Creative Writing Prompts

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Need an idea to help you get started writing? You’ll find hundreds of fun writing prompts here – perfect for beginning a new novel or short story, or simply giving your writing muscle a workout.

The Hate Note

You arrive at home to find an envelope addressed to you on the ground outside your front door. Inside, you find a letter proclaiming the writer's deep and undying hatred for you. The note is not signed.

Romantic Discussion Squares™

You’ve managed to launch a SweetHearts Conversation Hearts competitor in time for Valentine’s Day, but you have to make them distinct from the original product to avoid a lawsuit. What messages do you put on your candy treats, and how do you style them?

Red Snow

The first major snowfall of the season has finally arrived. When the worst of it lets up, you bundle up, pull on your warmest boots, and venture into the whiteness of the back yard. You're admiring gently falling flakes, when you spot something startlingly red amid the drifts at the back...

Character Construction

Build a character using at least one word from each of these lists of physical traits, then write a scene about them that includes the phrase "That didn't go as planned."

Oh, Heck

Satan has instructed his incompetent younger brother, Stan, to open a milder version of Hell known as Heck. How does one end up there, and what punishments does Stan devise?

Typo Fiasco

You (or a character) quickly type up an important email and send it. After it's sent, you suddenly realize that the email includes a typo that completely changes its meaning. What happens next?

Hindered Resolutions

You've created a list of New Year's resolutions for the coming, and you're feeling great about them: They're helpful, practical, attainable and varied enough in their required time commitments that you're certain you can knock them all out within the first half of the year. But each time you try to...

Newtonian Truth

Consider the following quote by Sir Isaac Newton, and write a story or scene that supports the claim: "Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things."

Not Quite Dickensian

A deceased acquaintance appears before you one night and tells you to expect a visitation by three spirits who will transport you to three significant moments from your past. However, you soon discover that the three spirits aren't quite like the ones who visited Ebenezer Scrooge…

Reminiscence

Choose an incident from your childhood that has made a lasting impression on your life: perhaps a memorable incident with your best friend or your confused feelings on the fi rst day in a new school. Write a scene or story based on this incident. Do not write the story as...

The Town of Soft Rains

A soft breeze stirs a leaf that has fallen on the pavement. Otherwise, the street is tidy and beautifully maintained, just like the quiet houses arranged in neat rows along its sides. Just like the vacant shopfronts along quaint Main Street nearby. Just like the silent playground. Where is everyone?

Antiquing

Imagine that you or a character are visiting an antique mall. You wander the aisles, imagining the items crowding each booth—old books, costume jewelry, rolltop desks, typewriters, pocket knives, wooden trains, arrowheads, candlesticks, silverware sets, china dolls, Depression glass bowls (just to name a few). You select three items and purchase...

Thesaurus Abuse

Visit a thesaurus website or grab a thesaurus from your book shelf if you have one. Search or flip through until you find five preposterously verbose, bombastic, grandiloquent alternatives for everyday words. Using all five terms, write a scene about a character who writes "purple prose" or speaks in overly flowery...

The Color of Ideas

Choose one to three colors from the color associations chart. 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.

Two Truths and a Lie

Ask a friend to tell you two truths and a lie about themselves. Without asking which one is false, write a short scene about a character for whom all three statements are true.

Jack-O-Lantern of the Soul

You (or a character) have managed to carve a Jack-O-Lantern that expresses the very essence of your identity and personality with startling accuracy. What is it, and how do your family/ friends react when they see it?

The Reaper Knocks

There's a thunderous knock at the door. You open it to find an improbably tall, black-robed figure towering over you with a scythe in one bony hand. The figure peers at you for a long moment, then looks down at a clipboard in its other hand. Then back at you. Then...

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.

The Athlete

Think of an athlete, coach or other sporting-type person you've met before. Using this person as a springboard, identify the following qualities about them and then incorporate these qualities into a character in a story: physical body type, style of walking, usual outfit, reaction under stress, non-athletic passion.

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.

Secrets Within

The police come to your residence with a search warrant. But somewhere inside, there is something you don't want anyone to find, ever.

Character Content

Consider what it means to be "judged by the content of your character." Write a scene in which an individual is not judged by the content of his or her character, but by something else entirely. It doesn't have to be skin color, but perhaps another physical attribute or factor beyond...