Writing Prompts

89 articles found

Summer day sundaes

Write a story about a character’s summer spent working in an ice cream shop. What is this character like on the first day of work? What changes over the course of the summer? Who visits the ice cream shop? What do their ice cream selections say about their characters? Create vivid scenes by describing the …

Published: August 1, 2014

Threads of history

Trace the history of a piece of clothing in a thrift shop. Who made it? Who first wore it? What happened to the character while wearing it? Who else wore it? How did it get to the thrift shop? Use the clothing’s history to illuminate the characters’ lives.

Published: July 25, 2014

A stranger comes to town

Develop a story based on the classic premise “a stranger comes to town.” What makes this stranger different from the locals? What qualities or talents does this character bring to the town? What happened in this character’s past? How does the stranger’s arrival change (or not change) the town and its people?

Published: July 18, 2014

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