I’m reading Story Engineering and it says that once you have an idea for a story, you should develop it into a compelling, original/fresh, concept by using a series of “what if” questions. Once you have a concept, you keep asking the “what if” questions until you have a firm grasp of the story. The answers to the “what if” questions are your story.
So, taking the writing prompt from yesterday about the person mowing the lawn who falls into a hole that leads to a different world, we can apply some of the criteria of the Concept part of the Six Core Competencies, which one needs in order to be a successfully published writer.
I’m on the fence about this book. Yes, it provides some interesting and sometimes enlightening stuff, but most of the time it talks around the actual subject; which is something it complains that other books do. Ha surprise!
What if a character is out mowing the lawn (for some reason not yet explored) and suddenly a hole opens up under him/her and the character falls with the lawnmower into a new world?
Is it original? Well, not really. The hole to a new world is not a new idea. Doctor Who and Amy Pond explored the crack in the wall, which was another dimension, pretty thoroughly. And the wardrobe opened up to Narnia. And there’s the Journey to the Center of the Earth…But no one has yet (other than the other people who’ve written on that particular story prompt) written about a lawnmower going to another world. So we have a lawnmower and the person pushing it in a new world.
The next obvious “what if” is a compare/contrast opportunity. Assuming our character doesn’t die on impact, and the lawnmower doesn’t die on impact (which is a possibility), what is different about this new world? Does it have a civilization and other humanoids? Does it have gas powered technology? Is it of higher technology and disdainful of the lawnmower? Is it against cutting grass? There has to be someone else for the character to interact with – unless we want to pull a Tom Hanks and his volley ball friend Wilson story. That could happen: A girl and her lawnmower stuck in an alternate world. The lawnmower could become sentient.
Another criteria of concept that the author talked around was Theme. So, character and lawnmower and new world. What springs to mind for a theme? Are we writing about Duty? Mowing the lawn is a chore, or a job. Or a responsibility like an HOA requirement and a status symbol, so Keeping up Appearances?
What do you think?