Writing Prompts for May, 2016

Writing Prompts for May 2016

“Tra la, it’s May” goes the Lerner and Loewe song, and it really is starting to look like spring here. The squirrels are busy eating the buds on my cherry tree–clearly they don’t plan for the future–two robin families have set up housekeeping under my deck, and my dandelions are in full bloom. I’m doing my part for the bee population by not mowing them down yet. (Yes, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

On the writing side, I hope you have a creative month ahead. If you’re a fan of adult coloring–or your students are–don’t forget to check out this link for some writer’s coloring pages. Also, here are links to the coloring pages for King Lear, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth that go with my Shakespeare journal writing prompts.

Here are your writing prompts for May. Enjoy!

**Random words to combine for a story or poem

spring, path, lurk, green, shadow, shiver, cloud
disc, danger, surprise, red, angle, willow
friend, gate, run, sunlight, stream, blue

**Opening sentences for your story or novel

“I wonder where that came from?”
Helen couldn’t stop looking out the window.
“When was the last time you were really happy?”
Gravel crunched beneath their boots.
Henry hated his dentist, but he was still sorry when he found the body.
So here’s the story. I got dumped at Disneyland.
Class trips were never fun with Ms. Wigglebergen.

**Maybe one of these titles will spark a story idea.

Winter Rose, The Lonely Spider, Gateway to Wonder, The Book and the Burglar, Danger is Not My Middle Name, The Page, Miss Fortune, Everyone Loves a Lover, When Henry Came Home, The Wethering, The Red Land

**Here are some snippets of dialogue. What scene can you imagine taking place around them?

What did you buy that for?
I thought you’d like it.

Did you see that?
That black thing over there.
Where? Oh!

I thought Helen would win.
So did I.
What are we going to do now?

I wish I knew where he got all that money.
I think I know.
So where?
I don’t think it’s safe to tell you.

**How does your character react to bad news? Does your character withdraw into himself or run around being busy? Are her emotions well controlled or do you know exactly how she feels about what she’s heard?

**This is a good time of year to literally stop and smell the flowers. How does a love of nature fit into your character’s personality?

Hope you all have a writerly month!





Writing Prompts for April, 2016

daffodils-716370_1920Sorry to be a day late, but yesterday was one of THOSE days. My mom, who has an apartment in our basement, woke up to a soaked bedroom carpet, our sump pump broke, and what I thought was going to be physio for a sore trapezius muscle turned into a diagnosis of rotator cuff injury and tendinitis. Today we still need a part for the new pump hook-up and the carpet (now dry) needs to be re-laid with new underpadding, and it snowed over night. On the positive side, it wasn’t rain and I woke up early enough to get these prompts to you for a creative, writerly April ahead.

My online course, The Teen Writer’s Toolbox, is behind my personal deadline. I’m at the recording stage and it’s going slowly, but I’m pleased with any progress right now. I have hopes that it will be available by the end of next week. Look for a notice soon with the announcement and a discount price for those willing to be part of the beta launch.

I’ve used a photo of daffodils today. Mine have been through rain, snow, sleet, hail, high winds, frost, freezing rain, ice, you name it. If they bloom this year, they will qualify, in my books, for the most tenacious plant ever! I have a lot to learn from them.

The winners of a free PDF copy of 201 Writing Prompts are Kari, Lisa, and Christine. I’ll send those along to you tomorrow. Congratulations and thanks to everyone who commented on my post and who offered great suggestions for my new course!

Here are the prompts I promised.

Use one, some, or all of these words in a story or poem:

fire, light, field, lost, run, black
case, grip, red, box, secret, cord
bowl, gold, web, border, track, glimpse

Here are some opening lines for you to try:

Who’s that woman in the photo?
Two years ago, I swore I’d never come back here again.
It’s no unusual to find odd bits of paper tucked into library books for a bookmark, but this time it was a letter.
Some jokes just aren’t funny.
“Next time,” said Henry, “we’ll plan our escape in better weather.”
“Moon Base Omega failed to report, sir.”
We heard the approaching horses (car) and hurried further into the woods.
I was not ready to admit defeat.

Perhaps these titles will inspire a story: The Reluctant Prince, Fire in the Hills, Murder at the Laundromat, Love and Old Movies, Yesterday Rain, The Haunting, If Looks Could Kill, Box Lunch, Danger’s Throne, Push Button to Reset, Three Robots, Holiday for Horror.

Here are some snippets of dialogue. Can you picture a scene or a story to go with them?

Am I late? Did I miss the bus?
Yes, and yes.
Why did you wait for me?

I can’t come. I’ve got work to do.
Look, it’s just this once, and we won’t be late.

Why did Henry choose to meet us here?
He said it would be safe.
You’re joking, right?

Lord Henry doesn’t trust us.
How can you tell.
His men are following us.

Oh no! My laptop’s got some weird virus!
What’s it doing?
My screen is blank except for three sets of numbers and the word help.
Let me see.

Draw for 3 Free Copies of 201 Writing Prompts

201 Writing PromptsI’m a little early for the vernal equinox, but I thought I’d celebrate spring by offering a draw for 3 PDF copies of one of my books, 201 Writing Prompts. (Click on the cover to learn more about the book.) The three winning names will be chosen from those who leave a comment on this blog post between now (March 17, 2016) and 5 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, March 31, 2016. I’ll be entering everyone’s name into random.org and the top three names will be the winners.

If you can’t think of anything to write as a comment, I’d really appreciate your input on my current project. I’m creating an online fiction writing course for teens. The course can be used by teen writers as a resource and guide for their writing projects, and I’m also preparing support material for homeschoolers who might want to use it with their students.

  • Any particular topics that you think I must definitely cover in this course?
  • Any topics you need resources for?
  • Any writing examples or models that you’d love to have?
  • What’s the most important topic that should be covered in a fiction writing course for teens?

Any suggestions you offer will be greatly appreciated!

Don’t forget to leave your comment for a chance to win a PDF copy of 201 Writing Prompts. Good luck!

Writing Prompts March 2016

March came in like a lion here with high winds and snow. Today, we have blue skies and sunshine. Yup, it’s March in Ontario alright. Aside from surviving the crazy weather, I’ve been the unwelcome host of a nasty cold (snorfle, sniff, moan) since Sunday, and finally crawled out of my pity party today to realize that I hadn’t written my March writing prompts. You will find them below.

Online course planning with sticky notes
Online course planning with sticky notes

Since I wrote last, I have been busy working on creating an online fiction writing course for teen writers with help from Joseph Michael and D’vorah Lansky. It’s a painstaking process and I don’t imagine anything will see the light of day until May, but it’s been exciting to brainstorm topics and ideas in the planning stages. I’m a big fan of sticky notes for this part of the process, as you can see. Soon, I will be getting down to organizing all this pink chaos into units and lessons. After that comes the creation of the actual audio-visual components–a scary prospect, I can assure you. Like most people, I’m not in my happy place in front of a microphone. But, I also enjoy a challenge, so … :)

Here are your writing prompts. I hope you have a creative March ahead!

Use one, some, or all of the words in these groups to create a story or poem:

  • flower, song, frame, balloon, calm, purple
  • chair, shadow, dial, repair, candle, cup, yellow
  • path, marking, window, sky, light, white

See if you can imagine a story or poem with one of these titles: Thursday’s Child, A Small Hero, Shadow Land, The Blue Empire, Target Gold, Last Gasp, Dragon Rites, Clock Tower, Midnight Moon, The Wanderer, Broken Promise

Try one of these opening lines for your story or novel:

  • One of these days, I’m going to say no.
  • I agreed that Henry was a puzzle, but I was the only one who thought a couple of pieces were missing.
  • It’s bad enough when your ex-boyfriend calls you, but when the call is from his mother, it’s time for action!
  • I knew that sound. Dragons.
  • I thought space was supposed to be silent.
  • We didn’t know it would be our last sunset at the lake.
  • Tires screeched. I turned and ran down the alley.
  • He lit a cigarette and watched Henry close the door.

See if you can imagine a scene from one of these groups of dialogue lines:

Are you sure we’re going the right way?
These are the directions Henry gave me.
Was that before or after you had the fight?

Do you think Mrs. Wilson knows?
Knows what?
That Helen cheated.
We’ll find out soon.

I saw Henry this morning.
But, I thought he said he was leaving last night.
That’s what he wanted us to think.

Why do we have to meet on the bridge?
What’s the matter? Scared?
I’ve got every reason to be.






Writing Prompts for February 2016

Wow! How did it get to February 5th without my noticing that I hadn’t created any writing prompts for February 1st? I’ve had my head in every other place but this blog, and here’s where it’s been.

A coloring book for writers with inspiring quotes to add some fun to your writing day.Launching a new book. Yes, I finished a coloring book for writers, and it’s now available at Amazon. It was a fun project, and I hope my fellow writers enjoy it. I love coloring books myself, and having learned how to play with some new software called Kaleidoscope Kreator, I couldn’t wait to create a whole coloring book just for writers. No how-to-write tips or places to write, just pictures accompanied by quotes from other writers who have “been there, done that.” The pictures vary in complexity, because for me, there are times when the ones with tiny spaces to color are just too much work. And since coloring books are supposed to help relieve stress, all those fiddly spaces seemed a bit counter-productive on the relaxation side.

Working on a new book. Last year I put together a journal to help people get into the daily writing habit in 66 days, Write Every Day: a journal for building your Daily Writing Habit. I’ve just completed working on a similar book, Journal Every Day: Inspiration and Prompts to Build your Daily Journaling Habit, Journal cover png (2)to help people get into daily journaling in 66 days. I journal almost every day and have found it to be very beneficial to my creativity and also a great place to leave my troubles behind, or to make my to-do lists, or just to say ‘thank-you’ for the good things in my life. I’ll be uploading the journal today or tomorrow, and hope that it will be available at Amazon early next week. And, yes, it has some coloring pages, too.

Learning how to create an online course. I’m currently enrolled in Joseph Michael’s Easy Course Creation program. It started in earnest on Wednesday, but there were a few pre-course assignments, plus my brain has been focused on what kinds of courses to offer and who my audience might be. The course will be writing related, and if you think that there’s a gap out there where a writing course should be, please let me know.

Anyhow, that’s what I’ve been up to and that’s what distracted me from writing my first-day-of-the-month writing prompts, until this morning. Here you go:


Choose one, some, or all of these words to write a story or poem:

a) wonder, snow, crystal, sky, glow, footprints, run
b) number, frame, sharp, cold, red, wire, slump
c) rise, platform, cries, thunder, stone, path, danger

Use one of these opening sentences to create a story:

a) “This is the last straw!”
b) Henry looked guilty.
c) Helen looked up from her reading and her book fell from her lap.
d) I’d always wondered what real fear felt like. I was sorry I found out.
e) Monday was supposed to be the worst day of the week. Today had it beat by a mile.
f) We all felt the cold before he entered the hall.
g) Breathing at this altitude was harder than I thought it would be.
h) “Are you sure he’s here?”

Try one of these titles to inspire a story or poem: Winter Chill, Runaway, Danger at Dawn, City Nights, Gone Wrong, Box of Dreams, Winner Take All, It Only Takes One, The Call, The Text Message Murders, When Winter Comes, Helen Goes West, Love and Apples

See if these lines of dialogue help you see a scene or story.

You guys are fighting over a book?
You don’t know what’s in it.

When do you think she’ll be done?
She finished an hour ago.
Then why isn’t she here yet?

I’m not ready to go.
Well, when will you be ready?
How about never.

But Chris is Henry’s best friend!
He didn’t behave like it this morning.

Don’t bother explaining it again. I’ll never get it.
But it could save your life.
That’s what you’re here for.
And what if I’m not here?

What would your character write in his/her journal in reply to these prompts?

a)   What annoyed me today.
b)   What made me laugh today.
c)    The news story/Facebook post that made me smile.
d)    How I feel about thunderstorms.
e)    Music that brings back memories.
f)     If I could live at any time in human history, it would be ________ because ….

Have fun with the better-late-than-never writing prompts, and I wish you lots of fun and every success with your writing projects!


Publication for Young Writers

51fSKVUK2lL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_Here’s a list of new locations where young writers can be published. I’ll be adding these to the Where to Get Published tab, too.

10 Publication Opportunities for Young Writers:  Writers like Françoise Sagan, Sonya Hartnett and S.E. Hinton demonstrate that youth doesn’t have to be a barrier to literary success. Here is a list of 10 magazines, journals and websites that are committed to publishing young writers and that champion the work of those just starting out.   http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2015/03/26/publication-opportunities-for-young-writers/

Canvas Teen Literary Journal is published quarterly in print, ebook, web, video, and audio formats. http://canvasliteraryjournal.com/submit/

New Pages Young Authors Guide: Where young writers can find print and online literary magazines to read, places to publish their own works, and legitimate contests. Some publish only young writers, some publish all ages for young readers. For specific submission guidelines, visit the publication’s website. This is an ad-free page; publications and contests listed here have not paid to be included. This page is maintained by Editor Denise Hill, a teacher who loves to encourage young writers.   http://www.newpages.com/writers-resources/young-authors-guide

YARN (Young Adult Review Network):  YARN is an award-winning literary journal that publishes outstanding original short fiction, poetry, and essays for Young Adult readers, written by the writers you know and love, as well as fresh new voices…including teens. http://yareview.net/how-to-submit/

The Telling Room is a nonprofit writing center in Portland, Maine, dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural storytellers. Focused on young writers ages 6 to 18, we seek to build confidence, strengthen literacy skills, and provide real audiences for our students. We believe that the power of creative expression can change our communities and prepare our youth for future success. Places to Publish:  http://www.tellingroom.org/get-published/places-publish

Writing Prompts for January 2016

IMG-20130709-00210inspirationHappy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday with family and friends and that you’re ready to tackle whatever the new year brings.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Are you good at keeping them? One thing I have to keep reminding myself is that everything I resolve to do doesn’t have to be achieved by the end of February. Way too much pressure—and way too easy for someone like me to give up at that point. (I have a lot of experience with that!)  At this time of year, I like to think about what I hope to achieve next year. I don’t have resolutions exactly, but instead, I have an ongoing, ever-in-revision to-do list that serves as a daily reminder of what my year’s goals are. And yes, if you check my last post, I did go out and buy a new journal to help me keep track of everything.

For my own health and sanity, weight loss and more exercise are on the list–starting with a standing desk–plus I’m working on a plan plan to go out more often with my husband. (I’ve already bought the concert tickets!) I’m also looking for one thing to do each week to help fill the creative well that so easily gets emptied when you’re a busy, creative person.

For my writing, I have a lot of goals to reach this year—more books and journals and, at least, one online course. The last will be a challenge. Like most people, I don’t like the sound of my voice on tape, but I’m finally ready to take the risk and work on this project that I’ve had in the back of my mind for a couple of years now.

I’m also going to attempt to learn to read Latin this year. I know that’s a weird goal, but I’ve written a couple of books set in the Middle Ages (not published) and have ideas for more–one involving a person who illuminates manuscripts. I’ve always wanted to actually read the words on the medieval manuscripts I’ve seen so often while doing my research.  And, since my mom bought me a set of how-to-learn-Latin DVDs for my birthday, I no longer have any excuse!

I want to thank you all for dropping by the website to check out the resources or to say hi over the past year. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be adding some new sites and information for teens who want to get published. Visitors drop by from all over the world, and I’m humbled that so many of you find inspiration for your writing or your classroom here. Whether you make resolutions, or set goals, or just let life bring whatever it brings, I wish you every success, and a healthy and happy 2016.


draft cover for journalIf one of your goals is to write every day in 2016, research shows that it takes 66 days to develop a habit. There are ample writing prompts on this site to feed a 66-day, habit-building plan many times over. If you need something a little more structured, check out the journal I created last year and see if it has the solution you’re looking for.



1.See if you can use one, some, or all of the words in one of these groups in a story or poem.

a) cup, danger, blue, fragile, reach, high
b) book, scratch, far, wonder, red, end
c) curtain, lights, remember, warm, close, fear

2. What story can you create that begins with one of these opening sentences?

  • Henry said, “Do not wish me a Happy New Year.”
  • Helen dropped the last of his photographs into the trash.
  • Why wasn’t I surprised that the light switch didn’t work either.
  • I hoped they remembered the old adage, “Don’t shoot the messenger.”
  • We’d never make it before dawn.
  • They were not her people. Helen realized she was lucky to still be alive.

3. Can you think of a story to go with one of these titles?
Winter Solstice, The Offer, Sonata in Screams, Haunted, I Hate Love Stories, Blue Wednesday, Rodeo, The New Year’s Mystery, A Dog for a Day, I said No, Fire Place, The Witch Next Door.

4. What scenes can you imagine around these lines of dialogue?

Turn on the light.
I did—and I checked the bulb. There’s no power.
That’s not good.

Why did you leave Harry?
I didn’t. He left me.
That’s not what he said.

I’m sorry for your loss, Helen.
Believe me. It was no loss.
But how can you say that?

I thought robots were supposed to do what they were told.
Not when they’re told something stupid.

What’s in the bag?
The stores closed an hour ago.
Okay then. I liked.

Have you ever seen any creatures so disgusting.
Should I say something?
You should say, thank-you. They saved our lives remember.

Happy New Year! Have a wonderful 2016!

A Holiday Gift for Yourself–A Journal

IMG_4436I just discovered a wonderful post on the value of journaling: 9 reasons why writing in a journal should be your only resolution in the new year. In this post, author Lori White looks at how journaling can benefit all areas of your life and help you reach your goals, and she offers links to other articles to back up her premise that keeping a journal can “improve your health, your happiness, your goals, your love life … everything! And for those of you thinking, “Whatever diaries are dumb,” try thinking of journaling or freewriting as PRODUCTIVE MEDITATION.”  

Now, I’ve done daily journal writing for short periods, like a month, but I’ve never made a longer commitment to the process. I will definitely be working toward making journaling a daily habit in 2016. Lots of the areas of life that journaling can impact are areas that I’m looking to improve, so it’s time to decide that I’m worth 15 minutes a day with pen and journal. My own research has taught me that it takes 66 days to create a habit, so that’s my first goal–to stick with journaling for 66 days. If I can find time for Facebook or FreeCell, I should be able to find 15 minutes a day to write in a journal–and I’ll have the fun of buying a new journal, too. I hope you decide to join me and make daily journal writing your resolution for the new year. If you’re already a journal writer, please drop a note in the comments to tell us about your experience with journaling. How does it benefit you?

I wish you all a wonderful holiday and I’ll be checking back on New Year’s Day with your first writing prompts of 2016!


December 2015 Writing Prompts, New Book, Goodreads Giveaway

I hope that those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving last week had a wonderful time with family and friends and are enjoying your leftovers. If you were part of NaNoWriMo, I hope that you made your word count goals, and if not, made progress on your project that will carry on to completion soon.

My NaNo plans were prompted by a workshop that I was to be running at the local library. Sadly, participation was too low and the workshop was cancelled. Since my motivation for NaNo (wrapped entirely around working with and encouraging a group of young writers for a month) fell through, and so did my “novel.” Instead, I finished the project closest to my heart, A Journal for Teen Writers.

51fSKVUK2lL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_The journal is filled with blank writing pages, encouraging quotes from writers, brainstorming pages, coloring and doodling pages, and 50 new writing prompts. I’m very happy with it, and especially happy that it’s been #1 in it’s category of new releases for the past week at Amazon.com. It might have been there longer, but the first day I looked at it was last Tuesday. Take a peek here. My next challenge is creating journals for genre writers. I’ve started working on one for mystery writers, but until a freelance contract and my teaching semester are done, that one is going to be on hold until the new year.

My anthology of short stories for boys, written with my co-author Jean Mills, is part of a Goodreads giveaway until December 8th. Drop by Goodreads to enter to win an autographed copy.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dude! by Heather Wright

Hope you have a wonderful month ahead. If you have time among the holiday prep to do any writing, I hope these writing prompts give you the inspiration you need.

Use one, some, or all of these words in a story or poem:

  • music, jar, creature, forest, wise, fear
  • jump, stress, sunshine, shadow, left, wind
  • sun, photograph, last, shine, memory, river
  • rhythm, race, share, joy, defeat, call

Here are some opening sentences for you to try:

  • Stop! I can’t keep up.
  • Today Carol’s hair was blue.
  • I’d only been here ten minutes, and already I wanted to leave.
  • When I asked Henry what was new, I inwardly prayed for some positive news.
  • Where did that map come from?
  • I fell through a wall that wasn’t there.
  • I’m an astronomer. I know the skies and night–but not tonight.
  • It’s 7:15 and Henry is never late.

See if one of these titles inspires a story:
The Winder, King’s Ransom, The Fan, Bookworm, Mountain Mystic, The Club, The Story of Two Dreams, When One Door Closes, The Cats and I, Race, Tornado

See what scenes you can create from these lines of dialogue:

I’m so proud.
Of what?
Resisting the urge to scream at you right now.

Whose dog is that?
What dog?
That one.

You don’t believe in dragons, do you?
No. Why?
I think I’ve found a way to change your mind.

Have you seen Helen’s new boyfriend?
Well, neither has anyone else.

Writing Prompts for November 2015

If you’re starting NaNoWriMo today, I wish you every success. I’ve drafted a bit of a plan using tips from this extremely helpful blog: 6 Tasks You’ll Love Yourself for Checking Off Your NaNo Pre-Writing List. I know I’ll be going back to it as I work through my story. I’m fully prepared for my final NaNo word count to be nowhere near the 50,000 words of a winning NaNo novel. My life (and a recently acquired freelance contract) are going to make that impossible, so, if I can cobble together a detailed novel draft this month, I’ll be extremely happy.

What are your plans for the month? Are you writing? Are you preparing for Thanksgiving? Are you glued to the World Series or football or curling or …? Whatever you are up to this month, I hope you have a creative 30 days and lots of good times with family and friends.

To keep your creative side ticking, here are the writing prompts for the month.

  1. Use these random words to create a story or poem:
  • Cold, grey, mark, trail, storm, silver
  • Frame, glass, pen, square, white, words
  • Card, circle, phone call, strong, blue, why
  • Fire, wind, photo, black, strange, wall
  1. See where these opening lines might take you:
  • Don’t ask about my day.
  • Henry pulled goggles over his eyes and waited for the signal.
  • They say never start a story with the setting, but I think that, if you think you’re going to drown in it, it’s as good a place as any to start.
  • Helen/Henry woke to the sound of yells and crashing swords.
  • I think that magic should only happen on stage, or on a screen, and a safe distance from me, but apparently, not today.
  • Helen handed the flowers back to the delivery man. “Give them to someone else,” she said and closed the door.
  • The woman in the photo on the gallery wall looked just like my mom, except the photo was taken in Paris twenty-five years before my mother was born.
  1. Try one of these titles and see what story or poem appears:

Agent Fear, The Crystal Mountain, Summer Storm, The Prisoner, What Next?, Babies and Blue Jeans, Jake Plays the Blues, No Limit, Robot’s Curse, The Island

  1. What scenes do these groups of dialogue lines suggest?

I’m sending you to New York.
I thought it was about time you met your mother.

That will be $200.
For this?
For that. Plus my guarantee that it will always do your bidding.

I don’t know why you put up with Henry. You hardly know him.
He’s not so bad.
Why don’t you just dump him?
I can’t until I can explain that he’s my brother.

Put the box on the table over there.
Now open in.
What are you afraid of—a bomb or something?

It’s too dark. I can’t see.
Let me help.
How did you do that?

  1. What’s your character’s secret? What is the one thing that he or she never wants anyone to find out?
  2. If your character is just ticking along in your story, play “what if” for 10 minutes and come up with as many things as possible that could make your character’s life a lot harder right now. A broken leg? Abduction by an alien? A meeting with an old flame or an old enemy? Play “what if” until you find something that ups the ante for your character and adds some more suspense to your story.
%d bloggers like this: