Past Prompts

Most people will believe anything of you if it’s printed on a nice enough business card. Have fun playing with that concept.

Imagine a certain era personified. Would the 1920s be a happy-go-lucky player in pinstripes? Medieval times a well-dressed but terribly unmannerly woman?

Write about a game of cards with a lot at stake. Maybe it’s the dignity of a Southern belle playing Bridge; maybe it’s the difference between freedom and imprisonment for a captured spy.

Write a car chase where the getaway driver is someone highly unexpected.

Most people don’t realize the importance of food in books. Write a conversation between two characters as they enjoy a meal.

If you’ve done characters you particularly love for a story or novel, choose theme songs for them.

Write about a character who is named after a city. Does the city hold any particular meaning for themselves or their family?

Try writing down a list of personality and appearance traits. Number them from one to however many you have, then ask a friend to choose four random numbers from your list. Write about a character with these traits.

Write a poem or short paragraph constructed completely from dialogue. Try something grim and spooky, or sassy and quick-paced.

Sit in a public area (e.g. a cafe) with a notepad or a recorder on an iPod. Write down or record a conversation you overhear, (tip: don’t get caught!) and use it in dialogue scene between characters who are nothing like the people who originally had the conversation.

Write a chase scene. Experiment; a chase doesn’t have to be in cars. You could use hoverboards on a sci fi planet, horses in a Medieval setting, or even Vespas in Rome. Have fun with it.

Try writing about someone who steals things. Create a real sense of suspense as you narrate a heist, theft, or robbery. Pickpockets, art thieves, and kleptomaniac shoplifters are just a few ideas to experiment with.

Write something in a wild, untamed setting like a jungle, desert, or ancient temple ruin. Include at least one of the following: a mysterious and vicious guardian, a sense of urgency, a lost relic, or a smart-talking hero.

Try writing a brief story, poem, scene, or character profile for one of these individuals.






Write a short letter exchange between two characters in great danger. What’s going on? Where are the villains now? Is Alexandre’s pocket watch okay?

Try a scene from the point of view of a character at a restaurant. These can be more interesting than you would believe, especially if the waiter with the tailcoat steps too close to the candelabra.

In the mood for something futuristic? Write a scene featuring a high-tech vehicle, whether it’s being flown away from the scene of a crime or being worked on by a grungy mechanic with a bad attitude. Remember, time machines and hoverboards are never off-limits.

Write a short poem (anything from a sonnet to a freeverse confection of your own design) telling the story of a small event in someone’s life. Suggestions: Lilly’s first croissant. Jonathan admiring the speed of his blue bicycle. Edward hiding his matchbook after committing arson.

Find a friend or two. Have one person scribble two character profiles. Have another write a setting. And then think of a random conflict and make notes. When you’re finished, share your story bits and write scenes with them. You’ll be shocked how different they all turn out.

What on earth is on top of this car? What mysterious secrets do those boxes contain? Who would be crazy enough to drive such a precarious load? Gather some friends and seek to explain the below phenomenon in a scene. Compare notes.



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