We know how it is – sometimes even the most gloriously free-wheeling writing sessions can come to a dead stop. Worse, is when it happens as you’re staring down a harsh deadline!
To increase your chances of having 2k-word days, it helps to have some writing prompts to hand – ready to fire up your imagination and keep your readers surprised and interested.
Creative writing prompts can come in all shapes and sizes. Some are very detailed and essentially lay out an entire story thread, but when you need to move fast on an existing manuscript, we prefer using the shorter model – ideal for a quick kick-start, with plenty of room for improvisation.
Just in case you get stuck, here’s a list of 40 writing prompts you can use in a variety of ways: fully-formed as part of your story, to launch a new scene, or even to inspire an entire plot. Some are even a little surreal.
Let your immediate thoughts guide you when you read each one. You might find they cause something unrelated to pop into your head, which turns out to be that missing detail you were searching for all along.
So let your imagination run free and enjoy playing with these prompts. You never know where they’ll take you!
- A terrorist threat at a food trucker convention.
- The summer breeze is rustling a flowery summer dress.
- By the time I reached the train station, it had flown away.
- Every morning I walked to the cafe for a cappuccino, a croissant, and to look at her.
- Our secret meeting was interrupted by a parrot.
- I could see the sun as well as the morning star.
- Russell couldn’t help but feel that something was missing from the refrigerator.
- Lady Luck was waiting for him at the casino.
- I had to stay with my grandmother for a while because mom had a new boyfriend.
- The noise of the big city has always terrified me.
- The melody of the music box reminded her of ice cream.
- It was the first day of my new job, but I was far from excited.
- The cemetery was quiet. Too quiet.
- What does the man in the red coat want?
- Every time I pulled, the ropes seemed to get tighter around my wrists.
- The smell of burning autumn leaves.
- Shadows closed in on Fiona as she walked down the alley behind Josie’s Cafe.
- Flowers would arrive at my house every Tuesday at 3 pm. I had no idea who they were from.
- The hospital was already engulfed in chaos as more bomb victims arrived.
- Rain mingled with the tears on her cheeks.
- Photographs bringing back painful memories.
- I was wearing the wrong costume – and I had to go onstage in ten minutes.
- What happened in August, stays in August.
- It was all over Facebook before he had a chance to explain.
- He was only watching TV – and then the police showed up.
- I assembled the gun on the first try, although I’d never picked one up before.
- The little boy was playing at spies.
- Is the serial killer always the person you least suspect?
- The smell of nail polish and beer.
- Why would someone run from something so cute?
- The restraining order meant she couldn’t visit the one place she needed to go.
- The taste of chocolate lingered on his lips for hours afterward.
- When the lettuce started to go limp, she knew time was running out.
- Why does the woman put out her garbage so early in the morning?
- After everything he’d been through, a normal, soft bed felt like heaven.
- The titanium endoskeleton was confiscated by airport security.
- The French word for ‘raspberry’ is the key to the mystery.
- Cab drivers don’t usually carry machine guns – but Nora was different.
- The woman they’ve always called ‘mom’ isn’t their birth mother.
- Takeout leftovers were all they had to eat – and they wanted more.