Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas What If

One of the brainstorming ideas I usually employ is what if. It opens up a gamut of possibilities. Usually they aren't all gems, but the act can lead to some interesting side forays. The exploration is even more fun when there is more than one person involved, say a small group of writer friends. So I thought why not throw this idea out. What if you shook Christmas up? Think about a snowglobe, where all those pieces floating through the water/gel are ideas that you can use to form a pretty verbal picture.

What if the currency of the season wasn't gifts, but something more tangible, more emotional or even carnal. What if it was a sacred night of marriage, and punctuated by the wedding night? Which would make the gift virginity or even one's self. Hmmm...brings up a new twist on the marriage of convenience, doesn't it? It could either be a chaste union or a sullied form of "selling" stock.

What if what we decorated wasn't a tree? What else could it be? What if it was an ancient idol? One that glowed in the light of the stars instead of by electricity? What if that one special night of Christmas Eve was the one time of the season when it might come "alive"? And what if that occurrence signified a long awaited occasion? Think forward to modern times and turn that idol into a skyscaper, instead of something made of stone. Are those light displays really secret messages to followers?

What if Santa wasn't Santa, but instead a warrior who became that idol or a keeper once a year? What would he be the rest of the year? A toy maker as is often used? How about a toy designer who used a computer instead of a pencil, paper and a ruler? What if he was a marketing man, who'd "sold" himself in the biggest PR campaign ever? To throw romance in the mix, what if he weren't married? How would his intended be found? Would she have to meet certain standards like a degree or perhaps her special power makes him come to life? What if he is destined to find his one intended in each lifetime, instead of living forever? And what if her presence and love is the only thing that keeps him alive? Now add the time limit of wrapping up the adventure by Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Now that gives new meaning to a speedy courtship and quick engagement, not to mention a likely marriage.

Makes you think doesn't it? All of these ideas could be used in any type of romance--ancient, medieval, contemporary, futuristic. There are all different ways to spin a tale, especially when you let yourself open up to a universe full of what ifs. Editors are always looking for something different than the norm. I'm not saying that anyone should mess with Christmas, because it is a staple of our culture. But this would make a great holiday roundtable game with a brainstorming group.

So go forth, be merry and don't drink too much cider as you mull over the ins and outs of your next set of characters or complex plot.

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