Writing Prompts

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158 articles found

Poetry for veterans

Write a patriotic poem to pay tribute to the men and women of the armed forces. Consider the emotions they must feel on the battlefield, about being away from home and of facing the unimaginable. Incorporate the rhythms of military life, and consider the tensions of adventure, fear, patriotism and the experience of innocent non-combatants. …

Published: November 11, 2016

Sing it

  Take a line from your favorite song and incorporate it into a short story. Let the song’s style set the rhythm of your narrative. Dance to the song or sing it out loud (and with feeling) to get a sense of its spirit and rhythm. Can’t pick a favorite? Try these: “Every time when …

Published: November 4, 2016

Tricks and treats

In parts of the U.S. and Canada, Mischief Night – also known as Gate Night and Cabbage Night – is celebrated on the eve of Halloween with tricks and pranks. Use this setting to develop a conflict between two or more characters: neighbors, friends or lovers. Who tricks whom? How do the events of that …

Published: October 28, 2016

Graveyard shift

A character enters a cemetery, but not to visit a grave or attend a funeral. Why is the character there? Who or what does the character encounter? Create an unconventional graveyard scene with a surprising outcome. Describe the cemetery sights and develop atmosphere through sound and weather.   For more inspiration, visit our database of writing …

Published: October 21, 2016

Clowning around

  This clown has a secret.   What is it?   For more inspiration, visit our database of writing prompts.

Published: October 14, 2016

1,000 words: Tunnel vision

Our “1,000 Words” writing prompts take a picture – beautiful, wacky, abstract, or otherwise – and ask the writer to write whatever comes to mind. Fiction? Poetry? Essay? The choice is yours, scribes. Just start writing.   For more inspiration, visit our database of writing prompts.

Published: October 7, 2016

Masters of writing

Drawing from the lives of actual writers can add intrigue to a story. For instance: Raymond Carver, Marilynne Robinson, Frank Conroy, and Paul Harding have all passed through the Iowa Writers’ Workshop either as students or teachers. Imagine a scene in which this group – or other real-life writers in an academic setting – reveal …

Published: September 30, 2016

Think small

Write a short story or poem told from the perspective of this ant.   For more inspiration, visit our database of writing prompts.

Published: September 23, 2016

Dangerous dish

  Write a story that begins with a neighborhood or family potluck. What dish does each person bring? What does the food selection reveal about the individual? What underlying or external conflicts arise during the get-together? Add taste, sound, colors, and climate to the picture.   For more inspiration, visit our database of writing prompts.

Published: September 16, 2016

First day of school

The first day of school. We’ve all gone through it – getting lost in a new building, trouble with a locker combination, bad outfits, summer dreams coming to fruition (or not), new friends, horror stories. Write a first-person account of your most memorable first day of school, maintaining the innocence, naivety, wisdom and mind-set of …

Published: September 9, 2016