Friday, November 19, 2010

What Inspires My Fantasy Mind To Write?

One of the things that inspires me to write is the big “WHAT IF?” question.

The crazier the "what if" question the more elaborate spin off conflicts and scenarios I can make.

For example: What if the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was a cover up for finding the Fountain of Youth?

After the "what if" question I do a crazier thing.? I think of why my crazy idea could possibly not be crazy.? Ideas for this scenario are:

1. Early explores claimed to have found the Fountain of Youth in Florida, one of the geographical locations bordering the Gulf of Mexico.

2. Some people believe that the Gulf of Mexico is where the City of Enoch used to be.

3. Some people believe that the Fountain of Youth is what watered the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.

I’ll stop there before I get too carried away. Next, I start researching. I will research everything and everyone to do with the Gulf oil spill and the Fountain of Youth.

I love Google and Wikipedia.

I will go on until I have enough data to peak my interest and ask more “what if” questions.

If I don’t think the idea is marketable or if I’m not really that interested, I will move on.

If I do decide to continue, I gather a list of dates, events and a cast of real and/or imagined characters.

Now I have essentially a big box of puzzle pieces that I must connect together and form a story.

The GLUE to this story is everything that makes up me. The glue could be things I’ve studied from poetry and theology, things I enjoy from favorite animals to favorite foods, things that have inspired me in the past, problems or worries I face, current events, etc … This is author DNA (Drive, Nature and Attributes). I will talk about how author DNA is integrated into every story in a later post.

So in this mock demonstration my story might go something like:

Once upon a time before the Great Flood of Noah there was a spring that shot into the sky and rained down on the Garden of Eden, watering it and creating the legendary paradise. When one bathed in the spring, their wounds were healed and if they drank of the waters it would grant them youth.

This is where I will introduce a conflict like aliens trying to taint the spring or warriors from a distant kingdom trying to steal the water or the wrath of the god who created the spring comes upon the people.

After the conflict comes the consequence or resolution of the conflict which I already figured out from my original “what if “question.

The spring was buried deep in the earth so the kingdoms enemies couldn’t take the precious water and live forever. A curse was placed on the spring and all who drank or bathed in it would die.

So now that you know the historical aspect of this story.

A group of government conspirators or treasure hunters finds this legend. They study the tectonic plates, geography and come up with an area where the spring could be. Because the source of the spring water is five miles under the earth they start digging in the Sigsbee Deep which is the deepest part of the Gulf of Mexico.

Once they find the fountain, the water around them turns black with tar. The under ground spring is tainted and the curse is fulfilled that all who bathe or drink of the oil filled water will die.

Okay, I know this sounds odd, but it’s what I came up with in the moment. Of course if I decided to pursue this story I would create character bibles, map out my location, research the story for at least two weeks, have other conflicts such as love interests at stake, conspirators, protectors of the fountain, etc.

I would also choose someone to be my POV guy (or lady). Maybe this would be a whale watcher, an archeologist, a history professor, the son of a bad guy who must confront his father at the end, or someone who works for the oil company who is trying to stop the dangerous escapade.

Do you see how one crazy “what if” question can evolve into a novel that will make your readers also ask, “What if?”


  1. Hi, cutie! There is this children's picture book author who flies by the seat of his pants on those what ifs. He presented at our elementary school and struck up a cute plot with the kids there.

    I don't ask what if for the most part unless I'm in a real bind. There was a spot in my Urban Fantasy novel that took me 5 chapters into it and I didn't like it. I had to backtrack and rewrite it to the first 'what if' that I ignored. *sigh*

    Great post and thank you for the links!!!


  2. I'll exercise caution around those what ifs!

  3. I do sometimes ask myself "what if" while I'm working on a story, but for me it's usually during the world building part (Uh, yeah, even urban fantasy writers have to world build! lol). For example, I asked myself, "what if vampires did live among humans?" What would the world be like from their POV? Would it be like living in a giant McDonalds? What rules or customs would they have? How would they go about electing leaders, or would everything be random and barbaric? How would they do all this without the humans knowing?

  4. Great example. One of my what if's is monsters. Aren't we tired of Dragons, Were this and that, Vampires...I guess not. But I want something new. Something no one has done before. Either as a heroine or a monster. I also research myths and legends to get started on this idea and then come up with some wild ideas. That's where the fun starts.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  5. I love playing the "What If" game. It's a great way to breed ideas and crazy plot twists for sure. I find myself playiing the game even without realizing. Like just today, we loaded up the little man and went on an outing (on the public transportation as we have no car at the moment). We were sitting on teh bus and I suddenly had the thought of "What if this bus suddenly tips over / crashes?" Then I began to formulate backstories for each person sitting on the bus and how I would weave a story together. It sure made the trip much more relaxing and fun for me!


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