I used to be in the habit of posting writing prompts. Today I was thinking about starting that up again, which meant going through all thousand+ posts on this weblog to find the ones I already used. Probably something I should do anyway, but that’s a long-view goal. And it requires some research. My favorite kind of writing prompt has always come from short news stories, and I may repost a few of them. But for immediate gratification I decided to look to other writers and websites, and I found some great resources.
Reddit has a huge Writing Prompts subsection. Many prompts are very short, and there’s a definite leaning toward sci-fi, but there are also some gems. Examples:
These are short and tend to run to formula. You are give a title (“Any Given Psycho”) and have to write the story that fits it. Or three nouns that have to figure prominently in your story (a rooster, an empty bag of peanut M&Ms, a diary with a broken lock). This kind of prompt — a handful of nouns or a simple phrase — often work well for me. I wrote a story called “Emergency Exit Only” following from a similar prompt.
On their website they have a weekly feature called The Time is Now. One example:
C. S. Lewis used a wardrobe, J. M. Barrie used the second star to the right, and Lewis Carroll used a rabbit hole—each a gateway to another world. This week, pick an object that is important to you and transform it into a portal to an alternate world. Write a story about someone discovering the portal and adjusting to life where everything is foreign. Take into consideration where this secret passage is located and what it feels like to pass through it.
From the UK, a generator that gives you a first line. Example “Why had nobody ever mentioned Mom’s twin?”
This site has a pretty good stash of prompts. Example: “A babysitter is snooping around her employer’s house and finds a disturbing photograph.”
If you know of a really great on-line resource for writing prompts, please let me know in the comments.