'What if' might be the two most powerful words a writer has at her disposal. My story Betrayal is based upon a newspaper article I read about a woman who was arrested for allegedly trying to hire two separate men to kill her husband after her own suspected attempt did not work. I set the story in Mexico and did some research so I could get the location details right.
But how could I weave the article into a totally fictional account of what might have happened between this husband and wife? Well, let's see, what if...
- the husband was physcially abusive towards his wife, which is why she wanted him dead?
- the wife found out about a large life insurance policy and wanted to cash it in so she could travel?
- the wife was carrying on an extra-marital affair and the husband wouldn't go through with the divorce, so she tries to eliminate the problem?
- the husband was the person having an extra-marital affair and in an angry rage the wife tried to kill him, and when it was unsuccessful she tried hiring someone to do it?
These are just some of the possibilites I thought of within the last few minutes. Maybe you came up with a different 'what if'. We are only limited by our imaginations.
So, next time you hit a stumbling block in your writing, pull out a piece of paper and write out "What if..." Then list all the options you can come up with. Don't be surprised if this sparks some ideas you never thought of before.