K S Lane enjoys reading, writing, and Oxford commas. She penned her first novel at the age of 12 and has been writing ever since.
Creative writing is awesome. It's relaxing, cathartic, fun, and allows your imagination to run wild. But there are some times when coming up with an idea is just impossible, or when your brain is so overworked that you just wish that someone could tell you what to write about. Believe me, I know the feeling. Listed below are 10 of the most creative, exciting, and all-around best writing prompts. If you're looking for a fun writing exercise to get warmed up for a bigger project, if you're stumped on a story writing project for school, or if you just want to get the difficult idea-having bit out of the way so that you can get writing, then this article has exactly what you need!
10. "Oh my God," she said. "Where have you been? And why are you covered in feathers?" He grinned.
"It's a long story, but I promise it has a good ending."
This is a nice little open-ended prompt that leaves a lot of fill-in-the-blanks for the writer. Who are 'he' and 'she'? How do they know each other? Where has 'he' been? Why on earth is he covered in feathers? What's the good ending? All you have to do is answer the questions and presto, you've got yourself a story.
9. You wake up alone in an abandoned hospital with no memory of how you got there. It's dark and cold, and you can hear something skittering over the floorboards...
This is a great prompt is you're aiming to write something in the horror genre. Abandoned hospitals are the perfect setting for scary stuff to happen, and mysterious skittering is always intriguing. Is it rats, or is it something more sinister?
8. Close your eyes and imagine a room as vividly as you can. Once the picture is fully formed in your mind, write a character describing the room. Without explicitly stating any personality traits or backstory, try to show the reader what kind of person your character is just by having them walk around and examine the room.
This is more of a writing exercise than a prompt, but if you put a bit of work into it, you could definitely flesh this out to be a fully formed story. The idea behind this one is to practice letting your character's personality seep through in everything that they do and everything they observe. For example, rather than writing that "she is a happy sort of person and she likes flowers," try letting the reader figure out that information for themselves by saying, "she beamed as she noticed the flowers on the mantlepiece."
7. A farmer's son from a small village at the edge of a magical kingdom discovers a map and a sword.
If you're a fantasy junkie, you'll love this one. It's probably more suited to an extended work (ie. A novel) than a short story, but if you’re clever then you could definitely make it work as either one. It leaves a lot for you to think about. Is the farmer's son special? What's the kingdom like? What kind of magic does it have? Where does the map lead to? Is the sword special somehow?
6. Your favourite teacher makes you stay after class and clean the tables. Disgruntled, you follow her orders and go down into the basement to collect cleaning supplies. When you come back, she's gone. All that's left behind is a cryptic note.
"You're the only one I can trust with this. The first clue is in the gymnasium. You have seven hours, and then I'm gone forever."
This is a little more specific than some of the other prompts on the list, but I like that it gives you a clear direction to go while still leaving a bit of room for flexibility. And if you struggle to come up with good characters, you could just write about yourself and your own favourite teacher. Easy Peasy!
5. "Um, Mr. Wizard?"
"Yes, little boy?"
"What are you doing in my bedroom?"
"Well, I suppose that's a fair question. The answer requires a bit of an explanation, though. "
I love this prompt. There are a million things you could do with it. The wizard could be good or evil. He could be from the same world as the boy or from a totally different dimension. The explanation could be absolutely anything, and afterwards they could travel through a magical portal or take a taxi to the next town over. Let your imagination run wild!
4. You're the captain of a spaceship headed to Alpha Centauri, the nearest solar system to our own. You're on the bridge, minding your own business, when all of a sudden alarms start blaring. The ship rocks side to side as you're hit by a sudden meteor shower. Somehow, you have to save yourself and the thousands of passengers on board.
This prompt is the beginning of what's sure to be a short, sharp, action-packed short story. I've personally found that it works well for a warm-up exercise before working on a bigger project or a more important short story. It's a great exercise regarding pacing and suspense and will help you practice injecting excitement into your stories.
3. Write a story where a character you've written about previously walks through a market. Describe the market from their point of view and include an interaction between them and one of the stall-holders. Then, do the exact same thing with another character you've written, having them interact with the same person. Put the two stories side by side and try to isolate the differences between the two characters. For example, do they notice different features of the market as they pass through? How do their conversations with the seller differ?
This one is less of a prompt and more of an invaluable writing exercise. It allows you to practice and develop your characters' voices. Theoretically, no two people would walk through the market notice or think the exact same things. Someone who grew up in a place with lots of people might feel the crowd pressing in on them, whereas someone who grew up in a city might not pay any attention to the crowd or the noise and instead focus on the stalls themselves. If the two stories look exactly the same, you know that you need to work on your point of view writing, or flesh out the character's personalities more.
2. Exiting a coffee shop with a fresh latte clutched tightly in your hands, you're dismayed when you walk directly into someone and spill the scalding drink all over yourself. Dripping with coffee and bright red in the face, you look up to see a young man. He's similarly dripping with coffee, and staring at you in a way that makes your heart flutter.
"You're beautiful," is all he says.
This is a pretty classic start to any romance story, but that doesn't mean that you can't put a twist on it. Try taking the cliche and turning it on its head to make the most unique story you can. Perhaps instead of blushing and giving the stranger her phone number, the woman holding the coffee calls him a creep, pours the rest of her drink on him, and storms off. Perhaps it's not a woman at all, but two men who will be the focus of the love story. Maybe the pair already know each other. Maybe one of them is a blood-sucking alien. Try to get as creative and weird with it as you can!
1. You're walking home from a tough day at work, headphones jammed into your ears, trying to ignore everything but the music, when you stop dead. There's a giant purple rabbit in the middle of the street, its nose twitching a little bit as it stares at you. But that's not the weird part.
The weird part is that no one else seems to have noticed it.
Where did the purple rabbit come from? Why can no one else see it? Is it going to hurt you or take you on some kind of whimsical adventure? You could adapt this prompt into any genre or style you want. It's easy to see how it could become a fantasy or a comedy, but give the bunny glowing red eyes and fangs, and you could even make it into a horror story! I love this prompt from the bottom of my heart, and I’ve used it several different times and put different variations on it. If you’re looking for a fun, engaging prompt, look no further than this!
And there we have it, 10 of the best creative fiction prompts and exercises that are sure to add a spark of excitement to your stories. If your favourite prompt wasn't featured on this list, help some fellow writers out by leaving a comment with the prompt and why you love it!
© 2018 K S Lane
iffi on December 10, 2018:
K S Lane (author) from Melbourne, Australia on December 09, 2018:
Thanks very much, Pamela!
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 09, 2018:
This is such a good informative article. I liked all the writing prompts that fill your head with all types of possible story lines.
K S Lane (author) from Melbourne, Australia on December 09, 2018:
Rodric- A divine sign or not, I hope you enjoy them!
Rodric Anthony from Surprise, Arizona on December 09, 2018:
Thanks for offering the writing prompts. I will be honest, I went to the computer to read scriptures and your article came up in the feed. Maybe it is an indication that I should try some if not all of these ten prompts and exercises.
K S Lane (author) from Melbourne, Australia on December 08, 2018:
Thanks very much, John. I hope you get some good use out of them!
John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on December 08, 2018:
Hi K S, thank you for this very helpful article. I love writing prompts as they help you to explore outside your normal comfort zone and experiment with writing different genres etc. These are good. I may try a couple.