More Known about Writing offers writing prompts, story starters, and tips for writers. Some of the topics were created as National Novel Writing Month writing prompts, but most focus on general creative writing. If any of the prompts were created with a specific age group in mind, it will be listed in the title.
All of the writing prompts below were created by the More Known website and can be used for your personal use, as teaching aids, or can be amended to fit any other needs that come up.
The full category list of writing prompts are available on the writing prompt category page for your convenience.
We encourage writers to link to their submissions in the comments. Consider posting your responses to your own site. Anyone looking to host might want to take a look at our first article on the topic, too.
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You worked late at the office. Henry dropped a pile of papers on your desk while you were on a conference call and left no clue as to his deadline expectations. When you finally left the office, your head was caught up in scheduling for the next few weeks and you barely noticed when your former neighbor boarded the bus.
He took off his headphones, those oversized black-cushioned kind that you saw him wear around the building, he smiled and said hello. You had a brief conversation about his new place, how he was able to negotiate a month-to-month lease instead of something annual, and then he mentioned going back to stay close to his parents.
You recognized the town he mentioned. You’re from that town. You tell him so. He grins and raises an eyebrow. He asks what part of town you grew up in. He went to the other high school in your district. What year did you graduate? He was two years earlier. Did you know anyone on the varsity hockey team? He played at your school during his junior year.
How did you both miss this coincidence while you were across-the-hall neighbors for so long?
We miss connections all the time. Write about someone you see on your daily commute, someone you see through the window of a car every day. Create a backstory that aligns with your own past. Get detailed. Brush shoulders.
This world is smaller than it looks.
There’s a lot of advice out there for writers. These “tried-and-true” bits of wisdom have floated around for long enough. People spew them out at every opportunity. We are tired of it. There are too many experts out there. There are too many rules lists going around. We’re here to dispel some of these myths before they catch on.
You need to write if you want to be a writer.
Bullcrap. There’s just too much to do instead of writing. They say writers write, that the only qualification for calling yourself a writer is sitting down at your desk and producing something. They’re wrong. You don’t need to write. You don’t need to produce anything. Call yourself whatever you want. Doctor Who isn’t really a doctor, right?
You need to revise if you want your writing to be any good.
Malarky. Look at every great writer in history. None of them ever spent time revising any of their work. They scribbled down a first draft, read it over a few times, and published it in a major journal. You can do the same. Forget the editing process. It’s never done nothin for no one.
You need to finish what you’re working on.
Bogus. A great concept is enough. When you draft up a great outline, put it aside before you ruin it. There’s nothing worse than finishing a project and releasing it to the public. Why ruin an ideal concept? Earnest Hemingway, Jane Austin, Jack Kerouac, and Dan Brown all have the same thing in common: none of them ever finished a single book.
You need to read if you want to write.
Horse-droppings. Stephen King said: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” What he meant to say was: “Meh, why read anything? What do I know? Watch more television.” Forget about reading in the medium where you plan to write. It’s always best to jump into things without knowing anything about them. That’s why the best composers are those who have never listened to an instrument and the best surgeons have never studied anatomy.
If you follow this flawless advice, you’ll be the best possible writer.
Comfy chair: check. Undisturbed time set aside: check. Cursor blinking on a blank screen: check.
We’ve all been there. Just when you think you are ready to hammer out a few thousand words, you hit a wall. You could write about anyone doing anything. Nobody is going to tell you what to do. That’s the problem. With the vast universe surrounding you, where do you start?
There are a few ways you can generate ideas for your next short story.
Make a list
Make an un-ordered list of specific things that make you happy. It might go something like this:
- Bubble Machine
- Sunset over Grand Haven
- Overgrown Train Tracks
- The Magician’s Coin
- The Rocking Chair
Notice anything about your list? It almost reads like a list of titles in a Ray Bradbury short story anthology. That’s not an accident. Many of his stories were generated this same way. Bradbury made lists. He made lists of things he loved and things he hated. He used those lists to spur short poetic insights. Those insights developed into metaphors. Those metaphors grew into stories. Use this same process with your own list.
Start by taking one of the items you mentioned. Begin free-writing with your chosen topic. Focus on the sensory details of your object. Consider connecting these details with new ideas. Once you have one connection, take it further. You’ll be surprised how effectively this works.
If you prefer to take a darker route, make a similar list of specific things you hate or things that you fear. Consider moments that made you uncomfortable. These strong emotions can lead to passionate descriptions and emotive characters in the stories you develop.
Elaborate on an idea
This works best with a friend or a group of friends. Find other writers, if you can. They will be less likely to throw you out a window for suggesting this activity. In some circles, this strategy is called “Person-Action-Person”. It is as simple as it sounds.
Have someone give an unmodified noun describing a person. Maybe they say “sister”. Everyone in the group should think about that word in the context of whatever they are working on. The word “sister” could mean one thing to you and another to me. That’s alright.
The next person gives an action. Maybe they say “dodges”. Finally, another person gives another unmodified noun describing a person. They might say “teacher”. Now, you have a person, an action, and a person. In the case of our example: Sister dodges Teacher. Everyone in the group should build off this scene in their own mind. When someone gives a word, each participant should use it in their own way.
Continue this activity adding single words until you have the start to something meaningful. The use of unmodified words allows each participant a deep well from which to draw. It’s a unique, ethereal experience to share with other creative writers. Give it a shot.