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I love using writing prompts to come up with story ideas. I'm looking for good sites that have a lot of good writing prompts. One that updates fairly often would be best. :)

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I'm going to start a bounty for this. What I will be looking for in awarding the bounty is an answer that lists not only what the prompt is (where you can find it and the genre), but why it is helpful. Specific examples of what you've learned, how the prompt has become part of a piece, etc. would be helpful. –  justkt Feb 8 '11 at 14:04
    
Related: Resource for generic plot hooks? –  SF. Apr 14 '13 at 15:37
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Please note that this question has been retained for historical reasons, and shouldn't be considered a good example of an on-topic question for this site. –  Neil Fein Apr 22 '13 at 2:00

10 Answers 10

I know Writing Excuses has a writing prompt at end of each weekly show. Usually they are related to the topic of the show as well.

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I love The Writer's Book of Matches for fiction writing prompts.

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Type Trigger is rather fun - you get a very short prompt (one to three words) and then write up to three hundred words on that prompt. There's a new prompt every hour. It's an energetic little writing exercise.

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I haven't read it myself, but I think this book, The 3 A.M. Epiphany by Brian Kitely, sounds like exactly what you're looking for. It's got very nice reviews - both in terms of score, and the actual description. Here's the first one that sounded like a great match for your question:

The exercises also have an additional dimension to them that most don't. Each one is carefully constructed to help you explore a certain aspect of your writing. These aren't meant to be "merely" inspirational--they're designed to teach technique, as well, without reading like a dry instructional book.

There are types of exercises in here I really haven't seen anywhere else, particularly in the sections on "Internal Structure" and "Exercises for Stories in Progress", and I think you'll find them inspiring in ways that other books aren't. They'll make you think, work and write in whole new directions.

It sounds so tempting, I'm inclined to get a copy myself. :)

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I own a copy. It is definitely pretty helpful. –  oldrobotsneverrust Mar 21 '11 at 15:26
    
Oh, good :) I ordered one a couple weeks back. –  Standback Mar 21 '11 at 16:44

Not a writing prompt in a traditional sense, but this has worked for me: improv comedy classes. Every time you perform a scene, you're creating a completely new story on the fly. It's a great way to generate ideas. The story grows organically, and you'll get unexpected (i.e. creative) results.

It's a fun way to get new ideas for writing.

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Writing Prompt Websites

This is basically a link to an existing list elsewhere. That's because I think the most important aspects of writing prompts are:

  1. A variety of compelling topics
  2. A sense of community for peer support

The definition of each of these will differ for anyone asking this question, so the best answer is a list with diverse topics and diverse peers.

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This article describes an interesting system for coming up with infinite writing prompts through Wikipedia.

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This, I think, is a writing prompt tool unlike any other. Whereas most prompts just start you off, this one can assist you with the continuation of your story.

It provides multiple ways to get a prompt depending on your mood or goal. Whether you want a complete scenario, a starting scene, a goal, or a character, you just click a button.

I recommend reading some of the example stories to get an idea of how people are using it here: Actual Play Reports

Here is the home page that has some more information on it: http://www.rpgsolo.com

If you get lost there is great documentation in the forum.

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Instead of finding a source of explicit and structured prompts, I opt to look for randomized inspiration. Every day or two, I do the following:

  • http://www.flickr.com/explore - I browse until I find 3-5 images that strike a chord of interest in me (for any reason).
  • http://live.lmgtfy.com/ - I watch these live search terms with a text editor open and simply choose 5-10 individual words that pop up (again, whatever grabs me that day), writing them down.

Almost without fail, when I smash the words up against the images, I get struck with a nugget of a "wouldn't that be interesting..." kind of idea, then I write anywhere from 200-500 words on the topic. These short exercises are always brief and not well fleshed out, and they are often terrible. I write until the core of the idea is laid out, then I stop and file them into a folder with all the rest.

But the point isn't to get a winner every time, the point is that much later, when I'm ready to begin writing a new story, I don't need to go looking for prompts or ideas... I have a collection of dozens (or more) ideas that I've already had. All I have to do is browse through them and I always find at least a few that inspire me to explore them further.

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protected by Neil Fein Apr 22 '13 at 4:50

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