Event-Inspired Writing Prompts
Nonfiction writers are obviously inspired by the real world, but fiction writers and poets also take inspiration from real people and events.
Wars, scandals, scientific advances, and famous figures in history have all been represented in every form of writing.
Works of fiction that resonate best with readers contain a kind of truth, a reflection of our own real experiences. That’s why looking to the events of history for story ideas is a great way to inspire a writing session. And of course, poetry takes inspiration from everything in the universe. While personal experiences may be more popular sources of inspiration, some incredible poems and stories have been triggered by real events throughout history.
Today’s writing prompts come from major events of the 20th and 21st centuries. These prompts are for writing inspiration only and are not meant to be a comprehensive list of big events from the last two centuries. They were chosen at random for their potential for igniting creative writing ideas.
You can use these writing prompts to write anything you want–a poem, a short story, a blog post, or a journal entry. The idea is to find the prompt that speaks to you and then start writing.
Prohibition and the Great Depression
In a country that rants and raves about freedom, the government decides that its people should not be allowed to drink liquor. The Great Depression filled the space between Prohibition (which was still in effect during the Depression) and World War II. Well-to-do people lost everything and found themselves standing in food lines. Ordinary people went to extraordinary measures to get a few bucks. Meanwhile, someone, somewhere profited.
World War II
WWII gave rise to the Great Generation. It was a vicious war and most believe it was a righteous war (for the Allies). It gave us models for villains in Hitler and Mussolini. It gave us patriotism and the atomic bomb.
Entertainment: From Radio and Television to the Internet
The entertainment industry boomed in the 20th century. Technology moved entertainment from something you paid to go see in a theater or other public venue to something you could enjoy from the comfort of your home. Black and white silent films evolved into technicolor talkies. Now we have the Internet. What in the world will we think of next?
Spaceships, Planes, and Men on the Moon
We started out traveling around on foot. Then some clever neanderthal invented the wheel. Now, we soar through the skies and tear through space. We’ve even landed men on the moon! Invention doesn’t stop here. Next stop: Mars.
1960s: Civil Rights, Woodstock, Protests
What happens when a nation’s people are divided? What happens when a minority of people are oppressed? What happens when ordinary kids suddenly decide they don’t want to grow up and live just like their parents? Mix in the fact that there’s a war nobody understands and most people don’t believe in. Add a few drugs, flowers, and peace signs and you’ve got the sixties, complete with hippies. What cultural movement will sprout up next?
Assassinations: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, JFK, John Lennon
Sometimes it seems like the bad guys never get what’s coming to them, especially when heroes like these are taken down by madmen, political or religious zealots, revenge seekers, and whomever else you think was behind it all.
The 21st century is still young but it’s given us plenty of history already. Writing about recent history is easier for most of us because we lived through it and our firsthand experience gives us a closer perspective. Think about a major event that occurred after the turn of the millennium (from 9/11 to Hurricane Sandy) and write about it.
Good luck with these writing prompts! Have fun and don’t forget to come back and tell us how they worked for you.
Got any writing prompts of your own to share or add to this list? Leave a comment.