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Writing Prompts

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Manuscript Mentoring

July 14, 2020 · 3 Min Read

Typewriter with words 'Stories matter' written above it on a piece of paper

What is a writing prompt?


A writing prompt is used to prod a writer to start writing. Putting pen to paper for the first time can be daunting, whether you're about to begin a novel, a chapter in a novel, or something else. Writing prompts can be a sentence, image, or anything that stirs inspiration. "Once upon a time…" is a good, if bland, example of a writing prompt. Another example would be a picture of a sunset that inspires a romance writer to start writing a scene on a beach.

Although writing prompts can be used for a myriad of mediums (diaries, reports, letters etc.), it is most often associated with fiction. They are therefore often called story prompts and creative writing prompts. They are not necessarily creative writing ideas; more often than not, a writing prompt is a one-sentence template for getting a fiction writer to start writing.


Writing Prompt Examples


The following sentences are romance, fantasy, horror, and sci-fi writing prompt examples.

Romance Prompts

  • It was love at first sight.

  • I first saw him sitting on the big rock at the beach, gazing into the horizon as if he had nothing to live for anymore.

  • They locked gazes from across the busy street.

  • I wasn't sure if he liked me.

  • As if losing my job wasn't bad enough, I had to endure her leaving me for my best friend.

Woman at a desk writing in a notebook

Fantasy Prompts

  • The woods were dark, and in the distance the troll could be heard smashing boulders with his club.

  • The sage felt pain shoot across his face. He touched his brow, and when his hand came away, he saw that it was drenched in blood.

  • Nobody dared enter the dwarven mines.

  • The paladin tried to draw his sword, but his hand returned empty.

  • I had to kill the beast to stand any chance of rescuing the prince.

Horror Prompts

  • An impenetrable mist hung over the forest.

  • I held my breath so that I could hear better. Yes, I thought, something is moving about in the corridor.

  • "It's a pleasure, dear," she said, but her pupils were reptilian.

  • Although the dining room was filled with shiny candelabra, a terrible odor hung in the air.

  • Standing over me was a tall man, his face hidden in shadow.

Sci-Fi Prompts: 

  • A moon could be seen through the grimy glass of the cockpit.

  • I took a deep breath, then checked my laser-gun's cartridge.

  • Our spaceship had been adrift for nearly two months.

  • The first thing we saw when we landed on the alien planet was the volcano.

  • Beneath neon lights, I finally found what I was looking for.

Man writing in a notebook

Thriller Writing Prompts

  • Nobody knew who committed the crime.

  • For the fifth time that evening, someone phoned me and hung up after a few seconds.

  • I knew I was being followed.

  • The old man said he had heard gunshots, but I didn't believe him.

  • Four months had passed since the first murder, and the town was on tenterhooks.

Manuscript Mentoring

If you are struggling to organize your creative writing ideas, or if you're unsure where to start, then take a look at our Services page. Our developmental editors give extensive literary feedback on novels and shorter pieces of writing. 

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