quaranTEEN voices Writing Prompt: 'Social Movements'

News —— June 15, 2020

We’ll take a short hiatus from June 22—July 3. We’ll be back the week of July 6 to talk writing and life this summer. A whole list of new authors will join us, from the bestselling novelist of The Magicians Trilogy, Lev Grossman, to award-winning poet John Murillo.
Don’t miss out! Sign up here to make sure you get the prompts and the invite to the weekly quaranTEEN gathering.

Special guest author Lisa Ko joins us for this week’s quaranTEEN voices! Her critically acclaimed debut novel The Leavers won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. It’s a story of family and belonging, and explores an immigrant’s experience in New York. Lisa was born in Queens, raised in New Jersey, and now lives in Brooklyn.

To join us this Friday and hear from Lisa Ko (and share your own work if you’d like), sign up HERE!

From Lisa Ko:
Social movements are an act of hope. In order to fight for a better future, we have to imagine what that ideal future can look like.

Think about the ideal world you want to live in. Perhaps it’s one where everyone is treated equally and is free. List ten attributes about this ideal world. Think about its people, its environment, and how it’s organized.

Now, write a letter from your future self, living in this ideal world in the year 2030, describing it to our present-day selves. Use the first-person plural (“We”). You can choose to include details about what your daily life is like in this ideal world, or write a scene that takes place there. Incorporate the ten attributes you listed and all five senses (sound, sight, touch, smell, taste.)

Begin the letter with one of the following phrases:
“In 2020, we—”
“We were the first to—”
“We wanted to know why—”

Revision Tip 1:
Reflect on what it was like to write using the first-person plural (“We”), as opposed to just first person (“I”). How did it affect your approach to writing? Did it make you think differently about your perspective or the future when writing as a collective “we”? How might the letter have changed if you used “I” instead? If you’re stuck, try to change the first paragraph to “I” and see how it feels.

Revision Tip 2:
The idea of learning one’s own future prompts an interesting dilemma: Do you listen to what you’re told and follow that path? Or do you do something different and attempt to change your future? Think about what this letter from your future self says and how it makes you feel. How does reading it affect what you do next, knowing what you know now about yourself and the future?