Chapter 3 Exercise 1 – Plot & Structure


The What-If Game: this is perhaps the oldest, and still the best, creative game for novelist. Originality is nothing more than connecting familiar elements in unfamiliar ways. Ask “what-if” when reading the newspaper, and watching every commercial and television show; let the mind roam free; write down what-if questions; come back to list a few days later to see what sounds promising

What if…

  • Natives had refused to assist the journeying Europeans
  • the first American space flight was unsuccessful
  • Hitler succeeded
  • dinosaurs had not gone extinct
  • elephants have big butts and they cannot lie
  • cats were robots
  • dogs were extraterrestrials that integrated into our society
  • all existence was merely the imaginings of some being that is writing a novel
  • Santa Klaus was a dictator intending to control the world through free toys to children
  • you fell in love with an extraterrestrial, would you have sex with it
  • the gods of ancient history returned
  • mutants (as in the Marvel Universe) were factual
  • the atomic bomb was never designed
  • if the ancestral line of Anglo Saxon had not become “the standard”
  • Martin Luther King Jr had not been assassinated
  • Jesus had decided against being the New Covenant
  • we had actually bombed ourselves to oblivion during WWII (think video game: Fallout)
  • the Black Plague had spread globally
  • the Muslims had been able to thwart the Inquisition
  • God had decided to “clean slate”
  • instead of homosapien, the evolved sentient creature was homosaurus
  • the Flood (think video game: Halo) really did exist, and they invaded Earth?
  • Gaea finally became fed up and decided to react aggressively against humankind
  • God allowed Earth to remain flooded
  • society was Matriarchal, rather than Patriarchal
  • Cortez had somehow landed in Canada, not Mexico
  • if Cortez had been defeated, rather than vilely victorious
  • Sputnik was indeed a Soviet weapon
  • Sputnik was actually an extraterrestrial spy device
  • if “Mort(e)” happens
  • the Roswell incident led to an extraterrestrial invasion
  • heterosexuality was the oddity
  • homosapien was not the dominant sentient species
  • time travel was not only plausible, but was Earth’s primary commodity within the Galaxy
  • girls were from Mars and boys from Venus
  • Heracles had drank the entire potion
  • Facebook never existed, and we only had MySpace
  • all of Earth was a nudist colony
  • mobile devices were internationally outlawed and banned
  • Y2K did occur, and the world plummeted into technological despair
  • the Confederate forces had been victorious over the Union
  • all across America, all the slaves had revolted, and done so wildly, successfully
  • cooties were an actual medical condition





Opening Lines: writing opening lines is fun. Try it. Your imagination will thank you

  • “You feel me?” she asked. “I feel you girl, boom shaka laka laka!” she replied, straight-faced.
  • I lay in bed motionless as the sun gleamed through the window. Silent. Until I heard rustling from the cot near mine.
  • “I’m free!” she wailed in jubilation. “I’ve been freed!” Her arms rose toward the sky as a thunderstorm approached. She was naked and elated.
  • Sitting with a coffee in hand and doughnut sugar upon his cheek, James hears the news. Ain’t this a bitch!
  • A red moon, blood red, radiating a thick scarlet mist over the land.
  • All the crew were running around, getting ready for their next assignment. The word had come: the fleet’s largest vessel was ready for its first voyage. And the crew for it were nine women.
  • “How could I make a man out of you?”Drill Sergeant Raines barked, looking down at a cadet who had tripped while on the march to basecamp.
  • Last summer was the first time I went camping.
  • On a calm, silent evening a young, bitter, restless man strolled down a road of a small village called Titania.
  • In a golden banquet hall, in a castle hidden away within a cavern at the bottom of a great ocean, there is a conference taking place.
  • The sun was high in the sky, haloed by vicious vultures. Kel knew they would need to find civilization soon if they were to survive. But for miles and miles only sand, scorching wind, and death loomed.
  • High above the city skyline, zipping through the clouds, Scarlet Avenger looked down at the sulking citizens of Five Points as they went about achieving their daily routines. His lips twisted into a frown, he wondered how so many people in one place could be so discouraged.
  • The moon hung low, casting long and odd shadows across the urban landscape. Babies crying from their cribs, the homeless shifting about within their cardboard homes, and blaring sirens were the soundtrack of the evening. It was perfect for a prowler like me.
  • Since the very beginning, he knew that the world would suffer endlessly due to mankind’s irrational savagery, violence, and lack of foresight. The minds of the two and a half billion scattered across the globe all sought their own hedonistic satisfactions; none concerning themselves with keeping the planet spinning toward a satisfactory future.
  • Falling through the immense nothingness that is existence and oblivion, the mind of a mere mortal would shatter into a prism of agony and disbelief. Even a god would falter at the thought of one’s fate pass the boundless barrier that border and encase the acknowledged universe.
  • The stench is overwhelming, burning my eyes, making them water. But tears do not roll down my cheeks and fall to a bloodstained concrete floor because of the odor alone. I can still feel the pain of those recently slaughtered.
  • It has been a half-century since the Great War has ended and the inhabitants of the planet earth enslaved.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s