“What-if?” Journal Prompts

journal prompts

Journal prompts to fire up your imagination.

What if you won the lottery? What if you woke up in someone else’s body? What if you could fly?

What if you could open your imagination to a whole new world of writing ideas?

Today’s journal prompts encourage you to wonder. Some of them are based on reality. Others ask you to step outside the realm of possibility (or likelihood) and leave the world as we know it behind.

Journal Writing

Journal writing is excellent for birthing new ideas and fleshing them out. Journal prompts help by giving you a launching pad — a place to start your writing session. Read More

Story Starters: Ten Fiction Writing Prompts

fiction writing prompts

Give these fiction writing prompts a try.

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.

Feel free to alter any of the prompts to your liking. Use one or use them all. Have fun.




  1. She rolled over and felt her body push up against something hard.
  2. My wife disappeared on August 28, 1998.
  3. Sonny jumped up against the chain-link fence, wagging his tail furiously.
  4. Mom says it happens to all girls, but I think she’s just trying to make me feel normal.
  5. I’ve been to nine planets in twelve years and it’s starting to show.
  6. They say Old Weezie’s been reading palms out of her run-down shack for a hundred years or more.
  7. Acronyms give me a headache in general, but PBRT gives me a migraine.
  8. Ashley stared at the fruit, so lost in amazement that she didn’t think to comment on its size.
  9. Every day the sun comes up and every night it goes down again.
  10. When the elven guard put out a call to action, their plea went unheard and what followed was sheer terror.

Bonus challenge: Write a story that includes each and every one of the ten prompts above. That would be quite a feat!

Looking for more fiction writing prompts and story starters? Some of today’s fiction prompts appear in 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, available in paperback and ebook.

Creative Writing Prompts

15 Tasty Creative Writing Prompts

creative writing prompts

Creative writing prompts that are good enough to eat.

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.

Writing about food or incorporating food into our writing is an ideal way to engage readers’ senses. That’s why today’s creative writing prompts focus on food, drink, and delectable treats.




Taste These Creative Writing Prompts

Each of the creative writing prompts below presents a specific sensory stimuli, telling you which sense is being engaged (sight, smell, sound, touch, or taste) and which food or drink is involved. Your job is to choose a prompt and build a scene around it, write a poem about it, or compose a short essay that includes it. You can write anything you want, but the goal is to get the prompt in there.

You don’t have to use the writing prompt verbatim in your piece of writing. Feel free to reword the prompt in any way you see fit. You’ll see that some prompts include a lot of detail while others just provide basic information. The details are available with some prompts to give you ideas. They are absent from others to challenge you. Choose accordingly.

Bonus Challenge: Each prompt engages one sense. Try to expand that to include other senses as well. Earlier, I mentioned the sound of french fries sizzling in a skillet. How do they look, taste, and smell? If you touch them, how do they feel? (Hot, I bet!).

  1. Sight – a banana split: three scoops of ice cream with split banana 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.
  2. Smell – pizza: cheesy, doughy, saucy, spicy pizza baking in the oven.
  3. Sound – fizz: cola being poured into a glass full of ice cubes.
  4. Touch – greasy fingers: digging your fingers through a box of hot, buttered and salted popcorn in a dark movie theater.
  5. Taste –  medicine: cherry-flavored cough syrup.
  6. Sight – feast: the spread of a holiday feast (think Thanksgiving). Are your eyes bigger than your stomach?
  7. Smell – coffee: waking up to the smell of hot, freshly brewing coffee.
  8. Sound – crunch: the sound in your head when you munch on crispy chips or crackers.
  9. Touch – dough: the squish of kneading dough between your fingers, the smooth texture of it when you pat it and roll it out.
  10. Taste – hot/spicy: you dip your chip into a bowl of salsa and when you take a bite, your mouth goes up in red-hot, spicy flames.
  11. Sight – fruit: it’s a hot day. You open the fridge and there’s a big bowl of chilled, fresh, summer fruit — colorful, juicy, and sweet.
  12. Smell – fast food: you’re driving through town with your windows down and pass that intersection where you can smell all the fast food restaurants.
  13. Sound – whistle: you’re not feeling so hot, so you put the teapot on. Soon, it starts to scream…
  14. Touch – water/apple/teeth: it’s Halloween and you’re bobbing for apples. You stick your face in the cool water, chomp around searching for purchase and feel the apples bobbing against your face, floating away from you. Then, you get a ripe little apple lodged firmly between your teeth.
  15. Taste – sweets: after a light but satisfying meal, you order your dessert. It’s rich, sweet, and freshly baked. You bite into it and your taste buds explode with delight.

Did you find these creative writing prompts helpful or challenging? Share your thoughts or show us an excerpt from the piece you wrote by leaving a comment. And keep writing!

Creative Writing Prompts

TV-Inspired Writing Prompts

writing prompts

Writing prompts from your television set.

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.

I often think about how my favorite books, movies, and TV shows can influence my own writing. For example, I’ve recently named a few of my characters after TV actors. I’ve observed non-linear storytelling on television and thought about how I could translate that to a novel. I’ve even made it a point to study dialogue from television shows (TV writers have a knack for good dialogue).


All in all, I’ve found that if you’re selective about your viewing habits and thoughtful about how much time you give the old boob tube, television can actually be an excellent source of inspiration. Therefore, all of today’s writing prompts are inspired by TV shows.

Writing Prompts from Television

For these writing prompts, I tried to cover a variety of decades and genres. Each prompt includes a brief overview of one television show plus a few writing prompts and ideas that come directly from the show.

Because of the nature of television, these prompts are perfect for fiction writing and storytelling, but feel free to use them to write whatever you want — poems, blog posts, or essays. You can even write a review of one of these TV shows (make sure you watch all the episodes first!).

  • Star Trek boldly went where no one had gone before, to the far reaches of outer space. Set your story somewhere in deep space. Or write about a group of adventurers (in any time or place) intent on discovery and exploration. Star Trek also emphasized logic and rational thinking balanced by compassion and humanism. These ideals were embodied in the characters of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. Try creating characters that embody specific philosophic ideals.
  • Happy Days was a classic show about family, friendship, and growing up. From its sock-hop theme song to all the characters telling each other to “sit on it,” Happy Days captured the culture of the 50s and imparted coming-of-age lessons to its audience. Write about an iconic time period. Mix friends, family, and outcasts together in a ensemble of characters for your story. Develop catchy bits of dialogue and original expressions for your tale.
  • What a great premise for a serialized TV show: every week, guests visited Fantasy Island to live out their dreams. I don’t think we ever learned where the island got its magic or how Mr. Roarke and Tattoo came to live there and run the place. Write a concept for a series (novels, books, or movies) in which characters’ greatest fantasies or worst nightmares are realized. Focus on world building and explaining how this mysterious fantasy fulfillment works by developing an origin story.
  • Twin Peaks is a cult classic, a mystery show about the murder of a teenage girl that had everyone asking, “Who killed Laura Palmer?” This dark story was colored with bizarre symbols and dream sequences contrasted against intensely ordinary characters living in a small town. The show featured a haunting score and a deeply disturbing conclusion. Everyone has a dark side, and we are all subjected to evil. Face your own dark side by writing something mysterious, terrifying, and horrific — but believable (in other words, not supernatural or paranormal). Look for ways to embellish your piece with bizarre surrealism through hallucinations and dream sequences.
  • Friends was one of the most successful shows in television history. It seemed like everyone in the country watched must-see TV on Thursday nights for Friends’ entire run. Stories about friendship have always been a hit when they’re cast with lovable and relatable characters in a distinct setting. These New Yorkers were in their late twenties, navigating friendship, their love lives, and New York City (a premise we’ve seen in many stories). Write about friendship and group dynamics. Put your characters in a real but vivid setting. Establish their age group and think about the types of issues they would be facing. What are their goals? Struggles? What challenges affect their group dynamics?
  • I had to save the best for last. LOST is the ultimate adventure — a story about a group of survivors living on a mysterious island after their plane crashes. They must learn to survive and live together. They have to remember and let go. LOST was considered a breakthrough show because it felt like a movie, with sweeping cinematography and an original, live-recorded score. Mysteries and puzzles abounded, and every time the show answered one question, we got ten new questions to puzzle over. The show’s unique format included non-linear storytelling through flashbacks, flashforwards, and flashsideways. LOST was also deeply philosophical. But for all of its experimentalism, the characters always came first. Think about how you can use non-linear storytelling in a story or poem. Develop a setting that has magical and mysterious qualities and functions as a character in the story. Plant lots of classic literary symbols, pop culture references, and just plain confusing twists in your story. Go ahead and get LOST in your writing!

Do you watch a lot of TV? What are your favorite shows? Has television ever inspired you? Do you love stories, whether they’re told on film or paper? Did any of these writing prompts spark ideas? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

All-Natural Poetry Prompts

poetry prompts

Poetry prompts inspired by nature.

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.

Source: poets.org




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

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.

lava
droplet
gazelle
bloom
nest
snake
moon
chirp
field
stream
grasshopper
hiss
seed
fur
forest
sunlight
energy
metamorphosis
prey
birth

If you have any ideas or suggestions for poetry prompts, share your thoughts by leaving a comment. And keep writing!

Creative Writing Prompts

Journal Prompts for Dreamers

journal prompts

Dreamy journal prompts.

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.

Journal Prompts

  1. Write down a full account of a dream you’ve had recently. Try to include as many details as possible.
  2. 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.
  3. Identify the people, creatures, and animals in your dreams by describing them. Could they become characters in your next short story?
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. 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.

Sources:

Good luck with these journal prompts! Now let’s talk about dreaming and how we can use dreams to inspire our writing!

Creative Writing Prompts

Fiction Writing Prompts for Every Genre

fiction writing prompts

Fiction writing prompts for every genre.

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!

Creative Writing Prompts

Creative Writing Prompts from Far-Off Places

creative writing prompts

Creative writing prompts for travelers and dreamers.

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

23 Writing Prompts That Ask What If?

What-If Writing Prompts.

What-If Writing Prompts.

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.

  1. What if you woke up naked in a public place?
  2. What if the police showed up at your door and arrested you for a serious crime, like murder or treason?
  3. What if someone you loved dearly was injured and in a coma for months?
  4. What if you won the lottery?
  5. What if you could blink your eyes and transport yourself to anywhere in the world in a flash?
  6. What if you could meet any famous person, living or dead?
  7. What if people encouraged you to run for public office, anything from mayor of your city to president (or prime minister) of your country?
  8. What if you wrote a book that became a best-seller and had to go on the talk-show circuit?
  9. What if you went camping or on a nature hike and found a priceless ancient artifact?
  10. What if you could travel though time? When would you go?
  11. What if you could become a master at any one skill, overnight?
  12. What if you had a superpower?
  13. What if you could find the love of your life but would only be together for one year?
  14. What if you discovered a family secret that would change everything?
  15. What if you found a treasure map that would take you all over the world?
  16. What if aliens landed in your back yard?
  17. What if you could visit any fantasy world — Never Land, Wonderland, Oz, Narnia, Hogwarts — which would you pick?
  18. What if you had the opportunity to be a colonist on another planet?
  19. What if you could solve any world problem — hunger, poverty, war, or disease?
  20. What if you found out you were having octuplets — eight babies?
  21. What if you could control your dreams (lucid dreaming) and you could make events occur in the real world simply by dreaming them?
  22. 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?
  23. 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!

Creative Writing Prompts

Journal Prompts to Tickle Your Funny Bone

journal prompts

Journal prompts to make you laugh.

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.

Journal Prompts

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.

Creative Writing Prompts