When we ask ourselves “what-if” questions, we can imagine whole new worlds, new ways of living, and unique characters who are dealing with unusual circumstances.
When I wrote Pure, I began by asking:
- What if parents could genetically choose a child — ensure she grew up unusually smart, healthy, or attractive?
- How would a teenager react to the news that her parents had genetically enhanced her?
- What if that genetic enhancement came with unexpected physical and social consequences?
This technique is particularly useful for imagining fantasy and science fiction stories.
What if men could have babies too? How would it change our society?
What if we could alter our skin colour just by thinking about it?
What if Native Americans had not signed treaties with the settlers, and the settlers had adopted Native ways instead?
The possibilities are endless.
Children’s fantasy writer Jane Yolen writes, “Surely one of the great things about fantasy literature is that we can be transported to worlds we do not know. We can wear skins that are not ours. We can look at the landscape through someone else’s eyes.”