Writing Prompts

Looking for writing prompts?

Sign up for our free enewsletter to get a dose of writing inspiration delivered to your inbox each week. You’ll also get writing tips, publishing advice, and information on our latest writing contests. 

Sign up today.

142 articles found

The gift

  A child looks in a store window and sees the perfect holiday present. Describe the gift through the child’s eyes. Is the gift for the child or for the child’s loved one? What makes this gift personal and specific to this child? What does it show about the child’s character and interests? What will …

Published: December 2, 2016

Hunter or hunted?

On the final day of hunting season, two hunters perch in a deer stand and wait for their target. They begin to discuss past experiences, and one hunter reveals a surprising secret. What happens in the deer stand? How does the revelation cause both hunters to act? Describe the weather, the landscape and the condition …

Published: November 25, 2016

1,000 words: Giving thanks

Our “1,000 Words” writing prompts take a picture – beautiful, wacky, abstract, or otherwise – and ask the writer to write whatever comes to mind. Fiction? Poetry? Essay? The choice is yours, scribes. Just start writing.

Published: November 18, 2016

Poetry for veterans

Write a patriotic poem to pay tribute to the men and women of the armed forces. Consider the emotions they must feel on the battlefield, about being away from home and of facing the unimaginable. Incorporate the rhythms of military life, and consider the tensions of adventure, fear, patriotism and the experience of innocent non-combatants. …

Published: November 11, 2016

Sing it

  Take a line from your favorite song and incorporate it into a short story. Let the song’s style set the rhythm of your narrative. Dance to the song or sing it out loud (and with feeling) to get a sense of its spirit and rhythm. Can’t pick a favorite? Try these: “Every time when …

Published: November 4, 2016

Tricks and treats

In parts of the U.S. and Canada, Mischief Night – also known as Gate Night and Cabbage Night – is celebrated on the eve of Halloween with tricks and pranks. Use this setting to develop a conflict between two or more characters: neighbors, friends or lovers. Who tricks whom? How do the events of that …

Published: October 28, 2016

Graveyard shift

A character enters a cemetery, but not to visit a grave or attend a funeral. Why is the character there? Who or what does the character encounter? Create an unconventional graveyard scene with a surprising outcome. Describe the cemetery sights and develop atmosphere through sound and weather.

Published: October 21, 2016

1,000 words: Tunnel vision

Our “1,000 Words” writing prompts take a picture – beautiful, wacky, abstract, or otherwise – and ask the writer to write whatever comes to mind. Fiction? Poetry? Essay? The choice is yours, scribes. Just start writing.

Published: October 7, 2016

Masters of writing

Drawing from the lives of actual writers can add intrigue to a story. For instance: Raymond Carver, Marilynne Robinson, Frank Conroy, and Paul Harding have all passed through the Iowa Writers’ Workshop either as students or teachers. Imagine a scene in which this group – or other real-life writers in an academic setting – reveal …

Published: September 30, 2016