Monday, June 4, 2012

How-To Create Writing Prompts

One of the most helpful and time-saving tasks the writer can do is to create a series of writing prompts. These prompts can be for any genre, any writing level, and any length of proposed project. If all you need is a mental push—okay, let’s talk shove here—prompts fill your plate with possibilities.

Deciding on a theme for a group of prompts can keep you in work. Whether you’re blogging or writing on spec, prompts can help keep you focused. If you enjoy writing poetry, you can keep yourself occupied forever with a few photos or subject prompts. Here are some examples for two subjects.

All you need is to give your imagination free range. Each prompt is a wisp of thought or image derived from the theme.

Theme: A coastal location and a brewing storm (This theme has driven prose and poetry alike for centuries.) 
·       Prompts
o   A lost child is calling
o   Returning home
o   Sunken treasure
o   Selkies—mythical creatures
Theme: A Winter’s Day
·       Prompts
o   Old-fashioned sledding with shovels
o   Bitter cold and the walk home
o   Deep snow hinders free movement
o   Bright blue skies and snow-burdened pines

None of these prompts took time to conger up. They were waiting there, just under the surface, vying for attention. What can you do with such small prompts?

Any of these could be the basis of a short story, a poem, an article, or a profile. A Profile?

Yes, a profile. Look at it this way. How many times have you read an article about a lost child calling for help until someone hears? There’s a rescue, emergency personnel, etc. And how many times is the child interviewed? What about the rescuer? Sometimes they fade into obscurity or anonymity. In times past, they’re often ignored. Or, what about when the rescuer is an animal? Can you think of an angle where a profile can be done on the one ignored, or the animal praised and forgotten? Could this not be a historical article?

Selkies? Really? Dig a little into mythological history and see what you find. These are fascinating creatures; ones still accepted as real among some fishermen. Could you not put verse together about these, a piece of short fiction, or perhaps an article on mythical creatures in today's world?

Bright blue skies and snow-burdened pines are an idyllic winter scene, but what is the danger here? Can you find it? If you live in the Deep South, would this be heavenly or hellish? Perspective defines all things.

Taking the time to put together short writing prompts, to themes which interest you or can further express your thoughts and ideas, can keep you writing, even when you’re facing that blank page and empty mind syndrome known as writer’s block. Give it whirl. What do you have to lose? I’d be willing to bet you can get through to the end without your mind triggering on one of your generated prompts.

Enjoy the exercise. It helps tone a writer’s idea muscles. Until later,


1 comment:

  1. Claudette,

    You've been tagged!