writing prompts

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.

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...

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?

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....

Two Stories

J.M. Barrie once wrote, "The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it." Writing as yourself or as a fictional character,...

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.

Transparency

You bolt awake … but you're not immediately sure what awakened you. You blearily fumble for your cell phone to check the time, but as you reach for the bedside table, you gasp—your hand passes through the oak nightstand as if it were composed of nothing but mist. After a moment,...

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...

Why We Write

The Prompt: This week's writing prompt is a little bit different than usual. Instead of telling us a fictional tale, we'd like to hear the why behind your love of writing. Share in the comments—in under 500 words—the reason behind your love of writing. Your response could appear in the February 2018...

Christmas Gone Awry

You've invited all your family members to celebrate Christmas at your house. Unfortunately, they all decline with different excuses, which seems highly unusual as you normally spend the holidays together. On Christmas day you decide to drop their gifts off at their houses. When you arrive at the first house, though,...

An Idea a Day: August 2014

Generating good, usable ideas can be difficult for any writer, new or established. While John Steinbeck may have been exempt (he famously compared ideas to rabbits, saying “You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”), we are not all on Steinbeck’s level....

Career Day

You’ve agreed to give a talk at your child’s school for Career Day. Not only do you hate public speaking, you found out yesterday that you’ve been fired from your job—and you haven’t told your kid yet. Write what happens when you go to the school to present.

A Mysterious Request

You receive a letter at your workplace from a high school classmate, who is now in prison. “I know I’ve caused you a lot of grief,” the letter says, “but there’s something I need that only you can get for me. Don’t tell anyone about this.”