Tag Archives: creative writing prompts

Writing Club

The other day I mentioned our new writing club and how much it has affected me. Well, I thought it would be fun to upload an excerpt or two from our short little writing sessions. The very first time we all got together, we all created several writing prompts and put them in a jar. My 10-year-old even got involved! He surprised me by grabbing a sheet of paper and asking, “How do you spell ‘insignificant’?” (Can’t wait to use some of his prompts!) Anyway, every time we meet, we draw from the jar randomly and write for five to ten minutes. Then we take turns reading our little creations. I knew from the beginning that there would be a lot of variety from us ladies (we are all from very different backgrounds), but I am always blown away by the depth of the ideas!

Anyway, here’s the one I wrote during our very first session (a month ago now). I have not edited it – with the exception of a spelling error – so it’s a little raw and underdeveloped. What stands out to me the most about my own writing (compared with the other ladies’ pieces) is my lack of descriptive detail. That’s something I need to be more aware of, I think. I will also try to get permission to post some of the other ones, or at least link to where you can read them:

Jenna peered through the portcullis into the night sky above. Something was happening up there. What could it be? Whatever it was, it was noisy. She could hear what sounded like big, short bursts of thunder as she tried to get a better view. 

Her nurse wasn’t in the room at the moment, so she decided to try standing. Moving through the pain, she first rolled herself into a sitting position, and then with all her effort, knees shaking as she grabbed the bedframe, she pulled herself to her feet. 

How long had it been? Months? Years? She had been content to lie in bed while nurse tended to her and brought her food. But Daddy had left with a handsome young woman a couple hFireworksours ago. They had seemed excited. Now something was going on, and she wanted to know what.

She leaned toward the portcullis, which was now eye level. She could see hundreds of people milling about on the shore. But more importantly, she could see more of the sky, and the bursts of color that were lighting up the harbor.

The writing prompt for this one was “fireworks over the harbor,” courtesy of my writing buddy over at https://bluepictureframe.wordpress.com/

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/72182050@N00/2654851160″>Fireworks Show</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;


Being Neighborly: a Writing Prompt

NeighborsWrite about one of your neighbors, only with a twist. If it’s a friendly neighbor, think of a way to make them sinister, plotting evil things, people that are only nice on the surface. Surely they have ulterior motives. If it’s a neighbor you can’t stand, write about the trials of their life, what made them become that way, and how they are soft-hearted underneath and just waiting for the right “friend” to bring their true personality to the surface in true Pollyanna form…

Prompt Disguised as Stealing

Okay, this one’s not what iStealingt sounds like (in spite of the misleading pic). I was skimming through my WordPress reader after selecting the tag “creative writing.” I was on the lookout for prompts and other ideas, but it seems like the only thing to read is other people’s fiction. So here is the idea I had: The reader only shows the first few words of each blog post, many of which were written from a prompt they found somewhere in a book or on the web. Perhaps some of the writers are in creative writing classes, and they got the prompts from a professor. Based on the first few words of their story/poem/essay, what do you imagine the writing prompt to have been? You will most likely have no idea what the parameters were originally, but come up with some based on the result that you see in someone else’s writing. Now, be careful to remember that this is just an exercise in creativity, just like the one I posted the other day about using the classics as a jumping-off place. If you come up with a good story, don’t ever be tempted to take credit for someone else’s words. Make sure you only write original material.

Creative Writing Using Classics

My husband and I always get into some interesting conversations, and that’s when I have some of my best ideas. Yesterday we were talking about my son. My son is taking a writing course in which he rewrites paragraphs based on an outline he makes of the original. He is using Institute for Excellence in Writing, a curriculum which I highly recommend. The instructor was once a little boy who hated writing. One of the biggest issues little boys have is coming up with new material while actively engaged in the process of writing. Thinking up new content and physically writing use two different parts of the brain, so it’s hard, unless you are practiced at it. So in this class, he does one thing at a time. He writes a content outline one day, and writes a paragraph the next. We have only been doing this for a couple weeks, but so far it’s working out well! Anyway, here’s an idea I had yesterday on my drive to the city:

Why not pull a paragraph from a classic novel that your child is unfamiliar with, read that paragraph to them, and have them come up with what happens next? In Ian’s case, I would probably have him spend a half-hour or so pulling all of the important ideas from the given paragraph, writing them down in outline form (by sentence), and rewriting the paragraph in his own words the following day, using the outline as a guide. Next day, we would brainstorm what happens next, and I would probably go so far as to make my own outline based on his ideas. (Sticking with the idea of not having to write and think at the same time.) On the fourth day, I would have him write the second paragraph based off the outline I wrote.

Here’s an example of a few lines from Around the World in Eighty Days:

“A suttee,” returned the general, “is a human sacrifice, but a voluntary one. The woman you have just seen will be burned tomorrow at the dawn of day.”

While Sir Francis was speaking, the guide shook his head several times, and now said: “The sacrifice which will take place tomorrow at dawn is not a voluntary one.”

The guide now led the elephant out of the thicket, and leaped upon his neck. Just at the moment that he was about to urge Kiouni forward with a peculiar whistle, Mr. Fogg stopped him, and, turning to Sir Francis Cromarty, said, “Suppose we save this woman.”

Here is an excerpt from The Jungle Book:

“Yonder is the road to the Jungle” – Mowgli pointed through the window. “Your hands and feet are free. Go now.”

“We do not know the Jungle VillageJungle, my son, as – as thou knowest,” Messua began. “I do not think that I could walk far.”

“And the men and women would be upon our backs and drag us here again,” said the husband.

“H’m!” said Mowgli, and he tickled the palm of his hand with the tip of his skinning knife; “I have no wish to do harm to any one of this village – yet. But I do not think they will stay thee. In a little while they will have much else to think upon. Ah!” he lifted his head and listened to shouting and trampling outside. “So they have let Buldeo come home at last?”

“He was sent out this morning to kill thee,” Messua cried. “Didst thou meet him?”


One more idea. You can use modern books or books that your children really like. Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians, for instance:

My moment of weakness passed quickly, and I slammed the door closed and locked the old man outside. Then I went to the kitchen to get some breakfast.

That, however, is when someone drew a gun on me.

Or even The Amazing Tale of Steve: Minecraft Novel:

Simon! Captured? Just like in my dream! It wasn’t just a dream then! He was trying to communicate with me…What else did he say?

Post from the Past: Multi-Sensory Creative Writing, Lesson 2

Lesson 2

Play music as the kids come into the classroom. After they are seated, turn it off, and discuss what the music makes them think of.

Turn on another type of music, and have the kids write about whatever comes into their minds for the next 10 minutes (free write).

Some good pieces for this:

  1. The Swan (Saint-Saëns)
  2. Mbube (Lady Blacksmith Mambazo)
  3. Waltz of the Flowers (Windham Hill Guitarists)
  4. From a Raindrop to a River (Autumn’s Child)
  5. Forever in Love (Kenny G)

Did the music make you feel happy or sad?

Read homework; talk about editing. Talk about how many different story ideas came from one prompt.

What happens when you mix music with an object or picture in your story?

Play one more piece, and have the students write, mixing music with one other element.


Choose music at home to listen to while writing. See if it influences your mood at all.

Pick another topic as a class: (e.g. write about your pet – could be completely off the wall, a true story, or anywhere in between.)

Post from the Past: Creative Writing Supplement, Incorporating Objects

Yesterday, I posted my first lesson for Multi-Sensory Creative Writing. In addition to doing all of the things suggested in lesson one, I also gave each student a hand-out that listed several ways to incorporate objects into a story. The kids and I had a blast doing this lesson! Be sure to post any stories or comments regarding the list!

Seven ways in which you can incorporate objects into your writing.

  1. Character has a flashback after seeing an object.
  2. Ordinary object with an extraordinary purpose (clicking a ball-point pen stops time).
  3. Object is important somehow, but main character doesn’t realize it yet.
  4. Try mixing two or more unrelated objects (dissimilar elements).
  5. Character has an obsession with an object (or collection of objects).
  6. Plot revolves around the object.
  7. Follow an object through its lifetime.

For your convenience, I am uploading the list as a Word doc: Using Objects.

Post from the Past: Multi-Sensory Creative Writing, Lesson 1

Since our studio doesn’t give homeschool music classes through the summer, I joined a new co-op to keep my son busy these last three months. I’ve always wanted to teach a creative writing class, and the co-op members graciously allowed me to give it a whirl. I tried to create activities that would work across all age groups, and I left it to the parents to decide how much actual writing their children would be doing. (For instance, I only made my second-grader write three sentences per assignment, but some of the older children wrote much more.) Anyway, I think this lesson plan would work for any age, or any size group. Let me know how it goes if you try any of the activities. I know that we had a blast, but I would love your feedback as well!

Lesson 1

The first activity of the day should always be easy and short – an icebreaker to get their minds to switch into writing mode without putting a lot of pressure on them.

Activity #1

Take a bunch of random pictures (internet, magazines, photos) to class. Try to vary the content type. Have the class members each choose a picture that appeals to them or kindles an idea in their minds.

After choosing a picture, have them write a few sentences based on something that it suggests to them.

Note #1

To keep the pressure low, I remind them that we won’t be reading this assignment out loud. I only ever read assigned homework aloud, never anything they’ve written on the spot, unless they volunteer. And I never announce the authors unless they want to take credit for their work.

Note #2

Instruct the students to write as it comes into their heads, even if they think it is poorly worded. They can always edit later; the hard part for most people is getting words on paper. When they are finished writing, they can reread it with a particular focus on one editing issue at a time. For instance, read through the piece once checking for punctuation errors, then reread again with a focus on spelling errors, etc. Having a process helps keep them from sitting and staring at their papers, wondering where to start (in both the writing and editing stages).

Activity #2

Take a bunch of random objects from around your house to class. The reason they should use objects (or artifacts) to jump-start their writing is to give them ideas that they wouldn’t come up with on their own.

As a class, talk about some of the ideas that are triggered by pictures and objects. Write them on the chalkboard.

You can also get ideas from memories that are triggered by scents, feelings that you associate with certain types of music, etc. (I also took in some spices, candles, and colognes for this class.)

As a class, talk about some of the memories that are triggered by certain scents or feelings that are associated with music.

If you have time, have the class write for a few minutes, basing their stories on an object that they choose.

Homework Assignment #1

Choose an object, picture, scent, or any combination, and write a story based on your ideas. For this assignment, individual students can choose whatever they want and write about whatever they want. They may choose from what you brought to class or from their own homes.

Homework Assignment #2

As a class, choose one more topic to write about. For this assignment, all students will write a story based on the same object, picture, etc. The purpose of this exercise is to see how diverse the stories can be even while triggered by the same thing. For instance, the class may choose an ink pen or a picture of the Amazon. Everyone writes something that includes the element in their piece. Read aloud next week, and experience the variety!


Choose more than one element on which to base a story. If the above assignment included both the ink pen and the picture of the Amazon, the students would have to be more creative in their creation of the story. The more dissimilar the elements, the more creative they will have to be.

For Fun

Have each student bring an object to class from their own rooms. In class, they can switch objects with each other and write a few sentences based on someone else’s belonging. This would be a great follow-up activity for your next class.

If you would prefer to download Lesson 1 as a Word file, here it is: Multi Sensory Creative Writing Lesson 1

Witness Protection Program

Here’s a new creative writing prompt I though you all might enjoy!

Write a story about a person in the Witness Protection Program. Drop him/her into your job and life. What would it be like for that person to enter a life in a nursing home, although they don’t need to be there, or a college dormitory, although they aren’t there to learn. What challenges would they face unique to their position? Would they develop an affinity for the senile or handicapped elderly or a dislike for young people?

Post from the Past: Dial a Writing Prompt

I thought I would tell you about a neat little writing prompt generator that I thought of a while back.

Get out a piece of paper or open up your favorite word processing program. Now, think of ten different protagonists, numbering them 0-9. (The numbering system is important.) Your protagonist can be as vague or as specific as you like. Some ideas: police officer, librarian, little old lady, friendly monster, toddler, department manager, forgetful neighbor, shy girl in the corner, garbage man, step-mom. Next, again numbering each from 0-9, think of 10 locations, 10 items, and 10 antagonists. Don’t forget to stretch your imagination as far as possible. Your location ideas might be as common as a supermarket or as spectacular as a galaxy far, far away. (My personal favorite location idea is “under the sea.”) Item ideas: pencil, heirloom, coin, donut, notebook, sword, pocketwatch, railroad spike, strand of hair, game token. Once in a while, use something unexpected in the antagonist category, such as blond 10-year-old girl. You could do the same thing in the protagonist category.

Here’s the fun part:

Get out your cell phone or phonebook, and look someone up. The last four digits of their phone number will tell you which protagonist, location, item, and antagonist combination to use. For an added twist, write the story from the point of view of the actual person who’s phone number you chose. Have fun!

A prompt disguised as unstuffing.

Go through your stuff and find some things to give away. Try to get rid of anything you haven’t used for the past year. Even that thing you bought with high hopes, but just never got around to trying out. Perhaps it’s a self-help book, a food dehydrator, or a cute blouse. After dumping your stuff off at the Goodwill, take a moment to write about the item that was hardest to let go of. What becomes of it in its new home? Does it sit on a shelf for the next three years waiting to be sold? Does the purchaser use it right away? Or does it float from owner to owner? Perhaps something happens concerning the item that changes the life of the next owner. Does it change for evil or for good? You decide. Consider writing from the perspective of the item itself.