Creative Nonfiction Writing Prompts

Instructor: Nicky Davis
Creative non-fiction comes in a number of forms, from biography and literary journalism to memoir and autobiography. Keep reading for creative non-fiction writing prompts, and tips to learn more about writing in the genre.

Creative Non-Fiction Prompts

Creative non-fiction is often personal in tone, and because of that it can be difficult to get started. Below, find some prompts to help you get started writing creative non-fiction.

  • Truth is Stranger Than Fiction: Impose a well-known story structure, such as that from a generic romantic comedy or fairytale, on a true story. Write within and against this familiar form, breaking expectations, to highlight the contrast between the complex reality and the fictional stories we are accustomed to seeing.
  • Writing Through Fear: What's the one thing you are afraid to talk about, or alternately, what was the scariest moment of your life? Write a personal essay about that subject or moment.
  • Tourist at Home: Visit a landmark, historical site or important place in your city. Write about the significance of this place to your city and to you. What was your experience there? What was it like to enter this place? What kinds of interactions did you have there? What other important things have happened in this place?
  • Belief: Write about a time you remember having a belief fundamentally shaken or broken.
  • Astrological Omens: Horoscopes and astrological signs are an interesting way to evaluate ourselves. Read your current horoscope, or read up on the qualities associated with your sign, and use what you read as a framework to write a personal essay about your personality.
  • Read and React: Read a favorite poem, or listen to a favorite song. Take some time to consider the message of the piece, then write about your reaction to the poem or the lyrics. How do you feel? What about it resonates with you?
  • Inside Joke: Think about an inside joke you have with someone, or a word that has a different meaning or association when you're around certain people. Write about the origin of this joke or word as though your definition would appear in a reference book.
  • Forgive Me: Write about a time when you had to beg for forgiveness, or when someone begged you for forgiveness.
  • Soundtrack: Create a playlist of songs that remind you of certain moments in your past. Listen to the playlist and write a short memoir-style vignette inspired by each track. Each piece can only be as long as you can write within the length of the song.

Non-Fiction Writing Resources

Prompts are a great way to spark creativity, but it's just as important to be familiar with the fundamentals of writing. has a variety of comprehensive courses that can help you learn more about the non-fiction genre, and build skills as a creative non-fiction writer. The courses below are just a few of the writing courses available that can help take your writing to the next level.

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