Creative writing prompts are a fantastic way to stimulate imagination and creativity among students. Different types of prompts can cater to different styles, evoke diverse emotions, and challenge students in a variety of ways. Much of this site is dedicated to the creation and sharing of a wide range of writing prompts, because I love what they can offer in class, and broad the range of responses from students can be. Let’s explore ten types of writing prompts you can use to nurture creativity in your students’ writing.
1. Image Prompts
Images can speak volumes. Show students an intriguing photograph or painting and ask them to write a story inspired by it. The story could be about the image’s scenario, its characters, or even from the perspective of the image itself. Support some writers by discussing the image in more depth, or drawing their attention to certain details to set them going.
2. Sentence Starters
Sentence starter prompts give students the opening line of a story. For example, “When I woke up, everything had changed.” The challenge is to take the story forward from there, making the starter sentence integral to the narrative. Again you can support some writers by brainstorming directions this could go in, or even genre ideas, or a topic the story could relate to.
3. Endings First
This type of prompt gives students the ending of a story first, such as “And that was the last time I ever saw her.” Students then have to write a narrative leading up to this conclusion. Support as above, or with key questions about who is referred to.
4. Dialogue Prompts
Dialogue prompts give students a snippet of conversation to include in their story. This dialogue could be as simple as “You’re not going to believe this, but…” The challenge lies in creating a context and narrative around the dialogue. As sentence starters, the adaptive support is in the key questions you ask students to consider, where they are struggling to get started.
5. ‘What if?’ Prompts
These prompts challenge students to imagine unusual scenarios and write stories around them. “What if animals could talk?” or “What if the world was flat?” These prompts stretch imagination and challenge students to think outside the box.
6. Sensory Prompts
Sensory prompts urge students to focus on one or more senses and write a story that vividly engages these senses. “Describe a city from the perspective of a blind person,” for example, can elicit rich descriptions and challenge students to think differently.
7. Music Prompts
Play a piece of music and ask students to write a story inspired by it. The mood, tempo, or lyrics of the song can all serve as inspiration. Sometimes the title of the song helps, other times it is best not shared at the beginning.
8. Object-focused Prompts
These prompts focus on a specific object, like a “broken watch” or “a mysterious letter.” The students weave a story involving the object.
9. Scenario Prompts
Provide students with a particular scenario, such as “You’re stranded on a deserted island,” or “You find a door in your house you never noticed before.” Students then develop a story around the given scenario.
10. Genre-specific Prompts
These prompts specify a genre. “Write a ghost story,” or “Craft a fairy tale about a clumsy dragon.” These prompts allow students to experiment with different styles and narrative conventions. This can be very open and allow the most freedom, but also the most challenging for some students and require discussion, questioning and idea generation.
Using a variety of prompts in the classroom ensures that students experience a wide array of challenges, keeping them engaged and stimulating their creativity. Remember to make prompts open-ended to allow for maximum creative freedom. The goal is not just to get students writing, but to ignite their imagination, hone their skills, and foster a love for creative expression. From this you can tie into a range of writing skills that you are focussed on at the time, make them key points to demonstrate or include, and check which of the previously learnt tools have now become embedded for each learner. As I have said previously, I firmly believe that the root of all good writing, including factual writing is a strong understanding of story writing and developing authorly techniques and a deep and clear awareness of your audience.
There are a wide range of writing prompts on this site – take a look around if you are new here – you will find much of what I have outlined above. Take them, use them in class, and let me know how it goes!