Saturday, August 12, 2006

Creating "What if?" questions: sentence restructuring

With the sentence-restructuring technique for "What if?" questions I simply write an existing WI? question, choose a word in the question and restructure the sentence to make that word the last word in the sentence. This last word becomes the focus word.

So with the WI? question:

What if the air could think?

I choose the word "air". Restructuring the sentence to make "air" the last word leads to:

What if thinking could be done by air?

and "air" becomes the focus-word.

Changing the focus-word

There are three ways I can change the focus-word: replace it, name/list, reverse-reach followed by naming/listing.

Replacing the focus-word

To replace the focus-word I simply choose a random word to take its place:

What if thinking could be done by: smells, guns, alarms, television? etc.

Naming/Listing the focus-word

I can apply the naming/listing approach to the focus-word. The aim is to produce a list of many different types of air:

Bad air, smelly air, air exhaled in a breath, subterranean air, smokey air etc.

Any/all of these can be selected as a focus-word:

What if thinking could be done by the air exhaled in a breath?

(See also 500 uses for a paperclip: stepping up the concept level and naming/listing which covers this approach in more detail.)

Reverse-reach followed by naming/listing

With this approach I consider the focus-word -- air -- and apply reverse-reach followed by naming/listing. With reverse-reach I consider questions that could have been asked that made me give "air" as an answer. Such as:

Name something that's all around us
Name something that goes in your mouth
Name something that contains nitrogen
Name something you can't see

I can choose one of these and give an alternative answer. So if I choose "Name something that goes in your mouth" I can answer:

Toothbrush, food, drink, flies, whistle etc.

Then I can apply naming/listing to any of these. With "drink" I could list:

Baby drinks, alcoholic drinks, rare drinks, fizzy drinks etc.

Then I can choose any of these to complete my WI? question:

What if thinking could be done by alcoholic drinks?

Applying sentence restructuring again

I can continue the sentence restructuring on any WI? question created. With the WI? question:

What if thinking could be done by the air exhaled in a breath?

I could restructure it thus:

What if thinking could be done by the exhaled breath's air?

and change the focus-word in any of the three ways discussed above:

What if thinking could be done by the exhaled breath's micro-organisms?
What if thinking could be done by the exhaled breath's moist air?
What if thinking could be done by the exhaled breath's carbon dioxide?

No comments: