Take a cue from Twitter and write a story in 140 characters or less. How does the space restriction tighten your writing or convey a message? For inspiration, start with this classic, which tells a complete story in just 33 characters: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Once you’ve whittled your story down to the …
Got writer’s block? Step outside with a pen and notebook and find the words you’re missing. Keep your eyes peeled for a sidewalk message, a graffiti-covered wall or an abandoned sign. Once you see a word, make a list of all the emotions and images the word inspires. Use the word as a title of …
“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.”—Marilyn Monroe Give an unusual piece of clothing or unique accessory to a character. How does this item reflect his personality? Does it change her persona? Use fashion to symbolize a nuance in the character’s identity.
You’re walking through your neighborhood when you see three children sitting on the curb. It’s 11 a.m. on a school day. What are they doing there? Where are their parents? Are they happy, upset, scared? Write a scene about this encounter.
“Write the truest sentence that you know.” —Ernest Hemingway Write down 10 truths: historical facts, pop culture trivia or details about yourself. Then rewrite each item on the list so the truths become lies. Choose two truths and one lie as a base for your next story, poem or essay.
Imagine you could travel back in time to a moment in history: the invasion of Normandy, the flight of Amelia Earhart, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Write a description of the environment and capture the tension. Would your presence rewrite history?
Imagine you could spend a single day with your favorite writer or poet, either living or deceased. What would you do? What questions would you ask him? What writing advice would she give you? Write about your day together, and incorporate the writing tips into your own work.
“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” —Franz Kafka Imagine a character who has never grown old. What has he seen or experienced? How many people has she loved or lost? Does he see still see beauty in the world, or is he jaded? Write a character sketch of this person.
Wander through a local museum or art gallery and choose the painting, sculpture or exhibit that most inspires you. Write a description of the art piece and use its subject and emotion as a platform for a poem or a scene. Can’t make it to a museum? View international art from the comfort of your …
Write the sequel to your favorite fairytale. Are Hansel and Gretel tried for murder? Do Snow White and her prince contemplate divorce? Does money really buy happiness for Jack and his beanstalk? What happens after “The End”?