If you struggle to come up with ideas or you find yourself hitting roadblocks in your writing, prompts can be a good way to get unstuck. Read each prompt and free write, letting your imagination take you to strange and unusual places. Don’t censor your thoughts. Just keep the pen to paper and let it flow.
Many of these prompts have you writing about yourself and your reactions. The reason for that is to help you explore your own emotions and experiences. One of the most important skills as a writer is being able to get in touch with your character’s emotions. Writing from your own life helps you explore many different feelings and motivations. Once you’ve done that, you can transfer those deep feelings to your characters.
Next take these prompts and write them using a character of your choice. Choose characters who will respond differently than you would. That will help you explore a range of emotions and reactions.
Keep your writing prompts in a notebook. After you finish each one, circle or highlight lovely turns of phrase, good descriptions, or raw emotions. (You can also do that on the computer.) Next time you get stuck in your writing, flip through the notebook/computer files and glance at the highlighted parts. Often those small bits can spark a story idea. And whenever a prompt inspires a story, go with it.
To create your own writing prompts, use index cards or small pieces of paper. On 9 index cards, write types of people that interest you (student, artist, explorer, princess, etc.). On 9 more, write strong and unusual verbs. On the next 9, come up with positive and negative character traits or quirks. Another 9 can contain settings, and on the final 9, jot down villains you wouldn’t want to meet (these can range from monsters and creatures to humans or aliens). Shuffle each pile, keeping them facedown. Then use the five cards you select to create a story. Reuse them regularly and expand the piles as new ideas strike you.
If you’d like more writing prompts, check out Reedsy.com to get new weekly prompts in a variety of genres. Here’s the link for children’s writing, but you can use the drop-down menu to select other categories: https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/for-kids/. Happy writing!
Now take out your notebook and get started:
Write about waking up one morning in a totally different place than where you went to bed.
Close your eyes, open a dictionary or a random book, and put your finger on the page. Jot down the word your finger is pointing to. Do it 3 times, and then combine those three words in a story.
One thing I’ve never told anyone is . . .
Create a character who’s the complete opposite of you – physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, etc. Then give this character a challenge or problem. How would they solve it?
Think of the meanest, cruelest character. Then write a story that transforms that person.
If I could do anything_______________, I’d ______________________________________.
Recall a favorite smell. Close your eyes and reminisce about the scent and taste. Experience it fully. Try to describe it fully. What does it remind you of? Write about a time when you smelled this.
Your character is at a Haunted Hayride or a Funhouse. All of a sudden, one of the props becomes real. What happens and what do the characters do?
You walk into a schoolroom and there’s an alien (or another strange creature) in place of the teacher.
If you could give a speech to the whole world, what would you like to tell everyone?
Strand your character on an island alone. As they explore their surroundings, what do they find? Items from past inhabitants? Unusual plants and creatures? Other inhabitants?
It’s 3 a.m. Someone knocks at the door. What do you do? Describe your feelings. Who is it? What do they want?
With your eyes closed, point to a place on a globe or map. Find out a little more about that spot and write a story about someone who lives there.
You’re locked in a room with a ticking bomb. Now what?
You are given a new identity and sent to a new location. Who are you now? What do you regret leaving behind? How do you adjust to your new life?
You’ve just been given a hundred thousand dollars but you can’t spend it on yourself. How would you use that money? How does it make you feel to do this, and how do others react to what you’ve done?
You’ve been recruited for a top-secret spy mission. Where have you been sent, and what dangers do you encounter?
Pick a color. Describe how it makes you feel and why. Explore all the places you’d find this color. Think of one place you’d never find it, then change it to your color and describe how people react.
One day, time starts running backward. What happens?
Choose an emotion you struggle to control. Write about what life would be like if you gave it free rein? What if everyone around you did? Now write about a world devoid of that emotion. You don’t have it, and neither does anyone else.
Your town is being invaded. They’re after one person. Who is that person? And why have these invaders come?
Pick any object in the room. Make it come alive, and write about life from its point of view.
A little child’s life is in danger. You are the only one who can save this child. How do you react? What’s happening around you, and who can you trust? How do you keep this child safe?
What was the most important lesson you ever learned? Create obstacles and problems that will show a character that lesson.
My most embarrassing moment was . . .
A message in a bottle washes up on shore. Who is it from? And what do you do about it?
If you could spend time with anyone (dead or alive), who would you choose and what would you do and talk about?
As the clock hands reached midnight . . .
You exchange bodies with someone. How do each of you experience your new life?
If I could relive one day in my life, I’d choose . . .
You wake up to find your house filled with animals. What do you do?
You can choose one superpower. What is it, and how will you use it?
What would you do if you had no fear?
You’ve gotten in trouble for something you didn’t do. What now?
Describe a magical kingdom under the sea.
You turn into a tree. What is your life like now?
You’re floating on a cloud high above the world. How does it feel? What do you see?
A terrorist hijacks the plane you’re on. What does the terrorist want? How do the passengers react? Where does the plane end up?
You suddenly shrink to two inches tall. How does the world look now?
Your best friend isn’t who you think they are. Who are they? How did you find out? And what will you do now?
If I were in charge of the world, I’d . . .
Describe life through the eyes of an animal.
You find yourself in your pet’s body, and your pet is living in yours. What now?
You have a day where everything goes wrong, but it all turns out right.
You’re granted three wishes.
Float down a drain.
You wake in a bug’s body. Explore life from this new point of view.
You’re transported back in time. Where do you go? What happens and how do you feel?
The funniest thing that ever happened to me is . . .
Hold a small object in your hand and write about how it feels, what it’s used for, where it came from. Now let it take you on an adventure.
You’re lost at sea. How do you feel? What do you see around you? What do you wish for most?