It's a tried-n-true method by this sorta well-known writer Stephen King, who has apparently asked himself things like:
What if there was a sematary (sic) where buried dead things came back to life, but came back to life with PMS?
Yesterday Toonses followed me downstairs to the front door. He doesn't do that often. He may have Alzheimer's, but he seems to remember how to avoid most cardiovascular activities. I thought "What if a person's cat ran away. And then they went looking for it and didn't come back?"
I was riding that wave for as long as it took me to get to my car and realize I'd just written "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle."
My current status: Still not a published author.