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Fiction Writing Prompts

Instructor: Nicky Davis
Writer's block can strike at anytime, but a prompt can often help. Keep reading to find prompts to inspire your fiction, along with tips and tricks for writers, and useful writing resources to advance your knowledge of the craft.

Prompts for Fiction Writers

Every good story has a beginning, middle, and end. The prompts below are designed to help keep you writing and imagining at every stage of storytelling. Mix and match beginning, middle and ending prompt ideas to create an original full story prompt.

Prompts for the Beginning of a Story

Waking Up Elsewhere

Imagine your character goes to bed one night in their regular life and wakes up in a different reality. Maybe he wakes up and has traveled back in time, or maybe suddenly he has a new identity. Begin a story on the morning when the change takes place. What happened to get him here? What happens next?

Moving In

New adventures often come from new places. Imagine a story that begins on the day a family of characters arrives in a new town. How does this new place create change in their lives? What mysteries might await them in this place?

Important Occasion

Many stories take place on big holidays or important celebrations, as social gatherings are a great spark for stories. Create a story that begins with a major occasion where your characters are all gathered together. What events are triggered that may unfold through the rest of the story?

Tips for Beginnings

  • Create a captivating first paragraph that builds intrigue and interest for the rest of the story.
  • Don't bog your intro down with expositional details. Allow description to crop up organically throughout the story.
  • Allow your characters to remain a little mysterious. Don't divulge everything about everyone at the start of the story, so that your characters have room to grow and change over the course of the narrative.
  • Know the importance of setting, plot, point of view, tone and characters in fiction before you start writing. Use the lessons in Study.com's prose fiction chapter to brush up on your understanding of these concepts.

Middle of the Story Prompts

Double Identity

What would happen if your protagonist or one of your main secondary characters suddenly was revealed to have a secret identity? Consider which character would have the biggest impact on the plot if he or she was discovered to be someone else?

If this seems like too major a plot twist for you story, dial it back, and have a character act entirely out of character for her. What might she do that makes it seem like she's suddenly someone else?

Gossips at Dinner

Often when you bring together all your major characters, secrets are revealed. Throw a dinner party, and invite your characters to be guests. What will be discovered? How will it influence the action of the story? Is everyone who arrives invited? Is everyone still friends when they leave? Where and how do allegiances shift?

Sudden Loss

Every character has a safety net or support system. What will they do when that's taken away? Perhaps their friends move away, or just are inconveniently out of town when they're needed most. Maybe they go through a break up, or are in a fight with their family. How do they get through the events of the plot without their security blanket?

Tips for the Middle of the Story

  • Never shy away from raising the stakes. Don't be afraid to make things particularly hard on your character.
  • Twists are welcome. You don't want to make shifts that don't make sense for your story, but be brave in allowing surprising events to happen.
  • If you get stuck, try bringing together characters that don't often interact. There's often something to be mined from meetings of strangers, enemies or distant acquaintances.
  • Incorporate essential literary elements into your story. Using metaphors, foreshadowing, symbolism and allegories can enhance your fiction. Learn how to use these elements in Study.com's video lessons on literary terms

Prompts for the Ending of the Story

Back to the Beginning

Imagine a story with an ending that mirrors its beginning. How does this story develop, and how does this circular plot manifest? A great way to begin with this prompt is to write a scene and then copy and paste it and make minor (or major) changes. One is the beginning and one is the end. Then figure out what happens in the middle.

Flash Forward

Try writing brief biographies of your characters about their lives five years after the end of your story. What are they doing? How have things turned out for them? After writing these, see if you can figure out how your story must end in order for these flash forward biographies to come true.

Unexpected End

There are generally expectations for how different types of stories typically end. For example, love stories usually wrap up with 'happily ever after', while horror stories usually end in death, and spine-chilling cliffhangers and mysteries often end with the case being solved and explained. Consider how your story might diverge from these expectations. What if your ending did something wholly unexpected?

Tips for Endings

  • Listen to your characters. Don't try to force a happy or unhappy ending on a story if that's not what makes sense for the world you've created.
  • Tie up loose ends. The best way to have an unsatisfying ending is to leave storylines you started unfinished. Make sure you've addressed everything you started, even if it isn't entirely resolved in the end.
  • Check in with yourself and what your story was meant to be truly about. Your ending is your final statement on whatever larger point your story intends to make. Be sure it's saying what you want.
  • Get up to speed on writing conventions and methods to make sure your story endings are solid. This College Composition course can help you quickly review grammar and usage conventions, the parts of an essay and best practices for writing essays.

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