Creative Writing Prompts for Adults

Instructor: Nicky Davis
Writing prompts can be very useful to writers at all stages of their creative writing careers. Read on to find writing prompts in fiction, non-fiction and poetry designed to inspire adult writers in telling original stories and developing their own unique voice. You'll also find writing tips and resources for writing.

Fiction Prompts for Adults

Nearly a Love Story

Imagine that two people meet and feel a strong connection, but never cross paths again. What keeps them apart? Did they exchange contact info but have second thoughts later? Were they already in other relationships? How does this missed connection affect their future relationships?

The Crime Thriller

A criminal mastermind is on the loose, committing brilliant and terrible crimes. Tell a story with this criminal as the protagonist. Why do we root for this villain? What redeems him or makes him likeable? Will he be caught?

The Family Drama

Imagine a family or group of friends getting together for a special occasion and at that gathering a bombshell is dropped. What is the big news? Who reveals it? How does the revelation impact each relationship in the group differently?

Tips on Writing Fiction

  • Start with what you know, a setting, a character, a line of dialogue, and go from there.
  • Close your chapters with an unanswered question to keep your readers interested.
  • Earn your major events. Build up to big reveals and twists so that they arrive organically to the plot.
  • Take a look at the well-known works of fiction like Jane Eyre and The Catcher in the Rye for ideas on how to construct a story.
  • Get a foundation in literary genres and styles to enhance your fiction writing through's video lessons on prose.

Creative Non-Fiction Prompts for Adults

The Memoir

Consider a moment when your life took a major turn or an event that sparked a realization for you. How does that story fit into conventional story molds? How does it break regular expectations? Play with telling the story in the style of a moralistic fable or a fairy tale.

The Opinion Essay

Is there a major national debate or discussion happening right now that you have strong feelings about? How does this debate intersect with your own experiences? Try weaving your personal narrative into your argument supporting your standpoint on the topic.

The Profile

Write a profile piece on someone close to you. Conduct an interview with her about an important time in her life, and record the interview. In your writing, though recounting real events, describe her traits, mannerisms, and behaviors the way you might detail those of a character. Try to blend the craft of fiction into the retelling of this true story.

Tips on Writing Creative Non-Fiction

  • Do your research! Know all the facts of the story you're telling.
  • Show the story using anecdotes and narrative. Don't simply tell the facts.
  • Study different forms of storytelling for inspiration and new ideas of how to organize your narrative.
  • Get a better sense of how non-fiction is crafted from such writers as Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, John Stuart Mill and Philip Sidney through's lessons on nonfiction in English lit.
  • Study up on the various types of non-fiction by watching short videos on prose nonfiction.

Poetry Prompts for Adults

A Sonnet

The love sonnet is a well-known poetic form, thanks in large part to the work of Shakespeare. What's another all-consuming emotion that might lend itself well to a sonnet? What about rage, grief, or envy? Create a sonnet dedicated to the emotion of your choice.

A Sestina

Select six of your favorite books. From the first three, find and write down the first noun in the book. From the second three, find and write down the first adjective in the book. Use the six words as the repeating words in a new sestina poem.

A Prose Poem

The prose poem doesn't utilize line breaks, or other formalities of poetic form, though it may contain repetition, rhyme or other poetic linguistics. Imagine a moment in your own life, or a life experience that somehow feels more poetic than narrative. Try crafting a prose poem about this moment or experience.

Tips on Writing Poetry

  • Free write to get your imagination going before you begin.
  • Listen to music and read other poets to get in the mindset of poetic language.
  • Read your writing out loud to get a sense of the rhythm of your language.
  • Explore famous epic poems, like Beowulf and The Odyssey, to enhance your knowledge.
  • Study up on different types of poetry using's video lessons.
  • Use the College Composition Writing course to brush up on the fundamentals of correct grammar, writing conventions and research practices for your writing.

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