Use These Writing Prompts (& Get Feedback on Your Writing)

As the first month of 2012 winds down, so does the fight to stay strong in keeping up with New Year’s resolutions. It’s so easy to fall off the horse for a few days, then a few more days, then a few more—and we do this without considering how much falling off a horse actually hurts! (Even falling off a figurative horse hurts our writing career in the long run.)

So with month two creeping up on us, I’d like to offer up some writing prompt exercises to rekindle your creative spirit and get your New Year’s resolutions of writing back on track. Make it a point to check all of these out and complete them before the week is over:

– You Get Three Wishes – Go!

– Cash in a Shoebox

– Waiter’s Note That Surprises You

– Pet Peeve Punishment for All Who Annoy You

– A Very Odd Side Effect

Try these out for size and post your stories in the comments section. If you ask for it, you’ll often get feedback from our wonderful WD community of writers, which can be a big motivational tool and also help you break a writing funk. Plus, stop by our Writing Prompts section daily/weekly for hundreds of writing prompts geared to help challenge your muse. Or, if you prefer offline challenges and tips to get back your creative spark, download The Writer’s Digest Guide to Creativity.

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17 thoughts on “Use These Writing Prompts (& Get Feedback on Your Writing)

    1. Brian A. Klems Post author

      Sorry about that. Somehow it got buried and I missed it. It’s approved now (and typically doesn’t take that long). I try to hop on a couple times a day to weed through the comments and approve and delete the spam.

      Brian
      Online Editor

  1. LaGrange

    TOTAL RECALL

    “Mom, Justin is ripping apart the house, you’ve gotta come home.” There was an edge to my daughter’s voice.

    “What do you mean?”

    “It’s like he’s on drugs or something. He’s ignoring me — moving all fast and mumbling.” A lump formed in my throat. I slowed and did a u-turn.

    “Keep an eye on him, I’ll be home as fast as I can.”

    When I tried to open the front door it hit the shattered back of our flat panel television. I pushed it aside and waded with dread through what looked like the aftermath of a Best Buy explosion. My seventeen year-old son was seated on the dining room floor surrounded by the innards of what must’ve been every electronic device in our home. He held a soldering iron plugged into an extension cord, and was assembling something about the size of an ottoman. My daughter was perched on a stool at the breakfast bar, eating cereal and looking at me expectantly, her eyebrows raised.

    “Justin, what is this? Why are you doing this?”

    He looked up at me and I took a step backward in shock. He was drenched in sweat, his eyes distant and unseeing. “Isn’t it obvious?” He bent back to his work, fingers moving furiously as he assembled components on a circuit board. Something metal clattered to the ground and I turned to see my daughter’s hand hanging limply from her wrist, eyes distant, her spoon on the floor under her feet. A wave of panic washed over me.

    “Mom,” she said. “I can’t believe no one’s thought of this! It’s so obvious.” She picked up her phone and started typing, her fingers a blur.

    My mind raced. What was happening? I saw the open cereal box on the counter. Oh, no. That was the recall that had been broadcast on the radio this morning. What had they said? Don’t eat it, call some number and follow the instructions. I never bought that brand, so the kids must have gotten it with their own money. Was it poisoned? My heart pounded.

    “I think you guys are having a – side-effect – from that cereal,” I said, dialing 911. “I’m going to get help, and…”

    Justin looked up at me as he activated a switch on the device he’d built. It began buzzing. “Relax, Mom. Watch this,” he said.

    A crackling noise split the room and I felt the hairs on my neck and arms stand up. A shimmering blue portal appeared, blowing an electric wind into our home. I glimpsed a dark, alien landscape through it. A spindly creature stepped into view, and I backed away in terror. I bumped into my daughter and turned. She lifted her flashing cell phone screen up to me. “Look, Mom.”

    I looked and felt my heart slow. A strange peace grew within me. I tried to fight it, but a realization began to dawn on me, something so — obvious…

    We all stepped through the portal together, smiling.

    **********

    Please critique!

    Laura

    1. RedHeadedViking

      Hi, Brian. I’m a new, and slightly frustrated, member of Writer’s Digest. How do I get my comments posted? Anything I post shows that it is “awaiting moderation”. (I suspect this reply will as well!)

      1. Brian A. Klems Post author

        It will eventually get posted. I have to approve all of the comments (and delete the spam), and I try to do it a couple of times daily. I’ve just been working on a big project this week and fallen behind, but all should be approved now.

        Brian
        Online Editor

  2. RobHalpin

    I haven’t yet made use of one of your writing prompts, Brian. I posted two last year in response to the Zachary Pettit’s Promptly column on here. I made my first post on The Writer Magazine’s Writing Prompts blog (I know, I know, I mentioned the competition) this week and am planning to start posting here, as well. Trying to do more short/flash fiction to prep for working on a book.

  3. KathyCatlinDavis

    It is the last day of my maternity leave. I just tried on my fat pants and can barely squeeze in to them. Tomorrow, I will sit at a desk for eight hours, answering the phone, responding to email and handling the latest crisis.

    The laundry is piled high and dishes sit in the sink. I sit on the couch and I look around at everything that needs done, and then I look down at the baby sleeping in my lap.

    There is a knock on the door. A woman I know from the playground is there, named Lydia. I open the door and invite her in to the entry way.

    “You know when we were pushing the kids on the swings yesterday? And you were talking about looking for something part time?” Lydia asks.

    “Yes” I respond, waiting for the pitch to sell make up or jewelry or books to my closest family and friends, with a promise that this – calling people I know and then those I don’t – will result in enough income to replace what I make now.

    “If you had three wishes,” she asks, “what would they be?”

    I play the lotto. It’s my one vice now that I quit smoking. And I play the head game – what would I do if I won? Narrowing my list to only three is hard.

    “Let’s see, I respond. I would weigh fifty pounds less. Our debt would all be paid. And the house would be clean, really clean.” The last one was a joke, given that Lydia could see the state of my house.

    “Ok” she said. “See you around.” She left.

    How odd, I thought, to come by the house and ask such a question. I checked the clock – two hours until I pick the other one up from school. I laid down on the couch to take a nap.

    I woke an hour later. The laundry was gone, the dishes were sparkling in the sink. The floor had been vacuumed and the whole house had been dusted and mopped. What happened? I thought.
    I stood up, and my pants fell to the floor, pooling around my feet. I looked down at my body. I was much thinner than when I laid down.

    A few hours later, my husband walks in with a large stack of mail and a confused look on his face.
    “What’s going on?” I ask, afraid he will tell me that our credit cards have all raised their interest rates, or that our adjustable mortgage has increased.

    “It’s the strangest thing,” he said. “We received a paper statement from everyone we owe money to – from the Visa card to the mortgage, to the homeowners association and the local assessor. Everything we owe has been paid in full. I can’t explain it.”

    Just then, my phone beeped with a text. It was from Lydia – although I don’t remember giving her my number – “Your wishes have been granted. From the genie down the street.”

  4. KathyCatlinDavis

    Thank you for the prompt. I’ve been stuck for the last week on my own idea. The prompt helped get me out of my funk. Any comments on the story would be appreciated. It’s been a few years since I’ve pushed myself to write fiction.

  5. nkschallhorn

    On a warm Saturday morning, I mosey over into the dusty garage and start cleaning it out like I told my parents I would. Hours go by while I move and sort through boxes and chests. Then I stumble upon an old shoebox and inside it I find $4,ooo. I turn over the box and I see the initials JPM. Those were my father’s initials: Jack Porter Montgomery. I go inside and ask my father about it. Turns out, my father was part of a heist. He and a couple associates from an investment firm stole $12,000 dollars from their firm before they got fired for a bad investment that they never made but someone put their names on the account. I asked my father why he didn’t use the money and he said that he felt guilty for stealing it so he hid it. My father goes off to work and within minutes after that, I am in my car on my way home with $4,000 in my wallet.

    –Please be nice, I haven’t written in a long time!–

    1. KB1976

      This is a good starting point, especially if you haven’t written in a while. You can build on this in so many ways. For example, how did the son/daughter feel when he/she found the money? How did they go about the heist? Does the father know the son/daughter takes the money? What does he/she do with the money? Good stuff!

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