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Home » Blog » 132 Best Poetry Prompts and Ideas to Spark Creativity
132 Best Poetry Prompts and Ideas to Spark Creativity
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Many great minds considered poetry to be the superior form of art. It transcends mortality and the transience of human life and becomes an eternal monument of people’s existence and creativity. Poetry that was written hundreds of years ago can still mesmerize, astonish, inspire, move, horrify, and elevate us.
There is an unlimited number of themes that can be used to produce great poetry. Inspiration can find its way in a myriad of ways, so this is a chance for you to get your creative juices flowing. Poetry prompts can be of great help when you are trying to find your poetic voice, or trying to step outside your comfort zone. We hope that these ten sets of themes will bring the best of your writing skills.
Ideas for poems about different types of emotions
It is no wonder that the first set is dedicated to emotions. Poetry is almost synonymous with people’s emotional footprint. These 10 prompts cover a wide range of human emotions, so dive in deep!
- Write a poem about a moment when you felt overwhelmingly joyful. Try to convey this emotion by depicting the setting, the time, and what prompted this strong feeling of happiness and joy. Was it a personal success? Perhaps a wish you’ve had for years finally came true. Whatever it was, draw from your own life experience.
- Sadness is a complex emotion that all of us have felt. Sadness often gives birth to the most poetical literary pieces because many people have experienced grief, or unhappiness at a certain point in their life. Write about the cause for your sadness. Perhaps you experienced a loss of a loved one, perhaps it was a professional failure. Oftentimes, people feel sad when they had their trust betrayed by a person they considered a friend.
- When was the last time you felt truly angry? Think of a moment when you suffered injustice at your workplace, or you were deceived by a person you love and trust. Writing a poem about anger can be a powerful poetic expression and a way to deal with your anger.
- Write a poem about a time when you felt scared. It can be told from a perspective of a frightened child, or, perhaps, an adult afraid for his/her life. Sometimes fear is connected to certain expectations and uncertainties about the future.
- Imagine that you feel very proud. What prompted this feeling of pride? Being proud is usually the result of an accomplishment on a personal or a private level.
- Write a poem about a time in your life when you felt brave and powerful. Describe the circumstances that led to this outburst of bravery in a personal, or professional setting. Let the reader feel the confidence and resolution in your actions through the power of verse.
- Alienation is a feeling that can be soul-crushing. All people experience some moments in life when they feel as if they don’t quite fit in, or are overlooked. The feeling of alienation is often linked to the feeling of low self-worth. Write about how you managed to overcome this feeling and who, or what helped you in the process. Many people will recognize themselves in a poem about personal alienation.
- Another poetry prompt about an emotion is writing about anxiety. In these modern times filled with busy schedules, it is more than expected that people would feel anxious. Take a deep look within and try to discover the source of anxiety in your own life. Sometimes it is the workplace, sometimes it’s your love life, but sometimes people have existential crises that lead to anxiety due to life’s uncertainty and complexity.
- Pessimism is a theme widely explored in poetry. People often feels pessimistic due to a variety of problems in their lives. Writing a poem about pessimism may inspire people to try and find another way to look at the world by seeing things in a new perspective.
- On the opposite side of the specter is optimism. A poem about being optimistic often falls in the category of carpe-diem poems, or poems about seizing the day and making the best of every opportunity that presents itself in our lives. Write poetry about a bright time in your life when you felt that every new day offered a new chance to become better, happier, and more successful.
Ideas for poems about love
For many people love represents the meaning of life. With its so many forms, love is an eternal spring for inspiration all over the world and across generations.
- A mother holding her baby for the first time is one of the most intense human experiences. Try to capture the deepest connection between two human beings that happens instantly. Find a new way to depict the unconditional love that is born with the birth of the baby.
- Write a poem about love between siblings. Siblings, especially when they are younger, sometimes have strange ways of showing their love for one another. Write about the big and small gestures that describe the loving connection between brothers and sisters.
- Do you believe in love at first sight? Describe the setting, the time, and the situation in which two strangers meet and instantly develop strong feelings of affection. You can write it in a form of a dialogue, or use love letters. You can also give their personal perspectives in different stanzas.
- The theme is “a marriage proposal.” Imagine that this poem is written by a person who is planning to propose to their partner. List all the reasons why you think that these two lovers are perfect for each other.
- Love stories are never absolutely perfect. Write about a fight between two spouses. Describe the circumstances and the reasons for experiencing anger towards the person you love. Present both sides of the argument. Try to find an elegant solution to the fight and end the poem with a reconciliation.
- Not every fight ends in making peace. Unfortunately, some love stories end in divorce. Write about the complex feelings that the two ex-lovers experience in the process.
- Unrequited love can be horrible and depressing. The world’s greatest literature includes poem about unrequited love. Try to draw from either personal experience, or from people who are close to you. How did you try to win the other person over? What was the major obstacle? Were you disillusioned about love afterwards?
- Write a poem about the one who got away. Start by describing the first date, the first kiss, the first fight, and the last fight before the end of the romance. Write about the expectations you both had from the relationships, the red flags, the disappointment, and the lost love.
- Write a poem about the love between your grandparents. How did they show their affection for one another? Which small love gestures did you enjoy witnessing as a child? What did you learn from seeing how much they still care for each other? Try to portray the respect and devotion of a long-lasting relationship.
- Talk about love in general. Write about the reasons why it is a vital part of human’s experience. Meditate upon your own experiences regarding different kinds of love. Write about the ways in which love makes us better people. Find different ways to depict the manner in which love enriches our souls.
Ideas for poems about life in general
Life is mysteriously beautiful, complex, difficult, and painful. You can show your appreciation for it, by writing on at least one of the following ten prompts.
- Growing old is an important part of the life cycle. Some people fear the inevitable end so much that they don’t live their life to the fullest. Others are older and wiser, so they happily pass their knowledge and wisdom to the future generations. Write about your own experience, or how the old age of family members has affected your own life.
- Write a poem about a specific accomplishment in your life and how it has improved you as a person.
- The main theme of the poem is “the life cycle.” Everything which is born eventually dies, and the cycle starts again.
- Write a poem about the experience of a couple who is expecting a baby. Write about the overwhelming emotions, love, affection, and care that the future parents feel.
- There are many obstacles in life, and facing them is an important aspect in a person’s life. Write a poem about the potential hardships in life and how they affect people’s lives.
- Write a poem from a child’s point of view. Remember how you used to perceive the world and how you tried to explain things to yourself using child’s logic. The poem will depict the sweetly naïve child’s perceptions of the world.
- Write a poem about hope. Life is hard and complex as it is, so hope is often our driving force. Think of a time when you were hopeful.
- Write a poem about a usual, boring day. Find poetry in the monotony of life.
- Write a poem about travelling to a foreign country. Capture the essence of changing scenery, and dwell on the way travelling makes us more open-minded.
- Think of a time when you were badly hurt. Write a poem about how you dealt with the pain.
Ideas for poems about death
People from every culture and generation in the world have been obsessed with understanding death and what comes after it. It brings, sadness, nostalgia, wisdom. These ten prompts can stir your imagination and inspire philosophical thought about the most mysterious concept in the world.
- Write a poem about the fondest memory you have of a person who had passed away. Why is this memory so special? How did you feel when this person died?
- Death is often personified. Write a poem addressing Death as a person. What is it that you would like to tell him? What would you want to ask him?
- Imagine that you are Death and you hate your vocation. How do you justify your actions? You can use a lighter tone for the poem.
- Write a poem about a person who had a near-death experience. What happened to them? How did they survive? Did they change for the better after it?
- Write a poem about a real or an imaginary genocide.
- Write a poem about a person trying to deceive Death and reach immortality.
- Write a poem about the death of a pet. What did you do to help you deal with the loss?
- Imagine that you have only a day to live. What would you do?
- Write a poem about the first time you understood the concept of death.
- How do you want to be remembered after you die? Write a poem about how your death is going to affect your loved ones.
Ideas for poems about philosophy
People are gifted with intelligence, wisdom, and the power to think in abstract ways. People’s quest to understand the meaning of life and the world surrounding us is a fantastic basis for writing poetry.
- Write a poem about what you perceive to be the meaning of life.
- Friendship is a type of human connection that makes people happier and healthier in every possible way. Write a poem about your best friend, or somebody you’ve lost.
- The thirst for knowledge is a concept that defines us as a human race. Write a poem about the eternal quest for knowledge.
- Imagination is a distinctly human quality. Write a poem about the role imagination plays in creating art.
- Write a poem inspired by the Machiavellian quote that the goal justifies the means.
- Write a poem about people’s ancient desire to explain the natural phenomena by inventing elaborate mythological stories.
- Write a poem about the good and the bad aspects of humility.
- Patience teaches us a valuable lesson about controlling our desires. Write a poem about a time when you had to be patient when you wanted something.
- Write a poem about the benefits from daily meditation.
- Write a poem about perfection. Think of the combination of aesthetics and ethics and how perfection can be achieved.
Ideas for poems about everyday things
Sometimes the most poetic compositions are created out of the simplicity of life. These ten prompts can help you find poetry in the smallest of things around you.
- Write a poem about your everyday little rituals.
- Write a poem about raindrops slowly falling down the window glass while you’re thinking about your life in general.
- Write a poem about a relaxing walk in the park. Use natural imagery, but also try to depict the noises you hear: rustling, splashing, chirping, etc.
- Write a short poem about the simple pleasure one gets from eating a juicy piece of fruit.
- Pets are an important part in our lives. Write a poem about the joyfulness from playing with your pet.
- Everybody makes mistakes, so write a poem about apologizing to somebody for something you’ve done.
- Write a poem about a sunny morning when you went out and bought some flowers from a flower shop.
- Eating a dessert might be the most relaxing and enjoyable part of dinner. Write a short poem about eating a delicious dessert.
- Write a poem about a time when you didn’t have electricity due to a heavy storm, so you had to read a book using a candlelight.
- Think of an activity that relaxes you before falling asleep and write a poem about it. Perhaps the activity can be listening to Mozart!
Ideas for poems about time
Time, even for scientists, is one of the most interesting concepts. Its abstractness has served as an inspiration for many philosophical and literary works. The following prompts can guide you into writing poetry about different complexities of the notion of time.
- Write a poem about a childhood memory that still brings you joy when you think about it.
- Write a poem about the modern age we live it. What is positive and what is negative about living today
- Think of a lost opportunity because the timing wasn’t right. Write a poem about the importance of using every opportunity, which is difficult because people often find excuses for their failures.
- Write about a person who has wasted his/her youth. This person feels immensely remorseful.
- Waking up after having spent a few months in a coma can make people reevaluate their life choices and decisions.
- Write a poem about a time in the past when you experienced an epiphany – a sudden realization of great truth.
- Write about the development of the human life, starting from the time a person is a toddler.
- Describe the sunset and use it as a metaphor for the end of a person’s life.
- Describe the sunrise and link it metaphorically to the concept of birth.
- Write a poem about an antique clock.
Ideas for poems about different forms of art
Poetry has always been regarded as one of the most sophisticated aspects of human existence. As a form of art, it is inevitably connected to other forms of art. These ten prompts can inspire pieces that combine different artforms.
- Write a poem about the feelings that overcome you while listening to your favorite music.
- Write a poem about a Shakespearean play.
- Write a poem about a mysterious painter.
- Write a poem from the perspective of a ballet shoes.
- Describe the images and stories painted on a Grecian urn.
- Imagine that you are a famous painter looking at a freshly finished piece. Write a poem about the painter’s perceptions of a painting.
- Write a poem about a day spent in a museum.
- Write a poem about a film character that you admire.
- Write a poem that will instruct actors on the manner that they should act, which is similar to prince Hamlet’s speech to the players.
- Write a modernized version of a famous speech taken from a Renaissance play.
Ideas for poems about historical events
Historia est magistra vitae. Indeed, history teaches us about life. Numerous works have been written celebrating historical events, so this is your chance to use verses to do the same.
- Imagine that you lived in the period of Alexander the Great. Write a poem about him.
- Write a poem about the hardships in World War I.
- Write a poem about life in the industrial revolution in England.
- Write a poem about Martin Luther King.
- Imagine that you are an archaeologist who makes a startling discovery in Egypt.
- Imagine you saw the apple falling on Sir Isaac Newton’s head.
- Write a poem about Queen Elizabeth I. She was an exceptional monarch that deserves literary praise.
- Write a poem about the trial of Galileo Galilei.
- You are Alexander Bell, the person who invented the telephone. How is the world different because of you?
- Write a poem about Archimedes and his “eureka” moment.
Ideas for poems about religion and spirituality
If something truly separates us humans from the other forms of life on this planet, it is spirituality. The belief in a higher power is a distinctively human quality. Delve deeper into your own beliefs and spirituality and put your religious experience into words.
- How can you restore the faith in God in somebody who seems to have lost it? How can you help this person find his way again?
- Imagine that you are one of the three Magi following a star to Bethlehem.
- Write a poem about a moment you felt that you are one with nature.
- Describe your feelings after meditation. Write about the setting, your surroundings, and the feelings that come rushing in.
- Write a poem about the afterlife. It doesn’t have to your own perception. It can be inspired by major religions.
- Think of a religious temple you’ve visited. How did it make you feel? Where was it? Is it real, or imaginary?
- Everybody has experienced personal hardships. Write a poem about a difficult period in your life and about your prayers to overcome it.
- The death of a close family member, or a spouse can be the most traumatic experience in a person’s life. Write about your relationship to God after you lost somebody you loved. Did it change?
- Write a poem about temptation. Did you give in to the temptation? How did you feel after that?
- Imagine that you are God for only a day. What would you do with your power?
Ideas for poems about family life
The family life is in the core of a healthy society. Family ties can bring you joy, sadness, love, pride, etc. Use the following prompts to express your understanding of family life.
- Write a poem about a child who gets a puppy as a Christmas present.
- Describe a family trip to the ZOO. The tone can be lighter, and it can be told from the children’s point of view.
- Write a poem about a family summer vacation. Draw inspiration from from jumping into the water, sunbathing, building sand castles, exploring cities’ architecture and culture. A summer vacation brings the best in every family, so you could go back to your own childhood in order to depict a realistic representation of the feeling.
- You are celebrating Christmas with your extended family. Write a poem about the conversation around the dinner table.
- Imagine that you are a mother, or a father expecting a child. You have created a new heartbeat in the world. Try to depict the wonders that surround procreation.
- You are planning a surprise birthday party for you father and you’ve invited all of his close friends into his home.
- Write a poem celebrating your parent’s 40-year anniversary. Tell them why this is a special event for you, how much they’ve touched your life, and how much affection you have for them.
- Imagine that you are stuck with your sibling in an elevator for two hours. What are you going to talk about?
- Write a poem about leaving the home you were born in and moving to anew place. Try to portray the strong feelings of nostalgia and the memories that arise from packing your life in card boxes.
- Write a poem about an ill family member. Use your verses to make them feel better and to bring hope that everything will turn out alright in the end.
Ideas for poems about nature and travelling
Nature is a powerful and mesmerizing force that sustains us. We are a part of nature, and nature is within all of us. These ten prompts can serve as an inspiration for you to create an homage to this planet.
- Write a poem about the beginning of spring and the new cycle of life. Use natural imagery, colors, and active verbs that would signify the awakening of nature.
- Think of a city that you haven’t visited yet, but you really want to. Why is it so? Is it because it is exotic? Is it because of its architecture? Perhaps, you are more interested in the people and their culture.
- Write a poem about a natural phenomenon. Are you astonished by it? Is it devastating for people? Focus on the power of nature.
- Imagine that you are a raindrop and describe your journey.
- Many poems have been written about the Sun and the Moon. Try to find a different angle when writing about them.
- Write a poem about meeting an interesting/mysterious/funny person on a train in a foreign country. How did you start the conversation? How long did you talk? Did you explore the city together?
- Imagine that you are on top of Mount Everest. How do you feel? Who are you with? How can you inspire other mountaineers to conquer the highest mountain peak?
- The ocean, unlike the earth, can’t be conquered by humans. The ocean is too powerful and people are it his mercy during every voyage, regardless of the length. Write a poem about the respect people should have for this large body of water.
- Write a poem about the change of seasons and the passing of time.
- Imagine that you’ve been granted to power to fly for a month. Where would you go? Why? How do you think your life and perceptions will change after that month?
Ideas for poems with supernatural elements
Human’s imagination is limitless and astonishing. Centuries ago people would come together to tell stories, often incorporating supernatural elements in their accounts. By doing so, they were able to cause catharsis. Mythologies were created because people couldn’t explain natural phenomena. The fight between personifications of good and evil have been of great interest for millions of literature lovers. Here are 12 prompts to help you get started.
- Imagine that you are moving into what others believe to be a haunted house.
- How far would you go to save a loved one? Would you make a deal with the devil?
- You are sage who gives advice to people you believe have kind hearts.
- You are a dragon defending your family from human invaders.
- Write a poem about a princess locked in a high tower and who isn’t allowed to look at the real world outside her windows.
- You find a magic ring in your grandmother’s old casket. You can heal whomever you want on the expense of another human being.
- A man who presumably has died at sea returns on Halloween to his old house to visit his grieving mother.
- You have the ability to communicate with trees and gain wisdom.
- Write a poem from the point of view of a werewolf.
- Write a poem about the three Fates who decide on the fate of a baby.
- Imagine that world is slowly disappearing and nobody could explain how. Offer a solution to the problem.
- You have the ability to foretell the future. You see a great tragedy on a large scale that is to happen in a month. What do you do to stop it? Can you really alter the future with your actions?
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Creative Writing MFA
Aminah Abutayeh, MFA Poetry 2017
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a low-residency program in which students work closely with published authors who serve as their mentors and teachers. During the two 10-day residencies held each year, students participate in workshops; they meet with their mentors, visiting writers, and fellow students; and they attend a variety of other literary events. During the rest of the school year, each student works one-on-one with his or her mentor, and also participates in workshops online.
The MFA degree is offered in five disciplines: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Writing for Children and Young Adults, and Literary Translation. Students are accepted into the discipline in which they expect to study and graduate. We offer a 60-credit single concentration MFA degree as well as an 88-credit dual concentration MFA degree. Alumni (who have graduated from FDU with their MFA in Creative Writing degree) may return for a certificate in a secondary genre if they choose.
The program is arranged into modules, or classes (which are remote), and residencies (which are in person either in New Jersey or England). Students take two 8-week classes (modules) every fall and spring semester. Over the course of the MFA, students will attend at least 3 ten day residencies. New students must begin the program with a residency and take two modules in their first semester. After that, the program is highly flexible. Students have up to 5 years to complete the degree.
The 60-credit single genre MFA degree requires students to complete 8 eight-week modules and 3 ten-day residencies. The 88-credit dual genre MFA degree requires students to complete 12 eight-week modules and 4 ten-day residencies.
Academic work is completed during the writing modules and the residencies. Four writing modules, each 8 weeks long, are offered each academic year, two in the spring and two in the fall. Each module is directed by a faculty mentor. In addition to producing their own original creative and critical work, students are expected to actively participate in online writing workshops during each module. Students are expected to devote approximately 25 hours a week to their writing and other academic work for the program.
Student work is evaluated on a pass-fail system.
In both the single genre and dual genre degrees, students must complete six course modules in their primary genre (including the Thesis module), one module in Craft as the fifth in their program, and one module in an elective in which students work in a genre other than their main concentration. Students taking a dual genre go on to take 4 more modules in their secondary genre, along with one additional residency. See example curricula below.
Two module periods are offered during the semester after each residency, and they run consecutively. Students may only enroll in one module at a time.
Course modules require a measure of independence on the student’s part and a disciplined writing schedule. In each module, the student will create and revise work under the guidance of a faculty member. By the end of the module, the student will have completed the amount of work specified and agreed upon in a contract with the mentor. Generally, work in any module consists of 1) creative work submitted at three points each module; 2) active, thoughtful, constructive contributions to the online workshop; and 3) two Close Readings/Reviews of relevant texts. Mentors respond to creative work within a week of submission. Other work may be required according to the wishes of the mentor. At the end of the module, the mentor will prepare a final assessment, which evaluates the student’s work and progress.
The final module in Fiction Writing is the Thesis Module that emphasizes compiling and polishing material to be submitted for the MFA thesis—a collection of stories, a novella, or part of a novel. Students concentrating in other genres may elect to enroll in Fiction Writing for their one elective module.
As scheduled by the mentor, students must write two short stories or one story and a substantial revision, or equivalent novel chapters during each module.
The final module in Poetry Writing is the Thesis Module that emphasizes compiling and polishing material to be submitted for the MFA thesis—a collection of poems. Students concentrating in other genres may elect to enroll in Poetry Writing for their one elective module.
The final module in Creative Nonfiction Writing is the Thesis Module that emphasizes compiling and polishing material to be submitted for the MFA thesis—a collection of essays or part of a full-length memoir. Students concentrating in other genres may elect to enroll in Creative Nonfiction for their one elective module.
Writing for Young Adults
The final module in Writing for Young Adults is the Thesis Module that emphasizes compiling and polishing material to be submitted for the MFA thesis—a collection of stories or part of a full-length novella or novel. Students concentrating in other genres may elect to enroll in Writing for Young Adults for their one elective module.
The final module in Literary Translation is the Thesis Module that emphasizes compiling and polishing material to be submitted for the MFA thesis—a collection of translations (stories or poems or essays), or part of a full-length translation (a novella, novel, or memoir). Students concentrating in other genres may elect to enroll in Literary Translation for their one elective module.
Students must complete the module in Craft for their genre of concentration during the fifth module of their work in the MFA program.
Working closely with a mentor, the student will research and write an essay devoted to Craft. The Essay on Craft must include: 1) a clear presentation of a central idea (or a sufficient articulation of a specific domain of exploration), fluent and correct syntax, and a coherent organization; 2) logical thinking grounded in close readings of the texts, and 3) textual substantiation for the ideas put forth. The Essay on Craft should be (approximately) between 3,500 and 5,000 words. The mentor must approve the topic and approach, but the Essay on Craft may be an academic essay, a personal reflection on texts, a profile of an author that includes close readings, or it may take another form, so long as it meets the above requirements and the mentor approves. Although the Craft module does not contain our traditional peer-oriented workshops, there will be opportunities for students to share drafts and discuss ideas at the residency and online.
All students complete one elective module in a genre other than their main genre. Students can choose the genre. For students in the dual genre program, this elective would be in their secondary genre. Literary Translation students are required to take two electives, one in poetry and one in prose.
The thesis should reflect a culmination of all the work the student has completed during the program, and as such, it should represent the student’s best possible writing. The thesis may be comprised of poems, short stories, essays, a novella, the beginning portion of a novel, or the beginning portion of a memoir. The length should be approximately 25,000 words for prose. For poetry, the thesis should include approximately 375 lines. The thesis must be in the student’s declared genre. During the Thesis module, the thesis is written and revised by working closely with a mentor. Each thesis will undergo a formal evaluation and critique by the thesis mentor and second reader.
A basic curriculum for fiction.
- SUMMER RESIDENCY – MADISON
- FICTION WORKSHOP
- WINTER RESIDENCY – WROXTON
- POETRY WORKSHOP (ELECTIVE)
- SUMMER GRADUATION CEREMONY
An Enhanced Curriculum for Fiction
- TEACHING COMPOSITION
- TEACHING COMPOSITION – PRACTICUM
- INTRODUCTION TO LITERARY PUBLISHING
Course Codes with Description and Schedule
- CRWR 7504 Poetry
- CRWR 7500 Fiction
- CRWR 7502 Nonfiction
- CRWR 7511 Translation
- CRWR 7509 Young Adult
- CRWR 7516 Thesis Poetry
- CRWR 7514 Thesis Fiction
- CRWR 7515 Thesis Nonfiction
- CRWR 7518 Thesis Translation
- CRWR 7517 Thesis Young Adult
- CRWR 7505 Craft and Form Poetry
- CRWR 7530 Craft and Form Translation
- CRWR 7512 Craft and Form Young Adult
- CRWR 7501 Craft and Form Fiction
- CRWR 7503 Craft and Form Nonfiction
- CRWR 7524 Teaching Composition
- SOAC 4002 Introduction to Literary Publishing
School of the Arts
More About the Creative Writing MFA
How Montclair’s Creative Writing Program Nurtures Aspiring Authors’ Dreams
Workshops in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and memoir bring out the best in students, giving them the “write stuff” for future literary success
Posted in: English Department , Homepage News and Events
Somewhere in Crystal Castro’s mother’s attic is the first book Castro ever wrote. “It’s written in crayon and stapled together,” says Castro, a junior editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, one of the Big Five publishers based in New York City.
Castro graduated Montclair State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Creative Writing in May 2022.
“My first day at the office was three weeks after my graduation date,” says Castro, who credits the Creative Writing program with helping her land her dream job. “I love it. This is probably what I’ll do for the rest of my career – happily so.”
Up until she entered the program, Castro says, she thought of writing as something she did alone in her bedroom. Then she was introduced to a writing workshop with visiting English Professor Rachel Carter. “She fostered such an incredible workshop environment, where I was reading other people’s work, they were reading my work, and we were giving each other feedback,” she recalls. “It was this incredibly collaborative experience, and I – all at once – fell in love with that.”
Montclair’s current Creative Writing program was restarted in 2008 by director and English Professor David Galef , a prolific writer, author and champion of his students, both present and former.
Galef notes that many of the students at Montclair are second-generation immigrants, often the first in their families to attend college, and English isn’t always their native language. Additionally, “They’re often holding down one or even two jobs and that’s tough,” he says. “The fact that they’re competing head-to-head with schools with higher profiles and they’ve done this well – I think it’s amazing, and they should be recognized for it.”
He would love to see the University’s writers embraced by Montclair Township, home to many creative types, and perhaps expand the program’s writing prizes. Currently, there are four creative writing awards , one each for fiction, flash fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction, that come with prize money.
The 411 on Creative Writing
The creative writing workshops and a Creative Writing minor are open to all undergraduate students, regardless of discipline; however, only English majors may pursue a creative writing concentration. Galef is proud of the program and how it benefits students. “I’m often asked that age-old question, ‘Can you really teach creative writing?’” he says, laughing. “People who ask that question have probably never been to a workshop.”
The program covers 200-, 300- and 400-level courses. Students in the 200-level courses are often given writing prompts, but not in the advanced courses, Galef says. “You’ve got a semester to give us 40 pages, do what you want. We give more structure than that, but we don’t tell you what to do. You produce stories or sections from a longer work, and we workshop it,” he says, adding, “It’s pretty similar to what a student will encounter in an MFA program. In fact, a project in the advanced fiction workshop makes a very suitable writing sample, should you want to apply for an MFA program.”
Through the Creative Writing program, students can take a variety of classes. “You may think you’re God’s gift to poetry but have you tried a fiction class? How about screenwriting? How about Young Adult? We’ve got a lot of different electives,” Galef says.
Professor Mark Rotella , director of the Joseph and Elda Coccia Institute for the Italian Experience in America, teaches a mix of classes, including food, memoir and sports writing. Author and former senior editor for Publishers Weekly , Rotella loves teaching.
“I’m kind of lucky in that the students who take my class are those who are very interested in writing,” Rotella says. “They attend all the classes, and they do the work.”
In his food-writing class, that may include tasting food and writing about it or penning a restaurant review. Rotella takes a Proustian approach to food writing. “I take them into writing about food as memory and how food – like Marcel Proust’s madeleine – once you bite into something, will spark a whole barrage of memories,” he says. “I talk about food as culture; a lot of students at Montclair State come from so many different backgrounds, that food becomes a lingua franca for discussing culture.” Meanwhile, his memoir writing “allows students to really get to know each other, feel comfortable with writing about themselves and sharing it,” he says. Lastly, sports writing is not about scores reportage but long, narrative-form writing.
Ultimately, his classes provide students “the opportunity to write something that they won’t in almost every other class at a university level,” he says. “What I want them to have, at the end of the semester, is that one piece of writing that they are really proud of that they can say they accomplished. They could show their family, they could show their kids in the future but also that maybe when they apply to grad school or for a job, there’s a writing sample there. They can say, ‘I wrote this, and I’m proud of this.’”
This year, Rotella helped formalize a partnership between the Montclair Literary Festival and Montclair State University.
Nurturing Dreams of Being a Writer
Creative Writing alumnus Davon Loeb ’11 has been getting rave reviews for The In-Betweens, a Lyrical Memoir (West Virginia University Press), a coming-of-age story about his Southern Black and Long Island-Jewish heritage.
“Engagingly delivered, candid reflections on heritage and identity,” praises Kirkus Reviews. Chicago Review of Books writes: “Utterly captivating and resonant, The In-Betweens deserves a top spot on your bookshelf.”
After earning a BA in English with a concentration in creative writing, Loeb graduated with an MFA from Rutgers University-Camden in 2015, where he started his memoir. However, the New Jersey author, English teacher and online editor at The Rumpus, Loeb credits the creative writing program with making him a better writer.
“Though I did not write any of The In-Betweens while studying at Montclair State University, in many ways, the writer I eventually became, the writer I am now, has everything to do with my experiences in Montclair,” Loeb says. “Taking creative writing classes, specifically, poetry and fiction, at Montclair was really about expanding my exposure to literature, craft and workshops.”
Loeb recalls doing readings for Montclair’s literary magazine, The Normal Review . “I remember the first time I ever had a piece published, that it was there, and that I celebrated with my classmates. It felt very special,” he says.
In addition, Loeb, who is currently working on a collection of essays about parenthood and being a father, looks back fondly on learning from Montclair professors: “I remember taking poetry with Dr. Johnny Lorenz and fiction with Dr. David Galef and feeling like I learned so much about how to become a better writer – that my poetry could absolutely influence my prose, consequently, my prose could influence my poetry – that the two could equally exist in my work.”
Alyssa DiPalma ’23, who earned a BA in Film and Television, won the 2023 Johnny Muller Memorial Scholarship in Fiction with “Passaic,” a story she wrote as part of a class while working on her Creative Writing minor. She credits Galef with creating “a safe environment for other writers to share their work, to critique each other’s work, to give each other positive feedback or critical feedback but in a way where no one ever felt like it was too harsh or too critical.”
Castro says she went into the Creative Writing program, thinking that she was just going to become a better writer. “I definitely did, but I came out with my career and so much more,” she says.
Both she and Loeb strongly urge ambitious undergrads to enter the Creative Writing program.
“I would recommend students take creative writing classes in different genres, especially genres they do not regularly write in,” says Loeb.
Castro encourages anyone “who is interested in reading and writing” to participate. The program, she says, isn’t “just for people who want to be authors someday. It’s for anyone who feels like they have a story, and I’m of the opinion that that’s everyone.”
Story by Staff Writer Sylvia A. Martinez . Photos by University Photographer Mike Peters (except as noted).
Diversity first: how we craft creative writing prompts for fine-tuning GenAI
- Link to current page
Aren’t LLMs already good at writing?
The dataset problem: synthetic vs organic data, what makes a good prompt, creative writing prompts spotted in the wild, the evaluation problem: how to verify prompt quality, why we prioritize prompt diversity.
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Large language models have wowed us all with their ability to invent a story, write a poem, or craft an email. But the impact of a model with creative writing capabilities reaches far beyond the wow factor. Businesses anticipate large gains in employee productivity and accelerated growth by leveraging generative AI for writing tasks.
The question is: how do language models develop creative writing skills?
The secret lies in designing interesting prompts for model training. Generative models rely on prompts, which means that the quality of training prompts can shape the quality of the model’s output.
In a recent post on technical specifications for building your own LLM, we shared the exciting news that Toloka is working on a joint project to build a large language model from scratch. In today’s post, we’ll share some first-hand details on how we collect the best prompts to help the model develop essential creative writing skills.
Large language models are innately good at generating texts. They are built to predict the next word and combine words into coherent narratives. But they need to learn how to follow the prompt and answer in a particular style — that’s where fine-tuning comes in.
To make LLMs better at creative writing, we need strong prompts that can elicit unique and interesting texts for fine-tuning the model. Here we run into two limitations: a lack of diverse datasets for training, and a lack of benchmarks for evaluating quality.
There are many open datasets available for training, consisting of sets of prompts and good responses (these include ShareGPT , WizardLM, OpenAssistant, Dolly, and Alpaca). However, most of these datasets are synthetic. In other words, the prompts and answers don’t always express ideas that people are interested in. Some training datasets even use prompts generated by the models themselves.
The goal of our project is to help the language model develop authentic human-sounding writing skills, so we’re generating an organic set of training data written fully by humans. While ours is certainly not the first LLM to use human-written prompt sets, we embarked on the project with a mission to make the scope and diversity of the data unique. We take full advantage of Toloka’s global crowd to collect the most diverse prompts imaginable.
A good prompt is organic, and we invite Tolokers from all over the world to contribute prompts that draw on their own personal experience. They are assigned prompt writing tasks in different categories (essay, story, blog post, email, tweet, ad, movie script, and others) and they are free to write a prompt on any topic that interests them — as long as they follow our tips for the category in the task. Tolokers craft a prompt and submit it, without writing an answer for it. The text responses are later put together by experts in a separate project, and we’ll share those details in an upcoming post.
Our instructions encourage Tolokers to be creative and come up with prompts that contain plenty of context and aren’t too trivial or generic (“Write a poem about love” is a bad prompt). The guidelines for the task include examples of interesting prompts and not-so-interesting prompts. For instance, “Write a short story about a dog” is not interesting enough to evoke a creative response, but “Write a story about a timid dog who traveled to outer space to save the planet” provides a springboard for creativity.
Here is an excerpt from the instructions and a submitted prompt.
The best prompts include full context, like the topic, the basic plot and characters, or even an outline with the desired structure. To help Tolokers with writer’s block, we recommend making it personal — maybe there’s a topic that’s been on their mind lately, their child asked for a story, or they need to write something for work. Anything that is relevant to them or someone they know is a great subject for a prompt.
Here are some examples of writing prompts recently submitted by Tolokers.
Now let’s consider the second roadblock: checking prompt quality. Benchmarks that evaluate the quality of models generally compare a text answer to the “golden” answer, word for word. But this isn’t a meaningful way to measure the quality of creative texts, which should be unique by definition.
The only reasonable way to judge creativity is to collect the opinions of real people. Unfortunately, it’s prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to read through thousands of texts. We’ve implemented a better solution: an automated human verification pipeline using the Toloka crowd.
Tolokers who perform verification tasks are given a prompt written by another person, along with the guidelines. They decide if the prompt follows the guidelines or not — a simple question of “good” or “bad”. The key here is to make the guidelines as clear and specific as possible, with plenty of examples of what makes a prompt good or bad.
Since this works like a binary text classification task, we can use our proven quality control methods in the pipeline to make sure verification is accurate. One of our core methods is overlap, meaning we assign multiple people to verify the same prompt and then aggregate their answers to get a reliable final verdict. We use the prompts that “pass” for model training and discard the ones that are rejected. With our large crowd of Tolokers, the process is fast and efficient.
We’ve collected over 6000 prompts for creative writing. But what’s impressive is the diversity in this dataset. Thousands of Tolokers from 69 different countries with a multitude of backgrounds and cultural contexts have contributed ideas that are meaningful to them.
A model that is trained on diverse data can emulate a broader range of human experiences and expectations, making it less biased and more helpful to real people in future applications.
Looking to collect prompts for your own LLM? Tap into the Toloka crowd for a global perspective. Reach out to discuss the ideal pipeline for your project.
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Zhenia dubrova '24 wins national award for translation of ukrainian poetry, posted on october 27, 2023 by arts and sciences.
Dubrova received the 2023 Student Translation Award from the American Translators Association. In a Q&A, Dubrova and professor Nirvana Tanoukhi discuss the challenges of translating Ukrainian into English and the spirit of collaboration that permeated the translation process.
Zhenia Dubrova ’24 (Photo by Rob Strong)
Zhenia Dubrova '24, an English major with a concentration in creative writing from eastern Ukraine, received the 2023 Student Translation Award from the American Translators Association .
The award, which is open to both undergraduate and graduate students, was announced at the ATA's annual conference this week.
Dubrova won the award for her translation from Ukrainian into English of Your Beloved Dogs and Other Animals , a poetry collection by Bohdana Matiyash. She began working on the translation last winter in Assistant Professor of English Nirvana Tanoukhi 's workshop in literary translation. Dubrova continued the project in an independent study with Tanoukhi, while also taking part in an informal weekly literary translation workshop Tanoukhi led with a group of student translators.
In the award citation, the ATA described Dubrova's translation as "impressive" and "charming," and said that "its quality merits publication."
Dubrova, who is applying to graduate programs in fiction and literary translation, has been in touch with Matiyash about her translation and hopes to find a publisher for the English version of the poetry collection soon.
In a Q&A, Dubrova and Tanoukhi reflect on the challenges of translating Ukrainian into English and the spirit of collaboration that permeated the translation process.
What do you find most challenging about translating Ukrainian into English?
Dubrova: On a technical level, translating this particular poetry collection from Ukrainian was challenging because the poet abstains from any punctuation and uses enjambment in almost every single line. Since I wanted to preserve these features in my translation into English, a language with a much different syntax than Ukrainian, I had to spend a lot of time trying to figure out the word order that makes sense in English, but with syntactical breaks and rhythm that closely resemble the original. There is also a challenge of confronting readers' expectations when it comes to Ukrainian texts. English-speaking readers have definitely become more interested in reading Ukrainian authors in translation since the start of the full-scale war, but they also largely expect to read a particular kind of text that in some way responds to the recent events and the collective trauma we are experiencing. The text that I chose is drastically different: a poetry collection that came out in Ukraine in 2012, and it has a very different tone and deals with totally different subject matter.
Tanoukhi: Theoretically speaking, there are enough grammatical differences between the two languages to make translating between them difficult. For example, Ukrainian has, in addition to the four cases in English (the nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative), another three: the instrumental, locative, and vocative cases. Also, declension in Ukrainian is more common and various. In practice, however, things are different.
In the act of translation, the literary translator will inevitably be confronted with the lack of, sometimes, indeed with the impossibility, of finding direct equivalence between languages. But it is in those very moments that translation becomes a creative challenge and opportunity.
What led you to translate this particular text, Your Beloved Dogs and Other Animals , a poetry collection by the Ukrainian poet Bohdana Matiyash?
Dubrova: Matiyash is one of my favorite Ukrainian poets, and I always loved this collection. But beyond that, this selection was deliberate because I wanted to translate something that was written and published before the war. These poems are full of hope, love, tenderness, and I think they can challenge the expectations of anglophone readers regarding contemporary Ukrainian writing and the themes it addresses.
I translate a lot of texts about the war for different Ukrainian media and absolutely believe that the trauma, pain, grief, and, at the same time, bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people should be recorded, translated, and shared as widely as possible. But this doesn't mean we should limit ourselves to such texts. Matiyash is a Ukrainian poet, but there is something universal about her work that has the power to move anyone.
Tanoukhi: When Zhenia took the literary translation workshop last winter, she chose for her first project a psychological short story by the Ukrainian writer M. Khvylovy about the communist rule of Ukraine.
Shortly after that, Russia invaded Ukraine. For her second project, Zhenia translated a collection of Ukrainian poems, some about the war. We ended up spending most of that workshop on two poems, which is not unusual in workshop: one was about the war and the other was one of the Matiyash poems.
I believe that this process helped lead Zhenia to decide on Matiyash's poetry collection for her translation project. Often, an energy builds up in the dialogue between translator and readers in the workshop process, which crystallizes the aesthetic appeal of a work.
How did the translation workshop influence the process of translating Matiyash's poetry?
Tanoukhi: I think that by the end of the workshop, because of the nature of feedback loops in our translation workshop, the investment in getting Matiyash translated became a shared one.
During the following term, half of the workshop participants continued meeting weekly with me in the poetry room of Sanborn Housel—not for any course credit, but just for love of the process. And there, students spent many hours in "informal workshop" quibbling about the smallest details of Matiyash's poems and Zhenia's translations.
Poetry episodes of the popular The Creative Process podcast. Listen to poets reading their poetry & discuss their lives, work & creative process. Includes environmental poetry, humanities & activism. To listen to ALL arts & creativity episodes of “The Creative Process · Arts, Culture & Society”, you’ll find our main podcast on Apple: tinyurl.com/thecreativepod, Spotify: tinyurl.com/thecreativespotify, or wherever you get your podcasts! Exploring the fascinating minds of creative people. Conversations with writers, artists & creative thinkers across the Arts & STEM. We discuss their life, work & artistic practice. Winners of Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Pulitzer, leaders & public figures share real experiences & offer valuable insights. Notable guests and participating museums and organizations include: Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Neil Patrick Harris, Smithsonian, Roxane Gay, Musée Picasso, EARTHDAY.ORG, Neil Gaiman, UNESCO, Joyce Carol Oates, Mark Seliger, Acropolis Museum, Hilary Mantel, Songwriters Hall of Fame, George Saunders, The New Museum, Lemony Snicket, Pritzker Architecture Prize, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Galleries, Joe Mantegna, PETA, Greenpeace, EPA, Morgan Library & Museum, and many others. The interviews are hosted by founder and creative educator Mia Funk with the participation of students, universities, and collaborators from around the world. These conversations are also part of our traveling exhibition. www.creativeprocess.info For The Creative Process podcasts from Seasons 1 & 2, visit: tinyurl.com/creativepod or creativeprocess.info/interviews-page-1, which has our complete directory of interviews, transcripts, artworks, and details about ways to get involved. INSTAGRAM @creativeprocesspodcast
Poetry: The Creative Process: Poets discuss Poems & Creativity The Creative Process
- 5.0 • 35 Ratings
- OCT 27, 2023
Highlights - HALA ALYAN - Dayton Literary Peace Prize Winner - Palestinian-American Poet, Novelist & Clinical Psychologist
“We become the stories we tell ourselves…I started writing around the time I learned English because we moved to the States soon after my fourth birthday, and so I was here for kindergarten into elementary school. I grasped this new language just as I was learning how to also put things onto the page. Those two things really happened at the same time for me. I entered this world where I felt very different and very other, for all intents and purposes I was set to be raised in Kuwait. And then that of course got turned upside down after the invasion by Saddam. I think that so much of my trying to make sense of the world had to do with the displacement, exile and these experiences that my parents had experienced but then that I had as well as we were fleeing the war. It’s hard to know because I think that language was being formed in my brain at the same time that these things were happening.” Hala Alyan is the author of the novel Salt Houses, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Arab American Book Award and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize, as well as the forthcoming novel The Arsonists’ City, and four award-winning collections of poetry, most recently The Twenty-Ninth Year. Her work has been published by the New Yorker, the Academy of American Poets, Lit Hub, The New York Times Book Review, and Guernica. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, where she works as a clinical psychologist. · halaalyan.com · www.creativeprocess.info
HALA ALYAN - Palestinian-American Poet, Novelist & Clinical Psychologist - Dayton Literary Peace Prize Winner
Hala Alyan is the author of the novel Salt Houses, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Arab American Book Award and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize, as well as the forthcoming novel The Arsonists’ City, and four award-winning collections of poetry, most recently The Twenty-Ninth Year. Her work has been published by the New Yorker, the Academy of American Poets, Lit Hub, The New York Times Book Review, and Guernica. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, where she works as a clinical psychologist. · halaalyan.com · www.creativeprocess.info
- OCT 18, 2023
THE ART OF WRITING: NEIL GAIMAN, JERICHO BROWN, ADA LIMÓN, MARGE PIERCY, E.J. KOH & MAX STOSSEL
Poets, novelists, activists & translators discuss the Art of Writing and The Creative Process. This episode features: NEIL GAIMAN - Writer, Producer, Showrunner - The Sandman, American Gods, Good Omens, Coraline JERICHO BROWN - Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet: The TraditionEditor of How We Do It: Black Writers on Craft, Practice, and Skill ADA LIMÓN, U.S. Poet Laureate - The Hurting Kind, The Carrying MARGE PIERCY - Award-winning Novelist, Poet & Activist E.J. KOH - Award-Winning Memoirist & Poet - The Magical Language of Others, A Lesser Love MAX STOSSEL - Award-winning Poet, Filmmaker, SpeakerCreator of Words That Move
- AUG 13, 2023
Highlights - JERICHO BROWN - Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet - Editor of How We Do It: Black Writers on Craft, Practice, and Skill
"I tried to make something that I would have needed. And because that's what I tried to make, I'm hoping readers read something that they need. You know, that's the joy of books, that you come across something that you needed that you didn't even know you needed. In order to make what you make, you have to use what you have. You have to submerge yourself, immerse yourself in what you know, in your own vernacular, in your own tone, in your own belief, in your own way of doing things and telling stories. And that's how the writing can get done."
JERICHO BROWN - Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet - Editor of “How We Do It: Black Writers on Craft, Practice, and Skill”
How do you find your voice? As a writer, how do you take what you know and what you believe to share your stories with the world? How do we let young writers know just how powerful they are and that what they do matters? In How We Do It: Black Writers on Craft, Practice, and Skill Pulitzer Prize winning, and National Book Award finalist author Jericho Brown brings together more than 30 acclaimed writers, including the likes of Tayari Jones, Jacqueline Woodson, Natasha Trethewey, among many others, to discuss, dissect, and offer advice and encouragement on the written word. Brown is author of The Tradition, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and he is the winner of the Whiting Award. Brown’s first book, Please, won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. His third collection, The Tradition won the Paterson Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His poems have appeared in The Bennington Review, Buzzfeed, Fence, jubilat, The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review TIME magazine, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry. He is the director of the Creative Writing Program and a professor at Emory University.
- JUN 16, 2023
MARGE PIERCY - NYTimes Bestselling Novelist, Poet & Activist
Marge Piercy’s 17 novels include NYTimes Bestseller Gone To Soldiers; National Bestsellers Braided Lives and The Longings of Women; the classics Woman on the Edge of Time and He, She and It, and her critically acclaimed memoir Sleeping with Cats. She’s written 20 volumes of poetry. The most recent is On the Way Out, Turn Off the Light. Born in Detroit, educated at the University of Michigan and Northwestern, she is active in antiwar, feminist and environmental causes. www.margepiercy.com www.miafunk.comwww.creativeprocess.infowww.oneplanetpodcast.orgIG www.instagram.com/creativeprocesspodcast
- © Copyright 2021, The Creative Process · This podcast launched in 2021. It also contains interviews previously recorded for The Creative Process podcast, exhibition and educational initiative.
Insight on verses.
Insightful interviews that a diverse set of poets revealing their creative processes and inspirations
Improved my writing
The flawless and unique technique and style of each work very much influenced me. I love so many of the poems featured, they delve into topics beyond that of the world of traditional poetry. Groundbreaking guests
I think there is a way that poets talk that is so intriguing and genuine and special; maybe because they are so passionate and creative with words and rhythm that it reflects in their normal speech. I find these speakers just really lovely to listen to no matter what they say - of course their answers are always so profound and resonating
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65+ ChatGPT Prompts for Creative Writing
Are you ready to unleash your creativity and take your writing to new heights? Look no further! In this blog post, we'll explore the powerful AI language model, ChatGPT, and guide you through crafting effective prompts for creative writing.
Harnessing the potential of GPT-4 architecture, ChatGPT can be an invaluable tool to assist and inspire writers, whether you're working on a short story, poetry, or crafting engaging dialogues. But the key to getting the best results lies in your ability to formulate the right prompts.
Join us as we delve into the world of ChatGPT and learn how to make the most of this AI-driven writing companion!
Table of Contents
Understanding ChatGPT and Its Limitations
ChatGPT is built on the powerful GPT-4 architecture, which allows it to generate highly coherent and contextually relevant text based on user inputs. It's a massive language model trained on a diverse range of text data, which enables it to respond to a variety of prompts with human-like accuracy. However, it's essential to understand its limitations to create effective prompts and manage expectations.
As a result of the data it's trained on, ChatGPT may sometimes exhibit biases present in the source material. These biases can manifest in the form of stereotypes, political inclinations, or controversial opinions. When using ChatGPT for creative writing, it's crucial to be aware of such biases and review the generated content for potential issues.
Limitations in Context and Understanding
While ChatGPT can produce impressive results, it may struggle with understanding the context or the nuances of certain prompts. As a result, it might provide responses that are irrelevant or off-topic. To overcome these limitations, it's essential to craft prompts that are clear and unambiguous.
Write a descriptive paragraph about a mysterious forest, focusing on the sights, sounds, and smells.
Create a dialogue between two characters who are meeting for the first time at a coffee shop.
Describe a futuristic cityscape from the perspective of a person visiting it for the first time.
Write a poem about the fleeting nature of time, using imagery from nature to illustrate your points.
Imagine a world where animals can speak, and write a conversation between a dog and its owner about their daily routine.
Create a short story about a detective solving a seemingly impossible case, with a surprising twist at the end.
Crafting Effective Creative Writing Prompts for ChatGPT
Set clear goals for your writing project.
Before diving into the world of ChatGPT, it's essential to have a clear idea of your writing goals. Are you looking for inspiration to write a novel, a poem, or a script? Knowing your objectives will help you create targeted prompts that generate the desired output.
Be Specific with Your Instructions
ChatGPT relies on your prompts to understand your expectations. Providing specific instructions will guide the AI to produce content that aligns with your vision. The more explicit your prompt, the more accurate and relevant the generated output will be.
Write a 500-word short story set in a dystopian future where technology controls every aspect of life.
Compose a sonnet about unrequited love, using a Shakespearean rhyme scheme.
Write a scene of a play where two characters argue about a moral dilemma, with one taking a utilitarian stance and the other a deontological one.
Experiment with Different Prompt Styles
There are various types of prompts you can use to inspire creative writing with ChatGPT. Experimenting with different styles will help you discover what works best for your writing goals.
Open-ended prompts allow ChatGPT to generate content that is broad and creative. These prompts provide general guidance, giving the AI more freedom to explore diverse ideas.
Write a short story about a character who discovers a hidden talent.
Describe a magical world with unique flora and fauna.
Compose a poem about the beauty of the night sky.
Guided prompts are more specific and direct the AI towards a particular outcome. These prompts are ideal when you have a clear vision for your creative writing project.
Write a 300-word horror story set in an abandoned asylum, with a vengeful ghost as the main antagonist.
Describe a medieval feast from the perspective of a court jester who is secretly plotting the king's downfall.
Compose a haiku about the serenity of a snow-covered landscape.
Image-based prompts use visual cues to inspire creative writing. You can describe a scene or an image in your prompt and ask ChatGPT to generate content based on that description.
Write a short story inspired by a scene depicting a lonely lighthouse on a stormy night.
Describe a bustling marketplace in a fantasy world, with various mythical creatures selling their wares.
Compose a poem based on an image of a serene lake surrounded by autumn foliage.
Adjusting the Level of Detail in Your Prompts
The level of detail in your prompts can significantly impact the generated content. You can experiment with adding or removing details to achieve the desired level of creativity and specificity in your output.
Write a sci-fi story about a group of astronauts stranded on an alien planet. (less detailed)
Write a sci-fi story about a group of astronauts stranded on an alien planet, where they encounter a race of telepathic beings who help them return home. (more detailed)
Techniques to Enhance Creativity with ChatGPT
Use of iterative prompting.
Iterative prompting is a technique that involves refining your prompts in multiple steps, allowing you to guide the AI-generated content more effectively. You can start with a broad prompt and gradually add details or constraints to achieve your desired output.
Write a fantasy story about a magical artifact.
Write a fantasy story about a magical artifact that grants its wielder immense power but comes with a terrible curse.
Write a fantasy story about a magical artifact that grants its wielder immense power but comes with a terrible curse, where the main character must choose between personal gain and the greater good.
Collaborative Writing with ChatGPT
You can use ChatGPT as a writing partner by taking turns in crafting a story or a poem. This approach allows you to combine your creativity with the AI's capabilities, resulting in unique and engaging content.
Start a short story with an intriguing opening line, and ask ChatGPT to continue the story.
Write alternating stanzas of a poem, using ChatGPT to compose every other stanza.
Blending Multiple Prompts
Combining two or more unrelated prompts can lead to highly creative and unexpected results. By merging different ideas, you can create unique scenarios and storylines.
Write a short story that combines a time-traveling scientist and a mythical creature in a modern-day city.
Compose a poem that blends themes of nature and technology, exploring the harmony and discord between the two.
Implementing Constraints for Unique Output
Adding constraints to your prompts can encourage creativity by limiting the options available to ChatGPT. This technique can lead to innovative ideas and unexpected twists in your writing.
Write a short story without using any adverbs.
Compose a poem where each line begins with a different letter of the alphabet.
Write a dialogue between two characters using only questions.
Best Practices for Using ChatGPT in Creative Writing
Review and edit generated content.
While ChatGPT can produce impressive results, it's essential to review and edit the generated content. This will help you ensure that the output aligns with your vision, is free of biases, and maintains a consistent voice and style throughout.
Revise the AI-generated short story for better flow and coherence.
Edit the AI-generated poem to improve its imagery and emotional impact.
Manage Expectations and Be Patient
It's important to remember that ChatGPT is not perfect and may require multiple attempts to generate the desired output. Be patient, and be prepared to experiment with different prompts to achieve the best results.
Rewrite the previous prompt, focusing on a different aspect of the story.
Adjust the previous prompt to be more specific, guiding ChatGPT towards the desired outcome.
Avoid Plagiarism and Respect Copyright
When using ChatGPT, ensure that you are not infringing on copyrighted material or plagiarizing other works. Be responsible and ethical in your use of AI-generated content.
Write a story inspired by the themes of a classic novel, without directly copying the plot or characters.
Compose a poem that pays homage to a famous poet's style, without plagiarizing their work.
Maintain a Balance between Human Input and AI Assistance
While ChatGPT can be an invaluable tool for creative writing, it's crucial to strike a balance between AI-generated content and your own creativity. Use ChatGPT as a source of inspiration and a writing partner, rather than relying solely on it for your creative projects.
Write the first half of a short story, and ask ChatGPT to complete the second half.
Compose the opening lines of a poem, and use ChatGPT to generate ideas for the rest of the poem.
Successful Creative Writing Prompts for ChatGPT
Crafting engaging fictional stories.
Using ChatGPT, you can generate captivating fictional stories by providing prompts that cover various genres, themes, and styles. Experiment with different settings, characters, and plot elements to create a diverse range of stories.
Write a suspenseful thriller about a detective trying to catch a mastermind criminal.
Create a heartwarming story about a group of friends embarking on a life-changing road trip.
Compose a historical fiction story set during the French Revolution, with a focus on the struggles and triumphs of ordinary people.
Innovative Poetry Generation
ChatGPT can help you create unique and impactful poetry by providing prompts that explore different styles, themes, and forms. Experiment with various poetic techniques, and let ChatGPT's creativity inspire your own.
Write a villanelle about the passage of time and the inevitability of change.
Compose a series of haikus capturing the essence of each season.
Create a free verse poem that explores the concept of identity and self-discovery.
Creating Memorable Characters and Dialogues
ChatGPT can be used to develop engaging characters and realistic dialogues that bring your stories to life. Use prompts that focus on character development, relationships, and interactions to add depth and complexity to your creative writing projects.
Write a character sketch for a protagonist who must overcome their fears to save the world.
Create a dialogue between two characters with opposing views on a controversial issue.
Describe the dynamic between a group of friends, emphasizing their unique personalities and the bonds that unite them.
Adapting ChatGPT for Other Creative Writing Projects
Screenwriting and scriptwriting.
ChatGPT can be an invaluable tool for generating screenplays and scripts for various types of productions, including films, plays, and television shows. Use prompts that focus on plot development, scene descriptions, and character dialogues to craft engaging scripts.
Write a scene for a romantic comedy where two characters realize they have feelings for each other.
Create a monologue for a character reflecting on a life-altering decision.
Develop an outline for a three-act play that explores the complexities of family dynamics.
Worldbuilding for Fiction and Roleplaying Games
ChatGPT can assist in the process of worldbuilding, helping you create intricate and immersive settings for your stories or roleplaying games. Use prompts that cover various aspects of your fictional world, such as geography, history, culture, and politics.
Describe a unique magical system that exists in a fantasy world.
Write a brief history of a fictional kingdom, focusing on key events and figures.
Create a detailed description of a futuristic city, highlighting its architecture, technology, and social structure.
Writing Prompts for Teaching and Learning
ChatGPT can be a valuable resource for educators and students alike, providing a vast array of writing prompts to inspire creative thinking and improve writing skills. Use prompts that cover different genres, styles, and topics to encourage a diverse range of writing experiences.
Write a persuasive essay arguing for or against the use of AI in everyday life.
Compose a personal narrative about a meaningful experience that shaped your life.
Create a fictional diary entry from the perspective of a historical figure during a significant event.
Improve Your Writing Skills with ChatGPT
Enhance your vocabulary and sentence structure.
ChatGPT can help you expand your vocabulary and improve your sentence structure, providing you with a wide range of examples and inspiration. Use prompts that focus on specific language skills and request feedback on your writing to enhance your abilities.
Provide five synonyms for the word "beautiful" that can be used in a descriptive paragraph.
Rewrite the following sentence to make it more concise and effective: "The small, furry creature with big ears and a bushy tail quickly ran up the tall tree."
Evaluate the clarity and impact of this paragraph, and suggest improvements where needed.
Experiment with Different Writing Styles and Techniques
ChatGPT can expose you to various writing styles and techniques, helping you explore different ways to express your ideas and creativity. Use prompts that challenge you to write in unfamiliar styles or try new techniques, broadening your skills as a writer.
Write a short story using only dialogue, without any narration or description.
Compose a poem that uses alliteration and assonance to create a musical effect.
Create a piece of flash fiction that tells a complete story in 100 words or less.
Develop Your Editing and Revision Skills
ChatGPT can assist you in honing your editing and revision skills, providing examples of how to refine and polish your writing. Use prompts that focus on different aspects of the editing process, from addressing issues with grammar and punctuation to improving the overall structure and flow of your work.
Identify and correct any grammatical or punctuation errors in the following paragraph.
Rearrange the sentences in this paragraph to create a more coherent and logical flow of ideas.
Revise the following passage to eliminate unnecessary words and phrases, making it more concise and impactful.
ChatGPT can be a powerful tool for creative writing, providing inspiration, guidance, and assistance in crafting unique and engaging content.
By exploring various prompts, techniques, and best practices, you can harness the potential of ChatGPT to enhance your writing skills, generate captivating stories, and develop your own distinctive voice as a writer.
Embrace the possibilities of AI-assisted creative writing, and let ChatGPT be your partner in your literary journey.
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About R.J. Adams
R.J. is an artificial intelligence aficionado, committed to demystifying the intricacies of this cutting-edge technology for enthusiasts and novices alike. Leveraging his comprehensive background in internet marketing, online tools, and communications, he continually ventures into the landscape of newly released AI tools, conducting thorough tests and analyses, as well as finding the best prompts to use on the latest AI tools. He can also solve Rubik's Cube in under 2 minutes.
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25 Creative Writing Prompts
by Melissa Donovan | Oct 23, 2018 | Creative Writing Prompts | 236 comments
Twenty-five creative writing prompts to inspire and motivate you.
Don’t you just hate writer’s block? Some say it’s a disease that only creative workers succumb to. Some say it’s a curse. Others argue that it doesn’t exist at all. But just about everyone has been there–sitting in front of a blank screen, fingers itching to create a masterpiece. And nothing happens.
For me, the most bizarre thing about writer’s block is that it strikes randomly. Most of the time, I’m overwhelmed with more ideas than I can possibly write about. But then I’ll sit down to write and my mind goes blank. Sure, I flip through my notebooks and review all the ideas I’ve stockpiled, but nothing feels right. I want something fresh. I need a new angle.
To help break through this block, I started turning to creative writing prompts. And then I started making up my own prompts. The result: 1200 Creative Writing Prompts , a book designed to spark ideas for writers.
Creative Writing Prompts
Today I’d like to share a mash-up of creative writing prompts, all of which come from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts . There are no rules. Write a poem. Write a short story. Write an essay. Aim for a hundred words or aim for a hundred thousand. Just start writing, and have fun.
- The protagonist is digging in the garden and finds a fist-sized nugget of gold. There’s more where that came from in this hilarious story of sudden wealth.
- Write a poem about something ugly—war, fear, hate, or cruelty—but try to find the beauty (silver lining) in it or something good that comes out of it.
- An asteroid and a meteoroid collide near Earth, and fragments rain down onto the planet’s surface, wreaking havoc. Some of those fragments contain surprising elements: fossils that prove life exists elsewhere in the galaxy, for example.
- The story starts when a kid comes out of the school bathroom with toilet paper dangling from his or her waistband. Does someone step forward and whisper a polite word, or do the other kids make fun? What happens in this pivotal moment will drive the story and have a deep impact on the main character.
- Revisit your earliest memories of learning about faith, religion, or spirituality.
- Use all of the following words in a poem: bit, draw, flex, perilous, bubble, corner, rancid, pound, high, open.
- Write a poem about a first romantic (dare I say sexual?) experience or encounter.
- Write a personal essay describing an exotic animal you’d like to have as a pet.
- Silvery flakes drifted downward, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird soared.
- Write a tongue-in-cheek, satirical tribute. Tell bad drivers, rude customers, and evil dictators how grateful you are for what they’ve done. Do it with a wink and a smile.
- Write a story about a detective solving a crime that was committed against his or her partner or a crime that his or her partner committed.
- Three children are sitting on a log near a stream. One of them looks up at the sky and says…
- There is a magic talisman that allows its keeper to read minds. It falls into the hands of a young politician.
- We’ve seen cute and cuddly dragons, mean and vicious dragons, and noble dragons. Write a story about a different kind of dragon.
- Use all of the following words in a poem: dash, hard, staple, billboard, part, circle, flattened.
- Write a story set in the distant future when humanity is at a fork in the evolutionary road. Some humans are evolving; others are not.
- The kids were raised on the mantra “Family is everything.” What happens when they find out their parents aren’t who they pretended to be? Will the family fall apart?
- Write a poem about one (or both) of your parents. It could be a tribute poem, but it doesn’t have to be.
- Turn ordinary animals into monsters that prey on humans: dog-sized rats, killer rabbits, or a pack of rabid mountain lions. Give the animals intelligence and set them loose.
- A twinkling eye can mean many things. Write a poem about a twinkle in someone’s eye.
- What determines an action or person as good or evil? Who gets to decide what or who is good or evil? Write a personal essay about it.
- Write a poem about your body.
- The protagonist is about to drift off to sleep only to be roused by the spontaneous memory of an embarrassing moment from his or her past.
- Write about the happiest day of your life.
- Use all of the following words in a poem: feast, fire, modify, squash, robbed, forgotten, understated.
Now It’s Your Turn
Did any of these prompts inspire you? Do you ever use creative writing prompts to ignite a writing session? Tell us what gets your pen moving by leaving a comment, and keep writing!
To get more prompts like these, pick up a copy of 1200 Creative Writing Prompts today.
Melissa, Wow, there’s something about this list that feels like a lightbulb went off! There are times when I feel stuck, like ideas aren’t there. And this list really shines what can be…limitless possibilities!
26. If my life were a cartoon… 27. Pick two crayons at random. What thoughts/feelings do two color stir up in you?
Ah, I love the feeling of a light bulb illuminating my mind! Thanks for adding to the list!
what about… That spark which seemed like a star, when it approached closer, my lips went white and body shivering despite the fact I knew I was placed in a desert – by them- and the sun shone directly above my head. Then at a distance of 1m probably, I got the sight of…
Thanks for sharing these.
If you have children, visualize one of them running the house for a day.
That’s a good one. Kids running the house…how very Dr. Seuss! Cat in the Hat without the cat, hehee.
Ooh, great prompts! Thanks for sharing these!
Thanks! Glad you like them!
A day in the life of a doormat
The adventures of a shooting star
Making friends with my enemy
Ooh, interesting! Thanks, Fouzia.
Bought 3 of your books. 1. 101 Creative Writing Excercises 2.10 Core Practices For Better Writing and 3. 1,200 Creative Writing Prompts.
I decided to start with 1,200 Creative Writing Prompts.
So far, I have written 4 stories from the prompts. I guess I want to enquire as to whether I need to go through each prompt. Thank you
Wow, Kevin, thanks for getting three of my books. I truly appreciate that. You can use the prompts in any way that is comfortable for you. No, you do not have to go through each and every prompt. I encourage you to skip around, flip through book, and find prompts that inspire. I hope you have fun with it! Thanks again.
When I took my creative writing class in college the instructor gave us a really good one to use if we couldn’t think of what to write. She said to write the word Remember 3 times and that would prompt something. The entire class tried it and it worked and I have used it several times since then!
I like the use of remember . There are a lot of words that help people when they can’t think of anything to write about. Maybe I should do a list of single-word prompts. Hmm…
Wow. I was COMPLETELY stuck and this brought back a great story for me to write about, though only faintly attached to any memory of mine. Thanks!
That’s great, Camille! Good luck with your story!
I like to use the question “what would happen if …. ”
What would happen if your husband retired and your kid left home and you’re getting older? -> ” Always Faithful”
What would happen if a person moved back home to care for a relative after decades of living far away? -> “The Way Home”
What would happen if a person who has been divorced and alone for a long time suddenly met the most perfect mate imaginable … but it turns out the person may not be what she appears to be? -> “Baiting and Fishing”
In a way, I think “What Would Happen If…” is my novelist version of my favorite childhood game, “Let’s pretend that…..”
“What if” is the best creative writing prompt ever! You can apply it to just about any situation. Just look at any movie, book, or even real life and start asking, “What if things happened a little differently?” or “What if this person made a different decision?” Asking these questions can take your writing in all kinds of new and interesting directions! It’s great fun.
I love these. Here’s one:
“She was drifting off to sleep when there was a sharp knock at the door . . . “
Ooh, I like that one.
Fabulous list. I’ve been brainstorming all morning with no luck, and so I came online and VOILA, here you are. Loved the list, especially 22.
I’ve created several interesting works using my personal favourite “things to do on a rainy day”. I usually write from the perspective of a child, but rarely myself as a child. This one just opens up so many possibilities for make beleive!
Thanks, Melanie! Glad this list helped you in a time of need. My favorite “things to do on a rainy day” story is The Cat in the Hat . Of course, it’s a “day when mom’s away” rather than a “rainy day,” but it’s pretty much the same idea. Keep writing!
these are very great… i got this one off of True Jackson VP.. spin around and the first thing you see will give you an idea..
i just did this and i saw flowers…
i’m writing about “you are walking through a field with your best friend.. you spot a flower and pick it up.. it gives you super powers…
Ah, a flower that gives one super powers. I love that idea! You should definitely run with it!
I love True Jackson VP! Cool that you got an idea from it! 🙂
You’re suggestion really helped! Im doing imaginative writing for homework and I was so stuck but I’ve found the right one now!!
That’s awesome, Grace! Keep writing.
ooh those are cool… how about: He cradled her, taking in all of her burdens as he swept her hair back from her face and stroked her cheek in a gentle calming motion.
I do creative writing as an A level so it would be cool to know if this starter is ok! ty xoxo
Catherine, I think that’s a great starter line, especially for a romantic story or poem! My only suggestion would be the part “gentle calming motion.” There might be one too many adjectives there. If you keep both adjectives, be sure to add a comma after the first one: “gentle, calming motion.” Nice job!
A young man attempts to pull a robbery of some kind on an older man. Things go drastically wrong for the young man. Either viewpoint!
Either viewpoint, or both, could work!
what if the old man was a retired super spy and the young robber is homeless and broke. he tells this to the old man and the man trains him to be a good spy and lets the young robber live with him. then the old man gets the young robber a job as a spy and then they both find out that the retired spy is the young robbers father and the mother ran away while she was pregnant to go be with some rich guy but the rich guy killed the mother and the young robber has been living on the streets since he was 10.
Heres a gorgeous one! Write a story in the POV of a flower being given from person 2 person.
Wow! These are great, thanks for putting these up. I’m 12 and I really want to be a novelist when I grow up. One of my favourites is: the empty glass. It’s a bit over-used but I think that it’s so versatile, it doesn’t matter if it’s popular because you can take it in so many different directions!
That’s great, Katie! You’re off to an early start. Just stay focused and passionate, and you’ll become a novelist if that’s what you truly want. Good luck to you!
Katie, It is never too young to start living your dreams. Don’t ever let anyone get you down. Keep on writing and believe in yourself that one day you will make it! Best of luck!
I couldn’t agree more, AJ!
I’m 11 and everyone thinks I am a good writer and I love to write so much!
That’s wonderful, Maria. Keep writing!
I’m 16 and i wrote a great alternate ending for an assignment in english, and i wrote a short christmas story on christmas eve, but now i just don’t know what to write about. i have ideas and i have been reading prompts that are good but i just don’t know.
Kristi, give the prompts a try. There are also lots of writing exercises that you can use to spark writing sessions when you’re feeling uninspired. The trick is to write something (anything) rather than sit around waiting for something to write about.
Hi! I am 14 and just wanted to do some creative writing, but could not think of anything to write about. Thank you so much for the ideas! I will definitely be using some.
You’re so welcome! Good luck with your writing!
I’m 14 and writing is my whole life. I recently started a blog with my friend, but she’s not a writer. She just inspires me with ideas and stuff. I love your site, Melissa. I check it almost every day. Your prompts and tips are so completely helpful! Thanks so much!
Thank you! I appreciate your kind words.
I’m fourteen, too, and writing is hard to juggle with school and everything else that’s going on. I know – such a teenager-y thing to say…but true nonetheless. I just wanted to say thank you for posting these prompts because they make for quick, satisfying writing that doesn’t end in frustration (at least, mostly). Thanks again!
Writing is hard to juggle at any age. It takes a lot of perseverance, but if you stick with it, you’ll succeed. Good luck to you, and keep on writing!
Im also fourteen and i love to write! i have won a national competition 2 years in a row and i never dreamed i would have won or anything but that just goes to show that youre never too young to write! Just keep believing in yourself and who knows where you might go!
I am thrilled when young people are so passionate about writing (or any craft, really). Congratulations on your success!
One good place to find good story prompts are the obituaries of a large newspaper. One true example: from the Arizona Republic years ago, an elderly gentleman got hit by a motorist one a late, rainy afternoon as he was crossing the street. He had been an immigrant from Norway, and had been a professor at ASU, and was retired and in his 80’s when he died. I have always imagined what his life had been, what he had experienced, etc.
Yes, newspapers are packed with story ideas!
Write a story from the perspective of a sock being separated from its twin in the laundry.
That would make a great children’s story.
a person went to the football stadium and was wearing manu shirt and came out with a barcalona shirt.why???
Well, I have no idea, but this certainly makes a good writing prompt!
I love these!! 😀 Here are a few I made: *Make up your own recipes for your favorite foods *Create your own list of idioms *Write stories of idioms literally happening *Write about something blue *What’s your idea of a perfect vacation? *List what you fear. pick a few and write how they came, why, and when you got the fear first *What would you say to an univited guest at your party *Draw a picture of the setting around you. Now look into your inner being. What do you truly feel? *Write from the point of view of a stack of paper waiting a few inches from the shredder *Her laugh broke the silence…
These are great! Thank you for adding them to the list.
By the way, I’m 11, love writing, and hope to publish fiction teen/children books one day
I wish you the best of luck! You have a head start, being such a young writer. Stick with it!
Lovarsnari,that’s kinda funny because l think the same thing! 🙂 My prob is that l start writing with great ideas,get stuck, and then start a new story/play….
same except that I’m 13 and mix my writing with my guitar playing and music
Well when i get stuck I like to think: What would I do if I were to die in a week? Once I picked everything and it turned quite an interesting story…
That’s a good one!
Hey I’m 14 years old and I love writing but I get writers block often and this really helped me. I love reading the ideas and other people’s ideas they are just very interesting. Number 19 seemed the most interesting to me and I’m almost done with my story. 🙂 thanks so much
Thanks, Violet. I often find that prompts and exercises can be used in different ways. You don’t always have to do the actual exercise. Sometimes, just reading through a book of exercises will generate ideas for a project I’m working on or help me understand a writing concept in a new way. Good luck with your story!
Hi Melissa 🙂 Last year i won junior writer of the year ( I’m 13) and I am entering this year as well and in the process of creating my first draft. I love your site and its wonderful, all-inclusive feel. So, here are my ideas for your list.
26. Post-War oppression & depression ( this was my winning topic last year – i wrote it from the perspective of a scarred war veterans’ emotionally abused child) I also commend you in your point concerning finding hope and light in darkness ( war, death, etc.) and i am going to write about that! Possibly with an Amish girl as the protagonist? thank you again for inspiring me. I also hope to be a great writer some day. Bee
Congratulations, Bee, and thanks for adding to these prompts. I wish you the best of luck in becoming a great writer. You are certainly well on your way!
POV of a toy sitting on a shelf in a toy store, hoping to be purchased.
your pet starts talking to you in perfect english and tells you what he/she really thinks of you…. what does he/she say?
Ha! That could be enlightening indeed!
I actually saw an animated short based on that premise (or something similar to it) and found it quite compelling. A great idea!
“When I look in the mirror, I don’t see what everyone else sees. What I see is…”
Nice! Thanks for adding this prompt, Nick.
My college English teacher gave my class this prompt. First Line: John closed his eyes. Last Line: It was a good day for the yellow crocuses. Anything in between. I easily made five pages with that prompt. Have fun guys.
Thanks for sharing that prompt, Jessy. It’s a good one.
Im a 17 year old living in the most secluded area of Kentucky, unfortunately. lol My dream is to pursue a career in filmmaking, my goal is to help people who are confused or unsure about life and what they want to do with their oppourtunity of life. I want people to think and find happiness in their lives by doing something they love. My idea of doing this came from being in a depressed state from the past few years as a teen and felt strong enough to overcome it without professional help which is progressing for the good. I found setting goals is a great strategy to stay focused and optimistic about life. I appreciate your time for reading this and if there is any advice you could influence me with id appreciate that as well. Thanks
It’s wonderful that you have set your sights on a clear career path at such a young age. Filmmaking is awesome! I sometimes wish I had taken up an interest in film or photography. The best advice I can offer is to never give up, stay focused, and pursue your goals with heart and soul. I would also advise studying film at college, if you can. The film industry is notoriously networked and you’ll benefit greatly by making friends and acquaintances who share your interest. Best of luck to you!
Thanks for taking the time to reply, it’s very much appreciated and yes im going to film school out in LA next year.
Hi! I am 13 and have been writing since I was 7 or younger, and I am in love with writing. I am a very dedicated author and I have finished books in the past (about 11 or 12) but now I can’t seem to get into any longer stories! I write more short stories now, but it’s not satisfying anymore…and then, when I come up with a new idea, it’s useless, and my brain gets all cluttered! Help!
It sounds like you’re having trouble staying focused. The first (and most important) thing that can help with that is to stay healthy: eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. You may also need to break up your writing with other activities. Make sure you read regularly! For the time being, maybe you need to write short stories. I’m not sure you need to fight it.
thank you for the advice! 🙂
You are most welcome!
Hello 🙂 I am 17 and doing my HSC this year. I am attempting (unsuccessfully) to write a creative writing piece as practice for my exams, and thank you so much for these, they’re really helpful 🙂 I am not a writer (and never will be), but these have given me some great ideas that I can hopefully use to increase my writing skills for my exams. So thank you very much 🙂
You are very welcome, Emily, and best of luck on your exams.
I’ve found that this list, and peoples comments/ideas have been quite inspiring. I’m 21 and haven’t been in school for a few years and I have that desire to write, but never knew how to get started. I thank you all for these wonderful ideas and I’m hoping that writing will be a good outlet for me and my struggle with depression.
So really I’m just thanking you all 🙂
You’re welcome, Nicole, and thank you for joining in the discussion. Writing is a great way to work through emotions; I wish you the best of luck!
These are great!!!! My favourite starter would definetly have to be: “Sometimes a girl just has to run. Sometimes our feet take over. This was one of those times”
I think it holds a lot of suspense but it could also be happy and bright, like a sports day or carnival. Thanks for adding these, I am going to try to write a story for each one.
I’m not sure where that starter comes from, but it sounds good to me.
Hi! Thanks so much for these prompts. I especially like number two, because I feel like a little bit of positive thinking can go a long way. 🙂
I have a question, too, if you don’t mind.
What is your opinion on fanfictions? I know some creative writers don’t like them and feel they corrupt a series, while others think it’s a great creative exercise.
Thanks so much!
I think fan fiction is a great way for young and new writers to explore the craft. Some copyright holders are extremely strict about allowing fan fiction to be published. Others will actually develop and publish collections of fan fiction. There are also franchises in which fan fiction is encouraged. One of my all-time favorite writers, TV and film writer Damon Lindelof, said in a recent interview that he started out writing fan fiction. Now he’s writing for Ridley Scott and working on the Star Trek films as a fan-fic professional! It’s definitely an avenue worth pursuing if it interests you.
I’m fifteen and I want to write a book before the end of highschool. The problem is I can’t finish what I’ve started. I always find a “better” idea and write about that and the cycle begins again. Please help me!!!
The only way to finish what you’ve started is to simply finish it. When “better” ideas present themselves, make a note and file those ideas away for a future project. Part of being a writer involves developing self-discipline. I recommend setting up a reward system. For example, you have to work on the novel for 20 minutes before you can call or text your friends after school. Or you have to finish a scene before you go out to see a movie. These are self-imposed rewards, so you have to discipline yourself. Nobody else can do it for you.
You might also look into participating in NaNoWriMo. The timing is great because it starts in just a few weeks. That means you’ll have some time to prepare and check it out. Then you can write your novel in November, leaving plenty of time afterwards for you to clean it up (edit, proof, polish).
Finally, if you’re truly committed to writing, start looking at schools with good creative writing programs and plan to study at college. University instructors are quite helpful in teaching students self-discipline and good writing habits and practices.
Best of luck to you, Art!
Hi! Your prompts and the comments have really helped me! I can’t wait to start some stories from them:) Here are a couple that I’ve come up with: The Bell sounded. Workers froze in their places… Kay frowned as she opened her school locker after school. Down the hall, Alexis and Christine exchanged grins…
That’s great, Alyssa. Keep up the good work!
These are fantastic! I’m also 21 and have been out of school for awhile. I used to write all the time when I was in school but not so much these days. These ideas are really going to help once I get started writing again. I’m attempting to set a goal for myself. An hour a day, just writing whatever I want. Just to get me back in the habit.
Thank you so much!!!
One prompt my creative writing teacher in high school gave the class was “It was a smile that darkness could kill…”
That’s wonderful! An hour a day is enough to produce quite a bit of writing. I wish you the best of luck, Ashlee!
Obviously it is now 2011 haha, but these are great!! I have wanted to write a novel for quite some time but I can’t seem to get the creative juices flowing. So I set out on a quest across the World Wide Web and I am finding some amazing ideas!! Thank you so much for this website I look forward to writing now instead of despairing of that dreaded cursor blinking me to oblivion!!
I hope your quest for inspiration is fruitful! And keep writing!
I’ve just been inspired to start a personal blog full of my own creative writing, with the assistance of some of these wonderful writing prompts (both yours, and the ones left in the comment section). Thank you, thank you, thank you.
That’s wonderful! Blogs have been a boon for writers, and I think more writers should take advantage of the technology. I wish you the best of luck with your blog, Emily.
Hi, I’m 17. I started creative writing when I was about 10 or 11. I found myself writing more and more when I was troubled a few years back, so it was good stress relief for me. But now that I’m busy with college, I realize that I haven’t been writing as much as I used to. I reread some of my old work and I thought “Hey, why not? I’ll give it a try for old times’ sake.”
I was a bit confused with where to start off, but these prompts really got my creative juices flowing. After I post this comment, I think I’ll try one or two of them and see how far it takes me. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂
I’m so glad that these prompts inspired you, Christi. I think many writers go through phases when they drift away from the craft, but when you’re called back to it, that might be a sign. Follow it and keep writing!
In my junior year of high school, we were given a creative writing assignment to expand on this sentence:
“A person walked into the room, looked around, sat down, and ate.”
That’s a great prompt. It would certainly be interesting to see what a whole classroom of people come up with. I imagine each piece of writing would be quite different from the others, even though they are all based on the same premise. Thanks for sharing it, Alli.
Here’s a prompt! Prop open the door. I can actually see my breathe tonight. But that doesnt mean im breathing.
Ooh, sounds like a zombie, robot, or vampire story.
These writing ideas helped a lot thank you. I really want to go to a creative writing school when I get older. One idea which I just came up with is Write from the perspective of your fish.( does each fish have there own personality, how does each fish react to the different members of the house, what is it like to be a fish) 😛 I hope you like I write often mostly stories with a more poetic base, but once in a while i will feel in the mood to write some thing different. Oh also try continuing after this sentence. Its eyes gleamed pitch black death, creeping into imaginary, azure skies. now continue it :3
Thanks for sharing your prompt, Samantha, and good luck to you!
For school, I have to enter a creative writing competition. I have two days and i was really panicking but then i found this website! It really helped! Thankyou Writing Forward!!
Hannah, I’m so glad you found help and inspiration here. Thank you!
Lately I’ve been trying to write a lot like Sarah Dessen! Were doing stories in class and I’m doin one about a girl who runs away, it starts out “I’m on the run! I don’t know where I’m going or where I’ll end up, but I’m not turning back!” 🙂 Do you like it?
I do like your opening line. It certainly grabs the reader’s attention and rouses curiosity. Nice job.
Thank you so much!!!! This got me over my terrible case of writer’s block. But now my muse is back!
Wow, thanks, Maria. That’s awesome!
I just want to say that this list of prompts has inspired me to take on a challenge of using one every day up until xmas on my blog… or at least until the end of the month!
Thanks for the great list 🙂
That’s awesome, Julz. Good luck with your December writing!
I haven’t tried it yet, but I think a fun way to mix these up even more would be to choose one of these, then draw the name of an author out of a hat, then write that prompt in the style of that author. That would really stretch your creativity.
That’s an excellent exercise and would definitely be challenging. You’d have to be deeply familiar with the author’s voice.
I have found these prompts really helpful for the English lessons that I teach.
That’s great, Cass. I love the idea of these prompts helping students with reading and writing.
i have learnt English as a second language…writing is my passion…this page is REALLY inspiring!thanks for evoking our creative faculties… i want to suggest some topics and the list goes as: 1The beast in me 2Daily journal of a pair of shoes which is in the process of its making 3What the world be if gender roles get changed 4What if i were in the shoes of my English teacher 5How things at the high school are going to be if the concept of beauty gets altered altogether 6It is said that writing is all about pouring your mind on a piece of paper but what it your pen literally starts articulating your thoughts and you end up writing EVERRRRYTHING(What consequences are you going to face)
Thanks for adding your ideas to these prompts!
I haven’t tried the prompts yet but I have always wanted to be a writer since I was eight years old. However ever since graduating and entering the real world I find my muse being choked to death by the responsibility at home. I’ve had to give up my dream of writing for the past two years. I tried taking it up again and was drawing a huge blank, but just by reading a few of these prompts I’ve felt my muse start to breathe. Thank you!
Hi Rochelle. I remember graduating and entering the real world, and I had a similar experience. All of a sudden I just didn’t have the time or inspiration. It took a while, but I adjusted and my creativity returned. I’m so glad you found these prompts helpful!
I found like 5 great writing prompts thank u so much
You are so welcome!
you thought dragoons unicorns and monsters didnt exist? think again! write story of your pet unicorn
That’s a cute idea!
Thank you for these, I am a writer waiting to hear if a publisher is going to publish my novel. Waiting is so hard and my mind has gone blank. These help to stir the jucies again. I’m hand writing them in a note book and taking them with me when I’m out, to write on the go. When I have to wait for a kid to get to the car I can write and not have to figure out how to start a story. So thank you. so much.
That’s awesome. What is it about being in a car or shower that makes us more creative? I always get ideas in those two locations!
thanks sooo much! those were super helfull! you have the most helpfull website ive found! and i’m a picky writer! THANKYOU!!!
here are some more ideas: you inherit 1 million dollars your backpack grows wings on the way to school a zombie invasion stikes your small/big town a kidnapper captures you … hope these help 🙂
Hey! These prompts really helped and I can’t wait to use some 🙂 I have started with the one about twinklling eyes and turned it into a story about creatures similar to werewolves XD
Sounds interesting, Molly! Good luck with your story, and keep writing!
My English teacher says she doesn’t believe in writer’s block. I on the other hand am not so sure. Sometimes I sit in the afternoon and stare out the window, unable to come up with anything good but I find that ideas flow like crazy at two in the morning with a cup of coffee in my left hand. That’s always my best remedy, though writing prompts like these always help me get going. Thanks for sharing 🙂
10 things I hate about… What’s the recipe for those wonderful _______ muffins you baked last night? (Try filling that blank with ‘unicorn’.)
I believe in writer’s block, but I think that it’s presented as being unable to write whereas usually it’s just a case of needing to work a little harder at writing. Sometimes, we need to stop procrastinating, stop trying to force our ideas, or we just need to allow ourselves to write badly for a while. I believe there are ideas everywhere; the trick is to keep ourselves open to them and be willing to explore them. Having said all that, writer’s block still sucks. I’m like you, Maluly, the ideas flow like crazy at two in the morning (no coffee required!).
i dont believe in writiers block.. i think its more like an exuse to hide what we really want to write or say. Like sometimes peoploe wonder if it will be good enough so they put it off or they dont want people who read it to know something.. its all about the way you look at it i guess. Write what you feel. Write whatever you want. I love writing but i find myself wondering will this be good enough? What would someone think if they read it? Maybe thats just me. no self esteem… but, low selfesteem is what keeps creativity hidden…. my advice.. to everyone is to just go for it. if its not good try again you’ll get better(:
I agree: just go for it.
Thanks for these! I definitely believe in writer’s block!! In fact, I am just emerging from what I like to call writer’s ‘droubt’, since it lasted at least a year. But I don’t think you need to be blocked to use prompts. They are great exercises and get you to try new ways of writing. And sometimes, when I get burned out with the story I’m currently writing, it helps to focus on something completely different for a while, and you can come back to it with fresh eyes. Here are some prompts that I came up with and they helped me out: 1) ‘It all started with the cat…’ 2) ‘Have you ever seen something out of the corner of your eye, but when you turned to look, found nothing there? You dismiss it as an illusion, a trick of the light. You’re wrong…’ 3) Write something from the perspective of a ghost. 4) Write something using the five senses EXCEPT sight (hearing, smell, touch, taste) 5) Instead of using first or third person, write with second person point-of-view (in other words, use ‘you’ instead of ‘he/she’ or ‘I’. Or try writing in present or even future tense, instead of past tense.
Oh yeah, and one more: 6) Write something from the perspective of the BAD guy, instead of the hero
I love when stories do this! Thanks for adding it, CJM.
These are excellent prompts, especially well suited for speculative fiction writers. My favorite is the prompt about seeing something out of the corner of your eye (that happens to me sometimes!). Thanks for adding these.
Here’s one for those of you who have pets What do your pets do when you and other inhabitants of your house are not at home?
Ooh, that’s a good one, Lily. That could be great for a children’s story!
Thank you SO much for these exciting writing prompts! They really inspire me. I have one idea for a prompt: Write about a conversation that you would have if were stuck in an elevator with a celebrity or famous book character.
You’re welcome, Arieda. I love your elevator prompt! You could also do it with characters from your novel as a test to see how each would behave in an elevator with a celebrity. That could tell you a lot about your characters. Good one!
Lovely ideas, both of these! Arieda, that prompt gave me a short story idea, one that I’m pretty excited about, and I’m definitely going to have to do that with all my characters now, Melissa. 🙂 I thought up another twist on this prompt that intrigues me: Your characters get stuck in an elevator with you, their author. How do they react when they discover who you are and that you control their destinies? What sort of conversations would you have? Would you like interacting with your character? Would your character like you?
Hannah, I love your prompt idea. What a fun writing exercise: The Character Meets the Author. That’s quite brilliant!
Thank you so much for these, I’m trying to write a book…and I’ve been at a stand still lately, so this will help me more than ever.
You’re welcome, Alexis. I’m glad you found these prompts helpful.
Hi Ms. Donovan! thank you so much for the writing prompts! i’ve been using them for all my english creative writing assignments. it’s been my dream to be a writer since i was little. although i find it hard to write mysteries. ironically it’s my favorite genre to read though. any advice on how to get started on a good mystery?
I myself haven’t written mysteries, although I have read a few. My suggestion would be to read as many mysteries as you can, and watch mystery films and television shows, so you thoroughly know your genre (you should still read other stuff too!). Study the greats and ideas will come to you!
Wow i have writers block i have my charecter but i dont know what the problem is…… help any good title ideas?
When I’m stuck and can’t come up with a character or a title, I just skip it. The important thing is to keep writing. You can always come back later and add names and titles. Here’s how I do it:
GIRL said that there was no way out but OLD LADY knew otherwise…
I use all caps for characters who don’t have names yet. Many writers use a “working title” as they are developing their project. A working title can be anything. It’s just temporary.
You’ll find that as you work on your project (and if you work around these little setbacks), ideas will come to you. Good luck!
Awesome post:) Thanks so much, really helped! have a great day! Peace-Jeff
A prompt could be : She started to fall over and _________( fill in the blank) picked her up.
or : The alien gaze stared from above the fence , and I blushed in embarrassment.
100 words about your favorite animal
a short story about a difficult topic like : war , famine , bullying .etc
a poem about the weather
Hi Melody! Thanks for adding your prompts to this ever-growing list!
Your prompts are definitely creative and helpful, but what I’m most impressed with is how you respond so positively and encouragingly to everyone who replied to this. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of encouragement or approval from even a complete stranger to shift a young writers thought from maybe being able to do something to just doing it. I haven’t written in months, and are still my having any real luck, but I know I will write again someday, and I just thought it should be mentioned that you are a good person for encouraging others to do what they love. Best of luck to you…
Thank you so much, Shannon. Your words mean a lot to me. I try to be an advocate for writers and encourage young and new writers to explore their ideas and find their voices. I believe the world would be a better place if we all followed our passions, and more importantly, encouraged others to do so as well.
The little girl cries with a lie on her lips The girl can’t remember her name The little boy’s laugh rings with hollow self-doubt The little girl feels just the same A little dog lost in the thick of the woods A little man sick with dismay A little boy born in the arms of the girl A little life born from a day A little death born from an ignorant choice A little boy crying away And a little God laughs at the sight of it all For this little herd has not a say
Thanks for sharing your poem with us, Conner. Keep writing!
It’s the first time that i’m gonna be doing an inter-school creative writing competition, and i found these prompts really helpful! Thanks a billion!
Really like the prompts! It was really helpful! My brother and I are always gonna use this website! I <3 it!
Thanks! I’m glad you like it here 🙂
Thanks Melissa for the writing prompts. I asked my students to develop their writing skill through these useful prompts. By the way, I have published my first fiction ‘Faith No More’. I’d be extremely glad if you could manage to read any of it and provide me with feedback.
Hi Afshin. Thanks for sharing these prompts with your students. Requests for feedback should be sent via email (you can use the “Contact” link at the top of this site).
i have been major struggling with writing my second book and when i found these i just opened up my mind more and i decided not to write a second book it was just fine without one and now i can be on a whole other spectrum thanks so much these has inspired me a lot i put a few of em together to get ideas 🙂 well done 🙂 highly appreciated
That’s awesome. Thanks for letting me know that these prompts helped you. Good luck with your writing projects!
I just got a typewriter at a great market the other day so I came looking for something to help me have fun and get inspired while I was using it. Thanks for the help! I ended up writing a thing about an embarrassing moment that helped me learn how to not sweat it when embarrassing moments happen. This particular one had to do with toilet paper… haha. Cheers!
Embarrassing moments always make for good storytelling. Enjoy your new typewriter!
I’ve been really into playwriting lately, but I’ve been stuck with writers block for the longest time. A couple of these prompts really caught my attention and I’ve already got so many new ideas, I don’t know where to begin! 🙂
That’s awesome. I’m glad you found this piece so helpful.
I have had writers block for months now. This site has helped me so much!
I’m thrilled to hear that! Keep writing!
My favorite way to start up a story is to listen to a song and think about the story of it. Sometimes I use the first part of the song as the first sentence of my story. I hope this helps.
That’s an awesome idea! I love music-literature crossovers.
Hi thank you so much for these ideas i have chosen an idea and i have a perfect picture of my idea . Thank you again and as you will see on all of your comments you have helped a lot of children or adults from this website . Thank you !
You’re welcome! Thanks for commenting.
I shared #9 with my page for a fun writing exercise about an hour ago. Great response! 🙂
Thanks for sharing one of these prompts with your readers. I hope they have fun with it.
Thanks for the prompts! Reading other people’s ideas always makes me feel more hopeful about initiating my own. I have struggled to put my thoughts down on paper for as long as I can remember- there just seems to be a disconnect between the disorganized chaos of possibilities in my head and that little spot where the ink meets the paper. BUT- I wanted to offer an idea that has often provided many interesting and fun possibilities to me- Think of a time of day ( 7 pm, the sun setting, the day cooling off, night creatures beginning to stir), or a month ( August, the air laden with heat and damp, everything deep and green and vibrant), and then try to think of all the qualities that accompany that period of time ( do most people seem happy then? is it a relaxing time? a tense time? does the weather make life easier or harder?). Once you’ve collected as many descriptions and feelings about this time as you can, then begin to build a world where it is ALWAYS that time- how do people’s lives change? 🙂
Ooh, that’s a great exercise. I wasn’t expecting the twist at all! Love it.
This is awesme. i like these. i like writing prompts, and this is a very helpful website
Thanks! I’m glad you liked these prompts.
omg wow, this helped me so much, thankyou so much!! i love my writing and this just helped me ten fold. xxx
You’re welcome. I’m glad you found it helpful.
I’ve been writing since i was eight, [approximately (obviously – i haven’t been counting!)] but I started to loose it… flame was REIGNITED by my best friend. but despite the burning, I have never actually completed a story. It knaws at me all the time! I’m currently writing a revolutionary/Sci-fi, which is odd for me, I’m more into writing realist novels… but your prompts gave me such a PERFECT plot twist that I had to comment on it! this will give me motivation for at least a few weeks… (meanwhile dancing up and down with sheer joy and attracting VERY weird looks.) Though it IS kind of weird, because non of the prompts have anything to do with it… My, how strangely the mind works…
Yes, the mind works in mysterious ways. I’m glad one of these prompts inspired you. Best of luck with your story (I love sci-fi).
This website is a life saver. My brain just froze and I was trying to do a creative writing story, and my life and my school / collage life depended on it. Thanks to one of your prompts, it won my school a pride. Thanks a lot. 🙂 bye!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Whoops I meant prize
That’s awesome, Tierrney! Congrats on winning a prize. Keep writing!
wow great writing promts, ive already decided on the start of my story but I cant think of anything that can happen. I want something to happen. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Try throwing some conflict at your main character. Good luck to you!
Wow!! I tried prompt number one just for fun one day, I have not exercised my creative mind in a long time, and I want to thank you for offering these prompts. I really surprised myself at the poem I wrote. It probably wouldnt go over to well with the grammar police because I used old english and standard english.. but the content just really surprised me. I was like, “where did that come from”? Thank you so much!!!! Blessings and Thanks to you for your website!
Thanks for your kind words, Kathleen. I’m so glad you found inspiration here!
thank you so much i found 3 ideas for a school project i am working on this is going to be one of my most big acomplishments!
You’re welcome! Good luck with your project.
i love this website because it helped me get an A on my project!!! i am soo thankfull to WRITING FORWARD!!! thank you sooo much and i am sooo confident that i will be sure to use this website again….thanX a million luv WRIGHTING FORWARD~~kbb
You’re welcome. Congratulations on getting such a good grade!
Writing comes from the mind and obviously the ideas comes from our real life….The story of mystery novels always comes from the fear we have in our minds and it can come from everything… I can remember the things…when I wrote my first poem ‘Rain’…it was raining in cats and dogs outside…..
I think writing comes from many places. I try not to over-analyze it, but it is interesting to examine our ideas and try to figure out where they came from.
I really like your ideas but I had some of my own that I think you could add to your list. You could add things like:
You’re outside cutting your grass when you come across a large hole in the ground. You’ve never noticed the hole before, but it looks to be some sort of tunnel to another world. You decide to peek through and see where it leads, only it leads you to a pivotal moment in your past—and it’s giving you an opportunity to change it. Write this scene.
A toy, stuffed animal, or game that once meant a lot to me
Why I deserve a larger allowance
The book that got me hooked on reading
This really bugs me.
One thing I want to do by the time I finish 8th grade
I would like to have lived during this time in history.
Thanks for adding these writing prompts, Shreya.
Start your story with: Jessica had no choice. She closed her eyes and jumped.
You might be surprised.
Ah, that’s an interesting prompt.
Here one possibly
What if you woke up one day with no memories in a strange world where nobody was who they said they were?
Wow! I really like this list of prompts! I’ve been looking for inspiration to write a short story and I especially liked the one about dragons! “We’ve all seen cute and cuddly dragons, mean and vicious dragons, and noble dragons write about a different dragon”
Thanks, Meredith! I’m glad you liked these writing prompts.
Anyone considered using visual (photos/paintings) prompts?
A scenic view, a city view, a beach, a hill, a house, a village, a car, a train, a plane, a boat, a castle, a body?
Yes, I’ve used visual prompts, and I’ve included them in my book, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts . The image prompts are described (rather than using images), but they’re a lot of fun.
Hi I’m Hallie I’m 13 years old and I love writing. Just for some reason I can never think of things to write about. I really like fantasy. I look online for writing prompt ideas and I find a lot of good ones but none of them really click. I really want to write something but I don’t know what. What should I do?
Hi Hallie. Thanks for visiting Writing Forward. What you’re experiencing is fairly common among writers. I have experienced it many times — when I want to write but I don’t know what to write and nothing clicks, I will look through prompts and my old notes, and I just don’t get fired up about anything.
I’ve found that in moments like these, the best thing to do is just write anyway. We can’t feel inspired and fired up all the time. And often, when I force myself to just follow some prompt or writing exercise, even when I don’t really feel like it, I start to get into it and eventually, something clicks.
There will be many times when writing is fun or even thrilling. But I’ve found that the people who stick with writing are those who write even when they’re not especially inspired. Sometimes it’s work. Stick with it, and you’ll experience all these highs and lows. Every single one of them is worth it.
Wow! I really like the diversity of your prompts, Mellisa. I’ve been writing a collection of short stories of my childhood experience of the Biafran War in Nigeria and struggled with some troubling memories but you’ve reminded me that I could just write everything as it comes to me and revise later. Also, I love your children stories prompts.
Thank you, Edit. That makes my day. I’m always glad when people find the articles here at Writing Forward useful. Good luck with your stories. That sounds like an important project.
is it weird that when i saw the one on dragons the first thought to my mind is ‘ i counld do one on a gay dragon, right?’ and then when i saw number 4 ( for all the twilight fans, just a heads up), i thought of jasper hale- i’m not calling him ugly- but i saw the fear part and thought to myself how he fears hurting someone/ losing control.
Is it weird? I don’t think it’s weird. The point of the prompts is to engage your imagination, so it seems like they are working, which is great.
I absolutely love these! I have been writing since I was able to talk. I told my dad exactly what to write down on little pieces of paper. Now that I’m fourteen, I was sure I wrote every idea imaginable. But these really gave me a fresh perspective, and for that, I am so grateful! It also inspired me to come up with a prompt of my own: She sprinted through the trees, quickly twisting around thick trunks as she dodged the sheriff’s arrows. Her stomach ached from the laughs that shook her entire body. Foolish sheriff. He thought he could catch a pirate?
I’m glad you enjoyed these writing prompts. Your prompt is awesome. Keep writing! It will take you places that only you can imagine.
I loved these prompts. I had my friends pick a number between 1 and 25 to chose which on to do. I think they improved my writing skills. Thank you!
I’m glad you enjoyed these prompts, Nora. Thanks for your comment.
I am a 13 year old and I love to write. I have a best friend and she always wants to see my writing, but I didn’t want her to see it because I didn’t think it was very good. She insisted on seeing it, and when I showed her the first chapter in a story I was writing just for myself, she thought it was brilliant. She then disguised it as an excerpt from an e-book app and showed it to our English teacher. My friend pretended that it was a real, published book by an actual author and asked for the teacher’s opinion. The teacher loved it and asked for the name of the book. When she discovered it was written by her own pupil, she was shocked and said i should send it to a publisher. Now I am confused. I didn’t think my writing was very good. What should I do now?
Hi Sam. I was your age when I started writing.
There are a few things you might want to do. First, continue working on your book until it’s finished. This will be hard. You will probably lose interest at some point. You’ll get stuck and feel unsure where to take the story. You’ll have other ideas that seem better, and you’ll be tempted to set this story aside. Don’t be deterred. Stick with it.
Do your parents know about your interest in writing? At 13, you would need their involvement in any publishing or submissions that you might want to do. You can also try talking to your teacher. Don’t be shy about this. It’s the job of teachers to guide their students. But keep in mind, not all English teachers are knowledgeable about the publishing industry. See if she can offer some guidance. You might be able to find literary magazine for kids your age and submit your writing so you can start getting some practice in the publishing world.
Beyond that, make sure you read a lot and write as much you can. If you love writing, it’s something that will always be with you. As you get older, you’ll be able to carve out the path you want, whether that’s to make writing a career or continue enjoying it as a hobby.
Best of luck to you!
I am 10 and I have written a few short stories of my own, and I really enjoy creative writing. I was very pleased when I found this website, now I won’t be struggling to think about what to write.
That’s wonderful, Kaiya. We love having young writers around here. Thanks so much!
I’m 12 and I also really like writing. I have always been trying to write short stories since I was six (I started with mostly seven page picture books). Finding how to start a story has always been pretty hard, but these prompts have really helped! I definitely have to explore some more of these prompts. There are so many! Thank you!!
Wow, Naomi, that’s wonderful. I was just a little older than you (13) when I started writing (poetry for me). You have a long and wonderful journey ahead of you, and I hope you enjoy all of it! You’re welcome for these prompts. I’m so glad you found them helpful.
Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful post with us.
the one that has the tailsman remids me of “Wings of Fire” because one of the dragons named darkstalker put is animus magic on a scroll and called it his tailsman and he can read minds so it really reminded me of that book
I haven’t read Wings of Fire but it sounds interesting!
oh and it fell into the wrong hands or really talons but ya i just wanted to share that information thank you for this i really got some good ideas like the detective one
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- Research Guides
- ENGL 207: Introduction to Creative Writing: Fiction and Poetry Workshop (Fall 2023)
ENGL 207: Introduction to Creative Writing: Fiction and Poetry Workshop (Fall 2023) : Welcome
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Welcome to the research guide for English 207!
This guide is intended to help you conduct research using library databases and find sources that can inform your short stories or poems.
When you have questions, librarians are here to help ! You can get help in the following ways: chat, email, call /text, visit, or consultation. For the most immediate help, use the Ask a Librarian chat service. See the chat service hours .
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- Last Updated: Oct 30, 2023 1:08 PM
- URL: https://researchguides.library.wisc.edu/ENGL207
- How to write a story
- How to write a novel
- How to write poetry
- How to write a script
- How to write a memoir
- How to write a mystery
- Creative journaling
- Publishing advice
- Story starters
- Poetry prompts
- For teachers
Poetry Prompts and Poem Starters
- Three wishes
- Traveling to an unknown place
- Getting a haircut
- A scientific fact (real or invented)
- An insect that got into your home
- The sound of a specific language
- The number 3
- Missing someone
- Something that makes you angry
- The feeling of writing, why you want to be a writer
- The ups and downs of love
- The view out your window
- City lights at night
- A particular work of art
- Having a superpower
- Being in an airplane
- Playing a sport
- A person transformed into an animal
- Find happiness
- Peel a peach
- "Silky," "gigantic," and "puzzle."
- "Leaf," "accelerating," and "sticky."
- "Skin," "drastic," and "dusty."
- "Interrupt," "nutmeg," and "crystalline."
- "Exacting," "oxygen," and "delicate."
- "Reptilian," "arched," and "honey."
Even more poem starters
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Love To Write? Check Out These 51 Creative Writing Prompts For Adults
An essential part of being a writer is daily practice —even if that practice is only a few minutes.
And even when the results are less inspired than you hoped.
As long as you’re committed to building a writing habit and practicing your craft, you’re a writer—not just an “aspiring” one.
Sometimes, all you need is a generous supply of fun writing prompts for adults to get you started.
We’re happy to help with that.
What Are Some Interesting Writing Prompts?
The best, most effective writing topics for adults are those you enjoy. They should stimulate your memory and imagination and create connections in the mind. All you need to do at that moment is to let the words flow onto the page.
Writing prompts can do this in one or more of the following ways:
- Remind you of a significant event in your own life;
- Trigger a powerful emotion about a particular event or relationship;
- Connect to a meaningful experience you’d like to dwell on for a bit;
- Connect to other disjointed details in your memory;
- Relate to universal themes you’d like to explore.
How You Can Use Daily Writing Prompts for Adults
Here are a few ideas for using adult writing prompts:
- Start a creating writing journal using these as daily prompts ;
- Take one prompt and break it down into smaller installments;
- Start a creative writing group and share 1-3 prompts per week;
- Play music that fits the mood of a particular prompt;
- Set a timer and commit to writing for at least five minutes straight.
The best ideas for using the list of prompts below are those you’ll actually use and enjoy.
51 Creative Writing Prompts for Adults
Read through the following list of adult writing prompts and let your imagination respond to each one. Some will get your mind going more quickly than others. Some will have a stronger effect at different times.
You’re welcome to keep this whole list handy or make a smaller list with your favorites.
1. You’ve just been jolted out of a dream you’d give all your worldly possessions to return to. What was it about?
2. Someone you look up to makes an unexpected and hurtful remark about your body. What goes through your head, and how do you respond?
3. You’re alone at night in your apartment in the city, and the doorbell starts ringing repeatedly. You look through the peephole and…
4. You write an anonymous advice column and one day discover the unintended consequences of advice you thought was helpful.
5. By day, you’re a responsible, if reclusive, college student. By night, you fly over your city as a dragon.
6. On the advice of her therapist, you write about a character from her dreams, and they show up at your door.
7. Your significant other interrupts your work one day to say, “I need to tell you something.” What goes through your mind?
8. You don’t really want a pet, but when a friendly stray follows you home, your tender heart wins out and you let it in.
9. You meet someone with whom you feel not only safe but wanted and cherished. One day you catch them with someone else.
10. You wake up in a different place lying next to someone else and, for some reason you feel more at home. But which life is real?
11. You’re a few short hours away from facing your worst nightmare. What is it, and how do you prepare?
12. You wake up with a headache in a coffin-size box and hear voices outside it speaking a different language.
13. What comes to mind with the words, “What were you thinking ?”
14. For some reason, everyone is giving you strange looks and tip-toeing around you.
15. Figures. Just when you get good at coding, the internet shuts down — everywhere.
16. You were digging in your yard when you found it. And you fully intend to keep it secret.
17. You’re comfortable with anonymity, so it’s unsettling when, one day, everyone you meet acts as if they’ve known you all your life.
18. Your spouse thinks you’re leaving for work, but you know the truth. Maybe, one day, you’ll tell them—if you survive today.
19. Someone slips a note underneath your apartment door. You unfold it to find a phone number and a brief, urgent message.
20. Your spouse asks if you’re interested in trying something different with your marriage. And it’s not fantasy role-play.
21. You wake up one day, and everyone seems shocked to see you alive. You look in the mirror and understand why.
22. You wake up in the body of a famous historical figure you’ve been studying. How does your day go?
23. Ever since the accident, you’ve been hearing voices—not all the time but often when it’s least convenient.
24. You show up alone at an old friend’s funeral to pay your respects, but when you reach the coffin, the face you see is your own.
25. You’ve always taken comfort in the presence of your own shadow, but it’s started taking on a life of its own.
26. You have one day to do whatever you want without any consequences. What do you do?
27. You’re visited one night by the disembodied spirit of someone you know (still living). Why do they visit you?
28. You’re on the worst vacation ever. And you’re about to do something crazy to change it for the better.
29. An evil genius hires you as his personal assistant. Your first day on the job is life-changing.
30. Your life is the subject of a favorite TV show. Describe your character and write about an important scene of your own making.
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61 Fantasy Writing Prompts To Stoke Your Creativity
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31. You find a high-paying job doing something you love. But when your devoutly religious relatives ask what you do, you lie.
32. Your parents have just revealed a family secret they hoped they’d never have to tell you. You’re about to share it with your partner.
33. You’re in couple’s therapy, and the therapist suggests something you initially consider outrageous but are then… surprisingly open to it.
34. Write about a time when you had to hide from someone. Were you protecting yourself—or them?
35. Write about an animal you identify with and describe the traits you share with them—or wish you shared.
36. Describe a moment when someone you were once attracted to tried to intimidate you, and you turned the tables.
37. Write about how different your life might be if, back at a pivotal moment in your life, you’d taken a different turn.
38. Write about a relationship that taught you an important lesson and what you would tell that person now.
39. You inherit a house and discover a secret door leading to a surprise your deceased relative clearly knew about.
40. You meet and become friends with someone who’s the living equivalent of a favorite character from a novel you’ve read—or written.
41. You become famous, and your life changes overnight. Write about how it happens and what it leads to.
42. Create a powerful antagonist character and describe them. What kind of relationship would you or your protagonist have with them?
43. “She looked at me as if seeing me for the first time. When she finally spoke, she said… “
44. You did or said something that has left your family and friends speechless with shock. What is it, and what are the consequences?
45. You have this eerie feeling someone or something is following you home. You’re right. What or who is it, and what do they want?
46. You make a birthday wish, and it comes true. Describe what happens as a result.
47. You stand up to a bully, and the results are mixed. What happens?
48. You finally get your dream job (or gig), and then you learn something about it that changes everything.
49. For the first time in your life, you feel free to express your thoughts and see them as worth expressing. Why?
50. You write a book that becomes a bestseller , and someone you meet tells you it’s their new favorite. Describe the book and your fan.
51. You get a dream job, and your boss turns out to be something other than human. The problem? You’re falling hard for them.
Now that you’ve looked through all the above writing prompts, which ones stood out for you as favorites? And which will you use today?
Inspiring and educating bright minds.
30 Poetry Prompt Ideas to Bring Out the Wordsmith in You
One of the common struggles that poets often face is a lack of inspiration caused by the dreaded writer’s block. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or seasoned poet, there will always be moments when you can’t find a suitable topic to base your poem on. Other times you may have the topic but not enough motivation to start writing. Writer’s block isn’t unique to poets. It affects other kinds of writers too, including article writers, academic writers, creative writers, etc. In fact, anyone in a career of serious communication, such as journalists and public relations officers, face writer’s block from time to time. However, the intricate nature of poems makes it especially difficult for poets to deal with writer’s block. Most people would prefer taking a break and resuming their poem writing on a later date. But writer’s block can last weeks, months, and even years. So, this strategy may not always be effective. Fortunately, there are numerous valuable poetry prompts that can help get your creative juices flowing. Poetry prompts are basically cues that help you decide on the best poetry topic to write about or the right words to use. The prompts can be anything, ranging from a short passage from a book to an image, memory, etc. In this post, we highlight the best poetry prompts that will surely bring out the wordsmith in you.
30 Poetry Prompt Ideas
1. Write a poem on a general topic
It’s a lot easier to come up with a nice poem on a general idea. Some of the popular topics you can consider include life, death, love, trust, Mother Nature, etc.
2. Write a poem about yourself
Nobody understands you better than yourself. So, writing a poem about yourself should pretty much come naturally. The poem can be about any aspect of your life, such as your physical features, personality, aspirations, dislikes, etc.
3. Choose a quirky topic
Humans have always been fascinated by quirky topics like ghosts, vampires, angels, and the afterlife. The best thing about paranormal poems is the freedom to ventilate your personal opinions.
4. Write about your greatest achievement/aspiration
Think of the greatest thing you’ve accomplished or aspire to achieve in life. Then write a poem about how it happened or how you intend to make it happen.
5. Write about your worst failure
Poetry makes it easy to narrate our failures without shame and reservation. And there’s hardly any human being who hasn’t failed a couple of times.
6. Write about your biggest regret
Whether it’s passing up a lucrative job offer or breaking up with your partner, there’s definitely one thing that if given a chance, you’d go back in time and do differently.
7. Write about the greatest dream you’ve ever had
Recall the greatest dream you’ve ever had and how you felt when you woke up, then write a poem based on that.
8. Focus on your senses
Each of the human senses is associated with certain attributes. If you’re struggling to find a topic to base your poem off, just choose one of your five senses and write a poem that focuses on that sense.
9. Look around the room
Take a random look around your house or the office. Note the first thing that catches your fancy. Now, start writing a poem describing that thing.
10. Think of a great color
We all have our favorite colors – mine are grey and orange. You can think of your favorite color and write a poem inspired by it. If you happen not to have a favorite color, just write on any random color you can think of.
11. Write about a photograph
You can also write a poem based on a picture or painting. This can be your own photo/painting or that of someone else, such as the iconic painting of the Mona Lisa.
12. Think of your favorite song
Music is one of the greatest sources of inspiration. If you have a favorite song (and I bet you do), listen to it and take note of the feelings and emotions it inspires in you. Now, write a poem based on those emotions.
13. Think of the first time something exciting or embarrassing happened to you
Do you remember the day you went on your maiden date? What about the day you first got laid? These first memories can make a suitable topic for your next poem.
14. Think of a recent event
Go back one week or one month and pick the most extraordinary thing that happened to you. It doesn’t matter whether the experience was fulfilling or embarrassing, just use it as the basis for your next poem.
15. Pay tribute to a friend or family member
I bet there’s that friend or relative who left a significant impact in your life. How about you write a poem specifically dedicated to them!
16. Become an animal or inanimate object
Adopt the persona of an animal like the donkey or an inanimate object like the tombstone. Now, write a poem about your daily struggles.
17. Become your favorite pet
Imagine you were your canine or feline friend and write a poem from their own perspective. This is a perfect opportunity to address your human owner (who happens to be you) on how best to take care of your needs.
18. Become the most notorious criminal
Write a poem about a criminal who’s always on the run. Highlight how you’ve managed to avoid numerous police dragnets and why you think the boys in blue may never catch up with you.
19. Use the 7 Days – 7 Lines rule
In the 7 Days – 7 Lines rule, you write a poem where each line or sentence portrays a specific day of the week.
20. Tap into a strange conversation
Think of the most random conversation you’ve had with someone this week. Use a word or phrase from that conversation to start the first line of your poem.
21. Write a how-to poem
You can also write a poem in the form of an instructional guide. Consider things that most people take for granted, including how to pour a cup of coffee or how to jumpstart a car.
22. Take a walk down the memory lane
Try to relive your childhood and write a poem about the best advice you’d give to your younger version. Or, write a poem about your best childhood memory.
23. Address a poem to the future version of you
Picture yourself thirty years from now and write a poem addressing the future you.
24. Write a time freeze poem
Imagine a situation where the clock stopped and everyone you know was frozen in place. Write a poem about what they would likely be doing.
25. Write about traveling
Traveling is one of the most therapeutic human experiences. So, travel-based poems can provide the creative breakthrough you’re looking for.
26. Write about your phobias
We all have phobias. Whether it’s the fear of height, spiders, or darkness, you can whip a stellar poem based on what you’re most afraid of.
27. Write a ‘Would You Rather’ poem
This is basically a poem about something you don’t want to do, with the focus on what you’d rather do instead.
28. Experiment with a new poetry form
You could be struggling with writer’s block because you’re always writing in one poetry form. Experimenting with a new form might help unlock your creativity.
29. Write an apology poem
The emotion of guilt is known to provoke a strong response. So, think of a past mistake and write a sincere apology poem as though you’re addressing the person you offended.
30. Write a poem in second-grade language
Sometimes, our greatest hindrance to writing is finding suitable words to use. Writing in second-grade language will allow your mind to focus more on the ideas as opposed to the coherence or fluency of your sentences.
The above collection of poetry prompts will go a long way in clearing your mind of inspiration barriers. Whether you’re an aspiring poet or a seasoned one, you can bookmark this post for future reference whenever you’ll be battling writer’s block. And if you have some cool poetry prompts you’d like to share, feel free to post them in the comments section below.
Posted by: Igor Ovsyannnykov
Igor is a SEO specialist, designer, and freelance writer. He believes that knowledge can change the world and be used to inspire and empower young people to build the life of their dreams. When he is not writing in his favorite coffee shop, Igor spends most of his time reading, traveling, producing house music, and capturing light with his camera. He is a sucker for good coffee, Indian food, and video games.
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Self-care can come in many forms. For some, it may be an indulgent bite of chocolate to reset in between Zoom meetings, or a bath salt soak to unwind from a stressful week. For me, it's cracking open a journal and allowing myself the space to free write. That is to say, putting pen to paper with no agenda other than enjoying the delights of my own stream-of-conscious rambles in an attempt to create something new. It's also a helpful forum to digest and archive what's going on in my life and in the world around me. Sometimes it takes the shape of a poem , while other times it's a bulleted list of scribbles I can barely read the next day. Because there's no added pressure that these writings will be published or seen by anyone else, I generally come away from the experience feeling lighter and with a sense of personal accomplishment and heightened creativity.
But in the attention economy we're all navigating through today, finding time for a personal writing practice is freakin' near impossible. Why would one ever stop scrolling through the endless wonders of the Internet to confront their feelings and get vulnerable? In my humble opinion, there's much to gain from a little introspection every now and again, and who knows? Your writings might unlock a new creative side you didn't know you had in you.
In honor of National Poetry Month, we've curated a number of creative writing prompts to help you cultivate your own poetic ritual. Try one prompt each day for the month of April in service of building a new routine, or skip around to the poetry prompts that inspire you most. I'm committed to following my own advice and will also be writing one poem a day using the thought starters below for creative fuel. If you decide to join in and want to share some of your writings, I'd love to read them ( DMs are open ). Now, onto the creative writing prompts!
Creative Writing Prompts To Spark Your New Writing Practice
- Describe your ideal day, from morning to night. Where are you, what will you do, and who will you spend your time with (if anyone at all)?
- Write a poem about your favorite food using all the senses.
- Write a ghost poem inspired by a song lyric or line from a book you love. That is, take the original sentence and use it as the first line of your writing. Then begin adding to it until you come back to the beginning and erase the first line that inspired all the subsequent lines — effectively making the inspiration a ghost.
- Describe your favorite color without naming it. Or, imagine your color aura and describe that.
- Come up with your six-word memoir. (Fun fact: did you know that a one-line poem is called a monostitch?)
- Walk the reader through a place you can't wait to visit again, sharing all of the sensory details that make it like paradise to you.
- Write about your life if you lived in a different period in history. For example, you wake up and it's 1970, what's the first thing you'd do?
- Confront your fears and write about what scares you most.
- Select a piece of art and write an ekphrastic poem about it — that is, a poem that describes the work of art (sculpture, painting, drawing , performance, film, or photograph) in effusive detail.
- If you were to host a dinner party, who would you invite, dead or alive? What meal would be served, how would the table be set, and what conversations do you imagine would take place?
- Think of a trip or commute you've taken many times. Jot down your observations and memory of said journey and recreate it for the reader. Then decide what's more important to you, the journey or the destination?
- Find an object in your home that brings you joy and tap into why it's so meaningful in a descriptive poem.
- Think of someone you had a miscommunication with and explore what would happen if you said everything you wanted to say.
- What's your favorite month and why? Orient it in the season as part of your description.
- Write about the emotion you experience the most and list out what situations, people, or things make you feel that way.
- Where do you come from? Start a poem by exploring and defining your origin story.
- Describe a recent dream of yours in vivid, fantastical detail.
- Explore what you'd say to your 13-year-old self, or another pivotal age from when you were younger.
- Write about what it'd be like to encounter a long-lost love, years later.
- Manifest future you with a poem describing who you'll be in 5 or 10 years.
- Think of the happiest day of your life and write about what made it so magical. Can you capture that feeling in poem form?
- What lessons have you learned from your elders and ancestors? Write about the ones that still show up for you today.
- Think about all the cities you've lived in. Pick one to write about that's had a lasting impact on your identity.
- What's a youthful memory of a time you were reckless or misbehaved? Write about that experience and what you may have learned.
- Identify your alter ego, or someone totally opposite of you and write a poem from that point of view. What would they do that you would never dare?
- What is one of life's biggest mysteries you wish you had the answer to? See if you can come up with an answer in your poem.
- Write a poem about a beloved character in a book, movie, or show that you adore.
- Personify an inanimate object (such as a crystal, a postcard, or vintage scarf) and tell its story. Where all has it gone before it made its way to you?
- Turn something mundane, like a grocery list, into a poetic writing exploration. How can a few creative adjectives and alliterative details make it shine?
- Pick someone you're drawn to, even a stranger on the street or in a coffee shop, and write what you imagine they're like in real life.
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Lead Image courtesy of Thought Catalog on Unsplash .
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