J.M. Barrie once wrote, "The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it." Writing as yourself or as a fictional character,...
Writing Prompt: You have nearly arrived at your dream destination. Thus far, the trip has been uneventful, and there's only an hour's drive left between you and vacation bliss—when suddenly the vehicle breaks down, leaving you stranded. Where are you, and what do you do?
It’s typical in stories and manuscripts to use variations on the verb “to feel” to express emotion: He felt mad. I feel scared. But there are much better ways to describe a character's emotional state. Try it with one of these "feeling" prompts. Write a scene based on one of the...
You have discovered what appears to be an ordinary room. But as soon as you enter the room, time stops for you. When you leave the room, time picks up right where you left off. What do you use this room for?
There's a knock on your door. Upon opening it, you find yourself facing a man dressed distinctly like Sherlock Holmes. He informs you that he is a detective, and that you are a suspect in the disappearance of a person named John Watson. What happens next?
In memory of L. Frank Baum, choose one of these quotes from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, fill in the blanks, and use it as the opening to a story of your own. (Bonus imaginary internet points if you can include more than one.)
Write a story or scene in which one or more of the characters knows that they are in a story. How long have they known? Do they care? If you want, take it a step further: The narrator absolutely hates the main character.
First, write down 12 flavors you can think of (ice cream or candy flavors, savory flavors, etc.). Next, use all 12 flavors to write a story or scene (in 500 words or fewer) beginning with the following: The sparkling water was…
Describe something ordinary in an unrelated genre style. For instance, you could describe your living room in the style of an epic fantasy, a pigeon in the style of a western, your breakfast in the style of a steamy romance, or an office building in the style of a sci-fi thriller.
Write a scene that includes a character speaking a different language, speaking in a thick accent, or otherwise speaking in a way that is unintelligibe to the other characters. (Note: You don't necessarily need to know the language the character is speaking—be creative with it!)
Describe a character's reaction to something without explaining what it is. See if your fellow prompt responders can guess what it is.
Write a story or a scene about one character playing a prank on another. Describe the scene from both characters' points of view.
Writing Prompt: Write a story that involves confusion over homonyms (words that have the same spelling but different meanings) or homophones (words that sound the same but are spelled differently). You can use any homonym or homophone you can think of, but here are a few examples to get you started.
For World Storytelling Day, share the best story you've ever heard or told by word of mouth, or have a fictional character recount their favorite story.
You're making your way down a cobbled street when a stocky, red-bearded man beckons you into an alley. He reaches into his coat, produces a locket on a long gold chain, and hands it to you. Upon opening the locket, you find a four-leaf clover pressed beneath a small glass pane....
Pick an item from each column in the chart to create a simile. Use the following starting phrase for your story, making sure to include the simile(s) you’ve created somewhere in the piece. "I (or she/he) took a sip of …"
Write a scene or story about a character who has committed a misdeed—a crime or a more minor indiscretion—and must decide whether to face the consequences and make amends for the act, or to conceal or avoid it.
Writing Prompt: Go over to your bookshelf, close your eyes, and pick up the first book you touch. Open the book to a random page, read the first full sentence on that page, and use it as the inspiration for a story or scene. Please include the original line at the...
Writing prompt: Take one of these Judy Blume book titles, fill in the blanks, and use it as the premise for a short story or scene. It does not need to relate to the original story in any way.
You're absent-mindedly singing to yourself, when suddenly the topic of the song comes true.
You have (or a character has) created a computer virus that is capable of spreading to every computer, tablet or smartphone in the world. It takes over the device's screen and displays something else instead—a message, an image, an animation, etc. What does it display, and why?
Consider your handwriting, or a character's handwriting. What significance does it have, and what does it say about the type of person you/they are?
You are showering one morning when you notice a tattoo on your body that you're quite sure you don't remember getting. What is it, how did you get it, and what does it mean?
Write a story or a scene about someone inventing a new word—or, alternatively, giving an existing word a new meaning.
You're sipping champagne at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2018, enjoying your celebration and not giving much thought to tomorrow. Suddenly, you notice that there is a large peacock standing beside you. You're not quite sure where it came from, or if the bird is even real. The peacock...