Young adult literature is one of the most exciting genres in fiction. Young people are bright, bold, and open-minded. More importantly, they are going to shape the future. What they read matters.
Young adult books like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Outsiders, and Lord of the Flies tell entertaining stories populated with compelling characters, but these stories also highlight important social questions and issues.
And who can forget what is possibly the oldest and most famous young adult story in Western culture: Romeo and Juliet, the classic tale of two star-crossed lovers who are destined for tragedy?
When I was a teenager, my favorite movie was The Breakfast Club. To this day, I think it’s one of the most brilliant films ever made. People often mock me when I say that. How could a movie about a bunch of teenagers spending the day in detention be brilliant, or even important, for that matter? But the film is not just about a bunch of teenagers.
It’s about what it means to be human. It’s about how we are more alike than we are different. And it’s about how we treat each other. It’s about class and culture, the haves and the have-nots, and at its heart, it’s about personal growth and how our interactions with others shape who we become. And it’s a story for and about young adults. Read more
Sometimes it’s hard to start a new writing project. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by too many ideas and can’t decide which one to tackle. Or maybe you’re searching for the right idea, something to spark your imagination and inspire your next story.
Fiction writing prompts are an excellent source of inspiration. They’re useful for generating new ideas, but they can also help you make breakthroughs in projects you’re already working on. If you’re stuck on a scene or chapter, you might find a fiction writing prompt that offers the seed of an idea to help you push your story forward. Read more
Fiction writing prompts are a great way to stimulate creativity when you’re in the mood to do a little writing but need some fresh story ideas.
Prompts and other creative writing exercises can trigger your imagination. Sometimes, prompts and exercises help you come up with new ideas for projects you’re already working on, and other times, they give you ideas for projects you haven’t started yet. They’re also a great source of motivation.
10 Fiction Writing Prompts
The fiction writing prompts below are story starters. Try starting the first sentence of a new piece with one of the prompts and run with it, or write a story that includes one of the prompts somewhere in the text. As an alternative, use the prompts to generate story ideas and plan a story around a prompt (you don’t have to include the actual prompt anywhere in the story). You can even use one of the prompts as the final sentence in a story and use your imagination to fill in what happens leading up to it. Read more
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 fresh 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.
Fiction Writing Prompts
Using the prompts is simple. Just choose a prompt that resonates with you and start writing. There are no rules. You can write a short story, a novel, or an outline. Want to write a story with lots subplots? Choose two or three prompts and weave them together in a single story.
- There’s an old man sitting in a rickety wooden chair, fishing through a hole in the ice on a frozen lake. A loud cracking sound reverberates across the lake’s surface, and he feels the ice shift beneath him. He scurries, but the hole expands too quickly, and he goes into the icy water. What happens next?
- When his or her commanding officer is found dead, one young soldier goes AWOL and launches a personal investigation to find out who did it.
- At the height of human technological development, a special child is born who can communicate telepathically with computers and other mechanical and electronic devices.
- Two ambitious coworkers want the same promotion, and they’re both willing to do just about anything to get it. Then they fall in love. Does the competition heat up or die down? Will their romance survive office politics?
- Choose a period of history and a place that interests you, and write a multi-generational saga about a family that lived during that era.
- Write a comedy about a rural, salt-of-the-earth family moving to a big city and trying to get along with city folk who are sophisticated and refined.
- While shopping in a department store during the holidays, a child is separated from his or her parents and discovers a portal to a winter wonderland.
- When marriage becomes a living hell, the protagonist attempts to kill his or her spouse by bringing on depression and encouraging overeating and other unhealthy lifestyle choices.
- Scientists discover that the galaxy itself is a living organism.
- In the 1970s, someone started putting rocks in boxes and selling them as Pet Rocks, complete with care and training manuals. The business made millions. Write a story about an inventor or businessperson who comes up with a ridiculous product.
- Children love to pretend and play grown-up. Write a story about a child playing grown-up and pretending to have a particular career: teacher, veterinarian, artist, etc.
- In the midst of a natural disaster, a classroom is locked down and everyone inside is trapped until they are rescued three days later.
Did any of these fiction writing prompts inspire or motivate you? Do you have any fiction prompts to share? Leave a comment!
Animals have played a huge role in literature throughout history. They appear in poems and stories, and plenty of nonfiction works have been written about animals and humans’ experiences with animals.
And it’s no wonder. We humans have forged strong bonds with animals. Our pets are like family members. In fact, Americans spend $41 billion dollars a year on their animal companions (source). Billions more are donated to wildlife preservation, animal welfare advocacy, and conservation efforts.
Naturally, animals fit comfortably into the stories we tell. Today’s creative writing prompts pay homage to our animal friends by inspiring a writing session that features animals.
Creative Writing Prompts to Honor the Animals
Below, you’ll find a series of creative writing prompts. Each one sets a scene. Your challenge is to bring that scene to life by writing about it. Turn it into a short story, a poem, a play, or an essay. Write anything you want (if you can’t decide what to write, then do a freewrite).
- A mama cat gives birth to a litter of five orange tabbies and one little gray runt.
- A young man on his first hunting trip has a deer in his sight and suddenly remembers the day his dad took him to see Bambi.
- A school of dolphins is too trusting and approaches a boat whose crew is intent on capturing the dolphins and bringing them to a theme park for a swim-with-the-dolphins attraction.
- A bird and squirrel live together in the same tree (like the odd couple).
- Two children, a brother and sister, respectively capture a butterfly and a moth, then proceed to argue over which insect is superior.
Make up Your Own Creative Writing Prompts
Feel free to make up your own animal-related creative writing prompts and leave them in the comments.
If you use any of these creative writing prompts to spark a writing session, come back and tell us how they worked for you. What did you write? Did you learn anything new? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment. And keep writing.
Some of today’s writing prompts appear in the book 1200 Creative Writing Prompts. For more inspiring and motivating writing prompts, pick up a copy today.
Today I’d like to share a few excerpts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, which is packed with fiction, poetry, and nonfiction writing prompts.
1200 Creative Writing Prompts will be the final book in the Adventures in Writing series. It’s the leanest book in the series with a short introduction and three lists of prompts separated into fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. There isn’t any technique or instruction–just a straightforward collection of prompts so you can get started writing.
Today’s post features an excerpt from the introduction and a selection of five prompts from each section.
Excerpts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts
Have you ever wanted to write but weren’t sure where to begin? Maybe you wanted to write a story, but you couldn’t think of a plot. Maybe you wanted to write an essay or an article, but you couldn’t think of a subject to write about. Maybe you wanted to write a poem, but you couldn’t find the words.
Writing prompts provide helpful starting points when you’re not sure what to write. Give the prompts below a try and see what happens:
Fiction Writing Prompts
- While at summer camp over a decade ago, five teenagers’ lives became irrevocably intertwined. Now their paths have crossed again, and they must all come to terms with what happened that summer.
- Someone is sitting on a park bench reading a news article about a recent string of crimes. This person knows who did it.
- As passengers disembark from a transatlantic flight, they start to experience amnesia—all of the passengers except one. The farther they go from the plane, the more severe their amnesia becomes. Will they risk forgetting everything?
- A writer loses the ability to distinguish reality from the fantastical worlds of his or her stories.
- The protagonist is obsessed with serial killers and decides to make a documentary film reenacting their most horrific crimes.
Poetry Writing Prompts
- Write a descriptive poem about a banana split: three scoops of ice cream with banana halves on either side and a big mound of whipped cream on top laced with chocolate sauce and sprinkled with chopped nuts—all topped off with a plump red cherry.
- Use all of the following words in a poem: tapestry, sings, eye, din, collide, slippery, fantasy, casting, chameleon, lives.
- Write a poem about somebody who betrayed you, or write a poem about betrayal.
- Write a poem using the following image: a smashed flower on the sidewalk.
- The hallmark of great poetry is imagery. A truly compelling poem paints a picture and invites the reader into a vivid scene. Choose an image or scene from one of your favorite poems and write a poem of your own based on that image.
Creative Nonfiction Writing Prompts
- Write about someone you admire from afar—a public figure or celebrity.
- Revisit your earliest memories of learning about faith, religion, or spirituality.
- Write a how-to article about a task, activity, or project you’ve learned to complete through practical experience in your career.
- Have you ever had déjà vu—the strange sense that you’ve experienced something before? Write a personal essay about it.
- What is the number-one goal you want to achieve as a writer? To reach your main writing goal, what do you need to do?
1200 Creative Writing Prompts is Coming Next Month!
Stay tuned for details on the release of 1200 Creative Writing Prompts. If you tackle any of these prompts, feel free to share an excerpt in the comments, or leave a creative writing prompt of your own, and keep writing!
Most authors agree that fiction is primarily driven by characters. Successful authors talk about characters who take over the story, who have their own separate and independent consciousnesses. Outlines and plans for plot go out the window as characters insist on moving the story in a direction of their own design.
Because characters are central to most stories and because their primary function is to explore the human condition, it’s essential for characters to be believable. In other words, characters may not be real, but they most certainly should feel real.
It’s not easy to write believable and realistic characters. People (and therefore characters) are highly complex and layered, full of contradictions and flaws. Because writing imposes space-time limitations, we can never craft a character that is as complicated as a real person, but we can certainly try.
Today’s creative writing prompts encourage you to explore the characters in your writing. By working outside of your project on a series of exercises that force you to explore and engage with your characters, you will get to know them better. You’ll also get to use techniques for creating characters that have depth and dimension.
Creative Writing Prompts
These creative writing prompts are broken into various categories. You can mix and match the prompts according to which ones are most attractive to you or choose the ones you think will help resolve character problems that you’re struggling with.
Feel free to let these character-related writing prompts inspire new prompts–in other words, you don’t have to write exactly what the prompt says. One set of prompts deals with character fears and flaws. These might inspire you to write about your character’s strengths and virtues.
Be creative, have fun, and keep writing!
Background and Family
- Unearth your character’s roots. What is the character’s ancestry or cultural background? How does ancestry shape your character? Is the character at odds with family traditions?
- Write a series of short paragraphical biographies of each of the character’s closest family members: spouse, children, parents, grandparents, siblings, close friends, etc.
- Write a monologue in which your character summarizes his or her life story; be sure to write it in the character’s voice.
Motivations and Goals
- What motivates your character? Money? Love? Truth? Power? Justice?
- What does your character want more than anything else in the world? What is he or she searching for?
- What other characters or events are interfering with your character’s goals? What obstacles are in the way?
Flaws and Fears
- What is your character’s single greatest fear? How did your character acquire his or her fears?
- What are your character’s flaws and weaknesses?
- How does the character’s fears and flaws prevent them from reaching their goals?
- What does your character look like? Make a list and include the following: hair, eyes, height, weight, build, etc.
- Now choose one aspect of the character’s appearance, a detail (bitten nails, frizzy hair, a scar) and elaborate on it.
- Write a short scene in which your character is looking in the mirror or write a short scene in which another character first sees your character.
- How does your character feel on the inside? What kind of person is your character and what does the character’s internal landscape look like?
- We don’t always present ourselves to others in a way that accurately reflects how we feel inside. We might be shy or insecure but come across as stuck-up and aloof. How do others perceive your character?
- Write a scene with dialogue that reveals your character’s external and internal personalities. Good settings for this dialogue would be an interview, appointment with a therapist, or a conversation with a romantic interest or close friend. Write the scene in third-person omniscient so you can get inside your character’s head as well as the other character’s head; this will allow you explore how your character feels and how he or she is perceived.
If you tackle these creative writing prompts, come back and tell us how they worked for you. What did you write? Did you learn anything new about your character or how to write about your character? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
There’s nothing quite like sitting with a room full of strangers in a darkened movie theater. The air is filled with the smell of hot, buttered popcorn. Feet shuffle, chairs creak, and you can hear ice rattling around in plastic cups. The movie’s about to start.
Even though we have unlimited access to movies from the comfort of our homes, theaters are still going strong, and for good reason. Seeing a movie in a theater is an experience.
Films have impassioned and inspired countless writers to craft poems, compose stories and songs, and write articles, essays, and even blogs. Today, let’s find out how the movies can inspire your writing.
You can use these writing prompts to write anything you want. Change them up or switch them around. Use one or use them all. Just have fun.
- It’s your all-time favorite movie. You know the one. You’ve seen it a million times and you can recite the dialogue by heart. You stop to watch it whenever it’s on, and just thinking about it makes you want to go watch it again right now. Now, imagine you are your favorite character in that movie.
- Indiana Jones carried a whip. Luke Skywalker had a lightsaber. Robin Hood–he had a crossbow. In your adventure story, what is the weapon of choice? How is it used? Who possesses these weapons?
- It all started in an old, abandoned movie theater…
- What if every moment of your life was on film, as seen from your own eyes? What if the camera’s perspective was pointed at you at all times?
- Some of the greatest books have been brought to life by filmmakers. But they say the book is always better than the movie. Is that true? Are there exceptions? Write about adaptations.
Choose the writing prompts that speak to you the most. Once you’re done, come back and tell us how these prompts worked for you.
Do you ever use writing prompts for your writing sessions? Have you found them helpful? Got any writing prompts of your own to share? Leave a comment!
Creative writing prompts are excellent tools for writers who are feeling uninspired or who simply want to tackle a new writing challenge. Today’s creative writing prompts focus on nature.
For centuries, writers have been composing poems that celebrate nature, stories that explore it, and essays that analyze it.
Nature is a huge source of inspiration for all creative people. You can find it heavily featured in film, television, art, and music.
Creative Writing Prompts
You can use these creative writing prompts in any way you choose. Sketch a scene, write a poem, draft a story, or compose an essay. The purpose of these prompts is to inspire you, so take the images they bring to your mind and run with them. And have fun!
- A young girl and her mother walk to the edge of a field, kneel down in the grass, and plant a tree.
- A small team of graduate students are conducting research at sea when they are overtaken by a wild storm.
- A middle-aged man wakes up in a seemingly endless field of wildflowers in full bloom.
- A family of five from a large, urban city decides to spend their one-week vacation camping.
- An elderly couple traveling through the desert spend an evening stargazing.
- A woman is working in her garden.
- Some people are hiking in the woods when they are suddenly surrounded by hundreds of butterflies.
- A person who lives in a metropolitan apartment connects with nature through the birds that come to the window.
- A group of college students launch a project to grow their own food so they can eat healthier and be closer to nature.
- A rural family moves into a big city, or
- A city family moves to the country.
- Two adolescents, a sister and brother, are visiting their relatives’ farm and witness a sow giving birth.
As you work through these prompts, contemplate them as scenes and ask questions about what is going on. Give the people and places names. Come up with unexpected reasons why the people are in the given circumstance. Let nature be a character in the scene by making it vivid and active.
Again, you can use these creative writing prompts to write anything at all–poems, stories, songs, essays, blog posts, or just sit down and start freewriting.
Stories and poems for children are among the most magical and delightful written works in the literary canon.
Children’s literature has a universal appeal; the phenomenal international popularity of the Harry Potter books and movies is a testament to the power of children’s stories.
But there plenty of other works that affirm the longevity of children’s literature: nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and classics such as Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, and everything Dr. Seuss ever wrote.
Most of us writers first fell in love with the written word when we were children. Stories carried us on fantastical adventures. Words danced and soared through our imaginations. Many of us never grew out of the poems and stories we first cherished. We continue to enjoy them, and we pass them on to our children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
Today’s writing prompts celebrate children’s literature and pay tribute to the young and the young at heart.
These writing prompts are filled with childlike wonder. Use them to write a poem, a story, or anything else that comes to mind.
- Mythological Creatures
- Dragons, unicorns, fairies, and mermaids. Trolls, goblins, and things that go bump in the night. Lore, legend, and myth are heavily populated with mythological beasts and creatures.
- Maybe a character in your story discovers and befriends a legendary creature. Or maybe one of these creatures is the main character in your story. Better yet, invent a mythological creature of your own.
- Magic Portals
- Alice went down the rabbit hole and found herself in Wonderland. Lucy stepped through the wardrobe and into Narnia. Wendy, John, and Michael were sprinkled with pixie dust, which enabled them to fly off to Neverland. All great adventures begin somewhere, and some of the best stories start out in the ordinary world and then take readers through a portal to a fantastically magical place.
- How do your characters get from one world to another? Create your own magic portal, and then, if the mood strikes, build the fantastical world beyond.
- Silly Nonsense
- The nonsense of writers like Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein is a wonder to behold. What is it about their stories and poems that delight children? Much of their work defies logic and is purely nonsensical. But it is riddled with wondrous images and language that rolls off the tongue like music.
- Forget about the laws of physics and the rules of the real world. Write a bit of silly nonsense in prose or verse. Fill it with unusual but mesmerizing characters and images and try to make it rhyme!
- Loving Lessons
- Children’s literature is often full of simple, useful lessons. But presenting a lesson without sounding preachy, whiny, or nagging is anything but easy. These stories have to be fun and intriguing, and the best lessons are not immediately obvious.
- Think of a lesson or value that you’d like to impart to children, then build a story around it. Better yet, just write a story for children and see if holds a message within it.
- Nursery rhymes like “Hey Diddle Diddle” and “Ring Around the Rosie” have captivated children for centuries. They are often nonsensical and always easy to remember and fun to sing.
- Write a nursery rhyme from scratch. If you get stuck, use an existing nursery rhyme for your rhythm and meter, and then make up new words for it.
Some Tips for Using These Writing Prompts:
- Children’s writing uses simple language and made-up words.
- Nothing speaks to children like bright, vivid images and lively characters.
- Use rhyme and other musical devices and choose words that are fun to say.
Do you still read children’s poems and stories? Do you remember the ones you loved best as a child? Have you ever tried writing for kids? Do these writing prompts inspire you? Share your thoughts in the comments, and keep writing!
How would people in the Middle Ages respond to a television? What would someone from the 1700s think of a helicopter? What would a person from the early twentieth century think of a computer, or more specifically, the Internet?
They would think these things were magical–either illusions or genuine supernatural occurrences. They might even believe the persons yielding the magical objects were witches, wizards, or gods.
But you and I both know that’s not the case. Televisions, helicopters, and computers are all very real, and thanks to modern technology, most of us have access to them.
We humans have a tendency to believe that we are at the apex of knowledge–that right now, we know as much as we ever will. As much as we love stories like The Time Traveler’s Wife or Star Wars, we tend to think of them as fanciful. Sure, a great writer or a skilled filmmaker can help us suspend our disbelief for the duration of a book or a film, but sitting in your living room on an ordinary day, it all seems rather unlikely, doesn’t it? People bouncing around in time? Fighting intergalactic wars in outer space? Come on.
But if you stop to wonder what our world will look like 100 or 1000 years in the future, these fantastical ideas don’t seem so crazy. What incredible inventions will be developed over the course of the next millennium? Today’s creative writing prompts are one way to find out.
Creative Writing Prompts
These writing prompts are designed to flex your imagination. You’ll need to envision what the world looked like in the past, what it looks like today, and what it might look like in the distant future.
You can use these creative writing prompts to write anything you want–a poem, story, personal essay, or just a brief scene. The goal is to engage your imagination, remove barriers that block all the possibilities, and open your mind.
Some of humankind’s greatest achievements have been in medicine. We now use all the technologies at our disposal to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness–from pills and vaccines to x-rays and MRIs. From a device as simple as a stethascope to one as complex as microscope, we’ve made wellness possible in ways that couldn’t have been imagined a few hundred years ago. What is yet to come? How will health care change in the future? Will we walk through a machine that scans our bodies to detect any possible ailment? Will there be a heal-all pill? And for each advance we make, will another new devastating disease rear its head?
Advances in travel are awe-inspiring. There was a time when humans were limited to travel by foot. Then came the wheel, which made the cart possible. Later, ships carried people across water. Eventually, trains made high-speed, long-distance travel possible. Next, the airplane. Then, spaceships took us higher and submarines took us deeper. Where will we go next? Will intergalactic travel ever be possible? What about teleportation? Time travel? A thousand years ago, it’s doubtful most people believed traveling to the moon was possible. Where will we go a thousand years from now?
Technology has grown rampantly in the past few decades. Since the 70s, almost all households in developed countries are equipped with more than one television, stereo, and computer. We can store an entire libary of books, movies, and music on a device that fits in the palms of our hands. Two hundred years ago, if you wanted to talk to someone, you had to go to their house. Fifty years ago, you had to find a phone and dial their number. Today, you reach into your pocket, pull out your device, and press a button. How will personal technology further advance in the next 100 years?
As you work through these creative writing prompts, you might get stuck. After all, it’s not easy for everyone to imagine things that don’t exist yet. It might help if you can summon your old history lessons. If you can conceptualize where we’ve been and contrast it with where we are now, you might start getting ideas about where we’ll be at some point in the future.
Run with your ideas, even if they seem crazy, absurd, or impossible. The purpose is to let your imagination run wild and to have fun.
Once you’re done, come back and tell us how these creative writing prompts affected your writing session. What did you write? Was it fun to explore the future? Will you keep writing?
Poetry is the most under-appreciated form of writing in the world today. Yet poems are ever-present in our lives. As children, we learn rhythm and language from nursery rhymes, and poems are read aloud at most major life events: baptisms, graduations, weddings, presidential inaugurations, and funerals, to name a few.
Today’s writing prompts are inspired by poetry but that doesn’t mean they have to inspire a poem. Use them to write anything you want: a short story, a blog post, a journal entry, or a freewrite. You might even try writing a song, keeping in mind that song lyrics are a type of poetry in their own right.
Some of these writing prompts require that you use an existing poem. Your poem choice can be a nursery rhyme, a Dr. Seuss story, or song lyrics. Be open and creative, and have fun!
- The hallmark of great poetry is its imagery. A truly compelling poem paints a picture and invites the reader into a vivid and realistic scene. Choose an image or scene from one of your favorite poems and start writing.
- One of the most famous poems in the English language is “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” a lengthy ode to a favorite holiday. What’s your favorite holiday and why?
- Not all poems rhyme, but many do. And song lyrics often rhyme too. Other types of writing may incorporate less obvious rhymes. Give rhyming a shot.
- Some poems are more than just poems. They tell stories. “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is one example. Shakespeare’s plays are another. Try writing a poem that is also a story, play, or essay. Or try writing a story or essay that is also a poem.
- Read your favorite poem and take a few minutes to contemplate it. Then, write something about the poem. Why do you love it? How does it make you feel? What makes this poem so special to you?
Choose whichever writing prompts speak to you the most. Once you’re done, come back and tell us how it worked out. And keep writing!
Do you ever use writing prompts to inspire a writing session? Have you found them helpful? Got any writing prompts of your own to share? Leave a comment!