Novel Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts for Fiction

For links to other sites with more writing prompts, click here.

Use the writing prompts below to help you find your story, or unstick your story, or just for a fun 10 minutes of writing time to warm up your creative muscles before you tackle your current project. For convenience sake, my characters in these writing prompts are named Helen and Henry. Please feel free to change the names or gender as you wish.

Opening Sentences

  1. “Another museum!”
  2. I hoped she wouldn’t ask me, but she did anyway.
  3. The dragons were restless tonight.
  4. Wind rattled the windows.
  5. A walk in the park seemed like a good idea until we found Henry’s body.
  6. I loved a mystery as much as the next person, but when it applied to what had just been put on my dinner plate, I lost interest pretty quickly.
  7. Helen was late. Helen was never late.
  8. Flashing red lights on the control panel were never a good sign.
  9. We kept to the edge of the forest until dawn.
  10. Henry said the one word I didn’t want to hear–coyote.
  11. If you’ve ever raised a puppy, you know what I mean. If not, let me spell it out for you.
  12. The window was supposed to be locked.
  13. Helen was in no condition to dial 911, so I did.
  14. Henry put the package on the desk.
  15. Gunfire doesn’t sound like it does in the movies.
  16. As we approached the planet, I read my instructions once more, then destroyed them.
  17. Everyone remembers the one that got away. And I’m not talking about fish.
  18. The cliff loomed above our heads.
  19. I remembered that corner of the room. I cried there when Henry died.
  20. “Can’t you go any faster?”

Random Words

Sometimes just throwing some words together can trigger an image that turns into a story. See if you can create a scene using one, some, or all of the words in the lists below.

  1. Magazine, headline, past, fear, red, hand, away
  2. Clear, blue, grip, path, branch, breath, silver, left
  3. Door, hollow, old, splinter, green, shadow, movement
  4. Laugh, bright, sunlight, lake, wind, boat, shudder
  5. Rain, street light, bridge, point, scudder, yellow
  6. Rope, lamp, crutches, glass, flame, white
  7. Wind, shatter, drench, glow, frame, snow
  8. Light, yellow, gate, slide, run, stream
  9. River, race, weeds, storm, yell, black


See if any of these titles inspires a story: Royal Command, Keeper of the Keys, Borrowed, No Exchanges or Returns, The Blue Diamond, Star Light—Star Fright, Puck’s Wall, The Last, Country Club Mystery, Murder at the Mall, Once Upon a Crime, Half-Past Love, Bill Wanderer, Best Forgotten, Not the Best Man


What scene can you imagine taking place around one of these groups of lines of dialogue.

The weather is awful.
That’s not all that’s awful.
What do you mean?
Harry’s back.

How can you believe him, Helen?
It’s not easy, but–
But what?
For now, I have no choice.

When do you think he’ll be ready?
Who knows? There’s no rushing Henry.
But every delay is costing us more money.
Not Henry’s.

We made an agreement.
So, you’re supposed to keep your part of the bargain.
That was before the snakes.

We can’t stop now.
Then go on without me.
I will.

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