Reflection: Writing Prompts

I’ve seen a lot of writing prompts around the internet, in my writing books, and other places.  Usually, they briefly describe a situation, conflict, or something else to set up the idea of a story like “Imagine you discover an article in a newspaper that says your best friend was murdered, and implicates you as the killer.  You’re innocent.  What happens?”

Yeah, I don’t know if that was any good.  I just made it up off the top of my head, but if you want to use it, feel free.

I certainly like the idea, good writing prompts can really get you thinking.  However, I don’t think you should force yourself to use writing prompts or allow somebody to force you to do so.  Just as often as a prompt could turn into a brilliant idea, you could read it, mull it over for a while, and still end up with nothing.

But then, despite initially ending up with nothing, it could still influence in more subtle ways.

I generally like the idea.  I don’t read them that often, but simple things like that can be just what you need to discover a really good idea.  Sometimes, it just clicks when you read it, other times, it takes a bit more reflection to find the story.

Though I’m not going to force myself to go through with a prompt if I don’t get any ideas.  I’ve always said you can’t search for stories, but you have to let the ideas come to you.  If they don’t come to you, you’re obviously waiting in the wrong place.

However, while I like the idea, I honestly have not had much noticeable success with ideas from prompts.  I think the only real story I wrote that came from a writing prompt was The Sister’s Bedroom, and even that was kind of experimental.  I believe the prompt was “Write about a portal, where the world changes when a character goes through it”, or something like that.

Of course, like I said before, the prompts could have influenced me in subtle ways that I could never have known about.  And even if the prompt is doable, but doesn’t produce a good story, it’s still a good prewriting exercise.

So, other writers out there, here is my question for the week: what are your thoughts on writing prompts, and have any of your stories originated from one?  I’d be interested to hear about that.

And that’s all for today: White Rakogis, signing off!


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