Idea Questions

Questions that spark ideas

Major Questions

Again and again, I’m being asked how I come up with my ideas. And I do have more ideas than I can write in my entire lifetime.

Thing is … for me, ideas are everywhere. It’s more a question of mood and how I feel rather than where I hunt for ideas. I don’t usually “hunt” them. They slam into me, no matter where I am. Could be in bed, in the shower, at work, or walking around.

It could be the news, some weird sentence or – as is happening right now – a couple of friends chatting in my irc chatroom about some scientific question.

And then there are two major questions that really set me off:

What if…?

That’s really the basis of all stories, to be honest. Every fiction writer goes “what if…?” in their writing. That’s why we call it fiction. We deviate from reality.

What if…?  can take me from my desk in northern Germany to imaginary realms, to alien invasions to complete new societies on Earth. It can take me into history and the future. It’s is THE central question.

What happens if dragons are not war animals?
What if a dragonrider acts out of love rather than out of duty?
What if there is an old school of thinking rejecting dragon intelligence?

That’s what got me going in the Cloud Lands Saga.

Of course, directly tied into that is the next question:


Now that is so simple that it can be easily overlooked.  But this simple question can totally develop a story, a world and a history. Let me give you an example:

Why does Dorelle leave her home land?

I had to give her a compelling reason. And I chose love for her dragon.

Why does she love her dragon that much?

Because Mashira is intelligent and much more than a mere beast of burden or beast of war. If Mashira had just been a difficult horse, Dorelle might have been reluctant to let her go, but she wouldn’t have become a traitor for a horse. (And I love horses!) The dragon had to be more.

Why Dorelle and not everyone else, too?

Because Dorelle is open to loving her dragon and communicating with her.

Why don’t other dragonriders open up to their dragons?

Well… that’s a question I’ll answer more fully in part 3, “Dragon Court”, but it has to do with old traditions around dragons.

See how that goes?

A lot of story telling is answering those two questions. And it’s great fun.

Your Turn:
Do you have a question about writing?
Do you want to know more about Dorelle and her world?
Write a comment!

Image source: F. Moebius

About Hannah Steenbock

Hannah Steenbock is an author, dreamer, and coach. She has published several short stories in English and German, as well as one novel in German. In 2013 she started self-publishing her work. In 2014, she has won two awards for her short story "Sequoia".
This entry was posted in The Cloud Lands Saga, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *