Writing Prompts

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144 articles found

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

Think small

Write a short story or poem told from the perspective of this ant.

Published: September 23, 2016

Dangerous dish

  Write a story that begins with a neighborhood or family potluck. What dish does each person bring? What does the food selection reveal about the individual? What underlying or external conflicts arise during the get-together? Add taste, sound, colors, and climate to the picture.

Published: September 16, 2016

First day of school

The first day of school. We’ve all gone through it – getting lost in a new building, trouble with a locker combination, bad outfits, summer dreams coming to fruition (or not), new friends, horror stories. Write a first-person account of your most memorable first day of school, maintaining the innocence, naivety, wisdom and mind-set of …

Published: September 9, 2016

The core of the matter

“With an apple I will astonish Paris.” —Paul Cezanne Post-impressionist painter Paul Cezanne transformed the 20th century art world by making simple objects extraordinary. Write a scene or short story in which an ordinary object such as an apple or clothespin plays an astonishing role in your character’s future. How can you transform something conventional …

Published: September 1, 2016

1,000 words: Mannequin mania

  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: August 19, 2016

Elementary

  Much of who we later become is formed in adolescence, and the lessons we learn in the school yard often stick with us for the rest of our lives. What was your main character like in elementary school? How did they adjust to high school? How did they handle their newfound freedom in college? …

Published: August 12, 2016

Nuggets

Every piece of writing contains golden nuggets – moments or phrases that make the story special. Go through some of your favorite texts to find the golden nuggets within. What makes them stand out? Why do they work? Next, do the same with your own work. How many golden nuggets do you have in one …

Published: August 5, 2016