Today I’d like to share a selection of fiction writing prompts from my book, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, which includes 500 fiction prompts plus prompts for writing poetry and creative nonfiction.
Writing prompts are ideal for when you’re feeling uninspired because they provide you with ideas for your writing sessions and projects.
But prompts are also useful for those times when you’re not motivated to write. I’ve found that the sheer act of reading through a few good fiction writing prompts gives me the impetus to stop procrastinating and start writing.
These fiction writing prompts cover a range of genres, including literary, suspense, thriller, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, historical, humor, satire, children’s, and young adult. Read More
Travel and adventure are the themes behind some of the greatest poems ever written and best stories ever told.
Blockbuster movies like the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, TV shows like Lost and Game of Thrones, and books such as Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Peter Pan, or Adventures of Huckleberry Finn all use adventure as a premise for telling a riveting tale.
Today’s creative writing prompts are designed to get you out of the house and away to a far-off place. You can go anywhere you want. Some of these places are fantastical while others can be found on any map. Read More
Some of the best poems and stories ask the age old question, “What if…?”
The phrase “what if?” is a writing prompt in its own right. Pause to contemplate it for a few minutes, and pretty soon, your mind will produce a host of scenarios that engage your imagination and spark plenty of writing ideas.
Today’s writing prompts use the what-if premise to ignite a writing session.
What-If Writing Prompts
The prompts below use “you” as the subject, but you should feel free to insert characters and write fiction. Use these prompts to inspire a poem, a story, a script, or even an essay. Just choose a prompt, think about it for a few minutes, and then start writing! You can sketch ideas, brainstorm characters, or outline a plot. As always, feel free to modify the prompts in whatever way you want.
- What if you woke up naked in a public place?
- What if the police showed up at your door and arrested you for a serious crime, like murder or treason?
- What if someone you loved dearly was injured and in a coma for months?
- What if you won the lottery?
- What if you could blink your eyes and transport yourself to anywhere in the world in a flash?
- What if you could meet any famous person, living or dead?
- What if people encouraged you to run for public office, anything from mayor of your city to president (or prime minister) of your country?
- What if you wrote a book that became a best-seller and had to go on the talk-show circuit?
- What if you went camping or on a nature hike and found a priceless ancient artifact?
- What if you could travel though time? When would you go?
- What if you could become a master at any one skill, overnight?
- What if you had a superpower?
- What if you could find the love of your life but would only be together for one year?
- What if you discovered a family secret that would change everything?
- What if you found a treasure map that would take you all over the world?
- What if aliens landed in your back yard?
- What if you could visit any fantasy world — Never Land, Wonderland, Oz, Narnia, Hogwarts — which would you pick?
- What if you had the opportunity to be a colonist on another planet?
- What if you could solve any world problem — hunger, poverty, war, or disease?
- What if you found out you were having octuplets — eight babies?
- What if you could control your dreams (lucid dreaming) and you could make events occur in the real world simply by dreaming them?
- What if you were the sole survivor of a plane crash or sunken ship and had to live out the remainder of your days on a desert island? What if there were one or two other survivors with you?
- What if you were drafted to fight in a war?
Did these writing prompts spark any ideas? Do you have any what-if prompts to add to this list? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, and keep writing!
Have you ever tried to write comedy? It’s not easy.
Artists are often regarded as a tortured bunch. From drug-addled rock stars to alcohol-infused writers, we’re all known for madness and melancholy.
But comics form the ranks of some of the most talented artists in the world. The gift of laughter is a rich one, and writing funny material can enrich your work.
After all, art must reflect life and life is a balance of highs and lows. So for today’s journal prompts, we’re going to work on humor.
Use these journal prompts to bring a smile — or better yet, a giggle — to someone’s face. Who knows? One of these prompts might lead you to write a hilarious scene for your next short story.
- Write about your favorite comedy film or TV show. Who’s the funniest character? Is the comedy physical, emotional, or intellectual? Why does it appeal to your personal sense of humor?
- Think about someone in your life who always gets a giggle out of you. Can you remember some of the funny things that person has said or done, which made you laugh? Write them down.
- Off-the-wall comedy is silly and ridiculous. How do you feel about slapstick?
- Think back on some embarrassing moments that you’ve experienced, especially ones that invoked laughter. Write those moments as scenes and infuse them with humor.
- Many dramas use comedic relief to add balance and realism. Write about how this is done successfully and the positive impact it has on readers.
When you’re writing, don’t forget about humor. Hopefully these journal prompts will help you keep humor in mind, even if you’re writing a dramatic piece or if humor isn’t your specialty.
And always remember, laughter is good medicine! Keep writing.
Did you find these journal prompts helpful? If you use any of these, share your experience by leaving a comment.
Are you a storyteller? Do you want to be a storyteller?
If you’re interested in writing flash fiction, short stories, or novels, then you’re going to need lots of ideas, especially if you want to write professionally.
Some of us have too many ideas; others don’t have enough ideas. Maybe we have a solid idea for a story, but something’s missing. We need to spice it up by adding subplots or characters. Maybe the setting or story world isn’t rich enough. Perhaps your story lacks theme.
Story starters are a great way to get ideas for writing stories, but they can also be used to generate ideas for improving stories that are already in the works.
Today, I’d like to share twenty-five story starters. You can use these story starters to inspire a new story or to breathe new life into a story you’re already working on. Use them to write whatever you want — flash fiction, short stories, or a novel.
- We all know about conspiracy theorists. They believe the moon landing was a farce. Come up with a new conspiracy that theorists rally around. The public thinks they’re crazy, but are they?
- The world is run by politicians, but sometimes, ordinary people get caught up in political drama and intrigue. What happens when a bike messenger, a waitress, and a daycare teacher get unwillingly sucked into the affairs of state?
- Technology has developed at a splitting speed over the past century. Before we know it, every house will be equipped with a robot and a virtual reality system. But what happens when a couple of kids venture into the wrong area of the virtual reality and get stuck there?
- Witnesses to crimes can find themselves in grave danger, which is why there are protection programs for such persons. But what if the witness decided to join forces with the prime suspect? What does the witness get in exchange for false testimony that acquits a terrible criminal?
- Take a look at the world we live in. In some places, life is pretty good. But in other places, life is difficult for most people, especially where there’s a lot of inequality, poverty, and oppression. What if an oppressive culture used war or the media to spread itself around the globe? What would that look like, and would we ever overcome it?
- After a family moves into a new house, one of the kids looks for a hiding place to stash some secret belongings and discovers a panel at the back of a closet. Assuming it leads to the attic, the kid goes inside only to find that it’s a portal to a world populated with magic and monsters.
- Two politicians are in a heated race to win a critical election (governor, president, etc.) and through negative campaigning have become arch enemies. But their kids go to the same college and have fallen in love. What happens when the relationship is revealed in the media?
- All the evidence in a brutal, premeditated murder points to one primary suspect, including footage from security cameras. The only problem is there’s no motive, and the alleged killer insists on his or her innocence. Who committed this heinous crime?
- While working on a more fuel-efficient space shuttle that will transport tourists to and from the moon, one engineer stumbles into a way to make faster-than-light (FTL) engines a reality.
- A stranger comes to a small town that hasn’t seen a new resident since the town’s youngest child was born sixteen years ago. The stranger rarely leaves his or her formerly abandoned home except to buy groceries and strange supplies from the local home improvement store, and the townspeople think something’s not right.
- Step back in time hundreds — or perhaps thousands — of years. The leader of a small tribe is butting heads with the tribe’s healer. Meanwhile, a powerful neighboring tribe is infiltrating their territory.
- Inspired by Jurassic Park, a biological engineer is committed to recreating dinosaurs. While researching ancient dinosaurs, the scientist stumbles into evidence that fire-breathing dragons once soared over the land and decides to recreate those instead.
- While representing an accused killer, the attorney falls in love with the client, partially because he or she believes the accused is innocent.
- Teenagers love to rebel and experiment. But what happens when one teenager’s antics end up on video and go viral? Bullying and humiliation ensue.
- After working hard for decades, the main character has finally managed to retire and purchase a condo on a small, tropical island, where he or she intends to write a novel. But strange things start happening — things go missing, there are creepy noises, and our character feels like he or she is constantly being watched.
- For centuries, humans have wondered if they are alone in the universe. The answer finally comes when aliens arrive. But it’s a time when tensions are high between the nations of Earth. Will humanity unite, or will some nations form an alliance with the aliens?
- A young couple believes their fairy tale has finally come true and they will live happily ever after. They are recently married, have good jobs, recently bought a home, and there’s a baby on the way. But the fairy tale seems to unravel as secrets and lies begin to surface.
- When a foreign operative embedded in the CIA disappears with loads of government secrets, all hell breaks loose. But is this operative truly a foreign spy, or is it a citizen intent on blowing the cover off government corruption?
- A mid-sized tourist plane crashes on a remote deserted island, leaving all but a handful of survivors. Rescue is on the way until a devastating storm arises, barring access to the island. Now these urbanites have to learn to live off the land and with each other.
- After serving a ten-year sentence for a heinous crime she didn’t commit, a former college student gets a new identity and becomes a private investigator intent on exonerating herself.
- A group of teenagers spends a summer day on a scavenger hunt in the woods just outside of town. When they reconvene to name the winner of the hunt, one of them doesn’t show up and cannot be found.
- When a kid finds out both parents are out of work and the family might have to move in with the grandparents, he or she decides to solve the problem by starting the modern version of a lemonade stand — an online enterprise.
- One couple’s nasty divorce leaves their two young children in the custody of their grandparents. Will the couple put aside their differences to get their children back?
- Dreams come true when a foster child is finally adopted. But the child’s new family is filled with secrets, and he or she begins to suspect that it wasn’t a chance adoption after all.
- The main character receives a strange inheritance from an unknown deceased relative: a key ring with no keys on it. Unusual events occur whenever the key ring is present.
Have you ever used story starters or writing prompts? Where do you find inspiration for writing fiction? Share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment, and keep writing.
Writers are always looking for new ideas. Sometimes we look so far and wide for inspiration that we’re oblivious to what’s right in front of us.
They say, “You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.” In life, we are presented with many choices, but family is not one of them. It’s pretty much luck of the draw.
That’s why family provides excellent inspiration for writing.
Poetry prompts are a great way to do a little writing when you’re not feeling particularly inspired. The prompts provide the subject matter and a few, choice words. Below, you’ll find four lists of words. Each list focuses on a single topic. You can use these poetry prompts in any of the following ways:
- Choose one list of poetry prompts and write a poem using all the words in the list.
- Write four separate poems, each based on one of the lists.
- Mix and match random words from the lists to write a single poem.
- Write one poem using all the poetry prompts from all the lists.
- Bonus: Write a form poem (sonnet, haiku, etc.) using any of the words from the lists.
Writing a poem using prompts is a helpful exercise. To take it a step further, set your completed poem aside and come back to it the following day. Spend some time revising and polishing it. Delete any unnecessary words and make sure the poem contains images that readers can easily visualize. If you wrote a poem in form, check that you’ve adhered to the rules of the form. When you feel the poem is complete, add it to your pile of finished writing projects and think about submitting it to a poetry publication.
|Womb||Roots||Brother / Sister||Adorable|
Feel free to add to these lists by leaving a comment. Of course, each of us can come up with a host of additional words about our own families, many of which would be entirely subjective. I’ve tried to keep the lists fairly general, but as you prepare to write a poem based on these prompts, feel free to add your own words to the lists.
Discover and Share
Once your poem is completed, come back and share your thoughts about using these poetry prompts. Did you find the process easy or challenging? Which list(s) did you use? Did you polish your poem? If you’d like to share your poem, you can post it in the comments or include a link to it.
Keep writing poetry!
The biggest selling books in the world are nonfiction and children’s books, but in the adult fiction categories, romance tops the list, outselling every other genre. And romance readers are voracious — I’ve heard that many romance readers consume a book a day.
The main rule of the romance genre is the happy ending. These stories tend to conclude with a couple figuratively walking into the sunset, hand-in-hand.
But not all real-life or fictional love stories end with a happy couple. Romeo and Juliet immediately springs to mind as a love story with a tragic ending. Even though it’s a wildly romantic tale, we’d never put it in the romance category because it doesn’t have the requisite happy ending.
I have to admit, I think it’s sort of bizarre that we’ve created an entire genre of storytelling where the ending is basically guaranteed. But many romance novels aren’t exclusively about romance. Cross-genre stories meld romance with science fiction or fantasy, and historical romances have always been popular. Some of these work very well because there’s there’s another plot running alongside the romance, and we don’t know how that secondary plot is going to end.
Amorous Fiction Writing Prompts
Today’s fiction writing prompts are designed to spark ideas for writing either a romance or a love story. Some of these prompts encourage you cross genres.
- Two characters are at odds with each other because they want the same thing, but only one of them can have it. The thing they want could be a job, winning a contest or sporting event, or they could be on separate quests for a priceless artifact. How do these two end up falling in love, and how does the competition affect their romance?
- Explore a relationship between two people who are married for some reason other than love. Maybe they were in love when they married but now they’re not. Maybe they’re in an arranged marriage. Maybe they married for practical reasons, such as merging two kingdoms or a shared political or business goal.
- Write a story about a human character falling in love with an alien or magical creature that is not human.
- The idea of casting a love spell on someone is unethical because it takes away that person’s free will. The love is therefore not real. Write a story about a character who casts a love spell on another character.
- What happens when characters who are mortal enemies fall in love?
- They say love is blind, and it makes people do strange things. Write about a character who is blinded by love or who does strange or dangerous things for the object of his or her desire.
- Write about a relationship that is genuine and passionate but doesn’t work out in the end, either because tragedy strikes or because circumstances separate the characters and they cannot be together.
- In biblical times, men had many wives and most marriages were arranged. Use time travel to develop a story that depicts how love, romance, and marriage have changed throughout the centuries.
- Love and fear: two emotions that contradict each other. Love should be safe and warm, everything that fear is not. But what happens when two people who are in love find themselves facing a devastating, life-threatening danger? Do they ultimately fend for themselves or risk their safety for each other?
- Write a story that examines traditional gender roles within a marriage. Traditionally, women stayed home to tend to the home and children while men were the breadwinners. What does it look like when a couple bucks these traditional roles? What if one or both wants a traditional marriage but circumstances prevent them from achieving that (maybe the woman earns more than the man, and they need her income)? What if one or both does not want a traditional marriage (maybe the man wants to tend to the home)?
I hope you enjoyed these fiction writing prompts for crafting romance and love stories. Let us know how these worked out for you by leaving a comment, and keep writing!
“Ssh, don’t tell anyone. Put it in the vault!”
Most of us have had those very words whispered into our ears. In fact, most of us have probably whispered those words into someone else’s ear.
They say everyone has a secret. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that secrets sure pique people’s curiosity.
And if you can capture a reader’s curiosity, you’ll have them hooked.
That’s the essence of today’s fiction writing prompts.
The Power of Secrets
Don’t your ears perk up just a little bit when you hear the word secret? And don’t you get all quiet and attentive when someone says, “I have a secret to tell you?” Secrets are powerful. They imply mystery and drama; they evoke suspense and build tension; and they capture people’s attention. Most importantly, they keep readers turning the pages.
Secrets can be integral to a plot, but usually the secrets belong exclusively to characters. In fact, sometimes a secret will shape a character’s personality. How would keeping a secret for decades impact a person’s behavior? What kind of secret would weigh on someone’s conscience? How do the other characters view someone who can’t keep a secret?
There are big secrets and little secrets, important ones and silly ones. Some secrets are cliché (she had a baby and gave it up for adoption) and others are funny (one time, at band camp…).
The best secrets are surprising. I’m not talking about the sitcom variety of the overheard misunderstanding, where one character overhears another and gets the wrong idea. I’m talking about secrets that, when revealed, make readers’ jaws drop.
Secretive Fiction Writing Prompts
Think about the secrets in books like The Da Vinci Code or in films like The Usual Suspects — secrets that shock you or make you think about the world in new ways. Try to come up with some interesting secrets for your fiction. Use the fiction writing prompts below to write a scene, a whole story, or to come up with some really great character traits or plot twists.
- A character is harboring a secret that is preventing him or her from fulfilling a true desire.
- Two characters share a secret, but it’s not what everyone thinks it is.
- It’s an old family secret, and there’s only one person alive who knows about it. Will he or she take it to the grave?
- There’s a secret and everyone knows about it except one particular character and it happens to affect that character the most.
- There is a small group of people who meet in secret at regular intervals.
- A character has a secret, and if anyone found out, it would destroy his or her life.
- One character discovers another character’s shocking, sad, or terrible secret.
- A character thinks he or she has a very private secret, but most of the people close to him or her know about it.
- A character knows a secret that would destroy one person’s life but save the life of another person.
- There is a secret that would affect everyone on the planet, but only a small, elite group of characters know about it.
Tips for Writing Secrets Into Your Fiction
Writing secrets into your story can make it a lot more exciting, and you can conjure up secrets whenever a character seems flat or the plot is thinning out. But you have to be careful with secrets. Here are a few final tips for writing secrets into your fiction:
- Avoid common or stereotypical secrets unless you can give them a really intriguing twist. Examples: sordid affairs, the family member you never knew you had, the person who went to prison but didn’t commit the crime, etc.
- Usually, the audience gets in on the secret before a key character does, but don’t let it out too early. If you can, reveal the secret over time and make it a guessing game for the reader to figure out.
- If you build a lot of tension, you better have a secret that delivers. There’s nothing worse than a lot of buildup for something like “I’m the one who broke your favorite snow globe in second grade.” Try to come up with a real doozy.
Tell Me Your Secrets
If you have any secrets (real or made up), feel free to leave them in the comments, or post a secret from a novel or a film that you thought was especially clever.
Have fun with today’s top secret fiction writing prompts (how could you not?), and keep writing!
If you have any fiction writing prompts to share, feel free to post them in the comments.
Fears. We all have them, and we all have to face them sooner or later.
Some people are plagued with fears that interfere with their ability to live a normal and healthy life. Others dance around their fears, cleverly avoiding those things that give them a nervous twitch. Still more people simply live day to day with minor, almost meaningless fears that are a source of mild irritation.
But how often do we sit down and ask ourselves what am I truly afraid of and why?
Today’s journal prompts might not get you over your fears, but they will certainly make you more aware of them and how they might be benefiting you or holding you back.
Fear and Courage
It’s important to note that fears are vast and numerous. Some fears seem rather silly, such as fear of tiny spiders. Others are somewhat reasonable, like fear of war or death. And there are many more fears in between — fears that are rational, irrational, dangerous, or helpful.
You could boil all fears down into two types: those that protect us and those that inhibit us.
The fears that protect us keep us safe from danger. When you’re walking alone down a dark street and hear a rustle in some nearby bushes, your fear might prompt you to cross to the other side of the street. Fears like these keep us safe, so we should heed them.
But the other fears — the ones that inhibit us — those are the ones that we can work on eliminating. We can identify them, analyze them, and finally, dismiss them and move past with a brave smile — the smile of victory.
Today’s journal prompts ask you to examine your fears. You don’t need to face them (yet). You just need to identify them and ask yourself a few questions about why you’ve acquired them and how they affect your life and your goals.
This exercise might make you a little nervous, depending on how deep your fears run and how willing you are to dig within yourself to unearth the smallest or greatest of your fears.
- What are five things that make you nervous or uncomfortable?
- What is it about each of those five things that bothers you?
- Where does this discomfort come from?
- Write down one thing that truly terrifies you. Is it keeping you safe or preventing you from living the life you want?
- How likely is it that you will encounter this thing?
- Why are you so frightened of this thing?
- If you did encounter this thing, what would happen next?
Try to put on a brave face as you work through these journal prompts. Good luck, be brave, and keep writing!
Got any ideas for more journal prompts? Post them in the comments!
There are many sources of inspiration in the universe but perhaps none as potent or pervasive as the people who inhabit it.
Naturally, we’re all greatly impacted by other people, so it stands to reason that they would inspire, inform, and ultimately, appear in our writing.
The people with whom we have relationships affect us emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Whether it’s a lover, child, friend, stranger, or nemesis, other people provide compelling and meaningful inspiration for our writing.
Today’s writing prompts are designed to help you think about the people who have impacted your life. You can use these prompts in any way that feels comfortable for you. Write a poem, a story, an essay, or a private journal entry. Let the words flow, and try to connect emotionally with whatever you’re writing.
- They say it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Who have you loved and lost?
- Too often, writers are more motivated by heartache than by joy (all those broken-hearted poems and love songs!). Write about a love that is not stained by pain, betrayal, or heartbreak — one that is happy and healthy.
- Then again, heartbreak is part of life and often full of many lessons. It is worth writing about.
- Some relationships aren’t simple enough to be classified as painful or joyous. Writing about a complex relationship is…well, complex. Give it a shot.
- It’s possible to have a relationship with someone you’ve never met — a historical figure, a hero, maybe even a fictional character. Many people these days also have relationships (of sorts) with celebrities they admire (leaders and entertainers, for examples).
- Most of us have had an enemy of some kind, whether it was a bully on the playground, a nasty co-worker, or someone who caused us or our loved ones great pain and suffering. These people make great models for villains in our stories.
- Have you ever encountered a stranger who roused your curiosity? Not someone you found attractive, just a person who drew your attention. If you never had the chance to get to know that stranger, you’ll have to use your imagination.
Did you find these writing prompts helpful? Which did you choose? What did you write? Have you ever used writing prompts to inspire writing sessions? Leave a comment, and keep writing!