Writing Prompts for May 2017

Sorry I’m a little late posting this month, but my mom fell last week, and I’ve been busy visiting the hospital and doing daughter things, so time for creativity is gone for a while. Thankfully, my mom is on the road to recovery, but it will be slow—88-years-old with a fractured pelvis. Fortunately, the break is weight-bearing which may speed up recovery a little bit. Life happens, and we’re very grateful for a positive prognosis. Deep breath! Onward!

Here are the writing prompts for May.

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

  • Race, blur, red, strain, edge, finish
  • Blue, horizon, run, castle, horses, escape
  • Sun, sultry, black, clouds, thunderstorm, heat
  • Angry, words, disappointed, leave, never, new

Here are some opening sentences to get you started:

  • You checked first? Right?
  • Sometimes only a very few words can hurt.
  • I stared at the doctor. I must have misheard what he said.
  • Even the weather was against us.
  • I wished I could have yesterday as a do-over.
  • Rain soaked through our clothes.
  • No one needed that much money.
  • I thought Henry was on this watch.
  • Some words should never be carved in stone.

Here are some titles that might inspire a story or poem:

Remembering Times Past, New Shoes, The Win, Helen’s Dream, The House on Henry Street, Windflowers, Passing Storms, Nursery Rhymes, The Wonder Kid, Murder Times Two, Serenity.

See if you can create a scene or a story around these lines of dialogue.

  • Keep out of there.
  • Sure. Okay.
  • I don’t like anyone messing with my stuff.


  • How long before we leave?
  • When it’s dark—and those men are out of sight.


  • Will I see you again?
  • Not for a while.
  • Why?
  • Unfinished business.


  • Shouldn’t those birds be flying south?
  • Not today.


  • Are we finished here?
  • Not until Henry says so.
  • Why is it up to him?

Hope you have a writerly month ahead!

Writing Prompts for April, 2017

Writing Prompts for April 2017

Yay, it’s April! April always seems so hopeful. You believe that soon it will be the last frosty night, the last snowy day, the last time that you have to wear boots, the last time the heat goes on in the car, … you get the idea. I’m experiencing spring in Florida this year–ten days escape to Orlando/Gainesville, and what a shock to the system. It’s 90 here! Yikes! And around 45 at home. Returning will be quite a shock. I will miss the green and the sun on bare shoulders, but I will also enjoy the slow return to green, my daffodils blooming, wide open windows, and driving my mom to various nurseries to stock her garden.

I hope that you have a writerly April ahead and that you find some inspiration in the writing prompts below. Have fun!

Choose one group and use one, some or all of the words in a story or poem.

  • Traffic, hurry, roar, wind, blue, anxious
  • Branch, hollow, creek, hide, breath, thunder
  • Change, cold, sudden, sky, grey, sparrow

Use one of the following sentences to begin your story.

  • “Where have you been?”
  • Dead leaves crackled in the wind.
  • “If you don’t decide, I will.
  • Lights were one. The cottage was supposed to be empty.
  • The sound waves from the rocket pounded my chest.
  • Helen was sure she’d locked the door when she left.
  • The dark came too slowly.

Try one of these titles for a story or poem.

Open Until Doomsday, The Scarlet Knight, The River Adventure, Ten Times Ten, The Forever Wish, Race, My Aunt was a Pirate, Flight, Keeper’s Gate, Last Promise, The Door.

Use one of the following short dialogues to create a unique scene.

  • I thought we were resting here.
  • We can’t. We have to keep going.
  • Why?
  • Look.


  • Spiders!
  • Ignore them.


  • Why hasn’t anyone rescued us?
  • Just give them time.
  • You don’t have time.
  • Then it doesn’t matter, does it?


Writing Prompts for March, 2017

Okay, so I had this month’s writing prompts drafted early in my journal, and then whoosh, completely missed my March 1 deadline for my blog. And whoosh went the next few days. If March continues like this, it will be April before I know it. That’s fine with me, actually. Bring on Spring!

If sometimes you have trouble getting started on your stories, check out this great post by Jill Williamson, 10 Types of Prewriting, for great tips that go beyond brainstorming and freewriting. If you know you need to learn more about your character before you start some serious writing, use the character sketch template here to add more details to your character’s life story. Writing Prompts for March 2017

Here are your writing prompts for March.

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

  • Bright, cloud, cold, bird song, waste, blue
  • White, stifling, breath, under, trapped, scream
  • Fog, echo, shadow, lurk, strain, peer, black
  • Flame, heat, roar, fear, run, red, alarm

See if any of these opening sentences spark a story:

  • It’s too dark. I can’t see.
  • In the distance, the castle’s tall towers loomed black against the bright blue sky.
  • Vultures.
  • It seemed like we’d been climbing for ages.
  • The warm sunshine was welcome after the long night in the cave.
  • The alarm rang for the third time.
  • We were supposed to be the first living beings who had ever been here.
  • What was it about him that frightened me? I hadn’t even shaken his hand yet.
  • I hadn’t reckoned on him being a liar, too.
  • Henry came back.
  • I was afraid, and I didn’t like it.

Can you think of a story or poem to go with one of these titles?

Last Victory, Ember, Shroud Dancing, Port of Call, Getting Lost, The Climb, Murder at the Zoo, Marathon, First Stop Mars, Second Sight, Unglued, Free Ride, Yellow Tulips, Ice Storm.

Here are some snippets of dialogue. Can you write a scene around one of them?

  • Stay of out there!
  • But I just saw Henry go in.
  • He shouldn’t be in there either!


  • I wish you’d stop bugging me.
  • But this is important.
  • You’ve said that before.
  • But this time, your life is in danger.


  • It’s been a long time.
  • Not long enough.


  • Why is Henry so angry?
  • Helen left him.
  • He can’t be surprised.
  • No, just angry, and that’s worse.


  • Can you keep a secret?
  • Well ….
  • That’s what I thought.

Hope you have a writerly month! If you’re getting stuck on you book project and need some help, please check out my coaching services here.


Writing Prompts for February 2017 - opening sentences, random words, dialogue snippets, titles

Welcome February! One more month closer to spring! This last month has been unrelentingly cloudy, and I’m more than ready for some sunny days. A little sunshine can go a long way to cheer up a cold, snowy day. So can escaping into a new story—either one you are reading or one you are writing.

I love finding a new author who has already published a number of books because then I don’t have to wait any time at all to enjoy the entire series. I read all of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries around this time last year. Now I’m impatiently waiting for the next one. Right now, I’m reading the Ruth Galloway mysteries by Elly Griffiths and am enjoying them very much—three down, six to go, and a new one due soon!

If writing a new story is your way to escape, here are some writing prompts to keep you busy in February.

Use one, some, or all of the words in one of these lists to write a story or poem.

  • Candle, frame, snow, path, wave, match
  • Lake, pine cone, laugh, car, memory, rain
  • Door, lock, late, night, empty, cold, silver
  • Light, distant, melody, gem, box, ice, glint.

Here are some opening sentences for you to try.

  • Who ate all the chocolate?
  • I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying.
  • The light hurt my eyes.
  • Power’s out!
  • I hoped it wasn’t too late.
  • We heard the door creak, then silence.
  • When there’s a bat in the house, I don’t do brave.
  • Though my family would like to think so, a nice cup of tea wasn’t going to be any help in this situation.
  • I hadn’t been this afraid of being caught since I stole a pack of matches when I was six.

Here are some titles that might suggest a story or two.

Jenny’s Secret, The Circle, Moon Dragon, Closing Day, The Magic Crow, She’s Back, The Last Letter, The Blue Vase, Damian’s Promise, The New House

Here are some snippets of dialogue that might suggest a scene or a story.

  • I thought you said we’d be safe here.
  • That’s what I said.
  • So you were wrong.
  • Apparently.
  • I saw you take that when Helen wasn’t looking.
  • She’ll never miss it.
  • She will eventually and then what?
  • Henry told me to be here at 8 ‘clock.
  • So?
  • So where are the others?
  • I don’t think there are any others.
  • I can’t believe that Helen could lie like that.
  • She’s had lots of practice.
  • But it’s wrong.
  • You live her life for a day and then say that.

Hope you all have a writerly February!

Writing Prompts for January 2017

Writing Prompts for January 2017
Reflections at the Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle.

I considered reflecting on the events of 2016, but frankly, there’s lots you really don’t want to know–honest. The above photo is from a family holiday that included visiting Seattle, WA and Victoria, BC. I have great memories of explorations in galleries, museums, rain forests and mountains–and quiet family times of reading while the sun set. I’m very grateful for that time with my family and for every morning that I wake up and know  that I’m another day further into my life after last year’s cancer surgery–and feeling gratitude is not a bad way to start a new year.

But what will 2017 hold? I don’t know, but over the last couple of days I reread Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and I was reminded to “share whatever you are driven to share.” I write lots of non-fiction about writing. I enjoy it, and I’m going to keep doing it. I love motivating people to write. This year, I’m going to seek out other ways to reach new writers and help them share what they “are driven to share.” And if I find myself worrying about whether or not to take a risk, I’m going to remember this, too: “Hey, why not? Because it’s all just temporary.” Exactly, Elizabeth.

I hope that you have a 2017 filled with peace, and love, and creativity, too. To get you started on your creative goals for 2017, here are your writing prompts for January.

Use one, some, or all of the words in the following lists to inspire a story or poem:

  • Slide, column, eye, remember, red, hidden
  • Glass, case, door, fear, run, seal, black
  • Escape, tunnel, race, battle, freedom, star
  • Beam, rescue patience, delay, moment, revenge

Here are some titles that might suggest a story or two: Rate of Decay, Last Chance, Brother Why?, Indefinitely, A New Year’s Resolution, The Captain’s Son, Battle Stations, Just a Step Away, Love on New Year’s Eve, Holiday, Seeing in the Dark.

Try one of the following opening lines to start a story.

  • Most people have a party or, at least, drink a toast with Anderson and Kathy on New Year’s Eve. Instead, I open my back door, a stray cat walks in, and an hour later I have a cat, four kittens and an old college sweat shirt that I will never wear again.
  • The last time I saw Harry, he had that same dumb grin.
  • Saying goodbye is never easy.
  • If they could hear my heartbeats, I’d be found in about 30 seconds.
  • Nothing made a castle colder than three days of uninterrupted rain.
  • His cloak smelled of wood smoke and rain.
  • Security! Report to Deck 9!
  • I still haven’t told my family that I was fired.
  • Helen always knew the wrong thing to say.

Here are a few snippets of dialogue. Can you write a scene using one of them?

  • When was the last time you talked to Henry?
  • This morning.
  • Then, he told you.
  • Yes.
  • Do you want to get caught?
  • No.
  • Then keep up!
  • I thought you weren’t coming back.
  • I have something to say to you.
  • Then say it.
  • I’m getting cold.
  • Just a little bit further.
  • Promise?
  • Promise.
  • So, another hour?
  • At least.

Happy New Year and may 2017 hold only good things for you!

Writing Prompts for December 2016

Writing Prompts for December 2016

I always enjoy the approach to the holidays. Decorating the house, planning meals, and even all the long-overdue cleaning and organizing are done with a lighter heart. It’s a musical time for us, too. My choir has a concert, my son’s university ensemble has a concert, and we all attend the local symphony’s holiday concert, joining my brother-in-law’s family for dinner afterwards. I hope that you and yours enjoy times filled with peace, love, and happiness in the coming weeks and that these feelings follow you through 2017.

Though your writing time may be limited in December, I encourage you to take even 10 minutes out of your day to put a few words on the page. Typing at 25 words per minute would fill a double-spaced page. Think of how those pages could add up over the month, and how much further ahead you will be starting 2017.

If you need some writing inspiration or fresh ideas, here are your writing prompts for December. Remember that you can change names and gender to suit the story you want to write.

Opening Sentences – Start a story with one of the following sentences. You could use the sentence to end the story, too.

Wait! Don’t open that!
The fire was too small to warm the room.
Henry and I had an agreement—until yesterday.
The branches of the bare trees clattered overhead.
Making a wish as you blow out your birthday candles isn’t just for kids.
Helen should have known better.
Secrets should be kept secret.
I don’t have a cat anymore, so what was coughing and hacking in my kitchen?

Random Words – Choose a group of words from the following list, and using one, some, or all of the words in the group, write a story or poem.

Gate, pillar, robe, wonder, blue, cry, gold
green, hills, wander, home, far, cold, rain
run, danger, lost, captain, white, strange
window, tense, sneer, answer, leave, yellow

Possible Story Titles

Yesterday’s Man, The Gold Tower, Tree People, The Leaving, Ghosts at Summer Camp, Strangers at First, Ethan’s Mountain, The Blue Sword, The Kameron Curse, The Second Gift.

Dialogue – Use one of these dialogue excerpts and imagine the story around it.

Why do we have to travel at night?
It’s safer.
It’s also cold.

I haven’t seen you with Henry lately.
Oh, we’re old news.
But I thought you were getting married.
Tell that to Henry’s father.

Are you sure we can trust Helen?
I don’t see that we have a lot of options.
But, I told you—she’s lied before.
So have you.

I don’t like the sound of that.
Me neither, but it’s too soon to worry the others.

You found something.
Show it to me.

Hope you have a wonderful, writerly December!

Writing Prompts for November 2016

Writing Prompts for November 2016If you’re launching into NaNoWriMo and still need a story idea, I hope that today’s prompts will give you a boost into your month of writing adventures. If you’re not in NaNo, I hope that you find some creative ideas to feed your stories for the rest of the month.

For my readers in the US, this month hosts one of your favourite holidays, Thanksgiving. Here are some other special days celebrated this month that may give you a story idea or two:


Here are some groups of random words. Use one, some, or all of the words in a group to create a story or poem:

  • window, grey, flight, shatter, rain, drift, moment
  • owe, remember, threat, run, fear, black, record
  • partner, plan, certain, calendar, loss, confusion, red
  • shelter, storm, hidden, wet, laugh, memory, walk

Here are some first lines that might suggest a story or two:

  • When I looked at the pieces of broken vase on the floor, I found something that had nothing to do with flowers or vases.
  • Playing with Henry’s drone at the beach had been fun until it showed us the body.
  • When Helen played with fire, she really played with fire.
  • Today, we were glad it was raining.
  • Henry refused to answer.
  • Somewhere in the house a door slammed.
  • It was too quiet.
  • Why don’t you have a date?
  • Sometimes, telling the truth is overrated.
  • Henry rolled up the map. “Not far now.”

Perhaps one of these titles suggests a story: Once a Robot, Summer Song, The Fairies of Krendor, Mars Lullaby, Dinner for Thirty, Henry’s Run, The Gold Chalice, The Minotaur Chronicles, Skate, Magic’s End.

See if you can imagine a scene around one of these short dialogue excerpts:

  • Why are you so angry?
  • I just heard about Helen.
  • Oh.
  • Did you already know?
  • When did you last see Henry?
  • About a month ago. Why?
  • He’s changed.
  • Can’t you stay quiet for even a minute?
  • Talking helps when I’m scared.
  • What news?
  • None of it good, Your Majesty
  • It’s fortunate for you that killing the messenger is out of fashion for enlightened rulers.
  • For which I am grateful, Sire.

Have a writerly month!


Writing Prompts for October 2016 & Accountability Group

October 2016 Writing Prompts & Accountability Group

Okay, where did September go? I had every intention of getting my writing life organized this month and managed no more than daily to-do lists—effective, but not quite what I had in mind. Anyone else struggling with this? I’m looking for some accountability partners to help get me, and each other, on track.

Starting October 7, I’m going to be running an accountability group on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hwrightwriter/. You set your daily writing goals (they can include, planning, research, outlining, writing) and each day you just check in with a “done” to say you’ve met your goal. I’ll be posting daily so you’ll have a place to add your “done” to the comments. If you’re signing up for NaNoWriMo this year, this three weeks of accountability will help you get your planning done for your November novel and/or help you get your daily writing habit back in shape, too. All good.

If you don’t have a story idea yet, here are some writing prompts that might help.

Create a poem or story using one, some, or all of the words in one of the following groups:

  • History, banner, black, crystal, mage, flames
  • Mountain, fear, fog, red, breath, open, hide
  • Concrete, stars, shadow, windows, swoop, lights
  • Shell, waves, storm, pride, darken, stone, gift

Maybe one of these opening lines will suggest a story:

  • That was the last thing I expected you to bring home.
  • I’m sorry. Should I have been listening?
  • You want to know when I saw him last? It was Tuesday—Tuesday morning.
  • The lights dimmed in the concert hall.
  • Pieter huddled behind the wall and cursed the rain.
  • A woman’s face peeked out from behind the curtains. Henry had told us the house was empty.
  • The forest was silent. It shouldn’t be.
  • Even mean girls can be kind sometimes.
  • I just wanted to curl up under my blanket and forget the day had happened, but instead, I kept on moving. If I didn’t, tomorrow had every chance of being worse.

Can you think of a story to go with one of these titles?

The End of the Road, The Rest of Us, Once Upon a Rainy Day, Forgotten, The Tree House, Storm’s Ending, The Hallowe’en Mystery, Starting Line, Just a Glimpse.

See if these dialogue excerpts suggest a scene or some characters that you might like to work into a story.

  • I haven’t seen you in a long time.
  • I’ve seen you.
  • What do you mean?
  • Look what Helen found?
  • Helen?
  • Why the surprise?
  • It can only be found by three people. And I’m one of them.
  • It’s time for us to leave.
  • What if I disagree.
  • I’d advise you to think about that. You’d put all of us in danger.
  • Henry’s coming with us.
  • I don’t think that’s a good idea.
  • But we can’t leave him behind.
  • We’d be safer if we did.

Don’t forget, to join the accountability group at https://www.facebook.com/hwrightwriter/  and get your writing habits on track for the fall (and NaNoWriMo, too.)

Have a writerly October!

September 2016 Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts September 2016
Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle

Though I know that January 1 is the official New Year, I always think of September 1 as the beginning of my year. It’s time to buckle down after a lazy summer and get some work done. I have a couple of freelance projects beginning now and some creative ideas, too. I haven’t felt particularly creative for a while, so the latter is really good news.

Here are some writing prompts to inspire you in the cooler, shorter days ahead, when finding the time to take the writing outdoors becomes rare and precious–at least in my part of the world.

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

  • plastic pail, lake, shadow, breeze, willow, blue
  • umbrella, swing, dog, joy, bridge, footsteps, grey
  • crows, wall, red, column, look, clouds, alone

Here are some opening lines that might inspire a story or scene:

  • What was that ladder doing there?
  • Helen heard a cry from across the lake.
  • The loud blast of the ferry boat horn made Henry jump. He was leaving after all.
  • The street magician grinned as he handed bright pink cards to the laughing crowd. Helen looked at her card and then looked up into the crystal blue eyes of the magician. “Wait for me,” he whispered and then turned to the next person. Helen looked at the card again. Black letters spelled: “Helen. “You’re in danger.”
  • Normally, Henry didn’t like strong displays of emotion, but slamming that door had felt good.
  • They smelled fire. Enemy or friend?
  • The tree branches shuddered. Helen hadn’t felt a breeze.
  • Sometimes being alone was okay. This wasn’t one of those times.
  • Blue skies for the funeral.

Here are some titles waiting for a story or poem:

Black Lake, Let It Be, One Last Time, A Cup of Tea, Storm Warning, The First Day, The Black Cliffs, The Ghost of Fort Renfrew, Red Sky at Morning, Stuff Happens, Love Returns, Mystery By Chance

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

Henry went for a walk.
He’s angry.

What’s a dog doing here?
That’s not a dog. It’s a coyote.

We’re not supposed to talk about that.
They don’t want us to.

I hate spiders. Everywhere we’ve walked this morning I’ve run into webs.
That’s a good thing.
It means no one has been here ahead of us.

Why don’t you just leave.
I can’t.
You can.
Okay then, I won’t. Someone here needs me. I just have to figure out who.

Increasing the tension in your story: “When sorrows come, they come not single spies/But in battalions.” Think of this quote from Hamlet when you are working on your story. Give  your character an extra layer to the conflicts she’s already facing–news that a friend or relative is ill, a twisted ankle, a lost wallet, a cellphone glitch, a headache, you get the idea–add some more trouble to increase the tension in your story.
The many faces of conflict: Think about ways of incorporating other forms of conflict into your story.
person vs. person: character’s sister ruins her favourite shirt, character’s team mate tells a lie
person vs. nature: add bad weather to a challenging situation.
person vs. self: dig deep to find out what  your character is afraid of and make sure that he or she has to face it–think Ron Weasley and spiders, Indiana Jones and snakes, Katniss and the threat to her sister ….
person vs. society: this could be range from getting stuck with a parking ticket to defying an unjust authority figure or government
person vs. technology: What happens to your characters when the power goes out? Computer hacking. Think sci-fi and all the possibilities with robots, cyborgs, androids, implants … this topic is wide open.
I hope you enjoy the prompts and have a creative September ahead!

Writing Productivity Tips and Prompts for August 2016

writing productivity tips and  writing prompts for August 2016

I hope your summer has been going well with some well-earned downtime, and I hope, some creative time, too.

If your creative output hasn’t been what you hoped, I’ve listed some links to helpful tips for boosting creativity and output. Of course, you might just be looking for the perfect story idea. I hope that the writing prompts below will help you find it.


If you’re not meeting your daily writing goals, maybe mini-goals will help:

Here are some tips for speeding up the writing:

This is a different take on planning a novel that just might help you get the work done:

Here are some creativity boosters from Jenny Bravo:


a) Use one, some or all of these words to write a story or poem.

switch, rain, door, collar, blue, brick, stifling
window, light, glass, dial, time, grey, cold
fragment, yellow, parched, reflection, tip, shade

b) Try one of these opening sentences to start a story.

I thought you said a child could open this.
Nice room except for the body on the floor.
We waited. Finally, the voice over the loudspeaker said exactly what we didn’t want to hear.
When do you expect the patrol?
I hated missing the bus.
When Helen calls, it’s always trouble.
Henry didn’t come home last night.
What do you think we should do now?
Music was Henry’s life.
I think that cat can read my mind.

c) What scenes can you imagine around these short dialogue excerpts?

Why doesn’t Henry come inside.
He hasn’t finished.
Finished what?

I wish it wasn’t so cold.
You think this is cold?

I can’t keep running like this.
We don’t have any choice.
What if one of us does have a choice.

Look! Over there! Lights! That must mean people!
Quiet! Not all people are friends.

Here’s the package you wanted.
Thanks. You can leave now.
That’s where you’re wrong.

I didn’t think you’d invited Helen.
She invited herself.
That complicates things.

d) Does one of these titles suggest a story?

Peanut Butter and Romance, The Last Warrior, Storm, Taking Flight, The Eighth Wonder, Science Fair Drop Out, The Last Time, Berserk, Fear Lives Here, I Don’t Like Scary Movies, The Secret that Wasn’t, Last Year’s Model

e) What does your main character like to do on a summer day? Go to the beach? Visit a big city and see the sights? Get together and play games with friends? Find a quiet, shady spot and read a book? What do you like to do?

f) Ice cream is a favorite summer treat. Think about your characters. What flavors of ice cream would they choose? Why did you choose those flavors for your characters?

%d bloggers like this: