Writing Prompts

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136 articles found

Tune-in Tuesday: Not yet

    “Not yet.” Incorporate this line of dialogue into a story. What prompts a character to say these words? Contextualize what the phrase means. How does he or she arrive at this moment? What is the question that precedes the answer?

Published: November 17, 2015

Motivation Monday: History journal

  Diaries are fascinating documents of inner lives and history. Which famous historical figure, real or fictional, fascinates you? Is it Cleopatra? Bluebeard? Barack Obama? Pretend to be that person and write an entry in his or her journal.

Published: November 16, 2015

Structure Sunday: Beneath the surface

  Ernest Hemingway believed the “quality of a piece could be judged by the quality of the material the author eliminated.” His theory of omission, also called “the iceberg theory,” emphasizes that the core of a good story lies beneath the surface, like the mass of an iceberg.   Revise a story, poem or essay …

Published: November 15, 2015

Sensational Saturday: Mixed emotions

Often we neglect the senses in our writing, especially in how much they can offer in terms of describing moods and emotions. • Write about the scent of happiness. • Write about the texture of anxiety. • Write about the sound of despair.

Published: November 14, 2015

Friday Figures: Bio of the obscure

    Write a character bio for an obscure character in your project. When you have given your all to uncover the fascinating, paradoxical qualities of this character, write a scene that  reflects what you discovered.

Published: November 13, 2015

Warm-up Wednesday: Work it out

    Do robust aerobic exercise and sit down to write immediately after. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes. See what comes, and then use the most exciting line or moment you created as a jumping-off point for a scene. (You can write it after you shower!)

Published: November 11, 2015

Tune-in Tuesday: Make it count

  Write three pages of dialogue with two goals in mind: Make every word count, and don’t bore the reader. Now, take one line from one character and give it to the other character. Use that line as a starting point for a new scene.

Published: November 10, 2015

Motivation Monday: First lines

Coming up with a first line can be one of the biggest challenges of writing. Use one, or all, of these first lines: • Charlene leaned closer to the stranger and asked him to repeat what he said. • I had been following the man with the tartan umbrella for more than an hour when …

Published: November 9, 2015

Structure Sunday: Kill your adverbs

In his memoir On Writing, Stephen King warns, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Print the first five pages of your work in progress and cross out every adjective and adverb. Do the sentences still convey the right meaning? How can you add nouns and verbs to do the heavy lifting?

Published: November 8, 2015

Sensational Saturday: Change of emotion

In a paragraph or two, describe an event from your character’s point of view, perhaps a dinner with a friend, a walk in the park or a neighborhood-watch meeting. Write about the event again from a new emotional point of view—anger, delight, hope, detachment or despair.

Published: November 7, 2015