The Ultimate “How To” Writing Book by Christopher Fielden.
Amazon: 5 starts.
Order a FREE taster PDF
BUY the Book

Follow me on Twitter.
Find me on Facebook.
My Facebook Business Page.
Connect with me on LinkedIn.
Subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Subscribe to my mailing list

* indicates required

Writing Prompts

Quick links on this page:

Below is a list of original, innovative writing prompts to help inspire stories, poems and all other forms of creative writing. Whether you want to get rid of writers block or just want to find some new inspirational ideas, this list is designed to help.

Dos Prompt

At the bottom of the page, you will find links to other lists of writing prompts, meaning there are thousands for you to look through.

Some of the prompts and ideas on this page have been provided by other writers. Those prompts are credited to them, below the prompt title.

If you would like to suggest a prompt to be added to the page, please click here. Over time, the idea is to build this into a large resource. I think having a list of prompts from lots of different writers gives more variety / value to the reader.

Writing Prompts Think

I decided to create this resource after a conversation with my friend Pauly who is a teacher at Becket Primary School in the UK. Sorry, I should probably refer to him as Mr Davis for the sake of his teaching reputation, but he will always be Pauly to me :-)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he was looking for creative ideas to share with his class as part of their home learning. I shared some writing prompts that I'd originally written for Daily Prompt (a writing app) with him, and the writing challenges I run on my website.

I thought it would be useful to share the prompts with my website users and invite contributions to make the resource more useful to Pauly Mr Davis and everyone else. So that is why this page exists.

A List of Inspirational Creative Writing Prompts

4x4 Challenge

Prompt by Chris Fielden

Take the 4th book from your bookshelf.

Open it on page 4.

Find the 4th sentence on the page and start a story using its first 4 words.

Optional word limits:

  • Flash fiction: 444 words
  • Short Story: 4,444 words
  • Longer stories (novellas / novels etc.): 44,444 words

The children of Becket Primary School have used the '4x4 challenge' writing prompt as a school competition. You can see the results and read their stories here.

 

ABC Murder

Prompt by Dave Langdale

  • A – A holiday you went on
  • B – An object in your bedroom
  • C – An eccentric character in your life

A is the murder location. B is the murder weapon. C is your detective.

 

Animal Encounter

Prompt by Sarah Doyle

Write a poem about an encounter that you have had with an animal (or animals), whether mammals, birds, insects, or fish.

Use sensory language to evoke the animal(s) in your poem – such as colour, smell, touch and texture, and sound. Think about small physical details – did the animal have eyelashes, what colour was the bird’s beak, was the insect shiny, was the fox’s fur sleek or rough, etc.?

If you didn’t get close enough to touch or smell the animal(s), imagine what that would have been like. How did the encounter make you feel, either about yourself or about humans in general? How do you think the animal(s) might have felt?

If you prefer, your poem can be about an imaginary encounter with an animal that you might or might not want to meet in real life.

 

Awake

Prompt by Chris Fielden

After falling into a coma, you wake 1,000 years in the future. Someone has written a message on your arm in marker pen. It reads:

Find the Augury – she will help you.

 

Bad Hair Day

Prompt by Jude Higgins

Write down a memory of your worst haircut / style. And people's reaction to it. 10 mins, fast.

Now write a fiction where you give this haircut / style to a character of the opposite sex to you and twenty years older or younger. Make their life change drastically because of the change to their hair.

 

Blind Date

Prompt by Lesley Truchet

You have lived with your domineering mother for years, caring for her in her old age. She recently passed away, leaving you with mixed emotions and more time for yourself.

You have little experience with love, but you are about to go on a blind date.

 

Book Ghost

Prompt by Mary Fielden

You wake in the night to see a figure standing in front to your bookcase at the foot of your bed.  Alarmed, you shout out and the figure shatters into fragments and transforms into the books on your shelf. 

Who or what is the mysterious presence and what happens next?

 

Demon Baby

Prompt by Chris Fielden

A couple of years ago, you found a baby demon and decided to rear it.

Now it's fully grown, it's started causing you 'problems'.

 

Desert Island Disaster

Prompt by Mel Ciavucco

What would happen if you were stuck on a desert island with your family?

Consider making this a group exercise by asking all of your family to contribute ideas.

 

Did You Sleep Well?

Prompt by Chris Fielden

You wake up after an afternoon nap and hear the question, "Did you sleep well?"

You live alone, so spin around quickly and see your pet, looking at you questioningly.

 

Different Perspectives

Prompt by Danny Shilling

Write a story from three different perspectives:

  1. A child
  2. An old person
  3. A family pet

Each new paragraph / stanza should change the perspective.

 

E=MC2

Prompt by Mark Rutterford

E is in trouble – you decide what kind of trouble.

The combined efforts of M and C save E. Tell that story on one page.

 

Every Picture...

Prompt by K. J. Watson

Look at a favourite painting. Create a story by considering:

  • How did the people or things in the painting arrive where they are now?
  • What are they going to do next?

If you need a painting to spark your imagination, Google the name of an artist such as Salvador Dali, René Magritte and Leonora Carrington. Their work is often fun, weird and inspirational.

 

Fantastical Correspondence

Prompt by Chris Fielden

Write a letter to a mythical creature:

  • A demon
  • A dragon
  • A werewolf
  • A Vampire
  • Invent your own mythical creature to write to

 

First Lines

Prompt by Alex Anderson

Use one of the following lines to start a piece of creative writing and just go with the creative flow:

  • I smiled and offered my hand...
  • He looked so mean and hungry...
  • "I see you," the dragon said...
  • I wasn't expecting mail, but there it is...
  • "My lord, how may I serve you?"...
  • "Why me, I'm just an ordinary Joe..."
  • "OK, the hole's dug, now what?"
  • "Think. What's really wanted here?"...

 

Google It

Prompt by Chris Fielden

Start typing a question into Google and see what suggestions come up. Use one of the suggestions to inspire a story. Here are a few example questions to get you started:

  • Why does my...
  • When did...
  • What is...
  • How do...
  • Where was...
  • Who made...

You can also add each letter of the alphabet to the question opening to get more ideas. For example:

  • Why does my a...
  • Why does my b...
  • Etc.

Why Does Google Search

The fact that these are the results most searched for on Google for questions starting 'why does' says a lot about the priorities of the human race and also explains why we don't have enough scientists... needless to say, this prompt is likely to waste a lot of your time and make you laugh :-)

 

He Said, She Said - Dialogue Only

Prompt by Penelope Hester

Write a short story in no more than 1,000 words using ONLY dialogue.

And NO speech tags, like 'he said menacingly'.  Make the dialogue indicate the characters attitudes. If time has to pass, find a way to do this with the conversation.

 

If The Cap Fits

Prompt by John Wheway

Find an unusual hat, or a hat substitute such as a waste paper basket, a pair of trousers, a lamb chop, something of that kind.

Write a 300 word story in the voice of a character who has always wanted to be seen in town wearing this item on his/her/their head.

 

Insomnia

Prompt by Chris Fielden

Your character has been unable to sleep for 2 days, leading them to make a terrible mistake.

 

Jam Mine

Prompt by Mark Rutterford

Your favourite food isn't manufactured. It's either:

  • Mined from the ground
  • Flown in by owls 
  • Squeezed out of the clouds
  • Something else...

You're in charge of production. Write about it.

 

Jigsaw

Prompt by Mike Scott Thomson

Write a short story (as long as it needs to be) where a jigsaw puzzle is solved, but the final picture is not what was on the box. It could be a case of:

  • A message from beyond the grave, scrawled across the picture, leading to a mystery which needs untangling
  • A completely different picture, but a picture of what?
    • A strange person (who is it?)
    • A strange place (where is it?)
    • And why?
  • The picture is almost the same, but featuring a ghostly apparition...
  • Or your own idea!

 

Last Night, A DJ Saved My Writers' Block

Prompt by Neil Renton

Take a note of the next three songs that you listen to, then use those songs for inspiration.

You can be inspired by the lyrics, the song titles or a feeling the music gives you. This can trigger ideas for characters, settings or dialogue. Then develop those ideas into scenes or short stories.

Consider using music streaming services and random shuffles to keep you on your writing toes.

 

Leap Day Penalty

Prompt by Lesley Truchet

In some parts of the world, a man is expected to pay a penalty if he refuses a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day.

Write a story about a man who receives a proposal on Leap Day from a woman he doesn't want to marry.

 

Obsession

Prompt by John Holland

Write about an obsession. It can be anything at all, so long as it's out of control.

If you don't know enough about your chosen subject, research it and note down amusing, scary or inspiring things about it.

Don't just write about how it affects your main character. Also write about how it impacts others.

 

Olympic Gold

Prompt by Mark Rutterford

The Olympics includes a new sport. You're about to go for gold in... what?

  • Dog walking?
  • Hugging?
  • Synchronised texting?

Will all your training pay off?

 

One Word: Today

Prompt by Michael Rumsey

Your story starts with one word: Today.

But what happened today?

  • Today at work, I...
  • Today, for the first time ever...
  • Today, my mother rang to say...
  • Today, something unusual...
  • Today...

 

Property Purge

Prompt by Chris Fielden

Write an advert to sell an unusual property:

  • A castle
  • A lair located in an extinct volcano
  • A museum, filled with historical artefacts
  • A prison
  • A space station
  • An island
  • Something else...

 

Reach For The Stars

Prompt by Allen Ashley

Imagine that you are running a futuristic travel agency and are drumming up some business. Where can you take your clients? What delights might you offer?

Here are some examples or starters:

  • Ever wanted to surf the rings of Saturn or stare Jupiter right in its red spot? Solar Tours has special offers on all flights right now…
  • Aldebaran, Sirius and Proxima Centauri are all much closer than you think. Contact Wormhole Travel for further details…
  • Like drawing in the dust? Think you’re the Space Picasso? Join us for the Sea of Tranquillity Lunar Art Festival this May…

Now sell me your own space holiday!

 

Reverse Chronology

Prompt by Chris Fielden

Write a story backwards. Start with the final paragraph and work your way towards the beginning, by going back in time with each paragraph you write.

 

Script By Six

Prompt by Chris Fielden

Below you will find 3 different options of varying difficulty, all regarding the number 6.

  • (Easy) Write a story in 6 short chapters
  • (Hard) Each chapter should contain 6 paragraphs comprising 6 sentences
  • (Difficult) Each sentence should be 6 words long

 

Secret Santa

Prompt by Lesley Truchet

Someone has left a large package on your doorstep. You open it and find...

 

Sense Outside

Prompt by Mark Fielden

You're told to stay indoors during a pandemic. That means there's no one around; few vehicles to pollute with noise and fumes, so you can see, hear and smell a lot more.

Go into your garden, onto your balcony; stand in your doorway or by an open window.

  • What can you hear?
  • What can you smell?
  • What can you see?

Look up, look down, look from side to side.

Relax.

Let your senses absorb our quieter world.

  • What's that rustling over there?
  • What's that creature high in the sky?
  • What's that scent on the breeze?
  • What is it doing?
  • Where is it going?
  • Why is it there?

 

Sounds Like Greek To Me

Prompt by Annette Taylor

Your main character recovers from a head injury and is diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome.

 

Spitting Image

Prompt by Annette Taylor

Write about an art lover who visits a museum and becomes fascinated by a portrait of an Italian noble they resemble.

 

Superpowers

Prompt by Chris Fielden

You wake up to find you have a superpower.

At first it seems useless, but as the day progresses, you realise its potential.

 

Tantalising Tune Titles

Prompt by Ville Nummenpää

Pick a song title and write a story based on it. Never mind the lyrics, let the title fuel your imagination.

So much to choose from... here are a few ideas to start you off:

  • 'Crazy Horses'
  • 'Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap'
  • 'Hot Stuff'
  • 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction'
  • 'Killed By Death'
  • 'No Woman, No Cry'
  • 'Seek And Destroy'
  • 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'
  • 'Take Me Home, Country Roads'
  • 'Tiger Feet'
  • 'Who Let The Dogs Out'

 

Teashop Trio

Prompt by Sue Johnson

Choose a character from three different fairytales or nursery rhymes.

Have them meet for afternoon tea:

  • What do they order?
  • Why are they meeting?
  • What happens next?

 

Think Outside The Box... By Thinking What's In The Box

Prompt by Lynda Nash

Susie receives a parcel. Write a list of 20 possible things that could be inside it.

Don't be afraid to be absurd. Read through your list and discard all the 'normal' or clichéd suggestions, leaving the more unusual items. Choose one.

Now consider these questions:

  • Did Susie expect this parcel or was it a surprise?
  • What is her reaction to the item inside?
  • What will Suzie do next?
  • Susie can be anyone you want her/him to be and any age
  • What if two different people got the same parcel... would their reactions be the same?

 

Unbelievable Statements

Prompt by A.H. Creed

There is no such thing as colour (as unbelievable as it seems, this is true).

Create your own unbelievable statement. Then create a character who believes it or a world in which it could be true.

 

What If...

Prompt by Michael Rumsey

What if things were different and not as we expect them to be?

Take something normal from everyday life and apply some 'what if' imagination to it.

For example, what if...

  • all the colours of the rainbow changed
  • dogs could talk
  • Santa Claus over slept
  • snow was warm
  • the chicken did not cross the road
  • time reversed itself
  • two plus two did not equal four
  • we could see atoms
  • we did not have to sleep
  • you could make a phone call to your favourite fictional character
  • you could visit anywhere in the universe
  • you were appointed head teacher of your local school for one day only
  • you were gifted with ESP

 

Where Did It Go?

Prompt by Chris Fielden

Write a complaint to your local town council because a local landmark has disappeared.

 

Wish You Were Here

Prompt by Steph Minns

Do a search for images of postcards on the internet.

Look for postcards with people on them. Use one of these people to inspire a character who goes on an adventure.

Look for postcards of places. Set a story in this location.

 

You've Always Been Here

Prompt by Dave Langdale

You're interviewing for a new job. Walking into the boardroom, you're greeted by the manager.

You mention how nice it is to be there and the manager looks at you with a puzzled expression. 'What do you mean?' they say. 'You've always been here.'

 

You’ve Been Sentenced to 100

Prompt by Chris Fielden

Write a story that comprises 1 sentence that is exactly 100 words in length.

 

ZY Challenge

Prompt by Mark Rutterford

Write about a character whose names ends in 'zy'. It could be their real name, or not:

  • Izzy could be a nickname
  • Stormzy could be a pen name
  • Wheezy could be a stage name

How did your character get this name? What is its significance on their life?

back to top

Other Lists of Writing Prompts

Below you will find details of other websites that provide lists of inspirational creative writing prompts:

  • Daily Prompt is an app that, as you probably guessed from the name, sends you a new writing prompt every day - users also have access to every prompt that has been posted in the app since day 1, so over 300
  • Reedsy supply a list of over 700 creative writing prompts
  • The Self-Publishing School supply a list of over 400 creative writing prompts
  • Think Written supply a list of over 365 writing prompts; one for each day of the year

back to top

Suggest A Prompt

Do you have a creative writing prompt that you think might inspire other writers? If so, please contact me or just fill in the comment form below.

Please be sure to include:

  1. Your name
  2. A title for your prompt
  3. The prompt itself (concise prompts preferred please)

If your prompt is published as part of the list above, you will be credited for thinking it up :-)

back to top

Share

Leave your comments

Please use the form below to leave your comments. All comments will be reviewed so won't appear on the page instantly. I will not share your details with anyone else. Most recent comments appear at the bottom of the page, oldest at the top.

Your Details:

Please prove you're a human by entering the security code in the box below: 4547

Comments:

Your comments:

Hullabaloo 22
Thanks so much for compiling this list. Great variety to the prompts - definitely something for everyone!

Chris Fielden
Thank you, H22 :-)

Sylvie S
Thanks, the prompts look really useful. I have also forwarded them to my 15 year old grand-daughter as she enjoys writing.

Chris Fielden
No problem, thanks Sylvie. And thank you for sharing with your grand-daughter too – very much appreciated. I hope she finds them useful :-)

Alan D
Very many thanks for this – almost makes a 'structurally adventurous' story on its own! Now, there’s an idea!

Chris Fielden
Hi Alan. Good to hear from you. LOL, very true – great idea :-)

Alex A
As I see it, the moodier the prompt the more it leads you to start thinking and, if you are in the mood, just go with your creative 'flow'.

For example, 'I am coming home' became the title and starting point of 23 lines of poetry (3 x 5 line verses and an 8 line one). When done, I saw a sailing ship and coloured the base into this wood brown and thought it could be a wall hung framed piece of work. From a distance, you see the ship and that it is made up of words, so maybe you'll step closer to read the work.

Do these not feel like prompts that let you choose where and how far you take them?

NOTE: You can see Alex's prompts in the list above, under the title 'First Lines'.

Chris Fielden
Thanks for sharing this, Alex. It’s interesting to see how different writers are inspired. It seems you prefer a ‘less is more’ approach.

I agree, the ideas you included are interesting and inspiring. They are like first lines of a story, which is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Therefore, I have included them in the list above. Cheers.

Alex A
Cheers to you too. I only came up with the idea because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Isolation means I can't get to a writing group (or friends) so I wondered if we could meet on laptops and challenge each other by thinking up prompts and being a group (electronically) without breaking isolation.

I like the challenge to make 'unlikely heroes' that make readers think they could/would like to be that hero.

Have a great day.

Chris Fielden
I think that’s a good idea, Alex – good luck with your virtual writing group. My writing group are doing the same. We'll be trying a Zoom meeting, I think.

I like the unlikely hero idea. It sounds very similar to an anti-hero, but with more scope I guess :-)