Narrative Writing Prompts

Instructor: Nicky Davis
People tell stories all the time, whether over dinner or on the phone with friends. But when it comes to writing stories down, sometimes it's hard to know where to begin. Read on to find prompts that can help you get started writing down your narrative.

Introduction to Narrative Writing

Good narratives have compelling characters, settings and story arcs. A story's narrator may be one of the characters, as in poetry or fiction, or simply the author, as is the case in the personal essay. Check out the prompts below for ideas to spark your own narrative writing, whether it be an essay, fiction or poetry.

Narrative Essay Prompts

'The First' Essay

Think back to the first time you did something new. Maybe it's the first time you drove a car or rode a bike. Maybe your first day of school, or maybe your first kiss. Tell the story of that first time.

'My Name' Essay

Where does your first name come from? What about your middle and last names? Do you have a nickname? Would you ever consider changing your name? Write a personal essay telling the story of your name (or names) and how you feel about it/them.

Overcoming a Challenge Essay

Recall a time when you had to overcome an obstacle in order to achieve a goal. What was the obstacle, and how did you manage to overcome it? What did you learn from that experience? What was most unforgettable about it? Construct a narrative essay describing this event.

Narrative Essay Resources

To get more information on writing narrative essays, take a look at's College Composition course, which includes helpful lessons for budding essayists.

Narrative Fiction Prompts

Romance Narrative

Love stories are among the most popular fiction narratives. Get started by imagining two people destined for each other. Then, begin brainstorming various barriers that get in the way of their romance. Maybe these are internal conflicts for the characters or external circumstances put on them by society. Will their love win out in the end? How will they ultimately be brought together? Will your story end with happily ever after?

Science Fiction Narrative

Imagine society in the distant future. What kinds of technologies might exist in this new community? How will humans be affected by these advancements? What are the biggest concerns for people in this futuristic reality? Write a science fiction narrative that explores this imagined future.

Mystery Narrative

A body turns up dead, and there's something highly suspicious about it. What happened? Who might be responsible for this mysterious death? Line up your suspects and imagine how they all know each other. What secrets will be unearthed as the search for the murderer unfolds? Write a story about the investigation of this murder case.

Narrative Fiction Resources

For writers eager to learn more about crafting narrative fiction, the chapters on prose and prose fiction will provide you with helpful knowledge and skills to advance your craft. You can also find examples of Romantic and Modernist prose in's American Literature and English Literature courses.

Narrative Poetry Prompts

Adventures of a Superhero Poem

Craft an epic poem that tells the story of a wild and crazy adventure in the life of your favorite superhero. It can be an existing superhero or one of your own imagining. Use poetic language to help emphasize his or her otherworldly abilities and the strange happenings and challenges they face.

Best/Worst Day Poem

Think back to the best or worst day of your life. What happened? How did things escalate to make it a day you'd never forget? Write a narrative poem that exaggeratedly tells the story of the best or worst day of your life.

About Me Poem

Imagine that you're an epic hero. What sort of adventures might you set out on? What might be your defining heroic qualities? Write an epic poem that details your first heroic feat.

Narrative Poetry Resources

You can learn more about many different poetic styles and forms in this comprehensive poetry course. Types of poetry are also discussed in this comprehensive Analyzing and Interpreting Literature course.

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