Need help submitting your writing to literary journals or book publishers/literary agents? Click here! →

5 Strategies You Can Use To Get The Most Out Of A Writing Prompt

5 Strategies You Can Use To Get The Most Out Of A Writing Prompt

Finish this sentence: The last time I used a writing prompt was…

Like many writers, you probably haven’t thought about writing prompts since the last time you attended an English class. But writing prompts can be a great way for new writers—and even seasoned writers—to think outside the box, break through writer’s block, or get back into their writing groove after taking a hiatus.

Here Are 5 Ways To Use Writing Prompts To Your Advantage

Finish the prompt…then make a scene!

Complete the sentence or answer the prompt question, and then keep writing! Instead of just writing a phrase or a few lines, carry the idea forward. What’s happening in this scene? And what’s next? Developing a whole story from the original writing prompt will help sharpen your plot-writing skills.

Use one writing prompt to get many different results.

Choose one writing prompt and create a story. Then, challenge your inner muse by using the same writing prompt to inspire an entirely different story! You can also try using it to write a poem or an essay (or multiple poems and essays). This technique of reusing one prompt to write several pieces is particularly useful for writers interested in creating a collection of short stories or poetry featuring the same theme.

Mix and match random words.

This exercise is one of the best for boosting creativity. Imagine grabbing single words out of a large hat and including them all in a single story. You can find lists of random words on websites like this one, or you can make your own list by flipping through a book or magazine. Remember that even though the words are randomly selected, your writing must be cohesive!

Tackle several different prompts at once.

Using a number of writing prompts, one after the other, can help you really flex your writing muscles and even break through writer’s block. Once you’ve gained momentum with one prompt, then two, and so on, you’ll find it easier to generate new writing based on the various prompts. Then you can return to your novel, story, or poem feeling revitalized, motivated, and full of new ideas.

Apply the prompts to your current project.

If you’re feeling stuck and aren’t making any progress with your current project, why not select a writing prompt and apply it to your characters? Whether or not you actually end up using what you’ve written in your finished piece, you’ll get to know your character better.

For more writing prompt ideas, check out our Writing Prompts Pinterest Board and blog posts!

Related Writing Prompt Articles

Writers: What To Do When You Get Stuck

Poetry: Finding Your Inspiration

Photo Prompts: 2014 Academy Awards Best Picture Nominees

Photo by TempusVolat

Writer QuestionsQUESTION: What’s your favorite writing prompt or source for prompts?


Submit to Review Board

2 Responses to 5 Strategies You Can Use To Get The Most Out Of A Writing Prompt

  1. What really helps me is writing down a single idea or sentence about the basic premise of the story and then write WHY, then explain why your character does what you wrote or why something is happening and then write WHY again and over and over. It helps fill out ideas for your plot, it’s incredibly helpful. I’m sure there’s a better description of what I’m doing or a name for this exercise but it is something I did for the first time recently because I had a general idea of what I wanted to write about but struggled with the background information on what happened and why the world works the way it does and why my character thinks the way she does and I didn’t stop writing for hours because each WHY lead me to have to explain or create every detail.

    A good example is, say you wrote the hunger games series. Pretend for a moment that you are the author and have a general idea of what you want to happen in the book but are struggling to paint an accurate picture of what this different world is like and how it got there.

    I would start with “katniss goes to the reaping” and then write WHY, then I briefly write that the government where she lives requires all 12-18 year Olds to be subject to the reaping/games. Then I write WHY again and more details begin to form on why the government came up with the hunger games and what kind of events occurred in the past to end up living in a world where people accept that they must send two children from each district to die as payment for the past. Once you question every why you can, you move to your next simple statement, like “katniss is responsible for hunting for food for her family” and then another round of why and you’ve eventually hashed out the entire story of her home and financial situation and the death of her dad, etc. It’s fun to do, I felt like that annoying kid who always asks adults “why” after every word they say lol

  2. The trick that I have been using is to create a one paragraph writing prompt per day. Each prompt is the first paragraph of a short story or piece of flash fiction. I find that just by doing that one paragraph it frees up my mind to think of the rest of the story that I would write in response to that small fragment of imagination..

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign me up for
FREE Publishing Leads & Tips
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

WHY? Because our insider
know-how has helped
writers get over 18,000+ acceptances.

FREE Publishing Leads and Tips! Our e-publication, Submit Write Now!, delivered weekly to your inbox.
  • BEST (and proven) submission tips
  • Hot publishing leads
  • Calls to submit
  • Contest alerts
  • Notification of industry changes
  • And much more!
Live Chat Software