The Best Creative Writing Prompts from the Internet

Today, I am turning my blog over to Nikolas Baron of Grammarly with a post that should appeal to writers. Whether you’ve hit a dry spell or are just looking to flex your creative muscle, I think you’ll find Nikolas’ post intriguing.

The Best Creative Writing Prompts from the Internet

open binder with lined paper, a pen and eye glasses resting on topIn theater, the prompt saves millions of careers with just a few whispered words. A prompt is a person whose job it is to feed lines to actors when they forget. Without this individual, the actor might never remember the forgotten line, resulting in embarrassment for the theater company. Writers also need prompts. In the literary world, the term refers to written cues rather than to an individual. Prompts provide the inspiration, and writers can use the idea as a jumping off point for creativity. Do you need prompting? At Grammarly, the writers that I have come in contact with say that they need a spark from time to time to light the fire of creativity. I like to study the strategies and tools that writers use to be successful, so I decided that it was time to sift through the millions of writing prompt websites on the Web. Here are some of the best.

Creative Writing Prompts

Let’s start with sheer number. This website had 346 writing prompts. The prompt labeled #2 asks you to choose the fourteenth photograph from a photo album and write about how it makes you feel. I like this one because it forces you to randomize your selection. We naturally gravitate to certain photographs when we flip through our photo collection- standout events in our lives, good times, or smiling faces. However, who knows what is captured in mysterious photograph 14? Find out, and write about it!

1001 Story Ideas

This website wins my personal prize for best organized. Though the website features only science fiction prompts, the 1001 ideas are categorized into parts. There are 17 parts, so you are covered from the apocalypse to “Zombies, werewolves, vampires, and other monsters.” If 1001 isn’t enough, there are a few more worthy sci-fi writing prompts found here.

Writing Prompts App

If you like to have prompts available at all times, you might enjoy Writing.com’s Writing Prompts app for Android. You can use app to generate your own randomized prompts. I have not used it personally, but it may be worth a gamble at $1.99.

Ink quill, feather pen and an old journalUn-creative Writing Prompts

This set of cues is targeted to non-fiction writers. However, the prompts are so amusing that fiction writers often get a kick out of them. They are also adaptable. For example, one prompt published on the site encourages you to think about this question:

“What is [your product]’s drug of choice? Write about a night where something goes wrong with its dose and it’s dragged through the pits of its own internal hell, afraid to die but more afraid to be found out and branded for life.”

You could have fun answering this questions for the products in your own home, or simply replace “[your product]” with the name of one of your characters.

Droste effect

This is not a website about prompts. This is a picture within a picture within a picture….!

The reason that I included this photograph was to introduce a cool idea for a writing prompt. First, as an exercise you can generate several prompts. That’s right; the prompt is to write some prompts! After you do that, you can use the prompts that you wrote as writing prompts. It is a prompt within a prompt!

The Internet is a great source for all types of writing tools for writers. You can find online proof reading, dictionaries, writing clubs, and much more. Why not explore the Web today and see what you find? You can create a file of useful websites for future reference. Do not forget to create a file of writing prompts that are sure to bring you inspiration!

By Nikolas Baron

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BIO:

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.

Mae Clair: What does Autumn Taste Like?

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts but, in the spirit of autumn’s arrival, I thought I’d engage in a short creativity exercise and invite you to do the same.

Want to give it a try?  All you have to do is match the sense (sight, taste, smell, touch, sound) to the season, connecting a concrete impression with the abstract. Sound confusing? Nah! ‘Tis simple. Check it out:

What does autumn look like?
Fat orange pumpkins and floppy scarecrows reclining on front porches

What does autumn taste like?
Apple cider

What does autumn smell like?
Wood-smoke rising from a hearth

What does autumn feel like?
The touch of frost on a brisk morning

What does autumn sound like?
Dried leaves crunching underfoot

How about it? What are your impressions of this vibrantly colorful season?

Even if you only try one or two, take a moment to engage your senses and your creative muse. I’d love to read what you come up with!

What Does Memory Smell Like?

We all have memory-triggers, but I’ve often heard it said the greatest trigger for memory is our sense of smell. How many times have you caught a faint scent, and been immediately flooded by a vivid rush of images from your past? 

When I was in my late teens, I spent a week each summer with my husband’s family at a bayside apartment in Maryland.  I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but Pert shampoo was popular in those days. Even now, the scent of Pert resurrects flashes of knotty pine paneling, the scent of Old Bay seasoning on steaming crabs, and the trill of seagulls. 

These days I use a shampoo and conditioner infused with olive oil that I purchase from a salon. I couldn’t even tell you the name of it, but I know what the bottles look like. Hopefully, that doesn’t make me snob – – especially when I might pop open a bottle of Pert now and then solely to reminiscent about giddy fun-filled summers at the shore. I remember drinking Mountain Dew until it came out of my ears, learning how to bait a fishing line with a minnow (my initial reaction – – “Ewww!”) and riding the wake of larger boats in our tiny jon boat.

Writers love experimenting with sensory input, fleshing out scenes with descriptions of sight, sound and smell in hopes of bringing our settings alive and creating bonds between our characters and readers.  It’s much easier to feel sympathetic to a character when you know the odor of wet flannel makes a curmudgeonly cop think of the Saturday afternoons he spent fishing with his kid brother, or a harried business exec gets sentimental whenever she spies a basket of daises.

Last week, I asked “What Does Childhood Taste Like?”  This week, wrap your head around “What Does Memory Smell Like?” (and any other sense you want to use). Think outside the box, have some fun, get creative!  Here are a few of mine:

Memory looks like starlight, ephemeral and dazzling
Memory smells like a closed up attic and old newsprint
Memory feels like water slipping between my fingers, often gone before I can grasp it Memory sounds like the calliope at a carnival
Memory tastes like  ??? 
Totally stumped on that one. Cotton candy? Broiled seafood? Luden’s cough drops?  They all have meaning for me.

What are YOUR memory associations?

 

What Does Childhood Taste Like?

What Does Childhood Taste Like?

Way back in the days of yesteryear when big hair bands ruled the rock scene, and stirrup pants, legwarmers and neon jelly bracelets were a popular part of women’s fashion, I was browsing in my local Newscenter and happened upon a creativity workbook called “What Does Childhood Taste Like?”  The title intrigued me and, when the author, Jack Maguire, promised “mental workouts that will stretch, bend, and energize the way you think, respond, dream and create,” I knew I couldn’t leave without purchasing it. Three decades later, I still pull out that book and engage in an exercise or two.

I know many writers (including myself) who have tricks and rituals they employ for stimulating their muse. As silly as it sounds, I keep a dozen polished stones strewn under my computer screen that I fiddle with when I’m stuck on a sentence. Remember rock tumblers? There’s something about a rainbow of smooth, colorful stones that resonates with my creative side. Other times, I play an instrumental CD in the background (usually lilting flutes, strings or piano) and, still other times, my muse requires complete silence. I’ve come to recognize what she needs when she needs it, and react accordingly. When I do, and we’re in sync, good things happen. There are, however, occasions when I degenerate into a hissy fit because a particular scene or story isn’t flowing. During those times, I picture my muse as a pouting prima donna who needs to be coaxed. Thankfully, those moments are fairly rare.

Like me, my muse has a fondness for the past – – old photos, fond memories and long-ago dreams conjured from summer afternoons when childhood tasted like bubblegum, smelled of sweet clover, and felt like the splash of cool pool water on sun-warmed skin.  

Looking back, I realize much about my writing life has remained the same. I’m still crafting stories, characters and worlds. I still poke around in that old workbook, and I still love recalling the tastes, sights, scents and feel of childhood. My muse has matured with me, my partner through the journey, but there’s a part of me (undoubtedly, of all writers) that never grew up. It thrives on make-believe and what-if possibilities. The only way to appease that part is to create worlds and characters who populate them. The same as I did in childhood.  🙂

 So . . . I ask you . . . what DOES childhood taste like?  Even if you’re not a writer, take a moment to associate an abstract idea and share your comment.  If you prefer, you can choose to answer what does childhood sound like? Smell like? Feel like? The idea is to close your eyes, forget the present, and recall the magic you felt as a child. What made you happy?  What made you smile or gave you the shivers?

I’m toying with the idea of posting a similar exercise each Monday or Tuesday for those interested in giving it a try.  Even non-writers can benefit from mental stimulation, creative thinking and, heck – – some out-of-the-box fun!