Old Prompts

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it... Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

What do you consider taboo in writing? Write on something that you consider taboo (Incest, aging, gay sex, masturbation, race, abortion etc)

From Writing Alone and with Others, by Pat Schneider.  In our most secret conflicts, lie curled our inescapable poems—Muriel Rukeyser.  Begin with the words, “I could not tell…”

Three friends meet for dinner. What does one say that alienates the other two?

Try writing a short mystery story. Create a detective as your main character and relay the story from her point of view. 

If someone had wanted me dead, he missed a good chance when…” 


Describe your first love. Remember his/her clothes, smile, or quirky sayings. Why did he catch your eye?

You’re getting married in two weeks and a card arrives from an old flame. Before you open the letter, how do you feel? What do you think is inside? Start a short story.

Write a story in which the main character is in an argument but is obviously in the wrong.


If you could go on only one more vacation in your lifetime, where would you go and why?

Try to remember a stranger who was unexpectedly kind to you. Turn this person’s act of kindness into the opening scene for a story.

Your character must flee her burning home. What does she take with her?

Write a story or poem in second person- meaning you may use only the pronoun you.

Find an old photograph. Write a story based on the scene.

Describe a family “Kodak moment.”

Imagine climbing a flight of stairs or a hill until you come to an entrance:  What is the light behind like?  What is the light infront like?  Who do you see? 

Write a poem or a prose piece about the joy of writing

When writers experience a good writing session, it’s often called writing in flow. Write a poem or a prose piece that describes what it feels like when your words flow

Think about a skeleton in your family closet. Use that shady character in a short story.

Write a personal ad for your main character. Then write one for a secondary character. They don’t have to be human! 

  Pretend you’ve moved to another country to get a sense of different cultures. Where did you move? What have you learned since you’ve been there? Are you homesick?

 Of all the houses you’ve lived in, which was your favorite, and why? Who lives there now?

Describe a child on a swing set first from the child’s viewpoint then from an adult’s viewpoint.

Describe the first person you disliked. Why did you despise her? What did she look like? How did it feel to loathe someone?

Choose one of your favorite books, and copy down the first sentence. Why did this line invite you to read further? Create a list of five compelling first sentences  and think about how the beginning can draw the reader in.  Then write a paragraph  for a short story or an article of your own

Describe your mother: her smell, walk and talk. What are your feelings toward her? Did she change much from the time you were a child to when you became an adult