Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Found More Writing Prompts

1. Your favorite childhood vacation.

2. The last words of your novel are, “As night became day, he started to understand the truth.” Now, go write the rest.

3. Turn one of the last texts you sent into a story.

4. Add an original scene to the last movie you watched.

5. Two friends have a disagreement.

6. Write about your favorite teacher.

7. Outside the window, you see something you can’t believe.

8. Write about the first time you held someone's hand.

9. Write about the last thing/person that made you smile.

10. Write about a time you were lost.

11. Write about your first job.

12. Write a letter to your 14-year old self.

13. Write about why you write.

14. Five years from now, I will be.

15. Write about your dream vacation.

16. Do you like to be alone or with company?

17. You have $300 and a Prius, describe the 2,800 mile road trip from NYC to LA.

18. Write about your biggest goal.

19. Write about your biggest fear.

20. A conversation you and a stranger have on a plane.

21. A time you or someone you love was scammed.

22. Turn the last song you listened to into a story.

23. Describe the life of your favorite singer.

24. Write about a piece of furniture in the room you’re in.

25. If I knew then what I know now.

26. If you could travel back in time, where would you go?

27. You have a billion dollars in your bank account. How did you make it?

28. You’ve discovered a new planet. Describe what you see.

29. If you could do anything for work, what would you do?

30. You live on an abandoned island, describe your morning routine.

31. You’re in a foreign country and don’t speak the native language.

32. Describe how you think your grandparents met.

33. Write about a time you failed.

34. You wake up today with the superpower of your choosing.

35. You’re a dog, describe your interaction with a human.

36. Write about someone you admire.

37. Go to Twitter or Facebook and write about the first post you see.

38. Write about a time you were uncomfortable.

39. She tried to forget him, but never could.

40. Just as your flight takes off, you discover a shocking note under your seat.

41. None of your friends remember you, describe yourself to them.

42. An island rose from the sea.

43. Out of the ashes, arose a hero.

44. The whales grew feet.

45. I open the last book on earth.

46. You knock louder and louder on the door, but nobody answers.

47. The door you had locked, is wide open.

48. Just as you fall asleep, the phone rings.

49. She had the perfect party planned, only to have it ruined by her ex.

50. She said her final words and left, there’s no turning back now.

51. A blind man falls in love, describe his feelings.

52. You have the power to stop time, what do you do?

53. The sun rose for the final time.

54. You discover that your partner is a robot.

55. You have 10 days to live.

56. How will cars look in 50 years?

57. This needs to be cleaned, the police will be here any minute.

58. For years, he carefully planned out this day.

59. The birds didn’t go south for the winter.

60. It’s June 13th, the snow won’t stop falling.

Write about somebody who likes to work in silence.

Set your story in the lowest rated restaurant in town.

Write about a character with an unreliable memory.

Found Prompts


  1. A cat meowing from a tree branch.
  2. A sink full of dirty dishes.
  3. A splash in the pool behind your house.
  4. A suitcase parked by the door.
  5. The elderly women walking into a dive bar.

Friday, May 13, 2022

One Word Scary Story Prompts


  • Describe a horrifying monster in as much detail as possible.

  • Write a monologue for a character who is afraid of something. 

  • Write a scene in which several characters are accusing each other of something. Focus on the tension and the emotions.

  • Describe a creepy old house. What are the elements that make it creepy?

  • Write a scene in which a character is paranoid about being watched or followed. Maybe they’re walking home in the dark, afraid of an ex-partner, or just overthinking. 

  • Write a character’s reaction to finding a dead body. 

  • Write a scene in which a character receives terrible news.

  • Listen to a horror movie soundtrack or horror ambiance track and write whatever it makes you think of. 

  • Write a series of letters, composed by one of your characters to a member of their family (or a close friend). 

H'Ween / Suspense One Word Story Prompts




 Black Cat



 Candy Apples









Fog Haunted













MB Prompts H'ween/Suspense #7

 Date: Thu, 23 Oct 1997 09:58:11 EDT

Subject:      EXERCISE: Plot #13: Maturation: 20 Master Plots

[with mere hours to go before the midnight parade of the zombies...]

Based on the book "20 Master Plots (And How to Build Them)" by Ronald B.
Tobias.  ISBN 0-89879-595-8.

Master Plot #13: Maturation

[the loss of illusions...]

(p. 160) "The maturation plot--the plot about growing up--is one of
those strongly optimistic plots.  There are lessons to learn, and those
lessons may be difficult, but in the end the character becomes (or will
become) a better person for it."

(p. 161) "The protagonist of the maturation plot is usually a
sympathetic young person whose goals are either confused or not yet
quite formed.  He floats on the sea of life without a rudder.  He often
vacillates, unsure of the proper path to take, the proper decision to
make.  These inabilities are usually the result of a lack of experience
in life--naivete..."

"This coming-of-age story is often called the _Bildungsroman_, which is
German for 'education novel.'  The focus of these stories is the
protagonist's moral and psychological growth.  Start your story where
the protagonist has reached the point in her life at which she can be
tested as an adult.  She may be ready for the test, or she may be forced
into it by circumstances."

Phase the First:  Before

(p. 162)  "...begin with the protagonist as he is before events start to
change his life.  We need to see who this character is, how he thinks
and acts, so we can make a decision about his moral and psychological
state before he undergoes change.  Your character may exhibit a lot of
negative (childlike) traits.  Perhaps he is irresponsible (but
fun-loving), duplicitous, selfish, naive--all the character traits that
are typical of people who haven't accepted the responsibilities of
adulthood or who haven't accepted the moral and social code that the
rest of us abide by (more or less)..."

When suddenly...

(p. 163)  "Which brings us to the test.  The catalytic event. ...
suddenly something comes along and smacks her square in the face...."

death of a parent, divorce, loss of home....

"...The event must be powerful enough to get the attention of the
protagonist and literally shake up her belief systems...."

"You will prove your skills as a writer by making us feel the
apocalyptic force of the event on the child's psyche..."

Phase Two:  I Don't Wanna

The first reaction usually is denial, either literal or figurative.
Don't shortcut this.  There's anger, resistance, etc.--work your
character through them.

(p. 165)  "It may be, in fact, that your protagonist is actually trying
to do the right thing, but doesn't know what the right thing is.  That
means trial and error.  Finding out what works and what doesn't work.
That is the process of growing up, the journey from innocence to

Phase Three: Finally

(p. 165) "Finally your protagonist develops a new system of beliefs and
gets to the point where it can be tested.  In the third dramatic phase,
your protagonist will finally accept (or reject) the change.  Since
we've already noticed that most works of this type end on a positive
note, your protagonist will accept the role of adult in a meaningful
rather than a token way."

Be careful with this plot.  Don't lecture or moralize, let the reader
find the meaning buried in the prosaic...and see the world fresh again.


1.  Is your protagonist on the cusp of adulthood, with goals that are
confused or not yet clear?

2.  Does your story clearly show the readers who the character is and
how s/he feels and thinks before the event occurs that begins the
process of change?

3.  Does your story contrast the protagonist's naive life (childhood) to
the reality of an unprotected life (adulthood)?

4.  Does your story focus on showing the protagonist's moral and
psychological growth?

5.  Does the "precipitating event" clearly challenge the beliefs and
understanding of the world that you have shown?

6.  "Does your character reject or accept change?  Perhaps both?  Does
she resist the lesson?  How does she act?"

7.  Does your story show your protagonist undergoing the process of
change?  Is the change realistically gradual and difficult?

8.  Is your young protagonist convincing?  Does she display adult values
and perceptions before she has developed them?

9.  Does your story try to convert someone to "instant adulthood"?  Or
does it use small lessons and major upheavals to reflect the long
process of growing up?

10.  Does your story accurately show the psychological price that this
lesson demands, and how your protagonist copes with that cost?

That's our technical background lesson from Tobias...

Since we're still in the time of the halloweenies, let's consider
whether growing up (maturation) could be the basis of a horror...aha!

Suppose, just for example, that we have our normal, fun-loving bunch of
teenagers (young people, pick your age group)...hotrodding, dancing on
the beach, headed for the prom...or just hanging out at the mall?

And then comes...the bubbling goo from outer space?  the phone call from
the doctor (and just what was the diagnosis?)  or the maniac from
central New Jersey?...design your precipitating incident, anyway.

Spend a while mixing, brewing, stirring the soxes off the emotional
twists and turns of the kids...

And rock our little worlds with the maturity that the kids step up to.
Did Jose really skip the homecoming dance just to sit with Fernando,
watching the sun rise one last time before...or does Emily decide that
she doesn't care if the baby does have cloven hoofs and those buds on
its skull, it's her baby and it's going to get a college education if
it wants one...what about the wonderful way that Alfred admits to the
police that while he did lure the graduating class into the swamp, he
was simply not aware that the great vampire bat migration was going

In short, it seems to me that facing down a little natural (or
unnatural, take your pick) horror often is the catalyst for maturation.
Take that kid with the cotton candy, add a boll weevil gleefully eating
its way towards his heart, and if he's plucky, bold, and true...you may
end up with an adult who knows that dental hygiene helps avoid cavities.

(and if you think you've seen this plot before a few times--you're
right!  but there are still a few tales for you to wring out of this
one...so start twisting!)

How about...a number from one to six?

1.  "Mature man needs to be needed, and maturity needs guidance as well
as encouragement from what has been produced and must be taken care of."
Erik H. Erikson, Childhood and Society (1950), 7.

2.  "We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood
until we move from the passive voice to the active voice--that is, until
we have stopped saying 'It got lost,' and say 'I lost it.'"  Sydney J.
Harris, On the Contrary (1962), 7.

3.  "The latter part of a wise man's life is taken up in curing the
follies, prejudices, and false opinions he had contracted in the
former."  Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects (1711).

4.  "To live with fear and not be afraid is the final test of maturity."
Edward Weeks, "A Quarter Century: Its Retreats," Look, July 18, 1961.

5.  "The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover
the core of strength in you that survives all hurt." Max Lerner, "Faubus
and Little Rock," The Unfinished Country (1959), 4.

6.  "One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of
fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them."
Virginia Woolf, "Hours in a Library," Times Literary Supplement, "Nov.
30, 1916.

[Quotes taken from The International Thesaurus of Quotations, by Rhoda
Thomas Tripp, ISBN 0-06-091382-7]

How about making a list of five different qualities which you admire
(honesty?  okay...)  Then consider how someone who has not yet achieved
that level of maturity may act.  Focus down to the one that your
character is going to be tested on (or challenged)...

Then pick the catalytic event.  If you like, here's a list (pick your

1.  Death (of a friend, a relative, etc.)
2.  Illness
3.  Pregnancy
4.  Reaction by others to revealed "secret" (you did what?)
5.  Being "invited" to join in a crime
6.  Having a parent (or other influential adult) leave

Refine that general event.  Lay out the reactions to it.  (and if you
want, mix in the horror...up the ante on that catalyst!  I think
almost every item on the list has been used as the basis for
horror--just push them a bit beyond the everyday, and you find fear
and loathing grinning through the muck...)

Then lay out the story.  Introduce us to the young person(s).  Have
their life interrupted by...change.  Show us the actions and reactions,
the attempts to escape, to hide, to avoid...and then show us the growth
into maturity, into someone who acts with knowledge of the price of
their actions...

(wow!  what a tale you've got to tell!


MB Prompts H'ween/Suspense #6

Date:         Sun, 5 Oct 1997 12:45:17 EDT

Subject:      EXERCISE: Fear and Trembling...

Well, well, well...we are in the midst of our halloweenies contest, and
you still don't have an idea?  (you could always do a piece about a
writer facing a deadline without an idea, and the agonies of that
position, but perhaps that is a bit too recursive for you?  a bit too
far into the hall of mirrors, reflecting each other each other each

Let's try an experiment.  First, pick a number from one to six.

1.  Fear is sharp-sighted, and can see things under ground, and much
more in the skies.  Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605-15), 1.3.6, tr. Peter
Motteux and John Ozell.

2.  Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources
of cruelty.  Bertrand Russell, "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish,"
Unpopular Essays (1950).

3.  Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act
humanely or to think sanely under the influence of great fear.  Bertrand
Russell, "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish," Unpopular Essays (1950).

4. Present fears / Are less than horrible imaginings.  Shakespeare,
Macbeth (1605-06), 1.3.137.

5.  Horror causes men to clench their fists, and in horror men join
together. Saint-Exupery, Wind, Sand, and Stars (1939), 9.3, tr. Lewis

6.  Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable.
But there it sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops.  H. L.
Mencken, Minority Report (1956), 364.

So there you have a little bit of a quote about fear...and maybe you
could pick again?  One to twelve this time...some of the flavors of
horror and fear, as given by the Microsoft Bookshelf thesaurus:

1. fear, healthy fear, dread, awe, respect
2. abject fear, cowardice
3. fright, stage fright
4. wind up, funk, blue funk
5. terror, mortal terror, panic terror
6. state of terror, intimidation, trepidation, alarm, false alarm
7. shock, flutter, flap, tailspin, agitation
8. fit, fit of terror, scare, stampede, panic, panic attack, spasm
9. flight, sauve qui peut
10. the creeps, horror, horripilation, hair on end, cold sweat, blood
turning to water
11. consternation, dismay, hopelessness
12. defense mechanism, fight or flight, repression, escapism, avoidance

[The Original Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases
(Americanized Version) is licensed from Longman Group UK Limited.
Copyright c 1994 by Longman Group UK Limited. All rights reserved.]

You probably got several words there.  Pick one of them, and think about
that particular shiver in the back of the neck, that specific clench in
the abdomen, that lovely pasty shade of fear...make yourself remember
when you felt that horrified.  What exactly had happened?  What did your
mouth feel like?  How about the back of your hand?  Your toes?

[horripilation, incidentally, is "bristling of ... body hair, as from
fear or cold; goose bumps" from The American Heritage Dictionary of the
English Language, Third Edition copyright c 1992 by Houghton Mifflin
Company. Electronic version licensed from INSO Corporation. All rights

Now, imagine that your quote was on a little brass plate (or maybe
nicely framed, waiting to catch your eye?  how about embodied somehow in
another character?  perhaps simply floating in the shared knowledge and
understanding of our reality, waiting to be reinvented?)  So there you
are, facing your horror (or running from it?) and the words, or at least
the sense (or nonsense?), of your quote slaps you hard in the cowardice
and stiffens your spine...

(pssst?  Make a list of five ways that your quote and your fears go
together--and conflict...)

Now, put it all together.  Imagine a character out there, with fear.
What kind of activity are they engaged in?  How many other people are
helping or hindering them (don't forget your antagonist!)  Put them into
that scene, and make us believe it, make us live it.

Then how does the horror creep in?  Or does it leap from a shadowed
alley, drop out of the blue blue sky, or merely slink along on soundless
paws, silently pursuing the victim with flickers on the edge of sight?

As the horror grows in power, how does the character struggle?  Do we
try to tell people, only to find that they don't believe that the kindly
old parish priest doesn't seem to have a shadow?  Do we look around in
fright, then start to run, and run, and run...?

(maybe two or three scenes here, with the protagonist investing more and
more in fighting the horror, and the horror growing stronger, more

Finally, with the life, liberty, honor, and sanity of the protagonist at
stake (or at least whatever stakes you want to put up...not in, just
ante up)--does the protagonist face their fear?  Or does the horror
remove its face, revealing a truly gruesome gaping hole?  What is the
climax, the point toward which your horror story builds?

[you put the right foot in, you shake it all around, then drop it in the
pot... you put the left foot in, and stir up the piranha, then let them
strip it to the bone... that's how you do the horror stew?]

MB Prompts H'ween/Suspense#5

 Date: Fri, 26 Sep 1997 09:43:11 EDT

Subject:      EXERCISE: Plot #12: Transformation: 20 Master Plots

Based on the book "20 Master Plots (And How to Build Them)" by Ronald B.
Tobias.  ISBN 0-89879-595-8.

Master Plot #12: Transformation

(p. 153) "The plot of transformation deals with the process of change in
the protagonist as she journeys through one of the many stages of life.
The plot isolates a portion of the protagonist's life that represents
the period of change, moving from one significant character state to

Some "standard" points of change: becoming adult; war and combat; search
for identity; divorce and other family shifts; facing violence; deaths;
and learning something new (remember Pygmalion?).

But the large-scale change is only one kind.  Consider small events that
may build and shake lives...

    Phase one - an incident that starts a change in the protagonist's
life.  Be sure the reader knows who the protagonist is before the
    Now let the ripples of the incident begin to stretch out..."There
are lessons to be learned, judgments to be made, insights to be seen."
    Phase two - show us the full effects of the transforming incident.
What hidden parts of the main character are stirred up in the wake of
the storm?
    Phase three - show us (often via another incident) the results of
the transformation.  What does the protagonist (and the reader) learn?
"It's common for a protagonist to learn lessons other than what he
expected to learn.  The real lessons are often the hidden or unexpected
ones.  Expectations are baffled; illusions are destroyed.  Reality
overtakes fantasy."

    1.  Does your plot of transformation deal with the process of change
as the protagonist journeys through one of the many stages of life?
    2.  Does the plot isolate a portion of the protagonist's life that
represents the period of change, moving from one significant character
state to another?
    3.  Does the story concentrate on the nature of change and how it
affects the protagonist from start to end of the experience?
    4.  Does the first dramatic phase relate the transforming incident
that propels the protagonist into a crisis, starting the process of
    5.  Does the second dramatic phase depict the effects of the
transformation?  Does it concentrate on the self-examination and
character of the protagonist?
    6.  Does the third dramatic phase contain a clarifying incident
representing the final stage of the transformation?  Does the character
understand the true nature of the experience and how it has affected
him?  Does true growth and understanding occur?
    7.  What is the price of the wisdom gained?  a certain sadness?

Thus spake Tobias (along with some paraphrasing).

Transformation, change...what could be more appropriate for our little
Halloweenies contest?  (Don't know what I'm talking about?  Take a look
at http://web.mit.edu/mbarker/www/hall97/hall.html !)

Let's pick a number!  From one to six, or thereabouts?

1.  amphisbaena -- serpent having a head at each end (Greece)
2.  dybbuk -- dead person's evil spirit that invades a living person
(Jewish folklore)
3.  ghoul -- evil being that feeds on corpses
4.  lamia -- monster with the head and breast of a woman and body of a
serpent that lured children to suck their blood
5.  phoenix -- immortal bird that cremates itself every 500 years, then
emerges reborn from the ashes (Greece)
6.  windigo -- evil spirit, cannibal demon (Native American folklore)

[taken from the section on Mythological and Folkloric Beings in Random
House Word Menu, ISBN 0-679-40030-3]

Now, back up and consider your character(s).  How old are they?  What
change or shift in their life are they facing?  For example, someone who
is just starting high school has a little different viewpoint from
someone who is about to graduate from college and face the world of
work, or from the young couple about to have their first baby, or the
slightly older parent thinking about their child leaving home, or...
And don't forget, if you don't want to go with the big shifts, a little
dabble do you!  So think about the change they were facing...

Then mix in that delightful creature you picked up in the first part.
Offhand, I'd recommend making a couple of lists.  First, a list of
points about the change--what's good, what's bad, what are we going to
learn from it?  Second, a list of points about the monster in our
midst--what's good, what's bad, what are we going to do about it?  Now,
look at the linkages between the lists.  Can defeating the monster be
turned into a sort of metaphor for the change we are dealing with?  What
if we don't defeat the monster, but learn from it something about
ourselves?  Could defeating the monster be an "anti-metaphor,"
contrasted to the change which we cannot defeat?

What if we are transformed into the monster?  Or what if there is no
monster, just poor sad humanity, hiding behind the cloak of the monster?

Let's see.  How about something borrowed, and perhaps blue?  Pick a
number, one to six, and let's see what you got:

1.  a yellow highlighter
2.  a red papiermache pepper
3.  a 5 pound bag of sugar
4.  a spoonful of hot fudge
5.  a two year old comic book from a dentist's waiting room
6.  a clipboard

There you go.  Now you have a prop, a little bit of physical setting
which you are going to cleverly weave into the story.  And don't forget,
if you mention hot fudge in the first scene, someone should have a
sundae before we get done...

Put it all together, it spells...

Well, that's up to you!


Found More Writing Prompts

1. Your favorite childhood vacation. 2. The last words of your novel are, “As night became day, he started to understand the truth.” Now, go...