Rewrite the Past with a “What If?” Writing Prompt

We all have moments in the past that we wish we could undo or wonder what would have happened if we’d made a different choice (well, assuming we’re all human). Instead of dwelling on those questions and regrets in a negative manner (ix-nay on the egative-nay), why not use them as inspiration for writing?

Wonder what would’ve happened if you’d said, “Yes,” when that nerd in high school asked you on a date? (You know, the one with his own company now?) Wish you’d taken that risky career opportunity ten years ago? Cursing your fates because you let your parents talk you out of the career you always dreamed of?

Yes, some of those are pretty dramatic. But as a rule, people are dramatic (or do I know too many actors?). That doesn’t mean you can’t use it. Make up a character, pop it in in place of yourself (or whoever’s situation it was), and create a new course. Have the character make a different decision or go a different route. Then, write what happens next.

Granted, the inspiration doesn’t have to be so big and emotionally charged. It could be as simple as: what if the character takes a different way to work that morning? Or what if the character slacked off for once?

Use your own past, use the past of people you know, use moments in history, use the present – there are endless opportunities for rewrites and creative inspiration here. All you have to do is look at a situation and ask yourself, “What if…?”

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