These creative writing prompts are sure to help you get past the most stubborn mental block. Whether you work in poetry, realistic fiction, or straight up sci-fi, deciding what to write about can often be the hardest part, but the inspiration you need is often a lot closer than you might have thought.
Use these 13 fiction writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing and kick start your next piece.
1. Old Photographs
As the idiom goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” But what exactly does photo say? What story lies behind it? Find a picture and tell its story. It might actually be easier to use a photo that you didn’t take, so that way you’re not influenced by the actual event.
Try heading out to your local antique shop and ask them if they have any old photographs. There’s usually a box full and you can pick up a few for relatively little money. Find photos that intrigue or inspire you and write their stories.
2. Time Travel
Pick a time and place you would like to travel to if time travel was an option. Perhaps you’d like to relive a specific childhood memory, or maybe you’re more interested in 13th century Greece. There’s no time too distant and no place too exotic.
[PRO TIP: Use an old photograph to help inspire your time travel expedition.]
Imagine being hungry but having no money to buy food. What does it feel like? What would you do? Are you alone or are there others who are starving too? If you happen to get hungry while writing, great! Jot down how you’re feeling and what your body is doing (e.g. growling stomach).
4. The Eavesdropper
Go to a public place and discreetly listen in on the conversations around you. What are they talking about? You’d be surprised the types of interesting stories being told all around you. All you have to do it listen. Try heading to your local coffee shop, park, or the food court at the mall.
5. Missed Connections
If you’ve never browsed the Missed Connections on Craigslist, you’re missing out on a story prompt goldmine. Not only that, but a special admirer could be trying to reach out to you. These romantic and sometimes outrageous posts are a great source of inspiration for your next story.
6. Look Out the Window
Instead of just watching the birds (or traffic) write about them! What’s happening outside the window of your favorite writing spot? Are two people meeting on the street and engaging in conversation? Is a car rolling past, packed with passengers? What are they talking about? Where are they going?
What kind of shoes are you wearing? How about someone near you? Where will those shoes go?
Our favorite research tool, Wikipedia, has an amazing feature that’s way under utilized (in our honest opinion). The Random Article tool on Wikipedia is a treasure-trove for writing prompts. Click it once or a thousand times and get prompt after prompt.
What’s the last conversation you had with someone? The last phone call or text your received?
10. Check the Obituaries
As far as writing prompts go, this might be one of the most morbid, but it’s still a good resource for story ideas. Find a particularly obituary that resonates with you and write a story about that person or about the people in their lives.
Music can be a great tool for inspiration. Pick a song and listen to it while you write. Not sure where to get started? We love the song Videotape by Radiohead.
Where would you like to go on vacation? What would you do when you got there? Imagine every detail for this literary getaway.
What’s your favorite season and why? Is there a particular memory tied to that time of year? What do you typically do during that season?
If these writing prompts still aren’t enough to help get the ink flowing, try using a writing prompt generator like this one from Seventh Sanctum. And when you do finally manage to write that perfect poem or short fiction piece, why not submit it to be published in 15th & Oxford?