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14 Writing Prompts That Smash Writer's Block

by Linda Jenkinson

bulldozerThe other day I suggested some ways to create writing prompts. This list will suggest ways to expand them into the story you want to tell.

These writing prompts will trip your trigger, light your fire, or push your on-button.

I’ve looked at dozens, maybe hundreds of writing prompts. The problem with them is they all start with a single sentence. When writer’s block ices up your driveway, you need a bigger bulldozer to dislodge it.

These prompts take that first sentence a step farther. But they are still just a start. After you answer the questions they ask, there’s one more question that still needs an answer.

I’ve recently begun a MasterClass from writer Neil Gaimon. He tells his students to ask one question when the action comes to a standstill. “And then what happens?” Answer that question and you’ll be off and running!

  1. A smell reminds a man of a past love. What is the smell?
  2. Your protagonist betrays a friend or vice versa. What is the status of the friendship? Are they best friends, acquaintances, coworkers, neighbors, or relatives? Are the characters of the same gender or opposite genders?
  3. A woman ignores a phone call. Why?
  4. A woman has blood on her shoe. How did it get there?
  5. Turn your heroine around. What does she see? What is her reaction? Relief? Apprehension? Sadness? Joy?
  6. A man screams. Why? Fear? Joy? Excitement?
  7. A dream allows a woman to look at events from a new perspective. What kind of dream was it? A nightmare? A day dream? An erotic dream? Does she want the dream to come true or not? Why?
  8. Introduce a prophecy. Who is the prophet? Is the prophet a main character? Who does the prophecy affect and how does it affect them?
  9. A man, not a detective, notices some intriguing footprints. Where are they?
  10. A man’s fiance says, “There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.”
  11. Introduce a character from a woman’s past. Man or woman? Friend or foe? What happened the last time they met?
  12. Someone is carrying a weapon? Who? Man? Woman? Child? Why do they have the weapon? What is the weapon?
  13. What’s that sound? A crash, a bell, music, or conversation? Why is it significant to the plot? Is it expected, unexpected, welcome, or unwelcome?
  14. What does the air feel like today? Is it calm or windy? Is your character inside or outside?

Thanks for reading. Now get to writing!

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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