Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spark Your Imagination With Writing Prompts

Copyright © 2011, Steven E. Houchin. All rights reserved.

Short stories, as with all fiction, require inspiration. Sometimes, real life can supply all you need. Scenes from movies or books can spark ideas. Or, you may have a fertile, twisted imagination.
For me, I’ve found that writing prompts are a great starting point. A writing prompt is a one or two sentence scenario from which a writer can construct a scene. Some are purely exercises, such as describing some object in your bedroom. Others place a character in a frightening or offbeat situation.

Here is one interesting prompt:
You have been captured by cannibals. How do you try to convince them not to eat you? If that fails how do you attempt to get away?
Here is one that is more of an exercise:
Write a scene where shadows or lighting create a mood.
Two writing prompts that particularly intrigued me turned into great short stories that received laughs and even applause at a writers workshop I regularly attend. I maintain a text file on my computer system to save interesting prompts as I come across them. I also jot down my own ideas, some of which are bare-bones notations, like:
An overgrown cemetery.
Or ...
A pet snake gets loose.
These are little things that flash into my mind or appear in a movie, and seem at the moment to have potential.

An excellent site to find writing prompts is Writer’s Digest. They add to them regularly and keep a long list of the older ones. So, if your imagination needs a jump start, take a look at it, or use your favorite search engine to find other writing prompts online.

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