29 Writing Prompts and Exercises

So you can start writing stories — without the brainstorming hassle

An orange pencil sits on an open journal, the pale-cream colored pages blank.
Photo by Dom J

Writing can be a lot of fun — it’s an amazing, exhilarating experience to craft short stories, poetry, and even novels out of thin air, but sometimes, it’s also really hard.

One of the first obstacles you’ll come across when sitting down to write a story is the idea itself. What should you write about? A grand, epic fantasy story centering around a lore-filled world? A charming, cozy Christmas romance with a hint of backstabbing twin sisters? Or maybe a paranormal horror thriller drama mystery involving young women being pulled into a lake and resurfacing as demons!

While coming up with intriguing and interesting ideas can be a lot of fun and sometimes even one of the most enjoyable parts of writing stories, sometimes, it's just a hassle — an annoying little chore stopping you from getting to the part you want to get to — the writing itself!

So, if you’re not in the mood to spend hours trying to brainstorm and speculate about an idea for your story, here are some prompts and exercises to kick start your story and improve as an author — so you can get started writing in minutes.

Prompts & Exercises

  1. Your character is having a normal day working at their job, but when they see a strange customer who doesn’t pay, and your character runs out to confront them — not only their day, but their whole lives are turned upside down.
  2. Your character almost never finds themselves in the library, but they need a book for a school assignment. For some reason, all the pages are blank — except for one, strange book.
  3. Your character is a ghost, wandering their abandoned town, trying to stay sane even though they haven’t seen a human in over a thousand years — until a young child wanders over. The ghost can’t interact with them — but your character can kill them, and have another ghost to befriend…
  4. Every day, your character needs to commit a murder in order to stay alive. What happens when they skip a day?
  5. Your character is a single parent who has their hands full with the amount of kids they have, and they must learn to deal with grief with their when youngest drowns in a lake — or did they drown?
  6. In your character’s world, magic is the norm — except your character doesn’t have any, and they’re the heir to the throne. Do they hide their secret, or learn to embrace it?
  7. Your character moves into a new, strange town, and soon realizes that it’s not just any little town — it’s a place where every night, children are taken, and never seen again. Everyone seems okay with this, but your character decides to take action.
  8. Your character can see the future, knowing everything that will happen, exactly when, where, and how it’ll happen. But when one of their predictions isn’t completely accurate, they began to doubt their ability, and speculate where it even came from…
  9. In your character’s world, there are two types of people — Hunters, and Hunted. The Hunters hunt the Hunted for sport and money, and the Hunted must flee to survive. Your character was born a Hunted, but their parents bought them Hunter status. Now, your character’s true status as a Hunted is being leaked. What will they do?
  10. Your character meets someone that’s head over heels for them, even though your character’s never seen them in their life! When this mysterious love interest asks your character out, what happens?
  11. Your character, who lives alone in an isolated forest, has lost more people than anyone could imagine to sickness, war, and even suicide. One day, they find a tree that they can climb higher than the sky — and every few yards, they can meet a lost loved one. They grow obsessed with the tree, and must deal with the grief when the tree is chopped down, and they lose all their loved ones once again.
  12. Your character is an ex-soldier experiencing PTSD, and they decide to commit suicide by overdosing on drugs. However, they wake up again — as a young soldier, right before their first battle. What will they do with their second chance?
  13. Your character is drowning in their own mistakes and regrets, when they find an old pocket watch at a pawn shop that allows them to travel back in time and fix their mistakes.
  14. Your character lives their worst day over and over again, every time trying to prevent the horrible event, but never being able to. When they’re on the brink of going insane, they meet someone else who’s going through the same thing they are!
  15. Your character lives in a world where darkness means monsters — and darkness is everywhere. Only the rich and powerful have Light, small orbs of portable sunlight, and your character is a thief who makes a living stealing Light and selling it on the black market. However, when a strange customer pays for Light and seems to be doing something horrible with it, your thief must make the decision —should they turn a blind eye, or do something about their customer’s disastrous plot?
  16. Your character can control other people's’ lives — everything they write in a special journal happens. When their journal is stolen and strange things start happening to the people around them, they must get their journal back.
  17. Your character has lived for millenia, and all they want is to die — but not only are they immortal, they’re also invincible. When a strange person comes to their town and sells only death, your character wonders if their wish has finally been granted, and set off to try to die.
  18. Take a random book you’ve read and create a character that’s the complete opposite in every aspect than that book’s main character.
  19. Take a random book you’ve read and flip to a random page — the first word on that page has to be the first word in your story.
  20. Make your character the opposite of someone you know.
  21. Build a character using a character generator.
  22. Merge two random words together to form a nonsense word — that’s the title of your story.
  23. Make yourself the villain in a story.
  24. Write a story in 20 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, and 1 minute.
  25. Write a story where the first word is the last word in a random song.
  26. Write a poem but each line has the same amount of syllables.
  27. Start your poem with a description.
  28. End your poem with a name.
  29. Write a poem in the shape of the poem’s subject.

Coming up with ideas can sometimes be a breeze as effortless, amazing ideas pour out of you — but sometimes it can just be a pain. Try to draw inspiration from everywhere, not just prompts and exercises, but the world around you, media that you read and watch, and even conversations between friends, families and strangers.

Writing isn’t a walk in the park, and sometimes it can seem daunting to try to get better at this intimidating skill. However, if you keep practicing, editing, and just writing, eventually, you’ll start to see progress.

Find inspiration, and shape it into your very own story.




Writing. Technology. Entertainment. And that feeling of jumping from hobby to hobby aimlessly.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

When You Can’t Look Away


How to Write by Using AI And Earn Over $3,000 a Month

Weekly Reflection 10/23

How to Become the Absolute Best at Blogging

Stop “Killing Your Darlings”

Three Enlightening Questions To Ask Yourself Before Giving Up on a Project

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
The Electronic Pen

The Electronic Pen

Writing. Technology. Entertainment. And that feeling of jumping from hobby to hobby aimlessly.

More from Medium

3 Writing Tips Which Don’t Make Sense

Always Move On To Your Next Writing Project

Why ‘1984' Is So Important For Us?

Write 52 Short Stories Every Year.