I am the author of three middle-grade children's books, and I blog on the side. My favorite topics are movies, writing, and pop culture.
When you have a good idea that you’re working on, it feels like all is right in your writing world. When you don’t have a project, you can feel lost or unfocused.
Growing up, I could always come up with story ideas, but as I started to pursue a professional writing career, I felt blocked. I was in that time between wanting to write just for fun and wanting to write stuff that people would read.
That would lead to a lot of self-doubt and hesitation about what topics or stories I could write about. So, I would comb through bookstores and libraries looking for books that would tell me what to write about. Unfortunately, I didn't find much on the subject.
Most books about writing tell you what to do once you have a solid idea. They like to explain the mechanics of the writing and editing process. I’m usually okay once I get started, but it's starting that can be tricky. You have to find something that you want to write about, something that will keep your attention throughout the length of the project, and something that others will want to read.
Below are 50 writing prompts that may help to shake loose some ideas of your own. Just writing the list gave me an idea for two new novels. So, I hope that this list is as helpful to you as it is to me.
Fighting with Yourself Over What to Write About Never Helps
- Write about a place that you’ve never been to. Imagine what it would be like.
- Write in a particular accent, preferably one that you are familiar with. Every region has one.
- Write a story set in your favorite historical time period. Do some research first. That still counts as writing.
- Make your protagonist the opposite gender from yourself.
- Write a main character who is much older than you.
- Write a mystery.
- Make up a brand new world. Spend time plotting out every detail about what the world is like before coming up with a story.
- Tell the ending of the story first. Then, try to tell the story to the reader so that it doesn’t matter that they know the ending.
- Write songs to insert into a story, and base the story around them.
- Update a classic story, or retell a classic story that is heavily disguised so that no one realizes that it is based on the original material.
- Tell a story from multiple points of view.
- Make a list of words and then use every word in a story.
- Make a list of words and then purposely leave them out of a story.
- Make your narrator unreliable.
- Tell a story from an animal’s point of view.
- Tell a story using a series of photos.
- Research a profession that you are interested in but don’t know about, and write about that job.
- Write about your version of the afterlife.
- Write about a choice that you would have made differently and what the results would have been.
- Ask a child for a topic, and write about what they suggest.
- Come up with an interesting title, and shape a story around it.
- Write about your family history or one interesting relative’s life.
- Create a “choose your own adventure” or a story with multiple endings.
- Write a story based on a piece of art that you own or someone else’s. Make it about the subject of the piece, the artist, or the art itself (e.g., being stolen, being created, etc.).
- Write your version of the apocalypse.
- Create a fad.
- Center the story around a major news event.
- Write about an illness or disability.
- Write about the beginning or end of a friendship.
- Write about a dream you have had or a recurring dream that you continue to have.
- Write about the last days of someone’s life.
- Write about a kidnapping.
- Write about a celebrity.
- Write a coming of age story that you can identify with.
- Write about food, cooking, or eating.
- Write a fictional story designed as a memoir.
- Write something funny. Laugh out loud funny.
- Make a notoriously bad story good.
- Write about running or starting a business.
- Tell a ghost story.
- Write about mental illness, preferably one you have experience with or know about on some level.
- Write about somebody’s fear or phobia.
- Write about a character turning into something not human (an animal, an object, etc.).
- Write a story that relies heavily on dialogue over plot.
- Write about a crowded place (e.g., a concert, a theme park, a sports field, etc.).
- Write about a dream job or dream life.
- Write about someone with superpowers, not necessarily a superhero.
- Write about somebody who does something terrible and how they deal with the consequences.
- Write about a sporting event or team.
- Write a sequel to one of your previous pieces.
How did you do? Come up with any ideas? Have any prompts to add to the list? If so, let me know in the comments, or feel free to send me a draft or finished piece to read. Good luck!
LaZeric Freeman from Hammond on June 29, 2019: