Fun Exercises for Creative Writers

New prompts for creative writers to help get you writing.

Select an object, place it on a table in front of you and write for a few minutes from that perspective. Get up and move to another place at the table. That allows you to see the object from a different perspective and write a few minutes from that perspective. I particularly like puzzles when doing this exercise and moving around the table so every side of the puzzle can have a few minutes written from that perspective. This also helps you put a puzzle together when it seems you are not able to spot where the pieces belong. Seeing the puzzle from one of the other views will help you begin to work on puzzle placement again.

Observation on an object. This one you can begin by doing on a small object and work your way up in size. Take any object from your room: your bedroom, your living room, your dining room, your bathroom. Place it on a table or a chair or a stool in front of you sit in front of it and observe this object. As you observe the object write about the object. For some people this will work as a straightforward description of it as an object. Then describe it as what your mom would say, or your dad, or one of your other family members. You will find everyone will have a different observation because they bring their own psychology, their own philosophy, their own inward feelings, their own outlook, and they project this onto this object. This can give you an insight into your own self, but it also gives you an insight into the environment and what this item can mean to different people. Now work your way up to a bigger object. Try it with different objects, take it out onto the street and observe a building.

Pretend you are serving in an apprenticeship: ex: there are many apprenticeships, plumbing, carpentry, sculpting, painting. Ask yourself what might be the things you would learn from each of these apprenticeships. Use those descriptions in your writing.

  • Make a list of 10 people, occupations, jobs. You can have banker, baker, carpenter, electrician, dentist, artist, football player. You get the picture.
  • Second list is a place. So 10 places. Like a restaurant or cafe, being in bed, book shop, bank, airplane, an airport, a ship.
  • Next is a list of things. Objects, noise, a baseball bat, a mobile phone, a candle, a hammer, a guitar, a balloon, a packet of gum, again you get the idea.
    The next part of the exercise is: take your ten people, cut the list up, put each name into a hat and you draw out 1 person. Then cut up your list of places, put them all in a hat and draw out 1 place. Cut up your list of things, put them in the hat and draw out 1 thing.
  • You then have a person, in a place doing one thing. Write about that. Keep going until you have the ten of them as a start to little adventures, little stories, little short projects. It could develop into an idea that sparks off a whole story or book for you. Great for you to practice creating your skills for stories about person, place, thing.

Next is called I am this. What you do is your version. Must contain metaphors. Ten lines with metaphors that tell us who you are. EX: Detroit you know what you are _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ who you are _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Remember use metaphors. This is a good exercise for getting you into knowing how to use figurative language. Try different cities, events and situations.

Next exercise is the sounds of your neighborhood, or your childhood, or the place where you grew up. You can, of course, use it for the place where you live now and what you do there. This will help you in describing places and what is important about them.

Sound is a thing that is often underused or overlooked in creative writing. Think of the sounds of your childhood, of the place where you grew up, of your mother’s voice, of your father’s belching, of your grandmother’s laugh. Sounds that may no longer be around, kids games that are no longer played, music that you heard growing up.

Next is called the difference of place. You go to a place let’s say a restaurant or a museum and you write down (bring a notepad or your iPad or your phone or whatever you use) a description of this place. When you describe the place don’t just give a straightforward description of the architecture, for instance. Give us the sounds, give us the colors, give us the details, give us the textures of the place, give us the atmosphere of the place, the energy of the place. Places have a feeling, places have a life of themselves so go to this place, this museum, describe it in detail, in immense detail as much as you can write down.

Read it to yourself, go through it, edit it down, rewrite it, and put it in your descriptions file. Then as you go next week to another place, a place that is very different than the museum or the cafe. It could be a park, it could be a church, a church that’s empty or a church that’s full you could do both of those one after the other and what’s the difference between a full and empty.

Have a look you have these two different descriptions and you’ll see the difference that different places have. What is the setting of your novel, what is the setting of your book, your character may emerge from this, a story may emerge from this, a whole book may emerge from this.

How to Get Short Story Ideas

Techniques to come up with short story ideas.

The fun thing about short stories is that there’s such a compact and flexible medium. It’s pretty easy to jump in without much planning. Short stories are pretty much all essentially about change. Really stories in general are about change. No matter where your idea comes from or where it starts what you’re looking for is change either within the character or the readers understanding of the character. Look for a way to add goals, tension, conflict, and antagonistic forces.

The first technique would be to start from a character. A lot of stories start with a character. Often this isn’t a fully fleshed out character, but just a character type. Sometimes this detail starts with someone you observe in real life while people watching, someone you know or it’s just a more general detail or type that you find interesting.

Some examples of a character type would be a teacher or a dog walker. These are character types but they’re not really characters yet. However, if you have one you want to write about you can turn that character type into an idea.

None of these character types lend to stories in themselves, so what you have to do is complicate them, add another element to take this idea from a character type to an original character with a story. Combine this character type with something unexpected to ignite the story and the conflict and find that change you’re looking for maybe your teacher is also a dog walker and accidentally loses the dog. Now they have to scramble before the end of the day when they have to return the dog to their owner. Now you have a specific situation you can work from. You can also use a similar process a setting whether you want to write a story set at the bottom of the ocean, or a medieval castle, or the edge of a volcano.

Setting can be a really fun place to start a story idea. Setting is especially a good place to start if you’re a really visual writer and you tend to work well from imagery or atmosphere. Drop a character into your setting and see where it takes them. You have a character type you want to work with and a setting you want to work with combine them to see how they clash and see what the setting can bring out of the character. Similarly to working from characters, you could also try working from a character relationship. It’s quite common for a short story to explore the essence of a single relationship. The nice thing about this is because with two characters it gives you tons of opportunity for conflict.

Common relationship types you could explore would be friendships, parent-child relationships, romantic relationships, sibling relationships, and even these more familiar relationships we see often in fiction can be really interesting from a new angle. Try to add in some sort of contrasting element to ignite the conflict. Maybe you want to talk about the rival returned friendship of two gardeners who work on opposite sides of a hedge and only communicate by talking through the hedge. They have never actually met.

You could also try working from form. Normally you would create your form to match your story but the fun thing about short stories is that they can really do wacky experimental things and you don’t have to commit to it for the full span of a novel. You could do something really wacky like second-person future tents from the point of view of a light bulb. Instead of having to plan out how this is going work and play out technically for ninety thousand words you can just see where it goes. The puzzle now is creating a story to fit the form you want to work with rather than the other way around. If you have an idea for a form that’s really intriguing to you, it can be a fun way to write.

Finally you could try writing from a prompt if you’re really stuck. Prompts can actually be a great way to start writing. You can use anything as a prompt. I often like using photographs as prompts. I’m a very visual writer and my ideas usually start from some random image. Sometimes it helps if I just seek out the image instead of trying to create one. If you really like music you could use songs as prompts. You can really use anything or you can try using actual writing prompts.

Beat Writer’s Block: Writing Prompts + Inspiration

Where to get inspiration. How to gather inspiration, how to use inspiration that you see in the world and adapt it to things in your story.

Some writing prompts that might help you get out of writer’s block or just help to inspire you. Some will give you an idea of how to adapt inspiration that you see in the world.

Find music that either speaks to your soul because of the instrument or because of the words. Reading poetry and listening to beautiful poetry at the same time, reading as you sit in a coffee shop can help you start to write.

People watching is so much fun. You can just have your computer there or a notepad and imagine what their lives are like. Make a story for them. This can be a great exercise that will really help you. Writing anything down and not thinking about it so hard will help more thoughts to come and flow freely. You have to be less hard on yourself. Think of the things that matter the most. What motivates people. It is especially important in writing villains or any other type of character. What is their motivation?

Ask yourself some questions like: do you believe? do you believe in fate? do you believe in aliens? do you believe in soulmates? the creation of the universe? life after death? (this doesn’t have to be religious). Just explore really deeper level things that you don’t have answers to and run with it. Say I believe this because or I don’t believe this because and you can write it from your own perspective. Also write from the perspective that you don’t believe in. Explore to expand your mind kind of exercises. Getting into someone else’s head. It can be a stepping stone for understanding the characters you are putting in your story line.

Here are some more writing prompts. You can be inspired by different things like a movie not because of the plot or specifically a character but the feel that it gives you. You can get inspiration from a sentence in the script. That sentence can bring up different questions for you and it can kind of spark something for you. How would you use that sentence to write a different set of experiences for the characters or a different outcome than you saw in the movie.

Pinterest is an amazing place to find poetry or images that can inspire you and give you a story idea. Making up a story on the spot when you see an inspirational picture or hear an inspirational quote or poem is a great way to give your mind a boost with beginning to write. Ask yourself these questions: what happened when the artist or writer created this image or these words? what happened when the shutter closed? what was happening in your artists life in that moment? what made them want to create? what made them snap the picture? (it can be dark, it could be a time of happiness, it could be the last time they took a photo of a loved one before they died). You can take your story to so many different places.