This is similar to the stream of consciousness method of story generating. The difference is that you start with a topic and ask as many “What if” questions as you can. I love this prompt because I can do it when I am stuck in a traffic jam, waiting at the DMV, or otherwise bored. It’s especially helpful if you want to generate ideas in a specific area.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and a couple of years ago I protested that the Hallmark channel introduces several new, formulaic Christmas stories each year, but does nothing for my favorite celebration. So I decided to generate ideas which could be turned into screenplays about Thanksgiving.
Here is an example of the ideas this prompt generated.
What if Thanksgiving had a hero like Santa, but was a talking turkey?
What if turkeys celebrated Thanksgiving with us?
How would our pets celebrate Thanksgiving if they could?
What if your family tried to re-enact the first Thanksgiving?
Based on "What if Thanksgiving had a hero like Santa" I came up with the following elevator pitch for a children's story.
Tommy Gobble - The first turkey super hero, Tommy Gobble, flaps into action as all of the city's food banks have been robbed by the League of Grumpy Villains. With Thanksgiving less than a week away, he must find the culprits and return the stolen dinners so that everyone a chance to gather over a hot meal and share their thanks on this most special of days.