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Ghosts In The Schoolyard Summary

Racism and school closings on chicago's south side, eve l. ewing, free to choose, milton friedman, rose friedman, exterminate all the brutes, sven lindqvist, the social contract, jean-jacques rousseau, incidents in the life of a slave girl, harriet ann jacobs, orange is the new black, piper kerman.

ghosts in the schoolyard quotes

Eve L. Ewing’s ‘Ghosts in the Schoolyard’ shows the power of research that elevates the perspective of Black people

ghosts in the schoolyard quotes

This summer, two weeks before I moved to Los Angeles from my native Chicago for graduate school, doctors diagnosed my great-aunt Margie Britten with cancer. Two months later, she went into hospice care without much time left to live.

My great-aunt was the quintessential Black matriarch; she was strong, smart, resilient, and fiercely loving. As I listened to her voice on the other end of the phone, I felt guilty. I couldn’t stop apologizing for not being home, in Chicago, with her to say my final goodbye.

“Baby you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing,” she began. “I’m so proud of you. Don’t worry about me. Just make sure you graduate for me.”

For many Black scholars, our careers in research are not an individual endeavor. We bring the lessons, hopes, and dreams of our communities with us into the ivory tower.

While reading sociologist and poet Eve L. Ewing’s new book, “Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism & School Closings on Chicago’s South Side,” my great-aunt’s words echoed throughout each chapter. Too often, the academy values objectivity; discouraging us from seeing ourselves in our research agenda. Ewing consistently resists this trap. She is a Black woman from Chicago who knows the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system intimately as a former student, teacher, researcher, and community member. These experiences uniquely position her to provide a critical analysis of the 2013 CPS school closings. “Ghosts in the Schoolyard” shows what’s possible when researchers honor the connections and commitments they have to their community.

“The researcher in me was intrigued and puzzled, the teacher in me was mourning, and the Chicagoan in me – witness to a seemingly bottomless tradition of corruption, political abuse, and dishonesty – was skeptical,” Ewing writes in her introduction. “I became obsessed with teasing out something deeper. What role did race, power, and history play in what was happening in my hometown?”

ghosts in the schoolyard quotes

Courtesy of The University of Chicago Press

“Ghosts in the Schoolyard” tells a specific story of Black Chicago; one that many of us have lived – and continue to live – as frustrated Chicago Public Schools students, parents, teachers and community members, but one that is rarely explored in ways that honor the wisdom that already exists within our community. Ewing uses field observations, document analysis, and interviews with community members in Bronzeville – a historically majority-Black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side – to more deeply understand their thoughts about the CPS schools shuttered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2013.

Ewing begins the book with a poem by renowned poet and historic Bronzeville resident, Gwendolyn Brooks. Brooks’ poem, “The Pool Players”, like “Ghosts in the Schoolyard” is an attempt to engage with ideas about the futures and possibilities of Black youth in Bronzeville. We’ve had a glimpse into Ewing’s talent for writing in her critically-acclaimed poetry book, “Electric Arches,” which features multiple artistic expressions to capture the beauty and complexity of Black girl/womanhood. Ewing is known for her mastery of striking and beautiful prose, and “Ghosts in the Schoolyard” is no different.

Throughout the book, she leans on the voices of students, parents, teachers and the neighborhood to construct a powerful counternarrative to the dominant portrayal of Black schools, students, and community as ‘failing’ and not being worthy of investment. According to CPS at the time, race had nothing to do with the school closings; instead, closing “underutilized and under-resourced” schools was a necessary step towards ensuring greater equity for Chicago’s most vulnerable children. However, Ewing brilliantly makes a case for the alternative by situating the proposed school closings in the broader struggle for Black liberation in the face of racist social policy and discrimination.

“And then there was the question of race. Of the students who would be affected by the closures, 88 percent were Black: 90 percent of the schools were majority Black, and 71 percent had mostly black teachers – a big deal in a country where 84 percent of public school teachers are white,” Ewing highlights.

Using what she’s learned from Bronzeville community members, Ewing reimagines how the Chicago public education system can become spaces of equity and justice for Black students. While this is a quintessential Chicago story, Ewing’s book illuminates a broader investment in neoliberal ideals that affect urban education across the country. Her interviews, conducted between January 2015 and January 2016, capture why schools are more than brick-and-mortar buildings to Black folks.

“A school means the potential for stability in an unstable world, the potential for agency in the face of powerlessness, the enactment of one’s own dreams and visions for one’s own children,” she writes in chapter one.

Ewing highlights that the community’s fight to stop school closures in Bronzeville sought to maintain intergenerational pride, self-actualization, and imagination. In a society that has systematically tried to limit the development and expression of these qualities in Black communities, CPS did not – and, today, does not – have the right to demolish sources of positive cultural pride in our communities.

“This, we insist, is our home. Broken though it may be, it remains beautiful, and we remain children of this place. We insist on a right to claim it, to shape it, to keep it. We took the freedom train to get here. Might as well do the work to get free,” she writes in the book’s conclusion.

That’s what Aunt Margie wanted for me – to understand that running toward freedom isn’t running away from the folks you left at home. Rather, it’s trusting that your ancestors have given you what you need to cultivate conditions for everyone to get free. Researchers are storytellers who craft compelling narratives about our world. Yet, there are many examples of how ‘objective’ research can become a weapon to perpetuate oppression and white supremacy in our world. In institutions that have persistently sought to devalue and erase our truths, it is a radical and necessary act to envision our whole selves, our collective legacies and histories, and our visions for the future in our work. “Ghosts in the Schoolyard” is an example of the power in research that elevates voices, perspectives and histories that often are subject to manipulation, appropriation and erasure.

Though “Ghosts in the Schoolyard” was published earlier this month, her official book launch party is Oct. 18 from 5-7:30 PM at the Chicago Teachers Union Center at 1901 W Carroll Ave. It’s a free event with Ewing reading excerpts from the book, and a question-answer session with the author.

Aireale J. Rodgers is a PhD student at the University of Southern California studying the design and implementation of equity-oriented faculty professional development programs at white serving institutions of higher education. This piece is dedicated to Aunt Margie, Grandma Flora, Grandma Mary, Mama Eva, and all the matriarchs who taught us to tell stories that matter. May we continue to transform the academy into a place worthy of our stories.

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Ghosts in the Schoolyard

Ghosts in the Schoolyard

Racism and school closings on chicago’s south side.

Eve L. Ewing

Listen to an interview with the author . An audiobook version is available .

240 pages | 4 halftones, 1 map, 5 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2018

Black Studies

Education: Education--Economics, Law, Politics , Education--General Studies , Pre-School, Elementary and Secondary Education

Sociology: Race, Ethnic, and Minority Relations

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"If only for widening the scope of the debate over public schools, Eve Ewing’s new book is a welcome entry to the conversation. Rejecting the impulse to see education as disconnected from American life and politics,  Ghosts in the Schoolyard  links the struggles of Chicago public schooling with the city’s notoriously racist housing practices. Ewing peels back the seemingly anodyne messaging of reform ('school choice') and its ostensibly objective standards ('test scores') to reveal the insidious assumptions lying beneath.              Perhaps most importantly, Ewing gives direct voice to those served by those schools often dismissed as failing. What she finds is that these schools are often among the last working institutions in neighborhoods which have been systematically stripped of everything else. Mixing history, sociology, and even memoir, Ghosts in the Schoolyard is an important addition to any conversation about the future of public schools and those they were designed to serve."  

Ta-Nehisi Coates

"What makes this book more than an inflated explainer on racism and school closings is Ewing’s analytic methods, and in particular how eager she is to share them with the reader. The choices she makes, both as a writer and as a sociologist, are well considered and explained in the text. . . . Ewing is less interested in showing off the depth of her reading than in convincing us that theory is more aligned with our experiential knowledge than we might otherwise think. One of the clearest signs of her lack of egotism is how willing she is to cede analytic insight to the people in her community. . . . Ewing’s mission is to present critical theory and sociology in a way that makes her readers feel capable of enacting both."  
"This superbly written and researched account is at once poignant and deeply troubling, blending the personal and the academic in a way that makes the heavy subject matter accessible. Ghosts is essential reading for anyone trying to better understand the intersection of segregation and education--as well as the importance of preserving the public institutions that help shape communities."

Juan Vidal | NPR, Best Books of 2018

"Two questions permeate this study: 'If the schools were so terrible, why did people fight for them so adamantly?' and 'What role did race, power, and history play in what was happening in my hometown?' . . . The deeply moving final chapter addresses the Bronzeville community’s sense of mourning in the loss of 'institutions, like our schools that have helped shape our sense of who we are.' Ewing's work, a tribute to students, parents, teachers, and community members, is essential for general readers confronting the issues of 'school choice' and school funding, as well as useful for historians of the African-American experience."

Publishers Weekly

"The best book about education this year. . . . The book reads like a novel.  . . . Let me add that I have waited for this book for a long time, not knowing if it would ever be written. History told from the point of view of those who were acted on, rather than the point of view of those at the top of the pyramid. Whose story will be told and who will tell it? Eve Ewing has told it. . . . I found it difficult to put down."  

Diane Ravitch

"Ewing is a Harvard-trained sociologist as well as a poet and an educator (among other things), and this comes through in her lively and accessible writing."  

Booklist, starred review

,"A powerful account. . . . Ewing's book thrums with an activist's outrage. . . . Ewing gracefully melds reportage, heartbreak, ire and history in a book that showcases the city’s education and racial tensions as a microcosm for the nation’s amalgamated woes."
"A chilling must-read investigation of racism in Chicago’s education system. . . .In addition to its poignant content and touching cast of characters, this book is technically superb. Ewing’s crisp prose is succinct and inviting, never lacking in energy. This book never backs down from critiquing the housing, education, and legal systems that contribute to the plight of certain communities in Chicago. . . . Eve L. Ewing's Ghosts in the Schoolyard deftly details a microcosm of a larger picture where some people’s freedoms are much more complicated than others."  

Foreword Reviews

"Bracing. . . . Most important, this book effectively connects school closings in largely African American neighborhoods to the devaluation of black lives in general. Ewing's graceful prose enlivens what might otherwise be a depressing topic in this timely, powerful read. Recommended."

Library Journal

"'A fight for a school is never just about a school,' Ewing notes in her bracing account . . , relying on a blend of historical and ethnographic research to show how the closures were only the most recent manifestation of a decades-long pattern of disinvestment by Chicago Public Schools. . . . Ewing's graceful prose enlivens what might otherwise be a depressing topic in this timely, powerful read. Recommended to public, high school, and university ­libraries."

School Library Journal, starred review

"Throughout the book, Ewing demands that we consider the perspectives of the students, families, and communities to whom schools belong. She insists that we sit with their pain and mourning as they fight for and sometimes lose the institutions that moored and connected them. And as she breathes life into the school, making it every bit as important a character as the people who fill it, she also expertly renders visible, tangible, and undeniable the phantasm that looms in the shadows of this story: racism. By plainly stating that Chicago’s school closures have been racist and providing ample evidence of that fact, Ewing names the invisible force shaping CPS policy, and helps us--scholars, policymakers, school leaders--imagine a path forward. . . . Whether you're an education researcher, a sociologist of race and racism, a teacher, a policy analyst, or simply a member of a school community, there is something in Ghosts in the Schoolyard for you. . . . The book is also a generative text for a qualitative methods class, given the tour-de-force of analytical methods Ewing uses. . . . Perhaps most important, though, is the fact that this book is public sociology at its best--insightful, sharp, and with a clear sense of its scholarly lineage, without being inaccessible or unnecessarily abstruse."  
"Within sociology, ethnographers are sometimes considered foot soldiers of the discipline. The trained ethnographer enters a community, often one that is not their own, in an effort to expand our knowledge of the social world through an in-depth study of culture. A good ethnography offers a revealing glimpse into a social system, an understanding of everyday actors and insights into how everyday actions, interactions, and events are patterned by culture and structure. A great ethnography goes beyond this by advancing theory and uncovering hidden truths about the social world.  Ghosts in the Schoolyard surpasses both of these measures, elevating the ethnographic project to the status of art, even as the polymathic author may shy away from identifying with any one methodological tradition. Within the first few pages, readers are not only intellectually rooted in the events surrounding school closures on Chicago’s South Side, but are fully immersed in the scenes of a strange paradoxical world where it is the year 2013 in one of the richest countries in the world, and the only way to  improve  a school is to  close  it. Writing with equal parts intellectual rigor, élan, and moral clarity, Ewing offers a forceful reexamination of the prevailing logic that governs school closings in majority black neighborhoods while also inviting the reader to consider a 'dueling reality,' another version of events as seen from the perspectives of those most impacted by Chicago’s school closures."

Harvard Educational Review

"Ewing masterfully illuminates the alternate realities, histories, calculations, and languages that were at play in closing dozens of predominately Black schools in Chicago. Those schools now reside in the ghostly world, and Ewing acts as a keen shaman, reminding us of what has been lost and instructing us on how to value Black children's education going forward. A powerful book on so many levels."

Mary Pattillo, author of Black on the Block

"In  Ghosts in the Schoolyard , Eve Ewing dramatically uncovers the deleterious effects of school closings in the Chicago inner-city community of Bronzeville. With noteworthy prose, this powerful research study illuminates the role of implicit racism, segregation, school policy, and housing policy in school closings and their subsequent impact on students, parents and teachers. Ewing's revelatory analysis is a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of urban communities, especially the public schools populated with students of color."

William Julius Wilson

"Ghosts in the Schoolyard is an engaging, critical, and accessible analysis of the Chicago Public School closings. With brilliant analysis and beautiful prose, Eve Ewing lends a window into the local and national political struggles, historical processes of marginalization and isolation, and contemporary market logics that have produced the current educational moment. Equally important, Ewing never loses track of the various ways that students, teachers, and parents have resisted the processes and discourses of school closing. This is a rare and urgent text that should be read by scholars, parents, teachers, and students alike."

Marc Lamont Hill, author of Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond

"In Ghosts in the Schoolyard , we listen to the anguished and angry voices of parents, teachers, students, and community members who expose the currents of deceit, shaming, and racism that are embedded in the bureaucratic language and metrics that seek to rationalize the school closings on Chicago’s South Side. In this heartbreaking and revelatory narrative, Eve Ewing is the disciplined observer, the generous witness, the probing analyst, and the soulful poet who hears the grieving and the grace in their 'institutional mourning. '"  

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education, Harvard University

"Ewing's refusal to forgo structures for people, or people for structures, is what makes this book incendiary."    
" Ghosts in the Schoolyard by Eve L. Ewing provides a powerful examination of the debilitating effects of the discourse of school 'failure' on Chicago public schools...Ewing explains school closures in a succinct manner, and her style of writing allows all to decipher the poignant points made in this book. Additionally, Ewing’s positionality as a Chicago native, and later a teacher in Chicago, is very important as it allows the reader to understand the landscape and history of Chicago from the standpoint of an insider...I highly recommend this book for all, especially for those interested in sociology, urban education, race, ethnicity, and qualitative research methods."

Mercy Agyepong | American Journal of Sociology

"This heart-rending analysis demonstrates the intersection of racism, politics, and power and its effects on schools, parents, children, and the community in which they exist. It is an incredibly moving and meaningful text that anyone who cares about public education should read."

O.L. Davis, Jr. Book Award Committee | 2019 O.L. Davis, Jr Outstanding Book Award Winner

Table of Contents

Chicago Review of Books: Best Nonfiction Book Won

Delta Kappa Gamma Society: Educator's Award Won

Center for Urban Ethnography at Penn GSE: Erickson and Hornberger Outstanding Ethnography in Education Book Award Won

The University of Chicago Press: Gordon J. Laing Award Won

American Association for Teaching and Curriculum: O.L. Davis, Jr. Outstanding Book Award Won

Race at the Top

Natasha Warikoo

The Color of Mind

Derrick Darby

Educating the Enemy

Jonna Perrillo

Homeschooling

James G. Dwyer

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Center for Literacy

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Author: Eve Ewing

Written by scholar, poet, activist, and staunch Chicago native Eve Ewing, Ghosts in the Schoolyard is a love song for Chicago Public Schools and the communities that fight to save them. Ewing’s trenchant critique of neoliberalism and privitization is a fantastic primer for educators looking to understand not only Chicago’s history, but the broader problem of applying free-market principles to public education.

Read More:  https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/G/bo27506579.html

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  • Ghosts in the Schoolyard

ghosts in the schoolyard quotes

“Tuesday

8:30 – Good morning circle

9:00 – I’m raising the children

you have forgotten.

10:15 – And you have no

goddamned clue.

11:05 – Lunch

12:10 – Just. Pay. Me. Pay me.

12:55 – I refuse to fold my hands.

1:40 – Would you love them

as your own? As I do?

2:30 – Dismissal”

(Ewing 2017, 83).

ghosts in the schoolyard quotes

The above epigraph comes from Ewing’s Electric Arches , where she condenses the life of a teacher in a system that limits the value of education, and seeks to see education as simply a mechanism for industry with limited impact on children and society writ large. Ghosts in the Schoolyard , like Ewing’s poetry, is not an academic treatise, but “a story that is revelatory based on the experiences of my own life and the lives of community members living in the shadow of history” (7). Born and raised in Chicago, Ewing is a sociologist of education and writer. She is a graduate of Harvard University and is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Their work focuses on social structures such as racism and social inequality.

It is a testimony, acting as witness (174) to the blatant and unabashed racist and wanton destruction of African American communities in Chicago.

This book is exactly that: an account of community in the historically African American neighbourhood of Bronzeville on the South Side of Chicago; and is a well-wrought analysis of educational policies, the impact these have on the students & teachers, and the ways that community groups sought to fight back against the Chicago Public School (CPS) decisions and narratives to preserve the educational futures of their children. The book refuses and refutes suggestions that these two components are separable.

Ghosts in the Schoolyard takes as its locus the 2013 closings of Chicago Public Schools. The original target was to close as many as 330 schools of which 90 percent “were majority black, and 71 percent had mostly black teachers” (5). These closures were billed by CPS and the city as necessary due to the schools being underutilized and underresourced . Based on Chicago’s racist and economic segregation practices, the reality for these students was that “…students leaving a school facing challenges are likely to end up in an equally challenged school close by” (9). These closures are, as Ewing illustrates, part of a broader-system of historical (and current) processes and structures which dictate and perpetuate racist and oppressive regimes; while, at the same time, demonstrating the ways that these communities fight for justice and seek to maintain the history and richness they have built. Throughout, what is clear is that “losing a school is losing a piece of a history, a piece of self-understanding and personal narrative” (145); and that it is impossible to separate these closures from broader forms of harm and violence.

In examining the school closures, Ewing deftly addresses the structural problems while maintaining the voices of those impacted by these issues.

Throughout the process of hearings regarding the school closures, the narrative of Chicago Public Schools was that they were simply ‘failing’ and that by closing these schools students would, in the end, get a better education. By the end of the 2012-2013 school year they ended up closing 49 of these schools. An astounding 42 percent of displaced students ended up in the lowest-ranked schools. These closures were a part of a wider set of policies designed as part of the “expansion of ‘choice’ within CPS” (23), where this ‘choice’ was unevenly distributed by neighbourhood, race, and economic status. While CPS framed the community as driving the process and hearings, for Ewing, as she lays out thoroughly, Chicago Public Schools had predetermined the outcome long before the discussion began.

Expanding out from the 2013 school closures, Ewing situates them in the context of housing projects and segregation in Chicago’s South Side neighbourhood of Bronzeville. By 1970 nearly half of Bronzeville residents were living in housing projects (73), with the majority of residents under the age of 18.

Tying these pieces together, Ewing notes that ‘Segregation, restrictive covenants, Willis Wagons, demolition of public housing – these policies all laid the groundwork for the present reality of empty schools dotting the landscape’ (90).

There is, then, a demand for historical analysis and recognition; to view the recent school closures as isolated is, itself, a form of violence that denies and seeks to dismiss the racist history of Chicago, the Chicago Housing Authority, and Chicago Public Schools. Ewing notes, we “see a system that fails to take responsibility for creating the conditions of that social instability, preferring to act as though it’s all a matter of individuals’ pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and teachers’ needing to work harder” (123).

Ewing’s refusal to forgo structures for people, or people for structures, is what makes this book incendiary.

The systems of racism and neoliberalism are hellbent on pushing individuals to compete against each other, with the end goal of leaving the systems untouched. Through this, Ghosts in the Schoolyard  is able to theorize ‘institutional mourning – the idea that we can mourn lost institutions just as we mourn lost people’ (14).

Ewing writes, ‘death that results from extreme violence, especially state violence, can feel anything but natural’ (142). These deaths are not just of people, but of institutions, communities, dreams, and possibilities. Throughout the book she brilliantly makes the case that schools are an integral part of a community, and that their destruction constitutes an attack on the people through indirect means.

ghosts in the schoolyard quotes

Activists in Chicago organized in March 2019 calling for more funding for schools, not more police ( photo by Charles Edward Miller , CC BY-SA 2.0 )

In preparing to teach my class on neoliberalism this semester, I scribbled on one of the assigned readings: “Are you upset yet?” This book is upsetting. It documents the racist, classist, and oppressive structures and people that are tearing communities apart; and the ways that school children are taught this through the lived realities of disempowerment, diminishment, and deprioritization. While all that is true, the communities on the South Side of Chicago are still there, “despite all attempts to eradicate us” (154), and they are still fighting for their right to self-determination and education. In his A People’s History of Chicago , Kevin Coval annunciates the ways that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago need to redress the injustices they have fashioned. In amongst a wide litany of atonements, they must:

“atone for the smug assuredness

atone for the maintenance of two cities

stratified & unrecognizable to the other

atone for the bounty of the north side

the scarcity of the south

the want of the west

atone for the erasure of the public

school, space, housing, parking” (Coval 2017, 118).

Ewing’s masterful book delivers a clear message: that people’s well-being is contingent on everyone in the community: “If I am because you are, it follows that my understanding of myself is bound up to my relation to you and my place within our network of relationships” (131). At its core, while Ewing documents racists practices and their impacts, she shines light most heavily on the ways in which communities rebute and refuse them.

This trajectory is continued in Ewing’s forthcoming book 1919 , an exploration of the race riot that happened in the year 1919 in Chicago. She elegantly and powerfully continues to voice the interconnections between individuals, institutions, and the force of history. From the poem this is a map :

“this is a map of my body

this is the blood of my rivers

this is the bruise of my marshland

this is the sinew of my furthest ridge, and

this is a map of the railroad.

and if I could stand and walk I could make it all the way back

to my granny, pinching snuff and humming

and if she looked up she would say boy, my baby ,

where you been all this time.”

(Ewing 2019, p44).

References :

Ewing, Eve. 2018.   Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side.  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2018

Ewing, Eve. 2017. Electric Arches . Chicago: Haymarket Books.

Ewing, Eve. 2019. 1919 . Chicago: Haymarket Books.

Coval, Kevin. 2017.   A People’s History of Chicago . Chicago: Haymarket Books.

Featured image by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

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Frank G. Karioris is Visiting Lecturer of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Center for Critical Gender Studies at the American University of Central Asia. He is an interdisciplinary educator and scholar writing on issues related to masculinities, sexualities & sociality, and higher education. His monograph, An Education in Sexuality and Sociality: Heteronormativity on Campus, was released in 2019.

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Chicago Sociologist Eve Ewing Talks ‘Ghosts In The Schoolyard’

Eve Ewing

In 2013, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a massive wave of school closings, mostly on the city’s South Side, citing poor performance, under-enrollment or both.

Parents protested, concerned for the safety of their children, many of whom would now have to deal with the threat of gang violence on their way to and from their new schools.

They were also dismayed that the most important and visible anchors of their neighborhoods were being shuttered.

In her new book Ghosts In The Schoolyard: Racism And School Closings On Chicago’s South Side , sociologist and writer Eve Ewing deconstructs what happened in local communities when those 50 public schools abruptly closed.

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ghosts in the schoolyard quotes

Morning Shift  guest host Kyra Kyles talks with Ewing about the families she interviewed and the overall impact of the school closures on largely black and brown communities.

GUEST: Eve Ewing, writer, poet, sociologist of education at the University of Chicago

What inspired Ghosts in the Schoolyard ?

Eve Ewing: In 2013, I was a graduate student, and I had previously taught in Chicago at a CPS school. I was doing graduate study, and I found out that the school closures were happening. It was a really tumultuous time for Chicagoans, very contentious. And I saw that the school where I taught was on the closure list, it was going to be closed. And I felt a disconnect between the way I saw these schools being talked about in the media and my own recollection, and my own understanding of my school, and so I set out to try to understand: Why is this really happening, and what’s the story behind the story?

Kyra Kyles: I’m not really sure that many people, at least publicly, connected the dots between public housing and its eventual demise, and the shuttering of [public] schools. Can you connect those for us?

Ewing: As you know, the school closures were really concentrated on the South Side and also on the West Side, but I focus in the book on Bronzeville for a number of reasons. Number one, it’s where I taught, so it has a personal connection for me. And number two, Bronzeville had seen a wave of school closures, but number three, I saw a pretty obvious connection between the Plan for Transformation, which, as we know, was the demolition of 22,000 units of public housing overseen by Richard M. Daley, and the fact that schools had much lower enrollment. So it felt very silly to me to have a public conversation where everyone knew that the Robert Taylor Homes and Stateway Gardens and all these high-rise public housing residences had been there not that long ago, and so it felt a little bit like the emperor’s new clothes to me.

What makes a school-closing policy racist?

Ewing: [Former CEO of Chicago Public Schools] Barbara Byrd Bennett’s way of understanding and conceptualizing racism was that this is about what’s in your heart, this is about your personal intentions. Very individual, right? We are not saying that we’re setting out to harm children. Versus the way Karen Lewis [former head of the Chicago Teachers Union] and many activists and many community folks, as well as the way many activists and many social scientists, we understand racism as about structure and about impact. So it actually has nothing to do with your intentions, but rather: Does this policy disproportionately harm some people at the expense of others? And when you think about it that way, then it becomes pretty difficult to ignore the history, and I also think that in Chicago we need some truth and some reconciliation. We need to do a better job of really talking about the ways that race and segregation and racism have shaped the history of our city so that we can make better decisions for the future.

Comparing school closings to family separations

Ewing: That comparison actually came directly from a principal who was speaking at a school closure meeting, and she was a black woman, and she stood up and said, “I feel like I’m at a slave auction right now.” And that was very jarring for me as well, but it was striking how many times during these closure meetings children and teachers used the language of family separation, and children would say things like, “I feel like the teachers are my mom,” “I feel like the other students are my cousins and my brothers and sisters.” They also talked about biological familial connections. In some of these schools these were families that had been attending…

Kyles: Like legacies.

Ewing: Legacies that had been attending the same school for multiple generations. And students would say things like, “My grandma went to this school.” “My aunties went to this school.” “I am known and seen. I am a known entity here.” Right? Teachers can come up and say, “I taught your auntie,” or “You’re just like your uncle.” And that was very powerful. And I think that obviously there are many important distinctions between this kind of separation and chattel slavery, but I do think it’s important to think about, for black children, what it means to take them away from situations of stability, where they have deep, meaningful bonds with the adults and the other children in their lives.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire conversation, which was adapted for the web by Char Daston.

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Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side

Book — Non-fiction. By Eve Ewing. 2018. 240 pages. This book flips the script about how we talk about “failing schools,” using historical research and current data to show that Chicago’s public schools are storehouses of memory, an integral part of their neighborhoods, and at the heart of their communities.

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That’s how author Eve L. Ewing opens Ghosts in the Schoolyard : describing Chicago Public Schools from the outside. The way politicians and pundits and parents of kids who attend other schools talk about them, with a mix of pity and contempt.

But Ewing knows Chicago Public Schools from the inside: as a student, then a teacher, and now a scholar who studies them. And that perspective has shown her that public schools are not buildings full of failures — they’re an integral part of their neighborhoods, at the heart of their communities, storehouses of history and memory that bring people together.

Never was that role more apparent than in 2013 when Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced an unprecedented wave of school closings. Pitched simultaneously as a solution to a budget problem, a response to declining enrollments, and a chance to purge bad schools that were dragging down the whole system, the plan was met with a roar of protest from parents, students, and teachers. But if these schools were so bad, why did people care so much about keeping them open, to the point that some would even go on a hunger strike?

ISBN: 9780226526331 | University of Chicago Press

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Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2018, 240pp, ISBN: 9780226526027

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Gahimer, H.B. Eve L. Ewing: Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side . J Youth Adolescence 51 , 174–176 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-021-01535-8

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Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side. By Eve L. Ewing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018. Pp. xi+222. $22.50 (cloth); $16.00 (paper)

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2020, American Journal of Sociology

Ghosts in the Schoolyard by Eve L. Ewing provides a powerful examination of the debilitating effects of the discourse of school "failure" on Chicago public schools. Highlighting the community of Bronzeville, a black neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago, as the context of interest, Ewing uses four methodological approaches (field observation, document analysis, review of audio transcripts, and interviews with community members) to examine why people of Bronzeville fought and continue to fight to save their "failing" schools from closing. The data presented in this book, divided into four chapters, were collected between January 2015 and January 2016. Overall, the book focuses on the history of African-Americans in Bronzeville and four community schools that either closed or were slated to close in the coming years.

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About the author, excerpt. © reprinted by permission. all rights reserved., ghosts in the schoolyard, racism and school closings on chicago's south side, the university of chicago press.

What a School Means

Cause everybody dies in the summer / wanna say your goodbyes, tell 'em while it's spring / I heard everybody's dying in the summer / so pray to God for a little more spring.

— Chance the Rapper, "Pusha Man (Paranoia)"

And finally, need I add that I who speak here am bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh of them that live within the Veil?

— W. E. B. Du Bois

For an August day in Chicago the weather is unseasonably cool, and many of the people sitting in the park have blankets draped over their laps or around their shoulders. In many ways this looks like any family gathering in Washington Park — older faces and younger faces in a circle of fabric lawn chairs and coolers, chatting amiably. But rather than pop, picnic food, or snacks, many of the coolers are filled with infused water or high-nutrient juices. Thermoses of hot broth are propped against a tree. And there are people here you wouldn't see at a family picnic: visitors from across the city, reporters and photographers from across the country. Worried nurses flit from person to person. No music is playing. Sometimes folks laugh and joke cheerfully; other times they look off into space, exhausted.

Behind it all a tremendous black building looms, its windows dark. And that is the reason these people are here — not for any family reunion or summer gathering, but in the name of this shuttered building, Walter H. Dyett High School. They are not picnickers, they are hunger strikers. And they are putting their lives on the line in hopes of seeing their vision for this school become reality.

Why do people fight for schools like this? While the Dyett hunger strike would rise to public prominence as one of the most visible examples of community members fighting to save a school, it is hardly the only one. Across the country, school stakeholders who are culturally and geographically very different have waged notably similar battles to get their schools off district chopping blocks. In Detroit in 2017, hundreds of parents and community members rallied in front of the state of Michigan's offices to protest the closing of schools that others referred to as "consistently failing" and "the worst of the worst." In Shreveport, Louisiana, in 2011, parents held meetings and circulated a petition to save Blanchard Elementary, which the district called "small," "lacking," and "old." In Austin, Texas, in 2016, parents organized high turnouts at community meetings and picketed to fight the district's closure of ten schools it said were in poor physical condition and underenrolled. In Dyett's case the media declared that "by just about any definition [the school] has failed."

To outside observers — concerned neighbors and friends, informed citizens reading about education issues in the news or seeing these protests on television — it may be hard to reconcile these characterizations. If the schools are small, the worst, lacking, and so on, why is anyone fighting for them? This question may be amplified by the image of public schools we see and hear in the media, from A Nation at Risk to Dangerous Minds. As someone who attended public schools and later taught in one, I can't count how many times a stranger remarked to me in casual conversation that I was an "angel" or a "saint" because public schools were "just so bad," with no clear reasoning about why or in what way.

This chapter tells the story of one group of people fighting to keep a school open — and, moreover, to see it reflect their vision for their community and their children's education. We see that this community's choice to resist a school's being characterized as "failing" is in fact about much more than the school itself: it is about citizenship and participation, about justice and injustice, and about resisting people in power who want to transform a community at the expense of the people who live there.

THE DYETT TRADITION

So much of black life in Chicago happens in Washington Park that if you are African American, even if you are from the West Side or (like me) the North Side, it is hard not to find yourself there at least once each summer. The African Festival of the Arts, the Bud Billiken Parade, and family barbecues all find a home in the massive park. Sitting at the southern edge of Bronzeville, it covers 367 acres landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect most famous for his design of New York City's Central Park. At the northern end of the park, facing Fifty-First Street, a low building of black glass looks out over a broad expanse of grass. In summer 2015 the building is empty, but the flag still flies above it. The sign still says "Welcome to Walter H. Dyett High School" in black against a yellow background, bright against the backdrop of the dark building and Chicago's more often than not gray weather. But no doors are open. No teenagers gather to talk or to run, to flirt or gossip or tease, to play football or scramble for forgotten homework or do the things teenagers do. Walter H. Dyett High School is closed.

Not many schools are named after teachers, so it is notable that this building is as much a living monument to Walter H. Dyett as it is an educational institution. It is also notable that this man, arguably the most renowned and respected educator ever to emerge from Bronzeville — a community famous for its musical venues and figures — was a bandleader and music teacher.

Walter Henri Dyett was born in 1901 in Saint Joseph, Missouri. His mother was a pianist and soprano vocalist, and his father was a pastor in the AME church. Dyett began his musical life as a violinist after his family moved to California; as a student at Pasadena High School, he became concertmaster of the orchestra and also played clarinet, bassoon, and drums. After graduating in 1917, he attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he was first violinist in the school's symphony orchestra while he completed his premed studies. In 1921 Dyett received a scholarship to the Illinois School of Medicine and moved back to Chicago to pursue his studies. However, his mother and sister, already living there, needed financial help, and he took on work as a musician to support his family. In a curriculum vitae dating from 1960, Dyett described the early days of this work: "One year violinist in Erskine Tate's Vendome Theatre Orchestra playing the silent pictures and stage presentations along with Louis Armstrong and other now internationally known musicians. Transferred to orchestra leader in the Pickford Theatre — one of the Vendome chain — and remained until talking pictures came in and orchestras went out." He next became youth music director at a church, then a private teacher of violin and music theory. Finally, in 1931 Dyett began the work for which he would become beloved: he became a music teacher at Phillips High School in Bronzeville. When Phillips was relocated in 1936 and renamed Du Sable High School (after the city's founder, the Haitian Jean Baptiste Point du Sable), Dyett went along to the new school.

Tribute concerts, memorials, and articles about Dyett often cite his influence on the Bronzeville musical legends who were his students, such as Von Freeman and Nat King Cole. But while these figures loom large in history, they were far outnumbered by the thousands of average Bronzeville teenagers who discovered a love of music through his schoolwide concerts and community initiatives during his thirty-eight years as a teacher (fig. 1).

Dyett was intentional about the pedagogical principles he brought to his work. He explained them in detail in his 1942 master's thesis for the Chicago Musical College, which explored methods for teaching the fundamentals of rhythm to high school students and argued that music education could help students develop joy and discipline. "The student learns from experience," Dyett argued, "and these experiences must be enjoyable ones if the proper interest necessary for this learning is to be motivated and sustained." In another chapter he wrote, "If, in our music classes, we can kindle a spark which will inspire the students to be satisfied with only the best work that they are capable of performing, this development will surely be carried over into whatever field of endeavor they may choose for a vocation." In a 1969 letter to the musicians' union celebrating Music Appreciation Week, Dyett echoed the importance of such disciplined determination to do one's best work: "The world today calls for dreaming possibilities and developing these possibilities into live realities and actualities. Creativity development comes by: becoming receptive to ideas — welcoming new ideas; by being experimental ... by accepting the opportunity to do more; by asking how can I do more — how can I improve the quality of my performance — how can I do better?"

These principles were to serve as the core of the school that would bear Dyett's name — a middle school with the motto "develops individuality, encourages responsibility, and provides opportunity."

When Walter H. Dyett Middle School was dedicated in 1975, the program reflected the scope of Dyett's influence on his students:

Few musicians, living or dead, have brought music into the lives of so many young people and made them a part of the world's music. ... He was the complete musician: an artist who could teach, a musician's musician, a student's inspiration, able tutor, and friend. ... [H]e personally taught or supervised the music education of some 20,000 young people. He brought music appreciation and serious awareness of good music to another half million youth through his activities as a conductor of bands and orchestras in school assemblies and public programs and concerts. ... Dyett was well known for his practice of sharing his baton and podium with promising young musicians and many of them are continuing the "Dyett tradition," as they enrich school systems in Chicago and elsewhere as music educators, or in the music profession as performers or entertainers.

The decision to name a school after Dyett — a local titan who dedicated his life to young people not on a citywide or national stage but in one specific community, someone who in sharing his passion and his care with generations of students did what all teachers set out to do — appears to be a tacit way of celebrating the community itself. It is a way of saying that a life lived in the service of Bronzeville is a notable life, and that the legacy of someone so dedicated to the community is worth memorializing with something important. Dyett, like many all over the intensely segregated city, was an all-black school, and its daily social happenings took place within what renowned sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois called "the Veil" — the border of an all-black world. In a society that for centuries has drawn absolute boundaries between black people and white people — social boundaries, legal boundaries, economic boundaries, physical boundaries — black social life under conditions of segregation has developed its own reason and rhythm. The Veil, derived as it is from the painful constraints of slavery and Jim Crow and their aftermath, can be cruel. But behind the Veil Walter H. Dyett, a man whose life could have been seen as ordinary, was honored as a hero.

"CHOICE" AND CHANGE

In 2000, Dyett Middle School faced a major upheaval. CPS introduced plans to convert Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. High School, a little more than a mile away, into a college preparatory school, with a selective admissions system based on test scores and grades rather than open enrollment. King would receive a multimillion dollar renovation, and students from all over the city would be able to attend — if they could meet the stringent admissions requirements. The move was part of CPS's creation of a suite of "selective enrollment" schools designed to attract the top academic (and top socioeconomic) tier of the city's high school students through a rigorous curriculum and high-end facilities. The transition also meant that if their test scores did not make them eligible to attend the new, selective King, students in the area would need a new place to go — so Dyett would be changed from a middle school to a high school. Neighborhood residents were not happy with this plan. One parent of a King student expressed frustration that the $20 million to be invested in the school's renovation was nowhere to be found when the school's enrollment was based on neighborhood attendance boundaries. Another community member lamented that young people in the area would be "shipped out of their neighborhood in order to turn King into a magnet school," suggesting that this ostensibly public school would no longer be public at all:

If something is public, then ain't I the public? Aren't these kids who are being put out of King High School and going over there to Dyett [High School], [which is like] a factory, aren't they part of the public? How can you have a public school and then say everybody in the public can't go to it? That's what I think. It's a bunch of hogwash. ... You don't make no magnet school with my money. I did not tell you to do that, and I don't want King to be a private school in my neighborhood. If it's public, I want you to do the best that the public can get right over there for the people in this community.

The development of selective enrollment schools was just one piece of what would, over the following decade, become an expansion of "choice" within CPS. No longer would students necessarily attend the schools in their immediate areas, as they had done for generations. Instead, new schools appeared or were converted across the South Side, with varying purposes and admissions policies: several charter schools, a military academy, a technology school, an international school, and others now dotted the landscape. This evolution of the district into a "portfolio" of options parents are expected to choose among was part of a nationwide trend that deemphasized local or community-based schools in favor of thinking of each city as a marketplace of options. While choosing the best option from a menu of possibilities is appealing in theory, researchers have documented that in practice the "choice" model often leaves black families at a disadvantage. Black parents' ability to truly choose may be hindered by limited access to transportation, information, and time, leaving them on the losing end of a supposedly fair marketplace. Further, this shift in Chicago occurred in tandem with a broader conversation about a city in flux — a city that, in order to claim a place as a "world class" urban center, was dead set on transforming its neighborhoods to make them more attractive to white residents at the expense of a displaced black populace.

Meanwhile the school "right over there" languished. While enrollment at Dyett varied over the decade, its student numbers eventually began to decline. By 2011 only 19 percent of the students within Dyett's attendance area were enrolled in the school. Most families in the neighborhood were no longer choosing Dyett, opting to send their children elsewhere (fig. 2).

On November 30, 2011, parents of Dyett students received a letter from CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. It began,

Dear Parent or Guardian:

As Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), nothing is more important to me than making sure your child is getting access to a high quality education. My team is dedicated to ensuring that every child in every community can be successful in the classroom and graduate ready for college and career — which is why I am writing to you today.

There are too many schools in Chicago failing our children. Across the District, only 7.9% of 11th graders last year tested ready for college, while achievement gaps for African American and Latino students remain in the high double-digits. As adults, we all have a responsibility to make sure that we are putting the academic needs of our children before all else. To do so requires some very difficult but necessary choices to boost the academic achievement of our kids.

For too long, Dyett High School (Dyett) has been one of the schools not meeting the needs of its students. Over the last few years, Dyett has been a chronically underperforming school with a graduation rate that is far below that of other schools in its area and is among the lowest academic scoring schools in the district. This is why we are proposing today, after a very lengthy and thoughtful process, to phase-out Dyett. This means that current ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade students would continue to attend Dyett, but the school would not enroll new students next school year.

  • Print length 240 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date October 5, 2018
  • Dimensions 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • ISBN-10 022652602X
  • ISBN-13 978-0226526027
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About the author

Eve l. ewing.

Dr. Eve Louise Ewing is a sociologist of education whose research is focused on racism, social inequality, and urban policy, and the impact of these forces on American public schools and the lives of young people. She often uses public platforms to discuss these social issues, particularly Twitter, where she is a well-recognized commentator with over 160,000 followers and 15-30 million views each month. She is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.

Eve is also an essayist and poet. Her work has been published in many venues, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Nation, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Poetry Magazine, The Indiana Review, and many other venues. She co-directs Crescendo Literary, a partnership that develops community-engaged arts events and educational resources as a form of cultural organizing. Eve is one-half of the writing collective Echo Hotel, alongside Hanif Abdurraqib.

Eve has been an educator in both traditional and community-based settings, including Chicago Public Schools, After School Matters, Harvard University, and Wellesley College. She is the current President of the Board of Directors of MassLEAP, a non-profit organization dedicated to building and supporting spaces for youth, artist-educators, and organizers to foster positive youth development through spoken word poetry forums throughout Massachusetts.

Born and raised in the Logan Square community of Chicago, Eve is a proud alumna of Chicago Public Schools. She completed her doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to that, she received an undergraduate degree with honors in English Language & Literature from the University of Chicago, with a focus on African-American literature of the twentieth century. She also holds an MAT in Elementary Education from Dominican University and an M.Ed in Education Policy and Management from Harvard.

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UChicago Press awards top honor to Eve L. Ewing for ‘Ghosts in the Schoolyard’

Crown family school scholar wins 2020 laing award for study of racism in chicago public schools.

The University of Chicago Press has awarded the 2020 Gordon J. Laing Award to Asst. Prof. Eve L. Ewing for Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side , which draws on her experience in Chicago Public Schools—as a student, a teacher and a researcher.

Given annually since 1963 as the Press’ top honor, the Laing Award is given to the UChicago faculty author, editor or translator of a book published in the previous three years that brings the Press the greatest distinction.

The 2020 award, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be presented during a reception in September at the University of Chicago’s David Rubenstein Forum. Books published in 2018 and 2019 were eligible for this award.

Published in hardcover in 2018 and reprinted in paperback in 2020, Ghosts in the Schoolyard situates Chicago’s wave of school closings in 2013 within a larger context. An assistant professor at UChicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, Ewing reveals that this issue is about much more than just schools. Black communities see the closing of their schools—schools that are certainly less than perfect but that are  theirs —as one more in a long line of racist policies. The fight to keep them open, Ewing argues, is yet another front in the ongoing struggle of Black people in America to build successful lives and achieve true self-determination.

“The University of Chicago Press has published some of the most challenging and important scholarly texts ever—in my own personal academic life, and in the nation and the world—and it was already a point of pride for me to be counted among them,” Ewing said. “So above and beyond that, I’m now stunned and honored to be the recipient of this award.”

Ghosts in the Schoolyard drew praise from other acclaimed authors, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, and was widely discussed on NPR, “ The Daily Show with Trevor Noah ,” The Nation and many other news organizations.

“The enthusiastic reception of Ewing’s book speaks to the power and necessity of the work,” said Garrett Kiely, director of the UChicago Press. “It is a fantastic example of writing and research that speaks to ongoing and significant conversations about public schools and racism in Chicago and across the country. I am very proud to have this book on Chicago’s list.”

The prize is named in honor of Gordon J. Laing, the scholar who, serving as general editor from 1909 until 1940, firmly established the character and reputation of the University of Chicago Press as the premier academic publisher in the United States. The award is conferred annually by vote of the Board of University Publications, a committee of faculty members who oversee the Press’ imprint.

“The Laing Award recognizes significant work by University faculty that has been published by the Press, and Eve Ewing’s work has provided a distinctive and important voice on educational issues in Chicago and nationwide,” said President Robert J. Zimmer. “I am delighted that the 2020 Laing Award honors her achievement in Ghosts in the Schoolyard .”

“Eve Ewing’s Ghosts in the Schoolyard is a shining example of an extremely rare sort of book: a carefully researched, beautifully written and masterfully executed piece of scholarship that speaks not just to academics, but to a readership that extends far beyond the academy,” said Ryan Coyne, chair of the Board of University Publications. “Ewing renders with stunning clarity and poignancy the lived experience of those directly affected by recent school closures in Chicago, and she boldly challenges the assumptions guiding these and other school closures. The Press Board is deeply honored to recognize Ewing’s achievement by recommending Ghosts in the Schoolyard for the 2020 Laing Award.”

In winning the Laing Award, Ewing joins a distinguished list of previous UChicago scholars that includes Adrian Johns, Deborah Nelson, Alison Winter, Robert Richards, Martha Feldman, Bernard E. Harcourt, Philip Gossett and W. J. T. Mitchell.

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Ghosts in the Schoolyard

Racism and school closings on chicago's south side.

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Publisher Description

“Failing schools. Underprivileged schools. Just plain bad schools.” That’s how Eve L. Ewing opens Ghosts in the Schoolyard : describing Chicago Public Schools from the outside. The way politicians and pundits and parents of kids who attend other schools talk about them, with a mix of pity and contempt. But Ewing knows Chicago Public Schools from the inside: as a student, then a teacher, and now a scholar who studies them. And that perspective has shown her that public schools are not buildings full of failures—they’re an integral part of their neighborhoods, at the heart of their communities, storehouses of history and memory that bring people together. Never was that role more apparent than in 2013 when Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced an unprecedented wave of school closings. Pitched simultaneously as a solution to a budget problem, a response to declining enrollments, and a chance to purge bad schools that were dragging down the whole system, the plan was met with a roar of protest from parents, students, and teachers. But if these schools were so bad, why did people care so much about keeping them open, to the point that some would even go on a hunger strike? Ewing’s answer begins with a story of systemic racism, inequality, bad faith, and distrust that stretches deep into Chicago history. Rooting her exploration in the historic African American neighborhood of Bronzeville, Ewing reveals that this issue is about much more than just schools. Black communities see the closing of their schools—schools that are certainly less than perfect but that are theirs —as one more in a long line of racist policies. The fight to keep them open is yet another front in the ongoing struggle of black people in America to build successful lives and achieve true self-determination.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY JUL 9, 2018

Poet Ewing (Electric Arches), an assistant professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, revisits the 2013 closure of 54 Chicago public schools due to declining rates of enrollment in this bracing study of the third largest school system in the United States. Ewing focuses on three schools in Bronzeville, on Chicago's South Side, most notably Dyett High School, where news of the school's closure sparked a monthlong hunger strike among community members. Two questions permeate this study: "If the schools were so terrible, why did people fight for them so adamantly?" and "What role did race, power, and history play in what was happening in my hometown?" Ewing's investigation looks at the development of selective enrollment schools, designed to expand the "choice" within the Chicago Public Schools system, in which students need not attend the schools in their immediate area, but can choose among schools across the city, a model that often puts black families with limited access to transportation, time, and information about schools at a disadvantage. The deeply moving final chapter addresses the Bronzeville community's sense of mourning in the loss of "institutions, like our schools that have helped shape our sense of who we are." Ewing's work, a tribute to students, parents, teachers, and community members, is essential for general readers confronting the issues of "school choice" and school funding, as well as useful for historians of the African-American experience.

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Race, Schools and A Nation’s Woes: A Review of “Ghosts in the Graveyard” by Eve L. Ewing

by Jarrett Neal | October 11, 2018

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ghosts in the schoolyard quotes

“What do school closures and their disproportionate clustering in communities like Bronzeville, tell us about a fundamental devaluation of African American children, their families and black life in general?” is the underpinning of Eve L. Ewing’s new book “Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side.” The Chicago educator, poet and author of the evocative 2017 poetry collection “Electric Arches” crafts a powerful account of the battle that pitted beleaguered educators and working-class parents against the snarl of political machinations. These fights played out amid the raft of school closings in majority-black Chicago communities in 2013. Ewing’s book thrums with an activist’s outrage. Vehement charges of racism abound within the book, which chronicles Chicago’s well-documented history of racial segregation and oppression while simultaneously depicting a resistance of students, parents, educators and activists who refuse to be silenced in the face of injustice.

Ewing provides readers a gadfly’s view of the various protests that took place in Bronzeville and other Chicago areas. The author deftly captures a flashpoint in a time of citywide angst over Chicago’s global prominence (at the time, the city was contending to host the 2016 Olympics), concerns over escalating violence and neoliberalism’s unfettered encroachment into education nationwide. Ewing’s poetic powers radiate throughout this otherwise academic book, as it absorbs the indignation of downscale African Americans in Chicago, a population perpetually on the receiving end of many of the city’s injustices. Mayor Rahm Emanuel positioned his campaign of closing schools on the grounds that the students who attended them were either at-risk or not performing well on standardized tests. Ewing staunchly claims the practice was racist in its impact if not by design, a charge that resounds throughout Bronzeville’s residents.

Yet Ewing levels her most pointed critique at Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CPS’ former chief executive officer, who is now serving time in federal prison for accepting bribes and kickbacks during her tenure. The author characterizes Byrd-Bennett, one of the mayor’s hand-picked administrators, as either a puppet or utterly blind to the injustice that surrounds her. Ewing gracefully melds reportage, heartbreak, ire and history in a book that showcases the city’s education and racial tensions as a microcosm for the nation’s amalgamated woes.

“Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side” By Eve L. Ewing University of Chicago Press, 240 pages, $22.50

Eve L. Ewing’s book launch is on October 18 at 5pm, Chicago Teachers Union, 1901 West Carroll, (312)329-0100. She also appears on October 28 at 1:30pm, Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, 70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston (847)491-5312.

Jarrett Neal holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His first book, “What Color Is Your Hoodie? Essays on Black Gay Identity” was a finalist for the 2016 Lambda Literary Award.

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Jonathan Foiles LCSW

Ghosts in the Schoolyard

Chicago lost 50 schools in one year and is still reeling from the blow..

Posted October 18, 2018

University of Chicago Press

Rahm Emanuel was sworn in for his first term as mayor of Chicago on May 16, 2011, and within a year he closed half of the city’s community mental health clinics. Just one year later, he shuttered 50 schools, the most ever at one time in the United States. These twin blows disproportionately impacted black and brown neighborhoods within a city long-marred by racism both individual and institutional. I’ve previously written on the clinic closures as a public mental health crisis, but the loss of neighborhood schools had long-lasting ramifications of its own. Eve Ewing examines the community impact in--depth in her new Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side .

Ewing, accomplished poet and professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (my alma mater), once taught at a public school in Bronzeville, the city’s historic African-American neighborhood. She left that job to attend graduate school, and one spring day in 2013 she was scrolling through the list of just-announced school closures to find the name of the school where she used to teach. This news piqued her interest as both a community member and a researcher which eventually led to this book.

We are now five years removed from the closures, and their impact is clear: students’ grades didn’t improve at their new schools (in fact they worsened) and they disproportionately affected vulnerable youth and children of color (90 percent of the shuttered schools were majority black). Data only tells half the story, though. Yes, school performance suffered, but schools become part of the fabric of the neighborhoods where they’re located. They serve as a place for residents to come together, a cause neighbors can rally behind, a crucial link to healthcare in all its forms in underserved neighborhoods. Close a school and it’s not just the grades that suffer.

Ewing shares the story of one school in particular from Bronzeville, Walter H. Dyett High School. Dyett was slated for closure earlier in 2011. Residents responded by staging sit-ins, protests, and filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleging racially discriminatory practices. Parents formed the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett and fought to make the school into a hub for global leadership and green technology, hoping to help students better respond to their changing world. The school closed at the conclusion of the 2014-2015 school year, but in September of that year Chicago Public Schools changed its mind and agreed to reopen the school in 2016. Their announcement kicked off a series of community meetings to solicit input without much plan for how it was to be integrated into their plan forward. Throughout the process CPS was about as transparent as dishwater, stoking mounting frustration over their disregard for the voices of those who would send their children to the school. After several months of inaction on the part of CPS, the Coalition announces a hunger strike. Eventually, Dyett was reopened, not with a focus on green technology but rather upon the arts.

In one sense Dyett is an outlier: it’s still around when so many other schools like it stand long-vacant and neglected. To only focus on the (partial) victory of reopening the school, though, ignores the impact that the fight had upon the community and the students. Young people still attend Dyett, but they do so in the shadow of its history, all too aware of the disregard Chicago Public Schools has for them and for their neighborhood.

There’s a parable that I’ve heard at more than a few trainings on trauma and community mental health work. Once there was a town located just past a large bend on a river. One day some of the villagers noticed three bodies floating downstream. One was dead so they buried her. One was ill so they took him to the hospital. One was a healthy child whom they placed with a family and enrolled in the local school. The bodies kept coming, some dead, some near-dead, and some appearing to be healthy. Again and again, the villagers repeated this cycle, getting better at it with each iteration. No one ever stopped to ask where the bodies were coming from, though, what was happening to them upriver that caused them to arrive in such a state.

In community mental health, it’s all too easy to fall into pulling-bodies-out-of-the-water mode. Clients come with symptoms which we can treat to varying degrees, but they still have to go home where they might be exposed to violence, systemic racism, police brutality. Or closed schools. “What do these issues have to do with mental health?”, more than a few people have asked me. If our job is only to drag bodies out of the water, perhaps nothing. If we want to start asking the hard questions of what got them there and prevent them from landing in the water in the first place, though, we must cast a bigger vision beyond the experience of individuals. Ewing's book is an invaluable contribution to doing just that.

Jonathan Foiles LCSW

Jonathan Foiles, LCSW , is a therapist who works at a community mental health clinic in Chicago.

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100 Creative Essay Topics

An amazing number of writers look for the best creative writing prompts on a daily basis. These could be college students who were asked to write a fictional or narrative essay, published authors looking for their next big idea, or young people who want to explore something inspiring in their future work. Creativity is everything, and the success of any venture depends on the topic you’ve chosen. In 2020, many popular prompts have lost their novelty.

Usual stories about the journey that turned into disaster when you got lost and your things were all stolen, a secretary falling in love with her boss, a ghost-hunting adventure — this is no longer as interesting topic as it was ten years ago. Now, people look for newer and fresher ideas, but the logical question occurs: where to find them? Regardless of why you need creative prompts, we’re prepared to share some of them!

In Search of Creative Essay Topic: Best Tips

Let’s imagine that you’re writing a creative story or an essay. All you need is to trigger your inspiration, but what if today, your fantasy decided to take a break? No worries: there are some tips that could be useful if you’re stuck with picking topics:

  • Brainstorm with your friends or family.  Thinking by yourself could be great, but if it doesn’t work, use someone else’s input. Meet up with friends or classmates and bounce topic ideas back and forth between each other. Maybe one of them will offer stunning creative writing ideas you could use.
  • Play a game.  Close your eyes. Walk somewhere carefully, turn around a couple of times, then open your eyes and look around. Choose the first thing or person and create topic or essay idea around it. Beginners could face some difficulties at first, but the main thing is practice! After several awkward stories, your skill level will increase.
  • Look through online lists.  There are many cool topics you could find online. People have developed lists specifically to satisfy writers’ needs, so check some of them out in our list just below.

100 Unique Creative Essay Prompts

We prepared 100 different topic examples for your future essay. Read through them all or sort them by category — maybe you’ll find something truly inspiring.

Extended Creative Essay Topics on Social Issues

Small tragedies are everywhere, wherever we look. A woman who smiles tiredly could be barely holding back her tears. A running girl is trying to make it home in time to protect her brother from their drunk uncle. Here are some similar ideas.

  • Addiction : Daughter took her mother to live with her, but it turned out that the woman has serious psychological issues. She’s addicted to alcohol and she keeps bringing rubbish from streets into her room. The story of love and pain ensue.
  • Euthanasia : Person is dying slowly and they ask their nurse for euthanasia. The laws forbid it, though, and the nurse is getting more and more torn about letting the patient suffer or following the law.
  • World Chaos : Due to the deadly virus that spread all over the planet, no medicine is available. Character struggles with accepting the idea of this new world and its cruel rules.
  • Bullying : The bullied girl gets fed up with the world around her, so she takes actions to ensure that nothing and no one can ever hurt her again.
  • Kindness : The lonely woman has more money than she could ever spend. She decides that doing kind things is the only validation she can find, so she starts trying to make all people she meets happy.
  • Gossip : Two young men dream about taking part in a reality show, but when it happens, they understand how many ugly lies are beneath it.
  • Stalking : Man is being stalked by a woman, but no one takes him seriously… until it is too late.
  • Indifference : A bird is lying in a puddle, dying, as people pass by with no care. Then, a girl notices it, and she takes it home to nurse it back to health.
  • Discrimination : Young girl thinks she is aromantic and asexual, but her family and friends are all convinced that she just hasn’t found the right person yet.
  • Harassment : Old but enthusiastic employee starts a new job, and he doesn’t understand why his boss hates him & tries to humiliate him at every turn… until he suddenly remembers about their shared past.

Creative Fantasy Essay Ideas

Some of the best creative writing assignments fall into fantasy category.

  • World Peace : Something happened that resulted in peace all over the world. People are happy, animals are healthy, and there is no anger or hatred left. But something is not right, and slowly, unexpected problems begin to emerge.
  • Prophesies : A woman named Julia desperately wants to become the president. She learns of the prophecy claiming that her country will be saved by the woman, but the problem is, the prophecy woman’s name is Hannah. Determined to make herself fit, Julia officially changes her name.
  • Reincarnation : Two people in love keep being reborn. One of them remembers everything, but another one remains ignorant.
  • Soulmates : People dream about their soulmates even before they meet them. Character A meets Character B, but while A is happy, B prefers to ignore him.
  • World End : Terrible monsters are crawling all over the planet. The man not interested in survival survives, but when he is saddled with an orphaned child, his life suddenly gains new meaning.
  • Time of Death : People know how soon they’ll die from the moment of their birth. Some of them accept it; others fight it.
  • Secrets Exposed : Woman can tell people’s secrets just by looking at them. Sometimes it’s a blessing; other times, it is a curse.
  • Divine Punishment:  Psychopath loses one of his senses every time he acts on his dark impulses.
  • Forever and Ever : Character lives forever. At first, it was exciting, but now it is weighing heavily on them.
  • Predictions : Whatever prediction this person makes, it comes true. Can they resist such terrible power?

Fiction Topics

How about creative writing topics in the genre of monster hunting or dark romance? Many writers find it fascinating because of the challenge involved. Here are some good prompts.

  • Serial Killer : After hunting numerous victims down, a killer is stopped short by a red-haired girl he sees. He begins to stalk her, and in this process, he falls in love.
  • Beloved Pet : Imagine you’re a pet living in the family who loves and coddles you. How does that feel?
  • Unhealthy Relationship : Two narcissists hurt each other, and yet they can’t live without each other.
  • Complex Relationship : Character A destroyed the life of Character B’s parents. Years later, they fall in love.
  • Age Difference : Being in love with someone older hurts.
  • Social Difference : He is rich, she is not. He’s ready to ignore the difference, but she isn’t.
  • Taboo : An orphaned boy is adopted by new doting guardian, yet the feelings he develops for them are far from appropriate.
  • Abduction : Two girls are abducted during New Year. They don’t know why they were taken, but gradually, they realize that they have a chance to start the whole new life.
  • Unexpected Bonding : Two students are stuck in detention for fighting each other. But feelings start growing before they know it.
  • Beauty : She was the definition of beauty, yet the more she loved, the more her beauty was destroyed.
  • Toys : Child is sure her toys are dancing at night.
  • In a Movie : Boy falls into the universe of his favorite movie.
  • Rocks : You’re the rock that existed for centuries. What do you see?
  • Speaking with animals:  The day you started understanding your pet.
  • Love Hurts:  It causes physical pain.

Creative Journal Prompts for Essays

Basing your ideas on notes in journals is both creative and realistic.

  • Character lost in the forest is trying to survive by writing.
  • A journal is found on an empty island.
  • From first love to disillusionment.
  • Watching seasons change.
  • Saving up for an expensive purchase.
  • An imagined year of life day by day.
  • Message to your future self.
  • Description of nightmares.
  • Every message sent to you on Facebook.
  • Observing your love interest.
  • Describing every hobby you ever had.
  • Finding yourself in the past & writing about it.
  • 5 awkward speeches.
  • Watching your child grow.
  • List what you’d buy if you had a million dollars.

Creative Humor Essays Topics

If you have great humor, take a look at these fun creative writing prompts.

  • Write a tragedy made of random sentences from your online messages.
  • Meeting your real muse: awkwardness ensues.
  • Hiding your golden finger from everyone to avoid turning them into gold.
  • Love letter for the first person you see.
  • Meeting TV character.
  • Interview that goes very wrong.
  • The most shameful moment from your life.
  • Stealing a painting & finding out it’s a copy.
  • Being accidentally turned into a Barbie.
  • Write short story where every word starts with the same letter.

Creative Essays Topics About Death

Death is painful, but it gives birth to many ideas for creative writing. Your essay will be engaging with these topics:

  • Losing the loved one never gets easier.
  • Keeping ashes of the deceased beloved close.
  • Characters realize they are doomed to die every day.
  • Character is preparing to commit suicide and is saying goodbye to family.
  • A bloodthirsty creatures entices people to kill themselves.
  • Speech on the grandfather’s funeral.
  • Living in an empty apartment where happy voices of a family can still be heard.
  • Every loss feels like dying: family, friends, pets.
  • Character embraces death and cries happy tears upon being reunited with people they loved.
  • Character gets tired of living and tries to die & discovers they are immortal.

Health and Medicine

Healthcare could be a category with lots of creative writing prompts for adults. Nail your essay with one of this topics.

  • OCD woman tries to make sense of her life.
  • Man with amnesia starts each day as a new life.
  • A ghost haunts the hospital for a decade and observes what they see.
  • Each time this girl recovers from panic attack, she feels like she was reborn.
  • Create unique disease for your character & describe their life.
  • Narrator reflects whether it’s better to live with pain or not live at all.
  • A surgeon describes her surgeries & acknowledges she needs nothing else.
  • A paranoid patient is convinced he’s dying and refuses to listen to doctors.
  • The blind person seeing colors for the first time.
  • Person fears being kidnapped & looks for poison just in case.

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Creative Essays Ideas About Dreams

Our dreams are a mix of reality and fantasy. These writing prompts for creative writing reflect it.

  • Mother dreams of reuniting with her missing child. Years later, her dreams is realized.
  • What you dreamed about yesterday will come true tomorrow.
  • Contacting people through dreams.
  • As soon as you have a dream, you know the opposite will happen in reality.
  • A killer learned how to kill people via dreams.
  • A person’s biggest dream is about realizing what their dream is.
  • Having dreams costs money. Who will agree to have them?
  • Only people who share dreams are allowed to get married.
  • Life is fair: happy people only have nightmares while unhappy people have happy dreams.
  • Cure against dreams: who would take it?

Creative Education Topics

A million creative writing essays topics could be based on education.

  • Story of how time in college was the happiest in one’s life.
  • A bully falling in love with their victim and trying to earn their forgiveness.
  • What character sacrificed in order to afford tuition.
  • After all she has been through, she finally got into the university of her dreams… and she hates it.
  • A heartbreaking choice between working & studying.
  • A teacher saying to a successful student: “I haven’t graduated with honors, so you won’t either.”
  • School and I: it was hatred from the first sight.
  • The time I fell asleep during my lesson.
  • Having a crush on your teacher & coming to realize why it’s wrong.
  • You are the director at made-up university: how would it look like?

Have Fun Writing With Creative College Essay Topics

If you’re having a bad day and cannot summon even a spark of creativity, we’re here to help you! Use an idea we offered above — just give it a good title. If you like it, then it is all that matters — you’ve already crossed half of the way toward absolute success. In case having a prompt is not enough and you still feel no inspiration, you could always leave it to us. 

We have amazing specialists whose creativity knows no boundaries: they could write a short fictional story, craft a quirky essay, or develop some personalized creative prompts for you. Share your request with us, supply us with all details, and we’ll make sure to fulfill every one of them. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, and we are always happy to provide it.

Can’t come up with a topic for you paper? We’ve prepared a collection of essay topics for you

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feature_creativewritingprompts

The most common advice out there for being a writer is, "if you want to write, write." While this is true (and good advice), it's not always that easy, particularly if you're not writing regularly.

Whether you're looking for help getting started on your next project, or just want to spend 20 minutes being creative, writing prompts are great ways to rev up your imagination. Read on for our list of over 100 creative writing prompts!

feature image credit: r. nial bradshaw /Flickr

10 Short Writing Prompts

If you're looking for a quick boost to get yourself going, these 10 short writing prompts will do the trick.

#1 : Write a scene starting with a regular family ritual that goes awry.

#2 : Describe exactly what you see/smell/hear/etc, right now. Include objects, people, and anything else in your immediate environment.

#3 : Suggest eight possible ways to get a ping pong ball out of a vertical pipe.

#4 : A shoe falls out of the sky. Justify why.

#5 : If your brain were a tangible, physical place, what would it be like?

#6 : Begin your writing with the phrase, "The stage was set."

#7 : You have been asked to write a history of "The Summer of [this past year]." Your publisher wants a table of contents. What events will you submit?

#8 : Write a sympathetic story from the point of view of the "bad guy." (Think fractured fairy tales like Wicked or The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! , although the story doesn't have to be a fairy tale.)

#9 : Look at everyday objects in a new way and write about the stories one of these objects contains.

#10 : One person meets a stranger on a mode of transportation. Write the story that ensues.

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11 Writing Prompts for Kids

Any of these prompts can be used by writers of any age, but we chose the following 11 prompts as ones that would be particularly fun for kids to write about. (Most of them I used myself as a young writer, so I can vouch for their working!)

#1 : Include something falling in your writing.

#2 : Write a short poem (or story) with the title, "We don't know when it will be fixed."

#3 : Write from the perspective of someone of a different gender than you.

#4 : Write a dumb internet quiz.

#5 : Finish this thought: "A perfect day in my imagination begins like this:"

#6 : Write a character's inner monologue (what they are thinking as they go about their day).

#7 : Think of a character. Write a paragraph each about:

  • An important childhood experience that character had.
  • The character's living situation.
  • Two hobbies or things the character likes to do.
  • The room where the character sleeps.
  • An ambition of the character.
  • Two physical characteristics of the character.
  • What happens when a second person and this character meet.
  • Two important defining personal traits of this character.

#8 : Start a story with a quote from a song.

#9 : Begin a story with, "It was the summer of ______ when ______"

#10 : Pretend everyday objects have no names. Think about what you would name them based on what they do, what you can use them for, and what they look like.

#11 : Start a story with the phrases "My grandparents are/were," "My parents are/were," or "My mother/father/parent is/was."

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15 Cool Writing Prompts

#1 : List five issues that you're passionate about. Write about them from the opposite point of view (or from the perspective of a character with the opposite point of view).

#2 : Walk around and write down a phrase you hear (or read). Make a story out of it.

#3 : Write using no adjectives or adverbs.

#4 : Write a character's inner dialogue between different aspects of a character's self (rather than an inner monologue).

#5 : Write a true story from your past that involves light or darkness in some way.

#6 : "Saying goodbye awakens us to the true nature of things." Write something in which someone has to say goodbye and has a realization.

#7 : Begin by writing the end of the story.

#8 : Write a recipe for an intangible thing.

#9 : Write a horror story about an ordinary situation (e.g., buying groceries, going to the bank, listening to music).

#10 : Write a story from within a bubble.

#11 : Write down 2-3 short character descriptions and then write the characters in conversation with one another.

#12 : Write a story in second person.

#13 : Write a story that keeps contradicting itself.

#14 : Write about a character with at least three big problems.

#15 : Write something that takes place on a Friday, the 13th (of any month).

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15 Funny Writing Prompts

#1 : Write a story which starts with someone eating a pickle and potato sandwich.

#2 : Write a short script where the plot has to do with evil dolls trying to take over something.

#3 : Write about writers' block.

#4 : List five election issues that would be ridiculous to includes as part of your election platform (e.g. outlawing mechanical pencils and clicky pens, mandating every person over the age of 30 must own an emergency last rites kit). Choose one of the ridiculous issues and write a speech in favor of it.

#5 : Write a children's story that is insanely inappropriate but can't use graphic language, curses, or violence.

#6 : List five careers. Write about someone with one of those careers who wants to quit it.

#7 : Write down a list of murder methods. Choose one at random from the list to use in a story.

#8 : Write a romance story in which the hero must have a last name corresponding with a physical characteristic (e.g. Jacques Hairyback or Flora Dimple).

#9 : Come up with 10 different ways to:

  • order a pizza
  • congratulate someone on a job well done
  • return to the store something that's broken

#10 : Search for "random Renaissance painting" (or any other inspirational image search text you can think of) on any online internet image search engine. Picking one image, write half a page each of:

  • Statements about this image (e.g. "I meant bring me the BREAD of John the Baptist").
  • Questions about this image (e.g. "How many of those cherubs look like their necks are broken?").
  • Explanations of this image (e.g. "The painter ran out of blue paint halfway through and had to improvise for the color of the sky").
  • Commands said by people in this image or about this image (e.g. "Stop telling me to smile!" or "Bring me some gasoline!").

#11 : Write starting with a word that sounds like "chute" (e.g. "chute," "shoot," "shooed").

#12 : Write about a character named X "The [article of clothing]" Y (e.g. Julie "The Yellow Darted Skirt" Whyte) or simply referred to by their clothing (e.g. "the man in the brown suit" or "the woman in black").

#13 : Write down a paragraph each describing two wildly different settings. Write a story involving both settings.

#14 : Think of a fictional holiday based around some natural event (e.g. the Earth being at its farthest point from the sun, in memory of a volcanic eruption, that time a cloud looked like a rabbit riding a bicycle). Write about how this holiday is celebrated.

#15 : Write a "Just-So" type story about a fictional creature (e.g. "how the dragon got its firebreath" or "how the mudkip got its cheek gills").

body_justsostory

54 Other Writing Prompt Ideas

#1 : Borrow a character from some other form of media (or create your own). Write from that character's perspective.

#2 : Write for and against a non-consequential controversy (e.g., salt vs. pepper, Mac vs. PC, best kind of door).

#3 : Choose an ancestor or a person from the past to write about or to.

#4 : Write a pirate story with a twist.

#5 : Have a character talk about another character and their feelings about that other character.

#6 : Pick a season and think about an event in your life that occurred in that season. Write a creative nonfiction piece about that event and that season.

#7 : Think of something very complicated and long. Write a page about it using short sentences.

#8 : Write a story as a dream.

#9 : Describe around a food without ever directly naming it.

#10 : Write a monologue (one character, talking to the audience/reader) (*not* an inner monologue).

#11 : Begin a story with the phrase, "It only took five seconds to..."

#12 : List five strong emotions. Choosing one, write about a character experiencing that emotion, but only use the character's actions to convey how they are feeling (no outright statements).

#13 : Write a chapter of the memoir of your life.

#14 : Look through the (physical) things you're currently carrying with you or wearing. Write about the memories or emotions tied with each of them.

#15 : Go be in nature. Write drawing your story from your surroundings (both physical, social, and mental/emotional).

body_writinginnature

#16 : Write from the perspective of a bubble (or bubble-like creature).

#17 : A person is jogging along an asphalt road. Write a story.

#18 : Title your story (or poem, or play, etc) "Anti-_____". Fill in the blank and write the story.

#19 : Write something that must include an animal, a mineral, and a vegetable.

#20 : Begin your writing with the phrase, "6 weeks later..."

#21 : List 5-10 office jobs. Pick one of them and describe a person working in that job as if you were a commentator on an Olympic sporting event.

#22 : Practice your poetic imagery: overwrite a description of a character's breakfast routine.

#23 : Write about a character (or group of characters) trying to convince another character to try something they're scared of.

#24 : Keep an eye out in your environment for examples of greengrocer's apostrophes and rogue quotation marks. Pick an example and write about what the misplaced punctuation implies (e.g., we have the "best" meat or we have the best "meat" ).

#25 : Fill in the blank with the first word that comes to mind: "_______ Riot!" Write a newspaper-style article describing the events that that took place.

#26 : Write from the point of view of your most-loved possession. What does it think of you?

#27 : Think of five common sayings (e.g., "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"). Write a horror story whose plot is one of those common sayings.

#28 : Write a scene in which two characters are finally hashing out a long-standing misunderstanding or disagreement.

#29 : You start receiving text messages from an unknown number. Tell the story of what happens next.

#30 : Write one character bragging to another about the story behind their new tattoo.

#31 : Superheroes save the world...but they also leave a lot of destruction in their wake. Write about a normal person in a superhero's world.

#32 : Sometimes, family is who we are related to; sometimes, family is a group of people we gather around ourselves. Write a story about (some of) a character's found family and relatives meeting for the first time.

#33 : Write a story that begins in the middle of the plot's action ( en media res ).

#34 : Everyone says you can never have too much of a good thing. Write a story where that isn't true.

#35 : What do ghosts do when they're not creating mischief? Write about the secret lives of ghosts.

body_secretlivesofghosts

#36 : Every year, you dread the last week of April. Write a story about why.

#37 : Write a story about what it would be like to have an animal sidekick in real life.

#38 : Heists don't just have to be black-clad thieves stealing into vaults to steal rare art or money. Write about a group of people (adults or children) who commit a heist for something of seemingly little monetary value.

#39 : "Life is like a chooseable-path adventure, except you don't get to see what would have happened if you chose differently." Think of a choice you've made and write about a world where you made a different choice.

#40 : Write a story about a secret room.

#41 : You find a message in a bottle with very specific directions. Write a story about the adventure you embark upon.

#42 : "You'll always be okay as long as you know where your _______ is." Fill in the blank and write a story (either fictional or from your life) illustrating this statement.

#43 : Forcing people into prolonged proximity can change and deepen relationships. Write about characters on a road trip together.

#44 : In music, sonata form includes three main parts: exposition, development, and recapitulation. Write a short story that follows this format.

#45 : Begin writing with a character saying, "I'm afraid this simply can't wait."

#46 : Write a story with a happy ending (either happily-ever-after or happy-for-now).

#47 : Write about a character before and after a tragedy in that character's life.

#48 : Choose an object or concept you encounter in everyday life (e.g. tables, the feeling of hot or cold, oxygen) and write an infomercial about it.

#49 : "Life is a series of quests, whether important or mundane." Write about a quest you've gone on (or would like to go on, or will have to go on).

#50 : List 10 different ways to learn. Choose one (or more) and write a story where a character learns something using that one (or more) method.

#51 : You've been called to the principal's office for bad behavior. You know what you did. Explain and justify yourself.

#52 : A character discovers their sibling owns a cursed object. Write about what happens next.

#53 : Write a character description by writing a list of items that would be on a scavenger hunt about them.

#54 : The slogan for a product or service you're advertising is, "Kid-tested, _____." Fill in the blank and write the copy for a radio or podcast advertisement for your product.

body_kidtestedwritingprompt

How to Use Creative Writing Prompts

There's no wrong way to use a creative writing prompt (unless it's to harass and hurt someone)—the point of them is to get you writing and your imagination flowing.

To help you get the most out of these writing prompts, however, we've come up with the six tips below. Try them out!

#1: DON'T Limit Yourself to Prose

Unless you're writing for a particular assignment, there's no reason everything you write in response to a writing prompt has to be prose fiction . Instead of writing your response to a prompt as a story, try writing a poem, nonfiction essay, play, screenplay, or some other format entirely.

#2: DON'T Edit as You Write

The purposes of writing prompts is to get you writing, typos and weird grammar and all. Editing comes later, once you've finished writing and have some space from it to come back to what you wrote.

It's OK to fix things that will make it difficult to read what you've written (e.g., a weird autocorrect that changes the meaning of a sentence), but don't worry too much about typos or perfect grammar when you're writing; those are easy enough to fix in edits . You also can always insert asterisks or a short note as you're writing to remind yourself to go back to fix something (for instance, if as you're writing it seems like you want to move around the order of your paragraphs or insert something earlier).

#3: DO Interpret the Prompt Broadly

The point of using a writing prompt is not to write something that best exemplifies the prompt, but something that sparks your own creativity. Again, unless you're writing in response to an assignment with specific directions, feel free to interpret writing prompts as broadly or as narrowly as you want.

For instance, if your prompt is to write a story that begins with "The stage was set," you could write about anything from someone preparing to put a plan into motion to a literal theatre stage constructed out of pieces of old sets (or something else entirely).

If you're using a writing prompt, it doesn't have to be the first sentence of your story or poem, either; you can also use the prompt as a goal to work towards in your writing.

#4: DO Try Switching Up Your Writing Methods

If it's a possibility for you, see if you write differently in different media. Do you write the same kind of stories by hand as you would typing at a computer? What about if you dictate a story and then transcribe it? Or text it to a friend? Varying the method you use to write can affect the stories you're able to tell.

For example, you may find that it's easier for you to tell stories about your life to a voice recorder than to try to write out a personal essay. Or maybe you have trouble writing poetry, but can easily text yourself or a friend a poem. You might even find you like a writing method you've not tried before better than what you've been doing!

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#5: DO Mix and Match Prompt Ideas

If you need more inspiration, feel free to combine multiple prompts (but don't overwhelm yourself with too much to write about).

You can also try switching genres from what might be suggested in the prompt. For instance, try writing a prompt that seems funny in a serious and sad way, or finding the humor in something that otherwise seems humorless. The categories we've organized the prompts into are by no means limiters on what you're allowed to write about.

#6: DO Try to Write Regularly

The more regularly you write, the easier it will be to write (with or without writing prompts).

For some people, this means writing daily; for others, it means setting aside time to write each weekend or each month. Set yourself an achievable goal (write 2x a week, write 1000 words a month) and stick to it. You can always start small and then ramp your wordcount or frequency up.

If you do better when you have something outside yourself prompting to write, you may also want to try something like morning pages , which encourages you to write at least 750 words every day, in any format (story, diary entry, social media postings, etc).

body_planouttimetowrite

What's Next?

Thinking about attending college or grad school for creative writing? Our articles on whether or not you should major in creative writing and the best creative writing programs are there for you! Plus, if you're a high schooler, you should check out these top writing contests .

Creative writing doesn't necessarily have to be fiction. Check out these three examples of narrative writing and our tips for how to write your own narrative stories and essays .

Just as writing prompts can help give form to amorphous creative energy, using specific writing structures or devices can be great starting points for your next story. Read through our discussion of the top 20 poetic devices to know and see if you can work at least one new one into your next writing session.

Still looking for more writing ideas? Try repurposing our 100+ easy drawing ideas for characters, settings, or plot points in your writing.

Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.

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365 Creative Writing Prompts

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Here are 365 Creative Writing Prompts to help inspire you to write every single day! Use them for journaling, story starters, poetry, and more!

365 creative writing prompts

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If you want to become a better writer, the best thing you can do is practice writing every single day. Writing prompts are useful because we know sometimes it can be hard to think of what to write about!

To help you brainstorm, we put together this list of 365 creative writing prompts to give you something to write about daily.

Want to Download these prompts?  I am super excited to announce due to popular demand we now have an ad-free printable version of this list of writing prompts available for just $5. The  printable version  includes a PDF as a list AND print-ready prompt cards. {And all the design source files you could ever need to customize any way you would like!}

Here are 365 Creative Writing Prompts to Inspire:

Whether you write short stories, poems, or like to keep a journal – these will stretch your imagination and give you some ideas for topics to write about!

1. Outside the Window : What’s the weather outside your window doing right now? If that’s not inspiring, what’s the weather like somewhere you wish you could be?

2. The Unrequited love poem: How do you feel when you love someone who does not love you back?

3. The Vessel: Write about a ship or other vehicle that can take you somewhere different from where you are now.

4. Dancing: Who’s dancing and why are they tapping those toes?

5. Food: What’s for breakfast? Dinner? Lunch? Or maybe you could write a poem about that time you met a friend at a cafe.

6. Eye Contact: Write about two people seeing each other for the first time.

7. The Rocket-ship: Write about a rocket-ship on its way to the moon or a distant galaxy far, far, away.

rocket ship writing prompt

8. Dream-catcher : Write something inspired by a recent dream you had.

9. Animals: Choose an animal. Write about it!

10. Friendship: Write about being friends with someone.

11. Dragon : Envision a dragon. Do you battle him? Or is the dragon friendly? Use descriptive language.

12. Greeting : Write a story or poem that starts with the word “hello” or another greeting.

13. The Letter: Write a poem or story using words from a famous letter or inspired by a letter someone sent you.

14. The Found Poem : Read a book and circle some words on a page. Use those words to craft a poem. Alternatively, you can cut out words and phrases from magazines.

15. Eavesdropper : Create a poem, short story, or journal entry about a conversation you’ve overheard.

16. Addict: Everyone’s addicted to something in some shape or form. What are things you can’t go without?

17. Dictionary Definition : Open up a dictionary to a random word. Define what that word means to you.

dictionary success

18. Cleaning: Hey, even writers and creative artists have to do housework sometimes. Write about doing laundry, dishes, and other cleaning activities.

19. Great Minds: Write  about someone you admire and you thought to have had a beautiful mind.

20. Missed Connections: If you go to Craigslist, there is a “Missed Connections” section where you can find some interesting storylines to inspire your writing.

21. Foreclosure : Write a poem or short story about someone who has lost or is about to lose their home.

22. Smoke, Fog, and Haze: Write about not being able to see ahead of you.

23. Sugar: Write something so sweet, it makes your teeth hurt.

24. Numbers:  Write a poem or journal entry about numbers that have special meaning to you.

25. Dread: Write about doing something you don’t want to do.

26. Fear: What scares you a little? What do you feel when scared? How do you react?

27. Closed Doors: What’s behind the door? Why is it closed?

what are some good creative writing topics

28. Shadow: Imagine you are someone’s shadow for a day.

29. Good Vibes: What makes you smile? What makes you happy?

30. Shopping:  Write about your shopping wishlist and how you like to spend money.

31. The Professor: Write about a teacher that has influenced you.

32. Rewrite : Take any poem or short story you enjoy. Rewrite it in your own words.

33. Jewelry: Write about a piece of jewelry. Who does it belong to?

34. Sounds : Sit outside for about an hour. Write down the sounds you hear.

35. War and Peace: Write about a recent conflict that you dealt with in your life.

36. Frame It: Write a poem or some phrases that would make for good wall art in your home.

37. Puzzle: Write about putting together the pieces of puzzles.

38. Fire-starters: Write about building a fire.

39. Coffee & Tea: Surely you drink one or the other or know someone who does- write about it!

40. Car Keys: Write about someone getting their driver’s license for the first time.

41. What You Don’t Know: Write about a secret you’ve kept from someone else or how you feel when you know someone is keeping a secret from you.

42. Warehouse : Write about being inside an old abandoned warehouse.

warehouse writing prompt

43. The Sound of Silence: Write about staying quiet when you feel like shouting.

44. Insult: Write about being insulted. How do you feel? Why do you think the other person insulted you?

45. Mirror, Mirror: What if you mirror started talking to you? What might the mirror say?

46. Dirty: Write a poem about getting covered in mud.

47. Light Switch : Write about coming out of the dark and seeing the light.

48. The Stars : Take inspiration from a night sky. Or, write about a time when “the stars aligned” in your horoscope.

writing prompt star idea

49. Joke Poem : What did the wall say to the other wall? Meet you at the corner! Write something inspired by a favorite joke.

50. Just Say No : Write about the power you felt when you told someone no.

51: Sunrise/Sunset : The sun comes up, the sun goes down. It goes round and round. Write something inspiring about the sunrise or sunset.

52. Memory Lane : What does Memory Lane look like? How do you get there?

53. Tear-Jerker : Watch a movie that makes you cry. Write about that scene in the movie.

54. Dear Diary: Write a poem or short story about a diary entry you’ve read or imagined.

55. Holding Hands : The first time you held someone’s hand.

56. Photograph : Write a story or journal entry influenced by a photograph you see online or in a magazine.

57. Alarm Clock: Write about waking up.

58. Darkness: Write a poem or journal entry inspired by what you can’t see.

59. Refreshed: Write a poem about a time you really felt refreshed and renewed. Maybe it was a dip into a pool on a hot summer day, a drink of lemonade, or other situation that helped you relax and start again.

60. Handle With Care : Write about a very fragile or delicate object.

61. Drama: Write about a time when you got stuck in between two parties fighting with each other.

62. Slip Up: Write about making mistakes.

63. Spice: Write about flavors and tastes or a favorite spice of yours.

64. Sing a New Song: Take a popular song off the radio and rewrite it as a poem in your own words.

65. Telephone: Write about a phone call you recently received.

66. Name: Write a poem or short story using your name in some way or form.

67. Dollhouse: Write a poem or short story from the viewpoint of someone living in a doll house.

68. Random Wikipedia Article : Go to Wikipedia and click on Random Article . Write about whatever the page you get.

69. Silly Sports: Write about an extreme or silly sport. If none inspire you, make up the rules for your own game.

70. Recipe : Write about a recipe for something abstract, such as a feeling.

71. Famous Artwork: Choose a famous painting and write about it.

72. Where That Place Used to Be : Think of a place you went to when you were younger but it now no longer there or is something else. Capture your feelings about this in your writing.

73. Last Person You Talked to: Write a quick little poem or story about the last person you spoke with.

74. Caught Red-Handed: Write about being caught doing something embarrassing.

75. Interview: Write a list of questions you have for someone you would like to interview, real or fictional.

76. Missing You: Write about someone you miss dearly.

77. Geography: Pick a state or country you’ve never visited. Write about why you would or would not like to visit that place.

geography writing prompt

78. Random Song: Turn on the radio, use the shuffle feature on your music collection or your favorite streaming music service. Write something inspired by the first song you hear.

79. Hero: Write a tribute to someone you regard as a hero.

80. Ode to Strangers: Go people watching and write an ode to a stranger you see on the street.

81. Advertisement: Advertisements are everywhere, aren’t they? Write using the slogan or line from an ad.

82. Book Inspired: Think of your favorite book. Now write a poem that sums up the entire story in 10 lines.

83. Magic : Imagine you have a touch of magic, and can make impossible things happen. What would you do?

84. Fanciest Pen: Get out your favorite pen, pencils, or even colored markers and write using them!

85. A Day in the Life: Write about your daily habits and routine.

86. Your Muse: Write about your muse – what do they look like? What does your muse do to inspire you?

87. Convenience Store : Write about an experience you’ve had at a gas station or convenience store.

88. Natural Wonders of the World: Choose one of the natural wonders of the world. Write about it.

89. Status Update: Write a poem using the words from your latest status update or a friend’s status update. If you don’t use sites like Facebook or Twitter, you can often search online for some funny ones to use as inspiration.

90. Green Thumb: Write about growing something.

91. Family Heirloom: Write about an object that’s been passed through the generations in your family.

92. Bug Catcher: Write about insects.

93. Potion: Write about a magic potion. What is it made of? What does it do? What is the antidote?

94. Swinging & Sliding: Write something inspired by a playground or treehouse.

95. Adjectives: Make a list of the first 5 adjectives that pop into your head. Use these 5 words in your story, poem, or journal entry.

96. Fairy Tales: Rewrite a fairy tale. Give it a new ending or make it modern or write as a poem.

97. Whispers: Write about someone who has to whisper a secret to someone else.

98. Smile: Write a poem about the things that make you smile.

99. Seasonal: Write about your favorite season.

100.  Normal: What does normal mean to you? Is it good or bad to be normal?

101. Recycle : Take something you’ve written in the past and rewrite it into a completely different piece.

102. Wardrobe: Write about a fashion model or what’s currently in your closet or drawers.

103. Secret Message : Write something with a secret message hidden in between the words. For example, you could make an acrostic poem using the last letters of the word or use secret code words in the poem.

104. Vacation: Write about a vacation you took.

105. Heat: Write about being overheated and sweltering.

106. Spellbinding: Write a magic spell.

107. Collection : Write about collecting something, such as salt shakers, sea shells, or stamps.

108. Taking Chances: Everyone takes a risk at some point in their life. Write about a time when you took a chance and what the result was.

109. Carnival: Write a poem or story or journal entry inspired by a carnival or street fair.

110. Country Mouse: Write about someone who grew up in the country visiting the city for the first time.

111: Questions: Write about questions you have for the universe. Optional: include an answer key.

112. Rushing: Write about moving quickly and doing things fast.

113. Staircase : Use a photo of a staircase or the stairs in your home or a building you love to inspire you.

114. Neighbors: Make up a story or poem about your next door neighbor.

115. Black and Blue: Write about a time you’ve been physically hurt.

116. All Saints: Choose a saint and create a poem about his or her life.

117. Beach Inspired: What’s not to write about the beach?

118. Shoes: What kind of shoes do you wear? Where do they lead your feet?

119. The Ex: Write a poem to someone who is estranged from you.

120. My Point of View: Write in the first person point of view.

121. Stray Animal: Think of the life of a stray cat or dog and write about that.

122. Stop and Stare : Create a poem or story about something you could watch forever.

123. Your Bed: Describe where you sleep each night.

124. Fireworks : Do they inspire you or do you not like the noise and commotion? Write about it.

125. Frozen: Write about a moment in your life you wish you could freeze and preserve.

126. Alone : Do you like to be alone or do you like having company?

127. Know-it-all: Write about something you are very knowledgeable about, for example a favorite hobby or passion of yours.

128. The Promise: Write about a promise you’ve made to someone. Did you keep that promise?

129. Commotion: Write about being overstimulated by a lot of chaos.

130. Read the News Today : Construct a poem or story using a news headline for your first line.

131. Macro: Write a description of an object close-up.

132. Transportation : Write about taking your favorite (or least-favorite) form of transportation.

133. Gadgets: If you could invent a gadget, what would it do? Are there any gadgets that make your life easier?

134: Bring on the Cheese: Write a tacky love poem that is so cheesy, it belongs on top of a pizza.

135. Ladders: Write a story or poem that uses ladders as a symbol.

136. Bizarre Holiday : There is a bizarre holiday for any date! Look up a holiday for today’s date and create a poem in greeting card fashion or write a short story about the holiday to celebrate.

137. Blog-o-sphere : Visit your favorite blog or your feedreader and craft a story, journal entry, or poem based on the latest blog post you read.

138. Mailbox: Create a poem, short story, or journal entry based on a recent item of mail you’ve received.

139. Sharing : Write about sharing something with someone else.

140. Cactus: Write from the viewpoint of a cactus. What’s it like to live in the desert or have a prickly personality?

141. It’s a Sign : Have you seen any interesting road signs lately?

142. Furniture: Write about a piece of furniture in your home.

143. Failure: Write about a time you failed at something. Did you try again or give up completely?

144. Mystical Creatures: Angels or other mystical creatures – use them as inspiration.

145. Flying: Write about having wings and what you would do.

146. Clear and Transparent: Write a poem about being able to see-through something.

147. Break the Silence : Record yourself speaking, then write down what you spoke and revise into a short story or poem.

148. Beat: Listen to music with a strong rhythm or listen to drum loops. Write something that goes along with the beat you feel and hear.

149. Color Palette: Search online for color palettes and be inspired to write by one you resonate with.

150. Magazine: Randomly flip to a page in a magazine and write using the first few words you see as an opening line.

151. The Grass is Greener : Write about switching the place with someone or going to where it seems the “grass is greener”.

152. Mind & Body: Write something that would motivate others to workout and exercise.

153. Shaping Up : Write something that makes a shape on the page…ie: a circle, a heart, a square, etc.

154. Twenty-One: Write about your 21st birthday.

155. Aromatherapy: Write about scents you just absolutely love.

156. Swish, Buzz, Pop : Create a poem that uses Onomatopoeia .

157. What Time is It? Write about the time of day it is right now. What are people doing? What do you usually do at this time each day?

158. Party Animal: Have you ever gone to a party you didn’t want to leave? Or do you hate parties? Write about it!

159: Miss Manners : Use the words “please” and “thank you” in your writing.

160. Cliche: Choose a common cliche, then write something that says the same thing but without using the catch phrase.

161. Eco-friendly : Write about going green or an environmental concern you have.

162. Missing You: Write about someone you miss.

163. Set it Free: Think of a time when you had to let someone or something go to be free…did they come back?

164: Left Out : Write about a time when you’ve felt left out or you’ve noticed someone else feeling as if they didn’t belong.

165. Suitcase: Write about packing for a trip or unpacking from when you arrive home.

what are some good creative writing topics

166. Fantasy : Write about fairies, gnomes, elves, or other mythical creatures.

167. Give and Receive : Write about giving and receiving.

168. Baker’s Dozen: Imagine the scents and sights of a bakery and write.

169. Treehouse: Write about your own secret treehouse hideaway.

170.  Risk: Write about taking a gamble on something.

171. Acrostic : Choose a word and write an acrostic poem where every line starts with a letter from the word.

172. Crossword Puzzle: Open up the newspaper or find a crossword puzzle online and choose one of the clues to use as inspiration for your writing.

173. Silver Lining : Write about the good that happens in a bad situation.

174. Gloves: Write about a pair of gloves – what kind of gloves are they? Who wears them and why?

175. All that Glitters: Write about a shiny object.

176. Jealousy: Write with a theme of envy and jealousy.

Want to Download these prompts?  I am super excited to announce due to popular demand we now have an ad-free printable version of this list of writing prompts available for just $5. The  printable version  includes a PDF as a list AND print-ready prompt cards. {And all the design source files you could ever need to customize any way you would like!}

177. How Does Your Garden Grow? Write about a flower that grows in an unusual place.

178. Jury Duty : Write a short story or poem that takes place in a courtroom.

179. Gifts: Write about a gift you have given or received.

180. Running: Write about running away from someone or something.

181. Discovery: Think of something you’ve recently discovered and use it as inspiration.

182. Complain:  Write about your complaints about something.

183. Gratitude: Write a poem or journal entry that is all about things you are thankful for.

184. Chemistry: Choose an element and write a poem or story that uses that word in one of the lines.

185. Applause: Write about giving someone a standing ovation.

186. Old Endings Into New Beginnings:  Take an old poem, story, or journal entry of yours and use the last line and make it the first line of your writing today.

187. Longing: Write  about something you very much want to do.

188. I Am: Write a motivational poem or journal entry about positive traits that make you who you are.

189. Rainbow : What is at the end of a rainbow? Or, take a cue from Kermit the Frog, and ask yourself, why are there so many songs about rainbows?

end of the rainbow writing idea

190. Museum: Take some time to visit a nearby museum with your journal. Write about one of the pieces that speaks to you.

191. Cartoon: Think of your favorite cartoon or comic. Write a poem or story that takes place in that setting.

192. Copycat: Borrow a line from a famous public domain poem to craft your own.

193. From the Roof-tops:  Imagine you could stand on a rooftop and broadcast a message to everyone below – what would you say?

194. Time Travel: If there was a time period you could visit for a day, where would you go? Write about traveling back in time to that day.

195. Changing Places: Imagine living the day as someone else.

196. Neighborhood: Write about your favorite place in your neighborhood to visit and hang out at.

197. Pirates: Write about a pirate ship.

198. Interview : Write based on a recent interview you’ve read or seen on TV or heard on the radio.

199.  Hiding Spaces : Write about places you like to hide things at. What was a favorite hiding spot for you as a child playing hide-and-seek?

200. Extreme Makeover: Imagine how life might be different if you could change your hair color or clothing into something completely opposite from your current style.

201. Empathy: Write about your feelings of empathy or compassion for another person.

202. Opposites: Write a poem or story that ties in together two opposites.

203. Boredom: Write about being bored or make a list of different ways to entertain yourself.

204. Strength : Think of a time when you’ve been physically or emotionally strong and use that as inspiration.

205. Hunger: Write from the perspective of someone with no money to buy food.

206. Greed: Write about someone who always wants more – whether it be money, power, etc. etc.

207. Volcano: Write about an eruption of a volcano.

208. Video Inspiration : Go to Vimeo.com or YouTube.com and watch one of the videos featured on the homepage. Write something based on what you watch.

209. Sneeze: Write about things that make you sneeze.

210. Footsteps on the Moon:  Write about the possibility of life in outer-space.

211: Star-crossed: Write a short modern version of the story of Romeo and Juliet or think of real-life examples of lovers who are not allowed to be together to use as inspiration for your writing.

212. Font-tastic: Choose a unique font and type out a poem, story or journal entry using that font.

213. Schedule: Take a look at your calendar and use the schedule for inspiration in writing.

214. Grandparents: Write about a moment in your grandparent’s life.

215. Collage: Go through a magazine and cut out words that grab your attention. Use these words to construct a poem or as a story starter or inspiration for your journal.

216. Oh so Lonely: Write a poem about what you do when you are alone – do you feel lonely or do you enjoy your own company?

217. Waterfall: Think of a waterfall you’ve seen in person or spend some time browsing photos of waterfalls online. Write about the movement, flow, and energy.

218. First Kiss: Write about your first kiss.

219. So Ironic: Write about an ironic situation you’ve been in throughout your life.

220. Limerick: Write a limerick today.

221. Grocery Shopping: Write about an experience at the grocery store.

daily writing prompt ideas

222. Fashion : Go through a fashion magazine or browse fashion websites online and write about a style you love.

223. So Close: Write about coming close to reaching a goal.

224. Drinks on Me: Write a poem or short story that takes place at a bar.

225. Online Friends: Write an ode to someone online you’ve met and become friends with.

226. Admiration: Is there someone you admire? Write about those feelings.

227. Trash Day: Write from the perspective of a garbage collector.

228. Mailbox: Open your mailbox and write something inspired by one of the pieces of mail you received.

229. Fresh & Clean: Write about how you feel after you take a shower.

230. Energized: Write about how you feel when you’re either at a high or low energy level for the day.

231. Rhyme & No Reason: Make up a silly rhyming poem using made up words.

232. Tech Support: Use computers or a conversation with tech support you’ve had as inspiration.

233. Hotel: Write from the perspective of someone who works at a hotel or staying at a hotel.

234. Underwater: Write about sea creatures and under water life. What’s under the surface of the ocean? What adventures might be waiting?

underwater life picture

235. Breathing: Take a few minutes to do some deep breathing relaxation techniques. Once your mind is clear, just write the first few things that you think of.

236. Liar, Liar: Make up a poem or story of complete lies about yourself or someone else.

237. Obituaries: Look at the recent obituaries online or in the newspaper and imagine the life of someone and write about that person.

238. Pocket: Rummage through your pockets and write about what you keep or find in your pockets.

239. Cinquain: Write a cinquain poem, which consists of 5 lines that do not rhyme.

240. Alphabetical: Write a poem that has every letter of the alphabet in it.

241.  Comedy Club: Write something inspired by a comedian.

242. Cheater: Write about someone who is unfaithful.

243. Sestina: Give a try to writing a sestina poem.

244. Fight: Write about witnessing two people get in an argument with each other.

245. Social Network : Visit your favorite Social Networking website (ie: Facebook, Pinterest, Google, Twitter, etc.) and write a about a post you see there.

246. Peaceful: Write about something peaceful and serene.

247. In the Clouds: Go cloud watching for the day and write about what you imagine in the clouds.

248. At the Park: Take some time to sit on a park bench and write about the sights, scenes, and senses and emotions you experience.

249. Sonnet: Write a sonnet today.

250. Should, Would, And Could: Write a poem or story using the words should, would, and could.

251. How to: Write directions on how to do something.

252. Alliteration: Use alliteration in your poem or in a sentence in a story.

253. Poker Face: Write about playing a card game.

254. Timer: Set a timer for 5 minutes and just write. Don’t worry about it making sense or being perfect.

255. Dance: Write about a dancer or a time you remember dancing.

256. Write for a Cause: Write a poem or essay that raises awareness for a cause you support.

257. Magic : Write about a magician or magic trick.

258. Out of the Box: Imagine finding a box. Write about opening it and what’s inside.

259. Under the Influence: What is something has impacted you positively in your life?

260. Forgotten Toy : Write from the perspective a forgotten or lost toy.

261. Rocks and Gems: Write about a rock or gemstone meaning.

262. Remote Control: Imagine you can fast forward and rewind your life with a remote control.

263. Symbolism: Think of objects, animals, etc. that have symbolic meaning to you. Write about it.

264. Light at the End of the Tunnel: Write about a time when you saw hope when it seemed like a hopeless situation.

265. Smoke and Fire : “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Use this saying as inspiration to write!

266. Railroad: Write about a train and its cargo or passengers.

what are some good creative writing topics

267. Clipboard: Write about words you imagine on an office clipboard.

268. Shipwrecked: Write about being stranded somewhere – an island, a bus stop, etc.

269. Quotable: Use a popular quote from a speaker and use it as inspiration for your writing.

270. Mind   Map it Out: Create a mind map of words, phrases, and ideas that pop into your head or spend some time browsing the many mind maps online. Write a poem, story, or journal entry inspired by the mind map.

271. Patterns : Write about repeating patterns that occur in life.

272. Scrapbook : Write about finding a scrapbook and the memories it contains.

273. Cure: Write about finding a cure for an illness.

274. Email Subject Lines: Read your email today and look for subject lines that may be good starters for writing inspiration.

275. Wishful Thinking: Write about a wish you have.

276. Doodle : Spend some time today doodling for about 5-10 minutes. Write about the thoughts you had while doodling or create something inspired by your finished doodle.

277. Chalkboard: Imagine you are in a classroom. What does it say on the chalkboard?

278. Sticky: Imagine a situation that’s very sticky, maybe even covered in maple syrup, tape or glue. Write about it!

279. Flashlight : Imagine going somewhere very dark with only a flashlight to guide you.

280. A Far Away Place : Envision yourself traveling to a fictional place, what do you experience in your imaginary journey?

281. On the Farm : Write about being in a country or rural setting.

282. Promise to Yourself: Write about a promise you want to make to yourself and keep.

283. Brick Wall : Write a poem that is about a brick wall – whether literal or figurative.

284. Making a Choice: Write about a time when you had to make a difficult choice.

285.  Repeat: Write about a time when you’ve had to repeat yourself or a time when it felt like no one was listening.

286. Outcast : Write about someone who is not accepted by their peers. (for example, the Ugly Ducking)

287. Scary Monsters: Write about a scary (or not-so-scary) monster in your closet or under the bed.

288. Sacrifice: Write about something you’ve sacrificed doing to do something else or help another person.

289. Imperfection: Create a poem that highlights the beauty in being flawed.

290. Birthday Poem: Write a poem inspired by birthdays.

291. Title First : Make a list of potential poem or story titles and choose one to write from.

292. Job Interview : Write about going on a job interview.

293. Get Well : Write a poem that will help someone who is sick feel better quick!

294. Lost in the Crowd: Write about feeling lost in the crowd.

295. Apple a Day: Write about a health topic that interests you.

296. Cravings: Write about craving something.

297. Phobia: Research some common phobias, choose one, and write about it.

298. In the Moment: Write about living in the present moment.

299. Concrete : Write about walking down a sidewalk and what you see and experience.

300. Battle: Write about an epic battle, whether real, fictional or figurative.

301. This Old House : Write about an old house that is abandoned or being renovated.

302. Clutter: Is there a cluttered spot in your home? Go through some of that clutter today and write about what you find or the process of organizing.

303. Go Fly a Kite: Write about flying a kite.

304. On the TV: Flip to a random TV channel and write about the first thing that comes on – even if it is an infomercial!

305. Fruit: Write an ode to your favorite fruit.

306. Long Distance Love: Write about a couple that is separated by distance.

307. Glasses: Write about a pair of eyeglasses or someone wearing glasses.

308. Robotic : Write about a robot.

309. Cute as a Button: Write about something you think is just adorable.

310. Movie Conversation: Use a memorable conversation from a favorite movie to inspire your writing.

311. Easy-Peasy : Write  about doing something effortlessly.

312. Idiom: Choose from a list of idioms one that speaks to you and create a poem around that saying or phrase. (Ie: It is raining cats and dogs)

313. Playground: Whether it is the swings or the sandbox or the sliding boards, write about your memories of being on a playground.

314. Romance: Write about romantic things partners can do for each other.

315. Rock Star: Imagine you are a famous rock star. Write about the experience.

rock star life

316. Come to Life: Imagine ordinary objects have come to life. Write about what they do and say.

317. Airplane: Write about meeting someone on an airplane and a conversation you might have.

318. Health & Beauty: Take some time to peruse your medicine cabinet or the health and beauty aisles at a local store. Write a poem, short story, or journal entry inspired by a product label.

319. Determination: Write about not giving up.

320. Instrumental Inspiration: Listen to some instrumental music and write a poem that matches the mood, beat, and style of the music.

321. Wait Your Turn: Write about having to wait in line.

322. Personality Type : Do you know your personality type? (There are many free quizzes online) – write about what type of personality traits you have.

323. Decade: Choose a favorite decade and write about it. (IE: 1980’s or 1950’s for example)

324. I Believe: Write your personal credo of things you believe in.

325. Lost and Found: Write about a lost object.

326. Say it: Write a poem or story that uses dialogue between two people.

327. The Unsent Letter: Write about a letter that never made it to its recipient.

328. The Windows of the Soul: Write a poem about the story that is told through someone’s eyes.

329. Trial and Error: Write about something you learned the hard way.

330. Escape : Write about where you like to go to escape from it all.

331. What’s Cooking: Write something inspired a favorite food or recipe.

332. Records : Go through your file box and pull out old receipts or records…write something inspired by what you find!

333. Banking: Write about visiting the bank.

334. Sweet Talk: Write about trying to convince someone of something.

335. Serendipity: Write about something that happened by chance in a positive way.

336. Distractions: Write about how it feels when you can’t focus.

337. Corporation: Write about big business.

338. Word of the Day: Go to a dictionary website that has a word of the day and use it in a poem, story or journal entry you write.

339. Pick Me Up:  What do you do when you need a pick me up?

340. Unfinished: Write about a project you started but never completed.

341. Forgiveness: Write about a time when someone forgave you or you forgave someone.

342. Weakness: Write about your greatest weakness.

343. Starting: Write about starting a project.

344. Mechanical: Think of gears, moving parts, machines.

345. Random Act of Kindness : Write about a random act of kindness you’ve done for someone or someone has done for you, no matter how small or insignificant it may have seemed.

346. Underground: Imagine living in a home underground and use that as inspiration for writing.

347. Classic Rock: Pick a classic rock love ballad and rewrite it into a story or poem with a similar theme.

348. Night Owl : Write about staying up late at night.

349. Magnetic : Write about attraction to something or someone.

350. Teamwork: Write about working with a team towards a common goal.

351. Roller-coaster : Write about the ups and downs in life.

352. Motivational Poster: Look at some motivational posters online and write a poem or journal entry inspired by your favorite one.

353. Games: Write about the games people play – figuratively or literally.

chess game story starter

354. Turning Point: Write about a point in life where things turned for the better or worse.

355. Spellbound: Write about a witch’s spell.

356. Anniversary: Write about the anniversary of a special date.

357. Gamble:  Be inspired by a casino or lottery ticket.

358. Picnic: Write about going on a picnic.

359. Garage: Write about some random item you might find in a garage.

360. Review: Review your week, month, or year in a journal entry or poem format.

361. Detective: Write about a detective searching for clues or solving a mystery.

362. Camera: Take your camera for a walk and write based on one of the photographs you take.

363. Visiting : Write about visiting a family member or friend.

364. Trust: Write about putting trust in someone.

365. Congratulations : Did you write a poem, short story, or journal entry every day for a whole year? Write about what you’ve learned and celebrate your achievement!

We hope you enjoy these creative writing prompts! And of course, if you write anything using these prompts, we’d love to know about it! Tell us how you’ll use these everyday creative writing prompts in the comments section below!

And of course, if you’d like the printable ad-free version of these prompts to reference again and again or to use in your classroom, you can find them at our Etsy shop !

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Chelle Stein wrote her first embarrassingly bad novel at the age of 14 and hasn't stopped writing since. As the founder of ThinkWritten, she enjoys encouraging writers and creatives of all types.

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191 comments.

I have been on a reading binge since being on vacation from school. By rereading Little House, Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women among others, one wonders about writing a book. I stumbled across this while looking up unit supplements for my kiddos, and thought, hey, write a page a day and see what happens! Thank you for this collection of prompts! I’ve linked back to this page several times so others can try their hand at writing. Thank you again!

The Flicker, The Teeth, and A Warehouse in the Dark (the warehouse prompt)

I am in a large abandoned warehouse with a flickering light The only light in the whole room. It flickered leaving me in temporal darkness It flickered again and as it was dark I swore I saw something glowing It looked like glowing teeth The lights return and I see nothing Flickers on Flickers off I see the teeth closer Flickers on I see nothing Flickers off The teeth so close Flickers on An empty warehouse Flickers off The glowing teeth are inchings away bright red blood drips from their tips Flickers on Panic rises in my chest but nothing is there Turns off The mouth of bloody teeth is before my eyes I wait for the light to flicker back on I wait in complete darkness I wait And wait And wait The teeth open wide I try to scream by the darkness swallows it A hear the crunch of my bones I see my blood pore down my chest But I wait in darkness for the pain I wait And wait And wait The mouth of teeth devours my lower half I wait for pain and death I wait And wait And wait The light flickers on I see no monster Only my morphed body And blood And blood And blood And so much blood The light flickers off The monster eats my arm Flickers on I wait for pain Flickers off I watch as the creature eats my limbs Flickers on I wait for death Flickers off Slowly the teeth eat my head All I see is dark I wait for it to flicker on Where is the warehouse light? Where is the only light in the room? Where is the flicker? Where am I? Where are the bloody teeth? I wait for the light to come back And wait And wait And wait And wait And wait And wait And wait in eternal darkness

WOW. Thank you!

This is such a helpful tool! I’ve learned a lot about my self through picking a random prompt and writing the first thing that comes to mind. I’d love to see a follow up list of possible! Definitely a recomended sight!

I agree. Very helpful.

I am new at the blogging game. You have provided some wonderful ideas for blog posts. Great ideas just to get used to writing every day. Thanks

This list is really impressive and useful for those of us who are looking for good topics to blog about. Thanks!

Thank you! That somes in handy

Very nice list. Thanks for compiling and posting it. It’s not only good for bloggers, but poets, as well.

yess im using it for my new years resolution, which is to write a poem daily!

Wow, thanks so much for all these wonderful prompts! They are lots of fun and very helpful. I love how you’ve provided 365 of them–A prompt for every day of the year! 🙂

Not if it’s a leap year…

Haha. Yea. This is great though all the same.. ;-;

Lol actually there’s 364 days in a year and 365 in a leap year so……yeah

are you fucking stupid

There are actually 366 days in a leap year so… yeah

I use this for my homeschooling-I love it! Thank you so much!! This is a wonderful list. So creative! 🙂 🙂

Thanks! I’m preparing for writing every day next year and this will come in really handy. It’s just 364 writing prompts though. 164 is missing. 😉

MiMschi is wrong 164 is there i looked

I think they meant that as a joke, 164 is called left out…

Good it is useful

no its not you nonce

You Don’t Love Me, Damn You

things left unsaid

and then some

anger strangles the baby

in its crib,

flowers wilt,

rivers dry up

harsh words clatter upon the day,

echo unfortunately

till silence smothers

in its embrace

you wish you could take it back

what’s done is done

never to be undone

though things move on

part of you remains

locked in the middle of protesting

one last thing,

mouth open,

no words emerging

why must you be misunderstood?

why must everything you say

no way of straightening things out

gestures halted mid-air

an accusatory finger

shoulders locked

in sardonic shrug

dishes smash on the floor

spray of fragments

frozen mid-air

slam the door

it doesn’t open

but in spite of yourself

you turn and look

one last time…..

(Greg Cameron, Poem, Surrey, B.C., Canada)

Love these. Thank you!

This is really amazingly deep. I love it so much. You have so much talent!!

Thanks SOOO much for the prompts but I have another suggestion!

A Recipe for disaster- write a recipe for a disastrous camping trip…

that one sounds awesome.

Haha. Reminds me of the old twin’s show.. what was it.. where the two girls switch places when they meet at camp?

Pretty sure I know what you’re talking about. The Parent Trap, right? Never seen the whole movie, but it seems funny.

and also #309, everyone should have thought of a hamster “write” away XD!

May I have permission to use this list at my next Ozarks Chapter of the American Christian Writers meeting. Thank you for consideration.

Hi Leah, please send some more info here: https://thinkwritten.com/contact

i am using it for my homeschooling and i love it

i am using it for my homeschooling

where is prompt 165?

sorry I meant 164, my mistake.

well kay, there is a 164 AND 165. So your head is clearly ????????????

What I like most about these is how you can combine them and get really weird ideas. For example, empathy from the rooftops: what if you shouted something positive in public every day – or if everyone did so? It might be fun to try, and then write a diary about it. Online time travel: if people could live virtually in incredibly well=constructed versions of different time periods, what would the effects be on today’s society? Could it change our language or customs?

It would be cool if we could have goggles that showed places during a certain time period. Like Seattle 1989. And you could buy special plugins, like specific people you want to hang out with, famous or non.

That one about online time travel is crazy brilliant!!! And highly thought-provoking.

It is amazing what creative writing could do to you. Daily prompts have proven to be very inspiring and overtime writers develop their own style of writing depending on how passionate they are about it. I would love to write about all 3, online, space, and time travel. cheers! and Don’t stop writing!

I belong to a writing club. We seem to have a lot of prompts to use. I love stories having to do with rain. Would you join me. I am jim

Wow! Inspiration right here.

May I use this list for a speech at my Ozarks Chapter of the American Christian Writers?

Love the inspiration

THANK YOU. THAT IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY IS THANK YOU.

What about a leap year? You’re missing one topic.

Wonderful! I love writing and these prompts are very helpful. Thank you very much! ♥

It’s been really useful in getting me to write again! Thank you very much!

I really love the list of writing ideas you have compiled here. I will be using it and others to get myself back into writing every single day if I can be away with it. Also, I have noticed a few problems with this list. One is a repeat topic. Those are numbers 76 and 162. And you skipped a number. And have only 364 days of writing. Still through! All these ideas are absolutely amazing and awesome ideas! I commend you for putting it all together in an easy to read format too. Thank you so very much.

I think we have the list all fixed now, but thanks for catching a couple of early mistakes!

Thank you for helping me edit Lora! I don’t always have a second pair of eyes + appreciated this to fix + update the post! I always say my readers are my best editors. 🙂

these days get brighter, mine gets darker, why does it has to be me , why not life.

Mirror, Mirror: What if you mirror started talking to you?

u r awesome man

Wonderful compilation of ideas! I will send your blog along to my many Creative Writing students. I’m enjoying reading your posts.

wow!! great tips! but how long did it take you to write that? its a lot of words!! lol great stuff though..

This is so cool! I love these prompts and will definitely recommend some to my teacher!!

The promise “I made a promise with my best friend, I said i’d never break, Our personalities really did blend, But then I lied awake, The people disappearing, Her gaze was always leering. I never thought she was serious, I always took it as a joke, But it really made me curious, When she was digging around that oak, My best friend is a serial killer, And i knew the truth, My life turned into a thriller, And eating at me took away my youth, I couldn’t take it any long living with this weight, To the police I went to tell my tale, Looking at me with eyes of hate, she smiled and said, without her I would fail. Now i sit in the prison cell, Waiting for my call My friend across the room smiling, my eyes begin to swell, My neck snapping on the, from my sides my hands fall

Although my writing style is dark, that’s the way I enjoy writing, and thank you for this list, even though I didn’t do one per day, scrolling through I was able to see keywords that formed ideas in my mind

I love this <3 It's amazing :))

These are really nice I absolutely love them.

This is very helpful and I’ve been finding a way to help improve my creative writing!!! Thank you very much!

You are such a life developer, who can virtually transform a life busy with unnecessary activities humans are posted to through internet. And who can restore the appetite of people to purchase pen and paper which have considered the last commodity in the market at the expense of that great vampire ‘social media’ that left both old and young paralyzed. Thanks to the proponent of this great idea.

These are great. The Closed door one gives me a great idea for a new story! Thank you so much!

man what the fuck is this shit! i was looking for short story writing prompts and I get stuck with shit like “write about the weather outside”. Damn this shit is disappointing.

Hi John, the weather might seem boring, but there are a lot of ways you can springboard from that – maybe you write a story about a character who despises the sunshine or melts if they get rained on or they live in a underground tunnel and the house gets flooded…You can also use it as an exercise in developing more descriptive writing that shows, not tells for the scenes in your story. Writing about the weather seems “easy and boring” but seriously challenge yourself to write about it in a way that makes it interesting – it is not so easy to avoid the cliches as you might think!

I LOVE IT SO MUCH i do not know why but my kids, they will just like come on this website every time it is time to have a little bit of video games! XD

The weather outside that day was dark.

It was a perfectly reasonable sort of darkness. The kind of darkness you might get if you wake up an hour before sunrise. But it was late in the morning.

He had to make sure of that. He checked his alarm clock, his microwave oven clock, and his cell phone.

The sun was supposed to be out. But the moonlit sky was starlit and clear.

And as he looked outside again, he saw that people were out, going about their business, as if none of this really mattered at all.

What was he missing here?

(There. Now you have a short story writing prompt..)

You know what “John” i think this website is great so fuck you.

yeah you tell him john

It depends on how you view it. That one topic for instance has given me a beautiful story telling. I am currently about to round up with it and trust me the feedback has been amazing.

That is great! I’m glad it helped inspire you!

Dude kids go on here so stop swearing “John”

Maybe you need to work on improving the quality of your writing. Your use of expletives is totally uncalled for. I see nothing wrong with “writing about the weather outside”. In fact, this is a great topic and can lead to awesome discussions.

Very useful indeed. Thank u

i think this is a good prompted

I think it’s awesome, I looked for inspiration, I found inspiration, thank you

well! i fall in love with all these ideas! i loved this page! thanks for sharing these amazing ideas!

Great stuff mat Keep up the good work

I LOVE THIS SO MUCH IT IS VERY HELPFUL BUT FOR A SUGGESTION YOU COULD DO DIARY STUFF MAYBE

When I read your comment, I thought you said “DAIRY,” not “DIARY.”

So… why not both? Write something based on a dairy farmer’s diary. Or… a dairy COW’S diary. Tell their stories, their private dreams. Or hidden shame…

That’s the way to think + use this list 🙂

Great idea!

Awesome list! Thank you!

Thanks so much! I’ve always been told I’m a great writer and should publish. I haven’t done a lot of leisure writing because I’m afraid I might realize I’m NOT a good writer. My therapist wants me to write more and these prompts are perfect!

This is fun i will keep doing this no matter what every year. I can’t stop writing either. Thanks for making this, it is very fun.

This helps so much! love these ideas

Can this website give me a write on the following topic. –

Imagine that the scientists could replace the human brains with computers or invent the computers with human feelings. What do you think would happen?Would the world become a better place to live in???

I’ve been looking for prompts to work through my creative art/collage journal for 2017…and love the ones you offer here….LOVE THEM! I like that they are more than just one word and give me something to think about before I start creating each day as a warm up to what is ahead.

I hope don’t mind, but I shared them on both Instagram and my FaceBook page in hopes to get my artist/creative friends to follow along with me in creating each day. I would like to include a link to your page in a near future blog post about my creative journal.

Thank you for posting and sharing you prompts…I’m excited to get started!

I’m on number 43 and I’ve already discovered a whole bunch about myself! These prompts are amazing and I can’t wait for the next 322 of them. I’ve recommended this to several of my friends. Totally worth several notebooks chock full of prompts and a years worth of writing 🙂

Very inspiring….

Hello! Is it alright if I add some of these to a little book I’m making for my Grandmother? She hasn’t opened a computer in her life but I know these prompts would do her a world of good. I believe in the importance of asking permission to use the creative property of another person 🙂 Cheers!

Hi Maxx, of course you may share with your grandmother – the only thing we would worry about is if you were to publish them for monetary gain. Enjoy! 🙂

This is really helpful. I’m glad I saw it first. ♥

OMG!! I’ve never been in this website before!!

Thank u so much this was so helpful. Idk how u came up with all thoughts prompts. It was very helpful. Thank u again.

For the first time in a long time it finally felt like I knew was going to happen next. I was gazing into her eyes and she was gazing back. I remember it like it was just yesterday, when she was still the one for me but never forgave me. I miss the sweet sound of her laughter and now all i hear are friends. I have tried to go back and apologize to her just to see if the answer will change but even I know that it will never change because I will never be enough for her. But if she ever decides that she wants me back she can have me because a life without love is one not worth living.

gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood

can u give me one using the prompt “normal”

Thanks for this!!!!! Will definitely help me in learning to tap into my creative writing genius 🙂

Thanks, this helped me a lot!

u have a typo!!!! 364

Thanks for pointing out, got it fixed 🙂 Sometimes my brain goes faster than the computer. 🙂

I wrote this, tell me what you think; prompt #4-dancing You see her tapping her toes, always listening to music. Although she doesn’t like the music, what she doesn’t know yet is it will be stuck in her head for the next year. She’s as graceful as a butterfly yet as strong as a fighter. Many only see a pretty face yet those close enough to the fire know the passion burning deep inside of her. At home she’s quiet, always in her room yet making loud noises through the floorboards. Her parents know what she’s up to but her little brothers don’t quite understand yet. All they know is that when she goes up there she’s listening to music and soon she will play it for the whole neighborhood to hear. They don’t know that she’s practicing, practicing for the most important day of the year. The one she’s been waiting for since she’s been a little girl. Tapping her toes at the table only stops when her parents beg her to rest. Even in her dreams she on stage, dancing like a swan. Yet deep down she’s scared of the failure that she will feel if this one day goes a bit to south. Tapping her toes to the beat of her music gives her a bit of pip in her pep when she walks down the halls. No one quite understands the stress she’s going through. Through her smile she’s worries, scared that one misstep might end it all for her. But she won’t let anyone see that she’s nervous. She’s used to getting bruises, she falls on the ground but always gets back up. Because she’s a dancer, the show must go on.

Brilliant. Loved it.

Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m working on a site in Danish about writing and I would love to translate these awesome prompts into Danish and use it on the site. Would that be OK? I’ll credit with links of course!

Hi Camilla, you cannot copy + post these on your site, but feel free to link to the article – our site is compatible with Google translate 🙂

Hi Camilla, this list cannot be republished, even if translated into another language. However, if you would like to link to our website that would be great, your readers are able to translate it into any language if they use a web browser such as Google Chrome.

My goal is to write all of these prompts before 2018

This is amazing! I am writing for fun and this is a list of amazing prompts!

Ha, Ha . I see what you did , #164 was missing and now it say write about being left out .

Thanks a ton !!!

This link has been really helpful for my blog, loved the ideas.

Thanks for not publishing my email address

You are welcome! We never publish email addresses. If you’d like to learn more about how we collect and use information you may provide us with on this website, you can read more on our privacy policy page. Hope that helps! https://thinkwritten.com/privacy/

I have another suggestion, What about “The Secret Journey to the Unknown”. I reckon it’s awesome!

I was wondering if you could please send new ideas to me, much appreciated thanks.

I love all of these so much and i try to write referring to these at least once everyday thank you so much for these!

Trust, It is a beautiful thing. You give it to others, For them to protect. They can keep it forever, Or they can destroy it.

Wow what a treasure! Am glad I have found the right place to begging my writing journey.Thanks guys

Super awesome! Thanks so much for this collection of writing prompts!!

Today is the last day of the year 2017. I’m proud to say that I was able to complete this challenge. Thank you for the inspiring prompts! 🙂

That is awesome! We might just have to think of some new ones!!

how about one with sports like the NBA

I thought my life was over when I couldn’t access this for a couple weeks. These prompts are excellent. I write two page short stories on one every day. I hope you guys never take down this site but I’m printing these for insurance because it truly was devastating. I’m very emotionally attached to this list. Thank you so much for sharing.

Yes, we did have a small glitch in our hosting services for a few days! Fortunately, it was only temporary and unexpected! {Though I’m sure it did feel like 2 weeks!} Good to hear you are using the prompts!

Very nice article. Very useful one for improving writing skills

Thank you Sid! Glad it is useful for you!

Oh my god.. This is something a different, thought provoking and a yardstick to those who cultivated passion on writing, like me, beginners. Wishes for this website. I really wanted to try this 365 days of writing. Thanks in tons.

Glad you find it helpful! I hope it keeps you inspired to keep growing as a writer!

i love writing too! i am writing a book and this website inspired me too!

i have been writing lots of things and am getting A + on writing

thxs for your time with the web

i am making a epic book. it is because of this website. you really help. i will share a link of my book once i am done with it to your awesome cool really helpful website! thank you for your time

That is great to hear Christopher! Would love to see some of your work when you are ready to share! 🙂

WOOOOOOOOW BEST SITE!

I’m going to write few marvelous essays based on ideas in your impressive list. Thanks!

Just to tell some people that 165 or 164 is not missing because some people probably can’t see but just to let u know that 164 is a prompt called “Left Out”

Dang. The second idea about writing about what it feels like to love someone who doesn’t love you back, I wrote something like that BEFORE I found this website.

You can always try writing it again, maybe from the other person’s perspective this time? That is the beauty of the open-ended writing prompts – you can always interpret them in a way to push and challenge you as a writer!

Thank you for these prompts! I enjoyed looking through them and writing them! They gave me great ideas and inspired me so much.

This is my favorite website to find inspiration to write. I had run out of ideas and i had a huge writers block but this made it all go away. Here’s something i wrote:

He is a mess She is beautiful He has tears streaming down his face She glides across the room as if it were her kingdom And she’s The reigning queen He’s curled up in a ball In the corner of the room He looks at me I wonder what he thinks I can’t take my eyes off her The way she subtly smiles when she realizes Someone is looking She seems to be happy all the time But I can see through the smile It’s my first time noticing It’s not complete That was the first time I wanted to say hi But I thought Why would he look at me? The nerd with all the answers in her head All the books in her hands And Her sleeves full of hearts She looked at me From the corner of her eye She saw me looking The boy with the tear stains She saw me His tears were no longer streaming He had finally stood up Tall and handsome As he is Eyes Bluer than the blue jay that sat outside my bedroom window She had opened a book and started reading She hadn’t changed pages for a while Safe to assume She was distracted She looked up and Without knowing I was in front of her “Hi” Her brown eyes Stared in to my soul Erased the memory of why the tears Were streaming in the first place “Hi”

I love it Cynthia, thank you for sharing and glad that it inspired you to keep writing! 🙂

Thank you for so many amazing ideas! I love the sound of mirror, mirror!

Glad you found it inspiring Ar!

read the whole thing and didn’t find anything I’d enjoy writing 🙁

What kinds of things do you like to write? We have a whole collection of additional writing prompts lists here. Sometimes challenging yourself to write something you don’t like all in its own can be a good exercise for writing. Hope that helps!

These are ingenious!

I love these prompts! They’re inspiring! I’ve chosen to challenge myself by using one of these prompts every day of this 2019 year. I posted my writings for the first prompt on my Tumblr and Facebook pages with the prompt and a link back to this article- I hope that’s alright. If not, I can take it down, or I would love to discuss a way I could continue to do this. I hope more people can see and use these prompts because I have already found joy in using the first one.

Hi Elizabeth! Glad you are enjoying the prompts! You can definitely post what you write with these prompts as long as you do not copy the entire list or claim them as your own. Linking back to our website or this post will help others find the prompts so they too can use them for writing! If you have any questions feel free to contact us anytime using our contact form. Thanks!

Amazing original prompts Thank you so much!

Good list, but you’re not supposed to mistake it’s for its. Not on a website for writers, of all places!

I appreciate your comment, especially because after triple checking the article AND having a few grammar-police personality type friends do the same we could not find any typos. All of the instances of its and it’s are the correct usage.

However, one thing we did remember is that it is very easy for the person reading to accidentally misunderstand and not interpret it the way as the writer intended.

To clarify when we should use it’s vs. its:

We use it’s when we intend the meaning as the contraction. This is a shortened way of writing it is . We use its without an apostrophe when we use it as a possessive noun. Any instances you may note here are correct for their intended meaning.

Some examples:

Prompt #141 It’s a Sign : In this case we intend it to be interpreted as IT IS a Sign , where the usage is a contraction.

Prompt #7 The Rocket Ship : In this case we intend it to be interpreted as the possessive form.

I hope that helps clear up any possible confusion for you!

Thank you soooo much! That helped me a lot!

You’re welcome Keira! Glad you enjoyed our list of writing ideas!

It is so rich in bright and thought-provoking ideas. Thank you so much. Get inspired to have more, please

Thanks for this. I love to write things like this. Some of these though, weren’t as interesting as I wanted it to be, not saying that they aren’t interesting. I like the help you’ve added in, such as being led into a dark room with only a flashlight to help so it gets us started. Great job!

Thanks Maya, I’m glad you like the prompts. Sometimes the prompts that seem boring are the best ones to help you practice your skills as a writer to make them interesting topics. Some of the best writers can make the most mundane topics fun!

Nice….I don’t think I’ll ever lack something to write on … I so appreciate your ideas ..,they are great

Thank you, glad you enjoyed them!

Thank you for providing these writing prompts! They are great!

Thank You so much, these are amazing to start of with to get the creative juices flowing

Thank you very much

Sweet! Thank you so much! I plan to use some of these for some creative writing on CourageousChristianFather.com

I’m glad they inspired you Steve! I always love seeing what everyone writes with these prompts – I really enjoyed your post about the cookie ad jingle! 🙂

Thanks so much for this list. I needed something to kickstart my writing. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I just wrote #1. WooHoo!!

Thank you for your list. This is great!

I write feature articles for our church library’s monthly newsletter. Perusing this list has helped me come up with a couple dozen ideas to consider for future issues! Thanks much for putting this together – it is being used beyond the scope of what you intended, I think!

That’s wonderful Debbie! There are so many ways to apply these prompts to any sort of project – thank you for sharing how you are using them!

Thanks for your prompts, an idea I have for a prompt is write a story based on your favorite story for example I’m writing a fantasy book based on the game dungeons and dragons…

i guss its ok

cgv hbvkd vjvhsvhivhcickbcjh

Just needed to ask: I’d like to think these prompts are for free writing with no pauses? But, does one edit and polish the piece after that? I keep reading about writing every day…like brain dumping. But, there is never a mention of what one does with the piece after that??

This article has been written with sheer intelligence. Such 365 creative writing prompts has been written here. This article is worth marking as Good. I like how you have researched and presented these exact points so clearly.

Thank you for this list! You’ve inspired me to take up the challenge, though I haven’t written anything in years!

I have even created a blog to post my ideas, and keep myself accountable. I hope this is okay, I will credit, and provide a link back to this page on each post. https://thefishhavegotitright.blogspot.com/

I love it Ariadne, I’ll definitely come check out your site! Keep at it!

This is really Helpful thanks I love it😊

I never knew how much I had to write about. This should definitely keep me busy! Thank you so much for the list.

Hi! I saw a note saying this had been updated for 2020. I was curious if there are plans to update it for 2021. If so, when would the 2021-updated list become available?

Hi Gabrielle, I am not sure when we will next update this list, but feel free to check out some of our other writing prompts lists if you’ve exhausted this one! Writing Prompts for Kids {which is for grown-ups too!} and Poetry Writing Prompts are two great ones to check out. Hope that helps!

Loved this a lot! I would like to ask permission for using these prompts for my poetry and stories page on Instagram. Kindly let me know if I can use these and let my followers write on them too.

Hi, Piyusha, I’m just a user of the site like you, so I’m not “official”. But if you hit CTRL + F in your browser, that should open the “Find” dialog. Search on “Camilla”, and that will take you to a post and response concerning your request. Have a great and productive writing day. K. B. Tidwell

very informative thank you

I have always had problems finding something to write about. My problem is solved🥰 Thank you

I love this

Oh great. Good for everyone who enjoys picking the pen and writing something readable

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Over 170 Prompts to Inspire Writing and Discussion

Here are all of our Student Opinion questions from the 2020-21 school year. Each question is based on a different New York Times article, interactive feature or video.

what are some good creative writing topics

By The Learning Network

Each school day we publish a new Student Opinion question, and students use these writing prompts to reflect on their experiences and identities and respond to current events unfolding around them. To introduce each question, we provide an excerpt from a related New York Times article or Opinion piece as well as a free link to the original article.

During the 2020-21 school year, we asked 176 questions, and you can find them all below or here as a PDF . The questions are divided into two categories — those that provide opportunities for debate and persuasive writing, and those that lend themselves to creative, personal or reflective writing.

Teachers can use these prompts to help students practice narrative and persuasive writing, start classroom debates and even spark conversation between students around the world via our comments section. For more ideas on how to use our Student Opinion questions, we offer a short tutorial along with a nine-minute video on how one high school English teacher and her students use this feature .

Questions for Debate and Persuasive Writing

1. Should Athletes Speak Out On Social and Political Issues? 2. Should All Young People Learn How to Invest in the Stock Market? 3. What Are the Greatest Songs of All Time? 4. Should There Be More Gender Options on Identification Documents? 5. Should We End the Practice of Tipping? 6. Should There Be Separate Social Media Apps for Children? 7. Do Marriage Proposals Still Have a Place in Today’s Society? 8. How Do You Feel About Cancel Culture? 9. Should the United States Decriminalize the Possession of Drugs? 10. Does Reality TV Deserve Its Bad Rap? 11. Should the Death Penalty Be Abolished? 12. How Should Parents Support a Student Who Has Fallen Behind in School? 13. When Is It OK to Be a Snitch? 14. Should People Be Required to Show Proof of Vaccination? 15. How Much Have You and Your Community Changed Since George Floyd’s Death? 16. Can Empathy Be Taught? Should Schools Try to Help Us Feel One Another’s Pain? 17. Should Schools or Employers Be Allowed to Tell People How They Should Wear Their Hair? 18. Is Your Generation Doing Its Part to Strengthen Our Democracy? 19. Should Corporations Take Political Stands? 20. Should We Rename Schools Named for Historical Figures With Ties to Racism, Sexism or Slavery? 21. How Should Schools Hold Students Accountable for Hurting Others? 22. What Ideas Do You Have to Improve Your Favorite Sport? 23. Are Presidential Debates Helpful to Voters? Or Should They Be Scrapped? 24. Is the Electoral College a Problem? Does It Need to Be Fixed? 25. Do You Care Who Sits on the Supreme Court? Should We Care? 26. Should Museums Return Looted Artifacts to Their Countries of Origin? 27. Should Schools Provide Free Pads and Tampons? 28. Should Teachers Be Allowed to Wear Political Symbols? 29. Do You Think People Have Gotten Too Relaxed About Covid? 30. Who Do You Think Should Be Person of the Year for 2020? 31. How Should Racial Slurs in Literature Be Handled in the Classroom? 32. Should There Still Be Snow Days? 33. What Are Your Reactions to the Storming of the Capitol by a Pro-Trump Mob? 34. What Do You Think of the Decision by Tech Companies to Block President Trump? 35. If You Were a Member of Congress, Would You Vote to Impeach President Trump? 36. What Would You Do First if You Were the New President? 37. Who Do You Hope Will Win the 2020 Presidential Election? 38. Should Media Literacy Be a Required Course in School? 39. What Are Your Reactions to the Results of Election 2020? Where Do We Go From Here? 40. How Should We Remember the Problematic Actions of the Nation’s Founders? 41. As Coronavirus Cases Surge, How Should Leaders Decide What Stays Open and What Closes? 42. What Is Your Reaction to the Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris? 43. How Worried Should We Be About Screen Time During the Pandemic? 44. Should Schools Be Able to Discipline Students for What They Say on Social Media? 45. What Works of Art, Culture and Technology Flopped in 2020? 46. How Do You Feel About Censored Music? 47. Why Do You Think ‘Drivers License’ Became Such a Smash Hit? 48. Justice Ginsburg Fought for Gender Equality. How Close Are We to Achieving That Goal? 49. How Well Do You Think Our Leaders Have Responded to the Coronavirus Crisis? 50. To What Extent Is the Legacy of Slavery and Racism Still Present in America in 2020? 51. How Should We Reimagine Our Schools So That All Students Receive a Quality Education? 52. How Concerned Do You Think We Should Be About the Integrity of the 2020 Election? 53. What Issues in This Election Season Matter Most to You? 54. Is Summer School a Smart Way to Make Up for Learning Lost This School Year? 55. What Is Your Reaction to the Senate’s Acquittal of Former President Trump? 56. What Is the Worst Toy Ever? 57. How Should We Balance Safety and Urgency in Developing a Covid-19 Vaccine? 58. What Are Your Reactions to Oprah’s Interview With Harry and Meghan? 59. Should the Government Provide a Guaranteed Income for Families With Children? 60. Should There Be More Public Restrooms? 61. Should High School-Age Basketball Players Be Able to Get Paid? 62. Should Team Sports Happen This Year? 63. Who Are the Best Musical Artists of the Past Year? What Are the Best Songs? 64. Should We Cancel Student Debt? 65. How Closely Should Actors’ Identities Reflect the Roles They Play? 66. Should White Writers Translate a Black Author’s Work? 67. Would You Buy an NFT? 68. Should Kids Still Learn to Tell Time? 69. Should All Schools Teach Financial Literacy? 70. What Is Your Reaction to the Verdict in the Derek Chauvin Trial? 71. What Is the Best Way to Stop Abusive Language Online? 72. What Are the Underlying Systems That Hold a Society Together? 73. What Grade Would You Give President Biden on His First 100 Days? 74. Should High Schools Post Their Annual College Lists? 75. Are C.E.O.s Paid Too Much? 76. Should We Rethink Thanksgiving? 77. What Is the Best Way to Get Teenagers Vaccinated? 78. Do You Want Your Parents and Grandparents to Get the New Coronavirus Vaccine? 79. What Is Your Reaction to New Guidelines That Loosen Mask Requirements? 80. Who Should We Honor on Our Money? 81. Is Your School’s Dress Code Outdated? 82. Does Everyone Have a Responsibility to Vote? 83. How Is Your Generation Changing Politics?

Questions for Creative and Personal Writing

84. What Does Your Unique Style Say About You? 85. How Do You Spend Your Downtime? 86. Would You Want to Live to 200? 87. How Do You Connect to Your Heritage? 88. What Do You Think Are the Secrets to Happiness? 89. Are You a Sneakerhead? 90. What Role Have Mentors Played in Your Life? 91. If You Could Make Your Own Podcast, What Would It Be About? 92. Have You Ever Felt Pressure to ‘Sell Your Pain’? 93. Do You Think You Make Good Climate Choices? 94. What Does TikTok Mean to You? 95. Do Your Parents Overpraise You? 96. Do You Want to Travel in Space? 97. Do You Feel You’re Friends With Celebrities or Influencers You Follow Online? 98. Would You Eat Food Grown in a Lab? 99. What Makes You Cringe? 100. What Volunteer Work Would You Most Like to Do? 101. How Do You Respond When People Ask, ‘Where Are You From?’ 102. Has a School Assignment or Activity Ever Made You Uncomfortable? 103. How Does Your Identity Inform Your Political Beliefs and Values? 104. Are You an Orchid, a Tulip or a Dandelion? 105. Are You Having a Tough Time Maintaining Friendships These Days? 106. How Is Your Mental Health These Days? 107. Do You Love Writing or Receiving Letters? 108. What Has Television Taught You About Social Class? 109. Are You Easily Distracted? 110. What Objects Bring You Comfort? 111. What Is Your Favorite Memory of PBS? 112. Have You Ever Felt Embarrassed by Your Parents? 113. What Are You Doing to Combat Pandemic Fatigue? 114. Have You Ever Worried About Making a Good First Impression? 115. What Do You Want Your Parents to Know About What It’s Like to Be a Teenager During the Pandemic? 116. How Have You Collaborated From a Distance During the Pandemic? 117. How Important Is It to You to Have Similar Political Beliefs to Your Family and Friends? 118. How Are You Feeling About Winter This Year? 119. Which Celebrity Performer Would You Like to Challenge to a Friendly Battle? 120. How Mentally Tough Are You? 121. What Smells Trigger Powerful Memories for You? 122. What Are You Thankful for This Year? 123. Do You Miss Hugs? 124. Are You a Good Conversationalist? 125. What Habits Have You Started or Left Behind in 2020? 126. What Was the Best Art and Culture You Experienced in 2020? 127. What’s Your Relationship With Masks? 128. What Role Does Religion Play in Your Life? 129. How Will You Be Celebrating the Holidays This Year? 130. What Is Something Good That Happened in 2020? 131. What New Flavor Ideas Do You Have for Your Favorite Foods? 132. What Are Your Hopes and Concerns for the New School Year? 133. How Has 2020 Challenged or Changed You? 134. What Do You Hope for Most in 2021? 135. How Do You View Death? 136. What Is Your Favorite Fact You Learned in 2020? 137. What Are the Places in the World That You Love Most? 138. Have You Ever Experienced ‘Impostor Syndrome’? 139. How Well Do You Get Along With Your Siblings? 140. Do You Talk to Your Family About the Cost of College? 141. Do You Have a Healthy Diet? 142. How Do You Feel About Mask-Slipping? 143. Do You Believe in Manifesting? 144. How Do You Express Yourself Creatively? 145. What Are Your Family’s House Rules During the Covid Crisis? 146. What Online Communities Do You Participate In? 147. Have You Experienced Any Embarrassing Zoom Mishaps? 148. What Does Your Country’s National Anthem Mean to You? 149. Are Sports Just Not the Same Without Spectators in the Stands? 150. Would You Volunteer for a Covid-19 Vaccine Trial? 151. What ‘Old’ Technology Do You Think Is Cool? 152. Have You Ever Tried to Grow Something? 153. How Has the Pandemic Changed Your Relationship to Your Body? 154. How Do You Find New Books, Music, Movies or Television Shows? 155. Are You Nervous About Returning to Normal Life? 156. How Do You Celebrate Spring? 157. How Do You Talk With People Who Don’t Share Your Views? 158. Would You Want to Be a Teacher Someday? 159. What Would You Recommend That Is ‘Overlooked and Underappreciated’? 160. What Children’s Books Have Had the Biggest Impact on You? 161. What Is Your Gender Identity? 162. Have You Hit a Wall? 163. What Is the Code You Live By? 164. Do You Think You Have Experienced ‘Learning Loss’ During the Pandemic? 165. What Are the Most Memorable Things You’ve Seen or Experienced in Nature? 166. Do You Want to Have Children Someday? 167. What Have You Learned About Friendship This Year? 168. What Seemingly Mundane Feats Have You Accomplished? 169. Has a Celebrity Ever Convinced You to Do Something? 170. How Have You Commemorated Milestones During the Pandemic? 171. How Often Do You Read, Watch or Listen to Things Outside of Your Comfort Zone? 172. Do You Think You Live in a Political Bubble? 173. What Is Your Relationship With the Weight-Loss Industry? 174. What Have You Made This Year? 175. How Are You Right Now? 176. What Are You Grateful For?

Want more writing prompts?

You can find even more Student Opinion questions in our 300 Questions and Images to Inspire Argument Writing , 550 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing and 130 New Prompts for Argumentative Writing . We also publish daily Picture Prompts , which are image-centered posts that provide space for many different kinds of writing. You can find all of our writing prompts, added as they publish, here .

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23 creative writing prompts

By BBC Maestro Writing Last updated: 02 February 2023

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If you’re an aspiring writer, you might know that it’s sometimes difficult to think of something to write about. Whether you’re already writing a novel and are struggling to write a particular scene, or you want to write a short story but don’t know where to start, creative writing prompts are a great tool to have in your back pocket.

Here are some of our favourites to get you started.

  • What are creative writing prompts?

Creative writing prompts are anything that gets you writing and gets your creative juices flowing. It could be an invitation to write about a particular topic, a sentence to get you started, a question, or even a visual. It could draw on aspects of your real life, could get you to write about something from someone else’s point of view, or ask you to write something entirely fictional.

Why use writing prompts?

How to make the most of creative writing prompts.

Writing prompts are designed to kickstart your imagination by giving you something to write about. This saves you from staring into space while you try to come up with story ideas. You might generate writing ideas that you’ll take forward, discover a new character you want to write about, or even just write a really strong sentence that you know you need to incorporate into your next story.

They can be a great way to write about new topics. Sometimes we’re all guilty of writing about what we know but writing prompts can force you to think about subjects you’ve never broached before.

It can be hard to get started sometimes when it comes to writing, but prompts give you a specific starting point. That can make it easier to pick up the pen and start writing and often, you’ll find that once you’ve overcome that first hurdle, the ideas start to flow and you move onto different topics.

In that sense, you can think of writing prompts as a warm-up. You wouldn’t get on the football pitch and start playing a 90-minute match without warming up first, nor would you attempt a 200-metre sprint without dynamically stretching your muscles beforehand.

So creative writing prompts, then, are like your warm-up. They help you to flex your writing muscles, getting your brain stimulated, so you might want to sit down and tackle a writing prompt before working on a new poem or novel chapter.

Writing prompts can be used as part of a free writing exercise, which is when you allow yourself to write for a set period – say two minutes – without any editing. That means no worrying about form, grammar, structure or even topic. You just write and see what comes out, which can be a good way of gathering your thoughts or generating ideas. To get started with free writing, some people like to follow a prompt to help remove any writer’s blocks that might be holding them back.

A person writes

Whatever type of creative writing you do, it’s worth giving prompts a go to come up with new ideas, release your writer’s block, and get into the flow. But don’t worry about following the prompts too closely. They’re not meant to be prescriptive – rather, you should use them as inspiration for your own writing. If a prompt asks you to write about a mistake you made, but it sparks an idea for a poem or a story about travel instead, then just write whatever you want and let your imagination guide you.

Here are some other tips to get the most out of creative writing prompts:

  • Don’t overthink it – just start writing anything, it doesn’t matter if it’s not directly related to the writing prompt. The important thing is that you get something down on paper.
  • If the prompt isn’t resonating with you, you don’t need to force it. Feel free to move on to another one and see if it’s a better fit for you.
  • Don’t feel under pressure to write anything complete – you don’t need to write a full short story, poem, or novel chapter as a result of your writing prompt. It’s simply the starting point, and you’re free to abandon it halfway through or take it in a different direction.

Now, here are some fiction writing prompts for you to try next time you’re stuck for story ideas!

An open book

1.     Write your life story in five sentences, writing it in the first person. Then try writing it in the third person.

2.     Write about your favourite holiday. What did you do, where did you go, who were you with, and why was it so special?

3 .     Look through today’s newspaper until you find a story that speaks to you.

Use it as your starting point for your creative writing practice. This is a technique Malorie Blackman likes to use. In her BBC Maestro course on Writing For Young Adults, she explains “Pig-Heart Boy was inspired by a newspaper article stating that we’d have to use animal organs for transplant because there is such a shortage of human donors. I thought that was a wonderful idea for a story.”

4.     Open the dictionary and choose a word on whatever page you open. Use that as your jumping-off point and write about whatever springs to mind.

5.     Write from the perspective of an inanimate object. Choose any object, like a tree, saucepan, or backpack.

6.     Sketch out a character, and answer key questions about them like:

  • What is their name?
  • What’s their occupation?
  • What’s their background?
  • Where did they grow up?
  • What motivates them?

You can use our character bio template to help you develop your character further.

7.     Write about your biggest heartbreak. Did you learn any lessons from it? How did it affect you?

8.     Time travel exists. Write about where you’d go. Will you travel to the future or the past? What do you see, smell, eat and do? Is there anything that surprises you?

9.     Write a story that begins with a character having a strange gut feeling they can’t explain. If you love the idea of writing a thriller , this is a great one to get you into the right mindset.

10.  Write a scene inspired by your favourite film. It could be a deleted scene from the movie, or it could be a story about the main characters with events that aren’t featured in the film.

11.  Go for a walk and take a notebook. Write down what you see around you. As Alan Moore says in his BBC Maestro course on Storytelling , “if you look at any place deeply enough, I am convinced it will have a spectacular story to tell you.” So go for a walk and see if anything around you sparks a story, as “wherever you live, there is something sacred and fascinating about that ground on which you are standing. It is your duty as a writer to excavate the meaning from that ground and convey it to your readers.”

12.  You get a letter that will change your life forever. Write that letter – or write about what it will change.

13.  Write a story set in an airport. Who is there, where are they going and why?

14.  Write about a time you were treated unfairly. When writing the character of Jack Reacher, Lee Child drew on his own experiences to create a relatable character who was seeking revenge. As he says in his BBC Maestro course on Writing Popular Fiction , “I was feeling a desire for revenge. The question was, how do I fictionalise that in an interesting way? Reacher was thrown out in the same way I had been thrown out, and like me, he was learning how to live on the outside.” Taking inspiration from Reacher, write about how being rejected made you feel, and how you dealt with it. Then write about what you’d do if there were no real-world consequences.

15.  Your character’s child comes home from school with a detention slip. But your character isn’t angry. Write about what happened and why they’re not bothered that their child got into trouble at school.

16.  Visit a charity shop and pick out one item that inspires you . Write about it, thinking about what it is, where it came from, what it’s used for and who might have owned it previously.

17.  Write a story, scene or poem set during an apocalypse.

18.  Go to a café and write about the people at the table next to you. Jot down notes about their body language, their clothing, what they’re doing, and even snippets of their conversation. Be nosy, as Malorie Blackman says: “Pay attention to people’s conversations, what they say and also how they say it – accents, body language, level of gesticulation.”

19.  What’s cooking? Write a story or scene about someone cooking something. What dish are they making, who are they cooking for, and what significance does it hold? What does it smell and taste like?

20.  Costume party. Write a scene or story in which a character is wearing a costume. Why are they wearing it? What is the costume? And what happens while they’re in disguise?

21.  Write about someone fulfilling another character’s dying wish.

22.  Write something from a child’s point of view.

23.  Describe a normal object from the perspective of an alien. Take a normal, everyday object and write about it from the point of view of someone who’s seeing it for the first time and finds it very strange.

Creative writing prompts are one of the best ways to incorporate writing practice into your daily routine. Give them a go and see what you come up with! And if you want to find out more about the art of writing fiction, take a look at some of our writing courses from Lee Child , Alan Moore and Malorie Blackman .

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Writing Forward

25 Creative Writing Prompts

by Melissa Donovan | Oct 23, 2018 | Creative Writing Prompts | 236 comments

creative writing prompts

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.

Creative Writing Prompts

236 Comments

Lance

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?

Melissa Donovan

Ah, I love the feeling of a light bulb illuminating my mind! Thanks for adding to the list!

Tiara

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…

Steve Davis

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.

Positively Present

Ooh, great prompts! Thanks for sharing these!

Thanks! Glad you like them!

Fouzia

A day in the life of a doormat

The adventures of a shooting star

Making friends with my enemy

Ooh, interesting! Thanks, Fouzia.

Kevin Van Buerle

Hi Melissa,

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.

Jenny

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…

Camille

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!

Meredith

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.

Marelisa

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.

Melanie

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!

Josh

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!

McKie

I love True Jackson VP! Cool that you got an idea from it! 🙂

Grace

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.

catherine

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!

Wendi

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!

Maria

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.

Buttercup Smith

Heres a gorgeous one! Write a story in the POV of a flower being given from person 2 person.

Interesting!

Katie

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!

AJ

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!

Kristi

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.

Annie

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!

dI

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.

Emily Mead

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!

RayeAnne

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!

Ann Zimmerman

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!

Andrea

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.

salman hanif

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!

Lovarsnari

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!

LovemeHateme

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….

Anonymous

same except that I’m 13 and mix my writing with my guitar playing and music

Me

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!

Violet

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!

Bee

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!

crayonbillsbhb

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!

Nick Danger

My contribution:

“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.

Jessy

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.

Jalen Kinmon

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!

Emily

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.

Nicole

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!

Summer

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.

Yarrow Stronski

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.

Art

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!

Alyssa

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!

Ashlee

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!

Melanie Jones

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!

Emily

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.

Christi

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!

Alli

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.

Desmond

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.

Samantha

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!

Hannah

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!

KJS

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.

Maria

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!

Julz

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!

katie

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.

Cass

I have found these prompts really helpful for the English lessons that I teach.

Many thanks.

That’s great, Cass. I love the idea of these prompts helping students with reading and writing.

sumaira jehanzeb

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!

Rochelle

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!

Yazzy

I found like 5 great writing prompts thank u so much

You are so welcome!

ashlyn

you thought dragoons unicorns and monsters didnt exist? think again! write story of your pet unicorn

That’s a cute idea!

particia

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!

Anna

thanks sooo much! those were super helfull! you have the most helpfull website ive found! and i’m a picky writer! THANKYOU!!!

Thanks, Anna.

Ebony

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 🙂

Thanks, Ebony!

Molly Sue

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!

Maluly

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 🙂

Some prompts:

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!).

B.

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.

CJM

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.

Lily Duval

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!

Arieda

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!

Hannah

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!

alexis

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.

Julia

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!

Patty

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!

Jeff

Awesome post:) Thanks so much, really helped! have a great day! Peace-Jeff

Thanks, Jeff!

Melody

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!

Shannon

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.

Conner R.

“Conundrum”

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!

Dido Lawrence

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!

You’re welcome!

Jenny Hutcherson

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 🙂

Afshin

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).

Caitlyn

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!

Mack Jordan

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!

Susanna

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.

Cass

I have had writers block for months now. This site has helped me so much!

I’m thrilled to hear that! Keep writing!

Luci

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.

Taylor

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.

Mera Sampson

Great prompts.

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.

Liana C.

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.

roopy

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.

tom

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.

Janus

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).

Tierrney

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!

Sarah

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!

Kathleen

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!

kamra schultz

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.

kristina bundhi booduz

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!

Khaled Syfullah

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.

Shreya Jain

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.

Kiara

Start your story with: Jessica had no choice. She closed her eyes and jumped.

You might be surprised.

Ah, that’s an interesting prompt.

Meeper

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?

Meredith

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.

Lindsey Russell

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.

Hallie

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.

Edith

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.

MEL

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.

Panther

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.

Nora Zakhar

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.

Sam Hayes

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!

Kaiya Lakhani

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!

Naomi

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.

Britany Garden

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful post with us.

maddie

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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The Write Practice

Top 100 Short Story Ideas

by Joe Bunting | 128 comments

Do you want to write but just need a great story idea? Or perhaps you have too many ideas and can’t choose the best one? Well, good news. We’ve got you covered.

Below are one hundred short story ideas for all your favorite genres. You can use them as a book idea, as writing prompts for writing contests , for stories to publish in literary magazines , or just for fun!

Use these 100 story ideas to get your creative writing started now.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring guide, regularly updated with ideas and information.

100 Top Short Story Ideas

If you're in a hurry, here's my 10 best story ideas in brief, or scroll down for the full version.

Top 10 Story Ideas

  • Tell the story of a scar.
  • A group of children discover a dead body.
  • A young prodigy becomes orphaned.
  • A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost.
  • A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her.
  • A talented young man's deepest fear is holding his life back. 
  • A poor young boy or girl comes into an unexpected fortune.
  • A shy, young woman unexpectedly bumps into her soulmate.
  • A long journey is interrupted by a disaster.
  • A young couple run into the path of a psychopath.

The Write Structure

Why Creative Writing Prompts Are Helpful

Below, you'll find our best creative writing prompts and plot ideas for every genre, but first, why do we use prompts? Is it just a waste of time, or can they actually help you? Here are three reasons we  love writing prompts at The Write Practice:

1. Practice the Language!

Even for those of us who are native English speakers, we're all on a language journey to go from beginners to skilled writers. To make progress on this language journey, you have to practice, and at The Write Practice, believe it or not, we're really into practice! Creative writing prompts are easy, fun ways to practice.

Use the prompts below to practice your storytelling and use of language. The more you practice, the better of a writer you'll become.

2. When you have no ideas and are stuck.

Sometimes, you want to write, but you can't think up any ideas. You could either just sit there, staring at a blank page, or you could find a few ideas to help you get started. Even better if the list of ideas is curated from our best plot ideas over the last decade that we've been publishing lessons, writing exercises, and prompts.

Use the story ideas below to get your writing started. Then when your creativity is warmed up, you'll start to come up with your own ideas!

3. To develop your own ideas.

Maybe you do have an idea already, but you're not sure it's good. Or maybe you feel like it's just missing some small piece to make it better. By reading other ideas, and incorporating your favorites into your   story, you can fill your plot holes and generate creative ideas of your own.

Use the story ideas below to develop your own ideas.

4. They're fun!

Thousands of writers use the prompts below every month, some at home, some in classrooms, and even a few pros at their writing “office.” Why? Because writing prompts can be fun. They get your creativity started, help you come up with new ideas of your own, and often take your writing in new, unexpected directions.

Use the plot ideas to have more fun with writing!

How to Write a Story

One last thing before we get to the 100 story ideas, let’s talk about how to write a great short story . (Already know how to write a great story? No problem. Just skip down to the ideas below.)

  • First, read stories. If you’ve never read a story, you’re going to have a hard time writing one. Where do you find great stories? There are a lot of places, but check out our list of  46 Literary Magazines  we’ve curated over here .
  • Write your story in a single sitting. Write the first draft of your story in as short a time as possible, and if you’re writing a short story , try to write it in one sitting. Trust me, this works. Everyone hates being interrupted when they’re telling compelling stories. Use that to your advantage and don’t stop writing until you’ve finished telling yours.
  • Read your draft. Read your story through once, without changing anything. This will give you a sense of what work it needs going forward.
  • Write a premise. After reading your first draft, get your head around the main idea behind your story by summarizing your story in a one sentence premise. Your premise should contain four things: a character, a goal, a situation, and a special sauce. Not sure what that means or how to actually do that? Here’s a full premise writing guide .
  • Write, edit, write, and edit. Good writing is rewriting. Use your second draft to fill in the plot holes and cut out the extraneous scenes and characters you discovered when you read the first draft in step #2. Then, polish up your final draft on the next round of edits.
  • Submit! Real writers don’t keep their writing all to themselves. They share it. Submit your story to a literary magazine , an anthology series , enter it into a writing contest , or even share it with a small group of friends. And if it gets rejected, don’t feel bad. You’ll be in good company.

Want to know more? Learn more about how to write a great short story here .

Our 100 Best Short Story Ideas, Plot Ideas, and Creative Writing Prompts

Ready to get writing? Here are our 100 best short story ideas to kickstart your writing. Enjoy!

10 Best General Short Story Ideas

Our first batch of plot ideas are for any kind of story, whether a spy thriller or a memoir of your personal life story. Here are the best story ideas:

  • Tell the story of a scar, whether a physical scar or emotional one. To be a writer, said Stephen King, “The only requirement is the ability to  remember every scar .”
  • A group of children discover a dead body. Good writers don’t turn away from death, which is, after all, the  universal human experience. Instead, they look it directly into its dark face and describe what they see on the page.
  • A young prodigy becomes orphaned. Orphans are uniquely vulnerable, and as such, they have the most potential for growth.
  • A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost. What do Edgar Allen Poe, Ron Weasley, King Saul from the Bible, Odysseus, and Ebenezer Scrooge have in common? They all encountered ghosts!
  • A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her. “In life every ending is just a new beginning,” says Dakota Fanning’s character in Uptown Girls.
  • A talented young man’s deepest fear is holding his life back. Your character’s biggest fear is your story’s secret weapon. Don’t run from it, write about it.
  • A poor young boy or girl comes into an unexpected fortune. Not all fortunes are good. Sometimes discovering a fortune will destroy your life.
  • A shy, young woman unexpectedly bumps into her soulmate (literally bumps into him). In film, this is called the “meet cute,” when the hero bumps into the heroine in the coffee shop or the department store or the hallway, knocking her books to the floor, and forcing them into conversation.
  • A long journey is interrupted by a disaster. Who hasn’t been longing to get to a destination only to be delayed by something unexpected? This is the plot of  Gravity ,  The Odyssey , and even  Lord of the Rings .
  • A young couple run into the path of a psychopath. Monsters, whether people who do monstrous things or scaly beasts or a monster of a natural disaster, reveal what’s really inside a person. Let your character fall into the path of a monster and see how they handle themselves.

Now that you have an idea, learn exactly what to do with it.  Check out my new book The Write Structure which helps writers take their ideas and write books readers love. Click to check out  The Write Structure  here.

More Short Story Ideas Based on Genre

Need more ideas? Here are ideas based on whichever literary genre you write. Use them as character inspiration, to start your own story, or borrow pieces to generate your own ideas. The only rule is, have fun writing!

By the way,  for more story writing tips for each these plot types, check out our full guide to the 10 types of stories here .

10 Thriller Story Ideas

A thriller is any story that “thrills” the reader—i.e., gets adrenaline pumping, the heart racing, and the emotions piqued.

Thrillers come in all shapes and forms, dipping freely into other genres. In other words, expect the unexpected!

Here are a few of my favorite thriller story ideas :

Rosa Rivera-Ortiz is an up-and-coming lawyer in a San Diego firm. Held back by her ethnicity and her gender, she works twice as hard as her colleagues, and she’s as surprised as anyone when she’s requested specifically for a high-profile case. Bron Welty, an A-list actor and action star, has been arrested for the murder of his live-in housekeeper. The cop heading the case is older, ex-military, a veteran of more than one war, and an occasional sufferer of PTSD. Rosa’s hired to defend the movie star; and it seems like an easy win until she uncovers some secrets that not only make her believe her client is guilty, but may be one of the worst serial killers in the past two decades… and he knows she found out .

It’s the Cold War. Sergei, a double-agent for the CIA working in Berlin, is about to retire when he’s given one final mission: he’s been asked to “defect” to the USSR to help find and assassinate a suspected double-agent for the Kremlin. Sergei is highly trusted, and he’s given to understand that this mission is need-to-know only between him and very few superior officers. But as he falls deeper into the folds of the Iron Curtain, he begins to suspect that his superior officer might just be the mole, and the mark Sergei’s been sent to kill is on the cusp of exposing the leak.

It is 1800. A lighthouse on a barren cliff in Canada. Two lighthouse keepers, German immigrants, are alone for the winter and effectively cut off from the rest of the world until the ice thaws. Both Wilhelm and Matthias are settled in for the long haul with warm clothes, canned goods, and matches a-plenty. Then Wilhelm starts hearing voices. His personal belongings disappear from where he’d placed them, only to reappear in strange spots—like the catwalk, or dangling beneath the spiral stair knotted in brown twine. Matthias begs innocence. Little by little, Wilhelm grows convinced that Matthias is trying to convince him (Wilhelm) to kill himself. Is the insanity real, or is this really Matthias’ doing? And if it is real, what will he do to defend himself? There are so many months until the thaw. 

thriller story ideas

20 Mystery Story Ideas

Enjoy a good whodunit? Then you’ll love these mystery story ideas .

Here are a few of my favorites:

Ever hear the phrase, “It is not who fired the shot but who paid for the bullet?” This is a philosophy Tomoe Gozen lives by. Brave and clever, Tomoe follows clues until she learns who ordered the murder: Emperor Antoku himself. But why would the emperor of Japan want to kill a lowly soldier?

Mystery writer Dan Rodriguez takes the subway every day. Every day, nothing happens. He wears earbuds and a hoodie; he’s ignored, and he ignores. Then one evening, on his way home from a stressful meeting with his publisher, Dan is startled out of his funk when a frantic Middle-Eastern man knocks him over at a dead run, then races up the stairs—pursued by several other thugs. The Middle-Eastern man is shot; and Dan discovers a mysterious package in the front pocket of his hoodie. What’s inside, and what does he need to do to survive the answer?

A headless corpse is found in a freshly-dug grave in Arkansas. The local police chief, Arley Socket, has never had to deal with more than missing gas cans and treed cats. His exploration of this weird murder digs up a mystery older than the 100-year-old town of Jericho that harkens all the way back to a European blood-feud.

story ideas

20 Romance Story Ideas

Ready to write a love story? Or perhaps you want to create a subplot with a secondary character? We've got ideas for you!

Hint: When it comes to romance, a sense of humor is always a good idea. Have fun! Here are a few of my favorite love story ideas :

She’s a cop. He’s the owner of a jewelry store. A sudden rash of break-ins brings her to his store over and over and over again, until it becomes obvious that he might be tripping the alarm on purpose—just to see her. That’s illegal—but she’s kind of falling for him, too. Write the moment she realizes she has to do something about this crazy illicit courtship.

Colorado Animal Rescue has never been more challenging than after that zoo caught on fire. Sally Cougar (no jokes on the name, or she’ll kill you) tracks down three missing tiger cubs, only to find they’ve been adopted by millionaire Bryce Champion. Thanks to an antiquated law on the books, he legally has the right to keep them. It’s going to take everything Sally has to get those tiger cubs back.

He’s a museum curator with a fetish for perfection. No one’s ever gotten close to him; how could they? They’re never as perfect as the portraits, the sculptures, the art that never changes. Then one day, an intern is hired on—a young, messy, disorganized intern, whose hair and desk are in a constant state of disarray. The curator is going half-mad with this walking embodiment of chaos; so why can’t the he stand the thought of the intern leaving at the end of their assistantship?

20 romance story ideas

20 Sci-Fi Story Ideas

From the minimum-wage-earning, ancient-artifact-hunting time traveller to the space-exploring, sentient dinosaurs, these sci-fi writing prompts will get you set loose your inner nerd.

Here are a few of my favorite sci-fi ideas :

In a future society, neural implants translate music into physical pleasure, and earphones (“jacking in”) are now the drug of choice. Write either from the perspective of a music addict, OR the Sonforce agent (sonance + enforcer) who has the job of cracking down.

It’s the year 5000. Our planet was wrecked in the great Crisis of 3500, and remaining human civilization survives only in a half dozen giant domed cities. There are two unbreakable rules: strict adherence to Life Quality (recycling doesn’t even begin to cover these laws), and a complete ban on reproduction (only the “worthy” are permitted to create new humans). Write from the perspective of a young woman who just discovered she’s been chosen to reproduce—but she has no interest in being a mother.

So yeah, ancient Egypt really was “all that” after all, and the pyramids turn out to be fully functional spaceships (the limestone was to preserve the electronics hidden inside). Write from the perspective of the tourist exploring the ancient society who accidentally turns one on.

sci-fi story ideas

20 Fantasy Story Ideas

Need a dose of sword-in-the-stone, hero and/or heroine packed coming-of-age glory?  We love fantasy stories!

Here are a few of my favorite fantasy story ideas:

Bored teenaged wizards throwing a graduation celebration.

Uncomfortable wedding preparation between a magic wielding family tree and those more on the Muggle side of things.

A fairy prince who decides to abandon his responsibilities to become a street musician.

Just try to not have fun writing (or even just reading!) these fantasy writing prompts.

fantasy story ideas

The Secret to Choosing the Best Story Idea

Stories, more than any other artistic expression, have the power to make people care. Stories have the ability to change people’s lives.

But to write a great story, a life-changing story, don’t just write about what your characters did, said, and saw. Ask yourself, “Where do I fit in to this story? What is my personal connection to this story?”

Robert Frost said this:

If you can connect your personal story to the story you’re writing, you will not only be more motivated to finish your story, you might just be able to change the lives of your readers.

Next Step: Write Your Best Story

No matter how good your idea, writing a story or a book can be a long difficult process. How do you create an outline, come up with a great plot, and then actually  finish  it?

My new book  The Write Structure  will help. You'll learn how to take your idea and structure a strong plot around it. Then you'll be guided through the exact process I've used to write dozens of short stories and over fifteen books.

You can learn more about   The Write Structure  and get your copy here.

Get The Write Structure here »

Have a great short story idea?  We'd love to hear it. Share it in the comments !

Choose one of these ideas and write a short story in one sitting (aim for 1,000 words or less!). When you're finished, share your story in the practice box below (or our latest writing contest ) for feedback from the community. And if you share, please be sure to comment on a few stories by other writers.

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Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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✍️ 200+ Short Story Ideas (and How to Come Up With Your Own)

Are you ready to write but don’t know what to write about? Prepare to kick your writing into gear by browsing through our list of 200+ short story ideas. New prompts are added each week, and you can search by genre. But don’t let our categories stop you from putting your own spin on a writing prompt: if you find a short story idea tagged as sci-fi, but you think it would make a great romance plot, run with it! For tips on how to come up with your own story ideas, scroll to the bottom of the page.

We found 539 stories that match your search 🔦

A character who loves reading finds out that their library has just been forbidden from carrying banned books.

A character doesn't know how to break up with their partner, and keeps putting it off until the very moment that the partner bends down on one knee and proposes., subscribe to our prompts newsletter.

Curated writing inspriation delivered to your inbox each week.

One character wants a snake, but their roommate has a phobia. They adopt one anyway.

For years, four characters have met for a monthly card game. write a story in which one character realizes that another is cheating., you visited a psychic for romantic advice. instead, they tell you that your spouse has a secret., a character doesn't know how to ask their parent to stop calling them 2+ times a day., a pair of best friends realize they're two corners of a love triangle — they both have feelings for the same person., top 10 story ideas... just for you.

Want a story idea right away? No problem! Here are our top ten favorite story ideas for you to use:

  • A group of villains go on a team-building retreat.
  • You are granted one wish. But you have to use the wish for someone else.
  • Instead of trying to get a man on the moon, every nation raced to be the first at the very bottom of the ocean.
  • Money really does grow on trees and is heavily regulated by governments.
  • A plane takes off with 81 passengers. It lands with 82.
  • You are home alone watching TV. A character dials a number on their phone. Your phone rings.
  • You open a fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant. Inside is a handwritten note.
  • A magician, a troll, and a college student walk into a bar.
  • It is the year 3000. The sun starts to flicker.
  • An optimist becomes a pessimist. Why?

Top 10 short story ideas... also for you! 

Everyone who writes short stories out there knows that short stories are different — and not just because they’re, well, shorter. So if you’re seeking a short story idea, we’ve got you. Here are our favorite bite-sized short story ideas:

  • Turn one of your grandparent's old stories into fiction.
  • A romance told through a series of texts.
  • Two people are playing chess. One person can read minds, the other person can see the future.
  • Write a story that draws from a moment in your life where you wish you'd made a different choice. Have your protagonist make that choice, and then see what happens.
  • Amazon has invented time travel and introduced pre-emptive shipping. Today, you receive something completely unexpected from your future self.
  • Write about the way the sunset looks from the perspective of two characters. One is sad, the other is happy.
  • A wand-maker goes to the forest ready to work, only to find a group of environmentalists camped out in front of their favorite hemlock tree.
  • Pick a genre and then write about a long walk home after school.
  • The last person on earth celebrates their own birthday.
  • A team of scientists have successfully teleported an apple. It reappears with a bite taken out of it.

How to come up with short story ideas yourself

We get it: writing prompts are an excellent resource, but you want to know how to come up with your own story ideas, maybe even ideas for a book -length project. Here are four of our go-to tricks when thinking of interesting things to write about.

1) People-watch:  Hands down, this our favourite way to come up with story ideas. All stories, even ones about robots or plants, have some element of humanity at its core. There are therefore a countless number of stories to be found by observing human nature. 90% of the prompts included in our  writing prompts newsletter  are inspired by simply staring out a window and watching people go by.

2) Forget what you already know:  Have you ever become trapped in a “but why?” loop with a child? It’s enough to make your head spin or an existential crisis occur. But if you can return to this sense of curiosity and wondering you had as a child, you can find a treasure trove of short story ideas to be found. Take in your surroundings and ask yourself  why  things are the way they are.  What if  they were different?  What  would that look like and  how  would it work?

3) Use your day job:  If you feel like you have the most interesting job on the planet, well, perfect! It shouldn’t be hard to use it as plot-fodder for a great short story. On the other hand, if you find yourself yawning a lot at work, ask yourself:  What could happen to make this work day interesting?  Let’s say you work as a receptionist but your real passion lies with art. Write a story about a receptionist who sees a colleague hang a new piece of art in their cubicle — one the receptionist recognizes as being famous for going missing a century ago.

4) Read:  Imagine walking up to a piano and trying to make beautiful music without ever having heard it played before. You need to consume great short stories in order to know what you enjoy about them. Figure out what you like, and you’ll be on the path to great writing topics.

Ready to start submitting your short story to writing contests? Find the right one for you in our  list of writing contests .

Looking for writing tips? Sign up for our free course:  How to Craft a Killer Short Story .

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50 Creative Writing Ideas to Combat Writer’s Block

what are some good creative writing topics

A lack of creative writing ideas often leads to a writer’s worst fear: writer’s block.

It’s so easy to fall into its clutches, spending hours at your laptop (or notebook or typewriter) writing sentence after sentence only to cross every one out. Or even worse—to sit an an empty page and write nothing at all. Sometimes it takes time and hard thinking to get out of the rut once you become stuck. Sometimes, however, it takes a little more than that. Sometimes it just might take some outside help.

It can be exceedingly difficult to find solid, mature creative writing ideas on the internet. If you Google “creative writing ideas,” most of what comes up is directed at children or casual writers looking to practice a hobby. But what about creative writing ideas for adults? What about when you have the dedication, passion, and experience with writing, but you just don’t have the  ideas ?

And if these don’t work, check out my other two posts on Writer’s Block (and second Writer’s Block article ).

The next time you’re at a loss for what to write about, try using these creative writing ideas and prompts below. Maybe you’ll be inspired enough to propel you straight out of your writer’s block, or maybe it’ll just be enough to get the gears turning in your head again.

50 Creative Writing Ideas (with Prompts) to Boost Your Inspiration

1. Try Writing Magical Realism

Write a story from a universe similar to this one but possessing one specific magical quality.

1. Write about two people who grow up together, eventually part ways, move to different sides of the country, and somehow still end up unintentionally running into each other very frequently for the rest of their lives.

2. Write about someone who is reincarnated over and over again and remembers all of his/her past lives, but no one else on earth remembers theirs.

3. Write about two people who are physically unable to be awake at the same time.

4. Write about a contract killer literally haunted by his first hit.

5. Write about a prophet who knows the exact day, time, and occurrence of his death years in advance.

6. Write about a character who can taste people’s emotions through the food they prepare.

7. Write about two people who dream about each other before they actually meet.

8. Write a post-apocalyptic story and explain only your main character’s coping mechanism: creating a fantasy world in his/her head and living there.

9. Write about a person who goes to the theater with friends multiple times but always sees a different movie than his/her friends see on the same screen.

10. Write about a person who grows a new finger every time he/she acts cruelly to someone.

If you want help writing your novel, I’ve got the best novel-writing guide in the universe:

12 Steps to Write a Bestselling Novel.

That link will give you advice on characters, plotting, point of view, and more.

2. Write from a Different Perspective

Use a voice and background different from your own to write something unfamiliar and fresh.

1. Write from the perspective of an advanced AI.

2. Write from the perspective of a person in the year 2550.

3. Write from perspective of a mythological siren stuck on the rocky shore of an ocean, trying to lure sailors to their deaths.

4. Write from the perspective of an “inside guy” (jury member, lawyer, judge, etc) during an important court case.

5. Write from the perspective of a family pet whose fate is decided when its owners split up.

6. Write from the perspective of a different gender when subjected to explicit sexual objectification.

7. Write from the perspective of an inanimate object in nature, like a rock or the wind.

8. Write from the perspective of someone with a chronic but not fatal illness (diabetes, OCD, Lyme disease, etc).

9. Write from the perspective of a blind person who comes home to find all the furniture in his/her apartment rearranged.

10. Write from the perspective of a fed-up guardian angel whose designated human is prone to self-sacrificial acts.

3. Write About What’s Around You

Get inspired by ordinary objects in your home.

1. Find a small object in your junk drawer (stapler remover, chewed-up pen cap, paperweight, etc) and write about how it could be used as a weapon to kill.

2. Imagine you have to hide documents essential to national security somewhere in your office or bedroom and write a story about wherever you think is the best place.

3. If the room you’re in has windows, write a story in which the room is exactly the same but with no windows, and vice versa.

4. Imagine you’re cleaning out your desk and find a secret message carved or written on the bottom of one drawer.

5. Open a book in your office, turn to a random page, blindly point to a word, and use it as the very first word of your story.

6. Find a photo of yourself and write a narrative about the photographer in that moment.

7. Pick a room in your house and recount a story, real or fictional, about how a particular object in that room came to be there.

8. Mentally (or physically, if you want to) rearrange all the furniture in your office or bedroom and write about how that changes the overall mood of the room.

9. Search your coat pockets for old recipes, notes, or trinkets and write a story centered around something you find. (If you find nothing, write about why you empty your pockets so frequently.)

10. Pick a small item from your desk drawer and write about a character who carries it around as a talisman.

4. Let Your Reading Inspire Your Writing

Use your favorite books as a launching pad to create something original.

1. Write a scene borrowing the protagonist of a book you’ve read, but cast as a different gender.

2. Research an author you enjoy, then combine his/her life with the life of a character from one of his/her books to create a new character.

3. Take a familiar scene from a book and rewrite it, adding yourself in as a character (spectator, narrator, background figure, etc).

4. Reset a scene from a book in a drastically different time period.

5. Write a different story using the same title as a familiar book.

6. If the book you’re using has a first person narrator, rewrite a scene either from the perspective of another character or in the third person.

7. Write about a fictional person who has an intense reaction (either positive or negative) to a book you’ve read.

8. Write a story using only words found in the first and last sentences of each chapter of a book.

9. Take a book you know well and write an alternate ending that is the exact opposite of the real ending (whatever you think “opposite” means).

10. If the book you’re using has a third person narrator, rewrite a scene in the first person (as one of the author’s characters or a new character).

5. Take a Plot and Write It Multiple Ways

Take a well-defined prompt and write it multiple times, each with a different ending.

1. Write about a Japanese steakhouse chef who accidentally cuts him/herself while cooking in front of a family.

2. Write about a painter who is commissioned by a family member to paint a dead man/woman using no pictures, only descriptions from other people.

3. Write about a group of truckers who all frequent the same truck stops and form a book club for when they see each other again.

4. Write about a seasoned model who shows up to her agency one day with inexplicable cuts all over her legs.

5. Write about two strangers who each grab one end of extremely rare record at the same time in a secondhand vinyl shop.

6. Write about a manic-depressive linguist who conveys his/her emotions to friends using words from other languages that aren’t translatable into English.

7. Write about a group of whalers who accidentally discover mermaids the size of blue whales.

8. Write about someone who mistakenly picks the lock to the wrong apartment at two in the morning when trying to get into a friend’s apartment.

9. Write about a strictly Shakespearian actor who loses all of his/her money and has to take modern comedic roles to stay afloat.

10. And finally: Write about a writer struggling with long-term writer’s block who desperately searches the internet for ideas and prompts.

Related posts:

what are some good creative writing topics

76 comments

oh my gosh this was really helpful – thank you! :))

SAME WITH ME. EVEN THOUGH I AM JUST 13 YEARS OLD, I AM CONSTANTLY SEARCHING FOR NEW IDEAS TO WRITE. THANKS SO MUCH.

YES THIS IS ALSO VERY HELPFUL WHICH IS WHY I AM WRITING IN CAPITAL LETTERS

Really helpful and cool, thank you!!!

YESSSSS!!!!!!

so helpful I really needed this

Super helpful

These were soooooooooooooooo random prompts! They didn’t help me at all! 🙁

well maybe you shouldn’t become a writter then because if you look it was helpful to the other writters boom .

i dont think this means they shouldnt be a writer, writers block can be really difficult to get over and maybe these ideas didnt help them get over it, i know they didnt help me yet ive been writing for nearly 5 years constantly. each author is different, so its great if it helped others but that doesnt guarantee itll help everyone

That’s really rude becoming a writer means working towards your goal. Some ideas don’t inspire some people. Progress takes work and the ability to write doesn’t come easy to some people. Who knows he/she could become a great writer. We just don’t know it. We choose are destiny.

what a geek

wow look at that. you are telling people off but you can’t spell the word writer! look into a dictionary.

Maybe you guys should be nice. It’s hard to be a writer, and putting other people down because they didn’t find anything helpful isn’t right. Please remember we all want to change the world.

I think random prompts are good prompts.

I agree. If they’re random that means that there’ more variety

keep looking, I’m sure there’s something there.

I think that it was the point tp be random ideas. I personally think that these were amazing ideas and I think you might need to try to be a bit more creative.

the point is to just getting you to write something versus nothing. So if you start getting your creativity flowing it will help you with your personal work.

Same I agree

I hope you come up with even better ones!

Same . It was like you have to find something and it takes ages

Honestly, I’ve been to 3 different sites before this one looking for some decent writing prompts. Don’t be fazed if they don’t help you 🙂

That’s fine, they might not help everyone! It also might not be what you’re used to, try writing with one of the prompts, if you don’t end up liking it, it’s still an exercise for your mind. Good luck!

Good fodder for insight, topics . Curious what other readers used these to for ??

Good ideas and it helped me!

Thank you so much for these! I usually see such generic prompts on other sites, but these were very original and inspiring! I would love more if possible 😉

love these ideas I would like more if possible!

This helped me with school a lot!!

I feel personally attacked by that last one.

“and finally…” LOL. Agreed

Ha- me too!

Thank You! Your ideas are really quite wonderful. 🙂

If these don’t help you, then try procrastination. You subconscious is working on your story, so when you sit down, it is so much easier to continue writing. (Works for me!)

Someone that has used one of these prompts should be super nice and let me read what they came up with. I’m super curious as to how some of you are using them.

I’ve only managed to use one so far, there are some very great prompts here.

I am 12 years old and I am confused on where my life is going… either a vet actor, or a book writer. I need advice from some adults.

dear ADVICE PLEASE [or anyone really] you should get to be whatever your heart desires. I think that you could be a vet or actor as well as an author. The world needs writers, so get out there and spread some joy! Oh btw, I’m sure we’re all on this site for the same reasons, but don’t give up on your writing dreams

I am using it for a random report I wanted to write about something. It was just kind of boring until I realized… there IS a positive side to COVID 19! I mean c’mon guys there is a positive side to everything so search for the positive sides not the negative ones. So the positive side was… WE COULD IMPROVE OURSELVES!!! Literally just by working on something we like during COVID 19 will make it seem better and BE better!! Some people had no time to improve because they were too busy with some other job but NOW.. We could spend our whole day on something we like and trust me it will benefit each and every one of you!!! ( And your day won’t be AS boring and sad because there WILL be something to do. There is always something to do!!! )

These are some helpful ideas but I don’t agree with a few but that doesn’t matter because some of them helped me. Anyway thank you for them!

Thanks this really helped as I had something set to write to so randomness helped!

These were helpful! ( And by the way…One of your probmpts scared me, I often dream about people sometimes and then meet them later. It’s very complicated about how and why. )

I want to read what other people wrote now

That last one had me cracking up.

i second that eva

Really good ones! the last one got me smiling!

Spider girl – why not all of them? You have a long life ahead of you and to only focus one career your entire life is dreary for some people such as myself. I have been a firefighter, preschool teacher, sales person, and am currently a writer and a music teacher.

they’re really good ideas, none of them really appealed to me specifically, but it seems like someone could still make a good story out of them! 🙂

THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was exactly what I needed thanks so much

These have really have been a good use for me. I have been in a writer’s block for at least two weeks now and just by looking at some of these creative writing ideas, it has helped a lot. I know some of them may not appeal to all of you specifically, but it does give more confidence in your writing and your stories just by looking at some. For instance, if you were to look at one of the Magical Realism writing ideas, it could open a whole door to new writing possibilities. You can take one of the ideas and turn it into your own. You may not all agree that these ideas can help you, but it can definitely give you the confidence that you may lack when writing stories or maybe just inspire you. These ideas are helpful. Thank you!

Okay Hi, I was looking for a random prompt to write about, and I didn’t find one can anyone give me some ideas for one? I would be so grateful. Just for a little info, I am 13 and in 8th grade and just felt the need to start writing. Anyway, whoever sees this I hope you have a wonderful afternoon (or morning) Be safe throughout this week okay.

You could write about your dream for when you grow up. Like Martin Luther King Jr.

Thanks so much this helped

The 2nd one in the very first idea is one I think I’m going to use. Thanks so much!

omg this is fantastic…Thank you so much. I can relate to so many of these prompts but never really thought of them…

these were so good it inspired me to write:)

Thank you for this. I’ve been working on the same project for ages and this was a wonderful break from it.

Lot of love. Thank you. This is great help.

Wow! I could never have thought of these ideas even if I was given a million years. Thanks.

This took YEARS of me

This was so much help the thing is can you add some easy and fun ones?

This is very helpful thank you 🙂

These have been very helpful. Thank you so much for sharing these. The last one was hilarious and made me realize in many cases I was blocking myself, lol. It was great!

  • Pingback: 50K Words Later: NaNoWriMo Lessons & Takeaways

most of these really did help me. I put them on to a word doc and kept going back on them and then went to different webs. now if I have writer’s block I have 64 pages of things to try.

I needed this

Some were a bit sus but ok

SOOOOOOOOOO HELPFUL!!!!!

what are some good creative writing topics

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50 Inspiring Journal Prompts to Spark Your Creativity

Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.

what are some good creative writing topics

Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.

what are some good creative writing topics

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Benefits of Using Journal Prompts

How to use journal prompts, journal prompts you can try, how do you come up with a journal prompt.

A journal can be a trusted companion that helps you reflect on your thoughts, feelings, actions, decisions, and relationships. Research shows that journaling is linked to better planning, lower stress, and better physical and mental health.

Whether you write in your journal regularly or you’re just getting started, you might sometimes find yourself staring at a blank page and wondering what to write. If you’re at a loss for words, a journal prompt can come to the rescue.

Journal prompts are suggestions, ideas, or questions that can help guide and inspire your journal entries, says Sabrina Romanoff , PsyD, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University.

“Prompts are typically themes to reflect on or questions that are meant to motivate you to think deeper about something,” Dr. Romanoff adds.

In this article, we suggest some journal prompts that can spark your creativity . We also ask the expert for some strategies that can help you create your own journal prompts.

Prompted journaling, also known as guided journaling, offers several benefits:

  • Starting point: If you’ve never tried journaling before or if you’re experiencing writer’s block, journal prompts can help you get started.
  • Direction: Prompts can provide direction to your writing, says Dr. Romanoff. By focusing on a specific topic or question, you can explore your thoughts and feelings around it. 
  • Structure: Sometimes, you might prefer to write down your thoughts freely as they occur. However, there may be times when you want to organize your thoughts more coherently. Journal prompts can provide the structure you need to organize your thoughts.
  • Creativity: Using different journal prompts can introduce variety to your journaling experience. It can encourage you to think more creatively and approach things from different angles.
  • Insight: Journal prompts can provide topics or themes that help you explore fresh perspectives and new dimensions of yourself, says Dr. Romanoff. This process can help you discover personal insights and promote greater self-awareness .
  • Consistency: Having a prompt to guide each journaling session can encourage you to maintain a regular journaling practice. The prompts can make journaling feel like a purposeful and engaging activity, which may help you be more consistent with it.

These are some strategies that can help you use journal prompts:

  • Find prompts that inspire you: Dr. Romanoff suggests making a list of prompts that you find inspiring or motivating—you can come up with your own, buy a journal with prompts, or look online for examples.
  • Decide your frequency: It can be helpful to set a frequency for journaling, such as daily, weekly, monthly or at any other interval that works for you. You can use prompts every time you journal or just when you’re feeling stagnant and craving inspiration or motivation for your journaling session, says Dr. Romanoff.
  • Keep an open mind: Approach prompted journaling with an open mind . Reflect on the prompt and explore where it takes you. You can write as much or as little as you like. 
  • Get creative: Don’t be afraid to get creative with your responses or limit yourself only to words. You can even pen down your thoughts and feelings in the form of drawings or poetry, if you prefer.
  • Be honest and authentic: Honesty is key to getting the most out of journaling. Write from the heart and don't be afraid to express your true feelings, even if they are complex or challenging.
  • Reflect on your responses: After you've written your responses, take a moment to reflect on what you've written. Consider how your thoughts and emotions have evolved over the course of writing them down.

These are some journal prompts that can help you get started.

Self-Discovery Prompts

Self-discovery prompts can help you self-reflect and get to know yourself better. Greater self-awareness is linked to improved emotional intelligence.

These are some journal prompts that can enable self-discovery:

  • First, list five words that best describe you. Then, think about which five words you would like to describe yourself.
  • Complete this sentence: “My life would be incomplete without….”
  • Reflect on a phrase, quote, or mantra that resonates with you. Explain why it’s significant to you.
  • Make a list of the things in your life that you’re most grateful for.
  • Explain what you do best.
  • Reflect on the qualities that you value most in others.
  • Share three things that made you smile today.
  • List your best and worst habits.
  • Write down three life lessons you’ve learned.
  • Explain what love means to you.
  • Describe the values that are most important to you and consider whether your actions align with them.
  • Think about what you would do with your life if you had unlimited resources and explain why.
  • Describe what is stressing you out and how you’re coping with it.
  • Write about your biggest regret and what you would do differently in hindsight.
  • Identify and label the fears and insecurities that are holding you back right now.

Personal Growth Prompts

These are some journal prompts that can encourage personal growth:

  • What are three short-term goals you would like to achieve within the next three months?
  • What are three long-term goals you would like to achieve within the next five years?
  • Which skill would you like to cultivate in yourself?
  • Which qualities do you admire most in others that you would like to develop in yourself?
  • Which areas of your life would benefit from more self-discipline ?
  • What is your worst habit and how would you change it?
  • What’s something new you would like to try?
  • What habit do you want to add to your daily routine?
  • What would you like to contribute to your community?
  • What is the biggest challenge you’re dealing with right now?
  • What is the biggest failure you’ve ever faced and what have you learned from it?
  • How would you like to be remembered by others?
  • How can you better support your loved ones?
  • What boundaries would you like to set in your relationships to protect yourself?

Mindfulness Prompts

Mindfulness prompts can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, senses, and surroundings. Being more mindful can help you be more intentional and purposeful in the way you live your life.

These are some journal prompts that can support greater mindfulness:

  • Describe a meal you ate today. What colors, textures, tastes, and feelings did you experience?
  • Pick an everyday object from your surroundings, like a plant or a pencil. Write a detailed description of it as if you've never seen it before.
  • Focus on a sound in the background, such as the ticking of a clock or the rustling of the breeze. Describe the sound and its impact on you.
  • Close your eyes for a minute and pay attention to your breath. When you open your eyes, write down what it felt like.
  • Describe your ideal day from morning to night. What activities, people, and experiences would be part of it?
  • Reflect on your thoughts without judgment . Identify and describe any feelings you're experiencing in the present moment.
  • Write about a recent interaction with someone. What were their words, expressions, and gestures? How did you feel during the interaction?
  • Think back to a moment of happiness you experienced recently. Relive the sensations, thoughts, and emotions associated with it.
  • Think about the place where you feel most at peace. What makes it special to you?
  • Recall a time when you were worrying about something in the future. How did it affect your present moment and what would you have done differently?

Creativity Prompts

These are some journal prompts that can spark creativity :

  • Write a letter to your favorite fictional character, describing your life to them.
  • Make a list of questions you would like to ask a future version of yourself.
  • Think about your favorite word or phrase. Explain why you love it.
  • Choose a random object from your surroundings. What qualities do you have in common with it?
  • Make a list of ten unusual ways to use a common household item. Get creative and think outside the box.
  • Write a conversation between two inanimate objects, giving them personalities and voices.
  • Invent a gadget that would make your life more efficient or interesting.
  • Choose a word from a foreign language that doesn't have a direct English translation. Describe the last time you encountered or experienced it.
  • Imagine you get the chance to be any animal for a day. Which animal would you pick and what would you do?
  • Invent a new holiday and outline the traditions, celebrations, and rituals associated with it, based on your values.
  • If you have a time machine and you can go anywhere in the past or future, where would you go and what would you do there?

These are some strategies that can help you come up with your own journal prompts:

  • Decide your goals: First, consider what your goal of journaling is and then work backwards to find ways to achieve that goal, says Dr. Romanoff. For instance, she says gratitude , relationships, learning, self-growth, or creativity are goals that you might want to pursue.
  • Find prompts that align with your goals: Write down a few prompts that resonate with you and align with your current goals, interests, or areas of focus. You can add more or tweak them as you go along.
  • Mix and match different prompts: Feel free to mix and match prompts from different sources or create your own variations. Experiment with different types of prompts to keep your journaling practice engaging and varied.
  • Build on existing prompts: If a prompt leads you to new insights or questions, consider exploring those ideas in subsequent journal entries. You can use your initial response as a springboard for deeper exploration.

Journaling can be a form of self-care , a way to connect with yourself, or a creative exercise. 

If you enjoy journaling, having prompts can help guide your thoughts and focus your attention in a specific direction. Having a new journal prompt to work on every time you’re in the mood to journal can be exciting, comforting, and even a little scary. Just think of each prompt as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself.

Pena‐Silva RA, Velasco‐Castro JM, Matsingos C, Jaramillo‐Rincon SX. Journaling as an effective tool to promote metacognition and enhance study methods in a pharmacology course, during and after the pandemic . FASEB J . 2022;36(Suppl 1):10.1096/fasebj.2022.36.S1.R4840. doi:10.1096/fasebj.2022.36.S1.R4840

Drigas AS, Papoutsi C. A new layered model on emotional intelligence . Behav Sci (Basel) . 2018;8(5):45. doi:10.3390/bs8050045

Crego A, Yela JR, Gómez-Martínez MÁ, Riesco-Matías P, Petisco-Rodríguez C. Relationships between mindfulness, purpose in life, happiness, anxiety, and depression: testing a mediation model in a sample of women . Int J Environ Res Public Health . 2021;18(3):925. doi:10.3390/ijerph18030925

By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.

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Write Freelance

30 Kickass Creative Writing Topics and Prompts

Ritika tiwari.

  • October 21, 2016

what are some good creative writing topics

Writing is easy, but you know what’s really difficult? Coming up with creative writing topics and prompts.

Don’t pretend like you don’t face that problem. A lot of freelance writers just want to write, but they don’t know what to write about , and that is why you need this ultimate list of creative writing topics and prompts which I have created after a long research.

I personally feel that the best way for a freelance writer to hone his skills is by writing relentlessly every day. In fact, one of the reason why I am able to write on a daily basis is because I write for my own self on my blog .

If you too are a freelance content writer struggling to find your writing flow, I highly recommend taking up a new prompt everyday.

Here are some of my most favourite creative writing topics and prompts:

kickass-creative-writing-topics-prompts

1.     9 x 9 x 9

Look at your bookshelf, pick out the 9 th book, open its 9 th page and read its 9 th line. Now start a poem or a story that starts with this line and let your imagination go wild.

2.     The memorable train journey

Every freelance content writer has a story about their memorable train journey. Write yours down and share it.

3.     A dream you still remember

Do you have a dream that you still remember for some strange reason?

4.     What happens when you wake up one day and you can read everyone’s minds

You wake up one morning and there are voices inside your head, but they are not your voices. What happens next?

5.     A humorous piece about one of the most hated person in history

What happens when Hitler gets into a funny situation?

6.     A poem about your favorite piece of art

My favorite piece of art is The Starry Night , what’s yours?

7.     You go into Doctor Who’s Tardis, and you get displaced in time

If you could travel anywhere in time and space, where would you go? And most importantly, how will you get back?

8.     You wake up one day and your dog can talk

I have always wondered how great my life would be if my dog could talk. But is it really as great as we think.

9.     Eavesdrop on a conversation

Being a freelance writer in India, I cannot tell you how many times I have eavesdropped on a conversatio

11.  Phone call to God

If there was a call support for God, what would you ask him

12.  Close your eyes and pick a place on the globe

Pick a place where you have never been before and write about it.

13.  Stalk a stranger

Next time you are in the metro or a café, notice a stranger and write about his life, from your point of view.

14.  Magic potion

One day, in your garden, you find your magic potion. But what can it do?

15.  The one that got away

We all have that one person in our life who got away. Write about him/her

16.  Did you get a sign today?

As we navigate through life, we often notice things that look like a sign from god. Did you get one today?

17.  You and your zodiac sign

Do you have similar traits as your zodiac sign or completely opposite?

18.  Forgiving and forgetting

Discuss your views about forgiving and forgetting.

19.  Take dictionary’s help

Open a random page in a dictionary and pick out a word you have never heard before.

20.  Pick out an element from the periodic table

Choose an element from the periodic table and write a poem about it.

21.  When you find your doppelganger

What would you do if you met your doppelganger?

22.  There was a murder in your neighbourhood and only you can solve it

Sherlock Holmes meets Byomkesh Bakshi

23.  A letter to the 15-year old you

What would be the word of advice you would give to a younger version of yourself

24.  You have been shipwrecked

By the way, you don’t have to get shipwrecked alone. Would you be in a love story or become the Green Arrow?

25.  An unlucky penny

So, you pick up a penny on the street, but dun, dun, dun… it is an unlucky penny.

26.  You are an English teacher for Martians

Teaching English to aliens is funnier than you think.

27.  You can’t remember the last 5 years of your life

You wake up one morning only to realize your life has completely changed and you have skipped 5 years of your life

28.  If you were the protagonist of your favourite movie

What is your favourite movie?

29.  Find a phobia and write a story around it

What is it going to be – fear of heights or fear of the number 8?

30.  A letter that never made its way to the recipient

Have you ever written a letter but decided not to send it? Write about it.

These were just 30 of the best creative writing topics and prompts for freelance writers. If you are serious about creative writing, I highly recommend checking out these creative writing courses in India which you can do along with your job or college.

Let me know what you think about it. Also, do share some of your favourite creative writing topics and prompts.

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Beginners Writing Prompts: 25 Ideas to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

By: Author Paul Jenkins

Posted on August 3, 2023

Categories Writing

Writing is an art form that can be challenging to master. Beginners may find it difficult to know where to start, what to write about, or how to develop their ideas.

That’s where writing prompts come in. Writing prompts are a useful tool for beginners to help them get started with writing and develop their skills.

Understanding writing prompts is essential for beginners. Writing prompts are ideas or topics that provide inspiration for writing. They can be anything from a single word to a complete sentence or paragraph. Writing prompts can help writers overcome writer’s block, develop their writing skills, and explore different genres and styles.

There are various types of writing prompts, including prompts for different genres, character development, setting and atmosphere, and unique writing prompts. Writing prompts can also be used for daily writing and journaling, which can help writers develop a writing habit and improve their skills.

Incorporating personal elements into writing prompts can also help writers explore their own experiences and emotions through writing.

Key Takeaways

  • Writing prompts are a useful tool for beginners to help them get started with writing and develop their skills.
  • Understanding writing prompts is essential for beginners to overcome writer’s block, develop their writing skills, and explore different genres and styles.
  • Writing prompts can be used for daily writing and journaling, character development, setting and atmosphere, and unique writing prompts.

25 Beginners Writing Prompts

Here are 25 writing prompts for beginner writers:

1. Write about your ideal day. What would you do, where would you go, who would you see?

2. Describe your favorite place in the world. What makes it so special?

3. Write a letter to your future self 10 years from now. What advice would you give your future self?

4. Describe a memorable event from your childhood. Why was it meaningful to you?

5. If you could have any superpower, what would you choose and why? How would you use this power?

6. Who is someone you admire? Why do you look up to this person?

7. What is your biggest accomplishment so far? Why does it make you proud?

8. If you could take any animal from the zoo home as a pet, which would you choose and why?

9. What is your biggest goal in life right now? Why is this goal important to you?

10. What is one thing that brings you happiness every day? Describe why it brightens your day.

11. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Describe what you would do there.

12. What is your favorite holiday? Describe your ideal celebration of this holiday.

13. Who makes you laugh the most? Describe why this person is so funny.

14. What is your favorite food? Describe what it tastes and smells like.

15. What is one thing you want to accomplish this year? Why is this goal important?

16. Describe your perfect weekend. What activities would you do and who would you spend time with?

17. What is the best gift you’ve ever given someone? Why did you choose this gift?

18. Describe your favorite memory with a grandparent or elder in your life. Why was this time meaningful?

19. Who is your role model or hero? Why do you look up to this person?

20. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be? Why does this skill appeal to you?

21. What is the kindest act you’ve ever witnessed? What did this act teach you?

22. What is one cause you care deeply about? Why is it meaningful to you?

23. Describe your perfect day off from school. What would make it an amazing day?

24. What is one thing that always makes you smile? Why does this bring you joy?

25. What is your favorite season? Describe what you love about this time of year.

Understanding Writing Prompts

Writing prompts are an essential tool for beginning writers or those seeking to improve their writing skills. Writing prompts provide direction and inspiration for creative writing, helping writers overcome writer’s block, and encouraging them to explore new topics and ideas.

A writing prompt is a sentence, paragraph, or image that provides inspiration and guidance for creative writing. It may be used as a possible topic or starting point for an original essay, report, journal entry, story, poem, etc.

Writing prompts can be general or specific, and they can be tailored to suit the needs of different writers.

Understanding writing prompts is essential for beginning writers. Decoding what a prompt is asking can sometimes be overwhelming, but the sooner you understand a prompt, the sooner you can start writing. To understand a writing prompt, you need to identify the key elements and determine what type of writing the prompt is asking for.

Here are some tips for understanding writing prompts:

  • Read the prompt carefully and identify the key elements, such as the topic, purpose, and audience.
  • Determine the type of writing the prompt is asking for, such as a narrative, expository, persuasive, or descriptive essay.
  • Consider the tone and style of the writing prompt and how it should be reflected in your writing.
  • Use brainstorming techniques to generate ideas for your writing, such as mind mapping, free writing, or listing.
  • Create an outline or plan for your writing, including an introduction, body, and conclusion.

By following these tips, beginning writers can gain a better understanding of writing prompts and use them to improve their writing skills. Writing prompts can be a valuable tool for writers of all levels, providing direction, inspiration, and encouragement for creative writing.

Types of Writing Prompts

When it comes to writing prompts, there are various types that can help beginners get started. Here are some of the most common types of writing prompts:

Story Prompts

Story prompts are great for those who want to write short stories. These prompts can be in the form of a sentence, a paragraph, or even a few words. They can be based on a specific theme or genre, or they can be completely random. Some examples of story prompts include:

  • Write a story about a person who discovers they have magical powers.
  • Write a story about a character who is stranded on a deserted island.
  • Write a story about a time traveler who goes back in time to prevent a disaster.

Photo Prompts

Photo prompts are great for those who want to write descriptive pieces. These prompts involve looking at a photo and writing a story, poem, or essay about what you see. They can be based on a specific theme or genre, or they can be completely random. Some examples of photo prompts include:

  • Write a descriptive piece about a sunset over the ocean.
  • Write a story about a character who lives in a treehouse.
  • Write a poem about a flower in a field.

Social Media Prompts

Social media prompts are great for those who want to practice writing in a more casual and conversational tone. These prompts involve writing short pieces that are meant to be shared on social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram. Some examples of social media prompts include:

  • Write a tweet about your favorite book.
  • Write an Instagram caption about your morning routine.
  • Write a Facebook post about a recent vacation.

Random Word Prompts

Random word prompts are great for those who want to challenge themselves and get creative. These prompts involve choosing a random word and writing a piece based on that word. They can be based on a specific theme or genre, or they can be completely random. Some examples of random word prompts include:

  • Write a story that includes the word “serendipity.”
  • Write a poem that includes the word “nostalgia.”
  • Write an essay that includes the word “perseverance.”

Overall, writing prompts are a great way for beginners to get started with writing. By using different types of prompts, beginners can practice writing in different styles and genres, and develop their skills over time.

Writing Prompts for Different Genres

If you’re looking for writing prompts to jumpstart your creativity, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some writing prompts for different genres to help you get started.

Fantasy Prompts

Fantasy is a genre that allows you to create your own world, characters, and rules. Here are some prompts to help you get started:

  • Write about a character who discovers they have magical powers.
  • Write about a world where humans and mythical creatures coexist.
  • Write about a quest to find a lost artifact that has the power to save the world.
  • Write about a character who must choose between good and evil.

Romance Prompts

Romance is a genre that explores the complexities of love and relationships. Here are some prompts to help you get started:

  • Write about a love triangle between three friends.
  • Write about a second chance at love between two former lovers.
  • Write about a forbidden love between two people from different worlds.
  • Write about a character who must choose between their career and their love life.

Adventure Prompts

Adventure is a genre that takes readers on a journey to new and exciting places. Here are some prompts to help you get started:

  • Write about a character who sets out to explore a mysterious island.
  • Write about a group of friends who embark on a road trip across the country.
  • Write about a character who discovers a hidden treasure map and sets out to find the treasure.
  • Write about a character who must survive in the wilderness after a plane crash.

Horror Prompts

Horror is a genre that explores the darker side of human nature. Here are some prompts to help you get started:

  • Write about a haunted house that is rumored to be cursed.
  • Write about a character who is being stalked by a serial killer.
  • Write about a group of friends who go camping in the woods and encounter a supernatural entity.
  • Write about a character who becomes possessed by a demon.

Remember, these are just prompts to help you get started. Use them as a jumping off point and let your imagination take over. Happy writing!

Using Writing Prompts to Overcome Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is a common phenomenon that can affect writers of all levels. It can be frustrating and can hinder the creative process. However, using writing prompts can be an effective way to overcome writer’s block and get the creative juices flowing.

Writing prompts are a great way to inspire and encourage creativity. They can be used to generate new ideas, explore different perspectives, and challenge yourself to think outside the box. Writing prompts can be anything from a single word to a full sentence or paragraph.

When using writing prompts, it’s important to keep an open mind and let your imagination run wild. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. The goal is to inspire creativity and get the words flowing.

Here are some tips for using writing prompts to overcome writer’s block:

  • Choose a prompt that speaks to you. Look for prompts that inspire you and that you feel a connection to.
  • Set a timer. Give yourself a set amount of time to write without stopping. This can help to get your creative juices flowing and prevent you from getting stuck.
  • Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. The goal is to get your ideas down on paper. You can always go back and edit later.
  • Use the prompt as a starting point. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the prompt exactly. Use it as a jumping-off point to explore new ideas and perspectives.

In conclusion, using writing prompts can be an effective way to overcome writer’s block and inspire creativity. By choosing the right prompt, setting a timer, and letting your imagination run wild, you can break through the barriers that are holding you back and unleash your inner writer.

Incorporating Personal Elements into Writing Prompts

When it comes to writing prompts, incorporating personal elements can make the writing process more enjoyable and meaningful. By including personal experiences, interests, and goals, writers can create more engaging and authentic pieces.

One way to incorporate personal elements is to use prompts that relate to family and home. For example, a prompt could ask writers to describe a favorite family tradition or a memorable moment from their childhood home.

These prompts can evoke strong emotions and memories, making the writing process more personal and meaningful.

Another way to incorporate personal elements is to use prompts that relate to favorite movies, words, and meals. These prompts can encourage writers to explore their preferences and reflect on what makes them unique. For example, a prompt could ask writers to describe their favorite movie and explain why it resonates with them. This can help writers develop their voice and style.

Writing prompts can also encourage writers to think about their relationships and goals. Prompts that ask about best friends or bucket lists can inspire writers to reflect on their values and aspirations.

For example, a prompt could ask writers to describe their dream job and explain why it is meaningful to them. This can help writers develop a sense of purpose and direction.

Overall, incorporating personal elements into writing prompts can help writers create more engaging and authentic pieces. By using prompts that relate to family, home, favorite movies, words, meals, best friends, bucket lists, and dream jobs, writers can explore their interests and experiences in a meaningful way.

Writing Prompts for Character Development

When it comes to writing a story, character development is a crucial aspect that can make or break the entire plot. Creating compelling characters that readers can relate to and empathize with is essential to keeping them engaged from beginning to end. Here are some writing prompts to help you develop your characters.

Hero Prompts

  • Describe your hero’s personality in three words.
  • What is your hero’s greatest strength and how does it help them achieve their goals?
  • What is your hero’s biggest fear and how does it hold them back?
  • Write a scene where your hero is faced with a difficult decision that tests their morals and values.
  • How does your hero handle failure and setbacks? Write a scene where they face a major setback and how they overcome it.

Villain Prompts

  • What motivates your villain’s actions? Is it envy, power, or something else?
  • What is your villain’s biggest weakness and how does it lead to their downfall?
  • Write a scene where your villain is faced with a moral dilemma and how they choose to act.
  • What is your villain’s backstory and how did they become the way they are?
  • How does your villain justify their actions to themselves? Write a scene where they have an internal conflict about their actions.

Secondary Character Prompts

  • What is your secondary character’s role in the story?
  • How does your secondary character feel about the hero or villain?
  • Write a scene where your secondary character has to make a difficult decision that affects the hero or villain.
  • What is your secondary character’s backstory and how does it affect their actions in the story?
  • What is your secondary character’s relationship with the hero or villain? Write a scene that shows their dynamic.

Character development is an essential part of writing a story that readers will love. By using these prompts, you can create characters that are relatable, complex, and engaging. Remember to use these prompts as a starting point and let your imagination take over to create unique and memorable characters.

Writing Prompts for Setting and Atmosphere

When it comes to creative writing, setting and atmosphere can help create a vivid and engaging story. Here are some writing prompts to help you get started:

Weather Prompts

Weather can set the mood and tone for a story. Use these prompts to explore different weather conditions:

  • Write about a character who gets lost in a dense fog.
  • Describe a scene where a character is caught in a sudden rainstorm.
  • Create a story that takes place during a snowstorm.
  • Write about a character who is stranded in a desert during a sandstorm.

Location Prompts

The location of a story can be just as important as the characters themselves. Use these prompts to explore different locations:

  • Write about a character who explores an abandoned warehouse.
  • Describe a scene that takes place in a Hollywood movie studio.
  • Create a story that takes place in a small desert town.

Time of Day Prompts

The time of day can also set the mood and tone for a story. Use these prompts to explore different times of day:

  • Write about a character who goes for a midnight walk.
  • Describe a scene that takes place during a sunrise.
  • Create a story that takes place during a sunset.

Remember, these prompts are just a starting point. Use them to spark your imagination and create unique stories that are engaging and entertaining.

Unique Writing Prompts

If you’re looking for writing prompts that are a little different from the usual, here are some unique ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Tea time: Write a story or poem that revolves around a cup of tea. Who is drinking it? What is their mood? What memories or emotions does it bring up for them?
  • Animal kingdom: Write a story from the point of view of an animal. It could be a pet, a wild animal, or even a mythical creature. What do they see, hear, and feel in their world?
  • Phone call: Write a scene that takes place entirely over the phone. Who is calling whom? What is the conversation about? Is it a happy or tense exchange?
  • Kindness challenge: Write about a character who sets out to do one act of kindness every day for a month. What challenges do they face? How do their actions affect those around them?
  • Mirror, mirror: Write a story that involves a magical mirror. What does it show the person who looks into it? Is it a force for good or evil?
  • Moving on: Write a story about someone who is moving to a new place. How do they feel about leaving their old life behind? What adventures await them in their new home?
  • Halloween hijinks: Write a spooky story that takes place on Halloween night. Will your characters encounter ghosts, witches, or something even more terrifying?
  • Alien invasion: Write a story about an alien invasion. How do humans react? Is there a hero who saves the day, or is it a hopeless battle?
  • Legend has it: Write a story based on a local legend or myth. Is there any truth to the tale, or is it just a fanciful story?
  • Teddy bear: Write a story about a teddy bear that comes to life. What adventures does it have with its new human friend?
  • Getaway: Write a story about a character who takes a spontaneous trip. Where do they go, and what do they discover about themselves along the way?
  • Zombie apocalypse: Write a story about a world overrun by zombies. How do the survivors band together to stay alive?
  • Friendship: Write a story about a new friendship that blossoms unexpectedly. What draws the characters together, and what challenges do they face?
  • Rewrite history: Write a story that reimagines a historical event. What if things had gone differently? How would the world be changed?
  • Sounds of nature: Write a story that incorporates the sounds of nature. What do your characters hear, and how does it affect their mood and actions?

These unique writing prompts are just the beginning. Use them as a jumping-off point to explore your own creativity and discover new stories to tell.

Daily Writing and Journaling Prompts

Daily writing prompts are a great way to develop good writing habits and improve your writing skills. They can help you get into the habit of writing regularly, which can be especially helpful for beginners. There are many different types of daily writing prompts, including prompts for journaling, creative writing, and more.

Journaling is a great way to reflect on your thoughts and feelings and can help you gain insight into your own life. Daily journaling prompts can help you get started and keep you motivated. Some popular journaling prompts include writing about your goals, your dreams, your fears, or your daily routine.

Daily writing prompts can also be used for creative writing. These prompts can help you develop your writing skills and explore new ideas. Some popular creative writing prompts include writing about a character, a setting, or a plot.

If you prefer to write in a diary or a letter format, daily writing prompts can still be helpful. You can use prompts to write about your day, your thoughts, or your feelings. You can also use prompts to write letters to yourself or to someone else.

Setting an alarm can be a helpful way to remind yourself to write every day. You can set an alarm for the same time every day, or you can set it for a different time each day to keep things interesting.

Overall, daily writing prompts can be a helpful tool for beginners who want to develop good writing habits and improve their writing skills. By using daily writing prompts, you can get into the habit of writing regularly and explore new ideas and topics.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some simple creative writing prompts.

If you’re a beginner looking for some simple creative writing prompts, you can start with some basic ideas like writing about your daily routine, describing a favorite place, or writing a letter to your future self.

What are the easiest topics to write about?

The easiest topics to write about are those that you are familiar with, such as your hobbies, interests, or experiences. You can also write about your favorite books, movies, or TV shows.

What are 5 minute writing prompts for adults?

If you’re looking for some 5 minute writing prompts for adults, you can try writing a short story about a character who finds a mysterious object, writing a letter to your younger self, or describing a memorable moment from your childhood.

What are good writing prompts?

Good writing prompts are those that inspire you to write and help you develop your writing skills. Some good writing prompts include writing about a difficult decision you had to make, describing a favorite childhood memory, or writing a story from the perspective of an animal.

What are some quick writing prompts?

If you’re short on time and need some quick writing prompts, you can try writing a haiku about a favorite season, writing a letter to your favorite fictional character, or describing a dream you had last night.

What are some daily writing prompts?

Daily writing prompts can help you develop a daily writing habit and improve your writing skills. Some daily writing prompts include writing about a recent accomplishment, describing a favorite place, or writing a story based on a picture.

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Creative writing: Why it’s important and how to get started 

By  Michael Fede r

Typewriter with paper airplanes flying around it

This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee.  Read more about our editorial process.

Photo of Briana Houlihan, MBA, G-PM, Dean, College of General Studies

Reviewed by Briana Houlihan, MBA, G-PM, Dean, College of General Studies

At a glance

  • Creative writing is an expressive and imaginative way to craft a narrative . Writing creatively can apply in a variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, essays and blogs.  
  • Creative writing is used in a variety of jobs, including copywriting, copy editing, marketing and content coordination. Roles in other industries can leverage creative writing too, sometimes in surprising fields such as business and IT.
  • To strengthen your creative writing skills, you should read often, practice writing in different forms (e.g., short stories or poetry), get feedback on your work,  and take classes or workshops. Learn more about creative writing while earning a Bachelor of Arts in English degree at University of Phoenix!

From journalism to novels to marketing and advertising, creative writing in the modern world is more prevalent than you might think. In fact, creative writing can be used in a variety of ways, including building your personal brand .

Whether you’re a marketing manager trying to differentiate your product, a copywriter trying to craft engaging content or a social media or public relations professional aiming to engage your audience, creative writing can help you present your ideas originally and memorably.

So, what’s the catch? It might seem as if one has to be born creative in order to be good at creative writing. But the truth is, anyone can learn the fundamentals of creative writing and implement them in their work.

Explore online degree programs in the liberal arts at University of Phoenix! 

What is creative writing?

Creative writing is about expressing yourself in imaginative ways, often without the constraints of academic or professional standards. In contrast to academic writing or basic reporting, which focuses on presenting facts and information in the most direct way, creative writing often employs storytelling, vivid imagery and emotional responses . Your words become more than a communication technique. They morph into a literary vehicle that can take your readers on a ride.

Consider, for example, blog articles, marketing materials, website copy, social media content and magazine articles. These are all forms of creative writing separate from the more traditional creative writing genres of novels and short stories, poems and scripts. Everything from song lyrics and comic books to speeches and personal essays can be considered creative writing. As a result, creative writing skills can apply to a wide range of jobs. Let’s explore some of them.

Creative writing jobs

If you love creative writing but want to pursue a career outside of the arts, you can consider jobs in a number of industries, including creative positions that sit within traditional and content marketing, social media, journalism and business.  

Copywriters

Copywriters are professionals who specialize in creating written content, often for the purpose of advertising or marketing. Their main responsibility is to produce persuasive and compelling copy that promotes a product, service, brand or idea. Copywriters use their creativity and language skills to craft messages that resonate with a target audience, drive engagement and ultimately encourage a desired action, such as making a purchase or clicking on a link.

Whether it’s in advertisements, promotional materials, websites or other marketing channels, the goal of a copywriter is to create content that effectively communicates the value proposition [EE1] of a product or service while capturing the attention and interest of the audience.

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Proofreader or copy editor.

Proofreaders are professionals who meticulously review written content to identify and correct errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax. Their primary focus is on ensuring the text is free from typographical mistakes and adheres to proper language conventions . Proofreaders play a crucial role in enhancing the overall quality and clarity of a document by polishing its final draft.

Copy editors, on the other hand, are responsible for a more comprehensive review of written material, with a focus on improving style, coherence and overall readability. In addition to correcting grammar and spelling errors, copy editors analyze the structure and flow of the text, suggesting revisions to enhance the clarity and effectiveness of the writing. They may also address issues related to consistency in tone, style and formatting, ensuring that the content aligns with the intended audience and purpose. Copy editors contribute significantly to the refinement and professional presentation of written works.

Editorial assistant

Editorial assistants are professionals who provide support to editors in the publishing industry , whether it be in book publishing, magazines, newspapers or other editorial contexts. Their role involves a range of administrative tasks and editorial responsibilities.

Editorial assistants often help with the acquisition and evaluation of manuscripts . They may also communicate with authors and contributors and help coordinate the publication process. Other responsibilities can include fact-checking, proofreading and ensuring that written content adheres to editorial guidelines and standards.

Additionally, editorial assistants may handle correspondence, manage schedules and assist with the overall organization of editorial projects. 

Content coordinator

A content coordinator is a professional responsible for managing and organizing the creation, publication and distribution of content across various platforms . This role often involves collaborating with content creators, writers and other team members to ensure that the content aligns with the organization’s goals and brand messaging.

Content coordinators play a pivotal role in maintaining content calendars, tracking deadlines and overseeing the workflow of content production. They may also be involved in editing and optimizing content for search engines, social media or other specific channels.

Additionally, content coordinators may liaise between departments, ensuring that the content strategy is cohesive and meets the needs of the target audience. This position requires strong organizational skills, attention to detail and the ability to collaborate.

Why learn to write creatively?

Creative writing can be applied to many roles and industries that you may not initially consider creative.

To give you a better understanding, consider the following examples:

  • Technical writers , who produce precise, clear instructions for complex processes or equipment, can benefit from creative writing skills. While accuracy and clarity are crucial, so is engaging the reader. Creative writing techniques help technical writers make their content more interesting and easier to understand.
  • Crafting an effective purpose statement for your business is another area where creative writing skills come into play. A purpose statement should communicate what your company does and why — ideally in a way that resonates emotionally with your market. Getting this right is important to the overall success of a business.

No matter what role you’re in, learning to write creatively can help you communicate effectively, engage your audience and persuade them to take a desired action.

Elements of creative writing 

If you’re feeling lost on where to begin as a creative writer, there are a few vital elements you’ll need to know:

Descriptive language and imagery

Descriptive language and imagery use vivid, sensory details to create a rich picture in the reader’s mind. You want to make your readers feel as if they’re experiencing the story firsthand.

This ability can be leveraged in other capacities as well. For instance, as a marketer, you might routinely rely on your skills as a creative writer to craft a skillfully vivid product description that captivates and appeals to your audience.

Plot and story structure

The plot is the sequence of events in a story, and story structure refers to how these events are organized. Even in business or technical writing, understanding the plot and story structure can help you present information in a logical and compelling narrative that works to inform, instruct, entertain and connect with your audience.

Character development

Characters are the heart of any story, and character development reveals characters’ personalities, motivations, pain points and growth over time. Effective character development in nonfiction writing, such as case studies or profiles, can bring the subject to life.

Style and voice

Style is the unique way a writer uses language , and voice is the distinct personality or perspective that comes through in their writing. Another related element is point of view, which determines through whose eyes the story is told.

These elements give a piece flavor and significantly affect how readers perceive and respond to the story . For instance, a marketer writing about a product might use humor, irony or slang to keep readers interested and create an emotional connection. 

Themes and symbolism

Themes are a story’s underlying ideas or messages , while symbols represent objects, characters or events. These constructs add meaning and depth, making your writing thought provoking and memorable. Even in business writing, incorporating these elements can make your message more impactful and memorable.

Creative writing tips

There is always room to develop and hone your creative writing skills, whether writing comes naturally to you or requires more discipline and practice. Here are a few ways to jump-start your creative process:

The more you read, the better your writing will be. This is because as you read, you’re not only learning about the subject matter, but you’re also exposing yourself to different writing styles . For example, reading a nonfiction book about a historical figure and a fictional book about a magical world will likely offer completely different techniques that can inspire and influence your own writing.

Take notes on how your favorite authors structure their stories, develop their characters and use descriptive language. While you don’t want to copy them, you can find inspiration in their work to find your own voice. 

Write often

Writing is an art, but it’s also a discipline that requires regular practice. Writing regularly will help develop and establish this habit, making it far easier to build your creative routine and improve your skills. Even a few minutes each day can make a difference.

By writing frequently, you’ll also have more opportunities to try new things and push yourself as a writer. Practice different types of writing, experiment with styles and formats and don’t be afraid to make mistakes — this can all lead to new, exciting discoveries in your writing.

Take classes

Classes and courses offer guidance about how to write and provide feedback on your work. Consider taking courses like multicultural literature or creative writing , which can expose you to diverse perspectives and writing techniques.

If you’re passionate about all forms of reading and writing, or interested in pursuing an editorial career, consider earning a Bachelor of Arts in English . This degree program lets you develop advanced writing skills while gaining valuable insight into different literary works.

Where can creative writing take you?

Creative writing skills can unlock numerous personal and professional opportunities.

Writing can become a powerful tool for self-expression , enabling you to explore the depths of your thoughts, emotions and experiences. Plus, creating something from scratch can bring you a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction .

In addition, creative writing skills are highly valued across various industries . If you take a look at job descriptions in virtually any field, you’ll find that businesses often need skilled writers to help create persuasive content that engages their audience, conveys their brand message and drives action. Writing skills, in other words, can help you go down any number of career paths.

Creative writing at University of Phoenix

If you’re interested in learning more about creative writing, University of Phoenix offers introduction to creative writing courses within its online Bachelor of Arts in English degree .

This program also includes courses like literary interpretation and analysis, introduction to technical writing and mechanics of writing. From this rich and varied curriculum, students gain a strong skill set in reading, writing, communication and storytelling that they can carry with them on any number of career trajectories. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Feder is a Content Marketing Specialist at University of Phoenix, where he researches and writes on a variety of topics, ranging from healthcare to IT and everything in between. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars program, and a New Jersey native!

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20 Prompts for Narrative Writing That Spark Creativity

prompt-for-narrative-writing

Using prompts for narrative writing motivates kids and gets them excited to write. Read on to learn more about narrative writing, mentor texts, ideas, and assessments. Plus you will find 20 fun prompts for narrative and personal narrative writing. These will be sure to spark student’s creativity and imagination!

What’s Narrative Writing?

Narrative writing tells a story using a beginning, middle, and end.  It includes elements such as characters, setting, problem, and solution.  The author’s purpose is usually to entertain or teach a lesson.  Narrative writing can be fact or fiction but the process is the same.  When it’s a real story from the author’s life, it is considered a personal narrative.  

Examples for Narrative Writing

There are so many wonderful examples of narrative writing.  Some are even written as personal narratives.  Below you will find a list of mentor texts for elementary school.  It’s helpful to immerse students in the genre before and during a narrative writing unit.  These books model different strategies that kids can try in their writing.

Narrative Writing Mentor Texts:

  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • Come on, Rain! by Karen Hesse
  • Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
  • Fireflies! by Julie Brinckloe
  • Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
  • Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
  • Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
  • Blackout by John Rocco

what-are-prompts-in-writing

Narrative Writing Teaching

There are many features to include in narrative writing, but it depends on the grade level being taught.  For the lower grades, it’s important to start with the concept of beginning, middle, and end written in sequential order.  Then you can expand to the introduction, body, and conclusion using details.  Other important elements are character, setting, problem, and solution.  As the student’s abilities increase the number of sentences will grow and expand to paragraphs.

For the older grades, you can introduce plot structure.  It follows the beginning, middle, and end format but on a higher level.  This story arc includes exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.  Use the diagram below to see how these features overlap.

Plot Structure

diagram-of-plot-structure

Topics for Narrative Writing

The possibilities are endless when it comes to narrative writing ideas.  Kids can create a fiction piece or write about an experience in their life.  Check out some writing prompt ideas below for narrative and personal narrative writing. You might also like this blog post about opinion writing prompts: 20 Prompts for Opinion Writing That Motivate Kids

Writing Prompts for Narratives

  • I was taking my friend’s picture in front of the volcano when all of a sudden . . .  
  • What if you were given 3 wishes but couldn’t use them on yourself.  Tell a story about what you would wish for and why.
  • Write a story called, “The Luckiest Day of My Life.”
  • Imagine you went to the zoo and could take home any animal for the day.  Tell a story about your time together.
  • Write a silly story that uses these words: airplane, grapes, elephant, and book.
  • You have just been shrunk down to the size of an ant.  Write a story including the good and bad things about being so small.
  • Think about your favorite character from a book.  Tell a story about getting to meet them for the first time.
  • What would happen if you lived during a time when there was no electricity?  Write a story about your school day.
  • Finish this story: The pirates set sail on their ship in search of . . .
  • Suppose you were teacher for a day.  Write a story about the changes you would make.

prompt-for-narrative-writing

Writing Prompts for Personal Narratives

  • Have you ever been so proud of yourself for learning something new?  Write a story about a time this happened.
  • Write a story about a time you felt your heart race.  What happened and how were you feeling at the end?
  • What was your most memorable vacation?  Tell a story from part of that trip and why it stands out in your mind.
  • Have you ever done something you knew would get you in big trouble?  Write a story about a time this happened and how you felt about it.
  • Write a story about the strangest thing that has ever happened to you.  Why was it so unusual?
  • What was your most memorable moment from this year?  Write a story telling why it’s so special.
  • Tell a story about a time when you were so excited and couldn’t wait for an event to happen.
  • Write a small moment story about a time you had with your favorite person.
  • Write about a time that you lost something important.  Tell whether or not you found it.
  • Think about the worst day you ever had.  What made it so terrible and did it get better by the end?

prompt-for-narrative-writing

Rubrics for Narrative Writing

I often hear from teachers that one of the most difficult parts of teaching writing is how to assess it.  Assessments should be accurate and helpful for both the student and teacher.  When it comes to narrative writing, there are many different approaches.  Some teachers prefer to do a more informal assessment for daily writing pieces and then a formal assessment for the final copy.  Informal assessments can be completed with written comments or student-teacher conferences.

It would be very difficult to use a rubric for every narrative writing a student completes in their notebook.  Instead, most teachers prefer to choose one to three writing pieces to assess with a rubric.  These assessments are ideal for benchmarks, progress reports, and report cards.  Below you will find three types of narrative writing rubrics.  Check out this blog post to learn more about student-friendly, teacher-friendly, and time-saving rubrics: 3 Types of Writing Rubrics for Effective Assessments

writing-rubrics-2nd-grade

Narrative writing enables kids to be creative and use their imagination. They can write a fiction story or about a real event from their life. Writing prompts are a helpful tool to get kids engaged and ready to get started. Did you grab your Free Writing Prompt Guide yet? I love using prompts for morning work, writing time, centers, or as a homework assignment. The possibilities are endless! Be sure to try these prompts for narrative writing with your students!

Genre Based Prompts

prompt-for-narrative-writing

Related Articles:

  • 20 Prompts for Opinion Writing That Motivate Kids
  • What is Narrative Writing
  • A Complete Guide to Narrative Writing
  • Personal Narrative Writing for Elementary School
  • Narrative Writing: How to Teach a Story Arc That’s as Exciting as a Roller Coaster

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1. The Variants of Vampires. Think of an alternative vampire that survives on something other than blood. Write a story or scene based on this character. 2. Spinning the Globe. Imagine that a character did the old spin the globe and see where to take your next vacation trick.

LIVE - Romance Write about a character who visits their hometown for the holidays and reconnects with a former love interest. LIVE - Holiday Write a story in which a cynical character gets amnesia on Christmas Eve. LIVE - Christmas Write about a festive party gone wrong that's saved by some holiday magic. LIVE - Holiday

100 Creative Essay Topics An amazing number of writers look for the best creative writing prompts on a daily basis. These could be college students who were asked to write a fictional or narrative essay, published authors looking for their next big idea, or young people who want to explore something inspiring in their future work.

#1: Include something falling in your writing. #2: Write a short poem (or story) with the title, "We don't know when it will be fixed." #3: Write from the perspective of someone of a different gender than you. #4: Write a dumb internet quiz. #5: Finish this thought: "A perfect day in my imagination begins like this:"

• JournalBuddies.com Excellent Topics for Writing (86 Ideas!) 30 Topics for Writing + 56 Bonus Topic Ideas to Write About Prompts— No matter how much experience you have in writing a journal, everyone can use great writing prompts from time to time! Hooray for Wonderful Writing Ideas!

Yes! Take a look now. Table of Contents List #1 — 61 Creative Writing Topics Fun and Fabulous Prompts #2 — 61 of the Best Creative Writing Prompts for Young Writers #3 — 40 Story Starter Creative Writing Topics for Students #4 — Creative Writing Topics by Grade Level (Don't Miss These!) Choosing the Best Creative Writing Topics for Your Students

• 8 min read 45 Creative Writing Prompts to Elicit Your Inherent Genius You have the urge to write, but nothing's coming to mind. Relax! We've shared a plethora of thought-provoking prompts for all kinds of creative writing. Every writer has suffered from writer's block at some point.

1. Outside the Window: What's the weather outside your window doing right now? If that's not inspiring, what's the weather like somewhere you wish you could be? 2. The Unrequited love poem: How do you feel when you love someone who does not love you back? 3.

How did circumstances change as a result of your actions? How have you handled being the "new kid" in your lifetime? When you're feeling powerful, what song best motivates you? What is your power animal? Dear Me in 5 Years… How has water impacted your life? What would you like to go back and tell a teacher from your past?

Self-Esteem & Confidence Faith-Based Personal Journey Creative writing prompts are your matchbox All you need is one writing prompt to light your imaginative fire and you can burn through a book idea, formulating the plot and all with just a single prompt. You can even write a short story with a small prompt!

Short story ideas? Or maybe writer's block? Boy, are you stuck! But don't worry. It doesn't matter if you're halfway through writing a book, sweating over social media posts, or journaling about your own life, all writers get stuck for creative ideas sometimes. So, it's great to have you here.

During the 2020-21 school year, we asked 176 questions, and you can find them all below or here as a PDF. The questions are divided into two categories — those that provide opportunities for ...

23 creative writing prompts Why use writing prompts? Writing prompts are designed to kickstart your imagination by giving you something to write about. This saves you from staring into space while you try to come up with story ideas.

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.

A lot falls under the term 'creative writing': poetry, short fiction, plays, novels, personal essays, and songs, to name just a few. By virtue of the creativity that characterizes it, creative writing is an extremely versatile art. So instead of defining what creative writing is, it may be easier to understand what it does by looking at ...

Top 10 Story Ideas Tell the story of a scar. A group of children discover a dead body. A young prodigy becomes orphaned. A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost. A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her. A talented young man's deepest fear is holding his life back.

We get it: writing prompts are an excellent resource, but you want to know how to come up with your own story ideas, maybe even ideas for a book-length project. Here are four of our go-to tricks when thinking of interesting things to write about. 1) People-watch: Hands down, this our favourite way to come up with story ideas. All stories, even ...

8. Write a post-apocalyptic story and explain only your main character's coping mechanism: creating a fantasy world in his/her head and living there. 9. Write about a person who goes to the theater with friends multiple times but always sees a different movie than his/her friends see on the same screen.

These are some journal prompts that can enable self-discovery: First, list five words that best describe you. Then, think about which five words you would like to describe yourself. Complete this sentence: "My life would be incomplete without….". Reflect on a phrase, quote, or mantra that resonates with you.

2. The memorable train journey. Every freelance content writer has a story about their memorable train journey. Write yours down and share it. 3. A dream you still remember. Do you have a dream that you still remember for some strange reason? 4. What happens when you wake up one day and you can read everyone's minds.

1. Write about your ideal day. What would you do, where would you go, who would you see? 2. Describe your favorite place in the world. What makes it so special? 3. Write a letter to your future self 10 years from now. What advice would you give your future self? 4. Describe a memorable event from your childhood. Why was it meaningful to you? 5.

1. Write about an unforgettable experience in your life. 2. Write about your best school day EVER! Explain in detail what happened on that day. 3. Write about teaching someone something you are good at doing. 4. Write a story about your favorite pair of shoes. 5. Write about an embarrassing event that happened to you. 6.

Creative writing is an expressive and imaginative way to craft a narrative. Writing creatively can apply in a variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, essays and blogs. Creative writing is used in a variety of jobs, including copywriting, copy editing, marketing and content coordination. Roles in other industries can leverage creative ...

Tell a story about what you would wish for and why. Write a story called, "The Luckiest Day of My Life.". Imagine you went to the zoo and could take home any animal for the day. Tell a story about your time together. Write a silly story that uses these words: airplane, grapes, elephant, and book.

Narration - the voice that tells the story, either first person (I/me) or third person (he/him/she/her). This needs to have the effect of interesting your reader in the story with a warm and ...

ghosts in the schoolyard quotes

Henrik Ibsen

Everything you need for every book you read..

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts . Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Ghosts: Introduction

Ghosts: plot summary, ghosts: detailed summary & analysis, ghosts: themes, ghosts: quotes, ghosts: characters, ghosts: symbols, ghosts: theme wheel, brief biography of henrik ibsen.

Ghosts PDF

Historical Context of Ghosts

Other books related to ghosts.

  • Full Title: Ghosts
  • When Written: 1881
  • When Published: Premiered in 1882
  • Literary Period: Realism, Modernism
  • Genre: Drama, Family Drama, Realism
  • Setting: The Alving estate in western Norway
  • Climax: Just as Mrs. Alving is about to tell Oswald the truth about his father’s immoral ways, Regine notices that the orphanage is engulfed in flames.
  • Antagonist: Captain Alving

Extra Credit for Ghosts

19th-century Subscription Services. To avoid censorship in London, a group called The Independent Theatre Society created a subscription-based model of staging plays. Because audience members had subscribed to the organization, the performances were considered private instead of public, meaning that productions didn’t need to be approved by London authorities. Ibsen’s Ghosts was The Independent Theatre Society’s first play.

Lost in Translation. Ibsen disapproved of his English translator’s decision to interpret the play’s original title— Genganere —as the English word “ghosts.” The playwright felt that this translation failed to capture the sense of recurrence and repetition that the word genganere communicates.

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'School Spirits': Release Date, Cast, Filming Details, and Everything We Know so Far About the Supernatural Series

Peyton Lists sets out to solve her own murder.

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When is school spirits’ release date, how many episodes are there in school spirits, is there a school spirits trailer, who is in the school spirits cast, who are the creators of school spirits, when is the finale of school spirits, when is school spirits filming, what is the story of school spirits.

It’s fair to say that shows like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Wednesday have paved the way for the rising popularity of young-adult fantasy, blending supernatural and coming-of-age drama. And now, the upcoming Paramount+ series, School Spirits joins the rising trend.

The series is created by Megan and Nate Trinrud , based on their upcoming graphic novel of the same name. The plot follows a high school girl named Maddie, played by Cobra Kai star, Peyton List , who is stuck in the afterlife after being murdered, and she must find her killer with the help of her other spirit friends. Paramount+ announced the release of School Spirits at Paramount+’s Television Critics Association panel in January, while also revealing the first look of the series in a teaser trailer. The young-adult mystery drama is set to arrive on Paramount+ in spring 2023, joining the long lineup of other content in the genre like the revival series of iCarly and Wolf Pack and network original movies like The In Between , Honor Society , and Teen Wolf: The Movie , a spin-off/sequel to the hit MTV series Teen Wolf .

While you wait for the high school drama to hit the streaming platform this March, check out our handy guide below to find out about the plot, trailer, release date, cast and characters, and everything we know so far about School Spirits .

Related: 'Mean Girls the Musical': Cast, Plot, Where It Will Stream, and Everything We Know so Far

School Spirits is set to premiere with two episodes on Thursday, March 9, 2023, exclusively on Paramount+, in the U.S. and Canada. The series will be available in the U.K. and Australia from the day after, i.e., on March 10, 2023. The network will announce the show’s release in international markets at a later date.

School Spirits is slated for eight episodes in its first season. The second episode will be available on the same day as the premiere. After the 2-episode premiere, each new episode will stream weekly, every Thursday in the U.S. and Canada and on Fridays in the U.K. and Australia.

Here’s the episode schedule guide as made available by the network.

Episode 1: March 9, 2023

Episode 2: March 9, 2023

Episode 3: March 16, 2023

Episode 4: March 23, 2023

Episode 5: March 30, 2023

Episode 6: April 6, 2023

Episode 7: April 13, 2023

Episode 8: April 20, 2023

There are no other details for the episodes of School Spirits at the moment. But you can always watch this space for the latest updates.

Imagine having a support group for people in the afterlife. It’s spooky and interesting at the same, or so it looks like from the teaser of School Spirits . The teaser trailer was released about a month ago, on January 9, 2023, along with Peyton List sharing the teaser clip on her Instagram handle. The teaser, though very short and quick, gives enough hints to get an idea of what the series would be like. Overall, the story gives a very 13 Reasons Why meets The Breakfast Club vibe, only with more supernatural elements and a very present-day high school setting.

The clip opens with an announcement of a student named Maddie Near’s sudden death, much to the shock of other students. Then we also get to see Maddie standing right there. She is then welcomed by an “afterlife support group”, and we soon learn that she was murdered and that she wasn’t ready to die so soon. The group seems to comprise other kids like Maddie who are stuck in limbo, and they share their feelings with each other, like all other support groups. The quick succession of scenes that follow show Maddie’s frustration with her present state and the lines between the worlds of the living and the dead begin to get blurred.

It's hard to say more about the plot or the narrative of the series from the minute-long teaser, but it’s clearly very colorful like most high-school stories are, albeit with a lot of suspense and dark, deadpan humor.

The full trailer was released on February 9, 2023, and can be watched above.

Actor, model, and entrepreneur, Peyton Roi List (not to be confused with Mad Men star Peyton List ), headlines the cast of School Spirits as Maddie Nears, a high school girl who mysteriously dies and gets stuck in the afterlife. List is best known for her roles in Disney’s Bunk’d and Netflix’s Cobra Kai , and has appeared in movies like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Hubie Halloween , and Swimming for Gold , among others. List will next be seen in the upcoming movie A Little White Lie , releasing in March 2023.

The teen drama also stars Kristian Flores ( Reboot ) as Simon Elroy, Milo Manheim ( Zombies ) as Wally Clark, Kiara Pichardo ( The Society ) as Nicole Herrera, Spencer MacPherson ( American Gods ) as Xavier Baxter, Sarah Yarkin ( Happy Death Day 2U ) as Rhonda, Nick Pugliese ( 13 Reasons Why ) as Charley, Rainbow Wedell ( The Bureau of Magical Things ) as Claire Zolinski, Alison Thornton ( Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce ) as Chloe, and Vanessa Prasad ( Life XP ), among other cast members.

The cast also includes Josh Zuckerman ( Oppenheimer ) and Maria Dizzia ( Orange Is the New Black ) in recurring roles, as Mr. Martin and Sandra Nears respectively.

Related: 'Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies': Cast, Release Date, Trailer, and Everything We Know So Far

School Spirits is based on the eponymous graphic novel by Megan and Nate Trinrud, and Maria Nguyen , which is set to be published in fall 2023. The three authors are also the creators of the series, with Lijah Barasz and Thomas Higgins also credited as writers.

Max Winkler ( American Horror Story ), Oran Zegman ( Honor Society ), Brian Dannelly ( In the Dark ), and Hannah Macpherson ( T@gged ) are credited as directors for the entire series.

Awesomeness TV, a film and television division of Paramount Global, catering to the Gen Z audience, is producing the series, with Oliver Goldstick of Pretty Little Liars and Bridgerton fame serving as showrunner and executive producer. The Trinruds and Winkler also serve as executive producers, with Don Dunn and Joyce Sawa serving as producers.

The eighth and final episode of School Spirits will stream on April 20, 2023.

The filming for School Spirits began on August 15, 2022, and after nearly three months of production, concluded on November 3, 2022.

The story of School Spirits is a cross between supernatural mystery and coming-of-age drama. Maddie Nears is a high-school girl who wakes up to find herself dead and stuck in what she understands as the afterlife. There she meets other kids like her who are also going through a limbo before they can pass on. She learns that she was murdered but has no idea about her killer or even why she was killed. It’s the unfinished businesses of these souls that have kept them stuck in the afterlife. So, Maddie joins forces with her other spirit friends and starts to investigate her mysterious disappearance and death and what exactly happened on the day she died. But the deeper she digs into her death, the more complicated it gets as she uncovers more secrets and lies about her high school and its people that leave her shocked.

Aliens at a Miami mall? Police say ‘lol’

Police respond at the Bayside Marketplace in Miami on Jan. 1, 2024.

Teens running, police converging and a grey splotch that appears to be moving: Videos from an outdoor mall in Miami stoked wild claims this week on social media that aliens had landed on Earth. But the truth is far more terrestrial.

On Monday, a group of roughly 50 teenagers caused a riot at Bayside Marketplace, an outdoor mall roughly 5 miles from South Beach, according to the Miami Police Department.

The teens were setting off fireworks, which led to a panic as some assumed there was a shooting, said Miami Police Department public information officer Michael Vega. Four teens were arrested.

Police were dispatched “for crowd control due to the juveniles refusing to leave,” Vega said in an email to NBC News. “Some businesses were temporarily closed to allow us to clear the area.”

In the days after the incident, users on social media launched a speculation frenzy, homing in on what they described as “Miami Mall Aliens.” Some suggested police were responding to aliens, not teenagers. Several people reviewed video of the incident circulating online and claimed they could see an alien figure in the grainy footage. Others quickly posted memes.

While many of the responses online appeared lighthearted, the posts show just how quickly and easily misinformation can spread on social media. The response also underscores an uptick in interest in extraterrestrial activity, from hearings in Congress last summer about “unidentified aerial phenomena” or “UAPs” to Mexico’s Congress showing off what it claimed were “nonhuman” aliens. Both of those events also became prime meme fodder.

However, Vega said aliens had nothing to do with Monday’s incident.

“There were no aliens,” he wrote in the email. “No airports were closed. Nothing is being withheld from the public. LOL.”

Still, by Friday afternoon, “Miami Mall Alien” was trending on the social media site X.

“10ft Aliens/Creatures (caught on camera?) fired at inside and outside Miami Mall, media silent, cops are covering it up saying kids were fighting with fireworks, yet all these cop cars, & air traffic stopped that night except for black military choppers…and no media coverage,” claimed one post on X, which on Friday appeared to trigger a slew of conspiracy theories and memes.

One person posted what appeared to be an AI image of a generic alien holding shopping bags, and joked it was “The Miami Mall Alien.”

Another person shared an image of golfer Tiger Woods holding out his hand, as if to shake another person’s hand, with the caption: “Me to the aliens if I’d been at the Miami mall.”

Others remarked that the new year was bound to be wild if aliens had been spotted mere days into January.

“5th day into the New Year now people spotting Aliens in the Miami Mall 2024 is in for one hell of a ride,” the person wrote.

There were, of course, some who wondered: If there was an alien sighting, where’s the proof?

“Everybody have cell phones, but nobody have an up close video of the 8-10 foot alien by the Miami mall?” wrote one X user .

ghosts in the schoolyard quotes

Kalhan Rosenblatt is a reporter covering youth and internet culture for NBC News, based in New York.

Smart. Open. Grounded. Inventive. Read our Ideas Made to Matter.

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14 quotes for women’s leadership and growth in 2024

Meredith Somers

Jan 4, 2024

Whether you’re looking to grow personally or professionally or want to support the development of the people you manage, this advice from women leaders featured in MIT Sloan’s My Idea Made to Matter  and  Bias Cut  series can help you get started.

Seek opportunities that are right for you, and knock persistently until those doors open.”
Women often talk themselves out of opportunities when they should be doing the opposite.”
Just because you are young or early in your career doesn’t mean that you can’t add value. Speak up! Be confident, curious, and persistent.”
Chart your map with multiple routes, and build in the time and resources to meander, stretch, and explore. Let your curiosity lead you; chance encounters and experiences enrich our professional and personal lives.”
Others don’t control your career — you do.”
One piece of advice I would offer to my younger self would be to resist being a people pleaser. With experience, I now recognize that validation needs to come from within, and the ability to honor and acknowledge your own strengths, contributions, and achievements is more important and gratifying than the external validation from others.”
The energy I could be spending trying to push back against everyone’s projections is energy that I would rather spend improving, growing, and learning.”
Do not expect a direct correlation between your positive impact and immediate career progression.”
Women need to embrace self-promotion and self-advocacy. ... It’s crucial for women to recognize the value they bring to the table and to be vocal about their accomplishments.”
Lean in to vulnerability and authenticity. Build relationships. Be yourself. Be a great human and helpful colleague.”
Great leaders are people who don’t seek power but take responsibility because they have the capability and empathy to help others.”
When you are trying to motivate people — within a company or out in the world — expressing clear and simple ideas that make sense and create progress toward your goal is critical.”
Showing that we care about the business and that we care about the people making a business great: These two things need to come together.”
I wish more people would lead with their heart. ... If everyone could start by assessing their experiences using questions like ‘What’s this bringing up in me?’ and ‘How would the person I want to be communicate about it?’ we’d be off to a great start.”

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COMMENTS

  1. Ghosts In The Schoolyard Summary

    Hi,Welcome to Bookey! Today we will unlock the book Ghosts in the Schoolyard by Eve L. Ewing. It was a crisp autumn morning in the heart of Chicago's South Side, where the wind whispered through the towering trees and the vibrant colors of fall adorned the streets.

  2. Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on…

    race-and-justice scholars-doing-it Eve Ewing does not disappoint. "Ghosts in the Schoolyard" tells a story of the unprecedented public school closings in Chicago under Mayor Rahm Emanuel starting in 2013.

  3. Ghosts in the Schoolyard

    Ghosts in the Schoolyard tells the story of these school closings, from their unfolding to their aftermath, in Bronzeville, a historically significant African-American community on the South Side of Chicago.

  4. Book Review: Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on

    Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side by Eve Ewing, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, offers a captivating exploration of the history and current events that led to the proposal and eventual closures of 54 neighborhood schools on Chicago's South Side.

  5. Eve L. Ewing's 'Ghosts in the Schoolyard' shows the power of research

    "Ghosts in the Schoolyard" is an example of the power in research that elevates voices, perspectives and histories that often are subject to manipulation, appropriation and erasure. Though "Ghosts in the Schoolyard" was published earlier this month, her official book launch party is Oct. 18 from 5-7:30 PM at the Chicago Teachers Union ...

  6. Ghosts in the Schoolyard

    "Failing schools. Underprivileged schools. Just plain bad schools." That's how Eve L. Ewing opens Ghosts in the Schoolyard: describing Chicago Public Schools from the outside. The way politicians and pundits and parents of kids who attend other schools talk about them, with a mix of pity and contempt.

  7. Ghosts In The Schoolyard

    Center for Literacy Ghosts In The Schoolyard Posted on February 24, 2020 Author: Eve Ewing Written by scholar, poet, activist, and staunch Chicago native Eve Ewing, Ghosts in the Schoolyard is a love song for Chicago Public Schools and the communities that fight to save them.

  8. Book Review: Ghosts in the Schoolyard by Eve L. Ewing

    In Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side, Eve L. Ewing attempts to present a counter-narrative of Chicago Public Schools by examining the history of, and ...

  9. Ghosts in the Schoolyard

    Ghosts in the Schoolyard, like Ewing's poetry, is not an academic treatise, but "a story that is revelatory based on the experiences of my own life and the lives of community members living in the shadow of history" (7). Born and raised in Chicago, Ewing is a sociologist of education and writer. ...

  10. Chicago Sociologist Eve Ewing Talks 'Ghosts In The Schoolyard'

    Can you connect those for us? Ewing: As you know, the school closures were really concentrated on the South Side and also on the West Side, but I focus in the book on Bronzeville for a number of...

  11. Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South

    "Failing schools. Underprivileged schools. Just plain bad schools." That's how author Eve L. Ewing opens Ghosts in the Schoolyard: describing Chicago Public Schools from the outside. The way politicians and pundits and parents of kids who attend other schools talk about them, with a mix of pity and contempt.

  12. Eve L. Ewing: Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on

    In Ghosts in the Schoolyard, Eve L. Ewing critically analyzes the large-scale school closings that rocked Chicago's southside in the early-to-mid 2010s.Ewing grapples with several concepts such as the role racism played in the school closures, the notion of a failing school and its impacts on members of the school community, and the importance of institutions such as schools in Black ...

  13. Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South

    Ghosts in the Schoolyard, even though it's set in a single neighborhood in Chicago, adds a timely new perspective to an ongoing national debate. In the first few pages, readers are swept into the dominant narrative on school closure: schools in majority black neighborhoods should be shuttered because, in the parlance of district officials ...

  14. (PDF) Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School ...

    Pp. xi1222. $22.50 (cloth); $16.00 (paper). Mercy Agyepong New York University Ghosts in the Schoolyard by Eve L. Ewing provides a powerful examina- tion of the debilitating effects of the discourse of school "failure" on Chicago public schools.

  15. Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School... by Ewing, Eve L

    Just plain bad schools.". That's how Eve L. Ewing opens Ghosts in the Schoolyard: describing Chicago Public Schools from the outside. The way politicians and pundits and parents of kids who attend other schools talk about them, with a mix of pity and contempt. But Ewing knows Chicago Public Schools from the inside: as a student, then a ...

  16. UChicago Press awards top honor to Eve L. Ewing's 'Ghosts in the

    The University of Chicago Press has awarded the 2020 Gordon J. Laing Award to Asst. Prof. Eve L. Ewing for Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side, which draws on her experience in Chicago Public Schools—as a student, a teacher and a researcher.. Given annually since 1963 as the Press' top honor, the Laing Award is given to the UChicago faculty author ...

  17. Ghosts in the Schoolyard by Holly Taylor

    Outline 18 frames Reader view Ghosts In the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side By: Eve L Ewing Holly Taylor Summary "They're the stuff of legend, material for inspirational movies, and shocking prime-time news exposes," Ewing explains in the introduction (pg 1).

  18. ‎Ghosts in the Schoolyard on Apple Books

    "Failing schools. Underprivileged schools. Just plain bad schools." That's how Eve L. Ewing opens Ghosts in the Schoolyard: describing Chicago Public Schools from the outside.The way politicians and pundits and parents of kids who attend other schools talk about them, with a mix of pity and contempt.

  19. Race, Schools and A Nation's Woes: A Review of "Ghosts in the Graveyard

    "What do school closures and their disproportionate clustering in communities like Bronzeville, tell us about a fundamental devaluation of African American children, their families and black life in general?" is the underpinning of Eve L. Ewing's new book "Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side."

  20. Ghosts in the Schoolyard

    One was dead so they buried her. One was ill so they took him to the hospital. One was a healthy child whom they placed with a family and enrolled in the local school. The bodies kept coming,...

  21. ghosts in the schoolyard quotes

    Ghosts in the Schoolyard. Racism and school closings on chicago's south side. Eve L. Ewing. Listen to an interview with the author . An audiobook version is available . 240 page

  22. Ghosts Study Guide

    Ibsen's most famous play, A Doll's House, is similar to Ghosts in that it examines the institution of marriage in the late 19th century and reveals the period's unjust gender dynamics. However, Ghosts is unique because it addresses 19th-century social taboos by telling a story about syphilis and sexual promiscuity. In fact, Ibsen was publicly criticized for taking on these controversial ...

  23. Editions of Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School ...

    Editions for Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side: 022652602X (Hardcover published in 2018), (Kindle Edition publ...

  24. Biden denounces 'poison' of white supremacy in South Carolina Black

    U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday denounced white supremacy and political violence in a direct message to Black voters during a visit to South Carolina aimed at shoring up a critical constituency ...

  25. 'School Spirits': Everything We Know so Far About the ...

    School Spirits is slated for eight episodes in its first season. The second episode will be available on the same day as the premiere. After the 2-episode premiere, each new episode will stream ...

  26. Aliens at a Miami mall? Police say 'lol'

    Teens running, police converging and a grey splotch that appears to be moving: Videos from an outdoor mall in Miami stoked wild claims this week on social media that aliens had landed on Earth.

  27. 14 quotes for women's leadership and growth in 2024

    Speak up! Be confident, curious, and persistent.". Chart your map with multiple routes, and build in the time and resources to meander, stretch, and explore. Let your curiosity lead you; chance encounters and experiences enrich our professional and personal lives.". Others don't control your career — you do.".