemy to come up with a plan?
Finally, look back at all of the ideas you came up with. Choose an interesting setting. Pick a reason for being lost. Decide if you’re lost by yourself or with someone else. Select a time of day and the type of weather. Figure out how you solve your problem.
Now you have everything you need to write a great story. All that’s left to do is to write it down.
So never again can you say, “I can’t think of anything to write.” Just play the “What If?” game, and you’ll have more ideas than stars in the sky!
Author SEVENTH GRADE (ALIEN!) HERO
By MuseItUp Publishing