Take Five: #16: Ask some questions - then answer them

Take Five
Five-minute reads about writing
to help you with NaNoWriMo
Nov. 1 - Nov. 30, 2011
Courtesy: Sasha Soren (Random Magic)

#16: Ask some questions - then answer them

Question (Moonlight Gleam's Bookshelf): How did you come to write Random Magic, what inspired you?

Answer (Sasha Soren, author of Random Magic): When you say 'inspired,' that's really the right word, because wasn't even planning to write a whole book, it sort of happened, ah, at random…

You know, when you read a book, and it makes you laugh, or it makes you angry, or it makes you cry, you get involved with those characters, that world, that story.

When you laugh, you're really laughing. When you cry, those are real tears.

But it's just ink and paper and some little symbols on a page - how odd and powerful, and how ordinary and extraordinary at the same time.

Every book is like its own world, and for a few hours or days, you escape into that world, you fall into a book.

So, was just idly wondering one day, what if it were possible to fall into some story and live the life of a character in that story? Who would it be? What story would it be? Where would it be interesting to spend some time?

You know, just as if you were picking up a round-trip ticket to some unusual place.

And thought, oh, it could be fun to visit the world of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, what an odd and interesting story, and what a strange place.

Shown above: Illustration, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Then thought, well, what if you didn't fall in, but someone else fell out? What would Alice do in our world? Would it seem as strange to her, our 21st century world - considering the passage of time, as the novel, under the title Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, was originally published in 1865 - as Wonderland was?

What would she make of cell phones or airplanes or computers?

But then thought, well, it wouldn't be as interesting or challenging to write about something that's really familiar.

Well, what if she didn't fall into our world, but into a different book?

And what if someone had to jump into that book to bring her back?

Who was that person, and where would he or she land, and what would they do when they got there?

And after wondering about that for a bit, started jotting things down, just out of curiosity. But then the curiosity just got stronger and stronger, and really just wanted to know - well, what happened? Did he or she ever find her? And what would it mean if they didn't?

And that's how that happened.

It'd be fair to say that nearly all books - at the start, when there's nothing to read yet but a blank screen - begin with one phrase: What if...?

So, if you'd like to find out what happens - that is, to write your book as an answer to a specific question, or set of questions, make sure you have a question in mind that interests you, because, if it does, you'll make it all the way to the end of the story.

Stuck? Ask a question - then answer it. And you'll make progress, slowly and surely, until finally you'll run out of questions to ask - but, by then, you'll have your entire story!

- Sasha Soren, author of Random Magic

About this series
The Take Five series is curated by Sasha Soren, author of Random Magic. You can find out more about the book here, if you like:

Find Random Magic: Print | Kindle
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Source: Interview with Sasha Soren (Random Magic) at Moonlight Gleam's Bookshelf
Image source: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Peter Newell