47 Character Development Prompts To Flesh Out Your Book Characters
What kind of person is your main character?
Maybe you’ve started to hear their voice in your head, but they just haven’t been very talkative.
What can you do to make your character reveal their full self, quirks and all?
The best way to get to know the people you’ve created is to use character development writing prompts.
We’ve created a list of 47 to put each of your key characters to the test.
Choose your own adventures for them. And see what your characters reveal about themselves.
Actions speak louder than words . But you’ll need both.
Key Benefits of Character Development Exercises
Identity or personality prompts, relationship prompts, reaction prompts, ethics and morality prompts, backstory prompts.
The more writing prompts you use in the development of your characters , the more of the following benefits you’ll enjoy:
- Deeper awareness of the process of creating complex and believable characters
- Experience writing from the character’s point of view (voice journal entries)
- Experience writing dialogue (or taking dictation for the voices in your head)
- Greater ease in making each character stand out as unique and three-dimensional.
- Well-drawn, interesting characters , which help in the creation of unique plots.
The more you know about these people in your story, the more real they become to you.
Then comes the challenge of helping your reader see them through dialogue and essential details. The more character development prompts you use, though, the more experience you’ll have doing exactly that.
47 Character Development Prompts
Try any of the character scenarios below to see what each of your key characters is made of. Put them in situations that reveal their character and what they believe about themselves — as well as what they think of other characters in your story.
We’ve divided these into groups to make it easier for you to focus on the areas that are the foggiest right now. Dive in and choose a prompt for today’s freewriting exercise .
1. If your character has a superpower , what is it and how did they discover it? Is it something they’re proud of or would they like to exchange it for someone else’s?
2. What is your character’s biggest flaw ? Write about how they came to terms with it (if they have) or how they react when someone calls them out for it.
3. Write a scene exposing your character’s fatal flaw and include another character from your story. Write from either character’s point of view.
4. Write a scene revealing a mental health challenge for your character. Another character recognizes that challenge and offers help.
5. Your character is trying to decide what to eat on a Friday night alone at their place. Write a voice journal entry about their thought process, what they eat, and why.
6. Have three of your characters play “ Truth or Dare .” What do they learn about each other? And what character is more likely to choose “Dare” over “Truth”?
7. If your character has decided romantic or sexual love is not for them, write about what led them to identify as asexual or aromantic . How have others reacted?
8. Has your character discovered an attraction they’ve been taught they shouldn’t have? Write about how has that affected their beliefs and sense of identity?
9. Does your character identify with the gender assigned to them at birth? If not, write about how they came to identify as a trans person and who supported them.
10. Write a scene where your character reveals their sexual orientation or gender identity to someone who doesn’t respond well to the news.
11. Have your character take the 16Personalities test to identify their Myers-Briggs type. Write a voice journal entry about their reaction to the results.
12. Get your character alone with a parental figure that shaped their response to authority. Is your character generally obedient or more likely to question or rebel?
13. Get your character alone with someone they’re attracted to , whether they’ve acknowledged that attraction or not. Let them find out the attraction isn’t mutual.
14. Get your character alone with someone who hurt them and who now needs their help. Write a scene or dialogue exchange hinting at the hurt caused by the other.
15. Write a scene where your character cooks a meal for someone else in your story. Show how it turns out and what they talk about while they eat (or drink).
16. Write a scene where one of your character’s siblings comes to visit them. What do they talk about? What have they been through together?
17. Get your character talking about their first love , who it was and whether the attraction was mutual. Was it an epic love or just a crush? How did it end?
18. Does your character have a mentor , coach, or guide? Write a scene where they clash with this mentor or take issue with advice or directions they’ve been given.
19. Has your character ever lost a friend ? Write a scene leading up to that loss and then show how your character reacts.
20. Write a scene that shows what kind of friend your character is when someone they care about is going through a bad break-up.
21. How does your character get along with kids ? Write a scene where someone talks to your character about whether they want kids of their own and why or why not.
22. Write a scene describing an encounter between your character and someone who has an unrequited crush on them — and who writes poetry.
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23. Write a scene where someone teases your character and then ridicules them for acting “ triggered .” What goes through your character’s head and what do they say?
24. Write a scene showing how your character would respond to a bully — e.g., a belligerent customer harassing an employee or a parent verbally abusing a child.
25. Write a scene showing how your character would react upon learning that the attraction between them and another character is mutual.
26. Write a scene showing how your character would respond to the death or serious injury of someone they cared about. What would they reveal about themselves?
27. Write about the moment your character learns what it will cost to get the thing they want most. How do they react? What do they say and do?
28. How would your character react to someone telling them, “ You’re not like other women/men ”? Write a scene or dialogue exchange showing their reaction.
29. Think of a strong reaction you’ve had that surprised or confused others. Write a scene where one of your characters has a similar reaction to something.
30. Write a scene where your character reacts to a religious symbol from their past. What does religion mean to them, now, and what do they believe about God?
31. How would your character react if they met their clone — who happens to be both successful and (apparently) evil? Write a scene describing the encounter.
32. Does your character meet someone who helps them make a better decision about something? Write a scene or dialogue for a pivotal moment involving both.
33. Does your character meet someone who manipulates them into doing something harmful? What do they do, and how does it affect them and other characters?
34. What choice would your character make if presented with the trolley problem ? Write a voice journal entry explaining their decision.
35. Does your character have a redemption arc ? Write a scene where you reveal your character’s turning point or an experience that changes them for the better.
36. What could push your character over the edge ? Write a scene where this happens? What does your character do or say as a result? What do they lose?
37. Write a scene where your character meets a panhandler asking for money. Do they give the man anything? Use details and dialogue to reveal why or why not.
38. Your character’s boss has offered them a significant promotion if they can get another employee to quit. Write about your character’s thought process.
39. Your character has an unpleasant encounter with their rich boss, who leaves their loaded wallet behind. Write a scene showing what your character does and why.
40. Write about a traumatic experience in this character’s life and how it continues to affect them. Whom did it involve, and how have those relationships changed?
41. Is your character’s world heteronormative ? Write about how your character and others respond to non-hetero romantic relationships.
42. How has your character dealt with grief in the past? Write a scene where someone confronts them on this or encourages them to talk about it.
43. Your character isn’t convinced they’re a good person . Write a scene or conversation that explains why. Do they remember ever thinking they were good?
44. Does your character have a secret about their past? Write a scene where this secret comes out. How do they and the other characters react?
45. Have your character’s beliefs changed significantly since adolescence? Write a voice journal entry about those beliefs and why they changed.
46. As a child, your character wandered away from their parents, who didn’t notice their absence until a stranger brought them back. Write about what happened.
47. Write about a mistake your character made that he still hasn’t forgiven himself for. Use a voice journal entry to explain why.
How will you use these character development prompts?
Now that you have 47 character development writing prompts , which one are you most eager to start with? Which one has already started the movie projector in your head?
Once you know each character to their core, you can do as Terry Pratchett suggests: “Wind them up, put them down, and simply write down what they do, say, and think.”
You’ll be doing that for these prompts . But they’ll also help you do it better.
Meanwhile, you’ll also get better at creating characters your readers will fall in love with and write fanfiction for.
Get your ship names ready, just in case.
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17 Character Development Exercises for Writers
Character development exercises are short forms of deliberate practice to improve your writing skills and round out your characters.
They are typically not used in the final novel, but are little extras that help you understand the personalities that you are writing.
Because for some of us, nailing down that perfect character can be hard. And to help with that, we’ve assembled 17 different exercises to improve your characters.
- Why character exercises are important
- A list of 17 different exercises that you can implement today
- Examples and advice to improve your characters
Table of contents
- Why Are Character Development Exercises Important?
- Exercise #1: Write a FULL Description
- Exercise #2: Play Dress Up
- Exercise #3: Write a Description Scene Through the Character’s Eyes
- Exercise #4: Practice Showing Emotion
- Exercise #5: Write a “Slice of Life” Episode
- Exercise #6: Write Other People Gossiping About Your Character
- Exercise #7: Write a Progression Short Story
- Exercise #8: Draw the Character
- Exercise #9: Create a Character Profile
- Exercise #10: Conduct a Character Interview
- Exercise #11: Play the “Why” Game
- Exercise #12: Create a Character Based on Someone You Know
- Exercise #13: Imagine What Happens Before and After the Novel
- Exercise #14: Put Them in Horrible Situations (Muahahahahah)
- Exercise #15: Create a Timeline
- Exercise #16: Do a Little Fan-fiction
- Exercise #17: Use Character Writing Prompts
So why use a character development exercise in the first place?
This may be a valid question, especially for authors like myself, who just want to dive into the writing and let the characters unfold as I write.
But honestly, a little work up front can save you a load of headache afterward.
Running through a handful of these exercises will help you to:
- Understand your character’s emotions
- Give you practice writing in their voice and from their point of view
- Find out what sets them apart from other characters
- Flesh them out to create round and dynamic characters
- Establish the relationship between your characters and the setting, or other characters
- Deliberate practice of the process to create complex and well-written characters
In short, it’s a great way to deliberately practice writing and reduces the need to go back and do extensive revisions on your characters.
That said, this might not be the best thing to do if you’re a pantser and just want to dive in and discover your characters along the way. But it can be a great tool in your author tool belt.
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So without further ado, here are 17 of our best picks for character development exercises.
Exercise #1 : Write a FULL Description
When it comes to writing characters, most of us focus on the facial features, things like hair color, eye color, etc.
A great way to begin getting to know your character is to do a full description of them. In a book, we might not do this to the extent you might in a creative writing exercise, which is why it’s good to practice here.
Here are some things to consider:
- Skin/hair/eye color
- Do they have any warts or moles?
- What is their hair style?
- What is their build?
- Do they have any scars, tattoos, etc.
- What is their general complexion. Is their skin smooth and silky, rough and calloused, or even bruised and battered?
- What default facial expression do they have?
- What does he/she smell like?
Exercise #2 : Play Dress Up
What we choose to wear says a lot about a person. Someone wearing an extravagant French-style outfit from the 18th century will give you a completely different impression than a cut business suit from the 21st century.
The problem is that most authors, when they’re writing about their characters, often forget to add a lot of detail about the clothes they are wearing. It’s easy to see these things in your mind and forget that your readers don’t see what you see. They see what you write.
One way to help overcome this oversight is to continue the exercise above, but focus on clothing.
And don’t just focus on any one type, because your protagonist will most likely use several types of clothing throughout the course of your novel. Here are just some examples:
- Travel clothing
- Clothes for a night on the town
- Clothes for wilderness survival
- Combat wear
Exercise #3 : Write a Description Scene Through the Character’s Eyes
Ideally, every character should experience the same thing differently, depending on their background, their wants and desires, and their tastes.
Additionally, great prose is often written from the perspective of the character making the observation.
For example, let’s say you have two people, one who has grown up in a desert their whole life, where water is scarce, and the other who grew up in a place where water was plentiful.
Imagine these two people on a hot day, observing a third person splashing water on their face. If you’re writing from the first character’s perspective, you could describe this as “and the man took a handful of water and wasted it on his face.” The second person might describe it this way, “I watched as the man poured the cool liquid and splashed it all over his face. I wish I were him right now.”
Do you see the difference there? In one, the character sees using water in one way as a waste, and for the other, it’s something to be sought after.
Exercise #4 : Practice Showing Emotion
We’ve all heard the adage to “show, don’t tell,” but what does this really look like for most characters?
This is something that really only comes with practice. Once you’ve done it enough times, you’ll recognize instances where you’re saying things like “he felt hungry,” and can replace them with something like “He winced and put a hand to his stomach as it growled, and he swallowed hard.”
Character emotion is one of these areas where showing rather than telling can really enhance your novel.
Exercise #5 : Write a “Slice of Life” Episode
There are a lot of scenes in a book, and most of them have a purpose. That said, there are many scenes that probably occur in that character’s life, but that we don’t talk about because they’re not important for the story.
However, you as the author should have an idea of what happens in these less important moments.
Some examples of a “slice of life” episode might include:
- Having dinner with family
- Going to the bathroom
- The morning routine
- A conversation with a co-worker
- Late-night conversations with a spouse
- Cooking a meal
- Going on vacation
- Playing with their kids
- Coming home a little too drunk
- Visiting a museum
Exercise #6 : Write Other People Gossiping About Your Character
Very often, we learn more from others about ourselves that we might not have known on our own. Others can provide unique perspectives, and in some cases expose huge biases (on both sides).
For example, a proud character might not realize that he/she is proud, but it’s easy for an outside observer to spot this.
Exercise #7 : Write a Progression Short Story
In real life, people change a lot, and characters should change in stories too (most of the time).
A great way to show this is to write a short story that examines the character at different parts of her/his life. You can focus on key moments in their life, but you could also just follow exercise #5 and focus on a few more everyday events.
The purpose of this exercise is to show how that person may have changed. Do they view the world differently as a working adult, vs as a teenager? A child? An elderly person?
What about before or after experiencing some kind of trauma?
Exercise #8 : Draw the Character
I’ll be honest, I’m not an artist. But I am a visual person, and getting some solid visuals of the character can be a huge boost in helping me understand them.
If you’re like me and really have no design skills , then finding a few photos is fine.
I’d recommend several photos though, since one might not be enough. You could have some for their face and general appearance, one for their clothes and how they look, etc.
If you know a program like Photoshop, you could even crop these together to get an even better sense of what you character looks like.
This is a great exercise for understanding the feel of a character, which is often harder to put into words.
Exercise #9 : Create a Character Profile
Imagine you work for the FBI, and you have to draft up a dossier about your character. What might that look like?
Fortunately, we’ve done a whole article about this topic, so you should definitely check that out, and also don’t forget to pick up our character profile template, which can easily help you through this process.
If you want a thorough process to identify the character’s appearance, personality, background, and more, this is the way to go.
The best aspects to focus on are the flaws, motivations, and fears of your character. What prompts them to action? Understanding these things will help you get at the core of your character’s personality traits.
Exercise #10 : Conduct a Character Interview
Imagine you sat in a darkened room, across the table from you is your character. You can ask them anything, they won’t be offended, and they will understand the question.
What do you ask them about?
Writing a character interview is almost like writing yourself into a short story where you get to personally meet your character and ask them questions.
This is huge for helping you understand the character’s voice, but also a good strategy for building solid character backstory and character traits.
To help, we’ve already assembled over 200 character development questions that can aid you in this process.
Exercise #11 : Play the “Why” Game
This goes along with the idea of an interview, but sometimes in order to dig really deep into the motivations of your character, you’ve got to ask why.
Is your character aggressive? Ask them why.
From there you might find out that his mother shouted at him as a kid, and he saw his parents fight a lot. Ask why.
You might learn that his father had a drinking problem and it meant that his mother took it out on him. Ask why.
From there, it might come out that his father had lost a lot of money in a business deal, leading him to turn to drink.
I hope you get the idea. The more you ask why, the more you’ll dig deeper into your character’s past, and the better you will understand them.
Exercise #12 : Create a Character Based on Someone You Know
This can be a little dangerous, because to be honest, most of the people we know are not that interesting. And we also want to avoid lawsuits for defamation if the comparison is too obvious.
That said, the people we know can be a huge inspiration to pick and choose ideas to incorporate into your characters.
For example, my own father and uncle have a really fun way of talking to each other. They’re always ribbing on each other and calling eachother weird, made-up names. You can tell that they love each other, but it’s an uncommon way of showing it.
This might make a good relationship between two people in a book.
Exercise #13 : Imagine What Happens Before and After the Novel
The writer is mostly concerned with what happens during the plot of her novel. But if written well, a character will feel like they exist long before and long after the pages of the book.
So it’s a good idea to try dreaming up what happens to these characters in that time.
It can be dramatic, or it can be mundane. Impactful, or ordinary. It doesn’t matter much. All that matters is that you have a past and future in mind for that character (unless you plan to kill them off of course).
And who knows, you might even come up with some good ideas for other books involving those characters.
Exercise #14 : Put Them in Horrible Situations (Muahahahahah)
I’ve heard it said that you should basically put your characters through hell in a story, and never let up.
While this is good advice, it’s not always practical. That said, putting your characters through the meat-grinder is a great way to learn how they react to conflict.
These scenarios don’t have to be trials you will actually use in your novel. These are just different ways to put your character in pain and see how they react (I know I sound like a very unethical scientist, don't @ me).
Here are some possibilities:
- The loss of a loved one
- A diagnosis of cancer
- The loss of a limb
- Getting tortured
- Breaking up with the love of their life
- Losing everything they own
- Being betrayed by a friend
Exercise #15 : Create a Timeline
Sometimes it’s hard to keep every part of a character’s life straight. That’s where a timeline can be helpful.
A timeline is a simple list of events in the character’s life, though they can get more complex and interesting, and you can even put some design skills to work if you want.
But timelines only have to be a simple list of events. They can include events from before their birth to their death, or they can be focused on a specific period of their life.
It will depend on the character and the story you will want to tell.
Exercise #16 : Do a Little Fan-fiction
When we’re writing a story, we might not have a full grasp on it yet, and that’s where writing fan fiction can help.
Imagine your character interacting with characters from a story you already know? Imagine the ultimate crossover between your story and your favorite franchise.
For example, what Hogwarts house would your character belong in? What might it look like when he/she is sorted and interacts with other characters in that house or other characters from the Harry Potter books.
It’s a great way to lean on characters you already know, to help unveil more about the characters you’re trying to discover.
Exercise #17 : Use Character Writing Prompts
There are a bunch of character-related creative writing prompts out there, and many of them can be quite helpful in getting your brain to think outside of the box.
In theory, we could have a list much longer than 17 if we wanted to include more of these prompts, but that would end up being too much.
Instead, I recommend this post , or checking out our list of character questions to give you ideas.
Final Thoughts on Character Development Exercises
If you’ve made it far, first of all, well done.
Second of all, you might be a little overwhelmed, but don’t worry. This list is not meant to be a checklist for everything you should do to expand on your characters.
Instead, this is a handful of ideas that you can take (or leave) and use them to better understand your characters.
As you apply these exercises, I can pretty much guarantee that you will grow as a writer, become more familiar with your characters, and increase your chances of having a great dynamic character in your books.
Let us know how it goes!
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Character-Driven Fiction Writing Prompts
by Melissa Donovan | Jul 23, 2020 | Fiction Writing Prompts | 12 comments
Creative writing prompts for creating characters.
Most authors agree that fiction is primarily driven by characters. Experienced authors will talk about characters who take over the story, who have their own separate and independent consciousnesses. Outlines and plans for plot go out the window as characters insist on moving the story in a direction of their own design.
Because characters are central to most stories and because their primary function is to explore the human condition, it’s essential for characters to be believable. In other words, characters may not be real, but they most certainly should feel real.
Character Writing Prompts
These character writing prompts are grouped into categories. You can mix and match the prompts according to which ones are most appealing to you, or choose the ones you think will help resolve character problems that you’re struggling with.
Feel free to let these character writing prompts inspire new prompts — in other words, you don’t have to write exactly what the prompt says. One set of prompts deals with character fears and flaws. These might inspire you to write about your character’s strengths and virtues.
Be creative, have fun, and keep writing!
Background and Family
- Unearth your character’s roots. What is the character’s ancestry or cultural background? How does ancestry shape your character? Is the character at odds with family or cultural traditions?
- Write a series of short paragraphical biographies of each of the character’s closest family members: spouse, children, parents, grandparents, siblings, close friends, etc.
- Write a monologue in which your character summarizes his or her life story; be sure to write it in the character’s voice.
Motivations and Goals
- What motivates your character? Money? Love? Truth? Power? Justice?
- What does your character want more than anything else in the world? What are they searching for?
- What other characters or events are interfering with your character’s goals? What obstacles are in the way?
Flaws and Fears
- What is your character’s single greatest fear? Why is your character afraid of this? How did your character acquire their fears?
- What are your character’s flaws and weaknesses?
- How does the character’s fears and flaws prevent them from reaching their goals?
- What does your character look like? Make a list and include the following: hair, eyes, height, weight, build, etc.
- Now choose one aspect of the character’s appearance, a detail (bitten nails, frizzy hair, a scar) and elaborate on it.
- Write a short scene in which your character is looking in the mirror or write a short scene in which another character first sees your character.
- How does your character feel on the inside? What kind of person is your character and what does the character’s internal landscape look like?
- We don’t always present ourselves to others in a way that accurately reflects how we feel inside. We might be shy or insecure but come across as stuck-up and aloof. How do others perceive your character?
- Write a scene with dialogue that reveals your character’s external and internal personalities. Good settings for this dialogue would be an interview, an appointment with a therapist, or a conversation with a romantic interest or close friend. Write the scene in third-person omniscient so you can get inside your character’s head as well as the other character’s head; this will allow you explore how your character feels and how he or she is perceived.
If you tackle these creative writing prompts, come back and tell us how they worked for you. What did you write? Did you learn anything new about your character or how to write about your character? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
Great ideas! Answering all these questions I really think can make the difference between a round, motivated character and a flat one. Thanks for your ideas 🙂
Thanks, Sarah. Good luck to you!
(Meant to comment yesterday when I stumbled on this!) Great exercises. Helped me to elaborate more on another character I’m beginning to explore for another novel. I’m in the middle of my first novel now! Thanks for this mini-workshop!
Thanks, Tonya! My goal is to come up with exercises and prompts that help writers learn new concepts and techniques, gain experience through practice, solve problems within their own writing projects, and inspire new ideas. I’m thrilled that these prompts helped you solve a particular problem. Your comment totally made my day!
Great suggestions! Dissection or hotseating your character in many different ways is an excellent way of finding out who this person is who’s appeared in your story. I find myself talking through possible conversations as I walk, helping me round out who they are – even if all that information doesn’t end up in the story.
I always imagine character conversations when I’m trying to fall asleep. Sometimes they keep me up all night!
Excellent tips about creating believable characters. I think you did a great job here. The more authors can delve into their character’s background, the better writer they will be and it all gets down to how much the reader likes the book.
In most cases, I think it’s the characters that make stories so compelling. That’s why it’s so important to know your characters well.
This is amazing! Thanks for putting it together! I need writing prompts like this for class. A marketing class at a Polytechnic in Canada, these will be perfect.
Keep up the great work!
You’re welcome! I’m glad you found these helpful.
Thank you Mellissa for this. It is extremely helpful. I am going to relook at the characters I’ve created based on this.
- And Away We Go! « JS Mawdsley - […] Background and Family -Unearth your character’s roots. What is the character’s ancestry or cultural background? How does ancestry shape…
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Character Development: Create Characters That Readers Love
by Joe Bunting | 16 comments
Readers love great characters.
Think back to your favorite stories of all time. You might remember the story arc or not. You might remember the best bits of dialogue, or you might not. You might remember the setting descriptions, but let’s be honest, you probably don’t .
But the characters? Original characters? Your favorite characters? You’ll remember them for the rest of your life.
How do you create great characters? The short answer is character development, but what is character development and how can you use it to create characters readers love?
That’s what we’re going to talk about in this article. We'll start by discussing the definition of character development and why writers need to do it. We'll talk about each phase of the character development process, from creating to developing to storytelling with them.
Throughout, we'll look at lots of character development examples. Finally, we'll get you started writing with a character development exercise.
Here's a quick table of contents so you can jump to your favorite tips for character development in the article.
Table of Contents
Character Development Video Guide What Is Character Development? 3 Steps Types of Characters How to Create a Character Sketch 6 Steps to Character Development Through a Story Character Development Test Character Development Writing Exercise
Character Development Video Guide
But first, would you prefer to watch this guide? Here's a video I made for it:
Make sure to like the video and subscribe to our channel for more videos about the writing craft.
Now, ready to get started with this characterization lesson? Let’s do it.
What Is Character Development? The 3 Steps to Well-Developed Characters
Character development is the process of creating and telling a story about a fictional character. It's far more than a personality trait list.
When it comes to compelling characters, there are only three steps:
- Create a character
- Develop the character (making them more sympathetic and/or villainous)
- Then, put them into a story
That's it. Easy right?
Actually no, it's not easy at all. You'll need to make hundreds of decisions to develop characters people can fall in love with. Each of these steps might take you days or months or even years .
Or they might happen in just a few moments.
J.K. Rowling said Harry Potter began when she had a vision of a young boy with a scar on his forehead board her train.
You might already have an idea for a character or a whole crowd of characters.
Of course, for Rowling it took her another five years to develop Harry Potter and write her first book.
And that's what we're talking about in this article: the process of taking ideas and turning them into living, breathing characters that can drive whole stories.
Let's begin with the first step: creating characters, as well as the different types of characters you might need to create.
Step 1: How to Create Characters for Your Story
Of all the character development steps, this is the one I have the least advice about. That's because characters are rarely created, they are discovered .
Before I came up with the idea for my last novel, I had a vision of a curly haired boy on a beach. I didn't know what my story was about by that point, but I knew it had to have him in it.
Just as J.K. Rowling discovered Harry Potter when he boarded her train, so most great characters come from a source that their writers have little control over.
You might come across inspiration in real life—real people who inspire you, but there are complex characters around you all the time in every movie, book, or story you read. Start noticing and you'll get a strong sense of what might inspire strong characters.
That being said, there are types of characters that you might need in your story, and if you know that you need that type, you can sometimes reverse engineer the characters.
Types of Characters
There are two broad categories of characters and many different subtypes:
2. Secondary Characters
Most stories only have one or two protagonists, or main characters, which means that most of your characters will be secondary characters. What is a protagonist?
Protagonist definition: The primary character of a story. The character at the center of the plot whose choices drive the story and whose fate determines the story’s outcome.
Protagonists tend to be dynamic characters who have a character arc that changes throughout the story. More on character arcs here .
Protagonists also tend to be point of view characters , meaning the narrator follows their point of view or they are a first-person narrator. (More on point of view here .) These characters carry the narrative, and in a story told in third person limited point of view , they will be the only character whose thoughts and emotions the reader can see.
Warning: Unless you're writing a love story, which frequently has two protagonists in the couple, be careful about having more than one protagonist. There's a reason George R. R. Martin is still (still!) trying to finish A Song of Ice and Fire . The more point-of-view characters you have, the more complicated your narrative, and the more problems you face.
There are three types of protagonists:
- The Classic Hero. Think Harry Potter, Jane Eyre, Atticus Finch, or Katniss Everdeen. Classic heros are brave, are selfless, and try to do the right thing.
- The Anti-Hero. Think Severus Snape, Huckleberry Finn, or Han Solo. Anti-heroes are not noble, rarely do the right thing, and might, in ordinary circumstances, be considered the villain.
- The Ordinary Hero. Think Neville Longbottom, Holden Caulfield, and Jane Austen's Emma Woodhouse. These characters have an even mix of admirable and less noble qualities, just like most of us.
Which type is your protagonist? Let us know in the comments. Also, read more on the three types of protagonists in this guide .
Secondary characters are the next category, and they contain all the other types of characters, including:
- Villain or Antagonist . Not every story has a villain , but for the ones that do, the villain is the chief source of external conflict.
- Love interest and love rival . In stories with a love plot or subplot , the love interest is the chief love interest for the protagonist and may even be a protagonist themselves. They may be static, meaning they don't change over the course of the story, or dynamic, meaning they do change, but they add to the romantic tension. Similarly, most love stories involve rivals, another love interest who creates a love triangle and increases the romantic tension.
- Foil Character. A secondary character who acts as a mirror to the protagonist and is often very similar but different in one major way that allows us to better understand the protagonist's personality and choices.
- Mentor . The mentor is a character who steers the protagonist, helps get them out of trouble, and provides chances for reflection. A mainstay of the hero’s journey plot structure , in many types of stories, without a good mentor, the character’s journey will end in tragedy (e.g. think about Hamlet, who had no mentor).
- Sidekick . A sidekick is a character who supports the protagonist. Besides the protagonist and villain, they have the most opportunity for characterization and provide dialogue opportunities and insight into the character’s mindset. Sidekicks appear in all genres, from romance (e.g. Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet ) to adventure (e.g. Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings ) to mystery (e.g. Inspector Beauvoir from the Inspector Gamache series) and more.
- Side Characters . Side characters often have fully developed personalities, long interactions with the protagonist, and perhaps even deep backstories. However, they rarely make decisions or change throughout the story.
- The Chorus . A term from playwriting, these characters may have names and vague descriptions, but they do not have fully developed personalities and are chiefly there to serve as bystanders.
- Suspects . Specific to mysteries and thrillers, suspects have fully developed personalities and they serve as objects of exploration for the investigator. They should all have motives and appear at least somewhat guilty of the crime, if only to serve as red herrings .
These tend to be static characters with a flat character arc, at least within the confines of the story. However, great writers know that all characters have their own arc. Your job as a writer is to choose how much of that arc to show the reader in the story.
For more on each of these character types, check out our guide, 6 Character Types Your Protagonist Needs Around Them .
Step 2: Develop Your Characters by Making them More Sympathetic (and/or Villainous)
Once you have a few characters, your work is not done. Now you have to develop them.
To do that, I've created a framework called the Seven Characteristics of Sympathetic Characters.
I learned this from Brandon Sanderson's fantastic characterization lessons as well as Blake Snyder's Save the Cat and my own research into story structure and characterization.
These characteristics are reader candy . We love characters with these personality traits, and by adding them you can quickly create a bond with your readers.
Think of this list as a checklist. The key is to include at least two or three of these characteristics early in your story, ideally in your protagonist's first scene.
This list also works for your secondary characters, and it can be used to quickly add depth and connection.
For your villains and antagonists, you can use this list in the opposite way, making the audience dislike them or even combining negative traits with sympathetic ones to give us a truly round, dynamic villain.
Here are the characteristics:
7 Characteristics of Sympathetic Characters
Use these seven traits to create believable characters who connect with the audience:
- Takes action. Show your protagonist being proactive. Show them making a hard choice when faced with a dilemma and taking action to get what they want.
- Treated unjustly . Show your character being bullied, persecuted, treated unfairly, or as the victim of injustice. One easy way to do this is to make your character an orphan , a trait shared by Hamilton, Harry Potter, nearly all of Charles Dickens's protagonists, Anne of Green Gables, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, and many more iconic characters.
- Shows competence . Readers are interested in people who have competence, who show off their skill (even if those skills are unusual).
- Has friends . We’re attracted to people who show that they already have other people who like them. Just having a friend makes us more interested in someone. Show your protagonist is likable by surrounding them with other interesting characters.
- Does a good deed . “Save the cat,” as Blake Snyder says. By helping someone in need, your protagonist establishes themselves as “the good guy,” despite any other negative qualities.
- Has a humanizing quirk . Quirks are memorable things that create an instant visualization of someone, like Harry Potter’s scar on his forehead, Ron Weasley’s bright red hair, or Hermione’s frizzy hair. These can also include distinctive mannerisms, like a speech pattern, unique voice, or habits. Humanizing quirks are especially important for side characters, but a simple quirk can be a shortcut to help us quickly get to know a protagonist.
- Secret vulnerability . Everyone has a secret, whether it’s a phobia like Bruce Wayne’s fear of bats, Superman’s weakness toward kryptonite, or Inspector Gamache’s terror of heights. By letting the reader in on your protagonist’s secret vulnerability, you create a bond that can last the entire story.
Once you've picked two or three of these that fit your character, include them in your early scenes. You can also include these throughout your story to make us fall in love with your character even more.
How to Create a Character Sketch
Once you've picked the traits, you can create a character sketch or character profile. This is where you record details about a character to remember for the writing process or continue to develop them.
I’ll summarize the process below, but for a full guide, you can read about how to create a character sketch using Scrivener , one of our favorite writing tools, here .
You can mix and match elements to create your own character sketch template, but here’s what a character sketch might contain:
- Character name
- Photo (I just find something on Google image search to serve as a likeness)
- Character type (see 8 types below)
- One sentence summary
- One paragraph description (including a physical description , occupation, flaws, good attributes, and mannerisms)
- Goals (what do they want)
- Conflicts (what keeps them from getting what they want)
- Narrative (what do they do in the story)
Remember, the best way to do character development is to throw characters into a story. Don’t sketch characters for their own sake, but to find where they fit into the story.
Character Development Questions: 78 Questions to Ask Your Characters
Another development technique is to interview your characters, imagining them sitting before you, asking them a series of questions, and imagining their response.
You can invent your own questions, but there are also established lists of questions that have been used by writers for decades. Here are three helpful lists that, together, total seventy-eight questions:
The Proust Questionnaire . Used by novelist Marcel Proust when he was just fourteen years old, this questionnaire includes thirty-five questions that writers have used to find out who their characters are.
37 Questions to Ask Your Character . This list of unique and often surprising questions will help you discover many different sides of your character. Here's an example: “What did you eat for breakfast? Did you make it yourself? What time do you eat breakfast? Do you wash the pan after you cook the eggs or do you leave it for the maid to clean? Do you have a maid?” We first published this list by Pamela Hodges in 2016 and since then it's been shared over 6,000 times!
6 Revealing Questions to Get to Know Your Protagonist . This one is especially helpful to get to know your protagonist.
Try one or more of these lists and see if it helps you get to know a new side of your character's personality.
Step 3: Throw Your Character Into Your Story
This is the most important step, and one that many writers take far too long to get to.
Some writers believe they have to know every aspect of each of their characters personality before they start writing their book, from their earliest memories to their favorite afternoon snack.
However, this is often a waste of time. Why? Because your job as a writer is to put your character into stressful, high-conflict situations, and in those moments, their favorite afternoon snack is going to be the furthest thing from their mind!
That isn't to say you shouldn't spend some time getting to know your characters. Just recognize that's just the beginning. The real character development begins when you start telling your story.
6 Steps to Character Development Through a Story
Character arc and story arc are usually the same thing. By telling a great story, your character will change and transform.
This arc follows the six elements of plot, which we go into detail in this in our plot structure article , but which we'll summarize here:
1. Exposition. Begin with the character's “normal.”
What does “normal” look like for your protagonist? In about one-half to no more than three scenes, show what normal looks like for your character.
2. Inciting Incident. A problem or opportunity interrupts the character's status quo.
In the inciting incident , something interrupts the character's normal life and forces them to respond.
For example, Harry Potter receives an admissions letter from Hogwarts. A dead body is discovered in three pines, leading to a call to Inspector Gamache. William Wallace's wife is killed by the English. The devil appears to Dr. Faustus offering him a deal.
3. Rising Action/Progressive Complications. Problems and complications increase, causing conflict for the protagonist.
As the story continues, things must get more and more challenging for the protagonist. Maybe they're getting better, maybe they're getting worse, but they're definitely getting more complicated.
Here it's useful to remember the century-old writing advice:
In the first act, put your character up a tree. In the second act, throw rocks at them. In the final act, bring them down.
This is the rock throwing part.
But as you increase the internal conflict and external conflict, your character will develop right before your eyes. You may discover new aspects to their personality you had no idea about as you watch how they handle adversity.
4. Dilemma. Give your character an impossible choice.
The purpose of the rising action is to put your protagonist into an impossible choice, a dilemma where they have two equally difficult choices.
I find this moment in Frozen to be a useful example for this (spoiler alert if you somehow haven't seen Frozen !):
Princess Anna is moments away from freezing solid. The only thing that can save her, she thinks, is true love's kiss from Kristoff, who is racing toward her. However, at the same moment, she sees Prince Hans about to kill her sister. What does she do?
- Option A: Save herself, continuing toward Kristoff but allowing Elsa to die
- Option B: Save her sister, choosing to stop Hans but sacrificing herself in the process
An impossible choice. But it's dilemmas like this that are the engines of great stories and great characters.
5. Climax. The protagonist makes their choice and high conflict and action follows.
The protagonist chooses and the result of their choice leads to the moment of highest action and conflict in the story. Remember, conflict in fiction directly impacts your character development.
This choice is so essential because it truly tests and reveals their character. Don't skip it!
6. Denouement. The protagonist's new normal is established.
What does the character's new normal look like after going through the conflict and drama of the story?
This is a moment, usually just one scene, where we get to enjoy and bond with the character for a final time before the story ends.
Character Development Test: What Makes a Good Character?
On my podcast, Character Test , my cohost and I have found that there are four criteria that you can use to evaluate a character, to test and see whether a character is good or not.
Here, I’m not talking about whether they are morally good, but whether they are interesting, relatable, entertaining, and worth following. In other words, this is about figuring out will readers love them.
Also, this is what makes a good character. If you want to know how to make a good character, scroll down to the Character Development Steps section.
1. Good Characters Have Goals
Good stories are about characters who want something, and they experience challenges to get what they want.
Desire is central to good stories, good characters, and to the human condition itself. Good characters have deeply held desires and are willing to make sacrifices to achieve those desires.
That being said, those desires don’t have to start out as anything big .
As Kurt Vonnegut said, “Make your characters want something right away even if it's only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.”
2. Good Characters Face Challenges to Their Goals
As nice as it would be for your character to get everything they wanted without having to do any work, it would make for a very boring story! This is part of the conflict we discussed above.
I like what best-selling author Kristina McMorris told me : “I only give my characters a happy ending if they’ve worked really hard for it.” Kristina’s novel Sold on a Monday was on the New York Times Best Sellers list for twenty straight weeks, so she knows what she’s talking about!
3. Good Characters Make Decisions
Good characters take control of their own fate. They take action. They make choices, and they suffer the good or bad consequences of those choices.
Bad characters let life happen to them . Bad characters allow others to make choices for them. They never take action in their own lives, and it’s their lack of decision-making ability that makes them boring.
4. Good Characters Are Empathizable
I made this word up, but I think it’s going to stick!
Editorial note from Alice: Stop trying to make “empathizable” happen, Joe. It's not going to happen.
You can empathize with good characters. Even if they are villains (especially if they’re villains), you can understand where they’re coming from, and maybe even relate.
Good characters, in other words, are human.
Bad characters are so foreign or perfect or evil that you can’t relate to where they’re coming from.
Bonus: Good Characters Change . . . Sometimes
Many will argue with this, but not all good characters change. In fact, you can tell a great story where the protagonist doesn’t change.
Take James Bond. In a few novels and films he changes (e.g. Casino Royale ) but in most, James stays the same stoic, cocky person he started out as. And the novels are still great!
Or Inspector Gamache, my favorite detective from the series by Louise Penny. Inspector Gamache starts out as the perfect gentleman, thoughtful leader, and unerring investigator and ends each novel the same way. There are a few individual books where he goes through deep inner turmoil, but even then he re-emerges the same amazing person, just a little bit stronger and surer in his ways.
There are many great stories where the character changes . It’s especially a hallmark of the hero’s journey (which is itself a form of character development). But it’s not always a requirement of a good character.
Character Development Writing Exercise
Now that you know everything about developing characters, let's put your new knowledge to practice! Use the creative writing exercise below to practice bringing your characters to life!
And if you're to create a character sketch for your novel, check out our guide on how to create a character sketch with Scrivener .
Good luck and happy writing!
What is your favorite characterization tip above? Are there any I missed? Let me know in the comments .
Let’s put your character development to use with this creative writing prompt :
- Choose one of the character types above and spend five minutes sketching out their character using the character sketch template above (Character Name, type, one-sentence summary, goals, conflicts).
- After your five minutes are up, write about your new character as they go through a scene using the character development steps in a story: desire, conflict, dilemma, choice, and change. Write for ten minutes .
When your time is up, post your practice in the Pro Practice Workshop here . And if you post, be sure to give feedback to at least three other writers.
I'm looking forward to meeting your characters!
Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).
Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.
Join over 450,000 readers who are saying YES to practice. You’ll also get a free copy of our eBook 14 Prompts :
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101 Creative Character Arc Prompts
Need some inspirational help in finding a new and exciting way to develop characters? Thankfully, character arcs aren't as difficult to develop as you might think. You just need a place to start.
A loser becomes a winner. A king becomes a pauper. The skeptic becomes a believer. Often, the best arcs start with a simple question or compelling traits that become the antithesis of the conflict your character is facing.
With that in mind, here are 101 character prompts that writers can test out on their characters — and their story concepts— to find compelling character arcs that can be explored within their stories.
Read More: Acceptance, Revelation, Contentment: Exploring Your Character's Inner Arc
101 Character Arc Prompts
1. What is your character's biggest fear?
2. What is your character's biggest regret?
3. What haunts your character when they stare off into nothing?
4. What, if anything, would your character kill for?
5. What is the most traumatic event from their childhood?
6. What is their most dangerous vice?
7. What is the one obstacle between where they are and what they want most in life?
8. Is your character religious?
9. Is your character anti-religion?
10. Who does your character love?
11. Who is their biggest influence?
12. Who in their lives is a bad influence?
13. What does your character see when they look at themselves in a mirror?
14. Why is the character in their ordinary world at the beginning of the story?
15. Why is your character the one dealing with the main conflict of the story?
16. How does the main conflict most conflict with the main character?
17. Is your character rich or poor?
18. Are they an optimist or pessimist?
19. Does your character have a handicap?
20. Do they have mental health issues?
21. What triggers their mental health issues?
22. Who did they hurt in their past?
23. Who hurt them in their past?
24. What does your character strive for most in their life?
25. What makes them laugh?
26. What makes them cry?
27. What makes them lose their temper?
28. What is the most selfish thing your character has done?
29. What is the most unselfish thing they've done for someone else?
30. Does your character have a lot of friends? If not, why not?
31. What is your character's favorite holiday? Why?
32. What is their least favorite holiday? Why?
33. What is your character's biggest flaw?
34. What is their biggest weakness?
35. What causes anxiety in your character?
36. What triggers them? Why?
37. Who is your character's biggest enemy?
38. Who is your character's best friend? Why?
39. Does your character believe in love at first sight?
40. Have they been in love at all?
The Woman King (2022)
41. What are their turn-ons?
42. What are their turn-offs?
43. What gender are your characters?
44. What race is your character?
45. What is your character's sexual orientation?
46. What is the greatest thing your character has done in their lives?
47. Who are their heroes in life? Why?
48. What types of people does your character look down on?
49. Who do they look up to and respect? Why?
50. Who are their mentors ?
51. Why would your character refuse a call to adventure ?
52. What tragedy most affected their life?
53. What tragedy could they have prevented, but failed to?
54. Who does your character need to make amends to?
55. What are they most grateful for in their lives? Why?
56. What causes them shame?
57. What would give them more confidence in life?
58. What would make them believe in God or a higher power?
59. What would make them not believe?
60. Do they work well with others? Why or why not?
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
61. Is your character a leader?
62. Is your character a follower? Why?
63. What is the biggest grudge your character is holding onto?
64. Does your character lie?
65. What do they lie about? Why?
66. Is your character a coward? Why?
67. Is your character heroic?
68. What's an ailment they are still trying to recover from?
69. What's an injury they haven't healed from?
70. What caused the injury?
71. What are your character's negative habits?
72. What is their favorite movie? Why?
73. What is their favorite book? Why?
74. Does your character belong to a particular organization?
75. What is their innate identity?
76. What new things would rock their world most? Why?
77. Does your character have a family? If not, why are they alone?
78. What is your character most stubborn about?
79. What taboos have they broken within their community? Do they regret it?
80. Does your character trust people?
Toy Story 4 (2019)
81. Is your character trustworthy?
82. Is your character tough?
83. If so, what caused them to be so tough?
84. What would finally "break" your character?
85. Who would your character give their life for most?
86. Is your character loyal?
87. What is your character's greatest bias or prejudice?
88. What is your character's worst nightmare?
89. What is their biggest dream?
90. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to your character?
91. What is your character's favorite place in the world?
92. What location scares them the most?
93. What item does your character treasure most?
94. What is your character's deepest physical scar? How did they get it?
95. Does your character fear authority?
96. Do they fight authority at every turn?
97. If your character could make one wish come true, what would it be?
98. What did your character want to be when they grew up?
99. Why did or didn't it work out that way?
100. What does your character want for their birthday?
101. Who does your character want at their wedding?
WANT MORE IDEAS? TAKE A LOOK AT OUR OTHER STORY PROMPTS !
Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.
He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout , starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner, the feature thriller Hunter’s Creed , and many produced and distributed Lifetime thrillers. Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies
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41 Character Development Writing Prompts
Character development is as vital in stories as it is for the lives we live every day. Events, reactions to them, and how they affect us all change and shape who we are as people and our story characters.
Your students can apply these prompts to themselves or a favorite character. Watch your students learn about themselves as they use the prompts.
How to use these
This list is exceptionally well utilized through random assignments to students or pulling prompts out of a hat.
Students can also pick a favorite prompt from the list or even try allowing them to assign prompts to each other and see what that might lead to.
- Describe what the worst day ever would be for you.
- Can you describe your favorite movie and explain why? Did you learn anything from the film?
- Describe something that makes you unique.
- Write a story as if you were a superhero.
- Describe your favorite thing to do with your mom after school.
- Name one thing you would like to improve about yourself and why?
- Can you describe yourself in five words or less? What words did you choose? Why do they represent you?
- If you were President, what would you do?
- What is your favorite food and why?
- Pretend that you are the teacher in class today. What would you be able to help the other students learn?
- Name one thing that you think you’re great at doing.
- If you could invent something to fix anything in the world, what problem would you want to improve, and why is it important?
- Do you believe in magic and mythical creatures? What about them makes them real to you?
- Is there something you enjoy that you don’t know anyone else who does? Then, try and convince someone why they should try it.
- Write a letter to your future self. Include things that you think are the most important about you right now.
- Pick something you feel strongly about and write a paragraph or two to convince someone else of your opinion.
- What historical event would you travel back in time to visit and why?
- What is your favorite memory from the last three years, and why is it important to you?
- What are the three most essential qualities for a person to possess? Why?
- What problem would you solve if you had a magic lamp and three wishes?
- What advice would you give you from this same time last year? Why?
- Where is your favorite place to visit? Describe it.
- Who would you meet if you could meet any person and why?
- What is your favorite way to express yourself?
- Do you wish that you could redo something in your life? How would you change it?
- If you won the lottery, what would you do first?
- Write a story about your favorite pet. Describe what you think your pet does all day when you’re at school.
- How do you make decisions about important things? Describe your method.
- Do you want to be a parent? Why or why not?
- Do you believe that miracle can happen? What makes you believe this?
- Who is your favorite athlete? Explain how they inspire you.
- What is your favorite book? Can you describe the main character?
- What are you most scared of and why?
- Would you choose an airplane or a helicopter? Why?
- Do adults ever make mistakes? What happens when they do?
- Why is it important to be accountable?
- What do you think teachers do on Saturdays?
- What is your favorite sport? What makes you like it so much?
- Write a story from the eyes of one of your family members?
- Describe what you consider to be your greatest achievement.
- Name one thing you can’t wait to do when you’re older? Why is that what you look forward to?
Searching for More?
If you are looking for more ways to engage your students? Take a look around our site and check out our resources. With lots of great information explore and find something new.
If you feel like we missed something or you have a great idea for us to use, please reach out and let us know we’d love to hear from you.
The Character Comma
Writing tips for all things character and comma
Creative Writing Prompt List
Need a way to break out of writer’s block? Just want to further develop your characters? Search for something specific or browse your options!
If you’re looking for writing prompts, but don’t want to use the Writing Prompt Generator , then you’ve come to the right place!
This complete list of writing prompts includes everything from the Generator, but listed out and organized by prompt type.
Prompt List Navigation:
- Writing Craft Prompts
- Character & World Development Prompts
- Story Starter Prompts
- Dialogue Prompts
- Scenario Prompts
Writing Craft Prompt List
- Pick a scene in your novel. Write it from the point of view of a generic, unnamed background character.
- Pick a scene in your novel. Write it from a different character’s point of view.
- Find a dialogue-heavy scene of your story. Rewrite it as if it were an overly dramatic soap opera.
- Find a romantic scene of your story. Rewrite it as if it were a steamy, bodice-ripping romance.
- Think about your unfinished novel’s plot going forward. Fastwrite as many crazy “What if” statements as you can think of in a minute.
- Write a 1-page scene with BAD dialogue. Make it the WORST dialogue in the history of the world! When you’re done, rewrite the same scene with good dialogue instead.
- Pick a setting in your novel. Make a list of sensory details your character might experience at that setting. Write at least two for each of the 5 senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell).
- Think about a climactic moment in your story when your hero just barely wins. Write about what would happen if they lost instead.
- Rewrite a scene in 1st person instead of 3rd, or 3rd person instead of 1st.
- Write a short story that is EXACTLY 500 words. Only 200 of those words can be three letters or less. It’s hard, but this is an extremely powerful exercise in line editing and being very intentional in your writing!
- Everything in your story is the same, except swap the gender of each character.
- Write an interaction between two characters. Have the first sentence start with an A-word, the second sentence start with a B-word, and so on through the alphabet. Make it sound as natural as possible!
- Go to your bookshelf, close your eyes, and pick up the first book you touch. Open it to a random page and read the first full sentence. Write a scene that includes that sentence. (From Writer’s Digest )
Development Prompt List
- Your character just won the lottery. What do they do? What do they buy?
- It is the last page of your character’s story. What would they tell the first-page version of themselves if they had a chance?
- Write an apology letter to the character you hurt the most.
- Write a letter from your main character to an unbiased “pen pal.” Have them talk about what’s going on, justify what they’re doing, etc.
- Complete this sentence for your character: “The most terrifying thing in the world is…”
- Complete this sentence for your character: “The most important thing in the world is…”
- Complete this sentence for your character: “I was put here on earth to…”
- What are your character’s strongest talents? What unique skill sets do they possess?
- Why is your main character the main character? What do they add to the story that no one else can?
- If your character had a genie to grant them three wishes, what would they wish for?
- What does your character fear worse than death? What do they want so badly that they would die to achieve it?
- What is the WORST possible thing that could happen right now in your story?
- Law and justice work differently in different places. What does your society’s justice system look like? What are common punishments for criminals? Is the system reasonably fair, or thoroughly corrupt? (From Corvid Knowledge Hoard )
- Does your character have a trademark colour? Invert it. How does that effect your perception of the character? (From Corvid Knowledge Hoard )
- What does your character’s handwriting look like? Is there any significance to it? (From Writer’s Digest )
- Take your main character and place them into your current day job. How does the office respond? Does your character do a good job filling your place? (From Writer’s Digest )
Story Starter Prompt List
- She gives herself out to everyone, bits and pieces of her love and time and soul. She’s falling apart from self-made wounds, digging deep to give out more and more and more for people that don’t deserve it. (From Corvid Knowledge Hoard )
- For such a small town the crime rate was exceptionally high. (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- Destiny wasn’t going to run their lives. They would make their own decisions, no matter how stupid those would be. (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- Sometimes, being under a truth spell just means not being able to lie about being fine anymore. (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- For all the ugly things they had done, their entwined hands looked beautiful together. (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- It was strange to touch him without one of them dying. (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- She lived by 3 simple rules. 1. For the right money she’d kill almost anyone. 2. But never kids. 3. And definitely no dogs. (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- Some said the world would end in fire, some said in ice. Some people even said with zombies. But no one could have known that this was how it all ended. (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- The copy machine broke down in the middle of printing, which made this the third worst thing that happened this morning. (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- The night sky lit up for a second and what followed sounded a lot like the end of the world. (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- What had started as a friendly game of Simon Says quickly turned into a complete and utter disaster. (From Creative Writing Prompts )
Dialogue Prompt List
- “So that’s it? It’s over?”
- “In my defense, he was already dead when I got here.”
- “Can I just whoop your ass now?”
- “You have no idea who I am, do you?”
- “ How was I supposed to know it was haunted?”
- “I’m still way too sober for this.”
- “The more I love you, the more I hate you.”
- “I can’t believe I’d ever fall in love with someone like you.”
- “It’s things like these that keep me up at night.”
- “You can’t get rid of me that easily.”
- “We are all queens of our own kingdoms.”
- “You’re the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, and yet I don’t regret a moment of it.”
- “But if they think we’re a couple, we’ll get the couples discount!”
- “Can you please stop leaving dead bodies on my doorstep? You’re worse than a cat.”
- “I know I signed up for this and all, but… if I die, it’s still your fault and I will not hold back on blaming you.”
- “I can be sweet. Sometimes. To certain people. It happens!” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Normally, I’d have pushed you out the door by now, but you’re making a compelling argument with the bribery.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “I have fifty other excuses I could use. Do you want me to start alphabetically?” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Wow, fantastic. Now we can add stranded on top of our other numerous problems.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Are you always this prone to bad luck and violence? If so, that’s kind of sad.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “I’m not going anywhere until you tell me why I saw you float through a wall.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “I am not grossly romantic. I am the right amount of romantic I’m required to be.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “What I lack in height, I make up for with my attitude.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Rules? Nope, not listening. I’m not following them. Never have, never will.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Not much of this makes sense. The markings are faded and I think some are missing.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “This whole ‘magic’ thing is going too far. There’s no way I’m able to do any of the things you’ve talked about and I think I would have noticed by now if I could.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “No pressure, honest. It’s not like the world is depending on you or anything.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Wow. Here I thought we had a moment. I spilled my story to you and all you have to say is ‘okay’? What does that even mean ?!” (From Witter Prompts )
- “I don’t think this is the biggest mistake you’ve made. It’s probably like…the third worst.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Our new neighbors are simultaneously the scariest and nicest people I’ve met.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “You’re so convinced that I’ll hurt them that you haven’t considered it’s the last thing I’d ever want to do.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “What I don’t want is any more experiments done in parts of my house. I found an ominous purple stain in my carpet yesterday and I know it was your fault.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “What have I told you about listening to your gut more? It’s smart. Do it.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Aw, look at you, using fancy words at me. You’ve certainly grown up, haven’t you?” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Would you believe me if I said what you saw was a trick of the light?” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Shouting at each other across the room doesn’t count as having a proper conversation about your feelings. Wouldn’t you rather all of this be private, anyway?” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Didn’t we agree that you should keep your magic out of my house? Everything I own suffers when you try a new spell.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “I’m not letting karma deal with this. I can’t trust it’ll be enough of a punishment, nor can I say it’d be fast enough.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “You’d think I’d be embarrassed, but let’s be real with each other. I’ve done far worse things.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “If the duct tape doesn’t work, then I have no idea what else to do. You’re on your own after that.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Don’t forget we’re enemies. I’m not letting anyone kill you but me, understand? Now sit still and let me bandage your side.” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Aren’t hunters supposed to kill monsters like us? Why are you helping me?” (From Witter Prompts )
- “Knowing what you know now, if you could go back. Would you do it? Kill xir before xe can ever do these things?” (From Corvid Knowledge Hoard )
- “There are fewer fortune-tellers than you may think,” says the witch. “I mean, tarot, sure. Predictions and unclear oracles of maybes. But actual knowing ? Nah, man, you can only do that if the Fates have blinded themselves to you.” (From Corvid Knowledge Hoard )
- “I want you to know how much I enjoy this. The taste of your blood, the smell of your fear. I could’ve let you go. But I’m doing this because I want to. There is no mercy here.” (From Corvid Knowledge Hoard )
- “Are you angry? I did not intend to hurt you, this I swear. I did not know how to not. But ignorance of the good doesn’t excuse the bad. I’m sorry.” (From Corvid Knowledge Hoard )
- “Xe lives off life energy, dumbass. It’s not like food- I know we compare it to a hunger a lot, but xir body literally cannot make itself live. Every moment that xe is not feeding, xe is dying. Do you think you could maybe ease off a little bit? It’s tough. I know xe’s not what you wanted, not the person you remembered but we’re doing our best.” (From Corvid Knowledge Hoard )
- “Bruh, I don’t know where you got the idea that I’m a good person, but if you want to keep it. Leave now.” (From Corvid Knowledge Hoard )
- “You’ve dragged me into this hellhole, but you can’t make me leave!” (From Corvid Knowledge Hoard )
- “So I think we’ve all accepted that I’m going to die at this point, but since you’re a historian can you at least make my death really cool?” (From Corvid Knowledge Hoard )
- “There’s something really funny about watching [villain] eat peanut butter with a spoon. During a battle. Because I can’t touch xir. Did I say funny? I meant infuriating.” (From Corvid Knowledge Hoard )
- “That’s the thing about X. Xe will claw xir way out of hell out of spite, but xe’ll throw xirself back in to save someone xe cares about.” (From Corvid Knowledge Hoard )
- “We’ll become legends. One way or another.” (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- “Am I a hero or the devil’s son? Can’t figure out what side I’m on.” (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- “So from the bottom of my cold, dead heart, screw you.” (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- “I’ve been the family disappointment for years! You can’t just suddenly show up at dinner and steal my rightful title!” (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- “I’m not saying this is all my fault, but I would be open to take a tiny bit of responsibility for this.” (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- “Last night I tried to imagine myself without you. The thing is, I could and I felt so much better.” (From Creative Writing Prompts )
Scenario Prompt List
- Two of your characters sneak down to the kitchen for a midnight snack. They bump into each other. Write that interaction.
- After getting hit by a car, your main character wakes up in an alternate universe surrounded by strangers. The entire life they knew before the accident had all been a dream.
- Assassins: After stalking her prey and tracking his movements for so long, your character has begun to fall in love with him.
- Assassins: Your character and his love interest are hired to kill each other.
- Assassin/Fake Dating: After being undercover as the target’s ‘girlfriend’ for several months, your character is ordered to finish the job.
- Your main cast is a team of reality TV ghost hunters. This time, the house is actually haunted.
- Fake Dating: Your character convinces their best friend/crush to a family gathering with them as their ‘date.’
- Fake Dating: Your character couldn’t stand the family gathering ‘you’re still single?’ ridicule, so she threw out the name of her crush… who happens to be a family friend, and is present at the gathering.
- Masquerade Ball: Your main romantic couple meets at a masquerade ball, and can’t recognize each other.
- Pirate/Mermaid: Your character is a merciless pirate, and she just wrangled her best prey yet. A mermaid.
- Soulmate: A red thread of fate connects your character to his soulmate. The threat cannot be broken, but it can stretch and tangle.
- Soulmate: There’s a timer tattoo on your character’s wrist that counts down to the moment she’ll meet her soulmate.
- Soulmate: When your character goes to sleep, in his dreams he can see the world through his soulmate’s eyes.
- Soulmate: Your character can see her soulmate in her bedroom mirror every night. They’ve never met in real life.
- Superhero: Your character is an undercover superhero. Their love interest is an undercover supervillain. The two know each other in real life, but DON’T know about each other’s secret identities.
- Superhero: Your character just found out that their best friend is destined to be the next Villain.
- Superhero: Your character’s superpower never manifested.
- When your character wakes up, he realizes he doesn’t even know his own name.
- While on vacation, your character’s parents call. They say to not bother coming home; they’re kicking your character out.
- Your character finds a craigslist ad looking for company for a cross-country road trip.
- Your character finds a craigslist ad looking for teammates for the upcoming Ultimate Ping-Pong Tournament.
- Your character follows a strange man into a back alley, hoping to buy drugs. But instead, he simply hands your character a gilded four-leaf clover (or another strange trinket/random object).
- Your character gets a call from a friend they haven’t heard from in years. The friend says that she’s about to become the next victim of a rampant serial killer, and your character is the only one who can help.
- Your character gets a call from a friend they haven’t heard from in years. The friend tells your character that she is the Chosen One.
- Your character realizes that she’s a fictional character in a novel.
- Your character wakes up to find that the person in the mirror is definitely not them.
- Your character’s future child appears, fully grown. The child says he went back in time in order to change the future, with your character’s help.
- Your character’s long-dead grandma appears out of the blue. She says your character is from an alien race that’s about to invade Earth, and they must return to the home planet for safety.
- Your character’s long-lost grandma arrives out of the blue. She says your character is actually royalty, and must take the throne of a country your character has never even heard of.
- Your character’s long-time crush just knocked on her door. He’s dressed as a pizza guy stripper, and he doesn’t realize he has the wrong address until it’s too late.
- Your villain’s main henchman just quit. Write about the villain’s secretary trying to find a suitable replacement.
- They haven’t seen each other in a long time, but Person A realizes they are still Person B’s emergency contact, when they get a call from the hospital. (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- Both heirs of the feuding countries do not want the war to go on and declare themselves madly in love with each other to stop their fathers’ pointless fighting. (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- Imagine your OTP where Person A doesn’t have a birthday so Person B says they are allowed to choose the date. And they choose a day that they associate with Person B. (From Creative Writing Prompts )
- Write about the day your character met their best friend. (From Writer’s Digest )
- Your character is absent-mindedly singing to himself, when suddenly the topic of the song comes true. (From Writer’s Digest )
- Your character is driving by rental car when they hear the thump of a flat tire. After pulling over, they realize the thump wasn’t from a flat. It’s coming from the trunk. (From Writer’s Digest )
About This Writing Prompt List
This writing prompt list includes 136 unique prompts!
Sometimes the prompts reference certain pronouns for better clarity, but don’t let that stop you from applying it to whoever you want.
Last updated: Added 15 new prompts on April 25th, 2021.
Writing Prompt Credit & Sources:
Most of the listed writing prompts are my own, but some were inspired by various places around the web and others were taken with permission by dedicated writing prompt blogs.
Credit and thanks to:
- Writer’s Digest
- Witter Prompts
- Corvid Knowledge Hoard
- Creative Writing Prompts
If you like what you see from one of these blogs, please go visit their site for more!
50 creative writing prompts to enrich your craft
Creative writing prompts provide a useful way to jog inspiration. Try these creative writing exercises focused on individual elements of storytelling:
- Post author By Jordan
- 13 Comments on 50 creative writing prompts to enrich your craft
Creative writing prompts – find inspiration to:
Create compelling dialogue, craft vivid setting descriptions, create interesting characters, create strong story openings, master tense, craft more effective sentences and phrases, find story ideas.
- Create eventful plots
Craft satisfying story endings
1. a relocation.
Prompt: A character is moving to another city. She visits her favourite public place and sees something that makes her want to stay. Describe this in 500 words, using third person POV (he/she). Then rewrite in first person, using ‘I’.
Why: Rewriting third person scenes (especially emotional ones) in first person helps you find your character’s voice. You’re telling the reader what your character thinks as your character, not an observer. When you rewrite in third person (if you prefer this POV), some of this immediacy will carry over.
Prompt: A character is being chased by a villain or villainous group through an abandoned warehouse. Describe their fear and lucky escape in 500 words or less. Rewrite the piece from the viewpoint of the villain(s).
Why: Rewriting a protagonist’s scenes from the antagonist’s perspective can help you create a more realistic sense of threat, since you will be able to picture the protagonist as well as antagonist’s movements and psychological state clearer.
3. A late arrival
Prompt: A character arrives late to a party, not knowing that an old significant other is attending too. The relationship didn’t end well. The host introduces them to each other, unaware of their history.
In 500 words or less, write the scene and rewrite it twice, once from each character’s perspective: The late arriver, the ex and the host.
Why: Sometimes a story scene can be effective written from a secondary character’s point of view. Writing as a neutral observer might help you notice details worth including in the scene (such as the main characters’ actions and body language); actions that you wouldn’t think about as much if you were writing from a different viewpoint.
GET YOUR FREE GUIDE TO SCENE STRUCTURE
Read a guide to writing scenes with purpose that move your story forward.
4. A long affair
Prompt: A POV writing exercise courtesy of Writer’s Digest:
A teenage couple is sitting at a restaurant, playfully making up a fake Cosmo love test for each other. What questions do they ask each other? Now, write the same scene, but this time the couple is in their thirties. How would the questions differ? Write the same scene again, but this time the couple has been married for fifteen years. How would their questions be different than the other two tests?
Why: Character development makes your characters feel real. Rewriting scenes from the POV of younger and older versions of your characters will give you a sense of how your characters’ voices and concerns could change over the course of your novel realistically.
5. A change of view
Prompt: A detective is called to a small hotel to investigate the disappearance of a guest. Describe him searching the guest’s room in 500 words or less. Use first person POV. Then rewrite the scene in the second person (using ‘you’ to describe his actions, as though the reader were the detective).
Why: Although the second person is very uncommon as a point of view, writing a series of actions in second person can help you get into descriptive mode – you’re putting the reader immediately in the viewpoint character’s shoes, making them see and do exactly what your character sees and does.
6. An argument
Prompt: Two lovers are having an argument in a bar. Character one hates public displays and is trying to calm the situation. Character two doesn’t care at all what other patrons think. Write their exchange in 500 words or less.
Why: Conflict in dialogue makes it lively and the raised stakes draw readers in. The point of this creative writing prompt is to remind you to include individual characters’ differing psychologies and likes and dislikes so that each character’s voice is distinct.A new tag
7. Remove dialogue tags
Prompt 7: Take several lines of dialogue (either your own or another writer’s work) that use dialogue tags (‘he said’, ‘she said’).
Rewrite the exchange without any dialogue tags, describing each character’s body language (e.g. crossing arms, pacing back and forth, sitting down, standing up) between their spoken lines instead. (E.g. “You said the same thing yesterday.” She crosses her arms, leaning back.)
Why: Dialogue tags can be distracting and repetitive. Body language can show how your characters are speaking and feeling without telling the reader outright, and this brings characters to life.
8. A public figure
Prompt: A public figure (a celebrity or politician) is giving a long speech when they are interrupted by a member of the audience and heckled. The speaker loses their calm and responds to the heckler in far more informal speech.
Why: We use different ways of talking depending on whom we address. Creating sudden shifts in how a character talks in scenarios such as this helps us remember to vary a character’s expression according to their circumstances.
9. An elevator pitch
Prompt: Two characters have been stuck in a lift for an hour. They were strangers but they begin opening up, telling each other about their lives while they wait for assistance. Their conversation is awkward at first but by the end it’s as though they’re old friends. Use 500 words or less.
Why: Creating a sense of progression in dialogue shows change and this change and sense of development is a large part of what makes a story interesting.
10. A group project
Prompt: . Four college students have been put in a group to compile a report. Each has a very different work approach. One student loves to research first, another likes to organize people and delegate tasks, one is a lazy slacker and one just agrees with everyone else to avoid conflict. Write their argument about how to complete the project.
Why: It’s important when writing multi-character scenes to give each character a voice that corresponds to their immediate goals as well as personalities. This exercise will help you create multi-character scenes that are complex and rich with dramatic potential.
[Try extra character writing exercises here for further practice.]
11. A lone hiker
Prompt: Imagine your character has gone hiking in a forest on a mountainside. There is nobody else around. Describe what they hear as they pass through different parts – a densely wooded area, a stream, and a high ravine.
Why: Often when we write setting we rely on visual description almost exclusively. Creative writing prompts that help you invoke the other senses will help you create fuller mental imagery for readers.
12. A city changes
Prompt: Describe the general goings-on in a city over the past 100 years. In the course of your description, describe at least one major landmark that’s changed as well as one memorable event that residents won’t soon forget.
Why: Writing setting well, especially in historical fiction, requires showing place as dynamic rather than static. The process of time changes a place and showing these changes occasionally makes your novel’s locations feel real.
13. A sailor’s impressions
Prompt: Describe a seaside city from the viewpoint of a traveler who is visiting for the first time. Describe the same place again from the viewpoint of a local. Think about the different places in the city each would find interesting, and have each character list three things they love and three things they hate about the city.
Why: Characters’ relations to places affect what they notice about them and where they go, and the same place in your novel can have multiple qualities depending on whose POV is being used. A visiting character might end up eating at awful tourist-bait diners, for example, while a local is more likely to avoid these.
14. A house changes
Prompt: Describe a big, rambling house in the daytime and make it seem comfortable and homely. Rewrite the piece, keeping everything except the adjectives the same. Change the describing words you use so the house feels sinister, eerie or outright terrifying.
Why: In setting, time of day and place work together to establish mood and atmosphere. This exercise will help you show how places take on different characters according to the conditions under which we experience them.
15. A character’s refuge
Prompt: Imagine your character has a favourite place they escape to whenever they feel stressed or need quality alone time. It could be somewhere in nature or else an inner city café, music hall or public library. Describe this setting in 500 words including at least three of senses: smell, touch, sound, sight or taste.
Why: Involving the reader’s senses in your settings makes your fictional world easier to imagine. We form memories of places not just through vision but the other senses too. Do this exercise regularly to create memorable locations for your story.
16. A Mary Sue
Prompt: Describe a character who is loved by everyone (if you’ve seen the cult classic show Twin Peaks , Laura Palmer is a good example). Describe the character and what is so lovely about her in 500 words or less, but end with a secret or flaw that not everyone sees.
Why: Story characters who are perfect are boring. Great characters are light and shade. ‘Good characters’ can have flaws and ‘bad’ characters can have pasts that show the reader a human side. The villain Lord Voldemort in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was once an ordinary boy.
17. A police line-up
Prompt: Imagine a character who witnessed a crime has to identify the perpetrator in a police line-up. Each of the suspects is quite similar looking but there is one vivid aspect of the guilty party that stands out. Describe your character noticing this stand-out feature and realizing who the guilty suspect is in 500 words or less.
Why: When we describe characters, we often reach for the most obvious physical features such as hairstyle and eye colour. But these are seldom particularly identifying and can read as clichéd. When readers could spot your characters in a police line-up, you’ll know they are vivid. [Someone on Tumblr used forensics software to put together sketches of famous literary characters based on their descriptions: See more here ].
18.A formative experience
Prompt: Imagine a character who has a single, over-arching goal in his or her life (it could be the quest for money or love, status or acceptance, for example). Now describe a single event from your character’s life that strongly influenced their adopting this goal. Describe the event from the character’s viewpoint as a memory, in 500 words or less.
Why: Even if you don’t explicitly mention a character’s entire backstory in your novel, knowing details about why your character wants and strive for specific things will help you create a three-dimensional cast for your novel.
19. An intriguing voice
Prompt: Go to YouTube. Click on a random video and quickly minimize the window before you see anything. Describe the voice of the first person you hear speaking, in detail. Is there any defining characteristic? Is it low, high, raspy, clear? Do they have a stutter or an odd way of starting, pausing, or ending sentences? Begin with ‘Her/his voice is/was like…’
Why: Thinking about the differences in how people sound and express themselves will help you write characters whose voices are unique and interesting.
20. A metamorphosis
Prompt: It’s fun to ask yourself questions such as ‘if my character were an animal/song/building/food item, what would they be?’ Imagine a character in her mid 40’s who’s a schoolteacher. Her class loves her because she’s a bit odd and quirky. Now answer these questions:
If my character were an animal what would she be and why?
If my character were a song, what would it be and why?
Why: Creative writing prompts that involve asking questions about imaginary people help to create a more concrete idea of them in your mind’s eye. Even if your reader doesn’t know every little thing about your character, you should have a very deep understanding of them yourself so that, if they’re faced with a specific situation, you will already have some intuition as to how they will react.
21. A dramatic incident
Prompt: Begin an opening sentence with a character having died. For example, Faulkner begins his acclaimed story ‘A Rose for Emily’ thus:
When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant–a combined gardener and cook–had seen in at least ten years. William Faulkner, ‘A Rose for Emily’. Available online here .
Why: Dramatic story openings that leave things unanswered pull the reader in. How exactly was Miss Emily a monument? Why is she so intriguing to the town and why had nobody seen the inside of her house? How did she die? Faulkner leaves many questions to answer in the course of the story.
22. A narrator’s regret
Prompt: Begin a story with the words ‘If I’d known then what I know now, I never would have…’ Continue the opening for up to 500 words.
Why: Conditionals (if, would, could, etc.) create a question in the reader: ‘Then what?’ Beginning a story with a character talking about having grown or acquired new knowledge in some way makes it clear to the reader that there has been momentous change of some kind, and change is what creates story.
23. An uncommon birth
Prompt: Begin a story ‘I was born…’ Many classic novels that are bildungsromans (stories about coming of age) follow this format (e.g. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie).
Why: Great characters have history and can remember (and are driven to some extent by) important life events. You don’t have to give your character’s life history from the day they were born. But write a list for each character in your novel about important events in their life, even if we only meet them when they are in their thirties.
24. A strange action
Prompt: Begin a story with a surprising or unusual action. For example, ‘I rushed around the house in terror, turning every tap on full’.
Why: The mundane and everyday can happen in the course of your novel. But keep the most mundane parts of your book for any part but the beginning. An unusual or inexplicable action as an opening creates curiosity.
25. An encompassing idea
Prompt: Write a first line that encompasses the whole of a story idea. For example, the first line of The Lord of the Rings written this way could be ‘I had been to Mount Doom and back, and everything in the Shire had changed.’ This great exercise was suggested by Joe Bunting of The Write Practice in his post on writing great first lines .
Why: Being able to condense your story into a single line is a good skill to have. It’s often best to write the first line of your novel once you have finished your first draft, too, and once you have all the details of plot you’ll be especially able to find an opening that encompasses the central ideas your book covers.
26. A marriage day
Prompt: Imagine a character describing her wedding day. Describe how she and her future spouse walk down the aisle and how she feels about the occasion, all in the present tense and first person plural (‘we’). Then rewrite the passage in the future tense (‘We will’).
Why: Different tenses and moods have interesting effects (e.g. the subjunctive mood is used to describe hypothetical situations – ‘if I had been president, I would have…’). Rewriting an important event in the future tense can show a character’s longing or the castles in the sky they are building. Writing the above scenario this way can be very effective if you will later show how the event did not go to plan at all. It will let you create a contrast between expectation and reality and this element of surprise is a satisfying component of storytelling.
27. A revelation
Prompt: Your character is a high school student who has just sat his exams.
Describe the exams he has completed in the recent past tense (e.g. ‘Yesterday, I wrote history and my pen ran out of ink in the middle of the French Revolution’).
Now rewrite the piece in the past perfect (past perfect tense shows actions that are complete, e.g. ‘I had walked to the exam venue at 8:00 am.’) End the rewrite with a revelation that came on the last day (for example, the entire class had to re-sit the exam because there was a mix-up with question papers).
Why: Past perfect tense is useful for creating anticipation, because it shows something happened before something else . The reader says to herself ‘I see that all these actions have been completed, so what are they leading to?’ Mastering past perfect will help you create a more complex sense of time and chronology in your novel.
28. An interview
Prompt: Describe a character waiting nervously outside a venue for a job interview. Describe what they are worried they will be asked and in what ways they feel prepared. Write in recent past tense, ending with ‘the door opened’. After this, rewrite the same scene in the present progressive tense (beginning ‘I am sitting outside….’ and ending ‘the door opens…’)
Why: It is important to be consistent with tense in a single section of your book or scene, unless transitions between tenses are logical and easy to follow (for example, a character shifting from sharing a memory to describing a present action). Mastering ‘present progressive tense’ (the tense using present participles that shows immediate, current action) will help you create active scenes that unfold in front of the reader.
29. A five-year plan
Prompt: Describe a character making plans for where they will be in life when they reach 30. Make several uses of the future perfect tense that indicates an action that will be complete in the future (e.g. ‘I will have finished studying’).
Why: Characters, like real people, project themselves into the future, imagining when certain tasks or undertakings will be finished and what their achievements will look like. Future perfect tense shows that the narrator’s current situation has a definite end-point, making it clear that your character is in a state of transition. This helps to create a sense of both shorter time and longer time scales in your novel.
30. An unexpected visitor
Prompt: Begin a story about an unexpected visit with the words ‘I had not been expecting anyone, but…’ Use the past perfect progressive tense (‘I had been [working/walking/thinking/waiting/missing]’) at least two more times in the exercise.
Why: The past perfect progressive tense is used to describe a continuous action that was completed in the past. It’s useful for writing about interruptions because there is an implied ‘but’ or ‘when something else happened’. For example ‘I had been reclining by the pool with my eyes closed when I heard an unfamiliar voice.’
31. An imperfect copy
Prompt: Open a favorite book to a random page and pick a paragraph. Copy out the paragraph but change every adjective to a synonym. Compare the two versions and note any differences in connotations. For example ‘green’ describes the color, but ‘verdant’ describes the green of lush vegetation or grasslands specifically.
Why: When you rewrite, finding more descriptive alternatives for words that perhaps aren’t carrying enough weight will make your writing more vivid.
32. A marathon
Prompt: Write a scene where your main character is running a competitive marathon. Describe her progress and feelings as she nears the finish line. The first time around, use adverbs (e.g. ‘I ran quickly around the bend in the road’), then rewrite using descriptive verbs instead of verb-plus-adverb (e.g. ‘I hurtled/sprinted’, instead of ‘I ran quickly’).
Why: Adverbs tell the reader how an action is performed, while active verbs show that specific quality of action more imaginatively.
33. A synonymous exchange
Prompt: Write a scene between two characters who are out on a date at a restaurant. They mirror each other’s gestures from time to time in a subconscious display of affinity. For the first pass, use the same words for these gestures (e.g. ‘She smiled at me as she returned from the restroom and I smiled back.’) The second time around, take all the double words (e.g. ‘smiled’ and ‘smiled’) and replace one with a synonym so there is less repetition.
Why: Sometimes it is hard not repeating the same word in short succession or you do so intentionally for effect. Yet using the same describing words within a short space of time for different objects or actions can feel amateurish and repetitive to readers. Use this exercise to practice creating variation and to expand your repertoire of useful synonyms.
34. A precocious child
Prompt: Write a scene in which your main character is talking with a precocious child who uses big words a lot (such as ‘precocious’, meaning showing certain abilities or interests at a younger age than the norm). Then go through the scene and find the shortest possible alternative for every longer word. An alternative to ‘precocious’ could be ‘clever’.
Why: Learning to simplify your writing and strip it down to its most basic meanings is important for becoming a good editor. Before you can write great ornate prose, you need to have a good sense of how to write simply and sparingly.
35. A letter
Prompt: Write a scene in the passive voice, where a character receives bad news in a letter and describes being given the letter and reading it. For example, ‘The letter was given to me yesterday.’ Then rewrite the whole scene in the active voice, where the character is in the subject position: ‘I received a letter yesterday.’
Why: A lot has been written about using active voice rather than passive voice. Passive voice can be used intentionally to create the impression that a character is fairly passive in their life and pushed and pulled by others. Generally, though, active characters are interesting to read about because we have a sense of their actions being purposeful and driven by some or other immediate goal, and that creates stakes that arouse interest.
36. A newsworthy hook
Prompt: Go to Google search and click on ‘news’, then type in a single word. It can be the name of a place, a colour, a job description. Then use the first line of the top result to begin a story and continue for 500 words. For example, for ‘purple’ the current result is ‘Jimi Hendrix would have been perfectly comfortable with the purple haze of uncertainty that surrounds many of the Liberal government’s most pressing agenda items.’ Granted, it would be an odd story, but you could write speculative fiction about Jimi Hendrix returning from the dead to be a guitar-playing political commentator.
Why: News articles are a great source of story ideas, from the ordinary to the bizarre.
37. A chance find
Prompt: Open a favourite novel to a random page. Use the first 5-7 words of the first complete sentence to begin writing a story. For example, from Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle: ‘I was going to beat him…’
Why: Other writers’ books are filled with great turns of phrase. A single image or action can spark your imagination and start off an interesting story.
38. An autocomplete
Prompt: Go to Google search and start typing in a phrase beginning ‘What if’. Look in the auto-complete suggestions that pop up (for ‘what if everyone was’ a suggestion is ‘what if everyone was vegan’). Write a story opening up to 500 words long that explores this idea in greater detail.
Why: Many great stories and novels branch out from a simple premise. For example, C.S. Lewis’ great fantasy novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe starts from the question ‘what if there were another world where animals could talk and we could reach it through secret portals?’
39. A blind stroke of luck
Prompt: Open a dictionary to a random page five times, close your eyes and land your finger on a random word. Write each of the five down and try to combine them into a story idea. For example, for ‘alternative’, ‘full’, ‘discovery’, ‘critic’ and ‘original’, you could come up with ‘A critic obsessed with Kafka makes a discovery – a drawer full of alternative original drafts of stories that seem to give a cryptic message.’
Why: Using random techniques can jog your creativity and help you find curious combinations of subject matter you’d never normally dream of writing about.
40. A song to start it all
Prompt: Take a playlist on a music streaming service or your own device and select shuffle.
Press play and use the words of the title as either the opening of a story or to create the main idea. For example, the words ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (the title of a song by the band Joy Division) could be words a character thinks in a story about an unhappy love affair.
Why: Songs are great sources of writing inspiration because they are often ambiguous and allow us to fill in the gaps using our own imaginations.
Create eventful plots
41. a great win.
Prompt: Write a scene in which a person wins the lottery. Describe their excitement and the lead-up to claiming their ticket, and the moment that they find out that they got the date of the draw wrong and didn’t win anything after all.
Why: The ‘reversal of fortune’ is a common ingredient of tragedy and drama. Practice writing about reversals of fortune to improve at creating the rising and falling action of dramatic moments in your stories’ plots.
42. A prophecy
Prompt: Write a scene in which a prophet comes to a village and shares a premonition that throws the townspeople into turmoil. Describe how a main character decides to set about resolving the situation.
Why: The catalyst for your story, the inciting event that sets it in motion, needs to create tension (whether between characters or within one character) that begs resolution. This exercise will help you practice creating action-centered story beginnings.
43. A betrayal
Prompt: Write a scene in which two old friends have a fight that threatens to dissolve their friendship for good. It could be a fight over a clash of values or a personal betrayal. Towards the end, show that there is a glimmer of hope that they will reconcile.
Why: Conflict (whether internal or between characters) is the lifeblood of great plots. If everything is easy and straightforward for your characters, the stakes are low and the reader invests less emotionally.
44. An adoption
Prompt: A woman has been searching for her birth mother for years because there are important questions she needs to ask her. She’s finally found the right address and has made contact, and the woman has invited her over. Start with ‘She rings the bell’ and describe their interaction for about 500 words.
Why: Climactic plot moments are opportunities to create suspense and resolution. Isolating and practicing writing moments of plot revelation will help you handle moments of truth creatively and assuredly.
45. A new piece of evidence
Prompt: A detective has been on the hunt for a notorious killer for years. He’s finally tracked him down to a hideout and the detective manages to cuff and arrest him. But while combing through the killer’s hideout, the detective makes a shocking discovery that opens a whole new chapter. Write an ending for this story that also suggests the beginning of a new plot line.
Why: Writing a book series is challenging, and knowing how to create new arcs even as you resolve major ones helps to keep readers invested in seeing what your protagonist will face next.
46. A late pardon
Prompt: A man imprisoned wrongly for a crime is released after 20 years. He’s lost touch with his family. Describe his surprise homecoming in 500 words or less.
Why: Dramatic stories that carry a lot of emotional weight need to be resolved satisfyingly. If your protagonist has suffered immensely, the ultimate deliverance should read as comparatively immense. This exercise will help you find dramatic story endings for dramatic beginnings.
47. A better ending
Prompt: Take a novel that had an ending you found unsatisfying. Rewrite the ending and change elements so that you’re happy with the outcome.
Why: Sometimes writers make choices that upset us. We finish thinking ‘there was so much promise, and then they went and did that ‘. So practice writing endings that satisfy your expectations of a book so that you are best equipped to satisfy your readers’ own.
48. An educated guess
Prompt: Read the first paragraph of a short story or novel, then close the book and write a final paragraph.
Why: Many story openings give a clear sense of what the general themes and preoccupations of the book are. It’s important that the opening and closing of your book resonate with each other, so practice writing these two parts together as an exercise.
49. A top-rated finale
Prompt: Take a favorite television series or movie. Make up your own ending based on what you can remember of the plot line and characters.
Why: Using TV shows and movies as inspiration is effective because screenwriters are especially well-versed in strong beginnings and openings. Practicing an exercise like this will help you think like a screenwriter in how you craft compelling story endings.
50. A blank slate
Prompt: Create your own prompt for writing a story ending and post it in the comments below
Why: Coming up with prompts is a valuable creative exercise in itself.
Find daily writing prompts with exercises to practice literary devices and craft.
Try easy, step-by-step prompts that will help you outline your novel and support to see you through the challenging first draft.
- Daily writing prompts: 365 ways to practice craft
- Character archetypes: How to enrich your novel's cast
- Creating your own budget MFA in Creative Writing
- Tags writing exercises , writing inspiration , writing prompts
Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.
13 replies on “50 creative writing prompts to enrich your craft”
This is an amazing list! I love the fact that you listed a “why” after each exercise, it really helps to focus the mind. I’ve included a link to this post in my latest blog post on https://elisabethannewritesthings.wordpress.com/ I hope you don’t mind! If you do, let me know and I will take it down, but I thought it would be great to share it with other people.
Thanks, Elisabeth. Not at all, I’m glad you liked it and grateful for the mention. B.
[…] you are struggling to come up with ideas to write about daily, these great writing prompts will inspire you and maybe take your writing in a new […]
Writing prompts has a great significance. It helps the readers come to know the goal of writing the article.A single word, a single line even a picture can be the writing prompts.So, we should be more creative to write a writing prompts.It must be clear, concise and focused.Nowadays, many paper writing service, online writing schools help us to learn writing prompts. Here you have shared fifty real life example of writing prompts. These examples must help us to write a great prompt. Thank you for sharing.
Hi Cody, it’s a pleasure. Thank you for reading!
I wrote a short story based on the first one, and I didn’t follow it exactly but I am really happy with it. I plan on having my friends edit it. I love the why it helps me understand what the point of it is besides just typing words. Thankyou
It’s a pleasure, Emilie. I’m glad you found it inspiring. Good luck with your story!
There are some amazing ideas here! So glad I found this list, you’ve really got me thinking! Thank you 🙂
I loved the prompts as well as the structure of your post! It certainly gave me some food for thought…I was wondering if there’s some way to get feedback on what I write using these prompts, though…is that possible?
Thank you Ananya, I’m glad you enjoyed this article!
You can share pieces for feedback from peers in our members-only writing groups. You can sign up here: https://www.nownovel.com/users/sign_up
Fantastic. Thank you.
It’s a pleasure, Tinka, thank you for reading!
[…] Look no further than http://www.nownovel.com/blog/50-creative-writing-prompts/ […]
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Clever Character Prompts: A Guide To Making Your Character Come Alive
- March 15, 2022
Character development is perhaps the most critical part of a novel or short story. Creating characters that readers can connect to and care about is key to the reader caring about the story at all. An audience reads a book because they care about the character and want to know what happens to him or her.
Character writing prompts can help you to create a character if you’re having trouble coming up with a person a reader might care about or connect with. Or perhaps you’ve got a character in mind, but you’re having trouble with character development and need some inspiration to get the character to come to life.
This article will give you ideas for character prompts that will help you start from the very beginning of character creation or help you develop an existing character.
8 Creative Ways to Find Character Writing Prompts:
1. get into the main character’s head.
To really make the reader understand who the protagonist is in your work of fiction, you need to get inside the character’s head and describe what you see there. Everything from past trauma and experiences to current social, political, and economic situations affects a character’s life . The readers want to know what influences the personality of the protagonist, so you have to let them have a glimpse inside the character’s head.
Think about the character you’re building and ask yourself: How would the character react if they were put into a situation where they had to make a difficult choice? How would they react to happiness? How does the main character behave in the face of turmoil or conflict?
2. Ways to Write Character Strengths and Flaws
So how do you go about writing a character’s point of view on something? How do you let the reader know more about the inner workings of a character without coming right out and saying it in plain English?
If your main character is really great at solving difficult puzzles, and if their major flaw is that they can’t handle being touched by other characters or people in general, you can get that across to readers with scene exposing.
Scene exposing is when you write a scene and include an example of the character’s strength or weakness in a flashback form or anecdotal form so that the reader understands that the character has a talent that isn’t common or a setback or flaw that affects them in some way that will tie into the story or plot later.
3. Actions Speak Louder Than Words
While the dialogue is certainly important in a story, you should also describe things like body language and how two characters interact physically (Are they disgusted to the point that they move to opposite ends of the room when they have to be around each other? Are they so in love that they can’t keep their hands off each other? Are they so awkward and tense that they can’t make eye contact with each other?)
Write a scene to practice this skill of action and behavior writing. Simply write a scene in which the characters move and touch and interact physically with either each other or their surroundings but don’t speak. Don’t let the words convey the feelings. Make the actions and behavior convey the feelings. This sort of writing prompt is a challenge, but the learning experience is well worth it.
4. Your Character Should Be Close to Real Life
Unless you’re writing science fiction or horror that involves some mutation of a human being or a monster, your characters should be relatable to a point and realistic. Every character, even the hero, should have some sort of flaw or unattractive point. It’s tempting, especially if you’re writing your first novel, to make the protagonist a good person and the antagonist a bad person. As a prompt, and to practice character development, reverse the roles.
5. Role Reversal Character Prompts
Write a protagonist who isn’t a very pleasant person. Think about Elphaba in Wicked . She’s a protagonist who changes drastically from the beginning of the book. Innocent and somewhat disadvantaged as a child, she hopes to make friends and fit in. However, she can’t seem to escape the curse of standing out because she looks different.
She has bright green skin that everyone notices and the way other characters in the book treat her starts to warp her sense of decency and kindness. She experiences love, happiness in very small doses, and she is incredibly intelligent. She even has great friends. However, she’s about as rotten as a character can be, especially for a protagonist. Creating characters who don’t fit the mold of protagonist and antagonist is fun, but it can be challenging.
Now make your antagonist a wonderful character. Maybe he spends each Friday night volunteering at a homeless shelter, and then Saturday mornings are spent planning murders. This character has a heart of gold, but he’s also got a violent streak and a mean streak, and he only kills people he feels deserve it.
Think of Love Quinn-Goldberg in You. She’s the wife of the protagonist, Joe, and she’s a ruthless murderer. She kills anyone who threatens her marriage, family, or freedom. While she is the antagonist in the story, she’s also a struggling mother who tries her best to raise her son because she loves him very much. She’s also willing to do anything for her husband, including killing anyone who threatens his happiness or their relationship.
6. Look at Your Own Personality
What are the things that make you an interesting character? This is one of those prompts that are a bit more challenging because it means you must engage in some self-reflection. As a writer, have you ever taken the time to think about yourself as a character? Do you often put some of yourself into your characters, or do you write characters who are a lot different than you? What is it about you that makes you the character that you are?
When writing characters in a story, consider inserting yourself. Change the name, gender, age, whatever you want, but give them your essence. When a conflict confronts a character, and you’re not sure how to write an appropriate reaction to it, ask yourself what you would do. If you’ve given the character bits and pieces of your own essence, then their behavior and feelings in the face of conflict should mimic or mirror your own.
7. Stop Thinking
If you’re still having trouble with character development, even after you’ve molded a character after yourself, stop thinking. Don’t think in terms of plot, dialogue, or how to get the best drama in your stories. Instead, slow down, empty your mind, and write the scene as if it were a part of your life.
Be honest with yourself and have your character do what you would do, say what you would say, and think what you would think. If you put too much thought into it, you may start lying to yourself. If you lose sight of yourself, you lose sight of the character.
8. Consider a Backstory
Writers don’t often give the entire backstory for characters in creative fiction. They focus on the characters’ current lives and may pause here and there to explore the origin of a character’s trauma or defining moment in their lives. Maybe the character is so driven to succeed because they had to work hard their entire life, having grown up in poverty, never even making it near the middle class.
What is the inner truth of the characters you have created? Do they behave the way they do because they’re trying to escape something? Are they trying to forget something? Come up with a past for these players you’ve invented, and let it inspire you. Shape the current characters from the rocky or privileged places you have decided they come from.
Traumatic Backstory Ideas
While traumatic experiences are difficult to rehash in real life, they often spice up stories in the literary world, giving justice to each character’s vulnerability or toughness. Here are some traumatic backstory ideas which you can incorporate into your writing:
- A character was who is constantly bullied because of their physical appearance during school years.
- A character was pressured to live up to people’s expectations because he came from an elite family.
- A character was cheated on by his partner, leaving him with their two children.
- A character was betrayed by her most-trusted friend.
- A character was consistently ranked second best.
- A character was abandoned by her parents when she was still a baby.
- A character who excelled in sports was not appreciated by her academician parents.
- A character was always neglected by his parents.
- A character from an impoverished family was always discriminated against by wealthy relatives.
- A character’s family was murdered; he was the only survivor.
- A character was abused by an elder relative.
- A character witnessed the near-death experience of a loved one being tortured.
- A character killed someone because of self-defense but was sentenced to life imprisonment.
- A character did not get the recognition he deserved because another character bribed the panelists.
Character Development Exercises
Character development is a laborious process, yet it is a worthwhile exercise and essential to the triumph of a plot. Below are character development exercises that you can do to help you in creating a human-like fictional character:
- Visualize and sketch your character’s appearance, the way they look, move and dress up.
- Complete character profiling, so you can easily connect the characters once they meet in the events of your story.
- List down the character’s biographical information. You may also immerse your character in an interview-like dialogue.
- Imagine your character at all their life milestones. They would act differently in different phases of their life as they mature mentally and emotionally.
- Link a character with their favorite genre of songs, books, or movies. Their preferences would help in developing their personality.
- Write using the eyes of your character. It will let you feel how it feels to be in their shoes.
- Assume your character is in a casual event or on an ordinary routine; how would they behave?
- Think of unique people currently in your life. What makes them stand out from everyone else? Their personalities can be the patterns for the characters’ personalities in your story.
- Write a dialogue where other characters are talking about the protagonist positively or negatively.
- Place the character in a life-threatening event or a life-changing moment; how would they respond?
- Create a scene showing your character’s transformation or transition.
- Pick your favorite story, and imagine your character interacting with the characters of that story.
Character Development Examples
Character development is essential within the story writing process. Over time, each major character is expected to go on a journey and transform into an individual that is either loved or loathed. Below we have provided examples of character development as exemplified by some of these famous literary characters:
- Merry and Pippin in The Lord of the Rings . Merry and Pippin begin as ordinary hobbits who love to eat and drink. However, as the story progresses and their characters develop, Pippin saves Faramir, and Merry fights against the Witch-king. When they eventually go back to the Shire, they discover that Saruman has taken control of their home and they lead a small army of hobbits to win back their territory. If it weren’t for the character development of these two average hobbits, they would be enslaved with the other hobbits.
- Mo in Inkheart Trilogy . Mo is a loving father and husband and is characterized as a book lover with a hidden power. Because of his ability, he is destined to become a hero, later called Bluejay. He originally hesitates to accept this responsibility because he wants to avoid danger. However, through his character development, he gradually loosens his resistance and agrees with the duties bestowed on him. He ultimately fights against Adderhead to protect the people.
- Pip in Great Expectations . Pip is taken care of by his sister and her husband. He meets Miss Havisham and Estella, who influence him to begin dreaming about being upper-class and well-educated. Due to this, Pip slowly turns away from those who love him and hurts them. Later in the story, he regrets what did and realizes that economic status is not everything. His character development allows him see what he has done wrong to those he loves and change for the better.
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WEEKLY WRITING PROMPTS
Join (probably?) the world's largest writing contest. Flex those creative muscles with weekly writing prompts.
Showing 2019 prompts
Temptation time, black friday is the one day of the year where the devil makes selling your soul a good thing, although there are some bizarre t’s & c’s..
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Write a story about somebody trying to rationalize giving into temptation, even though they know they shouldn’t.
Your character finally gives into a temptation they've been avoiding, and becomes better because of it., at some point in your story, a character says “you’re better than this…”., your family’s holiday dinners always end with everyone at each other’s throats. this year you’re determined to keep a low profile, but your patience is being put to the test..
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Set your story in a house of mirrors and make the atmosphere increasingly eerie.
Write a story about a character who one day notices that their reflection has taken on a life of its own., write a story about someone coming across their doppelganger., write a story about someone trying to paint (or otherwise create) a self-portrait., start your story with someone buying a cursed — or perhaps blessed —mirror from an antiques store., subscribe to our prompts newsletter.
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Write about someone who can’t sleep due to jet lag, and decides to set out and explore their new city at night instead.
Write a story about someone pulling an all nighter., start your story with someone saying “i can’t sleep.”, write a story about two people living together who have opposing sleep cycles, and only cross paths at dawn and dusk., set your story before dawn. your character has woken up early for a particular reason., set your story during exam season, when tensions run high and a minor incident sends your protagonist into a panic spiral., write about a student reporter uncovering a university scandal., write a story in which a jaded academic makes an unexpected, rash decision., write about two rival academics pursuing the same grant., start your story with a student discovering a hidden room in a university library., win $250 in our short story competition 🏆.
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Creative Writing Prompts
When the idea to start a weekly newsletter with writing inspiration first came to us, we decided that we wanted to do more than provide people with topics to write about. We wanted to try and help authors form a regular writing habit and also give them a place to proudly display their work. So we started the weekly Creative Writing Prompts newsletter. Since then, Prompts has grown to a community of more than 450,000 authors, complete with its own literary magazine, Prompted .
Here's how our contest works: every Friday, we send out a newsletter containing five creative writing prompts. Each week, the story ideas center around a different theme. Authors then have one week — until the following Friday — to submit a short story based on one of our prompts. A winner is picked each week to win $250 and is highlighted on our Reedsy Prompts page.
Why we love creative writing prompts
If you've ever sat in front of a computer or notebook and felt the urge to start creating worlds, characters, and storylines — all the while finding yourself unable to do so — then you've met the author's age-old foe: writer's block. There's nothing more frustrating than finding the time but not the words to be creative. Enter our directory! If you're ready to kick writer's block to the curb and finally get started on your short story or novel, these unique story ideas might just be your ticket.
This list of 1800+ creative writing prompts has been created by the Reedsy team to help you develop a rock-solid writing routine. As all aspiring authors know, this is the #1 challenge — and solution! — for reaching your literary goals. Feel free to filter through different genres, which include...
Dramatic — If you want to make people laugh and cry within the same story, this might be your genre.
Funny — Whether satire or slapstick, this is an opportunity to write with your funny bone.
Romance — One of the most popular commercial genres out there. Check out these story ideas out if you love writing about love.
Fantasy — The beauty of this genre is that the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.
Dystopian – Explore the shadowy side of human nature and contemporary technology in dark speculative fiction.
Mystery — From whodunnits to cozy mysteries, it's time to bring out your inner detective.
Thriller and Suspense — There's nothing like a page-turner that elicits a gasp of surprise at the end.
High School — Encourage teens to let their imaginations run free.
Want to submit your own story ideas to help inspire fellow writers? Send them to us here.
After you find the perfect story idea
Finding inspiration is just one piece of the puzzle. Next, you need to refine your craft skills — and then display them to the world. We've worked hard to create resources that help you do just that! Check them out:
- How to Write a Short Story That Gets Published — a free, ten-day course by Laura Mae Isaacman, a full-time editor who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn.
- Best Literary Magazines of 2023 — a directory of 100+ reputable magazines that accept unsolicited submissions.
- Writing Contests in 2023 — the finest contests of 2021 for fiction and non-fiction authors of short stories, poetry, essays, and more.
Beyond creative writing prompts: how to build a writing routine
While writing prompts are a great tactic to spark your creative sessions, a writer generally needs a couple more tools in their toolbelt when it comes to developing a rock-solid writing routine . To that end, here are a few more additional tips for incorporating your craft into your everyday life.
- NNWT. Or, as book coach Kevin Johns calls it , “Non-Negotiable Writing Time.” This time should be scheduled into your routine, whether that’s once a day or once a week. Treat it as a serious commitment, and don’t schedule anything else during your NNWT unless it’s absolutely necessary.
- Set word count goals. And make them realistic! Don’t start out with lofty goals you’re unlikely to achieve. Give some thought to how many words you think you can write a week, and start there. If you find you’re hitting your weekly or daily goals easily, keep upping the stakes as your craft time becomes more ingrained in your routine.
- Talk to friends and family about the project you’re working on. Doing so means that those close to you are likely to check in about the status of your piece — which in turn keeps you more accountable.
Arm yourself against writer’s block. Writer’s block will inevitably come, no matter how much story ideas initially inspire you. So it’s best to be prepared with tips and tricks you can use to keep yourself on track before the block hits. You can find 20 solid tips here — including how to establish a relationship with your inner critic and apps that can help you defeat procrastination or lack of motivation.
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Beginners Writing Prompts: 25 Ideas to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing
By: Author Paul Jenkins
Posted on August 3, 2023
Writing is an art form that can be challenging to master. Beginners may find it difficult to know where to start, what to write about, or how to develop their ideas.
That’s where writing prompts come in. Writing prompts are a useful tool for beginners to help them get started with writing and develop their skills.
Understanding writing prompts is essential for beginners. Writing prompts are ideas or topics that provide inspiration for writing. They can be anything from a single word to a complete sentence or paragraph. Writing prompts can help writers overcome writer’s block, develop their writing skills, and explore different genres and styles.
There are various types of writing prompts, including prompts for different genres, character development, setting and atmosphere, and unique writing prompts. Writing prompts can also be used for daily writing and journaling, which can help writers develop a writing habit and improve their skills.
Incorporating personal elements into writing prompts can also help writers explore their own experiences and emotions through writing.
- Writing prompts are a useful tool for beginners to help them get started with writing and develop their skills.
- Understanding writing prompts is essential for beginners to overcome writer’s block, develop their writing skills, and explore different genres and styles.
- Writing prompts can be used for daily writing and journaling, character development, setting and atmosphere, and unique writing prompts.
25 Beginners Writing Prompts
Here are 25 writing prompts for beginner writers:
1. Write about your ideal day. What would you do, where would you go, who would you see?
2. Describe your favorite place in the world. What makes it so special?
3. Write a letter to your future self 10 years from now. What advice would you give your future self?
4. Describe a memorable event from your childhood. Why was it meaningful to you?
5. If you could have any superpower, what would you choose and why? How would you use this power?
6. Who is someone you admire? Why do you look up to this person?
7. What is your biggest accomplishment so far? Why does it make you proud?
8. If you could take any animal from the zoo home as a pet, which would you choose and why?
9. What is your biggest goal in life right now? Why is this goal important to you?
10. What is one thing that brings you happiness every day? Describe why it brightens your day.
11. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Describe what you would do there.
12. What is your favorite holiday? Describe your ideal celebration of this holiday.
13. Who makes you laugh the most? Describe why this person is so funny.
14. What is your favorite food? Describe what it tastes and smells like.
15. What is one thing you want to accomplish this year? Why is this goal important?
16. Describe your perfect weekend. What activities would you do and who would you spend time with?
17. What is the best gift you’ve ever given someone? Why did you choose this gift?
18. Describe your favorite memory with a grandparent or elder in your life. Why was this time meaningful?
19. Who is your role model or hero? Why do you look up to this person?
20. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be? Why does this skill appeal to you?
21. What is the kindest act you’ve ever witnessed? What did this act teach you?
22. What is one cause you care deeply about? Why is it meaningful to you?
23. Describe your perfect day off from school. What would make it an amazing day?
24. What is one thing that always makes you smile? Why does this bring you joy?
25. What is your favorite season? Describe what you love about this time of year.
Understanding Writing Prompts
Writing prompts are an essential tool for beginning writers or those seeking to improve their writing skills. Writing prompts provide direction and inspiration for creative writing, helping writers overcome writer’s block, and encouraging them to explore new topics and ideas.
A writing prompt is a sentence, paragraph, or image that provides inspiration and guidance for creative writing. It may be used as a possible topic or starting point for an original essay, report, journal entry, story, poem, etc.
Writing prompts can be general or specific, and they can be tailored to suit the needs of different writers.
Understanding writing prompts is essential for beginning writers. Decoding what a prompt is asking can sometimes be overwhelming, but the sooner you understand a prompt, the sooner you can start writing. To understand a writing prompt, you need to identify the key elements and determine what type of writing the prompt is asking for.
Here are some tips for understanding writing prompts:
- Read the prompt carefully and identify the key elements, such as the topic, purpose, and audience.
- Determine the type of writing the prompt is asking for, such as a narrative, expository, persuasive, or descriptive essay.
- Consider the tone and style of the writing prompt and how it should be reflected in your writing.
- Use brainstorming techniques to generate ideas for your writing, such as mind mapping, free writing, or listing.
- Create an outline or plan for your writing, including an introduction, body, and conclusion.
By following these tips, beginning writers can gain a better understanding of writing prompts and use them to improve their writing skills. Writing prompts can be a valuable tool for writers of all levels, providing direction, inspiration, and encouragement for creative writing.
Types of Writing Prompts
When it comes to writing prompts, there are various types that can help beginners get started. Here are some of the most common types of writing prompts:
Story prompts are great for those who want to write short stories. These prompts can be in the form of a sentence, a paragraph, or even a few words. They can be based on a specific theme or genre, or they can be completely random. Some examples of story prompts include:
- Write a story about a person who discovers they have magical powers.
- Write a story about a character who is stranded on a deserted island.
- Write a story about a time traveler who goes back in time to prevent a disaster.
Photo prompts are great for those who want to write descriptive pieces. These prompts involve looking at a photo and writing a story, poem, or essay about what you see. They can be based on a specific theme or genre, or they can be completely random. Some examples of photo prompts include:
- Write a descriptive piece about a sunset over the ocean.
- Write a story about a character who lives in a treehouse.
- Write a poem about a flower in a field.
Social Media Prompts
Social media prompts are great for those who want to practice writing in a more casual and conversational tone. These prompts involve writing short pieces that are meant to be shared on social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram. Some examples of social media prompts include:
- Write a tweet about your favorite book.
- Write an Instagram caption about your morning routine.
- Write a Facebook post about a recent vacation.
Random Word Prompts
Random word prompts are great for those who want to challenge themselves and get creative. These prompts involve choosing a random word and writing a piece based on that word. They can be based on a specific theme or genre, or they can be completely random. Some examples of random word prompts include:
- Write a story that includes the word “serendipity.”
- Write a poem that includes the word “nostalgia.”
- Write an essay that includes the word “perseverance.”
Overall, writing prompts are a great way for beginners to get started with writing. By using different types of prompts, beginners can practice writing in different styles and genres, and develop their skills over time.
Writing Prompts for Different Genres
If you’re looking for writing prompts to jumpstart your creativity, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some writing prompts for different genres to help you get started.
Fantasy is a genre that allows you to create your own world, characters, and rules. Here are some prompts to help you get started:
- Write about a character who discovers they have magical powers.
- Write about a world where humans and mythical creatures coexist.
- Write about a quest to find a lost artifact that has the power to save the world.
- Write about a character who must choose between good and evil.
Romance is a genre that explores the complexities of love and relationships. Here are some prompts to help you get started:
- Write about a love triangle between three friends.
- Write about a second chance at love between two former lovers.
- Write about a forbidden love between two people from different worlds.
- Write about a character who must choose between their career and their love life.
Adventure is a genre that takes readers on a journey to new and exciting places. Here are some prompts to help you get started:
- Write about a character who sets out to explore a mysterious island.
- Write about a group of friends who embark on a road trip across the country.
- Write about a character who discovers a hidden treasure map and sets out to find the treasure.
- Write about a character who must survive in the wilderness after a plane crash.
Horror is a genre that explores the darker side of human nature. Here are some prompts to help you get started:
- Write about a haunted house that is rumored to be cursed.
- Write about a character who is being stalked by a serial killer.
- Write about a group of friends who go camping in the woods and encounter a supernatural entity.
- Write about a character who becomes possessed by a demon.
Remember, these are just prompts to help you get started. Use them as a jumping off point and let your imagination take over. Happy writing!
Using Writing Prompts to Overcome Writer’s Block
Writer’s block is a common phenomenon that can affect writers of all levels. It can be frustrating and can hinder the creative process. However, using writing prompts can be an effective way to overcome writer’s block and get the creative juices flowing.
Writing prompts are a great way to inspire and encourage creativity. They can be used to generate new ideas, explore different perspectives, and challenge yourself to think outside the box. Writing prompts can be anything from a single word to a full sentence or paragraph.
When using writing prompts, it’s important to keep an open mind and let your imagination run wild. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. The goal is to inspire creativity and get the words flowing.
Here are some tips for using writing prompts to overcome writer’s block:
- Choose a prompt that speaks to you. Look for prompts that inspire you and that you feel a connection to.
- Set a timer. Give yourself a set amount of time to write without stopping. This can help to get your creative juices flowing and prevent you from getting stuck.
- Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. The goal is to get your ideas down on paper. You can always go back and edit later.
- Use the prompt as a starting point. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the prompt exactly. Use it as a jumping-off point to explore new ideas and perspectives.
In conclusion, using writing prompts can be an effective way to overcome writer’s block and inspire creativity. By choosing the right prompt, setting a timer, and letting your imagination run wild, you can break through the barriers that are holding you back and unleash your inner writer.
Incorporating Personal Elements into Writing Prompts
When it comes to writing prompts, incorporating personal elements can make the writing process more enjoyable and meaningful. By including personal experiences, interests, and goals, writers can create more engaging and authentic pieces.
One way to incorporate personal elements is to use prompts that relate to family and home. For example, a prompt could ask writers to describe a favorite family tradition or a memorable moment from their childhood home.
These prompts can evoke strong emotions and memories, making the writing process more personal and meaningful.
Another way to incorporate personal elements is to use prompts that relate to favorite movies, words, and meals. These prompts can encourage writers to explore their preferences and reflect on what makes them unique. For example, a prompt could ask writers to describe their favorite movie and explain why it resonates with them. This can help writers develop their voice and style.
Writing prompts can also encourage writers to think about their relationships and goals. Prompts that ask about best friends or bucket lists can inspire writers to reflect on their values and aspirations.
For example, a prompt could ask writers to describe their dream job and explain why it is meaningful to them. This can help writers develop a sense of purpose and direction.
Overall, incorporating personal elements into writing prompts can help writers create more engaging and authentic pieces. By using prompts that relate to family, home, favorite movies, words, meals, best friends, bucket lists, and dream jobs, writers can explore their interests and experiences in a meaningful way.
Writing Prompts for Character Development
When it comes to writing a story, character development is a crucial aspect that can make or break the entire plot. Creating compelling characters that readers can relate to and empathize with is essential to keeping them engaged from beginning to end. Here are some writing prompts to help you develop your characters.
- Describe your hero’s personality in three words.
- What is your hero’s greatest strength and how does it help them achieve their goals?
- What is your hero’s biggest fear and how does it hold them back?
- Write a scene where your hero is faced with a difficult decision that tests their morals and values.
- How does your hero handle failure and setbacks? Write a scene where they face a major setback and how they overcome it.
- What motivates your villain’s actions? Is it envy, power, or something else?
- What is your villain’s biggest weakness and how does it lead to their downfall?
- Write a scene where your villain is faced with a moral dilemma and how they choose to act.
- What is your villain’s backstory and how did they become the way they are?
- How does your villain justify their actions to themselves? Write a scene where they have an internal conflict about their actions.
Secondary Character Prompts
- What is your secondary character’s role in the story?
- How does your secondary character feel about the hero or villain?
- Write a scene where your secondary character has to make a difficult decision that affects the hero or villain.
- What is your secondary character’s backstory and how does it affect their actions in the story?
- What is your secondary character’s relationship with the hero or villain? Write a scene that shows their dynamic.
Character development is an essential part of writing a story that readers will love. By using these prompts, you can create characters that are relatable, complex, and engaging. Remember to use these prompts as a starting point and let your imagination take over to create unique and memorable characters.
Writing Prompts for Setting and Atmosphere
When it comes to creative writing, setting and atmosphere can help create a vivid and engaging story. Here are some writing prompts to help you get started:
Weather can set the mood and tone for a story. Use these prompts to explore different weather conditions:
- Write about a character who gets lost in a dense fog.
- Describe a scene where a character is caught in a sudden rainstorm.
- Create a story that takes place during a snowstorm.
- Write about a character who is stranded in a desert during a sandstorm.
The location of a story can be just as important as the characters themselves. Use these prompts to explore different locations:
- Write about a character who explores an abandoned warehouse.
- Describe a scene that takes place in a Hollywood movie studio.
- Create a story that takes place in a small desert town.
Time of Day Prompts
The time of day can also set the mood and tone for a story. Use these prompts to explore different times of day:
- Write about a character who goes for a midnight walk.
- Describe a scene that takes place during a sunrise.
- Create a story that takes place during a sunset.
Remember, these prompts are just a starting point. Use them to spark your imagination and create unique stories that are engaging and entertaining.
Unique Writing Prompts
If you’re looking for writing prompts that are a little different from the usual, here are some unique ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Tea time: Write a story or poem that revolves around a cup of tea. Who is drinking it? What is their mood? What memories or emotions does it bring up for them?
- Animal kingdom: Write a story from the point of view of an animal. It could be a pet, a wild animal, or even a mythical creature. What do they see, hear, and feel in their world?
- Phone call: Write a scene that takes place entirely over the phone. Who is calling whom? What is the conversation about? Is it a happy or tense exchange?
- Kindness challenge: Write about a character who sets out to do one act of kindness every day for a month. What challenges do they face? How do their actions affect those around them?
- Mirror, mirror: Write a story that involves a magical mirror. What does it show the person who looks into it? Is it a force for good or evil?
- Moving on: Write a story about someone who is moving to a new place. How do they feel about leaving their old life behind? What adventures await them in their new home?
- Halloween hijinks: Write a spooky story that takes place on Halloween night. Will your characters encounter ghosts, witches, or something even more terrifying?
- Alien invasion: Write a story about an alien invasion. How do humans react? Is there a hero who saves the day, or is it a hopeless battle?
- Legend has it: Write a story based on a local legend or myth. Is there any truth to the tale, or is it just a fanciful story?
- Teddy bear: Write a story about a teddy bear that comes to life. What adventures does it have with its new human friend?
- Getaway: Write a story about a character who takes a spontaneous trip. Where do they go, and what do they discover about themselves along the way?
- Zombie apocalypse: Write a story about a world overrun by zombies. How do the survivors band together to stay alive?
- Friendship: Write a story about a new friendship that blossoms unexpectedly. What draws the characters together, and what challenges do they face?
- Rewrite history: Write a story that reimagines a historical event. What if things had gone differently? How would the world be changed?
- Sounds of nature: Write a story that incorporates the sounds of nature. What do your characters hear, and how does it affect their mood and actions?
These unique writing prompts are just the beginning. Use them as a jumping-off point to explore your own creativity and discover new stories to tell.
Daily Writing and Journaling Prompts
Daily writing prompts are a great way to develop good writing habits and improve your writing skills. They can help you get into the habit of writing regularly, which can be especially helpful for beginners. There are many different types of daily writing prompts, including prompts for journaling, creative writing, and more.
Journaling is a great way to reflect on your thoughts and feelings and can help you gain insight into your own life. Daily journaling prompts can help you get started and keep you motivated. Some popular journaling prompts include writing about your goals, your dreams, your fears, or your daily routine.
Daily writing prompts can also be used for creative writing. These prompts can help you develop your writing skills and explore new ideas. Some popular creative writing prompts include writing about a character, a setting, or a plot.
If you prefer to write in a diary or a letter format, daily writing prompts can still be helpful. You can use prompts to write about your day, your thoughts, or your feelings. You can also use prompts to write letters to yourself or to someone else.
Setting an alarm can be a helpful way to remind yourself to write every day. You can set an alarm for the same time every day, or you can set it for a different time each day to keep things interesting.
Overall, daily writing prompts can be a helpful tool for beginners who want to develop good writing habits and improve their writing skills. By using daily writing prompts, you can get into the habit of writing regularly and explore new ideas and topics.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some simple creative writing prompts.
If you’re a beginner looking for some simple creative writing prompts, you can start with some basic ideas like writing about your daily routine, describing a favorite place, or writing a letter to your future self.
What are the easiest topics to write about?
The easiest topics to write about are those that you are familiar with, such as your hobbies, interests, or experiences. You can also write about your favorite books, movies, or TV shows.
What are 5 minute writing prompts for adults?
If you’re looking for some 5 minute writing prompts for adults, you can try writing a short story about a character who finds a mysterious object, writing a letter to your younger self, or describing a memorable moment from your childhood.
What are good writing prompts?
Good writing prompts are those that inspire you to write and help you develop your writing skills. Some good writing prompts include writing about a difficult decision you had to make, describing a favorite childhood memory, or writing a story from the perspective of an animal.
What are some quick writing prompts?
If you’re short on time and need some quick writing prompts, you can try writing a haiku about a favorite season, writing a letter to your favorite fictional character, or describing a dream you had last night.
What are some daily writing prompts?
Daily writing prompts can help you develop a daily writing habit and improve your writing skills. Some daily writing prompts include writing about a recent accomplishment, describing a favorite place, or writing a story based on a picture.
OC Writing Prompts: Develop Original Characters
My name is Debbie, and I am passionate about developing a love for the written word and planting a seed that will grow into a powerful voice that can inspire many.
Are you tired of bringing lifeless characters to your stories? Do you find yourself struggling to come up with intriguing personalities and backstories that captivate your readers? Look no further! With our OC Writing Prompts, you will unlock the secret to creating original characters that jump off the page and into the hearts of your audience. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of developing believable and compelling characters, igniting your imagination and transforming your writing into a vivid world where heroes and villains truly come to life. Get ready to embark on a journey of discovery, as we delve into the art of crafting authentic and unforgettable OCs that will leave your readers begging for more.
1. The Importance of Developing Original Characters in Creative Writing
2. understanding the power of oc writing prompts for character development, 3. exploring personalities: how oc writing prompts bring characters to life, 4. creating multidimensional characters: unleashing potential with oc writing prompts, 5. enhancing narrative depth: utilizing oc writing prompts to drive plot and conflict, benefits of using oc writing prompts to build emotional connections:, 7. diversifying perspectives: broadening horizons through oc writing prompts, 8. taking characters to the next level: proven strategies for developing complex ocs, frequently asked questions, in retrospect.
Developing original characters is a crucial aspect of creative writing that sets the foundation for a memorable and immersive story. These characters serve as the heart and soul of the narrative, captivating readers and allowing them to form a deep connection with the story. Creating original characters adds depth, complexity, and uniqueness to your writing, enhancing the overall quality and impact of your work.
When crafting original characters, it is important to consider their traits, backgrounds, and motivations. This level of depth grants characters a sense of authenticity and makes them relatable to the readers. By incorporating realistic flaws and strengths, you give your characters room to evolve and grow throughout the story, making them more three-dimensional. Additionally, original characters allow you, as a writer, to explore different perspectives, cultures, and experiences, fostering a diverse ensemble that can capture a wider audience.
- Original characters generate intrigue and curiosity among readers, keeping them engaged, and invested in your story.
- They enable you to showcase your creativity, as you can design characters with unique appearances, skills, and personalities.
- Original characters provide flexibility and freedom in terms of narrative development, enabling you to construct dynamic relationships and plotlines.
In conclusion, cannot be overstated. They serve as the building blocks of a captivating story, allowing readers to form emotional connections and experience a world beyond their own. By investing time and energy into the creation of original characters, you unlock a world of possibilities and elevate your writing to new heights.
When it comes to creating captivating and well-rounded characters, OC writing prompts can be a tremendous asset. These prompts serve as stepping stones that unlock the potential of your characters, helping you delve deeper into their personalities and motivations. By utilizing OC writing prompts, you can breathe life into your characters and take their development to new heights.
One of the key advantages of OC writing prompts is their ability to foster creativity and spark imagination. They encourage you to think outside the box and explore different aspects of your character’s life, from their background to their dreams and fears. Additionally, these prompts prompt you to consider their relationships with other characters, enabling you to weave intricate dynamics that drive the plot forward. Embrace the power of OC writing prompts and watch as your characters come alive before your eyes.
When it comes to writing original characters (OCs), one of the most crucial aspects is developing their personalities. These unique traits are what make characters relatable, interesting, and memorable. That’s where OC writing prompts come into play in the creative process. By using these prompts, writers can delve deep into the minds of their characters, uncovering hidden layers and bringing them to life.
One of the key benefits of OC writing prompts is their ability to spark creativity and expand the horizons of character development. By providing specific scenarios or situations, these prompts challenge writers to explore different emotions, reactions, and motivations for their characters. This encourages a more well-rounded portrayal of the character’s personality, as they are put in various circumstances and pushed out of their comfort zones.
- Uncovering character backgrounds: OC writing prompts often focus on specific events or experiences that can shape a character’s personality. This prompts writers to consider their character’s upbringing, past traumas, or defining moments, ultimately resulting in a more complex and three-dimensional persona.
- Testing strengths and weaknesses: By presenting challenges and dilemmas, OC writing prompts allow writers to explore how their characters handle adversity. This enables the writer to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the character, showcasing their resilience, problem-solving abilities , or areas for growth.
- Building relationships: OC writing prompts often include interactions with other characters, helping writers establish dynamic relationships, whether romantic, platonic, or adversarial. These prompts encourage exploration of interpersonal dynamics, leading to rich and engaging connections between characters.
With OC writing prompts, writers have a powerful tool at their disposal to bring their characters to life. By delving into their personalities, uncovering their backgrounds, testing their strengths, and exploring their relationships, OCs become fully realized individuals within the narrative, captivating readers and breathing life into the story.
Creating multidimensional characters is an essential aspect of writing engaging and compelling stories. One way to unleash the full potential of your original characters (OCs) is by utilizing OC writing prompts. These prompts serve as creative catalysts, helping you explore different facets of your characters and develop them into more complex and relatable beings.
When using OC writing prompts, consider the following tips to truly bring your characters to life: – **Dig deeper into their backstories:** Use writing prompts to delve into your OCs’ pasts and uncover pivotal events, relationships, and experiences that shaped them. This exploration will add depth and authenticity to their personalities, motivations, and actions. – **Highlight both strengths and flaws:** Well-rounded characters have a combination of admirable qualities and human flaws. Writing prompts can push you to explore both sides, allowing your characters to become more relatable and realistic to your readers. – **Challenge their beliefs and values:** Writing prompts can present scenarios that challenge your OCs’ beliefs, forcing them to question their perspectives and grow as individuals. This growth will make them dynamic and dynamic characters who evolve throughout your narrative. – **Explore their relationships:** Utilize writing prompts to envision interactions between your OCs and other characters in your story. This exercise will help you develop compelling dynamics, from complex friendships to antagonistic rivalries, enriching the overall storytelling experience. – **Consider the impact of their environment:** Writing prompts can encourage you to explore how the world your characters inhabit influences their thoughts, behaviors, and choices. Examine the societies, cultures, or settings that your OCs navigate to create a rich and immersive backdrop for their development.
Creating a captivating story involves more than just a compelling plot; it requires well-developed characters and intricate conflicts that keep readers engaged. One effective technique to achieve this is by incorporating OC (Original Character) writing prompts into your storytelling arsenal. These prompts are designed to challenge your characters and push the boundaries of their personal journeys, ultimately enhancing the overall narrative depth.
When utilizing OC writing prompts, the possibilities are endless. Consider introducing a prompt that prompts your protagonist to confront their deepest fear, forcing them to face their inner demons while navigating the external conflict. This adds an extra layer of depth to the character’s development and creates a more emotionally resonant story. Furthermore, these prompts can introduce new relationships and dynamics, bringing a fresh perspective to the plot. For instance, a prompt that requires the protagonist to team up with an unlikely ally can foster unexpected alliances and inject tension into the narrative.
- Expands character growth: OC writing prompts provide opportunities for your characters to experience growth and transformation. Through these prompts, they can confront their weaknesses, overcome obstacles, or challenge their beliefs, making them more relatable and compelling to readers.
- Injects unpredictability into the plot: By incorporating OC writing prompts, you introduce unexpected twists and turns that keep your readers on their toes. These prompts act as catalysts for conflict, pushing your storyline forward and preventing it from becoming predictable or stagnant.
- Deepens emotional engagement: Introducing OC writing prompts that delve into your characters’ emotions allows readers to connect with them on a deeper level. When your characters face internal conflicts brought about by these prompts, it evokes empathy and creates an emotional resonance that keeps your audience invested in the story.
By utilizing OC writing prompts effectively, you can take your storytelling to new heights, crafting narratives that are not only engaging but also emotionally impactful. Experiment with these prompts, allow them to guide your characters, and watch as your plot and conflict reach newfound levels of depth and complexity.
6. Building Emotional Connections: Using OC Writing Prompts to Craft Memorable Characters
When it comes to crafting memorable characters in your writing, building emotional connections between your readers and your characters is essential. One effective way to achieve this is by using OC (Original Character) writing prompts. These prompts serve as a powerful tool to delve deep into your characters’ emotions, allowing you to create complex and relatable personalities. By engaging your readers on an emotional level, you can make your characters come to life and leave a lasting impact.
Using OC writing prompts enables you to explore various aspects of your characters’ emotional journeys. It encourages you to consider their backgrounds, desires, fears, and conflicts in a more profound manner. Through these prompts, you can develop a well-rounded, three-dimensional character who resonates with your audience. By presenting your character with thought-provoking scenarios , you can challenge their vulnerabilities, allowing readers to empathize and connect with them on a deeper level.
- Enhances character development: OC writing prompts push you to explore your character’s emotions and motivations, leading to more developed and believable characters.
- Creates relatable personalities: By delving into emotional journeys, your characters become relatable to readers, forging a strong bond between them.
- Evokes emotional responses: By presenting challenging scenarios, you can provoke emotional reactions in readers, making your characters more memorable.
- Builds empathy: When readers connect with characters emotionally, it fosters empathy, allowing them to better understand and appreciate their experiences.
Diversity is a beautiful thing, and it is essential to foster inclusivity and understanding in our society. Through OC writing prompts, we have the opportunity to broaden our horizons and gain new perspectives. Here are some reasons why diversifying our perspectives is crucial:
- Foster empathy: Engaging with diverse writing prompts allows us to step into the shoes of people from various backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. By doing so, we develop empathy and understanding towards others, breaking down barriers and building bridges of compassion.
- Expand our knowledge: Exploring different perspectives through writing prompts exposes us to new ideas, histories, and traditions. It helps us widen our understanding of the world and challenge our preconceived notions. We gain insights into the complexities of diverse cultures and the struggles faced by individuals who may be different from us.
- Promote creativity: Diverse writing prompts encourage us to think outside the box and explore narratives that we may not have considered before. They push us to stretch our imagination, contributing to personal growth and creativity.
The power of diversifying perspectives through OC writing prompts is undeniable. It allows us to celebrate our differences and connect on a deeper level. So, let’s embrace the opportunity to broaden our horizons, one writing prompt at a time!
Creating compelling and multi-dimensional original characters (OCs) is an essential skill for any writer or artist. To take your characters to the next level and make them truly engaging, you need proven strategies. Here are some powerful techniques that will help you develop complex OCs:
- Explore their backstory: Dig deep into your characters’ past and uncover key events and experiences that have shaped who they are today. By fleshing out their background, you can add depth and authenticity to their actions and motivations.
- Give them conflicting traits: Perfect characters are often uninteresting. Instead, develop your OCs by providing them with conflicting personality traits. This will create internal struggles and add complexity, making your characters more relatable and human.
- Create strong relationships: Characters are influenced by those around them, so consider how their interactions and dynamics with family, friends, or even villains can shape their journey. Building deep and nuanced relationships will further enhance the richness of your characters.
By following these strategies, your OCs will transform into captivating individuals that readers and viewers can’t help but connect with. The key is to continually challenge and develop your characters, allowing them to grow and evolve throughout your story. Remember, the more complex and lifelike your OCs are, the more immersive and rewarding your creative work will become.
Q: What are OC writing prompts? A: OC writing prompts, also known as “original character” writing prompts, are creative exercises that help writers develop unique and individual characters for their works of fiction.
Q: Why are OC writing prompts useful? A: OC writing prompts can be incredibly useful for writers as they serve as a source of inspiration, allowing them to explore different aspects of a character’s personality, backstory, and motivations. It helps writers create more well-rounded and original characters.
Q: How can OC writing prompts contribute to character development? A: By engaging in OC writing prompts, writers can delve deeper into their characters’ psyche, bringing out nuances and idiosyncrasies that make them more realistic and relatable. These prompts encourage writers to think critically about their character’s past, present, and dreams, leading to a more comprehensive character development process.
Q: Can OC writing prompts assist in overcoming writer’s block? A: Absolutely! OC writing prompts can be a great way to overcome writer’s block. They provide a fresh perspective and ignite creativity by presenting specific scenarios, challenges, or questions that demand creative solutions. This approach prompts writers to think outside the box and jumpstart their creative process.
Q: Do OC writing prompts encourage originality in storytelling? A: Yes, definitely! OC writing prompts push writers to create characters who are unique and distinct, avoiding clichés and tired tropes. By exploring lesser-known aspects of their characters, writers can breathe life into their stories, making them more captivating and memorable.
Q: How can writers make the most of OC writing prompts? A: To make the most of OC writing prompts, writers should take the time to fully immerse themselves in the prompt. This includes thinking deeply about their character’s background, personality traits, and desires. Additionally, writers should consider how their character will respond to the prompts, ensuring that their actions remain consistent throughout their story.
Q: Are OC writing prompts limited to a specific genre of fiction? A: Not at all! OC writing prompts can be used across various genres including fantasy , science fiction, romance, mystery, historical fiction, and more. These prompts are adaptable and can be tailored to suit different storytelling needs.
Q: Where can writers find OC writing prompts? A: Writers can find OC writing prompts in a variety of sources, including online writing communities, writing blogs, and writing prompt books. Many websites and social media platforms are dedicated to providing fresh OC writing prompts regularly.
Q: Can writers use OC writing prompts for collaborative projects? A: Absolutely! OC writing prompts can be incredibly helpful for collaborative projects. They provide a starting point or a common ground for all writers involved, allowing them to develop characters together while maintaining their unique perspectives and voices.
Q: Can OC writing prompts be utilized by both beginner and experienced writers? A: Yes, OC writing prompts are beneficial to writers of all levels. For beginners, they serve as a guide to character development, providing structure and questions to consider. Experienced writers can benefit from OC writing prompts by pushing the boundaries of their existing characters and challenging themselves to explore new ideas.
Q: Do OC writing prompts guarantee a successful story? A: While OC writing prompts are a valuable tool, they don’t guarantee a successful story on their own. They are meant to inspire and enrich the creative process but how effectively they are used depends on the writer’s dedication, effort, and ability to weave the character’s development into a compelling narrative.
In conclusion, OC writing prompts are an invaluable resource for developing unique and captivating characters. They encourage creativity and allow writers to explore new ideas, ultimately resulting in engaging and authentic storytelling. Start using these prompts today and watch your characters come to life!
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