Inspiration is a fickle and flighty creature, if you allow it to be. Take control and show inspiration that you are its master, not its slave, using these 20 writing prompts.
Cooking up a story idea is a bit like flinging spaghetti at the wall: sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn't. But what happens if there’s no idea to begin with—the pasta never made it to the cooking pot because it was chomped on by brain weevils first?
Cue the trumpets, because here come the Writing Prompts.
These super-powered suggestions fry brain weevils (minions of Writer’s Block, don’t you know?) and instil all kinds of feels in writers. Their stirring dialogue can electrify a flat plot. Their enigmatic identities can cause characters to relocate, imitate or initiate conflict. Their sensational costumes, gadgets and hide-outs can inspire (character) designers, (world) builders and even civil(isation) engineers.
In short, the Writing Prompts can save your story’s bacon and keep that wicked Writer’s Block from your spaghetti (I mean, uh, ideas), letting you enjoy a delicious conflict-and-character carbonara. Bellissimo!
Here they are now! Each member of the squad has contributed to the 20 prompts below. Which one inspires you most?
Diabolic Clockwork by Two Steps From Hell.
Put on your headphones, close your eyes and turn up the volume as you listen to this piece. What images form in your mind as the music goes on? What mood does it evoke? What drama could it play alongside?
As you’re exploring a quarry, a bank of fog rolls in. Then you realise you’re not alone. The fog is hiding something.
“Folie de grandeur.”
Meaning: delusion of greatness; megalomania.
What kind of a character might have delusions of greatness or megalomania? What problems might that create? Maybe the phrase could sum up your antagonist—or even your main character?
“I tell you that clockwork’s a powerful thing. There’s a terrible strength in those tightly wound springs. And a gentleman’s pocket watch stays by his heart—and that’s where the damage can start.”
— The Watchmaker’s Apprentice by The Clockwork Quartet
Write from the perspective of a character with narcissistic personality disorder. How does their grandiose sense of self and inflated ego affect how they see the world? What happens when the rest of your cast interacts with them?
Fascinating Phenomenon Prompt
Chromesthesia—a specific type of synesthesia, in which the person afflicted “sees” colours when a tone (e.g., voice or music) is sounded, almost like fireworks. Most synesthetes report their condition as a gift—an additional hidden sense—something they would not want to miss. Most become aware of their hidden and different way of perceiving in their childhood. Some have learned how to apply this gift in daily life and work.
In what ways could chromesthesia, or any kind of synesthesia, be used in a story? For fantasy, perhaps it is involved in magic, or maybe your character simply sees the world in a different way to others and dealing with that is addressed in the story?
Skull and Crossbones by Immediate Music.
A very good piece for inspiring action/battle/epic scenes.
The Voynich Manuscript. Described as the world’s most mysterious manuscript, the Voynich Manuscript is a 500 year old text, written in a language that defies translation. Possibly a cipher text, a constructed language, or even an exotic natural language, the book contains illustrations of chimeric plants and diagrams suggestive of astronomy or astrology, alongside unknown glyphs.
Who could have written this text and why? What language did they use, if any? And what does the book actually detail?
“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche
“The city is dead, devoured by the one you seek.”
Sleep Disorder Prompt
Narcolepsy—a sleep disorder characterized by excessive sleepiness and sleep attacks at inappropriate times, like while at work. Some narcoleptics experience cataplexy, a sudden muscular weakness often brought on by strong emotions, though they remain fully conscious during these episodes. They may also suffer from sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations.
What problems would a character with narcolepsy face? How could they deal with these issues? If fantasy is your genre, what might sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations really be caused by (see folklore on sleep paralysis for more ideas)?
“A painting hangs on an ivy wall, nestled in the emerald moss.”
— The Mystic's Dream by Loreena McKennitt
“I look through the eyes of others so often that I’ve lost the use of my own.”
It is the early 9th century. A small village on the coast of England is your home. There you live a quiet and uneventful life. That is, until the Vikings arrive.
Need an infusion of inspiration? Look no further! @Writerology has 20 writing prompts for you right here.
Write a story in which the fairies of Irish folklore—leprechauns, pookas, selkies, merrows and the Banshee, to name a few—exist and interact with your main character. But are these exchanges sought after by your main character, or are they of a more sinister nature?
Waltz from the Masquerade Suite by Aram Khachaturian.
Write a story that takes place at a masquerade ball. Who are the people hiding behind those masks—and do they mean you well?
Unexpected Perspective Prompt
Instead of sticking with a beginning-to-end timeline, write a story in reverse. Start with the final scene and move back in time with each scene, revealing more and more of the mystery as the events unravel.
Write about the Gunpowder Plot from the perspective of one of the plotters. Will you allow events to unfold as they did in 1605?
“La belle dame sans merci.”
Meaning: the beautiful lady without mercy.
Who is she? And what threat does she pose to your main character?
Write about a writer whose work isn’t quite as imaginary as she thought it was. When striking similarities between her novel and events in the real world arise, she begins to question where her ideas came from in the first place—her mind, or somewhere else...
THE CREATIVITY COLLECTION ARCHIVES
or return to the Inspiration Station for more prompts