Writing Prompt

January 15, 2015

Writing Prompt: Everyone Has A . . .

“Everybody’s got a water buffalo. Yours is fast, but mine is slow. Oh where’d we get them, I don’t know, but everybody’s got a water buffalo-oooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! ” – From Silly Songs With Larry, Veggie Tales I was a child when I first heard this silly, and very short song, but it got stuck in my…

January 8, 2015

Writing Prompt: The Movie Version

Today’s prompt is non-fiction with a twist. I want you to think about something that has happened to you recently. It should be a pretty minor event, but not too minor. Perhaps your dog had puppies, or you had to babysit a stranger’s child for an hour. Nothing life changing. If you want it can…

December 29, 2014

Writing Prompt: Running

I want you to write a short story or a scene where your character is running the whole time. That is the only thing that the story or scene must contain – a main character running. Why that character is running is up to you. How well they run is also up to you. If…

December 11, 2014

Writing Prompt: Down The Rabbit Hole

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is one of the most famous children books in the world. Even if you have not read the book you have most likely seen some adaptation or version of it. It is frequently adapted and highly influential. Like many other children’s books, the plot hinges on the character…

December 4, 2014

Writing Prompt: Big World

For this writing prompt, I want you to imagine that you are very small. As small as a mouse. Now you don’t actually have to be a mouse, you could imagine yourself to be a miniature version of yourself. Or you could imagine yourself to be a mouse. The size difference is what matters most…

December 1, 2014

Writing Prompts: Travel Tales

This week’s writing prompt is to write about an experience one had while traveling. I don’t mean that I want you to write about about the trip you took, the planes you flew on, or the weird buses you had to take, or the fancy hotel you stayed at. I want you to write about…

November 29, 2014

Writing Prompt: Translate This

This is a writing prompt I encountered several times in graduate school. The task is to take a poem in a language you do not understand and “translate it”. I don’t mean look every word on google or try to use babble fish (a translation site). I just want you to read this poem in…

November 16, 2014

Writing Prompt: The Adventures of Clarinata

Many authors spend hours, days, even weeks trying to figure out what to name their characters. One author who is a friend of mine, told me that it was much harder to name his main character in his first novel than it was to name his first child. I doubt it takes most people that…

October 30, 2014

Writing Prompt: Not A Dream

Whenever I encounter dreams posing as reality at the beginning of TV shows or movies, or embedded into books, I am always frustrated. It is not as if I do not find dreams interesting, they are, but I hate how they can lead you in the wrong direction as an audience member or a reader….

Writing Prompt: Poem Around A Word

Everyone has a favorite word, or words. They are ones that easily come to mind and that we use a lot, generally. Although occasionally the word is one you really like but is not particularly useful, like Parabola or cloisonné. I want you to pick one of those words that belong to the second category….

October 23, 2014

Writing Prompt: Family History

My mother told me many stories about her family, while I was growing up. Sometimes I will remind her of them now, and many she still remembers, but some she has forgotten. She also wrote a number of fictionalized versions of her days growing up, and now sometimes I will read over them, appreciating them…

October 16, 2014

Writing Prompt: A Poem and Push Ups

Many writers have a physically active lifestyle, and many of these writers believe that this physical activity aids them in their creative endeavors. I have written an article about this before, which you can read here. I recently started doing this unusual writing prompt myself and have found it to be a lot of fun….

October 14, 2014

Writing Prompt: We Stayed Up All Night

This writing prompt is pretty simple. You can take it in any direction you want. Your response could be a poem, non-fiction, flash fiction, or fiction. Just take the Phrase “We stayed up all night” and make it the first sentence of your piece. Now the nice thing about a phrase like this is that…

October 9, 2014

Writing Prompt: Anyone’s Ghost

The National wrote a song called Anyone’s Ghost. I write a lot based on music that I am listening to, but rarely do I do this in a formal way. However this song, in my opinion, is a great basis for a prompt, not in terms of the music but in terms of the lyrics….

September 25, 2014

Writing Prompt: Micro Fiction Challange

This week the prompt has to do with length, more than content. The prompt is to write a story using less than 300 words. A story of this length is considered to be a work of micro fiction. These pieces are usually longer than 100 words in length but they do not have to be….

September 17, 2014

Writing Prompt: Ghost Story

I love a good ghost story, not the kind that are told around campfires where the ghost is terrorizing a family, or is passing as a young woman in a dress for a night, but the stories that play around with what a ghost is. For example, the ghosts in Harry Potter served a lot…

September 11, 2014

Writing Prompt: For the Love of a Good Title

A good title can go a long way. It can intrigue the reader and it can even change one aspect of a story, so that the reader interprets it in a different way. Some of my favorite classic titles include A Widow for A Year, Love in the Time of Cholera, Pig Earth, A Wrinkle…

September 4, 2014

Writing Prompt: Words from Another

For this prompt I want you to grab a book off your shelf, it should be a book that is written by someone who has a writing style that is very different than your natural style. It can be a book you have read or one you have not. It could be a book of…

August 29, 2014

Writing Prompt: The Curse

A curse is a common trope, from Fairy Tales to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, curses have been used to throw a twist into the plot. Sometimes the reader knows the curse from the start, which is how most fairy tales work. Or sometimes they know the curse from the start but they don’t know the…

August 23, 2014

Really, Truly, Awful Writing.

Greetings, fellow writers. The idea for this prompt comes from an idea that I had as a college writing instructor, with the main idea being challenging the brain to think a bit differently about your approach to writing in general and in this creative exercise specifically. I used it the first time as a homework…

August 21, 2014

Writing Prompt: Cell Phone Independent

Chris Carter, the creator of the X-files has talked about how the series would not have worked before the invention of cell phones. Many books and stories now rely on the ease of communication that cell phones bring. Ann Patchett, the author of Bel Canto, has mentioned on several occasions that her latest novel was…

August 14, 2014

Writing Prompt: Without The Wheel

This week’s writing prompt is to write a short story set in an alternative reality. We are still on earth in this story but on an earth where the wheel has never been invented. The world still works, technological advances still occurred, but there are no wheels. Write a short story involving this world. It…

August 7, 2014

Writing Prompt: A Poem in Parts

I first did this poetry prompt when I was 14 years old. My teacher at the time asked us to write down the numbers 1 to 10 over two pages on the left hand margin and irregular intervals. I am going to ask you to do that now if you are doing this prompt on…

July 24, 2014

Writing Prompt: Coffee Poem

The prompt this week is a little different. Your challenge is to write a poem about coffee. Although there is one tiny catch. You can never use the words coffee, beans, black, milky, cafe,  or caffeine in this poem. You must convey the idea of coffee, of drinking it, without ever mentioning these words. Obviously,…

July 17, 2014

Writing Prompt: Secret Library

Many great modern novels are about the love of books and libraries. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store and The Shadow of the Wind are just two examples.  Both books are about imagined secret libraries. Your prompt today is to write about an imagined library that is for some reason or another a secret. Now this…

July 10, 2014

Writing Prompt: Stuck

Imagine that a character is trapped somewhere. It could be a small room, a well, a crashed car, a stuck elevator, or any number of small claustrophobic  spaces. They have been stuck there for at least thirty minutes when you start writing your story. This is important because they already have to be nervous at…

July 9, 2014

Writing Prompt: Modern Tech in Ancient Times

              Today, technological devices are a part of our daily existence, especially for us writers. Telephones and fax machines were considered the ultimate in modern technology. Now they have taken a backseat to even more upgraded communication devices such as Skype, DVRs, and voice-activated writing software. Is there anything…

July 2, 2014

Writing Prompt: Rhyming Poem

Poems don’t have to rhyme anymore. They haven’t in a very long time. Still, every once in a while I encounter someone who believes that poems have to rhyme, that it is one of the requirements to writing a poem. Most of the time I write in free verse, without any rhymes except the occasional…

June 26, 2014

Writing Prompt: Life Without Computers

What if there were no computers? Obviously you wouldn’t be reading this right now, but many other important things that factor into your daily life would be different. Your prompt today is to imagine, in a poem or a story, what life would be without computers. Remember, if there were no computers there would also…

June 19, 2014

Writing Prompt: First Sentence, Last Sentence

This week the prompt is a little different. There are two options for it. The first is to do it with a friend, the second is to do it on your own. Pick your option and then proceed. Option One: Ask a friend to write down two sentences. The sentences should be seemingly unrelated. These…

June 9, 2014

Writing Prompt: Groundhog Hour

Groundhog Day is a movie about a TV weatherman played by Bill Murray. His character relives the same day over and over again for almost the entirety of the movie. Only he knows that he is reliving the day over and over again; everyone else around him resets, and they do not know they are…

May 29, 2014

Writing Prompt: Mad Scientist

Mad Scientists are an established stereotype now and they appear in movies, in TV shows, and books. It is usually hard to take them seriously. Still, they manage to be an enticing theme and many people play with the audience’s expectations. In the TV show Fringe, one of the main characters, Walter, was a mad scientist….

May 22, 2014

Writing Prompt: Road Trip

I have not been on very many road trips. However I am a big fan of road trip movies. Although I must admit my favorites are all deeply unconventional. They include Wristcutters: A Love Story, Dead Man, and Paris Texas. To give you a better feel for what I mean, Dead Man is the tale…

May 15, 2014

Writing Prompt: A Thousand Years

In Schild’s Ladder, a science fiction novel by Greg Egan, most of the characters live far longer than normal human lifespans. They are immortal, more or less. Some are incorporeal and others have bodies but not necessarily the same ones they were born with. Most of the characters in the book are scientists of some…

May 8, 2014

Writing Prompt: One Last Wish

Imagine a character sitting in a room. There are a lot of cords and tubes. It looks like they are in a hospital. The person next to them is on a bed. It could be the main character’s mother, father, spouse, or someone else entirely. Before this person dies, they tell the main character, the…

April 24, 2014

Writing Prompt: James Bond Attends Cooking School

James Bond is one of the most famous characters in modern fiction and cinema. He is iconic, but he is also frequently re-imagined. He went from a polished brown haired machine to a blond with a lot of baggage and a lot fewer quips. Even if you have never read one James Bond book or…

April 18, 2014

Writing Prompt: Meet Cute

A “Meet Cute” is the moment in fiction when two characters that will have a relationship meet for the first time. Most romantic comedies have a “meet cute,” as do most young adult novels. You know that moment when the women drops her books and the man picks them up? That is one of millions…

April 3, 2014

Writing Prompt: Abandoned House

There is an abandoned house in your fictional neighborhood. It has been abandoned for decades under mysterious circumstances. No one knows where the owners went. But for some reason the house was never sold again and the city has never torn it down. The rest of your fictional neighborhood is up to you, the one…

March 31, 2014

Writing Prompt: Sonnet

There are many kinds of sonnets. Shakespeare’s sonnets are not the only option.  There are sonnets that stick to the Italian method. There are ones that are only concerned with iambic pentameter. One only contains the word watermelon over and over again for fourteen lines, and it is still technically a sonnet. Gerald Stern has…

March 18, 2014

Writing Prompt: In The Dark

This is a prompt that is simple but effective. You can use new characters, ones you have previously created, or even ones other authors have created. Put them in a normal situation, or rather, what would be a normal situation for them. Do they work at an office building? Place them there. Do they go…

March 17, 2014

Writing Prompt: Wrongly Accused

In The Fugitive a doctor is accused of killing his wife. In Double Jeopardy a wife is accused of killing her husband. Both did not commit the crime they are accused of. They are both innocent. That has been a reoccurring theme in movies and literature for a very long time. It can be a…

March 13, 2014

Writing Prompt: After Death

There is a book called Sum: Forty Tales of the After Life. It is a book of very short stories by David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and writer. Each of the short stories is a completely different interpretation of the afterlife. In one afterlife you know everyone else there, but just tangentially. You can never meet…

March 6, 2014

Writing Prompt: Dark Alley

It is a familiar scene. If you close your eyes and you can picture it. A pretty woman walks into a dark alley. She is in a big city. Their is steam rising from the sewer. It goes without saying that it is dark and the alley is dirty. This scene has been shot a…

February 26, 2014

Writing Prompt: Amnesia

Amnesia has been a great literary prop for centuries. One of the greatest action characters of our time had amnesia: Jason Bourne. But he is not the only one. In See Jane Run by Joy Fielding the main character has amnesia. The same is true of Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson. However…

February 20, 2014

Writing Prompt: Gender Swap

Are you working on a novel? Or do you have a favorite character from a novel by another writer? This is an exercise that requires an established character, one that you know really well, although it does not need to be one you created. Pick a character and then write down his or her name…

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