15 Fun Writing Prompts to Start Your Next Story
I had a creative writing professor in college whose favorite saying used to be “butt in chair,” because you can’t ever complete a novel (or short story, or poem, or collection of stories and poems) if you aren’t sitting your butt in a chair and writing. But sometimes, that’s too dang hard. Your mind is all over the place and you find yourself staring off at the wall so you think, I’ll just go get a snack and then get right back to it, and instead, you sit down and watch an entire season of Gilmore Girls. No? Is that just me?
Some complaints I hear a lot are “I don’t know what to write about,” “I don’t know how I want it to start,” “Everything is already written. How do you write something good?” “I have writers block and I don’t know how to push through it.” And some of these complaints are even from people other than me… The answer is to just start. The best way to start a novel is just to start writing. You can always go back and change the beginning if you don’t like it. The best way to push through a writer’s block is to literally push through it and keep writing. There’s always a new story out there; you just have to find it.
Here are some fun prompts to get you started.
1. Think about three adjectives that describe a fire. Use those adjectives in the first sentence without talking about a fire.
2. Choose your favorite Disney prince or princess. Write about him/her as if he/she were in the real world.
3. Use this as the first sentence: He threw the bone up into the air and waited and waited, and then he whipped his head back and forth frantically as he realized it wasn’t coming back down.
4. Write an alphabet story: the first sentence starts with A, the second sentence starts with B, the third sentence starts with C, etc.
5. Think about a physical activity you like to do. Running, lifting weights, hiking, swimming, dancing, etc. Describe the feeling of doing that activity.
6. Write a story in 50 words or less.
7. Time yourself and write a story in 20 minutes. If you’re not done in 30 minutes, put 5 more minutes on the timer and wrap up the story in that time.
8. Write a story in which garden gnomes come to life.
9. Write a story about a superhero who does everything wrong.
10. Use this as the first sentence: It was hot, but she couldn’t take her hand away, and soon she was red from the heat.
11. Take a walk and write about what you hear.
12. Use this as the first sentence: I watch them together and I know they are linked by an invisible bond that I can barely begin to understand.
13. Think about the last thing you ate. Describe it: the color, taste, smell, texture.
14. Write a soulmate story (whether it be magical or scientific) but the soulmates hate each other.
15. Use this as the first (two) sentences: I wipe my mouth and crawl back into bed, hoping this will be the last time I throw up this morning. Maybe it’s the flu but staring at the stick with the little blue plus sign, I know it’s not.
Remember these are supposed to be fun exercises to get your creative juices flowing again. Maybe something will even spark an idea for your next great novel. Don’t forget to let me know if any of these prompts spark something magical for you. I’d love to read what you’re producing!
What are some of your favorites writing prompts?
Originally published June 15, 2018.