How to Create a Writing Prompt: Step-by-Step

Learn how to create a writing prompt that works using step-by-step in our guide.

Writer’s block can be a serious problem for many writers. Even the best writing has to come from somewhere, and when you are struggling to get started, you will feel frustrated. Learning how to create a writing prompt will help you get your creative writing ideas flowing, so you can get past your writer’s block and start writing engaging, effective content.

If you find it challenging to start writing while staring at a blank page, this guide will teach you how to create a writing prompt that will help. Whether you’re writing an essay or a short story, use these steps to generate creative writing prompts.

Step 1: Try Free Writing

How to create a writing prompt?

If you’re stuck, consider some free writing. Grab a piece of paper and write down anything that comes to your mind. As you brainstorm, you will see your creative juices start flowing.

Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is a funny story about a family member from last Christmas, or maybe it’s an expository essay you just read on a political topic. Just write it down and write down as many thoughts on that topic as you can, and you might pull a writing prompt from the mix.

Read our free writing guide

Step 2: Expand on an Idea

After brainstorming, look at your list. Does any particular idea stand out? Ask questions about that idea to expand on it.

One of the best ways to do this is to ask “what if” questions. With your idea, ask “what if” something happened a different way. This will help you generate your own writing prompts just from the ideas already in your head.

Stuck? Read our list of brainstorming tips

Step 3: Change the Point of View

If you have a writing idea from a particular fairy tale or book, consider changing the point of view. Could you tell the story of Sleeping Beauty but from the evil queen’s point of view?

This writing exercise works for middle school and high school students and adults, and it often comes up with some interesting finished products. By changing the point of view, you can look at a well-known story in a completely different light.

Learn more about first versus third person

Step 4: Start with a Quote

How to create a writing prompt?

Maybe you don’t have a fleshed-out idea to use. Instead, take a favorite quote and use it as the first line of your essay or story. Let your writing skills shine as you take that quote and turn it into something interesting.

This option can be a great way to create persuasive writing prompts. Grab a list of quotes designed to persuade, and transform them into something great.

Check out our quotes about writing

Step 5: Explore Your Favorite Place

If you are still stuck, consider writing about your favorite place or a place you go regularly, like the grocery store. Use all of your sensory words to describe this place. Talk about what you hear, see, smell, feel and even taste while you walk through it.

This type of real-life writing can be very powerful, and it can be a great story starter. Give the writer the prompt to explore their favorite place, then write a narrative or expository essay that involves that place. The opportunities for creativity are endless.

Step 6: Use Images or Objects

Instead of using words, consider making a writing prompt out of an image or even an object. Collect images, old postcards or physical objects, and present these as the prompt.

The key to this type of writing is to create a story or essay about that object. It requires imaginative thinking to determine where the object came from and what it might have meant. You can take this a step further by blindfolding the writers and asking them to experience the object using their other senses, then put the object away and let them write.

Step 7: Choose a Generic Writing Prompt

Sometimes, a one-line, generic writing prompt is all you need to start generating ideas. Some thoughts include:

  • I want to…
  • I know that…
  • What I fail to notice is…
  • I wonder…
  • I am looking for…

These options are great for personal writing, as they ask the writer to dig into their own ideas and thoughts.

Step 8: Use Your Writing Prompt

Now that you’ve explored some ideas, you are ready to start creating the prompt. Keep it short, simple, and open-ended. The goal is to provide yourself or a writing group with an idea they can expand on for their writing time.

The length of a good prompt varies. You can keep it very short, one sentence or opening phrase, or provide the foundation for a story that the writer expounds upon. The key is to leave enough to the imagination that the writer can express themselves more easily.

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