I have compiled writing prompts that I use often to generate new work and/or for writing workshops.
1. Write about an emotion without stating the emotion. Avoid stereotypical responses as well; if your character is sad, convey it in a different way than making them cry, or if they’re happy, show it besides them smiling.
2. Poetry prompt: Write on the page What I really want to say is ….then continue on with your words
3. Think about an object that is of iconic or central importance to your culture. Write that object as a spoken word piece (or fiction).
4. Write about a place you know well or a place that is foreign to you?
5. Sit in total silence for five minutes and observe the things around you. Write a story about the sense of awareness this brings you.
6. Write about an experience that occurred outside of your current state or country that changed you in some way.
7. Think of your favorite movie, book or short story – it may even be one you wrote. Now condense it to a piece of flash fiction. Start with writing only 500 words, then see if you can get it down to 100.
8. Pick up a random object in the room where you are sitting, or rummage around a junk drawer or toy chest and draw out a random object. Now write a story from the point of view of this object. What has it seen? What role did it play?
9. Let your dictionary fall open randomly and point to a word on the page. Use it to inspire a story.
10. Write a story with no dialogue.
11. Develop your own prompt and respond to it. Include your self-created prompt at the top of your paper.
12. Think back to your childhood, to the stories you remember being told. Was there a particular story you wanted to hear over and over? Try and remember that story, and choose one of the characters from it. Take that character and write an entirely different story centered around new obstacles. For example, if you choose Pippi Longstocking, write a story in which she is raising her own family, or has become the captain of her father’s ship after his retirement.
13. Sci-fi prompt: The Earth’s ice caps have melted. All but the tallest mountain ranges lie underwater. The majority of the human race (what remains) has adapted to a sub-marine environment (gills, amphibious living, etc.) Create the shape of the new world and the odd culture clashes that might occur between groups who have found different solutions.
14. What would you do if you were able to communicate with animals?
15. Design some gadget, machine, building, or other creation that might enrich the future. What does it look like? What does it do? How does it function? In what ways might it benefit people?
16. Write a short biography of your mother.
17. Describe the most difficult thing about being your age.
18. Word list prompt: Use all these words in a story (vestibule, strident, sophomoric, panacea, slaphappy, flounder, bedizen)
19. Write a story about a character who has an obsession with their appearance and this character can no longer see their appearance.
20. Hello Kitty is not a cat but a human girl, take a moment to think about how leaving certain details ambiguous could enhance or detract from a character’s impact in a story. Write a story about an ambiguous character.
21. Write from the perspective of a character that is your complete opposite. First, make a list of all the qualities you identify with yourself, and then make a list of qualities on the other end of the spectrum. For example, if you are a woman who lives in the country, write from the point of view of a man who lives in the city. Try to avoid using stereotypes to describe this character’s actions or ideas, and instead try to embody this character—climb inside his or her head and live there a while.