quaranTEEN voices Writing Prompt: 'Playing with Timelines'

News —— July 13, 2020

Special guest Phil Stamper joins us for this week’s quaranTEEN voices! Phil is a YA author whose debut novel, The Gravity of Us, was published in February 2020. The book is about two teen boys who find love when their parents’ NASA mission completely uproots their lives. It captures the thrill of first love and teenage self-doubt. His next novel, As Far As You’ll Take Me, will be released in February 2021. Phil grew up in rural Ohio and now lives in Brooklyn.

From Phil Stamper:
Authors are always playing with timelines. This is important for people writing in any genre, but it gets especially complicated when you’re writing something in a ‘present-day’ setting. Even though it’s a challenge, it’s also a lot of fun to think about both the past and the future when writing.

Whether you’re bringing an element from the past into the modern era or inventing something new in a present-day or near-future piece, playing with history is an interesting way to push the boundaries of realistic fiction. But it’s broadly applicable, too—when I write a book with a “present day” setting, it’s likely that book will come out years after I originally wrote it. Because of that, contemporary writers always have to be ahead of the curve.

Here are a couple writing prompts that play with time:

Prompt #1:
Ever hear the phrase “History repeats itself?” Start by thinking about a moment from the last 100 years that stands out to you, then modernize it in a present-day story. Think about the various elements that led to the historic moment: conflict, innovation, communication (or lack there-of), and see what those elements would look like today.

Prompt #2:
In this one, let’s reach slightly beyond our timeline. Write a fictional piece set 1-3 years into the future. Think of what’s happening right now and how it will influence our lives in the near future. What new technology will we have? What social media platform will you be using? What laws will be passed? What will our day-to-day life look like? And through all this, what do you think will stay the same?

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