Why Every Writer Must Ask Themselves This ONE QUESTION

I was reading K.M. Weiland's Outlining Your Novel a couple of years ago when I came across a powerful question.

I decided to give it a try, not really knowing what to expect.

This simple question impacted the way I wrote my second novel so much that I was AMAZED! It opened a TREASURE store of super awesome ideas.

Today, I want to share with you that ONE QUESTION every writer MUST ask themselves!

Let's go!


So what is this powerful, single question?

It's simple. Or...maybe complicated.

The question is this: What if...?

What if this happened? What if that happened?

What if these two characters were long-lost siblings, but they never knew until such-and-such happened?

I use the "What if...?" question for my novels, and it opens a TREASURE store! I come up with ideas I never would have thought of if it hadn't been for this one question!

For my Civil War historical fiction novel, specifically, I had this young slave girl named Lacey. Then another slave, Josiah (one of my MCs), comes to the same plantation.

Then I asked myself, "What if Josiah and Lacey were siblings? What if Lacey is Tiffany and Reuben's (Josiah's parents) lost daughter?"

That opened a huge path for my book. It was so cool and so exciting!

And it didn't take that much effort to come up with.

Thanks to this amazing question.


So how do we use this "What if...?" question in our own writing?

Grab a document with bullet points or a notebook and pencil, and start writing. Jot down anything that comes to your mind, even if it seems absurd and VERY unlikely to happen! (Trust me with this!)

For my current novel, I could ask myself, "What if Character A actually doesn't marry Character B? What if Character B has a bigger secret than Character A could ever imagine?" For the first question, I've been planning for Characters A and B to get married since the beginning of this novel's creation, so maybe later I would throw that question away since it isn't likely to happen. But the second question could hold promise.

Remember, you can always discard the "bad" ideas later. Just write them down for now!

The main point is to ask yourself "What if...?" as many times as you can. I often have an entire page or more of "What if...?" questions for my novels. There's no limit to how many you can ask, and there isn't a minimum (although I suggest trying to get at least to half a page so you can have some good ideas).

Think outside the box and let your mind flood your notebook with ideas.

The "What if...?" question seems simple enough, right? Just two little words, plus whatever you add to fill in the blank.

But asking yourself "What if...?" could change your entire book! It certainly did for me!

And it was awesome!


what about you?
Have you read K.M. Weiland's Outlining Your Novel? Have you ever asked yourself, "What if...?"


  1. What a great question! I'll try this for sure.

  2. Reading that book right now! So good!

    1. Awesome, Ryana Lynn! I can't remember if I actually finished it or not. I read most of it and it was AMAZING!! I should pick it up again sometime. :D

  3. Replies
    1. I know, right? K.M. Weiland's book was super helpful! :D


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