Home > PRISM Online > Tuesday Prompt: Embracing Hypotheticals

Written by Matt Cardinal.

With our Creative Non-Fiction Contest deadline of July 15th fast approaching, we thought we would give you all some food for thought as you work through your submissions!

What keeps people from writing creative non-fiction? The most common excuse I hear from writers is the thought that they don’t have any personal stories that are interesting enough to share. But a past filled with epic heroism, great escapes and boundless adventure isn’t a necessary prerequisite for writing engaging CNF.

Instead of searching for the most extraordinary events to write about, I’d encourage writers to settle for the mundane, at least as a starting point. Missed opportunities, letdowns and anticlimaxes are universal human occurrences. They’re easy to relate to and shouldn’t be discounted. If our favourite writers can seemingly write about anything, why limit ourselves to only the most fantastic subject matter?

Examine and reflect on the plot lines that your life hasn’t taken. “Could have, should have, would have” is not off limits in CNF. In fact, exploring what didn’t happen can lead to uncovering the truth of what did.

Take any ordinary story you can think of and try filling it out by answering hypothetical questions like these:

What were the best and worst case scenarios? Is there anywhere you would’ve rather been?

What were your expectations?

Would you do things the same if you had another chance?

Hopefully this will help you to include your imagination, fantasy and character into your writing. Exploring these alternate paths in contrast to reality will allow readers into your unique thought process while an otherwise normal story unfolds on the surface.

Maybe this exercise will give rise to something you feel could be a contender in this year’s CNF contest. Hit the button below to submit before July 15th!