Thursday, April 27, 2017

What If Questions

What if questions govern a writer’s life in a multitude of ways.

To begin with, it helps a writer create.

A story idea might originate from a simple ‘what if’ question.  A spectacular twist in the story comes out of a ‘what if’ idea.

The various dimensions of a character become evident as answers to different what if questions. The pace of the story, the character arc, the climax, the ending… every element becomes different from a similar story when the writer attempts to give life to a ‘what if’ idea.

A writer brings in variety and newness into the scene ideas, the dialogues, and the conflicts by asking many what if questions.

What if the villain turned out to be an extraterrestrial? Such a question is bound to change the genre of the story.

What if the characters begin to speak as if they were given different scripts? It can lead to hilarious situations or create conflicts.

What if one of the characters dies unexpectedly? This technique is widely used. ‘Kill your darlings’ is a tactic often adopted by authors when writing a book series. The Harry porter series sees the death of at least one prominent character in each book.

Yet, ‘What if’ questions also hinder creativity. It is one of the main questions that can bring in fear. 

Some of the common what if questions that trouble writers right from the beginning of their writing career are:
What if I am not meant to be a writer?
What if I am not able to complete this novel that I have begun?
What if this book turns out to be the worst book ever?
What if I face multiple rejections from agents and publishers?
What if the book never gets published?
What if the readers hate what I write?
What if the critics tear my book apart?
What if this book doesn’t match the popularity of the previous one?
What if I earn peanuts as a writer?

What if… such fears haunt the writer and the result is often ‘Writer’s Block’.

It is for us to decide whether we will use this simple phrase to create a question that will make us create or block our creativity.

Do you think what if questions are powerful?

During this A-Z April Challenge, I am exploring the A-Z journey of writing a Novel with examples from Literature.

The Letter of the day is W

Linking this post  to Blogging from A-Z

Have you read the Letters A, B, C, D, EFGH  I  J K  L M N  O P Q R  S T U and V?


  1. What if questions can be killers. As a writer, i guess my greatest fearis what if everybody hates this one? Find me here. LINK

    1. Yes! That is one of the worst fears to have. Very hard to conquer that.

  2. I love challenging myself with 'what ifs' when it is related to what I'm writing. But the other kind of what ifs which bring in obstacles in writing are the ones I dread. Your choice of topics for this theme are so creative, Preethi.

    1. Thank you, Vinodini. Glad you find the topics interesting.

  3. Very valid post buddy. As one is often faced with the challenges highlighted by you and thus it is better to use what ifs in our favour.

    1. That is way out. Adopt the what if questions that will truly enhance us.

  4. There are a lot of 'what it's that I struggle with as a writer. You are right; I should not focus in those questions but ensure there are enough 'what ifs' for a great story! :)

  5. What if has been the start of more than one of my books, and plays a role in almost every plot.
    What if should only be used for writing words, not doubting the process.

    1. The doubting process is to be dreaded. What ifs should make us creative. Not block us.