07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Monday, May 16, 2011

What if?

I really like that question. That one, and its cousin, Why Not? But I’ll save the latter for another post.

I ask What If? all the time—mostly for fun and occasionally to scare myself. (Okay my husband would shake his head here and say that I scare the crap out of myself way too often with my What Ifs?)

What if, at any moment, a weapon or a natural catastrophe thrusts us all into a post-apocalyptic world? What if creatures from our nightmares can follow us into the waking world? What if dark, intelligent beings exist on just the other side of the shadows? (And what if they were hot? Yeah!)

For me, this is fun stuff. Great stuff. No sooner do I ask the question than I’m making up a story about that scenario. One question begets another and another until a whole new world shimmers out of my imagination.

You know the saying, “scared of your shadow?” Well, have you ever looked at your shadow and wondered if might have an agenda of its own? Has your shadow ever scared you? There’s no hiding or fighting your own shadow. You’re stuck together, forever, whether you like it or not.

I’ve got an enovella releasing June 1 called Shadow Touch. The premise? What if a person was born divided into two separate, but connected manifestations of a single self—flesh and shadow?

Eleanor Russo is the heroine of the story. Her flesh and blood self is rational, moral, and follows the mores of society. But her shadow is impulsive, curious, lusty—as if Ellie’s id (think Freud) is able to act on its own. The story’s hero, Cam, is charged with helping her and gets a whole lot more than he expected.

And that’s why I love to read and write paranormal romance/fantasy. The genre is full of fantastic What If? questions. Add the promise of a (hard won) happily ever after for the hero and heroine, and the scary What if?s become all the sweeter.

Do any of you have a What If? that fires your imagination?


Terri Molina said...

Asking "what if?" is the first step to plotting a story and the beauty of it is, you can come up with tons of possibilities.

Great post, Erin...and the novella sounds like a great read!

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Erin,

I'm so glad you're a Genre-ista. And, I'm so glad I don't write paranormal, romance/fantasy...I'd never get any sleep . Yep, I'm one of those people who has nightmares if she watches anything remotely scary.

But "What If?" A great question when I'm writing in the middle of my story and I'm not sure what to do next (no, I don't plot it all out first) but 'what if' gives me lots of options to explore and that's what makes writing the middle of the book fun. I inspire and surprise myself with some of the answers!

Tam Linsey said...

"What if ...?" is my favorite question! And I love how you've applied it to paranormal plots. Shadow Touch sounds fascinating!

Sarah Raplee said...

My first book began with the question, "What if a very good girl did one very, VERY bad thing?" How would that affect her identity? How might she try to reclaim her true self? How would others perceive her when she got out of prison?

I love to ask," what if?" And I love to writePparanormals and Sci-Fi stories because the field is so wide open for "what ifs?"

I just started reading your book, "Shadow Man" and I am hooked on your shadow world!

Erin Kellison said...

Thanks ladies! I think What If? is the backbone of genre fiction.

@Terri--yes, the possibilities are endless. That's the coolest part.

@Judith--I'd never considered the middle of a book in particular, but now I am thinking, yeah, that's a great way to approach it.

@Tam--Thank you so much. I hope you get a chance to read it!

@Sarah--LOVE the premise of your What If? What a fantastic concept and way to conceive character. And so glad you are enjoying the book. :)

Diana Mcc. said...

Your shadow world sounds fascinating. I love using 'what if..." to plot my stories. It certainly helps generate a lot of different avenues that the plot could develope. Then it is just a matter of deciding which one or two would work the best for the story line.

Jo Schaffer said...

I would read anything that Erin writes! She is amazing. (=

Paty Jager said...

I'm with Judith ..I don't do scary! Before I started writing and putting my imagination to work I could what if myself into hysteria over what could happen to people I love. Now that I write, the what if's are all used for my stories but not with the scariness you use what if.

Good post.

Sarah Raplee said...

I'm OK with scary, as long as good triumphs in the end. :)

Vonnie Alto said...

I confess. I don't use "What if?" I'm forever forgetting this phrase. However, I love to plot. Isn't that ironic! What I do is to keep twisting my plot. I ask myself, "How can I make this different? Unique?" This method seems to work for me. I would probably have an easier time plotting if I could remember, "What if?"

I'll have to put a post-it-note on my desk to remind me. Maybe then my plotting will be effortless.