Writing Prompts

How to Use Writing Prompts

Writing prompts inspire ideas. Use the ones included below to lead your thoughts in new directions, then modify them to match your expertise and passion. We'll post a new batch every two weeks. 

Whether you're creating a narrative or an informational post, use active verbs to evoke the feeling you want to engender. Each prompt includes lists of verbs that may prove helpful to you while writing. You can also click Explore to see broad lists of concepts and ideas. 

Some prompts engage your senses so you can begin to notice more detail in everyday surroundings. Sensory details bring settings to life. Other prompts ask you to consider the mechanics or mystery of relationships. And others guide you in framing a story within a historical or artistic context.


Writing Tips

1) Quicken the tempo of your piece by listing three verbs separated by commas (e.g. "I came, I saw, I conquered.")

2) Pick a metaphor for your piece. Start and end with a reference to it. Type a word into VerbQ's search bar to find verbs that could pepper your writing to sustain the theme of your metaphor. Verbs in the search bar turn up the most, but nouns and adjectives work, too.

3) The lead: Each genre needs a slightly different lead. Pack as much concrete information as you can into the opening sentence of a newspaper article: (e.g. "Last July, Josh took a phone call from Shanghai that led to a series of events that culminated in....") The lead of a novel chaptermight entice the reader with brevity. (e.g. "The next time she saw him was in a coffin.")


Writing Prompt Number: 2

 

 

Prompt: What's happening here? What kind of music are they creating? What kind of action might take place in this setting? Why did the woman turn around? When she looks behind her, what does she see? Why is the man wearing a hat? Set the timer for 10 minutes. Go!

 

Check out the following lists for strong verbs:

Singing, Percussion and Sound Made on the Body

How Things Hold One's Gaze

Radiance in a Person

 

 

Writing Prompt Number: 3

 

 

Prompt: Why are these two people walking at the mud flats? What does each want from the other? Describe the tension between them using a metaphor stirred by the photo. Who is the third person? Which of the three misses the rainbow? Why? Set the timer for 10 minutes. Go!

 

Check out the following lists for strong verbs:

Weather & Seasons

Walking & Running

Upsetting & Offending

 

 

Writing Prompt Number: 4

 

 

Prompt: Who grew up near this statue of David by Michelangelo? How did the statue influence the posture and sexuality of boys in the neighborhood?

What kind of mischief did a teenager do to the statue? Did he get caught? Did he go to jail? Why? Why not?

OR: What kind of romance took place here? Set your timer for 15 minutes. Go!

 

Check out the following lists for strong verbs:

Lifting Something Up

Small Movements & Body Positions

What Police Might Do

 

 

Writing Prompt Number: 5

 

 

Prompt: What is this place? What are these men doing? What is their relationship?  Whose belongings sit on the bench? Where has that person gone? Why? What is the relationship between the absent person and the man wearing jeans? Set the timer for 10 minutes. Go!

 

Check out the following lists for strong verbs:

Plotting or Conspiring

Food & Smell

Feeling

Appearance

 

 

Writing Prompt Number: 6

 

 

Prompt: The priest of this church has a secret. What is it? Who wants to know his secret? Why? What is their relationship? Why does he fear disclosure? Set the timer for 10 minutes. Go!

 

Check out the following lists for strong verbs:

Deceiving

Involuntary Body Actions

Peril, Suspense & Fear

Organized Religion

 

 

Writing Prompt Number: 7

 

 

Prompt: Who set fire to this building? Why? Who was hurt in the fire? Who did the fire bring together? What happened next? Set the timer for 10 minutes. Go!

 

Check out the following lists for strong verbs:

Vandalism

Violence & Confrontation

Fire

Throwing

 

 

Writing Prompt Number: 8

 

 

Prompt: This is a refugee settlement. What did the refugees flee? What did they want? Twelve years later, what's happening here? Who left? Who stayed? Why? Set your timer for 15 minutes. Go!

 

Check out the following lists for strong verbs:

War

Wandering

Violent Persecution

Living in the Shadow of the Past

 

 

Writing Prompt Number: 9

 

 

Prompt: It is 2024. Just before a woman is killed, she walks by these bird sculptures. What unusual thing does the murderer do just before he kills her? What role does a cyborg play in solving the crime? Set your timer for 10 minutes. Go!

Check out the following lists for strong verbs:

Plotting a Story

Plotting or Conspiring

Handheld Weapons

Wet, Cold, or Wintry Weather

 

 

Writing Prompt Number: 10

 

 

Prompt: What happened here? Why is the woman taking a picture? If you were writing text for a memorial plaque, what would you write? Choose verbs that imply goodness or guilt when plotting a story around this picture. Set your timer for 10 minutes. Go!

 

Check out the following lists for strong verbs:

Plotting a Story

Injuring Someone Using Violence

War

Physical Abuse

Spirituality & Goodness