Wednesday, 10 April 2013
I is for If
I used to be afraid of throwing ifs about willy-nilly. My internal dialogue would go something like this:
'What if an asteroid struck?'
'That doesn't fit with the story.'
'What about if a celebrity came walking down the street?'
'That's just unrealistic and stupid.'
'What if he ordered a takeaway?'
'He can't do that, he's broke.'
'Oh just shut up!'
But my internal arguments have got a lot quieter since I realised that it doesn't matter if the 'what if' doesn't fit with the overall story outline or the way I see my character. Ifs are a great way of moving on a story, even if the ideas don't remain past a first draft. I might throw in a burglary at the old people's home that, as it turns out, doesn't fit at all with the 100th birthday party story, but makes the start of a whole new flash fiction.
Sometimes the most interesting passages come just off the cuff and unplanned, and if a strange 'what if' gets me writing rather than staring at the screen and complaining that I can't think what to write, then that has to be a good thing.