Writing Prompts

Try some of these prompts whenever you feel stuck:

Write two short scenes of a cityscape you know well, one during broad daylight and the other late at night.

Cities are vertical as well as horizontal spaces, so make sure you keep the reader aware of the full picture. One of the common traits of a city is unexpectedness — you run into people you don’t expect to run into; you often find great beauty with ugliness and poverty and wealth side-by-side. Don’t be tempted by clichés — a city at night doesn’t need to be dangerous or foreboding.

Use a particular and vivid piece of clothing to tell a story. For example, a sweater worn by two sisters who sleep with the same man while wearing it, or a loud sports jacket someone buys at the Goodwill with 3 bullet holes in the back. What does clothing say about us? How does it select us? Who tells us to buy it?

What do clothes hide and what do they reveal?

From Brian Kitely, The 3 am Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction

Make a list of your favorite TV shows, movies and books and write about why you like them.

Take a long walk and describe in detail everything you see.

Take a look at an old photograph or postcard ― what does it remind you of.

How old were you when the picture was taken?

Make a list of topics starting with

  • Things I regret
  • Things I wish I’d done differently
  • Things that changed my life
  • What I remember/What I don’t remember
  • What obsesses me

From Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman’s Guide To Igniting the Writer Within

Mine your childhood

  • Where did you live?
  • What did you family do for fun?
  • What was your backyard/front yard like?
  • What kind of house/apartment did you live in?
  • What was your favorite pet?
  • Remember where you lived 10 years ago or your first apartment
  • What did the kitchen look like?
  • What did you see when you look out of the window?
  • What did it smell like?
  • Climb out of the window and walk around ― what do you see?


  1. Kristina January 31, 2011

    Very few things are as frustrating as writers block. The stubborn wall erects itself around your brain and refuses to crumple. I adore writing prompts as I usually get at least one great idea from the exercise. However, I struggle to find fantastic writing prompts. There are several that I will use from this list. Thanks for the post!

    • Alice Osborn January 31, 2011

      Dear Kristina,
      thanks so much for the comment and I enjoyed reading your blog, too! I also drive a Suburu Outback–hope you got yours fixed! with graditude, Alice