Careful What You Wish for

a project for Wishes & Regrets

The grass is greener on the other side, as they say. For this writing prompt, students will create a character who has one great wish or regret, but after getting what they want they still aren’t satisfied. Perhaps through this project, students might see the value of being content with their lives as they are now.

The Setup

Suppose the main character is your best friend, or your girlfriend/boyfriend, or your sibling. The character can be based on a real person who’s close to you, or they can be original. They have long wished for something that would make their life a little different. Maybe they wish they were taller or had a better singing voice or were friends with a famous person. Maybe they regret taking their current job or not saying high to that cute person they always see on the bus. You decide.

You recently saw a falling star and went to where it crashed into the earth. You found a glowing gem there, and as soon as you picked it up, a voice in your head told you it could grant wishes. You decide to wish on behalf of the main character, because you want them to be happy. When you wake up the next morning, this wish has not simply come true – reality has changed so that it has always been true. (If your friend had always wished she could fly, then the next morning you find out she has angel wings. As far as everyone remembers, she has had these wings since she was born). You are the only person who remembers the old reality before the wish was made.


The Consequences

As you (as the author) continue to write, explain what the main character’s life is like now. How is it different from their old life? Has their status (social, financial, emotional, political, physical, etc.) changed at all? What effect did the wish have on their daily life? What can they do they they couldn’t before? Think of both good things and bad things.

You (as a character) are initially thrilled that the wish worked! But as you discover what’s new about your friend, you learn that she/he still isn’t satisfied with their life, and they have a different wish or regret. You can’t unwish the earlier wish, but you can make a new wish. So you do, because you want them to be happy, and the next day everything is different again.


The Cycle

It goes on and on (say, five to ten times). Maybe a wish backfires and ends in disaster. Others go exactly as planned, but eventually lead to some other problem. Either way, the main character is left wanting things to be different. Your challenge is to think of all sorts of consequences to each wish, then figuring out where to go next. With each desire that the main character has, as well as each time your own character uses the star’s gem, write it using the unreal Wishes & Regrets structure.

You are free to write this as a drama, or a comedy, or a horror story. Or maybe even change it up each time.


The End

Eventually, you (the character) decide to tell the main character the truth and let them decide what to do next. Do they learn to be content, or are they always left wanting something different? Do they stay as they are now, try to go back to how things originally were, or try something new? The ending is up to you.

What about you? What do you wish was different in your life? If you had the reason to make that wish come true, why might that be a bad idea? What would you decide in the end?

Check out Insights’s Unreal Mood Series to view our videos on Wishes & Regrets and related topics.  In these videos, we share innovative teaching methods to make it easier for students to understand and remember grammar points.

Go beyond the videos with printouts, slideshows, bonus notes, and much more by joining with Insider Access or by downloading a Grammar Guidebook.  Visit our About Insider Access page to learn more!

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