Some Suggested Writing Prompts

For the last five years, I have had the incredible privilege of leading a writer’s workshop in Colorado Springs, called Scribes and Bards. Supported by the Pikes Peak Library District, it is a place where any youth (or young at heart) with a desire to write can join fellow storytellers, using prompts we give each other as inspiration. For this post, I will give a few assignments for writing that are very much like the ones we use at Scribes and Bards. If you find any of them inspirational to do a little writing of your own, please feel free to use them. My plan is to try and write something off of each of these during Thanksgiving weekend.

1. Write your character into a corner. Put them in an impossible situation. Then give them a weapon, and see how they act.

2. Look at a photograph of a bird’s wing. Look at the layout of feathers, the structure, the coloration, the details in every quill. Think about the precise mechanics of flight, the lightness of each feather. What does it make you think of? Just ordinary birds? Or something more abstract like flying, or nature, or freedom?

3. Use this phrase of description somewhere in your writing: “Arrows of white sunlight shot through the clouds, striking the ragged mountainside.”

4. Find a natural object of any kind in your house or apartment: A leaf, a fossil, tree bark, stones, sand, flowers, or even the groceries in your fridge (fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and the like). Set it on a table, and look at it. Like the photo of the bird’s wing, think about it for a few minutes. Then, see what comes to mind, and use that as inspiration.

5. Take five index cards. On each one, write a very generic noun that describes a plot development (like “romance,” “murder,” “robbery,” “funeral,” or “voyage”). Then, on another five index cards, write five generic emotions (such as “jealousy,” “joy,” “delight,” “anger,” or “disgust”). Now take all ten cards and lay them out on the table. Try to build a story using all the plot developments for your story, and all emotions for your characters. Arrange them however you like, and then let your imagination fill in the gaps.

I hope at least one of these will keep you inspired to write, especially those of you who are currently pulling your hair out over NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and are feeling blocked. Let me know if anything helps.

Thank you for your time.

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