Writing Prompts

It’s normal for writers of all levels to occasionally feel writer’s block. Sometimes we simply lack inspiration and our thoughts are just not turning into words.

Writing prompts are a great tool to tackle that mental and creative hurdle. They’re also great with helping you make writing a habit.

What is a Writing Prompt?

By definition, a prompt is a brief text that provides you with a topic around which you can build your ideas. Prompts take many forms: a short phrase, a paragraph, a picture, or even a single word. They can help you develop your original idea or inspire you with a completely new topic. Do not be afraid of challenging yourself and your writing style on any possible occasion – your written work will benefit in the long run.

Examples of Writing Prompts

Check out these 20 writing prompts and use them to kickstart your imagination. As you pick one, do not worry about what ideas come to your mind or whether what you have written is “good”. The purpose is to just get into the habit of writing. You can always polish it later on if you want.

  1. It was the first cold day of the year.
  2. He had not seen her since High School graduation.
  3. The city burned, fire and smoke filling the air.
  4. Silk.
  5. She studied her face in the mirror.
  6. The smell of freshly cut flowers.
  7. She came back every year to lay flowers at the feet of the statue.
  8. The streets were empty. Where had everyone disappeared?
  9. This time her co-worker had gone too far.
  10. Red eyes.
  11. Stars blazed in the night sky.
  12. He woke to birdsong.
  13. ‘Shh! Hear that?’ ‘I didn’t hear anything.’
  14. He had always loved public speaking.
  15. She woke, sweating, in the dark of the night.
  16. The garden was overgrown now.
  17. He had never noticed a door there before.
  18. She would have to ask for a ride back.
  19. ‘I told him not to come back!’
  20. His feet were already numb. He should have listened.

Targeted Writing Prompts

Now you that have a clear idea of what basic prompts may look like, we can begin to discuss the importance and benefit of using targeted writing prompts. Targeted prompts are those which aim your short story or novel in a targeted direction, whether that be around a theme, genre, or perspective

Targeting your prompts can hone your writing skills to fit different genres. Additionally, many writers find that using different genres of prompts can kickstart their short story ideas and break away any existing writer’s block.

Let’s take a look at what some more targeted creative writing prompts may look like, specifically separating prompts by use or genre.

Fantasy Writing 

  1. A wishing well becomes a portal to a mysterious place. 
  2. You are able to make a new wish every single day
  3. Tired of your fantasy world, you seek a more monotonous planet

Sci-Fi Writing 

  1. After looking into a telescope, you see a group of new planets that look strangely like Earth. 
  2. An astronaut wakes up on a desert island, unsure of what planet who truly is on. 
  3. Video games were never supposed to be this real. 

Romance Writing 

  1. two lovers come together in a new time period
  2. an old friend appears at your front door
  3. You find an old letter hidden within a pen

​Old poems seem to be hiding a secret message.

Horror Stories

  1. Everybody else is wasting their time with their useless hobbies. You prefer a more meaningful skill: murder. 
  2. After waking up in an unfamiliar backyard, you begin to question if you are a human or alien
  3. Gaining a magical power wasn’t at good asit seemed. 
  4. Nobody knew that a simple journal entry would unleash the monster
  5. horror writer seeks to create a new genre of literature; one they will regret forever. 

Other Related Resources

You can find numerous sources of writing prompts online. Below are a few sites that provide them:

How To Make Your Own Writing Prompts

You can find inspiration for writing prompts on your own as well: snatches of overheard conversation, headlines, signs, words picked from a book can give you inspiration for your work. Always keep an eye out for words and phrases that fire your imagination, jot them down, and use them to spark your creativity. They may take you to some fantastic places.

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By Ryan Fisher

Ryan holds degrees from Pacific Lutheran University and specializes in proofreading, editing, and content writing with an emphasis on business communication.

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