Summer Writing Mini-Workshops: Writing Prompts


Whether it’s the periodic table of elements, a litany of every Mary Kay lipstick color, or a grocery list, you can make a poem out of it.

Life is full of unanswered questions.  For example, if your wish came true, how would that affect someone else’s life?  Would that undo their wish? 

Everything–from the days of the week to a single emotion–can be personified.

If you have a book written, a fun exercise to promote it would be to treat it as research for mock newspaper articles. Write a human-interest story based on one of your characters (preferably, a minor one—it might end up spinning off into a story of its own); this will help you get to know your characters better.

What If? poems are some of my favorites. Many of the choices I’ve made have led me to the choices I am making today. Life is rife with unintended consequences.

Our lives are full of “firsts”: First (and last) dates, first job, first child, first experience with someone close to us dying, first time trying potted meat, et cetera. Write about one of these times; analyze whether the first could have led to the last, or play around with the order of things.

Fairy tales, myths, and Shakespeare are all ideal places to start if you need ideas, but throw in something timely to freshen it up. For me, it was an ecological disaster, personified.

The newspaper is full of stories. Scan the classifieds, the advice columns, the police blotters, &, if you’re morbid, the obituaries.

Though ____ “walk into a bar” may seem as cliché as knock, knock jokes, it is endless what you can do to bring freshness to an old idea.

The Bible is full of wives & daughters, whose characters aren’t fleshed out. Give them a voice.  Write a piece of fictitious herstory or an alternate history.

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