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  • Writer's pictureYessica Jain

Types of Writing Prompts

If you’re interested in launching a writing club, setting up an Instagram writing account, or simply motivating your friends to write, you might want to create your own writing prompts. If so, it is important to note that prompts can come in a variety of formats, each of which can stimulate creativity in different types of people because they trigger different thought processes. Varying the types of prompts you provide can help you generate more engagement from your target audience.

So, here are some major types of prompts:

  • Situational: This is the most common type of prompt. Placing a character in a particular situation can trigger quite a few questions. How did they get into that situation? Can they get out? If so, how? What other problems may arise from being in that situation?

These can be as specific as a sophomore in college gets caught driving under the influence or as vague as I lost my keys. In the first, the character and situation are pretty clear, but there is still room for writers to play with the lead-up to the situation and the consequences of it. The second focuses on a vague character (I could be of any age, gender, or species) and the keys could be for the character’s house, spaceship, or truck.

  • Word or phrase: Simply mentioning an emotion, a holiday, a season, a location, or another term could boost one’s creativity. Generic phrases could help jog memories of experiences with that term, trigger friendly debates about the meaning behind a contextless word, or help a writer decide on a subplot to add to an existing work.

Consider the word peace. One person might speak of this word on a global scale, while another might relate this word to oneself and mental health. Peace could generate joy and productivity, or it could be a delicate truce with nagging fears.

  • Quote: Writing is not just about the plot and the ideas behind a story. It’s about the way these ideas are conveyed. Every writer seeks dialogue that makes readers feel something and prose that just flows off the tongue. That’s why a good piece of dialogue or a beautiful sentence can inspire a whole story.

Some examples of dialogue prompts include friendly banter between friends, a royal announcement, and an argument between lovers. Prose can come in the form of a story starter, a moral, a sudden realization, or anything else. These quotes can also be from any point of view.

These prompts can range from a single sentence to half a page. The longer the prompt, the more likely responses will be incredibly similar because creativity has less room to blossom. However, sometimes a short prompt is not enough to trigger a new idea, especially if a writer is facing writer’s block or just a lack of motivation.

  • Multimedia: For many, the best form of inspiration comes from triggering the senses. Words can be great, but they have their limits. And, as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures and music can inspire stories by depicting the setting, theme, or tone of a story.

  • Combination: Prompts could also be a combination of any of these formats. You could provide a situational lead-up to an image or complement a word prompt with classical music.

For me, quote-style prompts are most likely to trigger a new story idea. What type of prompts help you the most? Let me know in the comments!

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