Hey! Welcome back. Today we’re checking out some writing prompts with a twist. In his Masterclass, Neil Gaiman discusses alternate history books; those that ask the question ‘what if’. What if Germany had won World War Two? What if JFK hadn’t been assassinated? What if Hilary Clinton had become president? There’s a great list of 8 examples from Penguin here.
In the fantasy genre, Disney-Hyperion have created alternate history books through their ‘Twisted Tales’ series, written by Jen Calonita, Liz Braswell and Elizabeth Lim respectively. Each novel is a standalone and applies ‘what if’ questions to different Disney universes. Examples include Mirror Mirror which is set in the Snow White universe (What if the Evil Queen poisoned the prince?), Part Of Your World set in the Little Mermaid’s realm (What if Ariel had never defeated Ursula?), and Reflection which is based on Mulan’s story (What if Mulan had to travel to the Underworld?). Other fairy tales that have been ‘twisted’ include Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland (my personal favourite).
What about all those fairy tale retellings you ask? Well, while also great fun to read, they’re not alternate history novels. They have taken a fairy tale (or fantasy tale) and changed it, hence the label ‘retelling’. They haven’t asked any ‘what if’ questions. They have used the original story and characters as the basis for their own tale. If you’d like to check out some retellings and see the difference for yourself, examples include Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Dieseries (set in the Wizard of Oz world), Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles series (which covers multiple fairy tales), and A.G Howard’s Splinteredseries (hello Alice in Wonderland). The Lunar Chronicles is particularly cool as Meyer interweaves worlds and characters from different fairy tales (Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White).
So, let’s create our own fantasy alternate histories! Use the prompts below to kick start your imagination. If you’re reading this you’re probably familiar with the fairy tales I’ll be using as base universes (some of which I have used for multiple prompts). If you’re not, a quick Google search will give you the background of each story. Aim to write approximately 100-200 words at a minimum. Alternatively, you can set a timer for 15-20 minutes. If inspiration hits and you end up writing more words or for a longer period, awesome! If not, those 100-200 words or 15-20 minutes of writing will help you develop a healthy writing habit. Don’t forget to download your free writer’s planner to keep track of your work!
20 Epic Fairy Tale Writing Prompts:
- What if Snow White had sent the Huntsman to kill the Queen?
- What if Gretel had been sent into the woods alone?
- What if Prince Eric had stayed with Ursula?
- What if Rumpelstiltskin had raised the maiden’s firstborn?
- What if Red Riding Hood had killed her grandmother and blamed the wolf?
- What if Maleficent had killed Prince Phillip?
- What if Belle had chosen Gaston and not the Beast?
- What if the Queen of Hearts had returned to this world with Alice?
- What if Mulan had fought in World War II?
- What if Hans had killed Elsa?
- What if Cinderella had been an evil step sister?
- What if Robin Hood had been sent from the future?
- What if Rapunzel’s hair only reached halfway down her tower?
- What if Alice had stayed in Wonderland and overthrown the Queen of Hearts?
- What if Sleeping Beauty had been the evil one?
And if you feel like mixing universes –
- What if Snow White became Robin Hood?
- What if Captain Hook was good and Peter Pan was evil?
- What if the Evil Queen divorced the King and became Maid Marion?
- What if Belle and Alice (in Wonderland) were sisters?
- What if Mulan had been the Huntsman (sent to kill Snow White)?
For other writing prompts that can be applied to any genre, check out my post 15 Unique Writing Prompts To Spark Your Creativity. Which of the above writing prompts will you be using? Let me know which you choose and what ideas they lead you to! I would love to know how you apply them.
Until next time,