Promptfest 2010: The 100th prompt! Write your own prompt, win some magazines, and get your response featured in Writer’s Digest.

Publish date:

As I gorge myself on digital cake and shield the WD staff from popping digital corks, here it is—the 100th writing prompt.

Write your own writing prompt.

Give it a shot by posting your response in the Comments section of the blog. We’ll pick one stellar prompt to run in the July/August Writer’s Digest magazine, and award its author a subscription to the magazine.

Here’s to everyone who has posted a story in the last nine or so months, and to the regulars who post on every prompt. You know who you are, and you rock.

And now, without further adieu, the other 24 prompts. Feel free to take the following prompts home or post your response to
any of them (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments
section below. By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble
with the captcha code sticking, e-mail your story to me at, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

George Stojkovic)


Dining Room Enigmas

He takes his fifth drink and coughs. His companion takes his first and kisses a waitress on the cheek. Across the room, your associate’s palms sweat as she prepares to tell them the truth.


That Damn Cat

You could have done it. It all should have been simple. “If it hadn’t been for that damn cat …” he mumbles.



“It’s new, but it doesn’t look new.”

“It never did.”

“They never do.”


Up in the Air

A thud.

On the plane, everyone looks around.

Another thud.

And another.

Then, a knocking from below.


Literary Roadshow—J.D. Salinger Edition

(From Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye; write a story inspired by or including the following—)

“You’re sorry. You’re sorry. That’s very funny,” she said. She was still sort of crying, and all of a sudden I did feel sort of sorry I’d said it.

“C’mon, I’ll take ya home. No kidding.”

“I can go home by myself, thank you. If you think I’d let you take me home, you’re mad. No boy ever said that to me in my entire life.”


Literary Roadshow—J.D. Salinger Edition 2

(From Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye; write a story inspired by or including the following—)

“Daddy’s going to kill you. He’s going to kill you,” she said. I wasn’t listening, though. I was thinking about something else—something crazy.
“You know what I’d like to be?” I said. "You know what I’d like to be?”


The Man Who Speaks in Poems

Write a prose story about a man who speaks only in poems.


Reject a Hit!

Humorously reject a hit book in 400 words or fewer and send your piece to with “InkWell: Reject a Hit” in the subject line, or post it here. Some of our favorites could appear in a future issue of WD. (For the background on this prompt, click here.)


The Wait is Over

After a year’s wait, you finally strike—it's yours. But once you get home, you discover that it’s nothing—nothing—like you thought it’d be.


Test Drive

You go on a test drive in a new car. With the dealership representative in the passenger seat, you pull to the side of the road, turn off the engine, and lock the doors. “There’s something I should tell you,” you say.


Plenty of Fish in the Digital Sea

You venture into the world of online dating. Browsing through profiles, you drop your coffee mug and it shatters on the ground—it can’t be.


Clash of the Characters

Create a scene using four characters: One based on yourself, one based on someone you personally know, one based on someone you heard about in the media, and one spawning strictly from the imagination. Make the media story the hook or reason they’re all together, and base the scene around that.


A Day of Valentines

Take your best--or worst--Valentine's Day experience, and reveal it in scene.


A Second Day of Valentines

It was Valentine's Day. You took your date to a movie--only it wasn't the Valentine's Day epic you had imagined, and what happened in the seat in front of you only reinforced that.


Stolen Dialogue 2 (from a café trek)

“Do you have anything real? I’m tired of all this fiction.”

“The comedian.”

“No. No way.”


Your Story No. 25

Two boys attempt to pull an April Fool’s Day joke on a female classmate, only to find out that she’s the one fooling them.


A Suitor for the Suitcase

A man enters your subway car with a small suitcase. He places it under a seat and gets off at the next stop. You eye the “LEAVE NO PACKAGES UNATTENEDED” sign. Another man boards the train, picks up the suitcase, takes something out of it, and moves it down a seat. At the next stop, he leaves and a woman enters, takes something out of it, moves it down a seat and exits. And then another. Finally, it’s placed under your seat.


Parting Words (courtesy of Brian A. Klems)

Write the last sentence to an unwritten novel or nonfiction book that's so intriguing that others won't help but want to read the rest of the text. [Feel free to include a paragraph or two leading up to it. And if you’re searching for character or subject fodder, how about the topic of the last phone call you placed today?]


Self-Destructive Actions

Take a short piece you've written (or whip up a new one), and hack the ending off. Then, write the most awesomely bad ending you can—and see how easily you can derail the piece.


The Last Thing You Expected to See on the Menu

The waiter handed you a menu. Only what was written inside wasn’t merely a listing of food


The Chairman

Your father made the chair when he was a boy, and it’s gotten rickety. Preparing to finally throw it away, you flip it over to carry it to the trash, and notice a message etched in with a knife.


The Dirty Trick

(A Literary Roadshow bonus from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies; write a story inspired by or including the following—)

Unwillingly Ralph felt his lips twitch; he was angry with himself for giving way.

He muttered.

“That was a dirty trick.”

Jack broke out of his gyration and stood facing Ralph. His words came in a shout.

“All right, all right!” … “I’m sorry. About the fire, I mean. There. I—” He drew himself up. “I apologize.”



(A Literary Roadshow bonus from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle; write a story inspired by or including the following—)

He had to bend down to her, she was so weak. She was pleading with him, in broken phrases, painfully uttered: “Have faith in me! Believe me!”

“Believe what?” he cried.

“Believe that I—that I know best—that I love you! And do not ask me—what you did.”


What Do You Have to Say for Yourself?

(A Literary Roadshow bonus from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle; write a story inspired by or including the following—)

“I hit him, sir,” said Jurgis.
“Say ‘your Honor,’ ” said the officer, pinching his arm hard.

“Your Honor,” said Jurgis, obediently.

“You tried to choke him?”

“Yes, sir, your Honor.”

“Ever been arrested before?”

“No, sir, your honor.”

“What have you to say for yourself?”


Somebody Breathing

(A Literary Roadshow bonus from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar; write a story inspired by or including the following—)

I woke
to the sound of rain. It was pitch dark. After a while I deciphered the faint outlines of an unfamiliar window. Every so often a beam of light appeared out of thin air, traversed the wall like a ghostly, exploratory finger, and slid off into nothing again. Then I heard the sound of somebody breathing.