Writing prompts are a fantastic way to get out of a writing rut. We’ve all experienced them. Sometimes every story you write seems to have the same settings, the same characters, the same conflict. Sometimes you feel like you’re writing the same story over and over. Writing from a prompt can help you break through that. Beginning with someone else’s idea forces you to view the story—from the very beginning—from an unfamiliar angle. And that leads to unfamiliar plot elements, unfamiliar emotions, and a unique, inspired story.
With that in mind, here are three prompts to break your writing rut—or you know, for fun.
I love writing from images. They leave plenty of room for interpretation, and there is something inspiring about writing from real-life scenes. For a good selection of historic photos, try The Public Domain Project at Pond5—the source of the above image. “Chow time in Normandy cow pasture.” How great is that caption? Look at all those faces, enjoying a meal in a cow pasture. Tell me their stories. Tell me where they’ve been, where they’re going. Who are the people in the background? What are they doing? What or who is just outside the frame? And most importantly, how do the cows feel about all this?
2. Subvert Reader Expectations
This prompt is two-in-one. Option 1: Imagine the most perfect, respectable character you can. Think of that person everyone loves—they can’t help it. Maybe a religious figure, a volunteer, a war hero. Now make the reader hate that character. Turn the reader’s expectations around on them. The resulting ambivalence will create deep conflict in the reader and keep them thinking about your story long after they’ve read the final line. Option 2: Do the opposite. Imagine a completely, wholly irredeemable character. A convict, a murderer, a cannibal. Now make the reader care about your character. Make them root for your character—against their own expectations.
3. Ending Line
This last prompt is simple. It doesn’t matter how your story starts or where it goes. Genre and word count make no difference. Whatever journey your characters take, the final line of your story will be
The egg fell and cracked open, its useless yolk spreading over the ground.
Ok, this one’s not a prompt in the technical sense, but it’s still a mighty fine suggestion to break a writing rut. Get out of your comfort zone. If you’re a plotter, toss the outline. If you’re a pantser, try planning things out. If you write poetry, exercise your prose muscles, and vice versa. Write outside your genre. Try a different target audience—even a children’s book! Just do something different. Write something you haven’t tried before. You’ll be surprised at how it will open your mind and stretch your creativity, making even your usual writing easier and more inspired!
What are you waiting for? Get out there, and write on!