Inspiration and Prompts for Writing and Drawing

Updated on October 5, 2019
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My first love is writing, mostly fiction, but I also love cooking, gardening, bicycling, painting, singing, and building things.

Creative Writing Prompts

  1. Someone is waiting for a dragon. Hero, or villain? Is it a literal dragon, or a metaphor? Where are they? And what will they do once the dragon arrives? Maybe the dragon is friendly?
  2. Your character has a favorite breakfast which they usually always eat, but lately they've been forced to eat something completely different. What is it, and can they learn to like it?
  3. What are people made of, literally, or figuratively? And how do we know?
  4. What is life like as a teenage crime fighter? Is it possible to balance vigilante work with schoolwork?
  5. Your character looks out at the horizon and sees something unsettling. What is it? How do they react?
  6. There's a man at this ball, a stranger. All the ladies want to dance with him. However, his affection comes at a terrible price.
  7. Someone is suffering from a broken heart, but they can't remember why.
  8. A character walks into a witch's shop, but the witch is the complete opposite of what they were expecting. Who is the witch? And why is this character in the shop?
  9. It's a beautiful, sunny day. Birds are singing. The temperature is perfect. But your character isn't happy about it!
  10. Two characters are trying to clean something, but they keep running into problems. Who are they? What are they cleaning? And what will happen if they don't get it done?

Photo Prompt: What's the Story Behind This Photo?

A woman at work, wearing a uniform and a white hat behind a foggy, rainy window. What's her story?
A woman at work, wearing a uniform and a white hat behind a foggy, rainy window. What's her story? | Source

More Prompts and Inspiration

  1. Your character has just lost their home. What happened, and how are they feeling?
  2. Your characters can't see what's around them, due to darkness, fog, or some other reason. How will they handle this?
  3. Someone is putting together a puzzle—or trying to! What kinds of conflict do they encounter?
  4. Someone in your story has lost an important item—such as keys, wallet, or a phone. The item turns up in an unusual place. Where do they finally find it, and how did it get there?
  5. Write in the form of a character's journal entries.
  6. Write about the life of a doll in a dollhouse.
  7. Someone has to deliver a secret message to another character. What happens? Are they successful? What does the message say?
  8. On an alien planet or alternate dimension, there's a huge marketplace. One of the most popular shops sells mundane items from our planet/reality. What do they sell there, and how do they obtain such items?
  9. What kind of animal would it be unusual to see antlers on?
  10. A character unknowingly possesses an item with a curse on it. What item is it, and what does the curse do? Does the character get rid of the curse, and how?

Switch It Up!

Try approaching a prompt from multiple points of view. For example, you could use the same prompt on both a hero and a villain to highlight differences and similarities in how they think and act. If you thought a prompt would be about a certain type of character, (perhaps a wealthy old man), try to think of their polar opposite and write about that perspective instead, (perhaps a homeless young girl). You can come up with some really interesting ideas this way!

Finding Inspiration

Here are a few ways to get ideas that you can do on your own over and over with different results!

  1. Use your senses. Write down what you currently see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. Describe those things in as much detail as you can.
  2. Go outside and listen to the world around you for ten minutes. Write down everything you hear.
  3. Pick up any book and turn to the last page. Take the very last sentence and use it as the first sentence in your story.
  4. Alternatively, turn to a random page in a book and use a random sentence to start your story.
  5. Turn on the radio and rewrite the first song you hear in your own words, or from a different point of view.
  6. Cut out words from a magazine or newspaper and rearrange them on a table to make new sentences.
  7. Write about someone in an ad or commercial. What is their life like outside of that one little moment?
  8. Look around the room you're in. Pick three things in the room, and write a story where they're important objects.
  9. What did you eat for your most recent meal? Describe it in as much detail as it deserves.
  10. Look through your social media feed for an interesting or vague status update. Write a fictional story about what could have happened to inspire the update.

Prompt Table

Oak tree
Choose one from each column: Adjective (description), Subject (Who or what the story is about) and Setting (where the story happens). For example, you could have a calm teenager in the mountains, or a purple oak tree on the moon.

Image Prompt: What Happens Next?

A bucket of pastel colored water balloons outside on a sunny summer day.  What happens next?
A bucket of pastel colored water balloons outside on a sunny summer day. What happens next? | Source

Revisit Old Ideas!

Some prompts may work in more than one way. For example, you could use one prompt to get an idea for a short story, scene in a novel, poem, or even a picture to draw or paint. I've often come back to a prompt again after using it and found more inspiration in it.

First Line Prompts

Begin with one of these lines.

  1. There were many theories about who had murdered her.
  2. He wasn't happy about it, but he'd been brought back to life.
  3. She kept her head covered and prayed for daylight.
  4. He never liked that doll, the one on the mantel with blue eyes and matted hair.
  5. She woke up that morning with a terrible headache and no memory of the previous night.
  6. They weren't exactly a happy couple, but they weren't exactly unhappy, either.
  7. The room lit with a sudden flash, and the queen stood before him, like a beautiful and terrible statue.
  8. He enjoyed sitting out in the garden on Sundays, smoking his pipe while greeting the neighbors who passed by, but the next Sunday was still three weeks away, and he had to find something else to enjoy in the meantime.
  9. Every time a bolt of lightning flashed across the sky, the toy's internal circuitry went haywire, and it started to giggle.
  10. The mouse left her little cottage that morning to buy some fresh acorns for her supper, but she didn't come back until ten o'clock the following Thursday.

Photo Prompt: What's Behind the Door?

A bright teal door set in a white building. It's locked with a chain going through the doors, and the paint is worn off near the bottom. What could be on the other side?
A bright teal door set in a white building. It's locked with a chain going through the doors, and the paint is worn off near the bottom. What could be on the other side? | Source

Some Final Writing Tips

Here are some final tips and words of wisdom to get the most out of these (or any!) writing prompts.

  1. If your goal is to write every day, look through, and select your favorite beforehand. Write them down or copy them and just do one a day. This way, you have something each day to stick with, and you're less likely to spend a lot of time searching for the perfect prompt.
  2. When you're writing from a prompt, remember the 5 Ws: Who did it happen to? What happened? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Why did it happen? Answering these questions will help you fill out a little prompt into a detailed story.
  3. Don't forget to give your story a beginning, middle, and an end!
  4. Don't steal someone else's story! If you're looking through books for ideas, it might be tempting to just copy what you see. The key is to take inspiration from other people, not just plagiarize from them.
  5. Have fun! If you're stuck or bored, just come back and find another prompt. Maybe you can find two that work together, or one that feels like a continuation of a different prompt.

Good luck and happy writing! If you like, you can share your writing in the comments below. I would love to read it!

© 2018 Amanda


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