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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Alternatives to Writing Prompts

Writing prompts are popular for a reason--they contain little nuggets of inspiration to boost your brain. I always hesitate to base a story completely off a cool prompt because it makes me feel like an idea theif. Whether thats the case with you or not, I've found several alternatives to true writing prompts that help me come up with my own ideas.


Sometimes there are writing prompts that aren't really prompts. Like this one:

*from Pinterest*
These are the kind I like because they allow the writer to still discover their own idea. Not that it matters because every idea we have is based off what's around us. However, I like more "process" prompts than story ideas. It's more like an imagination prompt than a writing prompt if you really want to draw a difference.

Here are a few more such prompts or methods that I use regularly:
  • ask my siblings for a random word
  • base something off a song (shuffle play is best!)
  • pick a random word, possibly think about its multiple meanings
  • trace a myth or story for an obscure detail (basically how I wrote Andora's Folly)
  • scroll through my Pinterest pins for a thought-provoking image
  • pick a name and research the meaning
  • base something off a season or around a specific event
  • think of something common (regency era) and then something uncommonly followed amongst it (the violinists at all the balls)
  • write down the dreams you remember (how I wrote Martin Hospitality)
  • keep a running list of random ideas to review
These tend to work better for short fiction because then it can be worked back and forth until you have something brief you like. Every now and then I get something that fits well into a dry spot of a novel, too.

In general, I have no fail-proof way of prompting myself. I just have to start somewhere like above and eventually, if I chase it far enough, something will often spark.

What kind of prompts work best for you? Do you prefer writing story prompts (a damsel in distress) or imagination prompts like I gave?