creative writing prompts

Lost Dog

The family dog has been missing for weeks, and everyone is devastated (except that one family member who was just never a dog person, of course). Suddenly, the dog returns, showing up out of nowhere. (Most of) the family rejoices. But as time goes by, it becomes clear that something isn't...

Did You Hear That?

As you likely know, the term onomatopoeia refers to words that imitate sounds associated with actions and objects. Incorporate as many onomatopoetic words into a story or scene as you can.

A Roll of the Dice

In the spirit of taking chances, roll two six-sided dice. Whatever number comes up, write down the first word you can think of with that many letters. Repeat six times. Incorporate these six words into a story or scene and see where it takes you.

Awry

Write about a situation in which plans go awry, leading to disastrous consequences. Did you go to college anticipating success, only to flunk out? Does a character fall in love with the wrong person, leading to a difficult breakup? 

Unfairy Tales

Write a scene that involves a fairy tale trope turned on its head or otherwise deviating from typical expectations. For example: A princess who’s cruel to her kind stepmother; a golden goose that lays explosive eggs; a big, frightening wolf who really just wants a friend.

Give Them a Hand

Write a scene about a conversation or another interaction, and include a focus specifically on the characters' hands. Include the appearance of the hands, as well as the way they move and gesture. What do the hands say about the personalities involved?

Spent

He wasn't supposed to know about that $20,000 at all, yet somehow he got his hands on it—and spent all of it in less than an hour. What the **** are we going to do now?

Somnia

You (or a character) awaken suddenly from a strange, vivid dream. You remember that the dream involved an unusual object in a distinctive place, but you don't know what it means. Decide on the object and the setting, then use a dream dictionary to look at common meanings behind those symbols....

Madder Libs

First, think of one of each of the following: a word you use too much; the name of a city you'd like to visit; an unusual color; a hobby; a physical quality a person might wish for; an animal; a famous author; a verb ending in -ing; a number; an adverb....

Lost Journal

While cleaning out your house, you stumble upon a journal you don't remember writing in. As you flip through the pages, it becomes apparent that this journal belongs to a fictional character (either a character you've written, or a character from one of your favorite books). Share one of the entries...

Extraordinarily Ordinary

Describe something ordinary in an unrelated genre style. For instance, you could describe your living room in the style of an epic fantasy, a pigeon in the style of a western, your breakfast in the style of a steamy romance, or an office building in the style of a sci-fi thriller.

Conspiracy!

Take an event from history and write a fictional account describing a conspiracy theory about what "REALLY" happened. Or, if you prefer, write a scene about a character who believes in one or more conspiracy theories.

Table for Two

Write a story or scene about two people—or other nonhuman characters, if you prefer—from very different backgrounds sharing a meal together. What do they learn about each other that they weren't expecting?

Symbolic Animals

Write a story or a scene involving an animal that symbolizes something else. It can represent a concept, an experience, an emotion, a historical moment, or anything else you can think of.

The Shadow

Dampness lingers in the midnight air. Nearby, an unidentifiable sound pricks at your nerves, repeating every few seconds. Your breath catches in your throat as a long shadow cleaves through the light spilling from a street lamp just around the corner ahead of you. You consider turning back. ... What happens...

The End of the Road

Think back to a moment where you've come to the end of the road with something important in your life—a relationship with a lover; moving out of your childhood home; graduation from school; etc. Write a scene wrapped around that moment, describing how you felt (good and bad) and how you...

Flat Tire

You're traveling in a rental car when you hear the thumping of a flat tire. You pull over and discover the thumping is not coming from a flat, after all, but from the trunk. What or who is making the noise?

Favorite Piece of Clothing Eulogy

You favorite article of clothing has finally out-lived its life (and then some). It's time to say goodbye, but you love it so much you feel a need to send it off properly. Write a eulogy dedicated to that piece of clothing and all the times you shared together.

Note Found at a Construction Site

You're a construction worker and, while in the middle of a dig to build a new building, you stumble upon a box with contents in it. There are five very specific items in it along with a note: "When you find this, call me. This is only phase one." The is...

Watch Out For Famous Friends

You've been given the opportunity to go on an adventure with two famous people (dead or alive). As the adventure unfolds, it becomes clear that those two famous people plan to kill you. Write a scene about that adventure, who the famous people are and what you do to escape death.

Last Day of Summer Break

You're a teenager and it's the last day of summer break. This is especially painful for you because, over the course of those summer months, you fell in love for the first time and that person is moving away (and breaking up with you). Write the scene where you say goodbye....