100+ Creative Writing Prompts to Hone Your Skills

7 Dec 2022 Inspiration, Plot Development, The Writing Craft, Tools

How do you become a better athlete, musician, scholar—or anything?

You know.


You run drills, play scales, review flashcards, whatever it takes.

So how do you become a better writer?

Speaking only for myself, I feel I get better by exercising my writing muscles. In other words, I write.

Many of my colleagues swear by using writing prompts, believing these can help sharpen their skills and get their creative juices flowing.

Full disclosure: I’ve never felt the need for writing prompts. I don’t need to be prompted to write by anything but my ideas for stories or nonfiction subjects.

But, as I say, I know many writers who love using prompts, and you may be one of the many who have asked my team and me about them.

Which is why we’ve put together this guide to writing prompts, organized by genre.

Writing prompts usually consist of a one- or two-sentence idea to jumpstart you into getting words onto the page.

Some say they inspire creativity, help you practice writing in different genres, develop your writing voice, and hone a particular skill like showing instead of telling or writing captivating dialogue.

How to Use Writing Prompts – A Word of Warning

Writing prompts should be used as only an exercise, not as the basis of your novel or nonfiction book. 

Why? Because they don’t come directly from you.

The best book ideas (the ones that actually last) are your own. That’s what makes us authors—our ideas, our unique take on something. If you need help with this, take a look at my blog post on how to develop a great story idea.

But if you see value in a writing prompt to get your juices flowing, here’s what we’ve come up with:

112 Creative Writing Prompts

General Fiction

1. While at summer camp over a decade ago, five teenagers’ lives became irrevocably intertwined. Now their paths have crossed again, and they must all come to terms with what happened that summer. Write one page in first person from the perspective of one of the teens.

2. One kid in a big city is bored during the summer and needs some action. Write one page on the solution.

3. On the first day of school, two best friends discover a frightening secret about one of their new teachers. Write one page on what they discovered, and how they discovered it.

4. Some stories rhyme. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ is an example. Shakespeare often used rhyme in his plays. Try writing a one-page story that rhymes.

5. It’s a cold, rainy night. A man and woman stand beside a car outside a convenience store, arguing. One of them pulls out a gun. Write one page from the perspective of a witness.

6. An elderly couple traveling through the desert spends an evening stargazing and sharing memories of their lives. Write one page of dialogue between them.

7. Write one page in third person about someone who walks away from the life they know and the people they love and why they did this.

8. A small team of graduate students is conducting research at sea when they are overtaken by a wild storm. Write one page in third person about how each reacts.

9. A single mother leaves her two teenage children home alone for the summer. Write one page on what the mother thinks her children are doing, and one page on what they’re actually doing.

10. Write a forged letter from a celebrity, a fictional character, a historical figure, or even your mother-in-law. Inhabit their perspective and voice.

11. Choose a line from a favorite book and use it as the opening sentence for one page of writing.

12. A long-standing feud erupts during a funeral or a wedding. Write a page from the perspective of a witness trying to understand what’s happening.

13. A plane missing for years lands at a major airport. Write a page from the perspective of one of the passenger’s loved ones.

14. You find a wallet on the street and notice a strange picture inside. Write a page about what happens next, and engage all five senses.

15. The floor trembles and the walls shake, and there is only one way to survive. Write one page on how.

16. As you ride your motorcycle into the sunset, you see something unexpected on the horizon. Write about what you see.

17. By the time this party is finished, three people’s lives will be changed forever. Who are they and what happens?

18. You scramble to your first university class and find no one there but you and the professor. Write two pages of dialogue between the two of you.

19. Two friends who have not seen each other in ten years meet at a high school reunion. Write what they talk about beyond the typical bringing each other up to date.

20. Write a one- or two-page story set during the Prohibition era in the US.

21. “I’d like a plane ticket to your farthest destination today,” you tell the airline employee. Write a page of dialogue in which you dance around what you’re escaping from.

22. A former party animal in a retirement home decides it’s time for one last bash. Write a page detailing the scene a staff member walks in on.

23. Write about a graduation day prank a group of university seniors has been planning all year.

24. Write about an obsessive search for an office worker’s favorite coffee mug.

25. You notice the same person in the background of every photo in a family album. Write about who it might be.

26. You overhear a secret phone call. Write a page about your reaction, but don’t reveal the secret until the end.

27. Write about waking from a coma to discover someone who wished you’d remained unconscious.

28. Practice describing emotions by writing about the different kinds of farewells you might witness at an airport— bittersweet, tragic, happy, etc.

29. You’re working in your garden when someone says, “I don’t mean to interrupt, but…” Write two pages of dialogue between you and them.

30. Someone sitting across from you on a train is crying. Write one page in which you find out they’re crying tears of sadness, and one page in which they’re weeping from joy.

31. Write about parting with someone who causes you to breathe a huge sigh of relief the moment you walk away.

32. You stare at the 67-story building that has owned your life for 10 years. Write one page of how you think your last day there will go, and one page of how it actually goes.

33. A farewell: bitter for one person, sweet for the other. Write one page from the perspective of each.


34. Some relationships can’t be classified as wholly toxic or healthy. Write one page about a complex relationship between two characters.

35. Neither wants to marry a stranger, but theirs was an arranged marriage. Write what happens when they are first alone together, from one of their perspectives.

36. A high society engagement is jeopardized when one of the betrothed falls in love with an outsider. Write about what happens in first person from the perspective of one of the mothers.


37. Write one page on something terrifying and unimaginable lurking in the water at the beach.

38. Create a classic monster and write a one-page story about it.

39. Your protagonist’s house has mysteriously changed—furniture, decor, all different. Write two pages on how and why this happened.

40. As the sun sets, a desert wasteland glows an eerie red. In third person, describe, in detail, where this is.

41. A blizzard has closed the roads, and your nearest neighbor is miles away. Write a page about who shows up at the door.

42. You’re lost in the woods when you see the glow of a campfire nearby. What happens when you approach? Write a page on the best scenario, and a page on the worst.

43. “Savor this sunset, folks. It might be the last one we ever see.” Use this as the opening or closing sentence of a one-page narrative.

Sci-Fi / Fantasy

44. Friends discover a cave containing human skeletons, a computer from the 1980s, a gas mask, and a strange orb that emits a glowing blue light. Write one page in first person from the perspective of one of the friends.

45. Write one page on the location of a portal to another world you’ve discovered.

46. Every day you are delivered a newspaper that accurately predicts what will happen in the next 24 hours. Write about the day you decide to change your fate.

47. A group of villains go on a team-building retreat. Write a journal entry from one, detailing their activities. Include how they felt about each of the other villains.

48. Emotional baggage must now be checked in at the airport. Write two pages of dialogue between a baggage handler and a passenger whose baggage exceeds the weight limit.

49. The world awakes to find the Easter Island heads facing the opposite direction. Write a short newspaper article describing the phenomenon, including statements from researchers.

50. An old flip phone is found inside an Egyptian tomb. Write the last voicemail recorded on it.

51. You’re on a boat that should have reached undiscovered land days ago, but there is no land in sight. Use all five senses to describe your surroundings.

52. You are an astronaut spending your last few hours on Earth before a journey into space. Write a letter to your family detailing what you hope to discover, and what you’ll miss about home.

53. You find out you’re the product of a DNA experiment combining as many recessive genes into one person as possible—that’s why you’ve always felt so different from everyone else. Write two pages describing seemingly-ordinary things in your life that, in hindsight, should’ve tipped you off.

54. A man travels to another dimension only to find that everything he was trying to get away from, he’s brought with him. Write two pages in third person describing his reaction.

55. A marathon runner illegally trains on a planet with stronger-than-Earth gravity to gain an advantage over his competition in the inter-universe Olympics. Write a page that convinces the reader to root for him.

56. “It’s not really a fly. If you swat it, they’ll just fine you and send two more.” Write a page describing whoever sends the “flies.”

57. A woman disappears for three years and returns with psychic powers. She doesn’t reveal her secret to anyone. Describe how she reacts to loved ones who don’t know her secret.

58. The solar system is an ecologically closed spacecraft hurtling mankind toward its ultimate destiny. Describe who is in charge of this spacecraft and why they chose to do this.

59. A man who lives in a smart house—where everything is done for him—pines for the Wild West, where men had to fend for themselves. Describe his fantasy life, but remember that he has no experience doing things for himself.

60. There wasn’t just a ghost in her house. There was an entire colony. Write why they’re haunting her and how they feel about her.

61. “I learned to stop time traveling today. I was doing it just to hurt myself.” Write two pages from the perspective of a character who says this.

62. She spent her entire life in the orphanage without any knowledge of her parents until she finds an album full of pictures of a family—and she is in all of them. Write a page of her thoughts.

63. An old woman kills one of the alien soldiers she’s forced to house. Write her thoughts from just after she’s taken their life.

64. A scientist dupes the public into believing that a meteor is on a collision course with Earth. When he discovers his fake meteor is actually real, no one believes him. Write a page describing why, from the first-person perspective of his colleague.

65. On a post-apocalyptic planet, there has been a strict curfew at 10:00 every night for over 80 years. Two friends break the curfew. Write two pages on how they do it and what consequences lie ahead.

66. Each child a woman births is a vote for that world’s continuation. Write a page from her diary about why this system is in place.

67. A girl dreams of her brother who passed away years ago and believes he is giving her information about the afterlife. Write a scene in which she finally believes him.

68. A failing physics student accidentally discovers faster-than-light-speed travel, but his professor doesn’t believe him. Write a scene in which he proves his findings.

69. One of the planets in our solar system has crystals that contain healing powers. A young boy is determined to get these crystals for his dying mother. Describe his plan to accomplish this.

70. A group of teenagers finds an abandoned shack that proves to be a portal to another universe. Write two pages of conversation in which they debate whether or not to enter.

71. A man driven mad by a ringing in his ears discovers it’s an alien signal. Write a scene in which he tries to determine whether anyone else can hear it.

72. A boy’s grandparents regale him with stories about “the Earth that was.” Write two pages on how they describe our current Earth to a child in the distant future.

73. Global warming prompts rapid mutations in the human species. Write as a future anthropologist studying these changes.

74. New technology allows humans to communicate with animals. Write one page from the perspective of an animal, and one from the perspective of a butcher.

75. Humans undergo creative surgical modifications that include extra limbs and cartoon-like features. Write a page from the perspective of someone who regrets their decision.

76. Breeding modern humans with Neanderthal DNA leads to disaster. Write a newspaper article describing what happened because of this experiment.

77. Write a conversation between a history teacher and her class in an alternate dimension where Napoleon never lost at Waterloo, France took control of Europe, and World Wars I and II never happened.

78. A human and alien fall in love, causing an interplanetary crisis. Write a love letter from one to the other.

79. An astronaut returns to earth after years in the space station, having developed mutations. Write a scene in which these manifest themselves.

80. High-speed robotic horses become an alternative to cars and weave through heavy traffic with ease. Write an advertisement for these new steeds.

81. Birds and butterflies navigate long migrations due to proteins in their bodies that align with the Earth’s magnetic fields. Scientists put these proteins to use in humans. Write the diary entry of a young girl on her first migration.

82. An entertainment company creates a TV show that’s dangerously addictive. Write a conversation between an avid fan and someone who refuses to watch.

83. An attempt to save the honeybees has surprising consequences. Write a journal entry from a researcher explaining what happens.

84. Online bullying is made a felony. Write a speech from a man defending himself against this charge.

85. At a new underwater amusement park, guests face a greater depth than ever before. Write a series of intercom announcements the park uses to minimize the threat and convince guests to stay.

86. Without their consent, the government implants a device in the retinas of students in order to spy on other countries. Write a page from the perspective of a joyful student and one from a government worker analyzing the data.

87. Anyone can now travel anywhere at the speed of light. Write a page from the perspective of someone who hates this new ability.

88. It becomes easy to track any person at any time. Write two pages from the perspective of someone who uses this nefariously.

89. New fitness devices track your movements and everything you eat. In a page, describe how you would fool this device.

90. A new device tracks mood levels and emotions, helping people avoid what makes them unhappy. Write a page from the perspective of someone whose job is to sell as many devices as they can.

91. People get implants that make them change color with their moods. Write two pages of a conversation between a married couple in which the wife confronts her husband about his infidelity.

92. Criminals and dissidents undergo illegal genetic therapy to change their DNA so the government has no record of them. Write a journal entry from a detective who finds another way to catch his prey.

93. Research a rebellion in your country’s history and write two pages describing how a modern coup could be accomplished.


94. Guests at a surprise party are startled when the ashes of the birthday boy are delivered with a note from his killer. Write a character description of each guest, including reasons that could make each the killer.

95. A scientific research study goes awry, leaving all the subjects dead except one. Write a journal entry from the survivor in which they piece together the evidence.

96. As guests arrive for a funeral, they find the casket empty and the supposed decedent hosting the ceremony. Write his speech.

97. In the middle of the school year, a new student arrives, but no one can figure out where he came from or who he is. Write two pages of conversation among other students guessing his origin.

98. Your character wakes up by the side of a freeway she’s never seen before, in a new state, with a phone number written on her wrist. Write two pages of dialogue between her and whoever picks up the phone.

99. Your character receives letters from his parents, who died four years ago. Write a scene in which your character tries to explain this.

100. Your character finds her name in the obituary column. Write what she reads and how she reacts.

101. Backpacking around Europe, two friends run into trouble they never expected. Write two pages of dialogue between them.

102. A travel blogger thought moving across the country would solve all her problems, but they seemed to follow her. Write two of her blog posts—one from the beginning of her journey and one from the end.

103. Banks in multiple states are all broken into at the same time. All the money was stolen except for $37 left on the floor of each safe. Write a newspaper article about this phenomenon, including experts’ theories.

104. Someone reading about a recent string of crimes knows who committed them. Write one page on how they know and what they decide to do.

105. You believe the person writing the daily crossword puzzle in your newspaper is trying to send an encoded message. In the first person, write a convincing argument of your belief.

106. You find an old chessboard in the attic. Absent-mindedly, you move a piece. The next day, an opposing piece has been moved. Write a page in first person detailing what’s going on.

Nonfiction / Memoir

107. Complete: “If you really knew me…”

108. What harmful beliefs were you raised with? Write one page reflecting on how they affected you, and one on how you overcame them.

109. Write a letter from a burning building you will not be able to escape.

110. Write the commencement speech you would deliver if asked.

111. Write about a view that you hold so strongly it makes you emotional. Next, write from the perspective of someone who holds the opposite stance.

112. Write a letter of love and support to an elder. Tell them stories about your life and ask them to tell you theirs.