creative writing exercise

The Sword in the Ceiling

After a long, hard day of work, you return home—the only problem is, your front door is wide open, all your lights are on and there's a sword stuck in the ceiling. The rest of your house looks normal, but you also notice several holes dug in your backyard. What's going on?

Clown College Valedictorian

You've graduated from clown college and have been named valedictorian of your class. You must give an inspirational speech to all the other bozos in the crowd and, after weeks of writing, you finally think you've nailed it. Show us you delivering your speech.

Be Careful Out There

"Be careful out there," your mom said as you grabbed your duffel bag and headed on a camping trip with friends. "You know that tonight is the anniversary, don't you?" You nodded, then shut the door behind you before getting in the car and taking off.

Write Fiction that Grabs Readers from Page One

In your novel, the inciting incident is the first sign of trouble for your protagonist: it’s the catalyst, the chemical reaction, that sets the plot into motion. But the inciting incident isn’t only important for your main character. Understanding how to harness it is also crucial to hooking your reader from the very first...

Create Structure in Your Fiction Using Index Cards

I was reading through some of our older science fiction titles, and I came upon Worlds of Wonder by David Gerrold (published in 2001). As I was flipping through the book, I read an opening line that intrigued me: “All writing is list-making. Nothing more. The trick is knowing what to put next on...

Golf Fundraiser Takes an Interesting Turn

You're on a golf course taking part in a fundraiser to cure a disease that's near and dear to your heart. On the 11th hole, you hit a ball into the woods. While searching for that ball, you see a white rabbit that stops, looks you right in the eye and says, "Follow me."...

A Mad Scientist Approches You

A mad scientist approaches you with an offer: He has a secret potion that will help you get the thing you want most in this world—be it a person, a thing, an ability, etc. What you don't know (and won't reveal until the end of your story) is that there is one dire consequence...

In Too Deep With Your Bookie

This time, you're in too deep. You're gambling losses have been mounting and, with a recent ill-advised bet, have put you $50,000 in debt. Your bookie, knowing you don't have that kind of cash, is willing to wipe your debt clean if you carry out a very dangerous mission for him.

Today’s the Day You Save a Life

You're on your way to lunch when you walk by a crowd of people staring up toward the sky. You look up and see someone at the top of a building getting ready to jump to his or her death. Quickly you realize you know this person—in fact, it's someone from work. Something about...

Leaving Town Abruptly

A friend rings your doorbell way too early in the morning to be ringing doorbells. You answer the door in your PJs, and the friend says, "Pack a bag quickly. I have to get out of here now and need you to come with me." You are intrigued.

Lipstick Message

You get a message, it is obviously for you, but it is scrawled in lipstick on a mirror in a public restroom. It's unexpected, but now you know exactly where the killer is hiding. It's time to find him and, hopefully, your friend (and hopefully your friend is still alive). Write this scene.

Person of Your Dreams

The person of your dreams shows up on your doorstep, asking if you’d like to go out for coffee. You are surprised and confused, but you say yes. At the coffee shop, as he/she is talking, you discover that he/she thinks that you are someone else. Instead of coming clean, you go with it—only...

When Your Favorite Characters Don’t Get Along

Your parents have thrown you a surprise birthday dinner and have invited your two favorite fictional characters (can be literary, television, movie, etc.). There's only one problem: Turns out, the characters don't get along and, after some mild bickering, they get into a big fight following one particular insult. Write this scene.

Backstage Passes Lead to Adventure

You've been given the opportunity to see any band (dead or alive) at a live concert in your hometown. At the end of the show, you bump into an old high school friend who is working security and offers you (and the friend you brought to the concert) backstage passes. What happens next is...

Why You Were Late for the Meeting

You're at lunch when your smartphone buzzes with an e-mail from your boss: "Don't forget, we have a meeting in 10 minutes." Of course you did forget, so you rush out of the restaurant and attempt to make it before it starts. But a crazy chain of events stops you from getting back in...

Secret Passageway

You've just moved into a new house and are fixing it up. In the process of painting you find an odd crack in the wall. As you explore further, you find out it's a secret passageway—and you have no idea where it leads. You decide to grab a flashlight and go exploring.