Expanding is a writing technique in which the writer takes a General Idea (GI) in the form of a single sentence or short paragraph and grows it from the middle. They expand. Then the writer expands the expansions themselves from the middle. And continues this way.
This is successfully done by asking one of each Base Question (BQ – Who, What, Where, When, Why and How) about the GI. The questions must be complete and so must the answer. The questions are answered using what is given in the original GI and then finished with whatever the writer adds.
The story of a boy. He gets lost in the woods. (General Idea)
A. Who left the boy there?
B. Who is the boy?
C. Who is in the woods?
All three of these questions are fine. Base all BQs on the GI and answer them with additional information.
BQ2 – What lead the boy to get lost in the woods?
BQ3 – Where are the woods located?
BQ4 – When did the boy originally get lost?
BQ5 – Why hasn’t he been found yet?
BQ6 – How is he going to be found?
After asking your six base questions about the GI, answer them with new information. And answer them with full sentences. Don’t get lazy.
BQ1: Who is the boy? He’s Jeffry, the son of a carpenter.
BQ2: What caused him to get lost in the woods? Jeffry followed a rabbit out of camp.
BQ3: Where are the woods located? The woods are near a camping site off a major highway.
BQ4: When did he originally get lost? Jeffry got lost shortly after his mother and father fell asleep.
BQ5: Why hasn’t he been found yet? Jeffry’s parents are unaware he’s missing.
BQ6: How is he going to be found? Jeffry will find his way out of the woods or be found by his father when he wakes up.
After answering your six BQ you are left with six new GI and one old. Now you repeat the same series of steps to each new GI. Each time you complete six BQ you’ve added to your story six new GI.
Through simple expansion we now know much more about Jeffrey and his situation. And have an abundance of new General Ideas to work with.
This is a quick and easy way to discover more about the world you are attempting to create.
Try using this method on scenes, settings, characters and plot lines. Whatever you need, multiply it through Expansion a couple of times and you’ll have much more information to work with which is essentially a writer’s goal.