By James L. Rubart
The Power of “What If?”
As with many authors, I’m often asked where my story ideas come from. From all different places is the answer. But what I think they’re really asking is, “How do you come up with concepts that feel unique?”
The answer to that question is I use the power of “What if?” Once I can get my story idea to the point where it fits into a compelling, one sentence “what if?” question, I know I have an idea I can run with.
A few examples from the movies
· What if a bus explodes if it goes under 55 mph?
· What if a man can’t lie?
· What if a shark terrorizes a tourist town?
· What if a boy could see dead people?
· What if we could clone dinosaurs?
Most of you know the movies: Speed, Liar Liar, Jaws, The Sixth Sense, Jurassic Park
A few examples from my novels
· What if you could walk into the rooms of your soul? (Rooms)
· What if you could find God’s Book of Days on earth that showed you your future? (Book of Days)
· What if you were given a chair made by Jesus Christ? (The Chair)
· What if could talk to your 23-year-old self? (The Five Times I Met Myself)
Once I come up with an idea, I test it with friends and family. If I can’t come up with a “What if?” question that intrigues them, then I need to head back to the drawing board and keep brainstorming.
A Specific Example
For my novel, The Chair, I was reading an article by Chuck Colson that mentioned a Jewish historian who said some of the plows Jesus made as carpenter were used all the way into the second century. I thought, “What if Jesus made something that lasted until today? What if it was a chair? What if it was the chair he sat in after he appeared to the disciples? What if it had supernatural healing powers? And the story was born.
The Marketing component of “What if?”
Not only can asking, “What if?” help you with your story ideas, it can help with your marketing. Whether your target market is an agent, an editor, or readers, you need to be able to convey the power of your story FAST. With a strong what if question, you can do exactly that.
Get in the Habit
Once you get in the habit of asking, “What if?” you won’t be able to stop. When you read or watch the news, watch TV, movies, talk to friends ... always be asking, “What if?” Let your imagination run free and you’ll be stunned with the creative, powerful ideas your mind will be flooded with.
Now, hmmm. What if everyone reading this blog post were to buy a copy of my latest novel?
James L. Rubart has a B.A. in broadcast journalism, and for more than 20 years he has also owned and operated his own marketing company. Ever since he was a little boy, Rubart dreamed of writing novels but didn’t begin his journey as an author until 2002. Since then, he has become a bestselling and Christy award-winning author of seven novels, including Rooms, Soul’s Gate and his most recent, The Five Times I Met Myself. Rubart is also a professional speaker. Rubart says he feels like a 28-year-old trapped in an older man’s body and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons. Rubart has spent his whole life in the Pacific Northwest and now lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. For more information about The Five Times I Met Myself and James L. Rubart, visit www.jameslrubart.com. You can also follow him on Facebook (JamesLRubart) or Twitter (@jameslrubart).