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Creative writing journal prompts

225 Fun & Free Creative Writing Prompts for Kids in All Grade Levels

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Writing prompts are meant to unlock creativity. They’re story starters designed to inspire creative thinking. They can take you to places you’ve been or recall an important time in your life.

But mostly, they’re useful tools for teachers to inspire writing growth in students from grade school to high school.

“Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…”

It’s amazing how one simple sentence can send you on a journey to places you’ve never been, filled with untold possibilities.

Reading is great, but you know what’s even better? Giving your students the power to write stories for themselves.

Writing prompts for kids help students:

  • Express themselves and their creativity
  • Grasp lifelong literacy skills and concepts
  • Tell their own stories and build self-confidence
  • Develop a growth mindset when it comes to their writing skills

Writing is like a muscle — it takes practice to build up skills. Luckily, we put together a list of over 200 writing prompts to help your students get started. We’ve also organized them by middle school, high school and elementary school to help teachers decide whether these prompts are age-appropriate for their students.

Grade school writing prompts

Grade schoolers can definitely begin to address complex ideas when it comes to story writing — but you should seek to keep the prompts simple and straightforward.

Reluctant writers might be intimidated by complicated writing ideas — and this is an age where we should be encouraging creativity.

Creative writing prompts for elementary schoolers

Whether it’s exploring the furthest reaches of outer space, traveling across the Sahara desert or sticking a little closer to home, these creative writing prompts will have students imagining endless possibilities for their writing.

  1. Write about what your life would be like if you turned into a squirrel. What would you do every day?
  2. A strange spaceship just crashed and landed in your backyard. What happens next?
  3. Make up a story about where thunder comes from.
  4. You find an old notebook hidden in an attic. What does it say? Who did it belong to?
  5. You have a magic garden. What magical plants do you grow? How do you take care of them?
  6. Write a story about running away with the circus when it comes to town.
  7. Rewrite “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” from the perspective of one of the dwarfs (Happy, Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Grumpy, Sneezy and Bashful).
  8. There once was a little boy who ate nothing but oranges. What happened to him?
  9. Write a story about a magical hat. Where is it from? What does it do? What does it look like?
  10. You’re exploring the rainforest and come across a flower that no one’s ever seen before. Describe it!
  11. Tell me a story about a dinosaur living a long, long time ago.
  12. Tell me a story about an astronaut visiting another planet. Where are they going? How do they get there? What do they take with them?
  13. You discover a magic portal in the park. Where does it lead to?
  14. Pick a partner and write a story together! Start by writing the first sentence, then pass it to your partner to write the second sentence.
  15. You find buried treasure in the park, hidden in a big wooden chest. What kind of treasure is it? Who left it there?
  16. Write a story about a family that can travel in time.
  17. Write a story without using the letter “E”.
  18. Write the funniest story you can think of.
  19. There’s a kangaroo in your classroom. How did it get there? What happens when you find it?
  20. Write a story about an explorer who keeps getting lost. Where are they trying to go? What do they find along the way?
  21. Write a story about a wooden door, a can of soda and a blue shoe.
  22. If there was a magical portal in the back of your closet, where would it lead to?
  23. Finish this story: There was a knock on the door. I opened it to find a dog sitting there, and…
  24. You come home and find that everything in your house is upside down. What happened?
  25. Describe the color “red” without using the word “red”.
  26. There’s an old, abandoned house at the end of your street that’s been empty for years. One day, someone moves in.
  27. Rewrite the story of Cinderella from the perspective of the stepsisters.
  28. Write a backstory for Ed, the orange Prodigy mascot.
  29. You wake up one morning and find a mermaid in your bathtub. How did they get there? What do you do?
  30. Write a story about a monster looking for some friends.
  31. Oh no — your balloon blew away! Write about what happens from the balloon’s perspective.
  32. You and your friends are out for a walk when, out of nowhere, your friends start disappearing! What’s going on?
  33. Once upon a time, an old inventor built a weather machine. It sat undiscovered for years — until you found it. What happens next?
  34. You just ate a cookie that turned you 15 feet tall. What do you do next?

Fun writing prompts for grade schoolers

Everyday life is full of great inspiration for writing! Get students thinking with these easy and fun writing prompts.Write about something you are good at.

  1. If you could write a book about anything, what would you write about?
  2. If you could have any animal as a pet, what would it be and why?
  3. Do you have a favorite animal? Tell me all about it! Why do you like it?
  4. What would you do if you woke up one morning and everything was pink — including you?
  5. What food can you not live without? Why?
  6. If you could add any class to your school schedule, what would it be?
  7. Invent a new day of the week. What is it called? When is it? What do people usually do on that day of the week?
  8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
  9. If you could spend a Saturday doing anything you wanted, what adventures would you get up to?
  10. If you could have any wild animal as a pet, what would you choose? Why?
  11. What’s your favorite, wacky food?
  12. Where is your favorite place to read? Why?
  13. What was the coolest day of school for you? What made it exciting?
  14. Which of your toys do you wish could talk? What would they say?
  15. If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it look like?
  16. Invent a machine to do a chore for you. What does the machine do? What does it look like?
  17. What’s your favorite season? What makes it the best?
  18. What is your favorite math game and why?
  19. Describe your real-life superpower.
  20. Finish the story: When I’m older I want to be an expert in…
  21. If pets could talk to each other, what would they say?
  22. If you were the captain of a ship, what would you call your ship? What would it look like? Where would you go?
  23. If your pet could talk to you, what do you think it would say?
  24. If you were the only person on earth for one day, what would you do?
  25. Plan the perfect birthday party for yourself.
  26. What is your favorite thing to do over summer break?
  27. Describe your ideal birthday cake.
  28. If you could add any type of room to your house, what would it be?
  29. What’s your favorite movie and why?

Persuasive writing prompts for elementary school

Are your students’ opinions up for debate? Ask them to flex their critical thinking skills with these persuasive writing prompts. Once they’re done, get class discussion flowing with a spirited debate!

  1. Write a letter convincing your parents to let you get a pet dog. What arguments do you use to persuade them?
  2. Convince your teacher that you should be allowed an extra 15 minutes of recess.
  3. Convince your best friend to read your favorite book.
  4. How would you convince someone to do your chores for you?
  5. Write a commercial for your favorite breakfast food. What would convince someone else to try it?
  6. What flavor of chips is the best? Why?
  7. What would make a better pet — a monkey or a peacock?
  8. Do you think children should be allowed to stay up as late as they want?
  9. What’s your favorite holiday and why should it be everyone’s favorite?
  10. Convince us that your favorite food should be a staple in everyone’s diet.

Middle school writing prompts

As students enter middle school, they’re starting to feel like bigger, older kids. They can start writing original short stories and abstract persuasive essays.

It’s best to inspire creativity at this age and encourage them to explore their own voice and different writing styles. These prompts will definitely go a long way in inspiring that.

Creative Writing Prompts for Middle Schoolers

  1. Invent a new type of transportation for the future. Who uses it? Where does it go?
  2. If you had a time machine, where would you visit first — the past or the future? Why?
  3. You get on the bus and find a four-piece jazz band giving a concert. What do you do?
  4. Design and name your own Prodigy pet. What element are they? What’s their special power?
  5. Finish this story: “Something just touched my foot,” they shouted, swimming frantically towards the shore.
  6. Write a silly or scary story to tell around a campfire.
  7. Finish this story: Everything was going so well today — until I tripped and fell, right in front of…
  8. Throughout your adventures as a pirate on the high seas, you’ve seen lots of strange and magical creatures. Which one was the most interesting?
  9. Deep in the heart of a dark and mysterious cave, there lies a magic stone. Write about your quest to find it.
  10. Write an acrostic poem using the word “strawberry.”
  11. There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She knit and she baked, but what else did she do?
  12. Finish this story: “One thing I’ll never do again,” she said, “Is go on vacation with an alpaca.”
  13. Make up a new planet and describe it.
  14. Write a story about a family of penguins living on an iceberg.
  15. Write a story about a girl who can walk through walls.
  16. You’ve been invited to a ball at the Queen’s palace! What is it like?
  17. Imagine you’re exploring the Amazon jungle. Write a diary entry about your day.
  18. If you could invent a TV show, what would it be about?
  19. You discovered an underwater kingdom! What is it like there?
  20. A lonely trumpet player makes friends with the dancer who lives next door. What happens next?
  21. You go to the park to fly a kite, but get carried away by the wind! What happens next?
  22. Write a story about a volcano that’s about to erupt.
  23. Write a story about visiting an old lady who lives deep in the woods.
  24. Boom, you’re a superhero! Give yourself an origin story, describe your superpowers and plan what you’ll do to make the world a better place.
  25. Write a story using these six words: calendar, headphones, lipstick, mug, bear.
  26. You wake up to find you’re invisible. How did it happen? What do you do?
  27. There’s been a robbery at the bank, and you’re in charge of finding the culprit. How do you solve the case?
  28. Finish the story: Once upon a time, there was a dragon.
  29. You just joined a super-secret spy organization. What’s your first mission?
  30. Write a story about being cold without using the word “cold.”
  31. You’re a scientist and you’ve just discovered a new type of bug. Describe what it looks like, where it’s from and what you’re going to call it.
  32. Imagine a world where all the birds can talk. What would they say?
  33. Write about what happens after the end of your favorite book or movie.
  34. Finish the story: She sprinted down the driveway to the mailbox. The package was here!
  35. You’re on a hike and a bird starts talking to you. What do you do? What does it say?
  36. Write a story using these five words: bubblegum, stapler, spoon, lightbulb, strawberry.
  37. You ate a magical carrot and your skin turned orange! What happens next?
  38. Write about what it would be like if you had an elephant for a pet.

Fun Writing Prompts for Middle Schoolers

  1. If you were in charge of the classroom for a day, what would your class do?
  2. Tell me about the last dream you had.
  3. You’re trapped on a desert island. What three things did you bring with you and why?
  4. What mythical creature would you like to have as a pet? Why?
  5. Invent a new type of pasta. What does it look like? What does it taste like?
  6. If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? Make a plan and tell the story of your dream vacation.
  7. Plan the perfect picnic. Where would it be? What food would you have?
  8. If you could decorate your bedroom any way you wanted, what would it look like?
  9. Write a story that sounds loud, using onomatopoeia (words that sound like their meaning, like crash, snort, bang and boom.)
  10. Invent a new type of cookie. What does it taste like?
  11. Invent a new sport. What is it called? What are the rules?
  12. How would you disguise yourself to blend in with a forest?
  13. You just won a special award from the president. What did you do to earn that award?
  14. Do you collect anything? What is it and why? If not, what would you like to collect?
  15. You just found a genie in a bottle. What three things would you wish for? (Remember, no wishing for extra wishes!
  16. Explain how to play your favorite sport or do your favorite hobby. Make it as exciting as possible!
  17. Describe the most beautiful sunrise or sunset you’ve ever seen.
  18. If you could live in any book or movie, which one would you choose and why?
  19. Imagine that you’re going on a camping trip. What do you pack to make sure the trip is fun?
  20. If you could invent a robot to do any chore, what chore would it be? How would the robot do it?
  21. Would you rather it was always raining, or always snowing?
  22. Imagine you’re a toy inventor. What will you create?
  23. Would you rather climb to the top of a mountain or go scuba diving?
  24. Interview a family member about their childhood, then write it as a story.
  25. What was your favorite toy growing up — why was it so special to you?

Persuasive Writing Prompts for Middle School

  1. If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be and why?
  2. Is it better to read the book before you watch the movie, or watch the movie before you read the book?
  3. Persuade someone to try out your favorite hobby or sport.
  4. What’s the best way to try and persuade a friend to do what you want to do?
  5. When is peer pressure good? When is peer pressure bad?
  6. Is it better to have lots of friends, or just a few really good friends?
  7. Should students be in charge of what they learn in school?

High school writing prompts

High school students can either be tasked with more complex writing prompts or breathe nuance into simple story ideas. Students can drive these prompts in a million different ways.

So while not necessarily more complicated than middle school, these prompts can be tweaked, either by the student or teacher, to encourage thought-provoking output.

Creative Writing Prompts for High Schoolers

  1. If you had a time machine, where would you visit first — the past or the future? Why?
  2. Write a story about someone your age who lives on the other side of the world.
  3. Pick up the nearest book and turn to page 7. Close your eyes and point to a random word on the page, then write a story about that word.
  4. Write a story in ten words or less.
  5. You fell asleep for 100 years. What does the world look like when you wake up?
  6. Finish the story: “This isn’t what I hoped would happen,” she said….
  7. You’re walking down the street when you see someone who looks exactly like you.
  8. Write a story where the main character learns something new about themselves.
  9. Write a story that takes place in the desert.
  10. Write a story about a day where everything seems to go wrong.
  11. Write a poem about the color blue.
  12. Write the funniest story you can think of.
  13. How would your life be different if you didn’t have access to a computer, video games or your phone?

Fun writing prompts for high schoolers

  1. You win a million dollars, but there’s a catch — you have to spend it all in 24 hours, or you lose all the money. What do you do?
  2. Write about something you or your family does from the perspective of someone from another country.
  3. If you could make up a new holiday, when would it be and what would it celebrate?
  4. Go out on a nature walk and find a tree. Write the story of that tree, from the time it was a seed until now.
  5. What’s the most boring superpower you can think of? How would it be useful?
  6. If you could pass any law, what would it be?
  7. You meet yourself in the future, as a grown-up at age 35 — what do you talk about?
  8. If you had to show aliens the most important/best things in the world, what would you show them?
  9. Who is your hero and why?
  10. Write about the best surprise you ever got.
  11. What are three good things you can do for the environment? How can you encourage the people around you to do good things for the environment?
  12. If you could write a book about anything, what would you write about?
  13. What is your earliest memory? Write down as many details as you can remember.
  14. If you could take two people – real or fictional – on a cross-country road trip, who would you take? Where would you go?
  15. If you could have any job in the world tomorrow, what would you do?
  16. What is the best thing about living in your city or neighbourhood?
  17. Write a letter to your 30-year-old self. What do you think you’ll accomplish by then?
  18. Teach me how to make your favorite recipe.
  19. Describe the sound of your favorite song using descriptive words.

Persuasive writing prompts for high school

  1. Should kids be allowed to use social media unsupervised? Why or why not?
  2. Persuade someone to start a healthy habit, or get rid of a bad one.
  3. Should all single-use plastics be outlawed? Why or why not?
  4. Should our school have a dress code? Why or why not?
  5. Is it more important to be right or to not hurt someone else’s feelings?
  6. What important historical figure do you think belongs on the ten-dollar bill?
  7. Do you think you’re born with your personality traits, or do you gain them as you grow up?
  8. Should mobile apps be responsible for protecting your privacy — why or why not?

Social emotional learning journal prompts

School is about more than just books and quizzes — it’s about preparing students for the rest of their lives. Social emotional learning teaches them how to build good relationships with peers, understand and control their emotions and make healthy life decisions.

Journaling is a great way for students to reflect on their feelings in a safe, private space. Use these journaling prompts as thought starters for more social emotional learning!

  1. Tell me about a tradition you have with your family or friends.
  2. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
  3. Have you ever found something that you lost? How did you feel when you found it?
  4. What is something you haven’t learned this school year that you’re still wondering about?
  5. What do you do when you’re angry? Write about three ways you calm yourself down.
  6. Where do you feel the safest? Why do you feel safe there?
  7. Write a poem to make a friend happy.
  8. When was the last time you were kind to someone? How can you be kind to someone today?
  9. How are you feeling today? Are you happy, sad, excited or anxious?
  10. If you could give your best friend a present, what would it be?
  11. What are the qualities you look for in a friend? Why is it important to be a good friend?
  12. What does responsibility mean to you?
  13. Who do you talk to when you’re worried about something? How do they make you feel better?
  14. If you could make a card for anyone in your life, who would it be for and what would it say?
  15. What’s your favorite thing about yourself?
  16. Write about a time you had to make a hard decision. How did you make your decision?
  17. What do you do to make yourself happy when you’re sad?
  18. Write about a time you were disappointed.
  19. What are three things that make your best friend awesome?
  20. What do you think empathy means? Why is it important?
  21. How can you cheer up a friend who is sad?
  22. What makes you a good friend? How can you be a better friend?
  23. What’s the best piece of advice a friend, parent or teacher has ever given you?
  24. Write three goals for the rest of the school year. How are you going to accomplish them?
  25. What does responsibility mean to you? What are you responsible for at school and at home?
  26. What person in your life makes you feel confident?
  27. What scares you? How can you overcome your fears?
  28. Tell me about a time when you tried something new. How did it feel? Did you do it again?

Math writing prompts for kids

Whether it’s tackling word problems or explaining a new concept, writing is a surprisingly good tool for the math classroom.

A math journal can help you understand what students already know, while giving them space to work through tricky concepts on their own. Use these writing prompts to promote literacy in every subject — and help students avoid math anxiety.

  1. Tell me everything you know about ________.
  2. Explain, in words, how to solve this problem.
  3. What is and isn’t true about this situation?
  4. What is _______?
  5. Explain two different ways to solve this problem. Which one is better?
  6. What did you get correct in this problem?
  7. What mistakes did you make while solving this problem?
  8. What do you not understand about _____?
  9. Write a word problem using the concept we’re learning about.
  10. What did you learn today?
  11. How do you use math in your everyday life?
  12. What is the easiest/hardest part of math class?
  13. What discoveries did you make in math class today?

Final thoughts on writing prompts for kids

Writing prompts aren’t the end of the story — they’re just the beginning. Encourage your students to build a regular writing practice, and soon you’ll see the benefits in every class.

Where will your students’ imaginations take them?

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Creative writing journal prompts

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SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

The most common advice out there for being a writer is, “if you want to write, write.” While this is true (and good advice), it’s not always that easy, particularly if you’re not writing regularly.

Whether you’re looking for help getting started on your next project, or just want to spend 20 minutes being creative, writing prompts are great ways to rev up your imagination. Read on for our list of over 100 creative writing prompts!

feature image credit: r. nial bradshaw/Flickr

10 Short Writing Prompts

If you’re looking for a quick boost to get yourself going, these 10 short writing prompts will do the trick.

#1: Write a scene starting with a regular family ritual that goes awry.

#2: Describe exactly what you see/smell/hear/etc, right now. Include objects, people, and anything else in your immediate environment.

#3: Suggest eight possible ways to get a ping pong ball out of a vertical pipe.

#4: A shoe falls out of the sky. Justify why.

#5: If your brain were a tangible, physical place, what would it be like?

#6: Begin your writing with the phrase, “The stage was set.”

#7: You have been asked to write a history of “The Summer of [this past year].” Your publisher wants a table of contents. What events will you submit?

#8: Write a sympathetic story from the point of view of the “bad guy.” (Think fractured fairy tales like Wicked or The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, although the story doesn’t have to be a fairy tale.)

#9: Look at everyday objects in a new way and write about the stories one of these objects contains.

#10: One person meets a stranger on a mode of transportation. Write the story that ensues.

What stories might be happening on this train?

11 Writing Prompts for Kids

Any of these prompts can be used by writers of any age, but we chose the following 11 prompts as ones that would be particularly fun for kids to write about. (Most of them I used myself as a young writer, so I can vouch for their working!)

#1: Include something falling in your writing.

#2: Write a short poem (or story) with the title, “We don’t know when it will be fixed.”

#3: Write from the perspective of someone of a different gender than you.

#4: Write a dumb internet quiz.

#5: Finish this thought: “A perfect day in my imagination begins like this:”

#6: Write a character’s inner monologue (what they are thinking as they go about their day).

#7: Think of a character. Write a paragraph each about:

  • An important childhood experience that character had.
  • The character’s living situation.
  • Two hobbies or things the character likes to do.
  • The room where the character sleeps.
  • An ambition of the character.
  • Two physical characteristics of the character.
  • What happens when a second person and this character meet.
  • Two important defining personal traits of this character.

#8: Start a story with a quote from a song.

#9: Begin a story with, “It was the summer of ______ when ______”

#10: Pretend everyday objects have no names. Think about what you would name them based on what they do, what you can use them for, and what they look like.

#11: Start a story with the phrases “My grandparents are/were,” “My parents are/were,” or “My mother/father/parent is/was.”

My grandfather was. skiing in his bathrobe and a Santa hat??

15 Cool Writing Prompts

#1: List five issues that you’re passionate about. Write about them from the opposite point of view (or from the perspective of a character with the opposite point of view).

#2: Walk around and write down a phrase you hear (or read). Make a story out of it.

#3: Write using no adjectives or adverbs.

#4: Write a character’s inner dialogue between different aspects of a character’s self (rather than an inner monologue).

#5: Write a true story from your past that involves light or darkness in some way.

#6: “Saying goodbye awakens us to the true nature of things.” Write something in which someone has to say goodbye and has a realization.

#7: Begin by writing the end of the story.

#8: Write a recipe for an intangible thing.

#9: Write a horror story about an ordinary situation (e.g., buying groceries, going to the bank, listening to music).

#10: Write a story from within a bubble.

#11: Write down 2-3 short character descriptions and then write the characters in conversation with one another.

#12: Write a story in second person.

#13: Write a story that keeps contradicting itself.

#14: Write about a character with at least three big problems.

#15: Write something that takes place on a Friday, the 13th (of any month).

15 Funny Writing Prompts

#1: Write a story which starts with someone eating a pickle and potato sandwich.

#2: Write a short script where the plot has to do with evil dolls trying to take over something.

#3: Write about writers’ block.

#4: List five election issues that would be ridiculous to includes as part of your election platform (e.g. outlawing mechanical pencils and clicky pens, mandating every person over the age of 30 must own an emergency last rites kit). Choose one of the ridiculous issues and write a speech in favor of it.

#5: Write a children’s story that is insanely inappropriate but can’t use graphic language, curses, or violence.

#6: List five careers. Write about someone with one of those careers who wants to quit it.

#7: Write down a list of murder methods. Choose one at random from the list to use in a story.

#8: Write a romance story in which the hero must have a last name corresponding with a physical characteristic (e.g. Jacques Hairyback or Flora Dimple).

#9: Come up with 10 different ways to:

  • say hello
  • order a pizza
  • congratulate someone on a job well done
  • apologize
  • return to the store something that’s broken

#10: Search for “random Renaissance painting” (or any other inspirational image search text you can think of) on any online internet image search engine. Picking one image, write half a page each of:

  • Statements about this image (e.g. “I meant bring me the BREAD of John the Baptist”).
  • Questions about this image (e.g. “How many of those cherubs look like their necks are broken?”).
  • Explanations of this image (e.g. “The painter ran out of blue paint halfway through and had to improvise for the color of the sky”).
  • Commands said by people in this image or about this image (e.g. “Stop telling me to smile!” or “Bring me some gasoline!”).

#11: Write starting with a word that sounds like “chute” (e.g. “chute,” “shoot,” “shooed”).

#12: Write about a character named X “The [article of clothing]” Y (e.g. Julie “The Yellow Darted Skirt” Whyte) or simply referred to by their clothing (e.g. “the man in the brown suit” or “the woman in black”).

#13: Write down a paragraph each describing two wildly different settings. Write a story involving both settings.

#14: Think of a fictional holiday based around some natural event (e.g. the Earth being at its farthest point from the sun, in memory of a volcanic eruption, that time a cloud looked like a rabbit riding a bicycle). Write about how this holiday is celebrated.

#15: Write a “Just-So” type story about a fictional creature (e.g. “how the dragon got its firebreath” or “how the mudkip got its cheek gills”).

You can also try to write a Just-So story for the modern era, like “How the Computer Got Its Mouse”or How the Owl. Got Its Headphones? wait what

54 Other Writing Prompt Ideas

#1: Borrow a character from some other form of media (or create your own). Write from that character’s perspective.

#2: Write for and against a non-consequential controversy (e.g., salt vs. pepper, Mac vs. PC, best kind of door).

#3: Choose an ancestor or a person from the past to write about or to.

#4: Write a pirate story with a twist.

#5: Have a character talk about another character and their feelings about that other character.

#6: Pick a season and think about an event in your life that occurred in that season. Write a creative nonfiction piece about that event and that season.

#7: Think of something very complicated and long. Write a page about it using short sentences.

#8: Write a story as a dream.

#9: Describe around a food without ever directly naming it.

#10: Write a monologue (one character, talking to the audience/reader) (*not* an inner monologue).

#11: Begin a story with the phrase, “It only took five seconds to. “

#12: List five strong emotions. Choosing one, write about a character experiencing that emotion, but only use the character’s actions to convey how they are feeling (no outright statements).

#13: Write a chapter of the memoir of your life.

#14: Look through the (physical) things you’re currently carrying with you or wearing. Write about the memories or emotions tied with each of them.

#15: Go be in nature. Write drawing your story from your surroundings (both physical, social, and mental/emotional).

#16: Write from the perspective of a bubble (or bubble-like creature).

#17: A person is jogging along an asphalt road. Write a story.

#18: Title your story (or poem, or play, etc) “Anti-_____”. Fill in the blank and write the story.

#19: Write something that must include an animal, a mineral, and a vegetable.

#20: Begin your writing with the phrase, “6 weeks later. “

#21: List 5-10 office jobs. Pick one of them and describe a person working in that job as if you were a commentator on an Olympic sporting event.

#22: Practice your poetic imagery: overwrite a description of a character’s breakfast routine.

#23: Write about a character (or group of characters) trying to convince another character to try something they’re scared of.

#24: Keep an eye out in your environment for examples of greengrocer’s apostrophes and rogue quotation marks. Pick an example and write about what the misplaced punctuation implies (e.g., we have the “best” meat or we have the best “meat”).

#25: Fill in the blank with the first word that comes to mind: “_______ Riot!” Write a newspaper-style article describing the events that that took place.

#26: Write from the point of view of your most-loved possession. What does it think of you?

#27: Think of five common sayings (e.g., “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”). Write a horror story whose plot is one of those common sayings.

#28: Write a scene in which two characters are finally hashing out a long-standing misunderstanding or disagreement.

#29: You start receiving text messages from an unknown number. Tell the story of what happens next.

#30: Write one character bragging to another about the story behind their new tattoo.

#31: Superheroes save the world. but they also leave a lot of destruction in their wake. Write about a normal person in a superhero’s world.

#32: Sometimes, family is who we are related to; sometimes, family is a group of people we gather around ourselves. Write a story about (some of) a character’s found family and relatives meeting for the first time.

#33: Write a story that begins in the middle of the plot’s action (en media res).

#34: Everyone says you can never have too much of a good thing. Write a story where that isn’t true.

#35: What do ghosts do when they’re not creating mischief? Write about the secret lives of ghosts.

This particular ghost seems to be going on an epic quest to. photograph some ancient artifacts and not steal them? Look, fiction can be whatever you want it to be.

#36: Every year, you dread the last week of April. Write a story about why.

#37: Write a story about what it would be like to have an animal sidekick in real life.

#38: Heists don’t just have to be black-clad thieves stealing into vaults to steal rare art or money. Write about a group of people (adults or children) who commit a heist for something of seemingly little monetary value.

#39: “Life is like a chooseable-path adventure, except you don’t get to see what would have happened if you chose differently.” Think of a choice you’ve made and write about a world where you made a different choice.

#40: Write a story about a secret room.

#41: You find a message in a bottle with very specific directions. Write a story about the adventure you embark upon.

#42: “You’ll always be okay as long as you know where your _______ is.” Fill in the blank and write a story (either fictional or from your life) illustrating this statement.

#43: Forcing people into prolonged proximity can change and deepen relationships. Write about characters on a road trip together.

#44: In music, sonata form includes three main parts: exposition, development, and recapitulation. Write a short story that follows this format.

#45: Begin writing with a character saying, “I’m afraid this simply can’t wait.”

#46: Write a story with a happy ending (either happily-ever-after or happy-for-now).

#47: Write about a character before and after a tragedy in that character’s life.

#48: Choose an object or concept you encounter in everyday life (e.g. tables, the feeling of hot or cold, oxygen) and write an infomercial about it.

#49: “Life is a series of quests, whether important or mundane.” Write about a quest you’ve gone on (or would like to go on, or will have to go on).

#50: List 10 different ways to learn. Choose one (or more) and write a story where a character learns something using that one (or more) method.

#51: You’ve been called to the principal’s office for bad behavior. You know what you did. Explain and justify yourself.

#52: A character discovers their sibling owns a cursed object. Write about what happens next.

#53: Write a character description by writing a list of items that would be on a scavenger hunt about them.

#54: The slogan for a product or service you’re advertising is, “Kid-tested, _____.” Fill in the blank and write the copy for a radio or podcast advertisement for your product.

Touching a goat: Kids-tested

How to Use Creative Writing Prompts

There’s no wrong way to use a creative writing prompt (unless it’s to harass and hurt someone)—the point of them is to get you writing and your imagination flowing.

To help you get the most out of these writing prompts, however, we’ve come up with the six tips below. Try them out!

#1: DON’T Limit Yourself to Prose

Unless you’re writing for a particular assignment, there’s no reason everything you write in response to a writing prompt has to be prose fiction. Instead of writing your response to a prompt as a story, try writing a poem, nonfiction essay, play, screenplay, or some other format entirely.

You never know what combination of prompt and medium will spark your next great poem/story/play/nonfiction essay! Plus, taking a break from writing in the same format all the time might make you think about story structure or language in a different way.

#2: DON’T Edit as You Write

The purposes of writing prompts is to get you writing, typos and weird grammar and all. Editing comes later, once you’ve finished writing and have some space from it to come back to what you wrote.

It’s OK to fix things that will make it difficult to read what you’ve written (e.g., a weird autocorrect that changes the meaning of a sentence), but don’t worry too much about typos or perfect grammar when you’re writing; those are easy enough to fix in edits. You also can always insert asterisks or a short note as you’re writing to remind yourself to go back to fix something (for instance, if as you’re writing it seems like you want to move around the order of your paragraphs or insert something earlier).

#3: DO Interpret the Prompt Broadly

The point of using a writing prompt is not to write something that best exemplifies the prompt, but something that sparks your own creativity. Again, unless you’re writing in response to an assignment with specific directions, feel free to interpret writing prompts as broadly or as narrowly as you want.

For instance, if your prompt is to write a story that begins with “The stage was set,” you could write about anything from someone preparing to put a plan into motion to a literal theatre stage constructed out of pieces of old sets (or something else entirely).

If you’re using a writing prompt, it doesn’t have to be the first sentence of your story or poem, either; you can also use the prompt as a goal to work towards in your writing.

#4: DO Try Switching Up Your Writing Methods

If it’s a possibility for you, see if you write differently in different media. Do you write the same kind of stories by hand as you would typing at a computer? What about if you dictate a story and then transcribe it? Or text it to a friend? Varying the method you use to write can affect the stories you’re able to tell.

For example, you may find that it’s easier for you to tell stories about your life to a voice recorder than to try to write out a personal essay. Or maybe you have trouble writing poetry, but can easily text yourself or a friend a poem. You might even find you like a writing method you’ve not tried before better than what you’ve been doing!

#5: DO Mix and Match Prompt Ideas

If you need more inspiration, feel free to combine multiple prompts (but don’t overwhelm yourself with too much to write about).

You can also try switching genres from what might be suggested in the prompt. For instance, try writing a prompt that seems funny in a serious and sad way, or finding the humor in something that otherwise seems humorless. The categories we’ve organized the prompts into are by no means limiters on what you’re allowed to write about.

#6: DO Try to Write Regularly

The more regularly you write, the easier it will be to write (with or without writing prompts).

For some people, this means writing daily; for others, it means setting aside time to write each weekend or each month. Set yourself an achievable goal (write 2x a week, write 1000 words a month) and stick to it. You can always start small and then ramp your wordcount or frequency up.

If you do better when you have something outside yourself prompting to write, you may also want to try something like morning pages, which encourages you to write at least 750 words every day, in any format (story, diary entry, social media postings, etc).

What’s Next?

Thinking about attending college or grad school for creative writing? Our articles on whether or not you should major in creative writing and the best creative writing programs are there for you! Plus, if you’re a high schooler, you should check out these top writing contests.

Just as writing prompts can help give form to amorphous creative energy, using specific writing structures or devices can be great starting points for your next story. Read through our discussion of the top 20 poetic devices to know and see if you can work at least one new one into your next writing session.

Still looking for more writing ideas? Try repurposing our 100+ easy drawing ideas for characters, settings, or plot points in your writing.

Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!

Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master’s degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.