Raising Writers: Use Preposterous What-ifs


Here’s the second in my new series, Raising Writers.

Exercise: Using Fortunately, by Remy Charlip, as a guide, start a family brainstorm/story that starts with something good, or fortunate.


“FORTUNATELY, I found seven eggs in the Easter Egg Hunt”.

(Now the bad event moves in).

“UNFORTUNATELY, they were rotten eggs that my baby brother burried.

FORTUNATELY, my cousin gave me two chocolate eggs.

UNFORTUNATELY, they were a bit hard. My tooth came out..

FORTUNATELY, the tooth fairy has been known to visit our house.

UNFORTUNATELY, my tooth was accidentally vacuumed.

This can launch an entire drawing & a full page o “what if” storytelling!

Then, together, write! Enjoy.This should not be a time to worry over text, but a time to enjoy brainstorming events. This is also a skill in itself, cause and effect (causal relationships), sequence, and forming and adding vocabulary (fortunately, unfortunately). You are helping them to communicate ideas.

See what sounds they can supply as you collaboratively make a word bank. See what words and sounds they can figure out as you help in dictation, copying their ideas  down.

Specific Goal: Create four statements together, or if your child is able, independently after your discussion, creation of a word bank. 

1. Fortunately,…

2. Unfortunately,…

3. Fortunately,…

4. Unfortunately,…

This is the big, positive leap from ideas (the creative, verbal realm) to representing thoughts using written language. This is how idea are recorded—so they are not lost or forgotten! Those funny and wildly interesting ideas can be shared and enjoyed! We are keeping it fun.

There may be an intrinsic reward of completion as you finish the one verbal to written sentence/idea/box and then another. There may also need to be a physical reward to reinforce their work and completion. Perhaps they may do the thing they’ve been itching to do, like take a run to the park, crack open the juicy melon, open a new puzzle.


Fortunately, I am reminded of a fabulous series that also deals with unfortunate events.

We are helping them to LOVE writing. It can be a very rewarding process.

Happy perhapsing & jotting down all those hilarious what ifs!


3 thoughts on “Raising Writers: Use Preposterous What-ifs

  1. I love it! Definitely great for adults as well, myself included. Life is a series of fortunates and unfortunates. The Zen of balance and a way to embrace it all, even the big ones: life/death…
    Thank you very much, Melissa

  2. Hi Melissa. This post reminds me of the “That’s Good. That’s Bad.” children’s book — it was one of my kids’ favorites. Love your idea of a writing exercise. I know you’re familiar with Literary Mama but did you know we have a reader-written For Your Journal blog series? Check it out — we’d love to read your submission. (Send to Amanda’s attention)

    • Hi Karna, thanks so much for your care in reading! Yes, funny you should suggest the For Your Journal series–I just sent something to that way yesterday! What synchronicity! Wonderful to hear about “That’s Good. That’s Bad.” I never knew about this book! I hope to talk more soon. Best!

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