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Start writing fiction: characters and stories
Start writing fiction: characters and stories

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4.2.2 What if?

Figure 7

In the example possibilities of how and why the woman happened to be on the bus with her dog, we are asking a question which is essential for writing fiction. This question is – ‘What if?’

Asking ‘What if?’ can help you to get from having an idea about a character you want to write about to developing a plot. For example, you might ask:

  • What if at one time the straight-laced schoolteacher worked in the circus?
  • What if that charming woman in the sweetshop poisoned her neighbour’s cat?
  • What if tomorrow I inherited a million pounds, and then what if the next day I lost it?
  • What if the characters are not as they first seem?

This ability to ask ‘What if?’ is a habit that can easily be learned. It adds causality and richness to your characters as well as helping you to form a plot.