If you’ve hit a snag in your writing and can’t seem to come up with any new ideas, don’t worry — it happens to all of us. There comes a time when we all need a little help to get our creative juices flowing again. Whether you need to rejuvenate your work in progress or want to start a new writing project from scratch, we’ve got a writing prompt for you.
Rejuvenate your work in progress: Here are a few ideas for breathing new life into your current manuscript. Even if you end up writing something that has no place in your actual story, you might still discover something interesting.
1. Write your character’s obituary.
Looking ahead to a character’s death might help you fill in some holes about his life that you can turn into interesting plot points or meaningful back story. What were his biggest accomplishments? How did he die? Who is he survived by?
2. Change locations.
Take your characters out of their natural setting, and see what happens. A heated argument between newlyweds might unfold quite differently depending on whether it takes places in their home, a crowded bus or a company Christmas party. How can you use a setting to influence behavior, build tension and change the stakes?
3. Introduce a new character.
If your story is starting to lose tension and you don’t know what should happen next, try introducing a new character to shake things up. Is this a person from a character’s past? An intimidating stranger? How will your established characters react to this new person’s presence?
4. Break habit.
Look back on what you’ve already written and identify a predictable pattern of behavior in one of your characters. Manipulate outside factors so that your character is forced out of this habit. What effect does this single change have on other characters and events?
5. Write a short dream sequence.
Mix things up by giving your character a strange dream. This gives you an opportunity to play with imagery and defy logic for awhile, while also tapping into something that’s weighing on your character’s mind. How does this dream affect her mood and actions the next day?
Start something new: The blank page and flashing cursor can be intimidating to any writer looking to begin a new project. Try these writing prompts to help you get started.
6. Start off running.
Begin a story with a person running. Where she is and what she’s running from (or to) is up to you. The action of running might help you create instant tension and a sense of urgency right off the bat.
Click the “random article” button on Wikipedia. Use the first topic that comes up as a title, setting, event, theme, etc., to inspire a key element of a new story.
8. Character smash-up.
Combine the interests, personality traits, physical features and lifestyle choices of two or three people from your life. Use your intimate understanding of different real-life personalities to create a new, yet authentic, character.
9. The phone rings…
The phone rings, startling a character awake at an unreasonable hour of the night. Who’s on the other end of the line? What do they need (or want)? Write a story from the perspective of the caller.
10. Memory lane.
Describe the street of your childhood home in realistic, precise and sensory detail; then invent new characters to occupy the house you grew up in.
What’s the best writing prompt you’ve ever used?