One of the search terms that keeps coming up in my blog statistics is “writing prompts,” so I thought I’d spend some time talking about them. In earlier posts I mentioned where to look for ideas to write about, but I didn’t discuss how to get started developing them into a story. Here are some suggestions on what to do with writing prompts.
Start out by spending a few minutes free writing thoughts generated by the prompt. By that I mean jotting down whatever comes to your mind, without self-editing or crossing things out. Some of the ideas will be garbage, but there may be some real gems there, too.
When the ideas stop flowing, pick one of them that seems interesting and try to write a paragraph about it. In my opinion, if you can’t come up with a paragraph within a few minutes, it will be hard to develop that idea into a story. See if something else you wrote down works better. The point is to get your writing started and to stimulate creativity. If one prompt doesn’t do that, there are plenty more to choose from.
Jot down plot points or conflicts that might be used to turn the idea into a short story, add in a character or two, and think of a potential ending. Don’t feel like you have to include everything you come up with; the idea is to generate possibilities, with a loose structure you can use to build a complete story.
Here are a couple of pictures that give me lots to think about; maybe they’ll spark ideas for you, too.
If you prefer written prompts, perhaps one of these will help get you started:
* Why did your neighbors come home from their vacation 5 days early?
* What was that guy in the red pickup doing parked in front of your house when you were leaving for work?
* How did the squirrel get into your son’s bedroom when he wasn’t even home?
What type of prompts do you like to use to get your creativity flowing? Where do you get your best ideas?