Writing Prompts

63 articles found

Pin it!

When writer’s block strikes, swap words for pictures. Photo posting sites such as Pinterest, Juxtapost and WeHeartIt allow users to collect and organize images on a digital inspiration board. Find photos of your setting, like a gritty city street or the cool Appalachian Mountains. Pin photographs of people who resemble your characters, either in mood or …

Published: December 13, 2013

What’s your sign?

According to Western astrology, date of birth can affect a person’s emotional makeup. Explore the signs of the zodiac and the key personality traits that belong to each. Now imagine a character who embodies one of these signs. Is he an independent and impulsive Aries? A loyal but jealous Scorpio? A sensitive Pisces with a …

Published: December 6, 2013

Black Friday blues

The store doors are about to open, and a line of shoppers has formed out front. Get inside their minds. What items are they most eager to buy? What do those products reveal about their characters? What was their Thanksgiving Day like, and how does that affect their subsequent behavior? Describe the scene that unfolds …

Published: November 29, 2013

Turkey time

A family gathers around the dining room table for Thanksgiving dinner. The kitchen door opens, and someone (or something) unexpected appears. Who or what has arrived? Use dialogue to explore the tensions of the moment. Experiment with point of view. Is the story told best as third person omniscient or from the perspective of one …

Published: November 22, 2013

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