I'm a freelance writer, translator, copyeditor, and lover of old books.
General Writing Prompts for All Genres
The following prompts can be used for writing any genre, whether it's general fiction, mystery, thriller, fantasy, historical, etc. So if you have no idea what type of novel you want to write, read these first!
- She told me her name was Sylvie and she was twelve, and then she showed me her collection of decapitated china dolls.
- After that day, she never saw him again.
- The wind howled and the lane was cottoned out in white, and still he wore that light blue t-shirt, and the smile never left his lips.
- The orchestra was playing a song she'd heard before but she couldn't remember where.
- She bought the shoes but regretted them later that evening.
- I've never met a man who rolls his cigarettes quite like Joseph Stubbs.
- School closed early that day, and the children came home crying.
- It was April, and the man on TV was talking rain when I met Sammy Peters.
- The funeral was at noon.
- I awoke with a dull pain in my arm, but when I looked I saw nothing there—it was gone.
Young Adult Creative Writing Prompts
The following prompts are specific to Young Adult (YA) novels or short stories. YA novels are categorized by a rapid introduction to the main protagonist, their strengths and flaws, their physical appearances, their lives; as well as getting right to a conflict in the first chapter, which, while it may not be the primary conflict, still hints at the main plot.
- James lay on his bed restlessly, thinking about last night.
- Katie had been studying for the past three hours and she was aching for something to do when she heard a loud clatter in the kitchen.
- Susan combed her curly dark hair, and as she looked at herself thoughtfully in the mirror, she wondered what she should do.
- Peter didn't usually find himself in these situations, but now he was in the thick of it and there was no escape.
- The smell of bacon and eggs reached Samantha's nostrils and she realized she hadn't eaten in three days.
- It was too bad about Joey, thought Ben as he waited for his trial, but the League would have to make these sorts of choices more often now.
- She gritted her teeth—no, she wouldn't take it lying down.
- It had been two years since she'd seen him last, but Annie thought, with a strange sort of feeling in her stomach, that he still looked as handsome as ever.
- If someone had asked Jane to predict what would happen that day, she probably wouldn't have guessed that it involved the destruction of her entire world by strange supernatural forces and that she was now on her way to fight them.
- Emily was a lot of things, but smart and studious, she was not—so how had she gotten into Harvard—especially when she had never applied?
Fantasy Writing Prompts
- There was a full moon that night; there was always a full moon now.
- There were dozens of them, walking slowly up the hillside, carrying spears and wearing armor, their skin leathery.
- The book lay unopened for centuries.
- A strange creature, half-man, half-horse, galloped up the hillside, and threw back its head; it emitted a guttural cry that seemed to shake the very grounds of the forest.
- She didn't believe in magic.
- He was a very ordinary man, too ordinary, with his suit, and perfectly-combed hair, and trimmed moustache, and normal height; in fact, he would have gone unnoticed, if it weren't for his yellow eyes.
- She was convinced that she could fly, that she flew at night, and she continued to be convinced of it, though she stopped speaking of it as she grew; in fact, she ceased to speak at all.
- HIs name was Vorell Bodog, and he belonged to a race of creatures that you've never heard of before.
- She liked to burn things, but once the fires started they never stopped.
- There is a far-away land not dissimilar to ours, inhabited by strange creatures, which none but one has ever found; but if you saw it you'd be happy to live here.
Romance Writing Prompts
- It was a torrid summer day in the English countryside when I saw him for the first time.
- He looked at me and that's how I knew.
- A dark, handsome man, with chiseled cheekbones and a brooding look—that was John.
- It was the first day of work and Jennifer was trying on all the looks in her closet, but nothing fit.
- Ella had been looking forward to the day for three months, but now it seemed that she would spend the Ball of the season in the waiting room, surrounded by maids.
- He smiled at her—darkly, dangerously—and she wondered where her father was.
- Samantha was often called the belle of the town, with her long, dark curls, and cream complexion, but when she looked at herself in the mirror, she could only see the imperfections—the stubby nose, the chubby cheeks and the big mouth.
- He didn't call; she had been waiting all day, but he didn't call.
- She slunk back on her bed, hating him, loathing him . . . wanting him.
- There he was—the perfect, gorgeous love of her life who had just proposed to her sister.
Mystery Writing Prompts
- He downed the last of his whisky.
- At about two p.m, under the sun's glaring, unforgiving light, she died in a pool of vomit.
- The police called it a suicide, but everyone knew better.
- She knocked on his door just as he was locking up for the night.
- He was drawn to something about her—she wasn't the kind to give in without a fight; was that why she had murdered her own sister?
- She had a gun; he felt it when he kissed her goodnight.
- He woke up hungover, in a tiny motel room in Arkansas, next to a dead body.
- She wondered if he knew.
- There was nothing to do but arrest her—and yet he knew she was innocent.
- She'd only had one drink—someone had drugged her.
Historical Writing Prompts
- She came in, sweeping the floor with her gown, and demanded to see the count.
- Today there was a line at the Colored Only drinking fountain, but he had a parched throat and needed water.
- 'Up, boy!' cried the train conductor, grabbing his ear; there was a pop, and the world went silent.
- It had been thirty years since Mrs. Denison had left her rocking chair on the dusty porch, and she saw more than most.
- The stack of freshly-printed newspapers was placed in front of him.
- The year was 1963 and Connie Benson knew how to fold a fitted sheet.
- I still remember the day they came over; it was called an invasion.
- The sun was high in the sky and burned his bare head, shoulders, and arms, but he knew better than to stop picking cotton.
- There was nothing to do but to stop drinking the tea she loved so much.
- The war came and killed everyone I knew.
YA Character Prompts
If these first lines aren't doing it for you, these character prompts can help you build a story:
- James is brave and daring, but awkward in love. His goal is to find his parents; his fears are the opposite sex and spiders.
- Anthony is adventurous, but often bored and untalented at piano. His goal is to make his father the pianist proud of him, and his fears are failure and girls.
- Jenny is social and brave but hates school. Her goal is to do well enough at school or she'll be grounded, and her fears are being punished by her parents and social failure.
- Annie is courageous and caring, but insecure. Her goal is to save her sister from a mysterious danger, and her fear is that she's not good enough.
- Lily is astute but lacks academic motivation. Her goal is to solve an in-school mystery while staying on-track with her grades.
© 2015 BessieBooks
Abby on January 25, 2020:
These were some really good ideas. I especially liked the fantasy ones.
Teresa on September 02, 2019:
There are suppose to be 70 of them. I'vr written them down and only count 65. Where are the other 5?
Angi on November 09, 2018:
OMG! thank you so much! this was so helpful
Manoela on September 08, 2018:
emma on August 20, 2018:
these were so helpful! I'm so glad I found these
C.J on August 07, 2018:
John on May 29, 2018:
This list separates itself from the dull and uncreative ones if seen.
Thanks a lot!
Shaylin on April 13, 2018:
These were extremely helpful! I even came up with a few of my own. I wrote my favorites down and there were ALOT! This is the best site I've come across.
jackie on March 02, 2018:
These are amazing!
Teresa on January 04, 2018:
Wow! Such a big list of prompts. I have written them down. There might be a few on here that, I might be able to use. I'm not quite so sure just where I'm going to go with them as, I have never written anything publicly on any sites other than what was called Bubblews. I've always dabbled with writing when I was in my teens, but nothing seriously.
Lady Elyane on December 06, 2017:
I love your prompts!!
I would suggest this one
You have been accepted into a school for super natural creatures. You decide to let your teachers and classmates try to figure out what you are.
WhiteFang01 on August 02, 2016:
Would definitely recommend this. Here's one:
It was that time of year for the [insert year level here] cohort: camp. Only this time, things were a little....different.
BessieBooks (author) on March 12, 2015:
Thank you Vellur and DeniceVU! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading these prompts!
Denice Victor Ullestad from Marysville, WA on March 06, 2015:
I really enjoyed reading your interesting and helpful ideas! Way to kickstart my imagination! THANKS!
Nithya Venkat from Dubai on March 03, 2015:
So many prompts, this definitely removes the writer's blocks and fills the mind with so many ideas. Voted up!
BessieBooks (author) on March 03, 2015:
Thank you for your feedback dghbrh and mary615!
Mary Hyatt from Florida on March 03, 2015:
You have furnished many great writing promts! I have bookmarked this Hub for later reading.
Voted UP, etc.
deergha from ...... a place beyond now and beyond here !!! on March 03, 2015:
This is the first time I am reading about writing prompts. Think I will try it out. Never mind writing blocks but its good to try different things.
Thank you this share. Shared and votes up.
BessieBooks (author) on March 01, 2015:
Thanks Mara! :)
Mara Alexander from Los Angeles, California on March 01, 2015:
Another great hub. I have learned a lot, and have bookmarked your hubs for easy reference
Thanks for sharing what you know. I voted it up
BessieBooks (author) on February 19, 2015:
Thanks everyone for your feedback! I'm happy if my prompts can inspire or be of use to you, good luck in your writing!
Rota on February 19, 2015:
What a wonderful idea for all us writers on here. Great hub
Linda Rogers from Minnesota on February 19, 2015:
I absolutely LOVE writing prompts; whether a sentence, a word or photo. They just seem to bring out the creative muse in me. Thanks for sharing these wonderful prompts with us. I'll definitely be using some of these.
John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on February 19, 2015:
What a wonderful collection of prompts you have offered here Bessie. They will all be ver useful but I especially love the "first lines". Recently I have been relying a lot on hub challengers issued by other writers here for my inspiration (mainly picture prompts). I am desperately trying to complete the second chapter gumshoe detective story I started called "Tom Swiftly and the Million Dollar Collar". My mistake was writing the first part as a hub before I had finished writing the whole story, but I seem to have writer's block I'm regard to the second part. I'm not sure these prompts will help me with that but they will definitely be useful for other stories. I am voting this up and sharing. Have a great day.
Breanne Ginsburg on February 19, 2015:
I think the idea of 'picture prompts' is a good one and the pictures you chose can be very useful. Good job! I recently just came up with a story idea, but I do often experience writer's block and think that an article on the subject was a great idea!