The Power of “What If?”

Futuristic City

For writers, the future is fascinating.

Whether it’s Le Guin, Bradbury, or any number of other writers, one question has been at the heart of pretty much every story set in the future: “What if?”

When of my favorite “What If?” questions came from my dad: “What if every future film is made on a computer?” He thinks computer images are becoming so sophisticated that soon they’ll be indistinguishable from reality. Meaning it will eventually be far cheaper to draw an actor on a computer than to hire one. At which point, real actors will become obsolete.

I decided to explore this idea in fiction. It took a few drafts and some much needed criticism, but this idea eventually turned into a short story. It’s called “Thespian: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in Three Acts.”

This story was a lot of fun to write. It’s about a theater actor who loses his job to a computer. In this story, just as my dad predicted, technology has become so good that real actors have become obsolete. Our protagonist spends the rest of the story trying to get even with technology in general. Spoiler alert: things don’t go quite as planned.

With this piece, I wanted to inject a little satire into the whole dystopian future thing. I enjoy those stories, but I feel that most are a bit too somber. “Thespian” is more lighthearted, a little less concerned with doom and gloom and more interested in poking fun. It’s one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written, and I really enjoyed working on it.

Next time you sit down to write, try coming up with your own answer to “What if?” I think you’ll be impressed with the results.

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