Saturday, August 12, 2006

Creating "What if?" questions: total conversion

This technique can be used to create "What if?" questions such as:

What if we had mouths in the palms of our hands?
What if people had wheels for feet?
What if people had pliers for hands?
What if human bones were made of glass?
What if the air could think?

These questions can be created with two techniques: total conversion and piecemeal conversion.

Total conversion technique

With the total conversion technique, one subject (usually an object) simply converts/turns into another object. Using this approach I name a subject-object (using naming/listing) and name a target-object (also with naming/listing).

Example:

Subject-object = eyelid. Target-object = bottle opener. What if = What if eyelids became bottle openers?

Subject-object = newspaper. Target-object = coelacanth. What if = What if newspapers became coelacanths?

Gradual conversion technique

With gradual conversion, I consider how an object could make a piecemeal conversion into another object, usually by considering how only one characteristic could change at one time. So if I have created the "What if?" question:

What if the air became a brain?

I can list one characteristic of the brain (perhaps by asking a question such as: "How (insert adjective) is the brain?") which could be: intelligence. So, as part of the air's "journey" towards becoming a brain, the intelligence of the air would be the first characteristic to change. In effect, I would be left with "intelligent air".

At that point I can either stop or opt to carry on the air's conversion to a brain by considering another characteristic.

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