A way to come up with the idea for a story, is an interesting one that does not always come naturally. Eisner describes that stories start off as merely Abstract Ideas (pg 4) that have no composition just yet until formed into an actual story line with character and plot. Many of these stories will need to be compounded into a larger idea, these ideas tend to follow along many generic lines. The idea of what if (pg 75) is a popular one that tugs at the readers curiosities and captures their attention, and pulls them in through retention (pg 51).
The abstract idea is one that is, of course, abstract. It is not yet a solid thought, but rather describes as many ideas floating around waiting for some sort of structure. It is when it becomes organized that it becomes a solid story line that is meant to be easily consumed and absorbed into the readers attention. This is normally conveyed through a sort of comic in Eisner’s book.
An example of a story you could tell with this kind of idea is one that asks the question “What if”. These kind of stories peak curiosity and fear of things that could’ve happened if the world were a bit different. It can create stories of phenomenon, such as if there were other worlds or if you had superhuman characteristics.
This kind of thing tends to keep the readers attention as it does keep them curious or fearful of the unknown. The unknown and wanting to find out how it would end or how it would be resolved if you were asked the question of “what if”, if you were to be prompted with a separate reality that could’ve happened at any point of time if you were to choose differently, or if one slight thing were not as it is now. The ability to tell a story does not just rely on the idea itself, but the audiences engagement and their ability to retain the information to keep them engaged.