Clock with 3 gears, 2018.
history history relevance pragmatic historian purpose of history using history

Challenge – Create Your Own Alternate History

What if you could rewrite history? Well, you can, although it won’t really change anything.

There is an entire genre in writing, an off-shoot of science fiction, that is dedicated to alternate history.

Alternate history involves authors imagining what would have happened if some historical event, usually an important event that had nationwide or international effects, had turned out differently.

This Mental Floss article shares a list of 19 alternate histories, including those related to the Kennedy assassination, World War II, and the Civil War. Have a peek at the list to get a better idea of alternate history before taking the next challenge.

Alternate History Challenge

The Alternate History Challenge is another way for you to learn history while being entertained at the same time.

—–> Pick an event in history that interests you.

I can’t overstate how important it is when you’re trying to increase your historical knowledge to start with a topic you are interested in, no matter how weird or arcane it seems. If you are not invested in the topic, no amount of forcing yourself is going to make learning history enjoyable. You’ll be sunk before you’ve begun.

—–> Do some research on the event.

You can do this by watching documentaries, reading books, visiting museums, or searching the internet. Try to get a sense of the key elements of the event, the major players, locations, and turning points.

—–> Write a brief summary of the event as you understand it from your research.

—–> Now, pick one element of the event and change it. Change the outcome, one of the players, or some other element.

What is the ripple effect of that one change? Write what you imagine the new outcome would be. How would that outcome affect today’s society?

If you are unfamiliar with the Butterfly Effect, wherein the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in one location can result in a tornado in another location at a later date, that’s what we’re dealing with when trying to write alternate histories.

Along with allowing you to learn about history in an entertaining fashion, this challenge will help you stretch your imagination and forecasting abilities.