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?


  1. You wrote MH through a dream? What? How did I not know that? xD But that's so cool! If I were to ever write a book, it'd probably be based on my very strange dreams. :P

    Also, I tagged you for the Bibliophile Sweater Tag. (


    1. Um...I'm not sure what happened there with the formatting. o.O Sorry.

    2. Ha no worries about the formatting ;P This tag is the BEST so I'll answer some of the questions in my newsletter I'll send out at the end of this month!!

      Yes I did base MH off a dream. I had a dream where a pregnant girl spent the night in a barn and a large family of girls took her in. ... That was about it, but I liked the idea ;)

  2. I don't use prompts much, but many of my short stories were created through challenge groups I'd been a part of. Some of my favorite stories I've written came from dreams I'd had, too! Including my novel "Perfect" which reminds me a lot of your Martin Hospitality in being conservative contemporary :)

    One of my best friends has started a blog just for prompts/ challenges/ and such writing/ creative/art fun :) You might like it :)

    Fun post!

    1. Ohh that's fun! I really don't use true writing prompts much either. They're often too specific for me?

      Ahh I'm so glad I'm not the only dream writer! That's so awesome <3 I will definitely check out the website. Thanks, Keturah! (Also, idk if I've ever told you, but your name makes me happy ^.^)

    2. Oh, thanks so much! Have you heard of my name before? I like your name, too (my middle name is Abigail, so that name is just awesome, but unique spellings are spectacular ;D

    3. I've only ever heard it for Abraham's second wife in the Bible, and I always thought it was beautiful! Never met anyone else with the name. :) It's funny because I don't typically like spellings that are too creative, but I love my name, even if I do have to spell it for everyone. ;P

    4. Nice! Yeah, many don't know that biblical trivia ;) I have actually met several other girls with my name.

      Yeah, I get you. Creative spellings *can* be annoying. But they can be pretty, too. I totally relate to always having to spell your name to everyone ;) But I don't mind.

  3. I don't do much with prompts but I should! Great ideas!

    1. Thanks! I don't do much with traditional ones either which is what got me thinking!

  4. Thank you for sharing your imagination prompts, Abi! Some ways that inspire me are "what if"s, especially in writing stories with fantasy elements. It's awesome how God inspires us in His own unique ways. ♥ Keep writing, girl!

    1. Yes, "what ifs" are a great way to get your mind going!! I should use those more than I do because those are great for grabbing readers as well. Thanks, Hosanna ^.^

  5. Replies
    1. Fun!! I've tried that like ... once? But I love matching songs to stories I've already written. Music is just great in general haha


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