Phlebotinum-Development Questions

"Phlebotinum" is a term for any object or substances that does something within the story. It can be anything - a magical sword, a potion, a plasma rifle, or superpowers. However, many writers end up not thinking the implications of their phlebotinum through properly, which can create any number of plotholes and awkward scenarios as the story goes on. This list of questions is intended to help you think things through early on, thereby avoiding potential plotholes in the future.

  • What sort of plots could it resolve instantly in the future? How will you prevent it from being able to resolve these plots, if you plan to do them?
  • How might people use it to amuse themselves?
  • How might people use it for monetary gain?
  • How might people use it in an intimate manner?
  • How might people use it for ordinary, everyday tasks and problems? How useful is it compared to more conventional means?
  • How might it be used to improve standards of living on a large scale?
  • If it's not already a weapon, how might it be weaponized?
  • What could make it less effective? Stop it from working entirely? Make it completely backfire/misfire?
  • How do people gain access to it?
  • How easily can it be accessed and used?
  • Who can access/use it most readily? Why?
  • How difficult is it to use or master?
  • Who, if anyone, thinks people should be restricted from accessing/using it? Why?
  • Who, if anyone, would be restricted from accessing/using it? Why?
  • Who would try to hoard/stockpile it? Why?
  • If it's typically non-lethal, how might it be used to kill someone?
  • If it's typically lethal, how might it be used in a non-lethal way?
  • Does it have any short-term side-effects? What about long-term ones?
  • Think of the meanest, sneakiest, cleverest, and most depraved villains you can. How might they use it to get/do what they want? Would it potentially make things too easy for characters with similar motives and mindsets?

Also, take a look at:

Things Your Fantasy Or Science Fiction Story Needs
Things You Need To Do In Your Science Fiction Or Fantasy Story
Keeping Magic From Taking Over Your Story
So You Wanna Mix Science And Magic?

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