We all want our writing to be compelling, even mesmerizing. One effective way to captivate readers is to engage their senses.
When you trigger a reader’s sense of sight, smell, sound, touch, or taste, you illicit a physiological response to your writing, and the reader will connect with it on a deeper, sensory level.
Food is a great way to stimulate readers’ senses because food has the rare ability to affect any or all of the senses. We see food, smell it, touch it, and taste it. We even hear it. Just think about french fries sizzling in a greasy skillet. Mmm. Read More
I’ve always had mixed feelings about television. It’s a bit disturbing when people spend all their free waking hours staring at a screen with their brains turned off and a glazed look on their faces. And television is unreliable as a source of information. I’ve found that many of the news shows and documentaries that air on commercial television stations are full of factual errors and misinformation. These days, we all need to double-check the facts (and sources) before repeating what we hear on TV.
On the other hand, there are some great shows that have graced television screens over the past century. Read More
Throughout the centuries, poets have composed meditations on seasons, landscapes, and constellations. Vegetation and animals have been the subjects of countless poems, and even when poetry is not centered around nature, it often makes references to it.
In poetry, nature may function as the backdrop — the setting in which the action takes place. Nature and various elements of nature may also hold center stage. Why are so many poets compelled to write about nature?
Consider the closing stanza from “Crossings” by Ravi Shankar:
Suspended in this ephemeral moment
after leaving a forest, before entering
a field, the nature of reality is revealed.
Words like forest and field hint at nature’s presence in this piece, but the closing line cleverly reminds us that nature is not present in individual words. Nature is reality, and it’s everywhere, all the time.
Poetry prompts are a great way to start a writing session when you’re feeling uninspired or when you simply want to try something new. Maybe you’ve never written a poem before. Maybe you’ve never written about nature. Maybe you’ve never tackled a writing exercise. Whatever your reason, these poetry prompts are meant to provide loose guidelines for kick-starting your creativity and get you pushing your pen across the page.
Below you’ll find a list of words that relate to nature. These words are your poetry prompts. You can use these prompts in several different ways. You can choose a single word and build a poem around it as a topic. You can choose a handful of words (about five would be good) and use those words to kick off different lines or verses. Or you can challenge yourself to write a single poem with all of the words included in it.
As you read through the list and choose which words will act as prompts for your poem, relax. Engage your imagination and visualize different images that these words might describe. Build actions with them. String them together with words from your own vocabulary. Put them in lines and verses. And make a poem.
If you have any ideas or suggestions for poetry prompts, share your thoughts by leaving a comment. And keep writing!
Where do dreams come from? Many philosophers, psychiatrists, and other experts, as well as everyday people, have made conjectures about the sources of our night visions. But they remain a mystery.
Some dreams are obvious, of course. We’ve all experienced dreams that are clearly relevant to what’s going on in our lives or dreams that are some reflection of the past. Some people claim they’ve dreamed events before they actually happened — precognitive dreams that allow a dreamer to peer into the future.
Some of us remember every single dream we have. A few of us may even take time to jot down our dreams in a dream journal. Others cannot remember any of their dreams and will claim they don’t dream at all. There are those whose dreams are so vivid that they are induced into sleepwalking, and there are those whose dreams carry the essences of their greatest fears — nightmares.
Some dreamers are so attuned to their dreams that they can actually control a dream while they are having it (this is called lucid dreaming). They decide to fly in a dream, and they are off, soaring through the dream-sky.
Dreaming for Inspiration
Dreams may unlock mysteries, answer questions, or give us new insights. They inform artists’ work, help scientists solve complex problems, and they give writers plenty of fodder for fiction and poetry.
In fact, many famous works of art and inventions were inspired by dreams. In an article titled “Dream Art,” Wikipedia provides a list of artists and their works, which came directly from dreams. Some of the most notable artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers who have captured dream material to produce great works of art include William Blake, Salvador Dali, Clive Barker, Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, Stephen King, Carlos Castaneda, David Lynch, Rush, Paul McCartney, and Roger Waters, to name a few.
Dreams can even provide the answers to complex technical or scientific problems. Sewing machine inventor Elias Howe was having trouble figuring out how the needle on his machine would work, until one night he had a dream in which he was imprisoned by a group of natives, who were dancing around him and holding spears that had holes near their tips. This image finally gave Howe the idea he needed to make his invention work: a needle with a hole at the tip, which was designed much like those natives’ spears.
Journal Prompts and Dreams
If you’ve ever kept a dream journal, then you have some experience with exploring your dreams during waking hours. When you keep a dream journal, you learn to pay more attention to your dreams, and you start remembering your dreams better and in greater detail. Dream journals are ideal for generating raw creative material.
Today’s journal prompts aren’t based around a dream journal, and they don’t ask you to keep one, although doing so is definitely recommended. If you do happen to keep a dream journal, then you’ll have an advantage here, because these journal prompts do require that you remember a dream or two. Yet the main goal with these journal prompts is to add another tool to your writer’s toolbox, to leverage a little bit more of your imagination by paying attention to the messages, images, and signals that your subconscious is sending you when you’re sound asleep.
To complete these journal prompts, you do need to be a dreamer. If you don’t make a habit out of remembering your dreams, or if you rarely remember them, then you might try keeping a dream journal for about a week. As you fall asleep, remind yourself that in the morning your first task will be to write down your dreams. Promote dreaming and remembering dreams by using affirmations such as “I will dream” and “I will remember my dreams.” Then give these journal prompts a try.
- Write down a full account of a dream you’ve had recently. Try to include as many details as possible.
- Think back over some of the dreams you’ve had and try to identify recurring themes. Perhaps you’re often being chased in dreams (or doing the chasing), maybe a lot of your dreams are set in nature or feature animals.
- Identify the people, creatures, and animals in your dreams by describing them. Could they become characters in your next short story?
- Do you ever notice minute details in your dreams? Elias Howe noticed that in his dream, the natives’ spears had holes in them. Try to pinpoint seemingly minor details that appear in your dreams and write descriptions of them.
- Do your dreams ever stick with you throughout the day? Are images from your dreams haunting you as you go about your business? Why do you suppose this happens with some dreams but not others? What are the images that linger?
- Have you ever felt like a dream was trying to tell you something or send you an important message? What was the dream? What message did you come away with?
- If you could construct a full, vivid dream, which you will have tonight and remember in full tomorrow, what would happen in the dream? Who would be there? Where would it take place?
Interesting Facts About Dreams
- The scientific study of dreams is known as oneirology.
- Abraham Lincoln dreamed of his assassination.
- At one time, some experts believed that dreams only happened in black and white. Most people actually dream in color.
Good luck with these journal prompts! Now let’s talk about dreaming and how we can use dreams to inspire our writing!
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.
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!
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!