- Academic Research and Writing Tips / Tutorial

Using "What If's" in Creative Writing

Many students get writer's block and not know how to create a narrative or creative essay. A block to their creativity is failing to look past reality. A creative tool for writing is using "What If". Take any problem, any television show, or any type of creative writing and the question "What If?" has been used.

What If Writing

For instance, any inventor begins by asking this question. He looks at an idea and begins to ponder what if he did so and so what would happen. Benjamin Franklin was curious and often asked himself, "What if?" Everyone knows the story of Ben's famous kite flight that helped him to invent the lightning rod. His invention of an iron furnace stove allowed people to warm their homes less dangerously and with less wood. The furnace stove that he invented is called a Franklin stove. No doubt, his inventions came from asking "What if?"

Asking what if can lead to creativity on almost any topic. If a person is thinking about writing about dinosaurs, here are some questions that might be asked:

What if the dinosaurs still lived today? What is I lived during the time of dinosaurs? What is I saw a dinosaur today? What if dinosaurs continued to eat people today, what would be the population of mankind?

These questions can lead to an interesting creative narrative about dinosaurs. Reach past the normal and with imagination begin asking questions about dinosaurs and create a narrative or essay about dinosaurs.

Look back into history and think about what would have happened if Alexander Bell had not created the telephone. What if he had not been interested in the education of deaf people? What if this interest had not lead him to invent the microphone and later the telephone? What would life be like today without a telephone? Would there be cell phones? "What if" questions lead to creative thinking and allow the writer to use his/her imagination to think about the impossible.

Reading a romance novel recently about a girl who was rich due to her family's wealth, and then she discovered that her family's money came from a man who killed several hundred people during World War II. She became quite sick with the realization that her family had stolen wealth from the Jews and then came to America with a different name. What if she gave her wealth back to the Jews? Could this make a difference? What if she announced to the world that her family's wealth was tainted money from killing Jews? What if she had been born poor? These questions the girl had to answer to herself and decide what was right for her. The author no doubt used what if questions that led to a great book.

Think about different situations in life and ask, "What if?" What if anyone could decide to be a physician? What if I became rich and famous? What if life was good and no evil had happened? What if I knew I was going to die tomorrow, what would I do? The answers to these questions would be different depending on who asked the questions. Here are some examples of "what if" questions:

- What if gasoline was five dollars a gallon?

- What if my dog became a monster?

- What if anyone could drive a car?

- What if I cheated on exams?

- What if my dog could talk?

- What if I lived in a different country?

Simply, use "what if" questions to stir the imagination and begin writing. Whether the assignment is a narrative, poem, song, play, or whatever; using "what if" questions can lead to creativity.