There are only two types of writing prompts. The good ones, that spark a new idea. And the great ones that take you on a journey and fill you to the brim with creativity.
If you thought, at Worldly Wise I am just going to drop prompts for you to choose from, you haven’t been paying attention to how we do things here. Or maybe you are new. In which case, Welcome! Here, we empower ourselves with the skills to see the stories in our heads to the finish line.
Brace yourself to go on an adventure to produce writing prompts we can place in the great category. Shall we begin?
As Speculative Fiction writers, it is not alien to us to think of “what if” questions. That is usually what sparks the idea and takes us on our writing journey. But what if no “what if” question pops into our head?
Here are 4 ways you can manifest writing prompts out of thin air. Remember, the only skill you need is learning to let your mind roam free.
Take a Spotify playlist, and put it on shuffle and take the first four songs that come up. Now, answer these three questions for me: 1. Who is your main character? That is your first song. 2. What do they want? That is your second song. 3. What is their obstacle? That is your third song. And finally, top it off with a “what if” question that comes to your mind, while listening to the fourth song.
The best thing about producing story ideas this way is that you can hit that shuffle button as many times as you want. What were your first four songs?
What’s on the News Today?
You don’t need a newspaper for this, but if you have one at hand, even better. Flip open a random page or hop over to Google News. Find the news that stands out to you the most.
Now write a story about what if that news were to crossover with your favorite speculative fiction trope?
Not sure what speculative fiction tropes are? Think alien invasion, abandoned cities, ghost stories, steampunk, dystopia, utopia, superhero tales, post-apocalypse, etc.
Search for what speculative fiction trope gets your creative juices flowing and mix it up with the news that stands out to you the most.
People watching is not something new. All you have to do is get out of your home and take a walk. Look at people, and the environment around them, and listen to what they’re saying.
Let’s switch it up a little. Instead of looking at people, why don’t you take a peek at their shadows? Yes, their literal shadows.
Our brain tries to compensate for missing information in a heartbeat. Often when the shadows of two or more objects and/or people overlap, our brain does this amazing thing of giving it a definite shape. Remember how we used to make bird shapes on walls using the shadows of our hands? Just like that.
When you are people watching and their shadows do something interesting, what is the first idea that pops in your head? Maybe that could be the beginning of your great writing prompt?
Redo the Past
We’re all guilty of doing this—regretting that one thing in our past. You know your regrets, maybe your loved ones have shared their regrets too.
How about we write a story where we can do just what we want to happen in our past? I’m not hinting at writing a time travel journey, though that might be cool too.
I’m talking about taking the “I wish I had done x” and doing it in your story. What if you had done x? How different would your life be? Not only does this open a whole box of ideas, but it is also quite cathartic to get that regret off your chest.
Once again, you can top it off with your favorite speculative fiction trope. Maybe the plot twist is indeed the alien invasion you’ve been dying to write!
Here’s the best thing about writing speculative fiction: The sky’s the limit.
Can you honestly say that there is an end to the “what if” questions? I know it isn’t for me. If you look for inspiration it can be found even in the creases of your bedsheet. Just open your eyes to the world of speculation and next time we meet, let’s talk about what entry hooks work best in our genre. Until then!
Tell us in the comments: Which of these writing prompts are you going to use first?
Disha Walia is a lifelong storyteller and an enthusiastic writer and editor in love with the idea of exploring the creative world of words. While making her space in the world of non-fiction and fiction alike, Disha loves to spend even her free time daydreaming about what to write next. Connect with her on www.quillinary.com. You can also follow her on Instagram and Twitter.