Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Split Personality

My mom loves to talk. In fact, she is a world-class talker. She loves to speculate on things, especially if it involves terminal illnesses, marital infidelity, politics or people’s finances. She can exhaust any of those subjects like a dog shakes a cat until it gives up its life or its secrets.

I’m a non-talker. I know I frustrate her because I just won’t speculate on things of which I am ignorant. I think it drives her crazy when I say, “I don’t know” when she wants me to affirm one of her speculations.

I think: “It is what it is. Or it will be what it will be.” Most things I don’t want to know, or wouldn’t get involved enough to change – so why discuss it? I’m no fun.


I have a split personality, for I speculate in print. Writing fiction is all about speculation. Underlying every novel’s plot is the idea, “What would happen if. . .”

I’d like to challenge readers to create some “idea sparking” speculations.

Here’s one to get you started:

What would happen if. . . a reclusive librarian found out that she could only get the money to save her hometown library from closing if she agreed to get a tattoo just above her navel and wear work clothes that showed it?

(Okay, that’s not so inspired. Can you come up with a better one?)


Megan Sayer said...

I love it Latayne, that sparked a slew of childhood memories for me. I spent ages speculating wildly about all kinds of topics. My favourite was 'what if blue eyed people and brown eyed people saw colours differently, and nobody knew until someone had an eye transplant...' This was closely followed by 'what if we could really reach in to the TV and take stuff, and it was a way of getting to other places?'
I was an only child. Is it obvious?

Latayne C. Scott said...

As actor Will Smith says, "THAT'S what I'm talking about." I love the blue eyed/brown eyed idea.

Josey Bozzo said...

Those sound really good.
Unfortunately I don't have that kind of imagination. My "what ifs" are more like
What if there was a serial killer in our church?
What if a woman dreamed of her dead husband every night, and the dreams were so real she began to live there, not here?

Jennifer Major said...

What if I could assume the identity of anyone I wanted for a day? What would I do? Would I empty their bank account to help myself and my friends? I have friends who NEED financial help, they really do!!
Would I take that person out of the dangerous life they were living and move them to an environment in which they felt safe?
Kind of like an inner Robin Hood, stealing people away from harm and placing them in the life God meant for them...but then we get into a theological debate about free will...

I was unsupervised as a child.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Megan, I thought the blue eyed, brown eyed seeing differently, too! Because my grandma had brown eyes and saw everything in such a negative way...I figured we MUST see things differently. Turns out, it had nothing to do with her eye color.

Speculation is exactly what gave me the idea for my WIP. It was after my husband's grandmother died and I watched the funeral directors interact. I wanted to know more about them and what made them do that job. Then, more what if questions came up. And more. Then a novel idea was born.

I love the what if game!

Latayne C Scott said...

Josie and Jennifer, I really like those! And theological quandries are exactly what we need to be engaging in our writing. People don't live in black-and-white worlds!

Latayne C Scott said...

Susie, how about a hint about how the funeral directors interacted?

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Hushed whispers that seemed serious, but I wondered if, really, they were planning lunch for the day. Or the way they moved about, attending the body of my grandma-in-law without cringing at her cold skin. But they didn't treat her as an inanimate object, either. The way they could nod at one another and know exactly what to do next. The way one of them (a woman) teared up a little when my little girl (who was 4 at the time) recited a Bible verse of her choosing at the family service.

One thing to note. This was a funeral home in a very small, Midwestern town. And very honest people who knew my husband's family for years.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

It made me wonder "what if they were on this side of grief?".

Henrietta Frankensee said...

Oooo, I love this game!
Innocent park users were repeatedly attacked by the geese in a particular location. Turns out two elderly immigrants had been feeding the geese there in the early morning. Expectations formed were disappointed and the geese weren't taking no for an answer. (this really happened) BUT. WHAT IF... the immigrants did this on purpose, as revenge for bigotry in the local population...?
Or they were feeding them gold plated seed and someone was coming at night, cleaning up the poop and it was a way of 'laundering' stolen goods? (a different take on the 'Golden Goose' story....)

What if the fairies are talking to aliens by writing with ducks in the algae? What would they be saying?

Did I mention that I had neon pink hands for a week? (Didn't realise the power of that spray paint or the impotence of soap against it). So, I speculated with my students, what if I went to an alien wedding and this is how they celebrate? What if this is a secret code and I am a secret agent and I have to get the message safe to the other side? What if I was bitten by a radioactive praying mantis and I will slowly be absorbed into the neon universe?

I can also be serious. What if a pregnant teenager is absorbed into to a loving family and becomes the daughter they never had?
What if an abused elder takes vengeance by filling her mattress with the husks of peanuts?
What if I gave that combative passenger who keeps going up to harass the bus driver a chocolate bar?
I'd better stop there. Thanks Latayne!

Latayne C Scott said...

Susie and Henrietta, you guys are terrific!