WHAT ARE WRITING PROMPTS?
Writing prompts are simply words, phrases or even little exercises that trigger the imagination and prompt ideas. They are most useful when you are not sure what to write about or when you are feeling ‘blocked.’ There are various types of prompts and I have put together a list of some of the prompts I have found most useful.
NARRATIVE WRITING PROMPTS
These are sentences or paragraphs that suggest ideas or starters for stories. For example: ‘the body was still warm,’ or ‘he wasn’t sure what was round the corner.’ If you would like to try this method you will find more about narrative writing prompts here.
Story starters can include opening paragraphs, or, you could be given even longer parts of stories with quite a bit of opening detail but which end on a cliffhanger so that you can finish the story whichever way you want. For example:
‘Keith looked behind him. His pursuers were gaining ground. His imagination taunted him with the feeling of their hot breath against the back of his neck yet he knew they weren’t that close, yet. He thought of dropping what they wanted but instead dropped the thought. He would never give in. He had already risked his life and he would do it again.’
If you would like to try using these openings to prompt your writing you will find story starters here.
SOME STORIES START AT THE END!
You don’t have to start at the beginning. Some writers find it easier to start at the end. These provide you with the endings of stories and it is up to you to discover the story that led to that particular ending:
‘as the plane soared into the sky he avoided looking out through the window. He had no wish for a last glimpse of the country he would never see again. He was alive.’
In this example you have quite a bit of freedom. You can decide who ‘he’ is. You decide why he didn’t want a last glimpse of the country he was leaving. Many writers enjoy the process of working backwards towards a resolution that is already provided. If you would like to try this then there you will find these story starter ideas here.
WRITING IDEAS THAT CHALLENGE
These are not just writing prompts, these are suggestions where the subject and story writing idea is so defined that it practically forces you to focus:
‘Write everything you would do if the world was about to end tomorrow.’
Writers need to be challenged in order to develop and you will find plenty of writing ideas that challenge you here.
WORKING WITH WRITING PROMPTS
What all these writing prompts have in common is that they are all ways to generate fresh ideas. These methods may take you along different paths but they are all heading in the same basic direction – the direction of ideas. You’ll soon see that any of these methods will trigger an abundance of ideas. Since selecting the best idea for you to work with is really important it is great to know you can quickly think up more if one of your ideas isn’t proving as inspiring as you thought it would. You are going to commit a lot of time and effort to the idea so make sure you choose the writing prompt that intrigues you so much you are simply dying to sit down and write.
Following any of these methods will generate a lot of ideas and soon your problem will be which one to choose.
Keep writing and remember:
‘Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen. ‘