Creative writing is a skill, and like any skill, it can be developed. One great way to enhance your creative writing talent is to use prompts. Creative writing prompts are tools designed specifically to make you think about the craft of writing and help you construct an epic story.
However, not all prompts are created equally. Some creative writing prompts just story ideas. While that is useful for some, purchasing a bundle of writing prompts that are actually just the beginnings of a story isn’t that useful to those who want to develop their writing skills. Most of us have thousands of story ideas. The construction of that story, tension, plot design, and world-building are all major components that good creative writing prompts should address.
What Are Good Creative Writing Topics?
Everyone wants to write the best story. Therefore, everyone is searching for a topic that everyone wants to read. What is the best thing to write about? Which topics and genres are flying off the shelf?
Although that’s an interesting question, it’s not the best way to think about creative writing. Let’s say you love fantasy novels and love fantasy writing. You want to create entire worlds filled with mystical beings and magical creatures. You love the hero’s journey and want to write epic tales filled with adversity, adventure, triumph, and intrigue. If I told you that crime dramas are flying off the shelf, would you switch genres?
Probably not. The thing is, the best topic for creative writing is the one you want to write about. It’s the one you are passionate about that drives you, which makes you long to tell the story.
And a good story, regardless of niche, will be noticed.
How Do You Start Creative Writing?
Getting started with creative writing is easy! All you have to do is start. Put pen to paper and churn out those words.
I know, that’s easier said than done. Even the best writers struggle with writer’s block. Even those with amazing ideas struggle with where to take those ideas, build characters, and develop an interesting plot, world-building, and suspense building. It’s not as easy as it seems.
This is where creative writing prompts can help.
Types of Creative Writing Prompts
There are many different types of creative writing prompts. Some are simply creative writing ideas that are basically story starters. Others paint a picture and ask the writer to imagine what happens next. And still, others are writing exercises to get writers to think about writing differently.
Story starters are the most basic type of creative writing prompt. If you are starved for ideas, simply head over to the writing prompts subreddit on Reddit. There you will find thousands of story starting posts in every genre you can think of. An example might be something like:
“It’s your birthday and your best friend gives you a gift. It’s a key, and she says if you can find the lock, you can unlock your biggest dreams. But there’s always a catch”
You can use this story starter to write what will happen next. Do you go on a quest to discover the key? Or do you consider what the consequences might be and guard the key? It’s up to you – you’re the writer!
What Happens Next
The “what happens next” writing prompts are similar to story starters, but they tend to build the atmosphere a little more. They give you a little more information about the fictional world you are diving into and then ask you to describe what happens next in the story. An example would be something like:
“Jack and Tony are playing baseball in the old park down Wither’s Road. Most kids shy away from this park, but the boys are new to town and haven’t made any friends yet. They don’t know the local lore. Jack pitches a perfect ball to Tony, who hits it out of the park and into the forest line. The boys venture into the woods to retrieve the missing ball. What happens next?”
This writing prompt gives you a little more information about the plot, the characters, and the setting. It’s designed to help you get started with your short story and help you use your imagination to flesh out ideas.
Not all creative writing prompts give you explicit writing ideas. Some are designed to help you learn the craft of writing rather than tell you what to write about. There are many different types of writing exercises. Some will help you perfect the “show don’t tell” rule of storytelling by asking you to describe things you wouldn’t normally think to describe. Others may give you keywords to write a story about, which helps you learn how to make connections in your writing.
An example of a writing exercise might be something like:
“Describe your favorite color”
“Craft a story that includes the following elements: a cat, fire, a journal, and something that goes wrong”.
Neither of these prompts gives you explicit creative writing ideas, but they aren’t designed for that. They are designed for writing practice.
The first is designed to get you to show, not tell. Don’t say that the flowers are red; describe how bright they are and how they boldly stand out against a dire landscape. Use simile and metaphor to give the reader an idea of what the color might be without saying it. This type of exercise is the key to great writing. It’s not a story, but it will help you with the craft of writing.
The second is designed to teach you how to relate elements together. It’s related to the idea of Chekhov’s gun, a writing principle that explains how you should use details in a story. The basic idea is that any detail you add to a story should contribute to the narrative somehow. Nothing should be included without reason. Therefore, if you are going to include a cat, a journal, and fire in your writing, there needs to be a reason. Tie the elements to the narrative somehow. Perhaps the hero has an emotional attachment to the cat, which helps for character building. Perhaps the fire is from a candlelit desk, which helps with world-building. Learning how to tie details into a story will help you become a great writer.
The Best Creative Writing Prompts
If the types of creative writing prompt above are what you are looking for, be ecstatic. You can find those all over the internet. From writing forums to Reddit, a quick Google search will take you to tons of those types of writing prompts, and you can find most of them for free.
However, they don’t really do it for me. The story starters and “what happened next” prompts are basically a dime a dozen. There are millions of ideas floating around in my head; I don’t need more. I don’t struggle with ideas. What I struggle with is structure; putting the ideas together into a coherent story. I struggle with developing my characters, building my world, and writing suspenseful dialogue scenes.
The story prompts you can find all over the internet don’t really help with that. Even most of the prompts available for a price on Etsy follow similar patterns. They are mostly story starters, with a dash of exercises thrown in (if you are lucky).
Printable Writing Prompts on Etsy
I decided to make my own creative writing prompts available for a small price on my Etsy printable store. These are more than just simple prompts with a single sentence story idea.
The prompts are different than anything I’ve been able to find on the internet. Instead of a huge list of story ideas, I stick to three stories. Each story has 10 prompts related to it. These prompts are designed specifically to help you with all the struggles most people have with creative writing. Some ask you to write a dialogue scene. Others ask you to describe a battle. And still others ask you to dive into the backstory of either the characters or the world they live in.
But that’s not all. Each prompt bundle also contains five warm-up prompts similar to the writing exercises we discussed above. They also contain three bonus prompts designed to help you subvert expectations or think about the story you created differently.
Each bundle also contains worksheets specific to the genre. The thriller bundle includes a character-building worksheet that will help you make your characters three-dimensional rather than flat. The horror creative writing prompts include a monster-building worksheet, which will help you define the monster, and the fantasy writing prompts include a world-building worksheet, which will help you think about the world you are creating.
These creative writing prompts include everything you will need to perfect your craft.
More Tools to Help You Write Creatively
Sometimes prompts aren’t enough. If you’ve never done any creative writing before, you might need more practice and more tools. Here are two ways you can enhance your skills in the field.
The most cost-effective way of improving your creative writing skills is to do it. Dedicate a journal to your creative writing.
Journaling is great for many things. It can be used for introspection and self-discovery, or it can be used to spark creativity. It can also be a mix of both, as many writers draw from their real-life experiences. If you are just getting started with creative writing, using a journal can be a huge help.
One way to get started is to use journaling prompts. These are often different from creative writing prompts because they tend to be non-fiction. However, journal prompts can inspire creativity. There are three sets of journaling prompts available on my Etsy store – some are designed specifically to help you achieve your money dreams, but others are more open-ended.
If you are trying to get started with creative writing, check out the fun and unique journal prompts. This is a list of silly and quirky prompts designed for introspection but in a creative way. You will find prompts like “how does the color blue make you feel” and “What is your favorite food group and why.”
Although these prompts are similar to the story starters I mentioned above, they are different in that they are about you. They are designed to help you learn about yourself in unique and interesting ways, and using them as a starting point for creative writing is a bonus.
Another way using a journal can help you find your creativity is through free writing. Freewriting is the process of writing down everything and anything that comes into your head. It’s similar to a brain dump, except that you aren’t just writing notes about the day and emptying your mind. You’re exploring your creativity and letting the ideas flow through you.
The purpose of freewriting is to write something, anything down. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Let the words flow through you. You may uncover a gem that was buried deep in your subconscious, just waiting for the opportunity to show itself! Who knows, your freewriting exercise may give you the inspiration for your first novel!
Art journals aren’t just for artists. Well, maybe they are because I consider creative writing an art form, don’t you? Either way, the two go hand in hand. You can use an art journal to draw a picture of an idea you have, which can later be expanded into a story. You can also use it to storyboard plot ideas or character designs.
The world of art and the world of creative writing have a lot in common, and it’s okay, encouraged even, to mix the two.
Courses on Creative Writing
If you’re a complete novice, you may benefit from taking a creative writing course. Udemy has some excellent courses in creative writing for extremely reasonable prices.
You can take their complete creative writing class for only thirty dollars, and there are many other fiction writing classes available. These introductory classes will teach you how to write, and then you can use prompts to expand upon that skill.
If you’d prefer to pay a monthly fee to access all the courses you want, check out Linkedin Learning. They have courses on character design, general fiction, and writing hacks for productivity, in addition to a huge library on a variety of topics.
The point is, you can find good classes on creative writing without paying an arm and a leg, and if you don’t have any experience in the field, this might be a good place to start.
Creative Writing Clubs
A final way to enhance your creative writing skills is to join a creative writing club. You can find these on Meetup, at university campuses, or even on Discord. If you can’t find something that is right for you, you can even create your own!
Start Writing Creatively Today!
Get our awesome pack of writing prompts and find the motivation you need to start writing today! I can’t wait to see your best-selling novel on the bookstore shelves!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.