Notice I'm going for the cheap 'sex sells' titles. I'll pull you in and then give you something that is not lewd or lascivious in the least. Tell you what, you read on and I'll work some sexy stuff in somewhere.
'What if' questions. Do you use them? It's probably the only way I've ever started a story. 'The Knights of Naclurita' posted here under my story tab, started with, 'What if there had been dragons in the old west?' The story doesn't really answer that question, but it doesn't have to. It was merely a prompt to get me writing. The "What if" is a very useful thing.
Now, I can't take credit for thinking up the 'What if'. It was pointed out to me as something writers do whether they know it or not. Stephen King did it for me in 'On Writing' and maybe somebody did it for him. I don't know. But once he brought it to my attention, 'What if' became my favorite tool. Every one of my stories owes its existence to countless 'What ifs'.
The big one gets the story rolling and the juices flowing. Let's pose a what if for the sake of this post. What if there was a draft lottery like in the sixties and seventies and if your number came up, you had to work two years as a sex worker? As you can see, I'm working on fulfilling my promise of lewdness. And, by the way, any of you want to use that, go ahead, it's a gift.
Okay, now we've got the backdrop and probably the central conflict from which all other conflict will spring. But I for one, need characters to tell me the story. So, what if there was a hermaphrodite whose number came up and what if this society put hermaphrodites to death as freaks of nature? Bingo, bango, bongo, main character with a built in big, huge, humungous problem.
Now we need some more characters. What if hermaphrodites were the only ones who could form the bond needed to become dragon-riders? Now we have a really cool sentient creature on the way.
What if the dragon-riders were trying to overthrow the government and their leader was insane? Now we've got a bad/good guy/person.
What if our drafted hermaphrodite's grandfather was the hermie hating regional governor who didn't know his granddaughter was a hermie? Now we're getting somewhere.
Here is where, as a pantser, I would name the characters I've got and start writing. Many more 'What ifs' will come but I will ask them of the characters, mostly. If I were a plotter, I would make notes, create an outline and brainstorm 'What ifs' with other plotters. Either way, the 'What ifs' worked.
Skip to the end. The drafted hermaphrodite has become the leader of the dragon-riders and changed the two-sex society by inviting all the right people to a giant love-in at the dragon-riders' mountain fortress.
Okay, I'm off to bed now.
Sweet dreams, Mike