Category Archives: Writing Prompts

Join The Club

Write a scene or story that involves a character being in some sort of club. It could be a dance club, a group of friends that plays Dungeons & Dragons, the local Moose lodge, high school clique, etc.

Photo: Rumman Amin on Unsplash

Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, in which a man who feels powerless finds power through starting a ring of underground clubs, provides interesting fodder for a story. What if he had started a book club, crochet circle, competitive Scrabble league, or just bought a Sam’s Club membership? The story might be a little different.

Creative writing prompt: Write a scene or story that involves a character being in some sort of club. It could be a dance club, a group of friends that plays Dungeons & Dragons, the local Moose lodge, high school clique, etc. 

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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Plot Twist Story Prompts: New Person

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let’s see how introducing a new person impacts the plot.

Plot twist story prompts aren’t meant for the beginning or the end of stories. Rather, they’re for forcing big and small turns in the anticipated trajectory of a story. This is to make it more interesting for the readers and writers alike.

Each week, I’ll provide a new prompt to help twist your story. Find last week’s prompt, Blocked Passage, here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: New Person

For today’s prompt, insert a new person in the story. The new person may be a force for good or vessel for evil, a seemingly random bystander or someone with an agenda. But he, she, or it can play a major role in sending your story in a new direction.

One consequence of inserting a new person in the story is that you have a new character and personality to define, including what their motivations may be in relation to the direction of the story. But a new person also gives established characters a chance to reveal more about themselves too.

(11 Secrets to Writing an Effective Character Description.)

One character may see the new person as a great addition. Another character may see the new person as a threat. Other characters may completely disregard the new person, underestimating the new person’s capacity for heroism or villainy.

As such, a new person offers so many new opportunities to your story, whether that’s increasing tension, humor, fear, or other emotions. In many ways, a new person is a new mystery—for the reader, the other characters, and even the writer.

*****

If you want to learn how to write a story, but aren’t quite ready yet to hunker down and write 10,000 words or so a week, this is the course for you. Build Your Novel Scene by Scene will offer you the impetus, the guidance, the support, and the deadline you need to finally stop talking, start writing, and, ultimately, complete that novel you always said you wanted to write.

Click to continue.

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Write Like Studio Ghibli

Write a scene or story based on one of these premises inspired by Studio Ghibli.

Photo: Matt Popovich on Unsplash

This week’s writing prompt will take inspiration from Studio Ghibli films, because they are some of the best films ever made and have been keeping my spirits up during quarantine.

Creative writing prompt: Write a scene or story based on one of these premises inspired by Studio Ghibli.

A child discovers something in the forest. (My Neighbor Totoro)

Pollution by humans turns a forest poisonous. (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind)

A young witch sets off on her own. (Kiki’s Delivery Service)

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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Plot Twist Story Prompts: Blocked Passage

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, present your characters with a blocked passage.

Plot twist story prompts aren’t meant for the beginning or the end of stories. Rather, they’re for forcing big and small turns in the anticipated trajectory of a story. This is to make it more interesting for the readers and writers alike.

Each week, I’ll provide a new prompt to help twist your story. Find last week’s prompt, Tell a Tale, here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Blocked Passage

For today’s prompt, block a passage for your characters. This could be a physical passage (like a locked door, dead end in an alley, or avalanche in a mountain pass). But your blocked passage could also be mental, emotional, or circumstantial.

For example, two people meet and fall in love and everything is amazing until…blocked passage! In this case, maybe one person’s mother falls ill and needs care while the other person has a job they can’t (or don’t want to) leave. That would be a circumstantial blocked passage.

(50 reasons for your characters to be stuck together.)

Of course, that could be followed up by a physical blocked passage. Using the same example, person A leaves person B, who then decides to quit that job after all. Problem is that now the border is shut down between here and there because war broke out (or there was a pandemic or some other catastrophe). Now there’s a physical blocked passage.

And don’t forget the emotional blocked passage. Because the separation may make one person’s feelings grow stronger, while the other person starts to question their feelings, especially if they meet someone new who is physically present and engaged in their life.

So yes, if you wanted to, you could totally stack blocked passages on top of each other to drive up the stakes. In fact, many great stories do exactly this.

*****

If you want to learn how to write a story, but aren’t quite ready yet to hunker down and write 10,000 words or so a week, this is the course for you. Build Your Novel Scene by Scene will offer you the impetus, the guidance, the support, and the deadline you need to finally stop talking, start writing, and, ultimately, complete that novel you always said you wanted to write.

Click to continue.

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Strange Phenomenon

Describe a normal, everyday object or activity from the perspective of a character who perceives it as a strange phenomenon they are struggling to understand.

Photo: Jonas Verstuyft on Unsplash

Describe a normal, everyday object or activity from the perspective of a character who perceives it as a strange phenomenon they are struggling to understand. For example, your character might be an alien or a person from a different historical era trying to explain a smartphone.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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Plot Twist Story Prompts: Tell a Tale

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, we tell a tale within a tale.

Plot twist story prompts aren’t meant for the beginning or the end of stories. Rather, they’re for forcing big and small turns in the anticipated trajectory of a story. This is to make it more interesting for the readers and writers alike.

Each week, I’ll provide a new prompt to help twist your story. Find last week’s prompt, True Feelings, here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Tell a Tale

For today’s prompt, have a character tell a story within the story. This is a popular storytelling technique that’s been used through the ages to explain things that happened in the past or off camera. But it’s also a great way to set the mood or foreshadow future events.

This is how stories are used in Watership Down, by Richard Adams. At times, they help set up the worldview of the rabbits and even contrast one warren from another. But the stories also set up the cleverness of El-ahrairah (sort of a Robin Hood character for the rabbits) with the cleverness of the rabbits themselves, especially Hazel.

(25 Ways to Start a Story.)

But you don’t have to have a series of tales like in Watership Down. Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon includes a popular tale called the “Flitcraft Parable” about a man named Flitcraft who suddenly decided to leave his family, job, and golf habit in Tacoma to roam the world. After a few years, he settles back into a new family, job, and golf habit in Spokane (about a four-hour drive from Tacoma). It’s an interesting enough story on its own, but the story also gives readers something to discuss within the context of the novel (just Google “Flitcraft story” to see how many do).

Of course, William Shakespeare frequently liked to include a play within a play. It’s a great way to mirror the actual story, but it can also be used to contrast with events. And it can definitely move things into a new direction, especially if the story told reveals something about other characters or events. 

Remember: There are many ways to tell a story. It can be revealed in dialogue, sure, but also in a letter, diary, newspaper clipping, or filtered through a secondary source.

*****

If you want to learn how to write a story, but aren’t quite ready yet to hunker down and write 10,000 words or so a week, this is the course for you. Build Your Novel Scene by Scene will offer you the impetus, the guidance, the support, and the deadline you need to finally stop talking, start writing, and, ultimately, complete that novel you always said you wanted to write.

Click to continue.

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