11 January 2011

What Happens Next?

They won’t stay there.  You keep pushing them back, but just when you think you’ve managed to restrain them (yet again) out they pop.  Your protagonist, maybe an antagonist has also joined in, even a whole cast of ensemble characters.
What happens next?
Two words happen next.  What if?
I find now that ideas, situations, plot progression, or whatever you want to call it, come more easily, but back five or six years when I was first struggling with the idea for Driftwood I was stuck.  Stuck pretty much where I left the last posting.  I had a few ideas, but not enough for a novel.  Then in a writing book or article I read about ‘what if’.
What if your character did x, y or z?  What if this, or that, happened?
To use Driftwood as an example.  I started with the idea of a teenage couple in love.  Being so young ‘what if’ outside circumstances pulled them apart.  Parents?  Another lover?  ‘What if’ they met again 20 years later?  ‘What if’ one or both of them had children?  Other partners.  No partner.  What if one of them wanted to forget the past and get back together?  Or had ulterior motives for suggesting that.
When you feel you are moving forward with ideas, expand the 'what if' theory and ask different questions.
How would things have changed for each of them?  Are there things from their past they have kept hidden?  How do these secrets impact on their present life?
At this point (for me anyway) all of this is still in my head, it still feels too fluid to commit to paper, though there’s nothing wrong with making notes if you feel you might forget some of it.  As I said before the best part about writing advice and processes is to sift through, try out things, keep what is useful and forget the rest.

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