There are many ways to come up with a story idea. Some of the best stories start with the simple question of what if?
The what if can be reasonable, i.e., what if a boy meets a girl and they fall in love and then break up?
Or the what if can be outlandish, i.e. I like the idea of what killed the dinosaurs. We’ve heard several different reasons, but the most popular one is the idea that an asteroid hit the earth and blocked out the sun long enough to kill off the vegetation and without food the dinosaurs met their doom.
What if that was not the way it happened? What if the dinosaurs had a bloody war and killed each other off? What if the dinosaurs found a powerful drug, which they became addicted to and they died as junkies? What if the dinosaurs found a powerful bomb that had been left on earth by aliens, and they accidently detonated it? The last idea is little more far out than the other two, but as you think about it more there are so many things that could have happened and no one really knows because we were not there.
I know that science says something else, but how many times has science been wrong?
Let’s go with the dinosaurs and the aliens, but lets not stop there. Let’s also add in the drug aspect. So it goes something like this:
Aliens have landed on a planet dominated by dinosaurs. The Aliens appear friendly at first and find a way to communicate with the dinosaurs. What the dinosaurs don’t know is that the aliens are in search of guinea pigs. There is a deadly disease on the planet that the Aliens come from and now they need some other life form to test their drugs on. They secretly begin testing their drugs on the unsuspecting dinosaurs, just a few at first. The results are great, better than the aliens could hope for, but it would be years before the final cure was found.
Over the years the toll on alien life is high, as the dinosaurs wreak havoc when they have the drug and even when they don’t have the drug. When the drug is in their system they turn from a peaceful species of plant eating animals into violent flesh eating animals, but the aliens are so close to a cure they are willing to sacrifice a few of their own in order to accomplish their goal.
The dinosaurs would whip themselves into a frenzy everyday beating on the outside walls of the make shift lab setup by the aliens to do their drug testing. On a typical day the pounding on the walls would go on for hours until the aliens would shoot what look like a giant drone into the sky. Once the drone was high above the planet it would begin to fire rockets toward the planet. On impact huge plumes of smoke would rise from the ground, the smoke filled with the drug the dinosaurs craved. The grayish mist looked like dense fog as it spread for hundreds of miles. The dinosaurs breathed deeply as they bathed in the enslaving gas.
It had taken 50 years, but the aliens had finally found the cure they so desperately sought. A new generation of aliens had been born on earth. Many had taken over the research started by their grandparents.
Over the last ten years reports from their home planet had been bleak. They were not sure if there was enough time to save what was left of their own planet, which was millions of miles away.
The day had come to leave earth and go home to save what was left of their planet. Some of the Aliens felt ambivalent about leaving the planet in the condition that it was in. The dinosaurs had gone from a peaceful species of animals to one that was deranged. The inbreeding alone was causing some dinosaurs to be born with long hind legs and short legs in the front and cranial deformations were also noticeable among some of the young.
In the end all of the Aliens agreed to leave earth, go home and save their own planet and return one day to reverse the damaged they had caused on earth. After all it could take another 50 years to find the cure for the drug addicted dinosaurs.
On the day of departure the Aliens awoke to the familiar pounding of the dinosaurs when they craved the drug. Except this time the pounding was against the ship that would take them home. Something had gone wrong. In anticipation of leaving the Aliens shot off several drones the night before with impact locations far from the ship. Why had the dinosaurs not followed the normal pattern?
The pounding on the ship had become intense. It was much more forceful than it had ever been. If it kept up the ship would be damaged. The Aliens had to make a decision. Should they fire on the dinosaurs or fire more drug releasing drones into the sky in hopes that it would pull the dinosaurs away? In the end they would find out that they would have to do both.
The Aliens released the ships weaponry against the dinosaurs. Because it was a ship design for science expeditions the Aliens wondered if the weapons on board would have much impact. They were encouraged at first, but it only work against the dinosaurs for a short while.
Thousands of dinosaurs had been killed but thousands replaced them. It wasn’t until the ships computers blurted out that the hull of the ship had been compromised that the Aliens decided to shoot off all of the remaining drones.
Mass plumes of grayish smoke dotted the landscape as far as one could see.
It worked. The dinosaurs stopped the attack on the ship and lumbered toward the billowing smoke plumes that seemed to be everywhere.
The ship had been damaged beyond repair. A flight home would be impossible. The Aliens immediately began to make plans of how to survive in caves that they had explored while on the planet the last 50 years.
The Aliens knew that life would not be easy on a planet inhabited with drug infested flesh eating animals, but they also felt that they could wait the dinosaurs out, as a new disease had infected them a disease that caused them to die within months after mating. It would take hundreds of years, but what was the alternative?
As the Aliens began to pack up the things they would take to the caves they wondered what would become of their own planet? What would happen to the wives, husbands and children left on their plant? They also wondered how their species of humans would/could survive on this planet they had named earth?
This just small example of what can be accomplished by using the “what if” approach when trying to come up with ideas to help with a story. The beauty of it is that you can go back into the story and pick out things that you like and write a story just based on that, for example I like the idea of drones on carpet bombing runs dropping drugs instead of explosives. The end result is to control someone or something anyway. So maybe your story is about controlling an entire society via drones.
Whatever your story ends up being just keep writing.
Wow, Tim, That was a great “What If.” You should develop this into a full-fledged story.
“What if” is always a good jumping point for stories.
Tim, everyone knows it was cigarette smoking that killed the dinosaurs.