Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fortunately, Unfortunately, Which Means...

I recently gave a talk at a writer's conference about Breaking Through Writer's Block.  One of the techniques I suggested when you can't figure out what's happening next is play a game of "Fortunately/Unfortunately/Which Means..."  It's another version of "what's the worst thing that could happen to my character, and how does she respond?"

Below is a short segment I did in the shower one day. I became so fascinated by the story, I shut off the water before I'd finished bathing.  Anyway, I'm not sure I could plot a whole book like this but certainly a scene if I got stuck.

Here's what I came up with...

Fortunately, Aliens landed in the backyard.
Which means…I’ll have someone to have lunch with.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any food in the house.
Which means…they’re going to dine on my liver
Fortunately, they haven’t noticed me yet.
Which means…I can get the hell out of the house.
Unfortunately, they have noticed my 80 year old neighbor
Which means, she’s going to die.
Fortunately, she’s lived a good long life.
Which means, I can stick with my plan and get the hell out of there.
Unfortunately, my Catholic guilt won’t let me abandon her.
Which means, I’ve got to go rescue my 80 year old neighbor.

So, even in that short segment, we've learned a lot about the character.  She's excited aliens have arrived. She's a little ditzy (no food and she wants to dine with aliens).  She doesn't always want to do the right thing, but she's probably going to anyway.  

If you get stuck in your story, try "Fortunately/Unfortunately/Which Means" and see where it leads you.