Writing Prompts to Help You Write Short Stories
Capture the Moment in Words
Writing Prompts for Short Stories
We have all experienced that feeling. Your story should be written, edited, and ready for delivery. Unfortunately that hasn't happened as your brain is refusing to play. The clock is ticking down to your deadline as you doodle little pictures on your sheet of white paper and your laptop screen ominously stares back at you. The more you watch the clock the harder the task seems.
However, all is not lost. All you need is an idea, a direction to go in, and then the words will be flowing freely from you. I have been there and I really do get it.
With that in mind I have listed below some ideas to jump start your imagination and also some creative writing prompts for short stories, which you are free to use. The prompts are designed to help spark off the beginning of a story and then your own imagination will take over, breathing life into it and making it your own.
Oh and off course always remember to carry a notebook and pen with you to jot down ideas as they come to you. Also keep a camera close to capture those interesting sights which crop up when you are out and about.
All Anna Haven's written and photographic work is subject to copyright and has not to be copied in full or part without full prior written consent from myself. The only exception is the thirty numbered writing prompts listed in this article. The thirty prompts in this article must not be copied and used collectively together or even to be listed together in multiples. However, please feel free to use the prompts individually as writing aids if you would like to and if they would be of any help to you.
Capture Photographs as Soon as you Spot Interesting Items
Ideas for Your Writing
Firstly I am going to suggest a few techniques which are very simple, yet really effective in finding inspiration for your writing. They are quick and easy to do and with a little practice they can become as natural as writing your name.
The Natural World Is a Potent Source of Writing Inspiration
Pulling the Story From the Freewrite
To convert your freewriting into a writing prompt you need to read it over and see what questions jump out at you.
Who is the lonely man? Is he the frightening one? Is the woman good or bad?
There is light and dark suggested in both the man and woman. Is the man chasing the woman or is he running in fear from her.
I feel the woman is the darker character and out of control. The man sounds weaker, frightened and desperately trying to clutch at some form of safety and light.
From the thirty second freewrite we now have characters, power balance and the bare bones of a plot.
Freewriting is my personal favourite. The idea is that you allow your words to tumble out without consciously controlling them. Don't question or construct what comes into your mind. When you read it back initially it can seem jumbled and incoherent but on closer inspection you can see a whole plot line and a lot of questions running underneath. Think of a word to start it and let it flow.
I am going to use the word 'sun' to start my freewrite with:
Sun. Fun. Although cold, he is bold. Black night, dark fright. Soon be gone. The lonely one. Hold tight and see the light. Sunflowers blowing in the wind. White sugar. Running from the sun. Holding the one. Freely seeing. Only believing. She was a whirlwind of radiation. Fleeing, reeling, lost at sea. To own, to hold. Be bold.
Show the Light and Dark Within Your Characters
Pulling the Story From the Thought Trail
We need to now read the thought trail and pull out the questions to lead us in the direction of our writing prompt.
Are Annmarie and Call sisters? Was Annmarie revered and Call unloved and what demons lay in Annmarie's past that caused her fragile state of mind? Did Annemarie lose her life? Was the dark eyed man wanted by both sisters and was he a bad man?
For me the sisters had an uneasy relationship as Call was always in the cold growing up as Annmarie basked in her parent's love. The dark eyed man came into Call's life and was a destructive and evil influence. Call told him of the money her parent's had left Annmarie and the dark souled man had found a way to manipulate Call to kill Annmarie without her consent or intention. Perhaps Call had played on Annmarie's own insecurities from a childhood event, feeding those thoughts of self doubt, draining her hope till there was none left.
A Thought Trail
I also use a thought trail as an alternative idea to freewriting. It works on a similar idea that allowing your mind to freely wander without conscious interference or input will produce fresh and creative thoughts. Both these methods are designed to allow your mind to dig deep in thoughts, memories and beliefs and then to use that knowledge. With the thought trail we will start with a single word again, but this time instead of sentences we will just write down single words and see where the trail takes us. A single word can seem easier than the longer sentences of freewriting.
A Thought Trail Example
I am going to use the word 'sea' to start my thought trail with:
Sea - Stars - Ship - Stars - Finally - Free - Village - Vaulted - Remains - Insane - Long - Tall - Annmarie - Taken - Tossed - Life - Lost - Deep - Down- Sea -Treasure - Chest - Dead - Men - Rest - Sister - Sinner - Never - Winner - Poor - Call - Out - Cold - Jewels - Sold - Dark - Eyed - Man - Ran.
Choose a Word for Writing Ideas
If you are still feeling at a loss for inspiration today then don't despair. As I said we all have those moments and the good thing is they pass.
Below I have listed thirty short story prompts. These are the first line of a short story which should lead you onwards to writing more. Write the first line and then follow on with whatever comes into your head. A plot should evolve in your head as you sense the situation. Is it tense or happy? Is the character revealed in that first sentence? How does it make you feel?
Be bold and write freely as there is no right or wrong only different perspectives.
Ignite Your Writing Muse
Thirty Writing Prompts That Are Free for You to Use
As I said before all written work by Anna Haven is protected by copyright and should not be reproduced in any form with the exception of the thirty numbered writing prompts listed here. You can freely use these thirty prompts individually.
- Whispering sounds came from the dark hallway as she bit her lip and crouched lower.
- 'Danny why did you do it. What hold does she have over you?'
- The cold wind churned the snow into a deadly force. He wrapped his arms over his thin chest and just tried to put one foot on front of another.
- 'Don't go there. Please. You don't understand what she has there and what it will do to you.'
- Clouds hung in damp patches and oppressed his bleak mind. Dangerous thoughts assaulted him from all sides.
- Birthdays were special. Birthdays were for celebrating. Birthdays didn't usually involve your right arm being dislocated.
- 'Don't you dare. Why do you think that you have any right to comment on my life when you have made such a mess of yours.'
- Pink streaks on glossy black hair adorned Shell's pretty head. Geared up for battle the girly hair had to be confined within an ugly black hat.
- He walked under the yellow streetlights all the while being careful not to step on the pavement cracks. Because he knew what had happened the last time. The dark haired boy couldn't tell anyone now though, so his secret was safe.
- 'Put my things down. You can't take them. I only owe him three hundred.' Cain stared at the mousey little women tightly gripping her hoover and laughed.
- A shadow suddenly cast onto the peeling wall. Amy looked up with bloodshot eyes at the sudden darkening.
- 'Do you believe in fate? Do you know I can't believe we are both here tonight. You know what it means don't you?'
- Children's laughter rang out as the air weaved soft scents of jasmine and lavender onto the tapestry of a brand new day.
- Yellow shorts were not cool. Yellow shorts with a pink top tipped you firmly into the dysfunctional and uber uncool teen zone. My parents were obviously not only embarrassing but also colour-blind.
- 'Quickly before he comes back. Now listen to me. We don't have long. I know his secret and you can use it to get out.'
- Look at her. Unbelievable! Sixty eight years old with grey hair to her waist and enough makeup to supply a beauty counter. No. My grandmother was not cool but she did have a very special gift.
- Fee spotted him as soon as he walked into the bar. Black hair and the cheekbones a woman would kill for. He was alone and seemed to be watching her. Not shy little glances but full on hot stares. She felt her blood warm as she slowly started to walk towards him.
- Gentle spits of rain softly washed away the dirty stain her blood had left the night before.
- The phone rang loudly. Taunting him. They knew he was in. They always knew. He slowly moved towards it as the bile rose in his throat.
- 'Janie don't you ever forget that you are the third child of the third child in the McCairn family. That is not something to be ignored. Those children laughing at you have no idea what you are about to become.'
- The soft red silk fell down onto the hardwood floor with the sweeping flourish of a conductor who knew the crescendo was pending.
- Blinking back hot tears she looked at her frail patient. His thin grey skin stretched over bony hands as he reached out to her.
- The small blue bike lay on it's side. The crooked back wheel spun slowly.
- Forty seven years I have walked that path. Day after day. Listening to his whispered words. Today something snapped.
- People usually find life throw grit into their eyes. Occasionally a few lucky ones find a rainbow. Tom Stead stood firmly in the grit camp.
- Heavy footfalls echoed throughout the dark, damp cavern. Kai sunk lower. Trying, desperately to fade away. His scrawny body trying to melt into the cold, stone floor.
- 'You saved me. I can't believe you came back for me,' tears rolled down Suzanne's gaunt cheeks as she clung to her father.
- I didn't know it was special. How on earth was I to know. An old broken box with dirt on it. Stupid woman. Superstitious rubbish. I don't believe in curses anyway.
- She looked at his dark blue eyes. Deep, dark eyes which seemed to smoulder. She shouldn't want him. He was dangerous. But she did. Desperately.
- The sun shone upon her face, as all her cares drifted away. Her limbs sunk into the padded chair, then tensed as she remembered the last time she had been outside. Fifteen years before.
Permission is given to use the above thirty prompts individually but they are not to be copied and listed in any multiples.
Harness the Full Power of Your Words
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Sights, Sounds, and Smells Need to Come Alive Within Your Story
The Inspired Conclusion
Thank you for reading. I hope that you found something within these words that was of help and interest to you. May all your tales be winding and all your stars be high.
Breathe Life Into Your Tale
Do You Use Writing Prompts?
Do you use writing prompts to inspire short stories?
Blaze a Trail With Your Imagination
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© 2014 Anna Haven