The IF Factor
Bennet Pomerantz

If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can't I paint you, The words will never show you I've come to know
-The song IF by David Gates

To a creative writer, the IF factor is a key to writing success

When we were children, we loved the ideal of IF. For example...

  •  IF I ruled the world ...

  •  IF I had a million dollars, what would I do with the money is....

  •  IF I was a superhero...

  •  IF I was on a desert island....

  •  If Mickey is a Mouse, Pluto is a Dog. What's Goofy (this one was borrowed from the movie Stand by Me)

You get the idea, IF was a magical ideal. A creative venue for many wild thoughts.

It also can be the creative writers best friend. Some writers have taken this childhood ideal of IF and put it in paper with some successful books, short stories, movies & plays.

Lets take for example the idea of IF I had a million dollars...

Consider the movies Millions or A Simple Plan, where the idea of money is found and what the parties who find it do with the money. Mary Higgins Clark introduced audiences to Alvirah Meehan, the famous lottery winner and amateur detective in the novella The Lottery Winner and has used the character in other novels.

And the example of IF I was a Superhero or had magical powers...Consider Harry Potter? A boy who finds out he is a wizard. Or DC comic immortal series from the 1960 which was revived in the late 1990s, Dial H for Hero. When someone is in trouble, they dial H on a magic dial and become a strange and unique hero for an hour. And there has been a set of books from Thomas Nelson Publishing about a boy who GETS TRAPPED IN..a fish, Santa Claus, etc.

When I think of people who want to rule the world, I think of all those mega villains from the James Bond novels and movies. People like GoldFinger and Dr. No, whose only task in life is to gain wealth and power from committing mass destruction. Look at Blake Carrington from the TV show Dynasty (Note season one is now available on DVD) or J.R. Ewing from Dallas (first and second season on DVD), both powerful men and millionaires to boot with a yearning for ebullience in their dealings and their families. There is an expression (taken from My Big Fat Greek Wedding) "The man is the head, the wife is the neck..and she moves the head a-a-a-a-all around". Think how many stories, books and movies had a wife who controls her husband's career. Hell, think politics! The seat of power is ruling the world.

Lost, Swiss Family Robinson, Lord of the Flies, Lost in Space, and Survivor are ideas from that old concept of "if I was on a desert Island". And when you have a concept this good why not explore it and the directions it can have?

When trying to find a great idea, you may want to use to two books-The Book of Questions (Unknown Author) and If: (Questions for the game of life) by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell. These two volumes are filled with great ideas and will get your mind thinking.

Lets take it one step further, you have an idea of a WHAT IF . Now, do what TV's Fantasy Island did. Mr. Roarke always welcomed his guests to Fantasy Island where they were to live their fantasy. And then he twisted the fantasies.  For example, there was a show when a son wanted to meet his dead father who died in World War two. He said he wanted to know him, He really wanted to save him and of course, it didn't work. Another example of this is the TV show Quantum Leap. Righting wrongs sometime can't make it right. Throwing a monkey wrench into the works can help your work. They are also great plot devices to play off with.

So the next time you are stumped for idea to write about, Use the IF Factor! and then have some fun!!

Reach for The Stars

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About the Writer:

Bennet Pomerantz is a media review columnist in 175 newspapers with his weekly column AUDIOWORLD. His fiction and reviews have appeared in the pages of Affaire De Coeur, Gateways, Mystery Scene, Power Star, The Hot Corner, Washington Entertainment Magazine, and many others. He is also known for his review appearances on the MCN Forum. View his web site at Audioworld.