Writing Prompts

86 articles found

Sweet 16

Imagine a teenager’s birthday party: a sweet 16, a quinceañera or a bar mitzvah. Describe the decorations, the food, the gifts and the guests. What happens at this party? How do the party guests interact with the teenager? How do these interactions affect the character?

Published: July 11, 2014

One people

As we celebrate America’s Declaration of Independence, write a story about another group of individuals who must come together to make a radical decision.

Published: July 4, 2014

Feel and hope and dream

Alice McDermott, born on this day in 1922, masterfully captures moments and emotions in her characters’ lives. Use her writing advice to explore the feelings, hopes and dreams of a character. How has a seemingly insignificant moment shaped the individual? Delve deep into the character’s emotional psyche.

Published: June 27, 2014


As we celebrate the birthday of beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg this month, create a story based on a line or phrase from his famous poem, “Howl.” What story could you write about “moviehouses’ rickety rows,” a “catatonic piano” or “a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet”?

Published: June 20, 2014

Friday the 13th

Write a story about a character who is paralyzed by bad luck. What has happened to this character in the past? Why does the character seem like a victim of fate? How does the character overcome the bad luck and take control of destiny?

Published: June 13, 2014

Pomp and circumstance

On the day of graduation, a character has a clear path for the future. But what happens that day will completely change the character’s planned course of action. Who or what transforms the character’s future? Why?

Published: June 6, 2014

Treasure hunter

A customer walks into a consignment shop and discovers a “treasure.” The sales clerk is puzzled by the customer’s excitement. What item does the customer find? What significance does the item have for the customer? How does the incident change the sales clerk?

Published: May 30, 2014

Elementary, my dear Watson

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, born May 22, 1859, pioneered the mystery story with his hero Sherlock Holmes. Holmes was a master of deductive reasoning, using his keen observations to make logical conclusions about people and situations. Take a cue from the master sleuth and delve deeper into your descriptions. Use small, specific details that reveal …

Published: May 23, 2014

Rainy day forecast

A character leaves an umbrella behind on the bus. Although it at first seems like a small loss, how does it affect the character? What does the umbrella symbolize? Let this lost umbrella incite an unexpected turn of events.

Published: May 16, 2014


Create a story or scene between a mother and child. The moments can seem insignificant, but will stay with the child for the rest of his or her life. What makes the scene important? How does it change the child for better or worse? Describe the mother. What is her tone of voice? What gestures …

Published: May 8, 2014