"What if?" is the greatest question that can be asked to a writer, or by the writer about literally anything. It is the beginning of every story, of every quest, and it is the very basis of why I write.
To me, my writing is more than an escape from the mundane-ness of my reality; it is allowing me to be the all-powerful creator for one moment in time. If I choose to be malevolent to my creations, so be it. If I wish to bless them with wealth and power, even more acceptable. I can do, say, prepare, inspire, or destroy anything I want.
And it is all because I asked myself that very loaded and open-ended question: What if?
It's so easy to do, the actual writing is the hard part. I love the "what if?" Sometimes, I am surprised (or just don't like) the answers to that question that might come forth, but that's ok. Not all "what if's" are going to be pleasant for the character to undergo.
That's when I learn the most, really, not about me, but about my characters. I learn silly minutia about them, and I learn how they react when they're out of their element. All because of "What if?"
My current story, MINIMAL, has an antagonist as the primary "mover and shaker" of what's going on, he's seedy, cocky, twisted, and self-assured about everything--including his own abilities--but he's about to get a curve-ball thrown his way. How will he react, I wonder?
Don't know. And that's the "What if?" moment I'm dealing with right now. See, I write my stuff but don't plot my way through it all, I know where I'm going--I just have to get there: the journey is the most important thing, provided I make it to the destination it matters little which road I travel while writing.
How will the bad guy take it? Is he gonna cave under the pressure, or rise above it?
That's "What if?", and I love it.
"What if?" is what allows me, as an adult, to continue to play "make believe" and get away with it. Einstein called it "Thought Experiments," but no matter who calls it what, nor how illustrious the career or the man who says it, it's still the same thing: "What if?"
To me, that's the core of writing. I get to play in the fields I make in my mind, and I get to bring you along. Sometimes the games we play aren't traditional or fun, but that's the great part...next time, the game is new.
Hmmm, I wonder what if?...