There are two basic questions I apply to plotting my novels: what if, and and then.
What if is easy for me. What if my main character falls off a bridge? What if he’s a daemon, droid, lycanthrope, mixed alien…well, you get the picture. I’ve been accused of having what if attitude sometimes when I should just go with the flow. But, what if something goes wrong? What if I’m late to pick my kids up from school? What if I don’t make the cut? What if I do? You see, art mimics life. I’m cool with my what ifs. I don’t see it as a pessimist’s perspective, but rather a path to preparedness.
And then, on the other hand, likes to wear me down. I hate to see it printed in a book. It’s one of my pet peeves. And then, he turned to her… or and then, they lived happily ever after? Just like that? Really? No mortgage. No sick kids. Okay. Must be nice. And then, I lost interest in the book.
But I do use and then to work out kinks. It plays devil’s advocate because what if can’t exist without and then.
What if, Harry Potter found out he was a great wizard? And then, he went to a school of magic. And then, he learned he had a formidable opponent, and then he faced this opponent and saved the day. Perfect. For you see, the two go hand in hand, like Voldermort and Harry. One cannot live while other survives. They need each other. What if is my Harry, while and then is my Voldermort.
But here’s my dilemma. Lately brain has decided on a new deep-seated perversion of and then because of the movie Dude, where’s my car? I just can’t seem to shake it. Every time I think “and then,” my brain screams back at me, “NO, and then. NO, and then.” Even though idea making, if nothing else, is a veritable idea menu just waiting for me place my order. Darn you, Ashton Kutcher; you've ruined me!
What about you? Does something you've seen or heard ever muddle your brain?