Wednesday, March 2, 2011

While Driving Along . . .

First up, some bulletin board news:

This coming Sunday, March 6th, I will be joining some of the wonderful authors that are a part of the KidLit Authors Club at The Well Read Bookstore in Hawthorne, N.J. Here are a couple links:


We’ll be there from 1 PM until 4 PM reading from our books and giving away goodies. If you happen to be in the area, we’d love to see you!

* * *

I’ve been visiting lots of bookstores since joining the wonderful gang of the Kidlit Authors Club. More visits means more time in the car. This means time listening to great music while mulling over my work. I am convinced that writers never stop writing and working on their stories, even without laptops, pencils, or pens. So, on Sunday, while driving to Well Read Books, I’ll be thinking over my latest novel. An everyday event during my trip might even lead to a novel event. This has happened before.

Not too long ago, while I was driving along, a van pulled out in front of me and cut me off. Okay, fine. This is part of the driving life in New Jersey. A driver cutting off another driver is about as common as peanut butter. It’s also one of those experiences that usually elicits a reaction, if not a variety of reactions. I started asking What if…? What if a driver cut off became so infuriated that he or she chased down the offending car and beat the living snot out of the guy who did the cutting? Or, what if the two cars ended up in a wild chase? What might complicate this chase? How could it become crazy tense? My mind started crafting all sorts of reactions and outcomes to this common (at least in NJ), everyday incident. I kept upping the stakes. Each scenario provided a different menu of character traits with any number of reasons for each character’s reactions. All because I kept asking What if? And here’s the best part: I ended up using one of these scenes in my latest work in progress. I really should thank that guy who cut me off and nearly nailed my beautiful car… And then again, maybe not.

Do you ever ask What if? and let your imagination loose?


  1. Great post. My day job involves driving all over creation, and so I spend a lot of time behind the wheel. I've come up with a few what-if tales of my own, and I'm going to try to remember this the next time somebody cuts me off or otherwise drives like a dope, which probably won't be too far away. Have fun at Well Read!

  2. Very good question - what if? As you've shown, you can come up with at least a half a dozen different scenarios that can work in a story.

  3. Thanks, Alissa! And do be careful while playing and driving. ; )

    Ah, Bish, you've been there done that already, huh? I'd love to hear more about what you've come up with.

    Thanks, J.L. I sometimes think, when I'm stuck writing, that I ought to take a time out and just start asking questions.

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

  4. What if is what starts many of my stories! My last what if I was 'condo sitting' an empty apartment for a friend so i could let in the cable guy while she was at work. I started to think about the elderly couple in the next unit, and how quiet they were. Then i started to think about what if it wasn't quiet? What if I heard something--something terrible, like a murder? What would I do?

    I ended up writing a novel exactly about this scenario--a teen who lines in an old folks home with her mother overheard the murder of the senior living above her...only she was skipping school at the time and so can't tell anyone about it.

    What if has been very good to me. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  5. Whoa, Angela--that's awesome! What a great story idea. All because of a good idea, a creative imagination, and a little what if? question. Thanks so much for this. Loved it!

  6. I hope your event yesterday went well!
    What if is a great game to let your imagination run!

  7. Thanks, Kelly, it was fun! Thanks for stopping by.