Because I am an improviser, I get my best writing done when I have some sort of suggestion to get me going. Just like using a suggestion from the audience can give improvisers the setup to begin a scene, a small kernel of an idea is all I need to nudge me in the direction of a productive first draft of a short piece of writing.
These ideas mostly come from a small notebook I carry around to jot down ideas whenever they come to me and would probably make no sense to anyone else if they read my notes—such as “that time I put a rubber chicken in my purse and brought it to school” or “letter to that annoying kid Byron in the line at Dollar Tree.” Or sometimes it’s an idea that I’ve been obsessing over recently.
One of my favorite things to do each week is to write the Tuesday writing prompts for WD, because I get to play the role of suggestion-giver for anyone who reads them. My hope is that my random ideas that make enough sense to share on the internet inspire WD readers the next time they are looking for something to get their creative juices flowing—whether that inspiration is for a new short story, the next plot thread in their novel, a comedy sketch, etc.
Thanks to all the WD readers who have voiced their love for these writing prompts in the comments and on Twitter, I’m encouraged to keep sharing new ideas here every week. Here are 100 suggestions to get you started on your next writing session.
Have you hit a wall on your work-in-progress? Maybe you know where you want your characters to end up, but don’t know how to get them there. Or, the story feels a little stale but you still believe in it. Adding a plot twist might be just the solution.
100 Creative Writing Prompts for Writers
1. The Variants of Vampires. Think of an alternative vampire that survives on something other than blood. Write a story or scene based on this character.
2. Spinning the Globe. Imagine that a character did the old spin the globe and see where to take your next vacation trick. Write a story or scene describing where they went and how their trip panned out.
3. Misheard Lyrics. Think of some of the song lyrics you have misheard throughout the years. Pick your favorite, and use these misheard lyrics as the title of a new creative writing piece. Write a story, scene, or poem based on this title.
4. I'm Glad You Called. The person whom you or your character has been trying to talk to for ages finally answers the phone. Who is this person? Why were you or your character trying to track them down for so long? How does the phone conversation progress?
5. What's Cooking? As your character watches the hibachi chef prepare their meal, something seems ... off. What is it?
6. Tornado Season. A tornado is forming and your character is in the absolute worst place they can be at the moment. Where are they? How do they handle the situation?
7. School Daze. Your character's child comes home with a detention slip to sign, but your character isn't angry. What's the reason that they aren't angry with their child for getting into trouble at school?
8. Awkward Prom Date. Your character's prom date went ... not so well. Why?
9. Museum Artifacts. Take a look around a museum or recall your favorite pieces in a museum. Imagine what the past lives of these artifacts look like. Alternatively, you may imagine what the everyday objects in our lives might look like in a museum and what stories future generations will tell about them.
10. Thrift Store Finds. Take a trip to the thrift store or think about your latest trip. Pick one item you find interesting and imagine who its past owner(s) was. How did they use the item? Why did they end up donating it to the thrift store?
11. What In The World? Your character's day has been every sort of strange that you can imagine. Write about this day from their perspective—in the voice of a children's book.
12. If You Look Back Far Enough, You Can See ... Complete the sentence "If you look back far enough, you can see ..." and write a scene or short story that contains the line.
13. No One Can See Me. Re-write a scene or story from the point of view of someone or something that none of the characters knew was watching. It could be a ghost, animal, the furniture come to life, etc.
14. Firecracker Justification. Take the words firecracker, sad, antacid, 72, and courtroom. Or, pick five random words of your own. Write a scene or story that includes all of the words.
15. Heat Wave. It keeps getting hotter, and things are also getting weirder. Write a scene or story that describes the strange things happening the hotter it gets.
16. It's My Story and I'll Pitch if I Want To. Imagine that you are a character from a classic tale pitching your memoir to a literary agent. You know that it will become the next bestseller. Write your query letter, story synopsis, or elevator pitch to the agent.
17. Creating the Character. Begin a new story by creating a character. What do they look like? How do they dress? Is there anything unusual about their appearance? Write a scene or story exploring your new character.
18. So I've Heard ... Write a story or scene that includes "sound words" that set the scene.
19. Abecedarian. Write a story, scene, or poem that uses the abecedarian format. Start with the letter A or get creative and start anywhere in the alphabet you wish.
20. Apocalypse Now. Write a story or scene set during an apocalypse.
21. Setting the Scene. Begin a story or scene by envisioning the setting first. What is unique about this place? What does it look like? How does your character feel about this place?
22. Food For Thought. Write a scene or story that includes food.
23. Write What You Know. Begin with something familiar from your own life—such as a past event, something you know how to do, a character inspired by someone you know, or a place from your life—and put it in a fictionalized scene or story.
24. Anthropomorphize That. Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to something that isn't human, such as animal or object. Write a scene or story that includes anthropomorphism.
25. The Invitation. Write a scene or story that includes a character receiving an invitation, or showing up to an event that they were invited to.
26. Facing Obstacles. Write a story or scene in which your protagonist faces an obstacle.
27. Masquerade. Write a scene or story that includes a character wearing a disguise or costume.
28. Pick a Monster. Write a scene or story that includes a monster or another character from a horror movie.
29. Letters From Summer Camp. Imagine your character is a child or camp counselor at a summer camp that is the setting of a horror-comedy movie. Write a letter home to family or friends from your character's perspective, telling your family about the strange happenings at camp.
30. The Sweetest Story. Write a scene or story that includes a piece of candy.
31. The Elusive Demon. You are a ghost or demon who is about to be exorcised. How will you avoid this horrid fate?
32. Lesser of Two Evils. A knock on your door reveals a stranger who hands you their business card, claiming they are The Lesser of Two Evils. Write a scene or story that reveals what happens next.
33. You Make Me Simile. Write a scene or story that includes a simile. Try to create a simile that has never been written before—no "it was warm as an oven"s.
34. Truth or Dare. Write a scene or story that includes a character either taking a dare or revealing a secret about themselves.
35. I'm Thankful for That. Write a scene or story that includes a character being thankful for something unusual.
36. Well, That Was Embarrassing! Write a scene or story that explores your character's most embarrassing moment.
37. Acting Out of Character. Write a scene or story in which someone acts outside of their normal behavior.
38. Dream Logic. Write a scene or story that involves a dream.
39. The Gift. Write a scene or story in which a character receives an unusual gift.
40. The Resolution. Write a scene or story that includes a character confronting the decision to make a big change in their life.
41. One Last Wish. Write a scene or story that includes a character fulfilling someone's dying wish.
42. All the Chatter. Visit a park, coffee shop, or another public place that is buzzing with activity. Take note of what you hear the people around you say. Begin an original scene or story that includes something you overheard.
43. What's In a Name? Build a character's traits based on the meaning of their first or last name. You may have to consult a baby name website or Ancestry.com. Write a scene or story starring your new character.
44. Pick Six. Open a book or magazine in your reading pile to a page of your choice. Pick six words from the page that sound interesting to you. Write a piece that uses all six of those words.
45. M.A.S.H. Your Characters. Create a game of M.A.S.H for a character of your creation. Next, write a scene in their life story based on the result of the M.A.S.H. game.
46. Complete and Utter Chaos. Create a scene of chaos.
47. Maybe This Time. Write a scene that includes time travel.
48. Through Their Eyes. Write a scene from a child's point of view.
49. Happy 100. Write a scene that includes the number 100.
50. Fake Vacation. Write a scene set somewhere far away from your character's home.
51. Seeing Green. Write a scene that includes the color green, literally or figuratively.
52. Exercise of Perspective. Write a scene from an animal's perspective.
53. Fairy Tale Remake. Write a scene that puts a character or characters from a fairy tale in a different situation.
54. Writing the Stream. Write a piece using the stream-of-consciousness technique.
55. Dear Diary. Write a diary entry or a letter from your character's point of view.
56. Earth Day. Write a scene set in a universe in which the inhabitants take good care of their planet.
57. In Living Color. Write a scene that makes mention of a color.
58. Prompt, Newburyport. Create a scene or short story that is told entirely in one sentence.
59. View From Space. Take a scene from any story you've written already. Re-write it so that it takes place somewhere in a galaxy far, far away.
60. Small Delights. Write a scene or short essay that celebrates a small, simple pleasure.
61. Invent a Word. Some of the words we use today were coined by famous authors. Which word will you introduce into the lexicon?
62. The Premonition. Write a scene or story that includes a destiny predicted for the future.
63. Imposter Syndrome. Is this character the person who they say they are?
64. Finish the Sentence. Pick any of the prompts in this article. Finish the sentence, and begin your story!
65. A Different Match. Start a retelling of a classic tale in which the romantic pairings of characters are altered.
66. Mega Replay. Take a story you've written or your favorite classic story. Now tell a different version of that story, changing the genre or the main character's occupation.
67. Strange Phenomenon. Describe a normal, everyday object or activity from the perspective of a character who perceives it as a strange phenomenon they are struggling to understand.
68. Write Like Studio Ghibli. Write a scene or story based on one of these premises inspired by Studio Ghibli.
69. Join The Club. Write a scene or story that involves a character being in some sort of club.
70. Story to Structure. Tell a story in a unique form. It can borrow the format of a question & answer session, the writing on the back of a cereal box, shopping list, job application, business profit and loss statement, recipe, etc.
71. Powerful Prowess. Write a scene or story that includes a character with a superpower.
72. Clothing Your Character. Create a new character, beginning with the clothing they wear. Look in your closet, costume box, or search online vintage retailers such as Etsy for inspiration. Write a scene or story starring this character.
73. Opposites Attract. Write a scene in which two characters play opposites to each other.
74. Story Title Generator. Begin a new story, with the title structure of "A [Fill in the Blank] of [Object A] and [Object B]." Use the title generator in this article to fill in the blanks based on your star sign, first initial, and last initial.
75. And The Culprit Is... Your character sets out to find who the culprit of a misdeed is and the guilty person is...not who they expected it would be.
76. History Repeated. Write a scene or story in which a character looks at a historical document.
77. What's in the Cauldron? Write a piece inspired by a potion.
78. How to Haunt a House. Write a scene that takes place inside a haunted house.
79. Banshee Screams. Write a scene in which a banshee arrives to wail.
80. Full Moon. A full moon looms in the air. What effect does it have on the Earth below?
81. A New Kind of Chip. Think out-of-the-box and imagine a new chip flavor. How might the head of marketing at the chip company plan to promote the new chip?
82. Fortune Cookies. I just ate three fortune cookies, which gave me the following fortunes. Interpret them how you will: "Do you want to be a power in the world? Then be yourself." "Call an old friend today." "A close friend reveals a hidden talent." Write a scene or story inspired by one of the fortunes.
83. Just Keep Rolling. Write a scene or story that takes place at a roller skating rink.
84. The Map Quest. Write a scene or story that includes a character looking at a map.
85. Ripped from the Headlines. Write a scene or story inspired by one of these recent bizarre stories in the news:
- Couple Finds More Than 66 Bottles of Prohibition-Era Whiskey Hidden in the Walls of Their New York Home
- Illinois Man, 81, Uses Antique Walking Stick to Beat Thieves
- Metallic Monolith in Utah Vanishes Just as Mysteriously As It Appeared
- Tourist Mails Back Stolen Roman Marble, Apologizes for Being 'An American A**hole'
- Man in Taiwan Forced to Sell PS5 After Wife Discovers It Was Not an Air Purifier
86. Top 10 List. Write a top 10 list in the voice of a character. Is your character a tween writing in their diary? A person making a bucket list? How about someone listing their greatest fears? What does the list they make say about the character?
87. A Proposal. Write a scene or story that includes a proposal. What is the proposal for? Is it accepted or rejected? How does the proposer present their question?
88. Word Association Exercise: Holiday. Step 1: Brainstorm a list of images or ideas that you associate with the word holiday. What comes to mind when you hear the word—a vacation, special tradition, or Billie Holiday? Step 2: Write a scene or story inspired by your associations.
89. Food + Magical Realism. Write a scene or story that incorporates one of the following elements: 1. A plate of nachos that talks; 2. A bowl of ravioli that grants wishes; or 3. A pie that can tell the future with its filling.
90. The Transformation. Happy new year! 2021 will kick off with a prompt excerpted from Going Short, a great new guide to writing flash fiction by Nancy Stohlman: "Write a story in which something transforms into something else."
91. Say What? Write a scene or story that includes a character who is a talking animal.
92. A Lie. Write a scene or story that involves a lie. How far does the lie go? What will characters do to hide—or reveal—the truth?
93. Planting the Seed. Did you ever hear the myth that if you swallowed a watermelon seed, a watermelon would grow in your stomach? If Jack had swallowed the magic beans instead of planting them, could he have gained magical powers? Write a scene or story in which a character swallows a seed.
94. Phobia. Write a scene or story that includes a character who has a phobia. What do they fear? How does this phobia affect their life?
95. Fragrance Notes. Look at the description of the scent of a bottle of perfume or cologne. What notes does the maker list? Include each of these words in a scene or story. For example, if a fragrance is described as smelling like black truffle, orchid, and plum, your story might include a black cat, a garden, and plums for breakfast.
96. In the Listings. Find a listing for a home for sale anywhere that piques your curiosity. Take a look at the photos. What type of story do you envision taking place inside this home? Do you see a murder mystery taking place in a Victorian mansion? A rom-com in the high-rise urban condo? A fairy tale in a country cottage?
97. Characters in a Crunch. Write a scene or story that includes a character eating cereal. What does a character's favorite cereal say about their personality? Do they carefully pick the marshmallows out of their Lucky Charms, or do they eat Aldi bagged cereal by the handful straight out of the container? Or, perhaps your character prefers a healthy oatmeal with no added sugar.
98. Color Me Happy. Don't paint colors have the best names? Explore paint colors on a hardware store website. Pick a color or color name that intrigues you, and use it to inspire a scene or story.
99. Hidden Images. Write a scene or story in which a character sees (or misses) a hidden image. What does this hidden image reveal—is it the clue they've been searching for?
100. Acronym Mania. Create a new acronym by picking four random letters of the alphabet. Write a scene or story that includes this acronym—and the full phrase represented by the letters.
If you find these helpful, check back every Tuesday for more writing story prompts here.