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What If GraphicThis article series is about writing erotic romance, though most authors can apply the ideas to virtually any kind of fiction writing. I’m no genius when it comes to writing or writing theory. I have a little education on the subject, and I have more than a dozen books on the market. With that and a buck I can get a cup of coffee…at a really cheap coffeehouse. Or, I can share my experience and methods with you. You can see what I’m opting for.

Part 1: What If?

When I write, I start by asking what if? What if an eccentric heiress meets a bounty-hunter’s prisoner and falls in love with him? Under Wraps. What if a gorgeous woman is thrown into enforced confinement with a hunky hero who has a secret yearning for her but she has a boyfriend who’s abusive and won’t let go? Daughter of the Moon, Books 1 & 2. What if there was a family of ranchers with five siblings who were all into spanking? The Journey Family series. I could go on. The what if question forms the basis for everything that comes after, and this is especially true for a romance book, because a book that’s written like a paint-by-numbers panel isn’t very romantic or interesting.

There are secondary what if questions as well. Here’s where you get into the erotica part of the story. What if a dominant lover wanted to dole out a sexy spanking? The Journey Family series. Or what if Snow White was seriously attracted to her WITSEC marshal protector but their professional relationship made them have to fool around on the sly? Snowy and the Seven Wharves. What if Goldilocks was actually a submissive and had to try out a few Doms before she found the right one? Goldie and the Three Doms.

The what if question is where the author’s imagination really shines. Not everyone has the kind of quirk that makes them think of situations where people are driven into conflicts, forcing them to make compromises or do heroic deeds to escape. I’m not saying authors are superior creatures, but everyone is gifted with a talent, and most authors have a talent for asking what if questions.

For me, every book starts with what if but it doesn’t stop there. The next thing I ponder is the setting. I’ll talk about that in the next article.

6 Comments

  1. This is a great strategy. I use it as well.

  2. I use the “what if” or “magic if” method of story generation. But often I’m inspired by a song or a phrase someone says. I was actually looking at a good friend of mine and thought “he’s such a nice guy, but such an unlikely hero” and the idea’s now taken hold with the question, “What makes a guy no one would think is a hero, become a hero?” (The answer, of course, is love!)

    Thanks so much, Trish, for this thought-provoking post. I don’t usually think about how I come up with my ideas–too busy writing them down. LOL

  3. an interesting premise to start a book idea from.

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