Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Prompts 101

Let’s talk about prompts.

The purpose of a writing prompt is to get you writing—writing without stopping, over-thinking, or re-writing. It’s a spark for an idea. Sometimes the idea you get from a prompt may be something wildly outside the context of the prompt, or it might focus on a different aspect of the language. Let’s take Mary and Jacob, for instance, in the first prompt below. You might not have any idea what Mary said next, but perhaps it reminds you of a crazy trip you took. Maybe you know a woman named Mary, and her face popped into your mind. Whatever direction your creative impulse takes you, follow it! Remember, the purpose of a writing prompt isn’t to follow directions. It’s to write. If Mary and Jacob don’t inspire you, pick another prompt. Then give yourself ten minutes to write without stopping. Who knows what you might wind up with?

--Mary couldn’t believe what she heard her husband, Jacob, saying. “A vacation to where? No, I don’t understand! Why would you want to go to….”

--After hours of fiddling, Mark decided he knew the best way to fix his cranky computer. He marched into the garage and grabbed….

--If you were in charge of deciding when Christmas decorations and displays would appear, what date would you pick and why?

--Veronica knew her boyfriend had a bad temper, but she never thought he would….

--Does your home have a fireplace? Do you enjoy using it, or is it more of a bother than it’s worth?

--Charles was digging through old boxes in his garage when he found it. How many years had it been? Stunned at his discovery, he sat down to look at….

--If I could be anywhere right now, I would be….

--Diana’s notebook was sitting on the table. Linda knew she shouldn’t read it, but she couldn’t help herself. Linda rationalized invading Diana’s privacy by telling herself….

--Do you decorate for Halloween? Do your neighbors? What do you think about the growing popularity of Halloween decorations?

--Ted wanted a hobby, but he was having a hard time deciding on one. Finally, he decided to take up….
Photo courtesy of Ove Tøpfer at


Anonymous said...

Thank you for useful prompts! My husband directed me to your blog after you used his photo. I'll use some of the prompts in my Norwegian and English writing groups.

With thanks,
Mona Tøpfer

TH Meeks said...

Thanks for stopping by & I hope your groups will enjoy the prompts!