Writers’ Prompts

I teach communications and I’ve discovered that most of my students respond positively to writers’ prompts. Sometimes they end in a paragraph or two, sometimes and entire essay. I’ll be collecting writers’ prompts and posting them here. If you wish, feel free to add some below in the comment area. Also, feel free to share these prompts with other writers.

An excellent source of inspiration is “The Writer’s Retreat Kit: A Guide to Creative Exploration & Personal Expression” by Judy Reeves. Look for samples of these writers’ prompts on Twitter (use the hashtag #WritersPrompts ).

PROMPT 1: What is your philosophy of life? Everyone has a personal set of beliefs. Be objective about this and write a short essay.

PROMPT 2: Where are you sitting right now? Describe it, including as many details as possible. Describe the people, the architecture and even the furnishings.

PROMPT 3: Where are you right now? This time, use only your senses. Close your eyes and concentrate only on sounds, smells, atmosphere and textures. Open your eyes and write a short essay.

PROMPT 4: This is difficult: think of a serious anecdote and rewrite it as a joke. Include the premise, setup, and punch line and then read it aloud as if you’re a stand-up comic.

PROMPT 5: Everyone experiences coincidences. Recall a wild one that occurred and write a short essay about it. Give the necessary background information and be specific with details.

PROMPT 6: We all experience difficult times and sometimes these events test our beliefs. “Why did God let this happen?” Recall an event during that tested you spiritually. Did it increase your devotion? Or, as a result, did you turn from your spirituality?

PROMPT 7: Do you believe in life after death? What is your vision of the afterlife? If you don’t believe in it, use this essay to explore what you think happens when we die.

PROMPT 8: Where do you live? This is a chance to write what you like best about your hometown. Write about the attractions, restaurants and recreational activities.

PROMPT 9: Many writers are retelling myths and fairy tales, giving them the chance to explore characters and change the outcome. For example, GRENDEL is the story of the monster in BEOWULF and WICKED is a story about the Wicked Witch of the West. Use this prompt to write a short story and this time, reverse it. Create an anti-hero.

PROMPT 10: Imagine you’re on your deathbed. You’ve lived a long life and your family has come to wish you farewell. Before you go, what advice would you give them?

PROMPT 11: Many people have a favorite thing, a cherished possession. Think about someone you know and describe their favorite item. Write a character sketch about that person and what the object means to them.

PROMPT 12: What is your ethnic background? Imagine someone has offended your heritage, and write a short essay defending it. Talk about some of the more interesting and special cultural activities or physical differences.

PROMPT 13: Write about your favorite film or novel, explaining why you enjoyed it. Talk about the technical aspects and the creative: for example, the film’s pace and lighting, as well as the dialogue and the acting.

PROMPT 14: Write about a private moment, perhaps a solitary walk along an exotic beach or dinner at an elegant restaurant. Transport yourself back to this moment, then tell us what you see, what you smell and hear, what you feel.