Category Archives: Creative Writing Prompts

On Writing World Weekly Round-Up: 3/18/12

I present to you my attempt at a weekly round up, that is, a conglomeration of good posts from the last week. This will be too long because I follow too many blogs. It will also be too much coolness to handle in its entirety, so just scroll through and open whatever catches your eye. 😀 If this isn’t too painful in the creation, you will get more.


  • News & Noteworthy

(As if every single one of these links isn’t noteworthy. My headings need work.)

The eye-popper of the week award goes to A Follow’s Not a Book Sale (Though It’s Really Nice), which asks “Does social media affect sales AT ALL?” via The Intern

Maggie Steifvater with lotsa From Rough to Final links! There is so much to learn from watching the pros edit.

I found Erin Morgenstern’s Flax Golden Tale wonderful this week. Read the flash fiction Monitoring System.

Alison Cherry runs a pretty entertaining blog as a rule, but you know The Things We Do For Research will be a real gem just from the title.

Luke Alistar offers sobering thoughts for writers on The Power You Hold.

Why Finish Books? Yes, this is every bit as odd-ball as it sounds. via The New York Review of Books

  • Advice

Ready to Submit? Think Again is a very comprehensive checklist to go through before, well, submitting. via Fantasy Faction

Pretend you don’t need 3 Ways to Keep Social Media from Taking Over Your Writing Time. Just pretend. I dare you. via Author, Jody Hedlund

8 Tips For Getting What You Want (out of industry professionals). via Go Teen Writers – not just for teens. 😉

Lessons from the Strictly Objective Critique Partner. via YA Highway

  • Writing Advice

We’ll start this off with a good old-fashioned “how to beat writers block.” Creativity Blocked? Here’s the Solution. Write a letter to yourself. Through the MAIL. No, really. via Write to Done

Here’s something with the provocative title of Writing Multiple Books in a Year– It Doesn’t Take as Much as You Think. via Mystery Writing is Murder

Done to Death: A New Trope questions how much original plots matter. via Speculative Faith

This is about changing the way you view subplots forever and Grey’s Anatomy. via Novel Rocket And to continue mining TV shows, Lessons from Downton Abbey.

The Art of Poisoning Your Characters, because we all know there is nothing a little poisoning couldn’t make worse, and worse is better, right? via Fantasy Faction

We were gifted with two brilliant pieces on Io9: How Not to Be a Clever Writer and 8 Unstoppable Stories for Writing Killer Short Stories.

EditTorrent talks about what three varied writers need to start. Once the push from what you need to start a novel wears off, Janice Hardy has So Where Were We? Finishing Manuscripts. She also has Under Development: Ways to Create Characters.

Want The Scoop On Agents? via The Kill Zone Authors

  • Resources

Nifty little things that have been around since the dawn of time I am only now discovering because I live underneath a rock. It’s dark here.

Solving the “I don’t have the money or the oomph to travel” excuse for not attending writer conventions is WriteCon, an online conference for KidLit, MG, and YA authors. It’s free.

102 Resources for Writing. Just in case you didn’t have enough links. This is one to bookmark, ladies and gentlemen. via Here to Create

Donna Macmeans has compiled a list of Rooting Interests, the things that get readers behind characters.

I present to you The Michael Hauges Story Concept Template. In fact, this is going to be the All-Important Reader Engagement Moment of the Week. Fill in the blanks with your novel and post it in the comments below so we can see what each other is writing! iva Jill Williamson

  • Fun

My twitter stream was filled by people tweeting their Hunger Names this week. It gives you your precinct, the number of your game, and the way you die, too. Yes, this is under “fun.”

“NASA has released videos shot from onboard the Space Shuttle’s Solid Rocket Boosters in the past, but you’ve never seen one prepared as masterfully as this.” via Io9

St. Paddy’s Day Writing Prompts – what it says on the tin. via Creative Writing Prompts for Writers

A fellow aspiring writer takes the amusing route in announcing a vacation. Which I should do instead of not posting for a month without notice.


Enjoy. Don’t forget to leave the your Michel Houghes Story Concept Template in the comments so we can learn about each other’s plots!


100 Themes Challenge Writing Prompts

A list of prompts has been floating around on the internet – I was told it originated on DeviantART – and after having successfully used the prompts, I share them with you.  You pick a list (I have two right here) and write something for each theme.  Poems, drabbles, short stories, journal entries, anything. A group of us from Holy Worlds are using the list to outline an entire novel to be written for NaNoWriMo. I just finished my outline today. 😀 You would be shocked to find how easy it is to create an entire, round, detailed plot just by using each theme to create a scene.


The Original List
1. Introduction
2. Complicated
3. Making History
4. Rivalry
5. Unbreakable
6. Obsession
7. Eternity
8. Gateway
9. Death
10. Opportunities
11. 33%
12. Dead Wrong
13. Running Away
14. Judgment
15. Seeking Solace
16. Excuses
17. Vengeance
18. Love
19. Tears
20. My Inspiration
21. Never Again
22. Online
23. Failure
24. Rebirth
25. Breaking Away
26. Forever and a day
27. Lost and Found
28. Light
29. Dark
30. Faith
31. Colors
32. Exploration
33. Seeing Red
34. Shades of Grey
35. Forgotten
36. Dreamer
37. Mist
38. Burning
39. Out of Time
40. Knowing How
41. Fork in the road
42. Start
43. Nature’s Fury
44. At Peace
45. Heart Song
46. Reflection
47. Perfection
48. Everyday Magic
49. Umbrella
50. Party
51. Troubling Thoughts
52. Stirring of the Wind
53. Future
54. Health and Healing
55. Separation
56. Everything For You
57. Slow Down
58. Heartfelt Apology
59. Challenged
60. Exhaustion
61. Accuracy
62. Irregular Orbit
63. Cold Embrace
64. Frost
65. A Moment in Time
66. Dangerous Territory
67. Boundaries
68. Unsettling Revelations
69. Shattered
70. Bitter Silence
71. The True You
72. Pretense
73. Patience
74. Midnight
75. Shadows
76. Summer Haze
77. Memories
78. Change in the Weather
79. Illogical
80. Only Human
81. A Place to Belong
82. Advantage
83. Breakfast
84. Echoes
85. Falling
86. Picking up the Pieces
87. Gunshot
88. Possession
89. Twilight
90. Nowhere and Nothing
91. Answers
92. Innocence
93. Simplicity
94. Reality
95. Acceptance
96. Lesson
97. Enthusiasm
98. Game
99. Friendship
100. Endings


Find your key emotion; this may be all you need to know to find your short story. ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Emotions List
1. Birth
2. Enthusiasm
3. Love
4. Hate
5. Triumph
6. Feel
7. Wrecked
8. Soft
9. Cold
10. Without
11. Inspiration
12. You
13. Confused
14. Affection
15. Joy
16. Horror
17. Acceptance
18. Sympathy
19. Holding
20. Defeated
21. Pride
22. Knife
23. Overwhelmed
24. Depressed
25. Adoration
26. Worship
27. Zeal
28. Light
29. Exhaustion
30. Obsession
31. Rage
32. Empty
33. Anger
34. Fury
35. Delight
36. Submission
37. Infatuation
38. Anticipation
39. Pessimistic
40. Jolly
41. Grasping
42. Agitation
43. Calm
44. Astonished
45. Loneliness
46. Lust
47. Longing
48. Tender
49. Hard
50. Rebirth
51. Amused
52. Broken
53. Abused
54. Tranquil
55. Composed
56. Glad
57. Stress
58. Serenity
59. Colorful
60. Coping
61. Boisterous
62. Placid
63. Tired
64. Bliss
65. Neglect
66. Fine
67. Question
68. Energetic
69. Noble
70. Disgust
71. Lively
72. Power
73. Pity
74. Humiliation
75. Satisfied
76. Thankful
77. Hyper
78. Goosebumps
79. Worthless
80. Remorse
81. Degraded
82. Revenge
83. Fulfilled
84. Shame
85. Graceful
86. Shining
87. Content
88. Feelings
89. Pleased
90. Relief
91. I
92. Zest
93. Tears
94. Building
95. Optimistic
96. Thrilled
97. Dealing
98. Reflect
99. Embarrassment
100. Death


Do you take the challenge?

Save the Words

Some of you may have heard of, and if you are one of those some, this is my smile for you: 😀  For the rest of you is this post.

If you go to Save the Words, you will be greeted by a wall of artful and disused words. They have all been thrown out of dictionaries in favor of such words as “blogosphere.” Save the Words’s goal is to reverse that. Scroll over a word and it pops out at you so that you may really read it. Click a word and a window will pop up with its definition. This place can eat just as much of your time as Wikipedia and eve TVTropes.

Now, some would argue that Saving Words only messes with the march of language: if there’s no use for it, let it die. I can see that point of view. In fact, I brushed over the site the first time I saw it with this very argument. But what I’ve found is that while at some of these words have been replaced my more familiar, and often shorter synonyms, many are simply very specific words, applying to such narrow circumstances that you wonder how they came to exist at all. In a two words: they’re handy. And even those words that have been replaced with more modern words have value.

Synonyms don’t just have slightly different shades of meaning. They sound different. It’s the difference between tranquil and serene. The “s” is softer, and the “t” and “qu” are harder, so you use those words, even though they mean the same thing, at different times. Subtly, the sound affects our perceptions of words. And boy are there some doozys on Save the Words.

As I browsed the word wall, many words struck me with inspiration. They meant such interesting things and suggesting such stories to my mind. I “officially adopted” three, which I share with you now.


I get all excited when I found this word, and a little nostalgic. See, I starrified my ceiling with little glow-in-the-dark stickers when I was little, and they always seemed magical. I’d never heard a word to describe what I’d done, and here was one peeping out at me: starrify – to decorate with stars.
Most importantly, all words with three consecutive vowels deserve some recognition. Secondly, though I may get romantic ideas when I hear “gypsy” that belong to fantasy worlds (but hey, what do I write?), “gipseian” is simply so suggestion to me. It mean “of or belonging to Gypsies.” My mind latched on to “belonging to Gypsies” and now whenever I hear the word I think of exotic objects.
One thing about the words on Save the Words: they’re rarely what you think they mean. I thought rogalian maybe had something to do with regalia. Instead, it means “of or relating to a great fire.”  “Rogalian” didn’t strike me as being exciting, but it kept coming back to me.  I’m no pyromaniac, but great fires are cool.  Now I am seriously contemplating naming a character (boy, in a fantasy I’m outlining) Rogalian. It’d fit. Except for the fact only the people reading this would know it wasn’t a name I’d pieced together using random consonants.

I spent some time clicking around on the word wall, and found a lovely collection of quirky words that suggest all sorts of crazy stories if you just let them.
Moderncide – the act of killing modern people
Now what type of world would need to specify this word for a set of crimes?
Kexy – brittle or withered

Now all you need is a kexy hex.
Pudify – to cause to be embarrassed

*cries* “You pudiffied me!”. . . and many more interesting and inspiring words all need homes. Believe me, saving the right word will serve you much more than you can serve the word.

Neverending Science Fiction and Fantasy Picture Prompt Streams

I like prompts. I like picture prompts. I like science fiction and fantasy picture prompts. But I’m not a big fan of those static pages of prompts, never changing, becoming old. Over time I have discovered several excellent prompt blogs, however, and I’m sharing those with you today. In no particular order:

Dieki’s Dreamings
Photomanipping Blog:
Main Site:
Dieki Noordhoek is a photo manipulating artist, graphics designer, and programmer. I have followed his photomanippulating blog for a while now, and have often gleaned inspiration from his works, many of which are fantasy or science fiction oriented.

Dragon Writing Prompts
Old Blog:
Current Blog:
Dragon Writing Prompts has all sorts of prompts, from picture to quotes to fun ideas, but her even the posts that are not specifically a picture from contain juicy images. This blog is updated daily with science fiction, fantasy, and occasionally horror prompts.

by Seer

Holy World’s Word Art
Forum Thread:
So I cheated here. This is actually a thread, not a blog. The talented photomanipulators over on Holy Worlds have a challenge among themselves: create a composite picture out of one or two words. I think the resulting images just have stories bursting from them. Holy Worlds has a site dedicated to public domain images and photos created by Holy Worlds members at

I hope you enjoyed these! What are your favorite picture prompts or sites? Static pages allowed. 😉

Post of Weird Real Fact Creative Writing Prompts

Truth is stranger than fiction. Over the past couple of weeks, I have collected a few very weird and very real facts that tickled my muse.

Weird Real Fact No. 1:

There’s this guy. His name’s Dennis Hope. And he says he owns the moon. I know, I know, the U.N.’s Outer Space Treaty clearly states no nation can own the moon. But, as Mr. Hope has pointed out, this only applies to nations. Not sure how Mr. Hope acquired ownership of the moon, but he’s been rolling in the moolah from selling it away, acre by acre. More information here. Read a few articles. You’ll either get bit by the story bug or laugh, and neither is a bad thing.

So. . . doesn’t this tempt your muse? Is he right? With so many people “investing” in Lunar territory, will this actually cause a problem when the nations start colonizing? Or will private space craft get there first and actually set something up?

Weird Real Fact No. 2:

There are these bugs. They’re commonly called either Water Bears or Moss Piglets, but are formally known as Tardigrades. They’re tough microscopic things, found everywhere: in hot springs, on top of the Himalayas, under layers of solid ice and in ocean sediments, as well as more normal, mild places. And while they may not be found in outer space naturally, they can survive out there for ten days. They’ve done the experiments. They just slow their metabolism down to near nothing, bear everything the sun throws at them unshielded, and don’t mind the pressure of a vacuum. More information in this Wikipedia article.

What if these creatures were larger, and, well, sentient?

Weird Real Fact No. 3:

Well, this isn’t so much as a fact as a story. But it’s great muse fodder.

Can’t you just imagine. . . a secret society in a waterfall?  Smugglers?  Rebels?  Or maybe a dragon that’s been buried underneath the city for centuries?

I hope you’ve enjoyed these weird, and certainly creative writing prompts as much as I have.  Personally, my muse has been spinning.

Writing Prompt: Spy

I admit it.  I love spy novels.  I also love prompts.  I got bored today and flickred “secret agent prompts” which eventually got me this picture:

click for flickr stream

Ooh, I can just feel the inspiration.

Perhaps the resulting story includes this man?


click for same flickr stream

My challenge: use this picture prompt to write a spy short story. For best results, set a time limit.

A Twist on Story Starters: Story Enders

Thanks to Louisa’s comment on story starters, I’m posting an unusual twist to the traditional story starter prompt: story enders. Often I will start a story with an ending in mind, and sometimes the ending will come to you first in a story, so story ender prompts are not outrageous.  Try a few.

There was a flower, a daisy, by the side of the road. Ironic.

Why is the flower ironic? What lies beyond the flower? Why is a daisy special? Where does the road go?

I never got rid of the callouses I earned that day.

Obviously, what caused the callouses?

When I woke up, it was just as gray and gloomy as it had been all day. But for the first time I didn’t mind.

What is gray and gloomy? The weather? The house? A magical object? Why did the speaker care before? Why does she not care now? Is it good or bad they don’t care?

She laughed and ran ahead.

Why did she laugh? Was it a happy laugh or a cruel one? Where is she running? On the sea shore? Down the mall isle? This ending doesn’t suggest a setting, so you have free reign of the location.

It wasn’t a problem now, but I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if the paperboy had delivered the newspaper on time.

Simply, I like this one.

Feel free to change the tense or point of view of any of these.  Enjoy your story endings.  You could even use these with the story starters from my last post!

Creative Writing Prompts: Extremely Brief Story Starters

Well, I found a number of extremely short story starters, and decided to through them together in a post. Feel free to use several!

Rain pounded the roof like a sledgehammer:  uneven, violent, and ear-splitting.

Sometimes a setting is all that is needed to spark an idea.

I ran my hand along the textured wall, searching for the unevenness that would reveal. . .

Reveal what?  And don’t say secret passageway or compartment.  That would be boring!  And where is this wall exactly?  A millionaire’s mansion?  A bathroom stall?  Under pool waters?  In a plane?That should be enough.  Run with it!

A gentle breeze brushed the hilltop, combing the ruins. . .

Maybe that gentle breeze is a bit chilling after all.

There was no avoiding it; the letter had to be composed. . . .

Who will receive this letter?  And Uncle?  The governor?  Why is there ‘no avoiding it’?  Circumstances?  Or is mother watching with arms crossed?  Will the letter be written in haste?  Or will each phase be meticulously crafted?

Motion cut the darkness. . .

Well, this is a little better than my last one.  Is it a person moving, or something that goes bump in the night?  A spy?  A lover? A thief?  An owl?  A cat?  A priceless heirloom falling from the top shelf?  Maybe it the prophetic gust of see-able wind.  And what about that darkness?  Is it really night, or are the lights just out?  Take it where you will!

I hope you find these story starters fun!

Watch me fit the Hemingway Challenge, the lengths of different types of fiction, and several prompts in one post.

First, you have to understand what the Hemingway Challenge is. Hemingway reportedly considered his finest work to be his shortest: only one sentence. A friend once challenged him to write an entire story in six words. After much thinking, Hemingway came up with this response:

For sale: Baby shoes, never used.
~Earnest Hemingway

Over on the Holy Worlds fantasy forums, there is a thread for writers to try their own pens at this challenge. It’s been open a couple weeks, and two authors have been unanimously declared on par with Hemingway.

One revolver. Six bullets. Seven enemies.
~Jonathan Garner

I am the President’s orphaned daughter.
~Aubry Hansen

Take these slowly. There’s one problem with six-worded masterpieces; they’re over so quickly.

Bet you think the prompt is to write something for the Hemingway Challenge, don’t you? Well, it is certainly challenging and will make you think in new ways, but my actual prompt is to take one of the three above sentences/stories and turn them into a longer piece of fiction. After all, there is so much more (and yet nothing else) to tell!

This is where the lengths of different types of fiction come in. My chart is by no means an indisputable table, but it at least very close to any definitions you will find.

Twitter Fiction: 150 character limit
Flash Fiction or Vignette: Under 1,000 words (presumably over 150 characters)
Short Story: 1,000 to 7,500 words
Novelette: 7,500 to 20,000 words
Novella: 20,000 to 40,000 words
Novel: Over 40,000 words

These six-worded stories are already “Twitter Fiction.” Don’t use the actual sentences, just be inspired by them. First, write something under 1,000 words, telling more of the story. If you’re still interested, create a whole new tale off those six words the size of a short story. It would be fantastic if you found inspiration for a novelette or larger, but I won’t ask you to go quite that far.

For my part, I’m using “I am the President’s orphaned daughter” because I’m feeling morbid today. (That’s a joke. I like political thrillers.) Do you dare take my challenge?

OK, that didn’t come out right. Prompts are rarely scary.

How to world build: World to Story & Story to World

This is first in a series about how to world build.  To be exact, various ways you can world build.  This post covers two different approaches on world building that appear to be opposites:  world to story – creating your world and then finding the story – and story to world – creating your story and then discovering the world in which it takes place.

I start with a world.  Really, I do.  I think and think and think about this world, the climate, the culture, the characters.  Only then do I find this world’s story.  Every world has a story hidden somewhere; my job it to find it.  Often I will ask “Why?”  Why does this culture dislike art?  Or “What does this cause?”  What does the frigid mountain climate cause?  Mostly I just learn more about the world.  At some point I will find the story.

Look at these pictures.  Mountains.  Sea.  Woods.  Prairie.  Each is a world.  Pick your favorite, or whichever stands out to you most, and stare at it.  What caused this scene, or is completely of nature?  What is beyond the picture frame?  Who comes here?  Where do they live?  You can follow the people if you wish.  Or you can follow the scenery beyond the picture frame until you see history in the making.  There is your story.


Now, let’s go story to world.

Grab your favorite plot generator (feel free to tell us about it in a comment)  or use mine:  It’s on, a site for Christian science-fiction writers (and that’s all you’ll get until I get around to making a Useful Site post).  I love this generator because it is so complete – it even includes a theme – and yet doesn’t tell you your entire story.

Generate four plots, and like the pictures, choose one that interests you or grabs your mind.  Sit back and think a little bit – just a little bit – about this plot.  How does it start?  Do you see any immediate twists?  What type of characters do you need for this story?

Now think about the setting – the world – in light of that.  Does it start in the outdoors a hundred miles from nowhere or in crowded slums?  Examine each part of your.  Are some of the plot points only made possible because of setting?  Do parts of the plots gives clues to the world and culture?  You will generate a number of isolated elements this way.  In the end you will have to weave them together.

Both techniques have downsides.  World to story doesn’t guarantee a captivating plot, or even a plot at all.  But then, you could always save the unused worlds for unused plots.   Story to world may leave your world feeling a little empty.  However, you could fix that by spending a lot more time on the world.  In the end it’s a matter of what you’re willing to work on.  Either way, you let either the world or the plot come to your mind naturally, and then work to find the counterpart.

Second in the Series: In-Out & Out-In
Third in the Series: Useful Sites

How do you world build?

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