What If?

A central tenet of good writing is write what you know, but that does not mean you should write a memoir. Imagination is essential to good storytelling, just as it is to good acting for instance. To enhance plot, always ask yourself the question 'What if" in the context of the story you want to tell.

In Alice LaPlante's psychological study Turn of Mind, the author wanted to tell a story about the relationship between a mother with Alzheimers and her daughter. That idea might have seemed kind of hackneyed, until the author (hypothetically) asked herself the questions:

What if the mother was a successful hand surgeon?
What if the mother's best friend who lives next door has just been murdered?
What if the body was found with one hand severed?
What if there was a mysterious relationship between the daughter and the neighbor?
and finally,
What if I tell the story from the point of view of the Alzheimer addled mother?

You can see as the author (again, hypothetically) adds details by musing, what if?, the story becomes more interesting. So, ground your story in what you know, but set it aloft by asking, what if?