How To Create Your Own Writing Prompts

Prompts for writers come in all types of formats, including books, calendars, decks of cards, and magnets. You can also create them for yourself.

Create Your Own

Write On: How To Overcome Writer's Block So You Can Write Your Novel CoverStart with slips of paper or index cards. On each one write or print a two, three, or four word basic description of a person, such as “old woman,” “little boy,” “angry person.”

Write two slips for each, so that you can use the same description more than once in the same session. Fold them so you can’t see what’s printed and set them aside.

Now create slips for verbs. On each slip print a verb that requires action, such as run, jump, hit, play, touch, throw, or swim. (You only need one of each.) Fold those so you can’t read them.

People With Action

Now draw one person, one verb, and another person and put them together, adding prepositions if necessary to create a sentence. Some examples:

Angry man runs into little boy.

Middle-aged woman skips with middle-aged woman.

Little girl throws little boy.

Expand The Writing Prompts

As you write you can add nouns. Suppose your slip say this: “Little girl throws middle-aged man.” You might use that as is and have fun figuring out how that little girl is going to throw a grown man. Or you might add an object: “Little girl throws spaghetti at middle-aged man.”

These prompts are almost guaranteed to generate conflict, which is the key to a good plot.

Write for fifteen or twenty minutes about that conflict. Remember, you don’t need to love the scene as you write.

In fact, you may decide to shift gears entirely as you discover what you do love to write about. It’s all about getting words on a page and, as you do that, prompting new ideas or bringing together threads that may become part of your novel.

That’s all for today. Until next time —

L. M. Lilly

P.S. The above is excerpted from new release Write On: How To Overcome Writer’s Block So You Can Write Your Novel. You can find the ebook editions here. Or, if you like to write out exercises and answer questions on paper, you can order a workbook edition.

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4 thoughts on “How To Create Your Own Writing Prompts”

  1. In order to be a successful writer, you need to be able to come up with your own writing prompts. This way, you can analyze various perspectives and ideas. There are many different sources you can find inspiration from, such as books, articles, movies, and even your own experiences. However, it’s important to find writing prompts that challenge you.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I agree – the prompts need to work for you and don’t need to be specific “writing prompts.” When I wander an art museum, for instance, and get absorbed in different paintings or sculptures all sorts of story and character ideas pop into my mind.

  2. Most people have a favourite toy from their youth. These beloved childhood toys can occasionally be inexpensive and were given to you as a gift or as a reward. Consider your favorite plaything. It might be a doll or stuffed animal. It might even be the toy you constructed from a commonplace item, like a blanket. Consider your favorite childhood toy, the memories you have associated with it, how it looked, and how it felt to possess it. Describe your favorite childhood toy in an essay that will be uploaded to your e-portfolio. Make sure you give enough information so that your readers can visualize it and experience it firsthand.

    1. That’s a great idea for a writing prompt to help practice description and evoke emotion. Many childhood memories are likely to surface as well. I can also imagine it giving insight into fictional characters. Figuring out what childhood toy speaks to each one might help sort out so much of the characters’ inner lives. Thanks for the suggestion!

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