Let’s put it this way. I’m sick of writing prompts that go along the lines of “Write a diary for your main character” or “He never realized she would come after him” or “Write a story that uses the words paper, copy machine, and lawyer.” Seriously, people? We’re writers. Is that the best we can come up with? All those cute prompts are fine if you’re blocked beyond hope, but if you’re like me, you take one look, think “Hm, that’s mildly interesting,” and twitch a little bit while your brain turns to mush. Forget outside of the box. I want outside the planet. So, I scoured the web for something more unusual. Here are a few sites to stretch your brain.
1. Writing Companion // Rating: 3/5
This site is pretty hit or miss. Some of the prompts are pretty interesting, and others are just so-so. If you really need to get writing, however, they have good ideas for ways to pull great ideas from mundane sources. Type “Writing Prompt” into the search box and see if anything strikes you.
Sample Prompt: Collect random sentences from magazines, newspaper articles, stories, etc. Unify them into one story.
2. Story Spinner // Rating: 3/5
Click the wheel and you’ll get a setting, an opening line, and four words that you have to include. A little commonplace sometimes, but it’s a good way to get something started if you’re stuck, and some of the combinations are so ridiculous that you can’t fail to laugh . . . and then write all about it.
Sample Prompt: Setting for your story: During intermission / Starting phrase for your story: I remember spitting / Four words you must include in your story: Yard, Mush, Diagram, Drip
3. Easy Street Prompts // Rating: 4/5
A great list of hundreds of minimalist prompts. Some are short, evocative phrases and others are bizarre pictures (you know what they say about pictures and words) and videos. With the creepy black background that already has me thinking surreal, it’s a great place to find something that will spark an instant story in your head.
Sample Prompt: Phrase: fashionably excommunicated. Picture: a blurred out house about to be wrecking-balled.
4. Director’s Bureau // Rating: 4/5
Sample Prompts: Do-it-yourself torture game; Inexpensive nuclear garden; Secret foam art
5. Leucrota Press // Rating: 5/5
The blog itself is a great resource for all things writing, and this short list of prompts has some of the most unusual I’ve ever seen. Though they may make you cringe, squirm, or say “What the hell?”, they’ll definitely test your imagination. But with a title like ‘Disturbing Writing Prompts,’ what would you expect?
Sample Prompt: You’re falling asleep at your desk when your nose starts itching. You sneeze, and an earthworm slips out.
6. McSweeney’s // Rating: 5/5
A little tamer than Leucrota, so you’re not as likely to screech or gag, but just as interesting. This short list ranges from the very unusual to the very tricky, forcing you to envision bizarre situations or to write about a scene without mentioning its key components.
Sample Prompt: A husband and wife are meeting in a restaurant to finalize the terms of their impending divorce. Write the scene from the point of view of a busboy snorting cocaine in the restroom.
Inspired yet? Then do what I’m supposed to be doing and go write!
P.S. Have another addition to this list? Post it here or shoot me a note. Cheers!