Pre-NaNoWriMo Writing Prompts

The difficult thing about writing prompts is that they’re all a bunch of grandstanding liars. They try to pass themselves off as Must Do‘s:

If you’re using this prompt, you must follow me to the letter, using all seven words or using this whatever-phrase exactly somewhere within the text or whatever other random nitpicky rules.

In reality, prompts are at their best when they simply help get you thinking, and then that thinking takes on a natural life of its own, regardless of whether or not you actually do use those demanded seven random words.

Bearing this in mind, if you’re looking for something to help get you lost in your own brainstorm, consider these starting points:

  • Which childhood memory unlocks something for you and which one locks something away?
  • She’s about to leave the house when she spots a key on the hook that she’s never seen before.
  • Walking back, she could’ve sworn she heard the old oak tree sneeze.
  • The noise woke him up—something like a bee, though at once more menacing as well as more lovely.
  • The candles wouldn’t light. Match after desperate match was struck, but still the candles wouldn’t light.
  • The pine cones shivered off the tree in a startling chorus, running away from the only home they’d ever known.
  • Hot water popped out of the mug as the teabag burst open, revealing that much more than leaves had been left to steep.
  • The churchgoers (pious and otherwise) settled their cakes, casseroles, and bowls of fruit-dotted jello out along the table that was all too small.

Tetons & Yellowstone 2014 217


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