I've been thinking a lot lately about magic and being a writer of fantasy, magic is a given. I've come to a conclusion that a writer's magic words are What if." So often when I'm thinking of a story, those words come to mind. After those words comes the plan for the story. What if continues through the planning stage as new scenes are plotted.
Another time What if comes in handy is when a scene isn't working. There are questions to ask. What if the scene is told from a different viewpoint? What if the scene is deleted? What if the tangent taken leads to a dead end? What if the characters' motivations are weak? What if the setting is changed? The questions and the use of what if continue while the story takes place and during the revision. What if are magic words. Janet Lane Walters