Writing Assignment: Write A Prediction About The Future

by Randy Murray on January 10, 2014

The future is an undiscovered country*. It is unknown and unknowable.

And yet, we can shape it. We can prepare. We can dream.

The “what if” question is one of my favorites. It is a most powerful storytelling tool. It can be enlightening to run the thought experiment on an event from the past, to change one thing in life and to imagine how things might have been different. You can do the same thing for the future.

Next week I’ll explore some near-future what ifs, imagining what a simple change in lighting technology might do for home construction costs. This is your chance to try your hand at the same type of thing.

For today’s assignment, make a prediction about the near future. For this exercise limit yourself to within the next ten years. Pick a single topic or idea, ask your self, “what if one thing changed,” and then set yourself to working out how things might be different.

It’s a good idea to pick something simple. First write a simple statement of how that thing works today, and then to move forward, giving details of how your chosen topic might change things, and then how that change would play out in the near future.

It’s also a good idea to limit the impact. Start with small changes and just a short period of time. If you pick something like, “Energy is free” or “I can print any product I want at home” you’re going to need to write an epic novel rather than a short essay.

And here’s a tip to make this easier: don’t worry too much about actually predicting the future. Even the best science fiction writers don’t worry about that too much. Very few of them claim to be accurate or prophetic. Isaac Asimov was pretty good at it. William Gibson, who claims to not be prescient, is scarily accurate. You and I can just imagine for a few minutes what one little change might cause and then write a short essay filling in the details.

Have fun. See what the future holds for you.  


*I am misquoting Shakespeare, not referencing the worst of all Star Trek movies.

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