Top 10 Writing Prompts of 2018

Each week, I post a different writing prompt at And each week a community of lovely writers responds to them. Here were some of our best writing prompts of 2018, judged by participation and popularity among our team. Click on the title of each prompt if you’d like to share your response in the comments of a particular prompt, or respond in the comments on this post.

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1. Custom Etymology

Write a story or a scene about someone inventing a new word—or, alternatively, giving an existing word a new meaning.

2. Unexpected Inking

You are showering one morning when you notice a tattoo on your body that you’re quite sure you don’t remember getting. What is it, how did you get it, and what does it mean?

3. Handwriting Anatomy

Consider your handwriting, or a character’s handwriting. What significance does it have, and what does it say about the type of person you/they are?

4. Musical Incantation

You’re absent-mindedly singing to yourself, when suddenly the topic of the song comes true.

5. Thou Mayest

Write a scene or story about a character who has committed a misdeed—a crime or a more minor indiscretion—and must decide whether to face the consequences and make amends for the act, or to conceal or avoid it.

6. A Book of Chance

Go over to your bookshelf, close your eyes, and pick up the first book you touch. Open the book to a random page, read the first full sentence on that page, and use it as the inspiration for a story or scene. Include the original line at the beginning or end of your response.

7. Madder Libs

First, think of…

  • 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.

Then, use at least five of these in a story or scene that also includes the phrase “What is that?”

8. Things We Lose

This prompt is simply a line from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Do as you please with it—incorporate it into your story, use it as inspiration, turn it on its head, make it into an anagram—anything you’d like: “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”

9. 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.

10. The Color of Ideas

Choose one to three colors from the color associations chart below. Note the different meanings. Create a character or place associated with each color. Profile the character(s) or setting(s), or write a scene about them.

Discover more exciting interactive prompts in The Write-Brain Workbook Revised & Expanded: 400 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing!


5 thoughts on “Top 10 Writing Prompts of 2018

  1. Avatarrlk67

    I, too, enjoy the prompts on this site since I discovered them about a year and a half ago. Creative writing was always my favorite in college which now seems like ancient history. However, I haven’t been able to translate it into anything past this website. If anyone who writes for the prompts here has had success further than this site, I would love to hear your story.

    1. Avatarhillsworth

      I feel your anguish, rlk. I too haven’t been able to expand beyond the WD prompts. I anxiously await each weeks prompts. Sometimes the story comes quick, sometimes it comes weeks later when you know no one goes back through to see if anyone posted anything new…Just yesterday I spent most of the day trying to create a blog (which I have no idea what I’m doing) to post all of my stories from WD in one convenient place for all to access. End result…I wasted most of my day. I have no idea how to link my name on WD with the blog like Jennifer Park or any of the others that have links. If I had more hair, I would have pulled it out by now. I’ve been writing for 30+ years and have nothing published to show for it.

      All I can say is ‘keep plugging away.’ Maybe try doing what some of the writers on WD are doing. Several people have ongoing stories (myself included) that use the same characters each week (not quite each week for me) and at some point hopefully we’ll have enough of the story to finish it and actually publish it. That’s kinda what I’m striving for, but until then, I will keep writing. Good Luck and hopefully 2019 will be the turning point for you.

      1. Avatarrlk67

        Thanks for the advice, hillsworth. I wouldn’t exactly call it anguish…just longing to break out into something and find a niche. Of course it’s not easy (mega understatement). I think it’s more of a lack of direction which would entail ‘loads-of-research-but-who-has-time?’. You sound like you’ve had life’s share of anguish in this, and you’re not alone, so it’s great to feel validated.
        Just so you know…I have no clue how to set up a blog, or let alone getting people to see it.

        All the best, and looking forward to your big novel sold at finer booksellers near me.

  2. AvatarReathaThomasOakley

    Hey Jess,
    It was fun to reread these. Thanks.

    I’m so glad I discovered the WD weekly prompts. They got me back into writing fiction. In the last almost exactly four years the 500 word pieces have been the basis for a number of award winning short and flash fiction stories and a novel. Keep up the good work.

    I was dismayed to read a number of nice pieces that deserved comments, but that were posted months after the original date. Hopefully those folks are still writing.

  3. Avatarhillsworth

    I so much love these weekly prompts. I don’t always get to post (mainly because I can’t come up with the right story for the right prompt) but I find myself checking in any chance I can get five minutes. It’s almost like an addiction…to see who comments on what and how you’ll comment on any of the others. I was a regular on here in 2012-13, but work and life got a hold of me and I just got back to it this year. So glad it is still here for me. Thanks, Jess. And thanks WD.


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