Writing Prompts

49 articles found

View from Above

A woman sits on her apartment fire escape, observing the busy city street below. What does she notice first? What does she not see? Explore her character through her perspective and observations. How do her observations influence what she does next in the story?

Published: November 15, 2013

A Veteran’s Tale

In the heat of combat, a soldier witnesses a love story. What does the soldier see? How does he or she react? Use setting and environment to influence the action. Is he exposed on a battlefield, flying a fighter jet or viewing the conflict from a different perspective? In what war is she fighting? How …

Published: November 8, 2013

He said, she said

Write the first draft of a scene using only dialogue: no speaker tags or actions. What can you convey about the characters through their voices or interaction? Avoid the temptation to use dialogue for exposition or back story. Instead, focus on developing character. Let what’s said—or not said—build tension and reveal the workings of a …

Published: October 25, 2013

Put it in perspective

Re-read your most recent piece of fiction and experiment with point of view. What would happen if the story was written in third person omniscient? How about second person? Should you tell a third-person story in the voice of a single character? Rewrite a scene from your work in progress with a new point of …

Published: October 18, 2013

One syllable, one story

Write a story, paragraph or poem using only one-syllable words. Don’t limit yourself to logical narratives. Write freely, using the restriction to explore unusual word pairings or unexpected directions. Once you have finished, find the phrase or sentence that most strikes you. Make that line a springboard for another piece of writing.

Published: October 4, 2013

Pipe dreams

“The smell of the moldy sponge clung to her hands. She sighed over the sink, dreaming of the place she would go when she left this town.” Create a character and a story with this line. Where is this woman working? What are her future aspirations? How do these aspirations reflect her nature?

Published: September 27, 2013

On the road

At that moment, she realized her only option was to pack up her old sedan and hit the road. Use this line as the beginning or end of a story. Why does this character have to leave? Where does she go? What does she take with her? Why?

Published: September 20, 2013

Suit yourself

You’re walking through the woods when you come across a suitcase. Describe it. What is inside? Who does it belong to? How did it get there?

By Hillary Casavant | Published: September 13, 2013

5 minutes of fame

Try this approach next time you need an idea for a memoir or personal essay: Pretend you’re standing before a packed stadium, spotlight directed on you. You have one chance and five minutes to share your personal story. What is the story you would most want to tell? What is the story you would never …

Published: September 6, 2013

Literally

Our language is filled with idioms, phrases which have definitions different from their literal meanings. Clichés such as “at the drop of a hat,” “take the words out of your mouth” and “kick the bucket” creep unnoticed in our writing and everyday speech. Write a story or paragraph in which a character or scene literally …

By Hillary Casavant | Published: August 23, 2013