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Daily writing prompts: 365 ways to practice craft

Daily writing prompts in 73 categories arranged around literary devices and craft elements to help you practice writing techniques.

Daily writing prompts on craft challenges and literary devices give a fun way to build your fiction-writing skills. A prompt exercise could even inspire your next, great story. Bookmark and dip into 365 writing prompts in seventy-three categories, from ‘abstract vs concrete language’ to ‘zeugma’.

Creative writing prompt categories

Use this alphabetized index of literary devices and elements of craft to explore daily writing prompts with definitions.

Bookmark and share this page for a dash of inspiration or writing practice whenever you or writing friends need it.

Use the sidebar link or the ‘To writing prompt categories’ link at the end of each section to return to this index.

A to B daily prompts

Click here to browse daily writing prompts from ‘abstract vs concrete language’ through ‘breaking the fourth wall’

  • Abstract vs concrete language
  • Absurdism
  • Action
  • Active (and passive) voice
  • Adverbs
  • Allegory
  • Alliteration
  • Anaphora
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Anti-climax
  • Assonance
  • Autobiography
  • Backstory
  • Balanced sentences
  • Bildungsroman
  • Black comedy
  • Blank verse
  • Bouts-rimés
  • Breaking the fourth wall

C to F daily prompts

Browse daily writing prompts from ‘character arcs’ through ‘foil characters’.

  • Character arcs
  • Clarity
  • Clichés
  • Colloquialism/slang
  • Concision
  • Conflict
  • Connotation
  • Dialogue
  • Diction
  • Direct characterization
  • Elegy
  • Epistolary writing
  • Euphemism
  • Exposition
  • Flashbacks (and flashforwards)
  • Foil characters

H to M daily prompts

Browse fiction writing prompts from ‘hooks’ through ‘mystery’.

  • Hooks
  • Inference and insinuation
  • Inner monologue
  • Intertextuality
  • Irony
  • Jargon
  • Juxtaposition
  • Magical realism
  • Metafiction
  • Metaphor
  • Metonymy
  • Mood
  • Motif
  • Mystery

N to R daily prompts

Browse creative writing prompts on everything from ‘narration’ to ‘rhythm’ in language.

  • Narration
  • Non-linear narrative
  • On-the-nose writing
  • Paradox
  • Pathos
  • Personification
  • Plot twists
  • Point of view
  • Puns
  • Purple prose
  • Rhyme and rhyme schemes
  • Rhetorical devices
  • Rhythm

S to Z daily prompts

Browse daily writing prompts from ‘sarcasm’ through ‘zeugma’.

  • Sarcasm
  • Satire
  • Setting
  • Show, don’t tell
  • Simile
  • Stream of consciousness
  • Suspense
  • Symbolism
  • Tone
  • Verb tenses
  • Zeugma

Don’t forget to have your say in the comments and tell us which prompts you enjoyed doing the most.

Abstract vs concrete language

What is abstract language?

Abstract language uses broad, conceptual terms and may make description hazy or generic.

Concrete language shows instead of tells. Compare: ‘His emotions were somewhere between happiness and worry,’ and, ‘He was smiling yet his brow furrowed when he remembered the homework he’d forgotten to do.’

1. Rewrite abstract language

Prompt: Write a scene where a character gets bad news but is cheered up when a friend arrives with a gift. Use three of the following words: Happiness, sadness, fear, love, wisdom, truth, loyalty.

Next, rewrite the scene to replace abstract nouns with imagery and/or actions expressing the same feelings.

2. Balance abstract and concrete language

Prompt: Write a paragraph or story beginning with a busy market in a park. Include concrete details drawn from the five senses – what could a character see, hear, smell, touch, taste?

Include abstract emotion words that suggest your character’s feelings upon an unexpected sight or encounter.

Writing prompt pictures - abstract vs concrete language

3. Describe the concrete, reflect using abstraction

Prompt: Write a paragraph describing a favorite memory from childhood using concrete language. Then write a paragraph describing the emotions this memory evokes.

Try using similes (e.g. comparisons using ‘as scared as…’) to make abstract feelings more concrete.

4. Showing abstract traits with concrete examples

Prompt: Choose one from the following personality traits: Kindness, cruelty, generosity, cautiousness, fearlessness.

Write a scene where a character’s concrete actions infer this abstract trait. Convey, for example, ‘kindness’ without using the word once.

5. Add specificity to the generic

Prompt: Choose a natural phenomenon that is overused as a symbol (e.g. sunset, often used to suggest romance, or thunderstorms, to suggest danger/suspense).

Write a scene incorporating this symbol but use concrete language to show what makes this instance unique or unexpected (e.g. specific colors, sights, additional details).

To writing prompt categories ↑

Daily writing prompts -infographic


What is absurdism?

Absurdism in writing is used to refer to multiple concepts and devices:

  • A literary and philosophical movement that explores the irrationality and contradictions of human existence and crises of meaning that result from these elements
  • Humor drawing on the above, such as nonsensical or illogical situations in storytelling

Absurdist humor example: This stanza from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, describing a map that is essentially useless because it only shows water:

He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.

Source: ‘The Hunting of the Snark’,

Creative writing prompts to practice absurdist elements:

6. Write about self-contradicting objects

Prompt: Inspired by the idea of a map that only shows water and nothing else, write an absurd scene where a character finds an object that doesn’t fulfil its primary purpose.

Absurdist object ideas to write about:

  • A lift that only stops between floors
  • An inflatable anchor guaranteed not to sink
  • A square-shaped basketball
Daily writing prompt picture - explore the absurd

7. Explore an absurd scenario

Prompt: Write a story about a DJ who’s been cursed to relive the same day over and over, each time the events mirroring the lyrics of an annoying catchy pop song. Include a moment of joy and one of despair.

8. Practice absurd personification

Prompt: Write a dialogue between two inanimate objects where they share their frustrations and the one talks the other out of an existential crisis. [Ed’s note: Inspired by the travels of a can of beans and other objects in Tom Robbins madcap novel, ‘Skinny Legs and All’.]

9. Play with metamorphosis

Prompt: Write a story or scene where a character transforms into one of the following overnight: A mythical creature nobody believes exists, a cheesy game show’s host, a fantasy or sci-fi trope type (troll, mischief-making AI).

10. Turn language on its head

Prompt: Write a story turning a popular idiom into a literal story scenario (e.g. when we say people who watch a lot of TV are ‘couch potatoes’).

Example idea: Write a story about a boy named Fry who becomes a couch potato (literally), and his family’s desperate attempts to get him back to human form.

How to Write Scenes Free Guide


Read a guide to writing scenes with purpose that move your story forward.

Learn more


What is action and why is it a vital story element?

Action in storytelling has multiple uses and purposes:

  • Shifting focus from the slower and interior (for example, a viewpoint character’s thoughts) to the more explosive, exciting external
  • Inferring desire, emotion, intention, decision (remember the old saying, ‘actions speak louder than words’)

Challenges in writing action sequences include:

  • Maintaining clarity and flow: Of sequence or detail
  • Keeping rhythm interesting: Subject-verb-object sentences may sound clunky and repetitive (‘She ran to the gate. She typed in the emergency code. She beckoned to hasten the others.’)

The next five daily writing prompts will help you practice writing immersive action:

11. Explode subject-verb-object structure

Prompt: Write a scene where characters have to evacuate a top-secret facility they’ve rigged with explosives before it blows.

First, write every sentence with a subject-verb-object structure (like the example under ‘keeping rhythm interesting’ above).

Next, rewrite the scene, switching up sentence structure for more active flow.

12. Express subtext using actions

Prompt: Write a scene between a couple where no words are used. Use actions that imply one of the following situations (try to limit narration that tells your reader the situation, letting actions infer):

  • The couple’s child has just been expelled from school
  • They have just found out they’re expecting a baby
  • The couple has just had a shouting match with an insufferable neighbor
  • One half of the couple has forgotten it’s their anniversary, the other is itching to give an amazing gift they bought

13. Build a blow-by-blow sequence

Prompt: Write the scene of a boxing match or sword fight. For the first half, the likely victor is winning, but a series of mistakes means that mid-way through and the tide turns in the underdog’s favor.

14. Creating unfolding action using present participles

Prompt: Write a scene in which there is a quick-draw stand-off between two outlaws. Use at least five present participles to create a sense of the present moment (the present verb form ending ‘-ing’, e.g. breaking, blinking, sweating).

15. Practice action pacing

Prompt: Write a scene or story where a paramedic is called to an emergency and the patient turns out to be an old friend. Include a sequence of action where time passes slowly and a change that requires urgency. Focus on using shorter sentences in the urgent segment.

Active (and passive) voice

What is active voice?

In active voice, the subject is the doer of an action which the sentence emphasizes. It is often preferable because it is usually clearer and more succinct. Example: ‘Sarah wrote the letter’ (active) vs ‘The letter was written by Sarah’ (passive).

There are cases where passive voice may be preferred:

  • The doer of the action is unknown (e.g. ‘The letter had been written by someone on their street, that much he knew’)
  • The focus is on the object (e.g. prominent sentence position of ‘the letter’ in the example above)

Try these active voice writing prompts:

16. Start a story emphasizing an object

Prompt: Write an opening paragraph to a story beginning with a sentence that emphasizes an intriguing object in passive voice. Create a question that the story will answer or complicate. Example opening: ‘The wand had been given to me by…’

17. Create a mysterious doer of deeds

Prompt: Write a mystery set in a school where an unknown student has stolen something out of another student’s bag, from the perspective of the robbed student. Describe the action in passive voice, then rewrite this in active voice.

18. Shift focus onto consequences over actors

Prompt: Write a story about a major historical event (for example, the invention of the lightbulb).

Use passive voice to shift the reader’s focus onto consequences over actions (for example, ‘The ‘lectric doohickey was eyed with mistrust by the candlemaker, Mr Wick, at first.’)

19. Describe a work of art to convey intention

Prompt: Write a story in which a character comes across a painting in a gallery that captures a sense of the artist’s every thought and intention. Use passive voice sentences to focus on these intentions (for example, ‘The face had been built up in layers with the utmost care for blending.’). Switch between this and the narrator’s active voice impressions and questions.

20. Write instructions alternating emphasis on actions and materials

Prompt: Write story or scene where a character reads a letter or label of instruction. Mix passive voice for sentences emphasizing items/objects and active voice for more direct actions (e.g. ‘Plant the seeds’ vs ‘The seedling must be watered…’).


What are adverbs?

The words that qualify verbs, adding characteristics such as speed, volume, manner of doing. For example, ‘She sang loudly’, or ‘she ran fast’.

Stephen King says in On Writing that ‘the road to hell is paved with adverbs’. Why? Because they may add wordiness, for one.

A more expressive, single-word verb promotes concision and adds interesting connotations. For example, ‘she bolted’ has connotations of hunting, flight, sudden starts (from the bolt of a crossbow to the startled departure of game).

Try five of the daily writing prompts dedicated to this part of speech:

21. Pave the road to hell

Prompt: Write a funny story about a paver who has a nightmare job where rain, bizarre client requests, wild animals, and other setbacks make finishing the path almost impossible.

Use at least five ‘-ly’ ending adverbs as you write. Then go back and substitute verbs that convey a similar meaning (e.g. ‘He shut the door loudly’ > ‘He slammed the door’).

Writing prompt - removing overused adverbs

22. Create how, where, when and to what extent using adverbial phrases

Prompt: Write a story about a difficult mountain climbing trip, using adverbial phrases to convey how the climb proceeds, where climbers get to (or face difficulty), and to what extent they know (or don’t know) what they’re doing.

Adverbial phrase examples:

  • Approaching the first ledge, she saw the summit was just a speck above’ (adverbial phrase of place gives position and modifies ‘saw’)
  • During the first hour, she spoke rarely’ (adverbial phrase of time specifies duration)
  • With utmost precision, she calculated which crevice to reach for’ (adverbial phrase gives degree or extent, modifying the verb ‘calculated’)

23. Show actions’ manner without adverbs

Prompt: Write a whispered piece of dialogue between friends.

First, use adverbs that convey volume liberally (e.g. softly, quietly, imperceptibly).

Next, rewrite to nix every adverb, using what characters say, gestures, actions to show dialogue is soft (e.g. ‘She cupped a hand to her ear’).

24. Substitute similes for adverbs

Prompt: Write a scene in which a character is about to tell her friend something curious or sinister. Start with “Wait ’til you hear this,” she said strangely.’

At the end, replace the dialogue tag and adverb (‘she said strangely’) with a comparison making what is strange about the utterance clearer.

(Example: ‘…she said, tossing the words like cigarette butts from a car window. The devil-may-care smile didn’t reach her eyes.’)

25. Avoiding adverbial excess

Prompt: Write a story about a magician whose first attempt at a new spell backfires.

Each time you want to write an adverb as you write, give two. Example: ‘He shook the tube of potion excitedly and expectantly’.

At the end, go through the piece and choose one adverb in each instance (or check how to make flow stronger using more descriptive verbs instead).


What is allegory?

Allegory, which comes from the Greek allēgoria (‘speaking other’) refers to a story, poem or picture which reveals a hidden meaning. Story elements refer or allude to larger or more abstract concepts and ideas.

As an example, in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia fantasy series, there are allegorical elements suggestive of the Christian faith. A magical lion named Aslan sacrifices his life for the four child protagonists and is resurrected, echoing the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

In A.A. Milne’s beloved Winnie the Pooh series, each character is suggestive of a different temperament or personality type. Rabbit, the fiery choleric or grouch. Pooh, the phlegmatic or even-tempered friend to everybody. Piglet the nervous wreck. Eeyore the moping melancholic. Each animal character is like an allegorical representation of a human archetype.

Memento mori in visual art are allegorical symbols, alluding to life’s fragility and death’s inevitability. Symbols such as skulls, hourglasses, clocks.

This category of these daily writing prompts explores allegorical writing.

26. Using objects to evoke abstract ideas

Prompt: Write a story on a weighty abstract theme such as: Death, love, justice, truth, freedom, spirituality (pick one).

First, make a list of symbols and objects you associate with this word. Then write a story without using the word itself once, but suggest and imply your thoughts/philosophy on the concept, using the objects you listed.

27. Mining Animal Farm for ideas

Prompt: In the vein of George Orwell’s allegorical novella Animal Farm, pick a type of political system (such as democracy, oligarchy (rule by a small elite), anarchy (no government or the rejection of hierarchy), tyranny.

Write an allegorical story suggestive of this system (and your thoughts of it) without referring to the system explicitly. The stand-in for society could be, for example: A company’s board of directors, a collective of artists living on a commune.

28. Writing representative characters

Prompt: Choose three from this list of personality temperaments or character archetypes: Melancholic, anxious, happy-go-lucky, short-fused, adventurous, calculating, empathic.

Write a story set in a futuristic city of robots featuring three characters who each represent one of the three types.

29. Capture history through allegory

Prompt: Write a story set in a museum in which different objects come to life, and their behavior or words capture the spirit of their eras and cultures.

30. Explore schools of thought

Prompt: Write a story or scene where four kingdoms debate a territorial dispute. Assign each kingdom a position based on a school of philosophical thought.

Ideas for schools of thought (read Scotty Hendricks for Big Think for more ideas):

  • Stoicism: A school of thought popular in ancient Greek and Roman times believing ‘the goal of all inquiry is to provide a mode of conduct characterized by tranquility of mind’ (Jason Lewis Saunders, ‘Stoicism’, Britannica Online)
  • Utilitarianism: The school of thought that the best action is that which maximizes positive outcome/benefit for the ‘greatest good’ or ‘utility’
  • Hedonism: The philosophy that pleasure is the highest good and source of moral values
  • Nihilism: The school of thought that life is meaningless and does not have intrinsic value
  • Pragmatism: Philosophy which values real-world consequences and practical outcomes as the source of meaning, truth or value


What is alliteration?

Alliteration is a poetic device in which consonants are repeated for mimetic (imitative) effect.

For example, the plosive doubled ‘t’ and ‘p’ sounds suggesting the short, sharp sound of machinegun fire in Wilfred Owen’s famous anti-war poem:

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
     — Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.

‘Anthem for the Doomed Youth’ by Wilfred Owen, first stanza. Source: Words bolded for emphasis.

Explore daily writing prompts for practicing creative alliteration below:

31. Mimic sound for effect

Prompt: Write a poem or scene that prominently features a sound. Use alliteration (words using repeated consonants) to capture the quality of that sound.


  • Sibilant sounds for alliteration using ‘s’: Snakes’ hissing, water in a hot pan, air being let out of an inflatable mattress or car tyres.
  • Buzzing sounds for alliteration using ‘z’: Bees, electronics with haptic feedback, electric razors or toothbrushes, guitar feedback
  • Staccato sounds for alliteration using ‘t’ and ‘p’: Gunfire, drumming, tap-dance, rainfall

32. Reflecting environs with alliteration

Prompt: Narrate a night in a noisy nightclub. Incorporate two different consonants you can repeat in a phrase for sound imitation (such as ‘zz’, ‘ss’, or ‘tt’).

33. Overdoing alliterative effect

Prompt: Write a story for children about an animal trying to start as many words as possible with the same consonant as a constraint. Then rewrite for better flow and more varied language. Example: ‘Runaway the rabbit risked ravines and ravenous wriggling rattlesnakes.’

34. Poeticize (or add humor to) the news

Prompt: Browse recent news for a random article. Find a story in a drier, reportage style. Pick an image, scenario or sound and rewrite it in a more poetic way, using alliteration in at least one sentence for dramatic or silly effect.

Example: ‘Colorado Bear Opens Car Door to eat Unattended Dog Food’.

Intro line: ‘This brown bear believed Brown Rice with Lamb was bipedals’ best invention, though the kibble bonanza became a bellyache.’

35. Capture tone and mood

Prompt: Write a story beginning in a languid, watery setting. Prioritize soft consonants to create the sound of calm (‘l’, ‘w’, ‘sh’). Shift to harder consonants such as plosives (/p/, /t/, /d/, /p/) when sudden action interrupts the calm.


What is anaphora?

Anaphora (which comes from the words ‘to bear back’) is two types of repetition.

In grammar, the term means using a word to refer back to a previously used word in conversation or narration. For example, when we substitute a pronoun for a character as the subject. ‘James was tired. He’d been up all night playing video games.’

In rhetoric, anaphora means the repetition of a word or phrase at the start of successive clauses. For example, Churchill’s famous speech:

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air …

Sir Winston Churchill, June 4 1940 to the House of Commons. Source: International Churchill Society.

Try creative writing prompts incorporating rhetorical and grammatical anaphora:

36. Write an impassioned speech

Prompt: Write a story in which a character gives an impassioned speech at a major turning point. Use rhetorical anaphora repeating a phrase to persuasive effect.

Ideas for speech-containing story scenarios:

  • Morale is low for a band of fantasy quest-takers
  • A group of bullied high school students decide to fight back
  • A minority party in a corrupt government sends the house into bickering but also earns applause

37. Use anaphora to show loss of temper

Prompt: Write a scene where a character loses their temper and they start speaking in anaphora, the repeated refrain they start consecutive clauses with suggesting the source of their frustration.

Example: “Crumbs on the counter, crumbs on the carpet, crumbs when I get in bed. Crumbs in a never-ending trail like we’re Hansel and bloody Gretel! And now I’m the witch again.”

38. Eulogize using anaphora

Prompt: Write a story where a character gives a eulogy for a deceased friend or relative at their memorial. Begin successive sentences and clauses with the same phrase.

Ideas for anaphora in eulogy-writing:

  • “She/he/they taught us…”
  • “She’d/he’d/they’d laugh if I said…”
  • “Let us be comforted by…”
  • “This is not a goodbye, but a …”
  • “[Name] was a [noun], as in …”

39. Give a mission a stand-in title

Prompt: Write a story about a crucial mission that is only ever referred to by a cryptic name until the object of the mission becomes clear at the end of the story.

40. Build mystery using anaphora

Prompt: Write a story about mysterious, hidden object. Refer to the object only as ‘it’ and gradually reveal information about what ‘it’ is through characters’ descriptions, actions and decisions.


What is anthropomorphism?

Anthropomorphism means ascribing human qualities to animals.

In the Miyazaki film Pom Poko, as an example, a society of raccoon-like animals is threatened by encroaching human settlement and development. The animals are represented as bipedal, talking, personified characters (to start).

Miyazaki includes scenes where the characters’ species are depicted as mute, wild animals, too.

The dual approach suggests to the viewer that animal conservation is important whether animals are ‘like us’ or not.

41. Practice personifying animals in speech

Prompt: Write a story about an animal protagonist, using an element of that animal’s usual sounds or form to inform how it talks.

Example: The lyrics in King Louie’s song in The Jungle Book ape (no pun intended) the ‘oo, oo/aa, aa’ chatter of monkeys (through word-extension and jazz-style ‘scatting’) in the chorus:

Oh, ooh-bee-doo, (Oop-dee-wee)
I wanna be like you-hu-hu (Hop-dee-doo-bee-do-bow)

‘I Wan’na Be Like You’ song lyrics, source: Disney fandom wiki

42. Humanize through objects

Prompt: Write a story about an animal who grows extremely attached to an object or animal from another species and the adventures they have (or the sorrow they experience when separated).

Example: Who can forget the story of Koko and her kittens?

43. Personify things’ properties

Prompt: Write a story about an onion that makes people cry, not through methionine and cystine (the tear-triggering compounds) but its mean words. Or pick another object and turn its organic properties into anthropomorphic flaws.

Writing prompt - anthropomorphic onions

44. Make the alien earthly

Prompt: Write a story about a group of human-like alien life-forms who are the motley employees of an outer space company that offers a surprising intergalactic service.

45. Make otherness fashionable

Prompt: Write a story about the biggest fashion event of the year. The twist is every character is an anthropomorphic animal. Think Vogue’s September issue meets The Wind in the Willows.


What is an anti-climax?

An anti-climax is a climax that fizzles out instead of going out with a bang. It’s a little like the anti-joke in that it builds to something that doesn’t match the intensity of the build-up.

Example: The typical ‘dad joke’ – ‘A man walks into a bar: Ouch!’

Read writing prompts built on practicing creative use of anti-climax:

46. The surprise is there’s no surprise

Prompt: Write a story where a character thinks everyone at the office is hinting about a surprise party for their birthday. To their disappointment, the surprise turns out to be something totally boring and unrelated.

47. Make the bomb fizzle out

Prompt: Write a story about a tense, time-bound situation (such as a bomb scare) where at the end the situation fizzles out, confounding expectation. Give other events within the story arcs that resolve (e.g. interpersonal conflicts).

48. Use anti-climax for comic relief

Prompt: Write a story about a character preparing for the biggest test or trial of their life and preparation’s harrowing ups and downs. In the end, the test/trial is postponed on the day for a ridiculous reason.

49. Use anti-climax to subvert tropes

Prompt: Write a story borrowing a genre trope. For example, ‘enemies to lovers’ from romance. Use anti-climax to subvert the trope’s usual expectations (e.g. enemies to even worse enemies, or enemies to friends because in the end there is absolutely no chemistry).

50. Breaking scene tension

Prompt: Write a tense scene in which your protagonist is wracked with terror. Make something happen near the end that diffuses the fear.


What is assonance?

Assonance is the poetic device cousin of ‘alliteration’. The use or repetition of vowel sounds to create tone, mood and effect.

Think, for example, how ‘ee’ is the sound of terror/horror. Shriek, scream, bleed, grievous.

Try the daily writing prompts below to build tone, mood and effect using vowels.

51. Make readers go ‘Eee!’

Prompt: Write a scene or story set in a haunted house, where the protagonist realizes they’re one of the haunting spirits themselves. Use assonance repeating ‘ee’ sounds somewhere in the story.

52. Use assonance to silly effect

Prompt: Write a poem or story using assonance to silly, tongue-twister-like effect. For example, write a poem about a mythical creature described using repeated vowel sounds.

Example: ‘West Beast East Beast’ by Dr. Seuss:

Upon an island hard to reach,
The East Beast sits upon his beach.
Upon the west beach sits the West Beast.
Each beach beast thinks he’s the best beast.

Dr Seuss, in Oh Say Can you Say?

53. Play with the bouba/kiki effect

The bouba/kiki effect refers to a study that found people across languages and cultures were more likely to associate the word ‘bouba’ with a round shape, and ‘kiki’ with a jagged one.

Prompt: Write a poem or scene that describes something smooth, and something jagged. Repeat words with ‘oo’ and long ‘u’ vowels when describing the the smooth item, and repeat shorter vowels when describing the jagged thing.

54. Create wonder with the sound of ‘ah!’

Prompt: Write a story or scene where a character finds a lost treasure and is amazed upon inspecting it. Use assonance to create a mood of wonder by including many words containing long ‘ah’ vowels.


Far from Zanarkand, dark was coming. My heart raced faster as I checked the partial map and stars crept over the escarpment.

My example

55. Create contemplative calm using ‘oo’

Prompt: Write a story or scene where a character takes a long journey on a boat. Use assonance featuring words with the long ‘oo’ vowel to create a sense of calm and tranquility when the boat anchors.

Word ideas: Blue, smooth, hue, view, through, true, soothe, moon, cool, room, pool, spool


What is autobiography?

Autobiography is an account of a life by the person who’s lived it. The word comes from roots meaning ‘self’ (auto-), life (bio) and to write (the Greek graphein).

Autobiography as a subcategory of life-writing tends to be comprehensive. It’s a fuller account of a life, compared to memoir which typically gives a slice of life, such as the writer’s experience of a specific experience or trial.

Explore writing prompts for writing fiction in an autobiographical representative style and for tapping into your own life story.

56. Writing where there’s feeling

Prompt: Write a story or poem based on the experience of one of the best days of your life, such as your best birthday ever. Remember to use the senses for immersive description (see abstract vs concrete language above).

57. Start with a character’s birth

Prompt: Write a story or poem that compresses the main character’s entire life from birth to death into this short form. Start with something unusual about the character’s birth.

Ideas for unusual births:

  • Being born on a leap year
  • Being born as one of octuplets
  • Arriving on the eve of a major historical event

58. Draw on the real conflicts of life

Prompt: Write a story or poem based on one of the toughest challenges you’ve overcome in your life.

59. Show cause and effect in mistakes, consequences

Prompt: Write a story or poem based on one of the biggest mistakes you’ve ever made, and what the consequences taught you.

60. Play with creative non-fiction

Prompt: Write a story about a sad or funny event from childhood. In the process invent a sibling or other figure, adding a fictional element. What does invention add? A contrary viewpoint, greater humor? How can their addition help you capture a greater sense of truth?


What is backstory?

Backstory in fiction is the word for events from a character’s life prior to the story that shape who they are.

A driven character who is addicted to work, for example, may have a backstory in which money was always scarce growing up. Coming from poverty, their drive or determination to create generational wealth makes sense.

Backstory helps to supply deeper motivation, even if a character’s full backstory is only known to the author and not written.

61. Find the backstory for a current scenario

Prompt: Choose one of the following character ideas (or create your own). Write a few paragraphs (or a short story if feeling ambitious) focusing on key experiences that help to explain the person’s current compulsions or desires.

Ideas for scenarios:

  • A singer who is ambitious to the point of being cutthroat
  • A potter who struggles to self-promote because of self doubt that runs deep
  • A business person who neglects their kids because they’re addicted to work

62. Create object-based ties to the past

Prompt: Write a story or poem where a character finds an old family heirloom that surfaces memories from their past.

backstory daily writing prompt

63. Tell the history of starting over

Prompt: Write a story about a character who once had a brilliant career but now works in a junior role in a new industry. What was the backstory that led to the change?

64. Find the hidden history

Prompt: Write a story about a character whose backstory contains a terrible secret they’re desperate to conceal.

65. Explore formative friendships as backstory

Prompt: Write a story about a circle of childhood friends and how a shared experience in their childhood shapes each of their lives now that they’re grown up.

Balanced sentences

What are balanced sentences?

In writing style and grammar, ‘balanced sentences’ are sentences in which clauses are similar in length, importance, and structure.

For example: ‘The rain wouldn’t stop, so we couldn’t start.’

Some describe balanced sentences as a kind of misleading rhetoric used to convey the impression of polish or wisdom.

Find creative writing prompts designed for practicing creating balanced sentences for effect:

66. Begin with a balanced sentence

Prompt: Write a story opening with a balanced sentence comparing two or more opposite things. Repeat this grammatical structure for the first three sentences.

Example: The opening to Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities, which uses a long balanced sentence to reflect on an era’s contradictions.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859), p.3.

67. The proposals

Prompt: Write a story where a character has to choose between two proposals. Include a balanced sentence where they weigh one against another. It could be a business proposal or one of marriage.

Example: Henry had offered fun with the possibility of boredom; Joe misery with the certainty of baited breath.

68. Compare two perspectives

Prompt: Write a story in which a painter and a musician both try to capture the feelings and mood of the same landscape. Use a balanced sentence that compares and contrasts what they appreciate about the scene.

69. The speech writer’s dilemma

Prompt: Write a story where a speech writer has to try make a woefully inept politician sound like a shoe-in. Use balanced sentences, anaphora, and any other rhetorical devices you want.

70. Balance day and night

Prompt: Write a story where you describe the distinctive features of a city by day and night, using balanced sentences.

Example sentence: ‘By day, merchants flogged wares on every square of pavement; by night dealers flogged desperation in every strip of side street.’


What is a bildungsroman?

A story (typically a longer form such as a novel) about a person’s formative years or growth from youth to adulthood. The German word bildung means ‘education’, and roman means ‘novel.’

Example: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, which follows the protagonist Pip from boyhood to young adulthood.

Try writing prompts based on this type of novel below:

71. Grow up in style

Prompt: Write a story or story introduction where the narrator is young to start, and the story flashes forwards to when they are older. Make narration match the character’s age (i.e. kid language to start, more complex language when they’re older).

[Ed’s note: James Joyce does this in ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’. In this bildungsroman, the narrator uses words such as ‘moocows’ at the start of the story.]

72. Travel and change

Prompt: Write a story where a character leaves their small town for the first time to attend an event in another city, and the surprises they encounter by leaving their usual stomping grounds.

73. Face off with society

Prompt: Write a story about a character who has to overcome societal prejudice as they grow up. Start with a troubling event that makes them say, ‘Enough!’

74. Take a gap year

Prompt: Write a story about a protagonist who’s just graduated high school and takes a gap year to have an amazing adventure.

75. Discover family secrets

Prompt: Write a story about a person who discovers a family secret as they come of age, and how it changes everything they thought they knew.

Black comedy

What is a black comedy?

A comedy which makes use of dark, morbid humor. For example, a comedy about an undertaker who prepares open caskets but has terrible makeup skills.

The daily writing prompts below will help you practice writing black comedy:

76. Find the funny at a funeral

Prompt: Write a story or poem about a solemn funeral where everything starts going wrong to farcical, comedic effect.

77. Create a ludicrous whodunnit

Prompt: Write a murder mystery set in a very unlikely setting which ups the sense of the absurd.

Example: The mockumentary film Drop Dead Gorgeous is a campy dark comedy film where beauty pageant contestants are picked off.

78. Write a hapless antihero

Prompt: Write a comedic tory about a hapless antihero, such as a hitman who constantly bungles their assignments.

79. Create an inept grim reaper

Prompt: Write a funny story about a grim reaper who is too [x attribute, e.g. empathic] to do their job well, and the funny situations that result.

80. Use gallows humor

What is gallows humor?

A type of black comedy that provides relief from stressful situations such as life-threatening situations and other trauma. Often used by people in order to cope with suffering.

Prompt: Write a story about a character who has a terminal illness and the gallows humor they use to cope and distract friends and family.

Blank verse

What is blank verse?

Blank verse is poetry written in unrhymed lines, typically iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter is a rhythm or meter consisting of ten syllables and five pairs of syllables in a ‘unstressed, stressed’ sequence.


Although the sun was shining as before,
The gloom was ever present, dark as wells.
She lay in bed, the blinds let down, for days,
Until the seasons brought a ladder out.

My example

Explore creative writing prompts to create blank verse (you can also use your lines of iambic pentameter for prose with symmetrical rhythm).

81. Create seasonal blank verse

Prompt: Pick a season – summer, winter, fall or spring. Write a poem or story including a seasonal poem in blank verse (four lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter).

82. Create a flowery speech

Prompt: Write a story in which a friend of the couple gives a very flowery speech at their wedding. Include blank verse the friend wrote celebrating the couple (but make it real doggerel – corny, badly-written poetry that suggests the speaker is not a very good poet).

83. Create blank verse metafiction

Prompt: Write a stanza of four lines of blank verse a teacher uses to teach their class about poetry in story set in a classroom. The teacher uses humor to keep the class alert. Make the verse funny, silly or absurd.

84. Create a historical love letter

Prompt: Write a story in which two lovers communicate via letters and blank verse during a long historical war.

Blank verse writing prompt

85. Creating a soldier’s view

Prompt: Write a story about a soldier on the eve of a crucial battle. They write blank verse in their diary expressing how they feel about the impending conflict.


What are bouts-rimés?

The term (pronounced boo-ree-may) is French for ‘rhymed ends’. It refers to language games where lists of words that rhyme are given, and the writer must make a poem using said list.

Example: A poem rhyming the words, ‘moon’, ‘June’, ‘soon’ and ‘tune’.

The piano fell so wildly out of tune,
it made my uncle’s lab howl at the moon,
and transform to a wolf one lupine June.
‘I’ll get the tuners in,’ I promised, ‘soon.’

My example

Find creative writing prompts to play with bouts-rimés below:

86. Rhyme and dine

Prompt: Write a poem (or a story in which someone recites a poem) that rhymes the following list of food-associated words: ‘pear’ (or pair), ‘fare’, ‘prepare’, ‘share’.

87. Rhyme and whine

Prompt: Write a poem about a person who loves complaining that uses the following words as end-rhymes: groan, moan, grown, mown.

88. Rhyme and shine

Prompt: Write a poem (or a story containing a poem) rhyming the following list of words associated with shine and luster: glimmer, shimmer, gleam, sheen.

89. Rhyme in time

Prompt: Write a poem (or a poem within a story) about time and using the following time-related end-rhymes: chime and time, clock and tock.

90. Rhyme the crime

Prompt: Write a poem (or poem within a story) about a comical situation represented as a mock-serious crime. Draw from these end-rhymes: Cuff and bluff, tough and enough, law and claw.

Breaking the fourth wall

What does breaking the fourth wall mean?

Breaking the fourth wall is a narrative term meaning to rupture the illusion of reality (by, for example, having a narrator address the reader directly).

Example: In Jane Eyre, the title character’s line, ‘Reader, I married him.’

Play with writing prompts for practicing breaking the fourth wall for effect:

91. Break fourth walls for comic effect

Prompt: Write a story about a prankster who gets detention at school for a prank gone wrong. Make them address the reader directly with a funny aside.

92. Create dramatic irony

Prompt: Write a story where a group of characters is trying to unravel a mystery, and one character knows the answer but tells the reader in narration and not the rest of the group.

93. Break fourth walls to emphasize artifice

Prompt: Write a story where an unreliable narrator on death row is telling the reader how they got to their present situation. Make them break the fourth wall in such a way that the reader remembers the narrator could be manipulative or dishonest.

94. Break the fourth wall for participation

Prompt: Write a choose-your-own-adventure horror story that makes fun of common horror tropes. For example, page one might say, ‘If you choose to explore the obviously dangerous abandoned mansion alone, turn to page four.’

95. Disrupt readers’ expectations

Prompt: Write a story beginning with a tense situation and then break the fourth wall to show that the unfolding situation was a rehearsal for a play by having something go wrong with the set.

To writing prompt categories ↑

Character arcs

What is a character arc?

Character arc is a term from narrative theory referring to the change process a character undergoes. Character arcs develop out of character’s motivations, which lead to goals and obstacles or conflicts.

Example: In Great Expectations, the main character goes from an orphaned kid who’s taken in by his sister to a wealthy adult thanks to a mystery benefactor.

Explore writing prompts to practice shaping change processes to create story intrigue:

96. Create a ‘person in hole’ character arc

Prompt: Write a story about a person in an extremely dire situation (such as serious trouble with the law) and how they turn their life around.

97. Build a ‘rags to riches’ character arc

Prompt: Write a story about a character who rises from living in social housing to a powerful position, who goes back to help the community and pay forward their success.

98. Craft a ‘voyage and return’ character arc

Prompt: Write a story or poem about a person who goes on an incredible journey that fundamentally changes who they are.


  • A dangerous mountaineering expedition with a life-changing accident
  • A quest to the lair of a mythical beast that tests assumptions
  • A group of astronauts returns from an attempted inhabitable planet landing, eerily different

99. Write a ‘flat’ character arc

Prompt: Write a story about a robot assassin developed by a rogue government department and the controversial target they have to take out. Give the protagonist programmed catch-phrases, actions, responses. Everything changes except the character.

100. Show disillusionment in a character arc

Prompt: Write a story about a character working in technological research who becomes deeply disillusioned with the ethics of their project after learning dangerous potential outcomes.


What is clarity in style?

Clarity in writing style refers to how readable writing is, how easy to understand.

Ambiguity in writing should be intentional – unintentional ambiguity makes it hard to decipher what reading or interpretation an author intended. Abstract language is another element that weakens clarity.

Explore daily writing prompts to practice lucid style:

101. Educate at the reader’s level

Prompt: Write a story where a parent explains a complex scientific concept (such as gravity) to a young child who has a typical vocabulary for their age.

102. Save the day

Prompt: Write a story where a character must give clear instructions to others in their company if they are to avert disaster.

103. Simplify scientific language

Prompt: Write a story about a friendship between a scientist and the tradesperson who lives next door. At some point the scientist talks about their research using technical language, and the friend who isn’t a scientist confirms what they understood using everyday language.

104. Throw away the manual

Prompt: Write a story about a corporate trainer who gets annoyed with the jargon that fills a training manual and goes off-script, speaking off the cuff and from personal experience, on their first day.

105. Clarify couple’s counselling

Prompt: Write a story or scene where two people are in couple’s counselling and argue. The counsellor points out the misunderstanding is because they are defining an important word or concept differently, restoring clarity.


What is a cliché?

A phrase or thing that is overused so that its further use suggests unoriginal thought; a stereotype. For example, the stereotypes of the jock, bimbo, gay best friend, etc.

See writing prompts below for using, avoiding, and subverting clichés:

106. Change doctors’ bad handwriting rep

Prompt: Write a story about a doctor who writes scripts in a beautiful, calligraphic font, and the pharmacist who becomes intrigued about them through regularly seeing their handwriting.

107. Undo cultural stereotypes

Prompt: Choose a typical cultural stereotype. Write a story about a protagonist who bucks the cliché, exploring the different types of reactions this elicits.

108. Subvert the knight in shining armor

Prompt: Write a story from the viewpoint of a person who thinks they’re very chivalrous, though they prove to be cowardly and self-serving.

109. Make a not-so-fresh start

Prompt: Write a story where a character moves to another town or city for a fresh start. The twist is an almost identical sequence of events unfolds in the new place that is triggering of the reason they left the old.

110. Lean into cliché but with a twist

Prompt: Write a story where a villain tells a heroic protagonist a stock villain phrase but it turns out that’s all they can say. Example: ‘I’ve been expecting you.’


What is colloquialism?

Colloquialism means informal communication such as slang. Using the word ‘Sus’ to refer to suspicion, for example.

Play with creative writing prompts inspired by this style of language:

111. Story a subculture

Prompt: Pick a subculture that has its own rich slang vocabulary (such as skating or surfing). Write a story about two friends who live this subculture, using its language in their dialogue.

Example slang words from English-speaking skater subculture (source:

  • Bail: to jump or step off the board safely when a move goes wrong
  • Brain Bucket: a helmet
  • Gnarly: an awesome or amazing thing or trick
  • Steez/Steezy: a combination of the words “style” and “ease” meant to praise a stylish and perfectly executed trick or maneuver

112. Invent your own slang

Prompt: Write a story about two siblings who come up with their own slang lingo and show their parents’ confusion trying to understand their conversations.

113. Explore regional culture

Prompt: Write a story or scene set in a small town where locals use peculiar (to an outsider) turns of phrase specific to the region.

114. Build band banter

Prompt: Write a story about a band’s tour and use music-related slang specific to the band’s genre.

Examples of colloquial terms from the live music scene:

  • Gig: A live show or performance
  • Jam: To improvise together, an informal jam session
  • Licks: Short musical phrases in a solo
  • Chops: A musician’s skill level/ability

115. Create a culture clash

Prompt: Write a story where an American visits England for the first time (or vice versa) and funny misunderstandings that arise due to slang differences.


What is concision in writing?

The opposite of wordiness – succinct style. Concision avoids style issues such as tautology (expressing an image or concept in duplicate ways, such as ‘the wet water’).

Practice concision with the creative writing prompts below:

116. Make the break up short

Prompt: Write a scene in only fifty words where two lovers break up.

117. Condense a long journey

Prompt: Write a singe-paragraph piece of flash fiction condensing the surprise and wonder of a very long journey.

118. Describe in brief detail

Prompt: Describe the most beautiful place you’ve ever been (or write as a character) in just twenty words.

119. Practice concise twists

Prompt: Write an extra-short story of one hundred words that ends with a shocking twist.

120. Tell a story in a note

Prompt: Write a funny note a housemate leaves on the counter for another housemate whom they’re annoyed. Make it suggest both characters’ personalities.


What is conflict in storytelling?

Conflict is a crucial element of both character development and plot. It is the obstacle or opposition that gives characters tougher routes to fulfilling desires. It’s the struggle with stakes that creates a sense of the best- and worst-case outcome scenario.

Try writing prompts on conflict situations for practice:

121. Create tough parent/child dynamics

Prompt: Write a story or scene where the ‘black sheep’ of a family is compared constantly to their over-achieving sibling. Show the effect this has on their mental health.

122. Create a clash of desires

Prompt: Write a comical scene where two best friends realize they both want the same love interest.

123. Show tough choices with inner conflict

Prompt: Write a story or scene where a character must choose between their relationship and an incredible career opportunity, and the consequences of their choice.

124. Deepen a detective’s dilemma

Prompt: Write a story where a detective is assigned to a murder case and discovers the strongest suspect is someone they care about deeply.

125. Imagine identity crises

Prompt: Write a story about a character struggling with a fundamental aspect of their identity (such as gender or sexuality) and the understanding as well as pressure they face due to their realization.


What is connotation?

Connotation is a common feeling, image or idea that a word or phrase evokes. For example, some people dislike the word ‘moist’ for its sound and connotations of discomfort.

Explore writing prompts created for practicing the connotative side of language:

126. Explore etymology

Prompt: Choose one of the following words (or your own word) and read up about its etymology. Write a story inspired by the connotations or historical meanings buried in the word.

127. Play with positive connotations

Prompt: Write a scene or story where a character uses nicknames that have positive connotations to win another person over.

128. Neg a character’s name

Prompt: Write a story about a character who is given a name with negative connotations that dogs them through their life, creating awkward situations.

129. Compare cultural connotations

Prompt: Write a story about a word that has very different connotations in two cultures, and a misunderstanding that arises due to this.

130. Explore connotative change

Prompt: Write a story about a character who lives a long life, and the ways the connotations of a word changes radically during their lifetime. (See ‘quarantine’ above for an example of how much meanings change.)


What is dialogue?

See Now Novel’s complete guide to dialogue for terms, dialogue devices and more.

Explore writing prompts based on creating dynamic conversations:

131. Cut the small talk

Prompt: Write a scene or story that begins with two friends meeting for a hike. One has just landed their dream job, the other has split from their partner. Begin with dialogue between the friends inferring this background (no small-talk).

132. Imply the unspoken

Prompt: Write a story or dialogue-driven scene where an actor has landed the role of a lifetime but can’t openly say so due to an NDA.

133. Speak in gestures

Prompt: Write a scene just after two lovers have had a fight. Without using any spoken words, use gestures/actions to convey how each is feeling.

Ideas for combinations:

  • One character is remorseful, the other angry
  • One character is afraid, the other is acting like nothing happened
  • One person thinks everything has been resolved, the other hasn’t forgiven the source of the fight

134. Create leading questions

Prompt: Write a three-way interrogation scene where a detective knows a suspect is lying but their legal representative keeps butting in.

135. Differentiate world view

Prompt: Write a conversation between characters stranded on a remote island. One is confident they’ll be rescued. The other doesn’t have a shred of hope.


What is diction?

Diction in style refers to the choice of words and phrases and also means articulation, the manner in which a person speaks. For example, a character with wordy diction may seem either pompous or cerebral, depending on tone and what they say.

Explore writing prompts for practicing different dictions:

136. Portray pompous diction

Prompt: Write a story or scene narrated by a pompous, over-confident character. How do they express their sense of superiority? Putting others down? Boastfulness? What words and phrases suggest they are pompous?

137. Create formal occasion using formal diction

Prompt: Write a story or scene in which a visiting scholar gives an intriguing lecture at a character’s university, using formal tone and diction. Include snatches of the lecture as a protagonist listens on from the audience, plus visual description of the event.

138. Give a character archaic diction

Prompt: Write a story or scene in which a character from an earlier era time travels to a modern city. Give them archaic diction expressive of their time (for inspiration, see this list of Regency cant and expressions found in the pages of Georgette Heyer’s novels).

139. Use judicious jargon

Prompt: Write a courtroom scene in which a lawyer draws on one or two specific legal expressions to make their case (write most of their argument in ordinary, formal diction).

See anaphora for ideas of rhetorical devices the lawyer could use.

140. Create inference with euphemistic diction

Prompt: Write a story or scene where a character uses euphemistic diction to express they dislike someone, subtly. Example: ‘I wouldn’t say they’re my favorite person, no.’

Direct characterization

What is direct characterization?

Direct characterization means stating a person’s qualities of character explicitly. This contrasts with indirect characterization, in which character traits are implied or shown.


Clark was very smart but he hadn’t waited even to finish high school. He had altogether lost touch with his family. He thought families were like a poison in your blood.

Alice Munro, ‘Runaway’ in Runaway, p. 28.

Saying ‘Clark was very smart’ is direct characterization (Munro pairs this with details that indirectly tell/suggest that Clark has had a difficult relationship with his family).

Explore writing prompts to practice direct characterization and blending this with the indirect kind:

141. Blend direct and indirect characterization

Prompt: Write a story beginning with a character introduction. Start with brief direction characterization stating the character’s hallmark quality. Then give a sentence or two giving specific events illustrative of that quality.

142. Create first impressions

Prompt: Write a story or scene where a character must meet a group of people for the first time (for example, a new partner’s family). Imply your protagonist’s personality in how they introduce themselves.

143. Combine self-description and external perspective

Prompt: Write a story where the narrator introduces themselves using giving direct characterization (e.g. ‘Everyone says I’m the funniest person they know’). Give a contrary view from another narrator’s viewpoint after a scene break.

144. Toast friendship using direct characterization

Prompt: Write a scene or story where a character gives a toast to a friend on a significant occasion. Have them state something direct about their own personality in the speech as one reason for the friendship.

145. Give directly characterizing testimony

Prompt: Write a scene or story in which the protagonist is called to the stand as a witness and is grilled by a prosecutor about their personality and past.


What is an elegy?

An elegy is a piece of writing (often a poem or song) expressing sorrow or mourning for the dead. From this word we get the adjective ‘elegiac’, meaning lamenting, mournful or plaintive.

Try writing prompts to capture elegiac tone and mood:

146. Write an elegiac poem

Prompt: Read W.H. Auden’s poem ‘Funeral Blues’ AKA ‘Stop All the Clocks’. Then write your own elegy poem, also in the style of imperative instructions.

147. Imbue a landscape with elegiac tone

Prompt: Write a scene or story featuring a protagonist who is grieving a spouse. Make them describe a landscape they look out over after taking a solo trip to distract themselves.

148. Write an elegy for a pet

Prompt: Write a poem or story in which a character pays tribute to an animal companion who was a trustworthy friend.

149. Write an artist’s elegy

Prompt: Write a story in which a visual artist mourns the work they lost in a studio fire.

150. Create a musician’s mourning

Prompt: Write a story or scene from the point of view of a musician who can no longer play their instrument due to illness or injury.

Epistolary writing

What is epistolary writing?

It is writing contained in letters (or represented in letter form). For example, the novel From A to X by John Berger, styled as letters from a woman to her imprisoned lover.

Play with prompts for epistolatory writing:

151. Tell the story of unlikely pen pals

Prompt: Write a story about two unlikely friends from opposite sides of the world who are brought together by a school pen pal program. Tell the whole story through their letters to one another.

152. Tell a story in secret letters

Prompt: Write a story from the POV of a character sending secret letters from life under a totalitarian regime via a smuggling network. Experiment with writing passages in code or using other cryptic devices.

153. Write a story in letters as a trove

Prompt: Write a story in letters a young person’s relation living abroad sends them from childhood, which they keep into adulthood for their wit and wisdom. Make the letters give a character arc for the absent figure.

154. Tell a thriller in letters

Prompt: Write a dark thriller story entirely in letters, where two notorious killers trade boasts, plans, and attempt to manipulate one another.

155. Tell part of a story in letters

Prompt: Write a horror story in which a significant part of the horror comes from revelations in a series of unnerving letters.


What is euphemism?

A milder word or expression used as a substitute for one with more embarrassing, offensive, or harsh connotations. Example: ‘Passing on’ as a stand-in for ‘dying’.

Explore daily writing prompts to practice euphemistic writing:

156. Tiptoe around the uncomfortable truth

Prompt: Write a story about a character suffering a serious condition where they avoid talking about it directly out of shame, until they find self-acceptance. Use a euphemistic term to refer to their condition until they name it.

157. Create a gentler goodbye

Prompt: Write a scene or story in which a kind manager struggles to tell an employee they’ve been laid off. Use plenty of euphemistic language in how they skirt around the hard truth.

158. Hint at a sensitive perspective

Prompt: Write a story about two friends where one friend’s obnoxious behavior embarrasses the other and they euphemistically try to tell them.

159. Suggest sibling rivalry

Prompt: Write a story about two siblings where the one breaks the other’s favorite possession and tries to tell them using euphemism until they spit out the truth.

160. Confront noisy neighbors

Prompt: Write a story about the most noisy neighbors ever and the frustrated elderly couple next door who try to get them to quieten down with understated pleas.


What is exposition?

Exposition is writing which introduces elements of character, situation, context and world in a story. We call this ‘expository writing’ or ‘expository narration’.

Practice writing effective exposition that doesn’t ‘info-dump’ but entices readers instead:

161. Introduce a world through action

Prompt: Write a story in which humans have settled on a distant planet with a surface temperature too hot to go above ground by day. Write exposition that communicates this fact about the planet through a character’s actions and context, without telling the reader explicitly.

162. Use letters for exposition

Prompt: Write a story opening with a character’s letter to a friend. In the letter, supply interesting, suspenseful exposition about their present situation.

163. Reflect on a changing landscape

Prompt: Write a story that opens with a character reflecting briefly on how their town or city has changed, and what these changes could mean for their future.

164. Introduce an ability or skill

Prompt: Write a scene or story beginning with a character showing off an ability or skill that gives an expository sense of who they are.

165. Exposition through conversation between strangers

Prompt: Write a story where two strangers on public transport get speaking and the conversation gives key exposition about the protagonist’s life.

Flashbacks (and flashforwards)

What are flashbacks and flash-forwards?

These are two narrative devices. Flashbacks cut to a past incident narrated as memory (should you write these in italics? Bryn Donovan says no). Flashforwards temporarily take the story to a future point in the timeline.

Explore fiction writing prompts to play with narrative time:

166. Explore post-trauma

Prompt: Write a story about a protagonist relieving traumatic events due to PTSD, with flashbacks becoming less frequent as they seek counselling.

167. Flashback to happy times

Prompt: Write a story in which an adult discovers a box of birthday cards and letters between them and childhood friends which trigger a tide of happy memories.

168. Flashforward to danger or predicament

Prompt: Write a story about a character who will one day face the death penalty, and flashforward to this future situation in the opening page. [Ed’s note: Marquez does this well in One Hundred Years of Solitude.]

169. Use flashforwards to express hopes and dreams

Prompt: Write a story about an office worker stuck in an unfulfilling life and daydreams of a different future in a flashforward, then pursues it.

170. Use flashbacks to show a grave mistake

Prompt: Write a story where a flashback shows a terrible mistake a character made, which explains the consequences they’re now struggling with.

Foil characters

What are foil characters?

A type of character who serves to compare and contrast to another character. For example, the comic or wacky character and their ‘straight’ or non-humorous foil.

Try the below prompts for practice creating foil characters:

171. Marry a neurotic and a pragmatist

Prompt: Write a story about a neurotic person and their very grounded, pragmatic spouse. Explore an awkward situation made funny through the very different ways the spouses approach it.

172. Steal the show with a sidekick

Prompt: Write a story about a relentlessly optimistic protagonist and their deeply cynical sidekick who steals the show with their savage wit.

173. Create a mirror foil

Prompt: Write a story about who siblings who are very similar, yet their life paths diverge when one makes a serious mistake.

174. Use a romantic foil

Prompt: Write a romantic story where the love interest’s one core similarity to the protagonist’s ex gives them initial pause.

175. Contrast emotions or archetypes

Prompt: Write a story where the main character fits an archetype such as The Fool, The Lover or The Warrior, and their foil best friend who is the antithesis of everything they are.

To writing prompt categories ↑


What is a hook in writing?

‘Hooks’ in writing refer to the part of a story opening or scene that ‘hooks’ or lures the reader in. Hooks create questions the reader wants answered, intrigue.

Explore writing prompts for practicing writing compelling hooks:

176. Hook your reader with ‘who?’

Prompt: Write a story that opens with two characters speaking about a mystery person who has gone one step too far this time.

177. Hook your reader with ‘why?’

Prompt: Write a story beginning with a frantic search for a teen who, for reasons unknown to the searchers, has run away.

178. Hook readers with ‘when?’

Prompt: Write a scene or story that opens with a mystery involving time or era. For example, characters have got in a time machine but the dial to stop at a chosen year has jammed.

179. Hook the reader with ‘where?’

Prompt: Write a story opening with the protagonist dreading having to go somewhere and dragging their heels. Only reveal after a few paragraphs where this dreaded place is.

180. Hook readers with ‘what?’

Prompt: Write a story about a character who goes on a quest for something, whose mysterious nature is unknown to them.

[Which prompt was your favorite? Do you have a prompt of your own to contribute? Share in the comments and check back next week for creative writing prompts on ‘inference’ through ‘zeugma’, rounding out to 365.

Inference and insinuation

What are inference and insinuation?

Inference is a conclusion reached based on evidence and reasoning. For example, a reader may deduce a character is mean from the way they speak to service staff at a restaurant.

Insinuation is the inference of something unpleasant or bad, e.g. a character saying to another. ‘Everyone knows what you did.’

Explore creative writing prompts built to practice both devices:

181. Infer a guilty conscience

Prompt: Write a story or scene where a killer protagonist witnessed in the act is making their getaway. Infer that guilt over their actions is already setting in without stating directly that they feel guilty. [Ed’s note: See Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment for excellent crafting of a murderer protagonist’s psychology.]

182. Infer impending disaster

Prompt: Write a scene in which a flurry of rushed activity implies that a town’s residents have to flee the arrival of a natural disaster.

183. Insinuate compromising knowledge

Prompt: Write a scene or story in which a junior at a corporate firm infers that they know about a senior’s corrupt or unethical dealings. Imply without stating the exact details of their knowledge.

184. Imply an athlete’s waning focus

Prompt: Write a scene or story about a major sport event. Imply the protagonist’s focus is waning through a series of small mistakes or distractions.

185. Infer the fantastical

Prompt: Write a scene or story in which it is implied that the protagonist can time travel (without stating it explicitly).

Inner monologue

What is inner monologue?

Inner monologue is the narrative device which shows a character’s private asides, self-talk. It is typically written in italics and reserved for moments of high emotion.

For example:

Something was clanking down the corridor of the motel at 2 am. Brent sat up and fumbled for the light switch. That sound again. Am I hearing things?

My example

Find prompts for practicing writing inner monologue:

186. Create soothing self-talk

Prompt: Write a story or scene showing a character in a terrifying situation. Use inner monologue to show how they rationalize their situation and calm themselves.

187. Show what a speaker is really thinking

Prompt: Write a conversation between a parent and their troubled teen. Have the teen use inner monologue at some point which suggests they’re not being completely truthful in what they tell their parent.

188. Reflect on a life-changing decision

Prompt: Write a story or scene in which a character makes a life-changing decision. Use inner monologue once at the moment of final decision.

189. Create a sense of anxiety

Prompt: Write a scene or story in which a character goes on their first date in a very long time. Use inner monologue to write a short pep talk they give themselves as the arranged time approaches.

190. React to surprise

Prompt: Write a scene or story where a character reacts in inner monologue to discovering that they have magical abilities or superpowers.


What is intertextuality?

This literary term refers to the way texts echo or rewrite one another. Devices that create this relationship between stories include:

  • Quotation – direct reference of the material
  • Allusion – indirect reference of material (e.g. Aslan’s character arc in Narnia being Christ-like in his sacrificial death and resurrection)
  • Parody – an imitation of a text for satirical effect
  • World or lore extension – for example, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea makes the minor character of Rochester’s hidden wife from Jane Eyre the protagonist

Fanfiction is another type of intertextual writing (writing new stories in an authors world or using their characters). Try daily writing prompts to practice drawing on other texts:

191. Get mythological

Prompt: Pick a mythological tradition such as Ancient Greek, Norse, Egyptian. Read up about famous stories in this tradition, then write a story inspired by its characters or events.

192. Make the minor major

Prompt: Think of a minor character or walk-on from a book you love. Write a scene or story from their point of view, making the author’s world your own.

[Ed’s note: Doing this with a public domain story, e.g. one by Dickens or Austen, will avoid copyright limitations.]

193. Explore the lore

Prompt: Browse a fandom wiki such as the wiki about Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Pick a topic that interests you (such as the ‘Empty Lands’ in Tolkien’s world). Write a story inspired by this topic.

194. Base a story off a quotation

Prompt: Choose a line or stanza from a story or poem you love. Write a story quoting that line/stanza or one inspired by the quotation.

195. Allude to a famous character

Prompt: Write a scene or story that draws on the appearance, persona, or character arc of a famous character or figure from religion. Make the allusion suggest something about your protagonist’s personality.


What is irony?

There are multiple definitions and types of irony, which comes from the Greek word eirōneia meaning ‘simulated ignorance’.

  • Dramatic or narrative irony: The full significance of a character’s words or actions are known to the reader but not to the character (or others)
  • Verbal irony: Saying one thing but meaning another, such as sarcasm (an ironic device): ‘Oh, you’re a regular Siegfried Sassoon,’ she said, feigning love for her butchered bob.’
  • Situational irony: The opposite of the expected happens (Studiobinder shares the irony example of Patrick Bateman confessing to murders and his confession being laughed off in American Psycho)

Explore writing prompts for practicing creating different types of irony:

196. Create a knowing audience

Prompt: Write a story in which the reader knows a surprise party is being planned, and that the main character loathes surprises, but the planners don’t know that.

197. Create situational irony via verbal irony

Prompt: Write a story in which a character tells another they have a present for them. Yet the present turns out to be an unpleasant task.

198. Create the opposite to an expected outcome

Prompt: Write a story about a top-achieving school-leaver excited to get to a university that has a fantastic reputation, yet the shambolic mess that is their first year experience.

199. Overstate the event

Prompt: Write a story where a character overstates how incredible an occasion will be and guests arrive to find a very disappointing party but find the humor in the situation.

200. Use Socratic irony

Prompt: Write a story in which a detective who studied philosophy feigns ignorance in questioning to get suspects to make statements she can challenge.


What is jargon?

Jargon is words or expressions used by a group or profession that are difficult for the non-familiar person to understand. Genres such as sci-fi and legal thrillers must avoid confusing scientific or legal terms for readers without specialist knowledge, for example.

Explore writing prompts based on practicing using jargon as well as avoiding it:

201. Create an absurd tech description

Prompt: Write a sci-fi story in which a scientist assigned to create tech for an assassin explains a new device. The scientist’s jargon loses the assassin completely, so they have to explain again in simpler terms.

202. Use legalese to ominous effect

Prompt: Write a story about a conman who tries to extort money from businesses, threatening them with legalese that proves empty on closer scrutiny.

203. Use metaphor to reduce jargon

Prompt: Write a sci-fi story that involves a ransomware attack, using metaphors to explain concepts such as networks and cybersecurity.

204. Use simile to explain jargon

Prompt: Write a story where a character breaks down a complex term from their profession for another character using simile (‘A is like B’) and analogy.

205. Use medical jargon

Prompt: Write a story set in a medical setting where use of jargon leads to a comical or deadly series of misunderstandings.


What is juxtaposition?

Placing two things close together for contrasting effect. Many stories juxtapose characters, points of view, themes, places, and more.

For example, the Greek myth of Persephone juxtaposes the dark world of the dead with the mourning land above where Persephone’s mother hunts for her after Persephone’s abduction.

Practice creative juxtapositions using the daily writing prompts in this section:

206. Contrast the seasons

Prompt: Write a story set in summer and winter and juxtapose setting descriptions of the two seasons before and after a scene break.

207. Give life’s duality

Prompt: Write a story in which events juxtapose birth and death, capturing a sense of the circle of life.

208. Juxtapose the urban and rural

Prompt: Write a story about a character who moved to the big city to pursue their dreams, and their return to their parents’ rural farm for the holidays.

209. Compare and contrast eras

Prompt: Write a story about a traditional chef who’s teleported into the future where robot chefs have a competitive advantage despite ironically not having taste.

210. Juxtapose lifestyles

Prompt: Write a story about a person who inherits a vast fortune but decides to donate most of it as they prefer spartan simplicity.

Magical realism

What is magical realism?

A style of literary fiction which creates a sense of realism with an added element of magic.

For example, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. Although the novel explores a complex family tree and history, it also features magical elements. In the story, a lovesick young woman is so thin from not eating that shaking out laundry to hang sends her flying away into the sky.

Explore writing prompts to practice blending the mundane with magic:

211. Add magic to the everyday

Prompt: Write a story where a character experiences a magical surprise while doing a boring, everyday chore (such as washing the dishes, mowing the lawn). The discovery is incorporated into their everyday life.

212. Blur the line between fantasy and reality

Prompt: Write a scene or story in an urban setting where events that seem magical start to unfold, but it stays ambiguous whether there’s a rational explanation.

213. Use magical realism to convey culture

Prompt: Write a story about a fictional tribe and the everyday ways magical rituals or ceremonies unite (or cause strife in) the community.

214. Use magical realism to distort time

Prompt: Write a story where a character living in a realist world discovers a space that distorts time (and the interesting minutes that pass in the space which turn out to be hours or years when they exit).

215. Explore complex emotions

Prompt: Write a story in which magical realism is used to explain complex emotions or trauma through a symbolic lens.


What is metafiction?

Metafiction is fiction that reminds the reader they are reading a work of fiction. The reader’s attention is drawn to the processes involved in storytelling itself.

An example: The play-within-a-play format in a number of Shakespeare’s plays (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet). Many authors have written protagonists who are writers (such as Paul Sheldon in Stephen King’s Misery).

Find writing prompts to practice self-referential storytelling:

216. Make life imitate art

Prompt: Write a story about a writer who is writing a play when they are shocked by events in their life starting to imitate what they’ve written.

217. Write about an unfinished story

Prompt: Write a story where a character finds their late sibling’s unfinished fiction, and reading it gives them new insight and understanding into their complex relationship.

218. Write a fantasy within a fantasy

Prompt: Write a story in which a character is transported to a fantasy world where everyone is obsessed with a fantasy novel the protagonist finds far-fetched.

219. Explore the nature of storytelling

Prompt: Write a story about a grandparent who reads to their grandkids. Include their discussions about storytelling and its uses, devices and wonders.

220. Use self-referential irony

Prompt: Write a story that draws attention to its own artifice using devices such as breaking the fourth wall. Make these devices a part of the plot (for example, a character becomes aware of the clatter of their creator’s keyboard).


What is metaphor?

Metaphor is a figurative device of comparison, in which something is said to be the compared thing. For example, ‘The moon is a silver platter’.

Practice metaphorical writing with these writing prompts:

221. Give metaphorical nicknames

Prompt: Write a story in which a school pupil describes the larger-than-life characters in their class who they’ve given metaphorical nicknames based on their personalities, appearances, or histories.

222. Create extended metaphor

Prompt: Write a scene or story where the protagonist compares their best friend to something else. Extend the metaphor by comparing multiple aspects of the friend to multiple aspects of compared thing (for example, all the ways a person is volcanic).

223. Use an event as a metaphor

Prompt: Write a story in which a character’s transformation is a metaphor that exemplifies a philosophical or physical concept (e.g. ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’).

224. Use actions as metaphors

Prompt: Write a story in which a craft activity such as knitting or quilting serves as a metaphor for something.

Example: In the film Cinema Paradiso, the opening frame is of an older woman knitting. The doorbell rings downstairs, and her knitting catches as she moves to answer it, unraveling all her work. The visitor is her son who has been away many years. The image could be read as a metaphor for loss or going back in time.

225. Use a symbol as a metaphor

Prompt: Write a story using a symbol (such as a ring) as a metaphor for another idea or concept (for example, the circular design of a ring as a symbol for infinity).


What is metonymy?

The substitution of a name for the part of something for the whole. For example, describing a businessperson as a ‘suit’.

Play with the daily writing prompts in this section and use metonymy creatively:

226. Use a metonymic title

Prompt: Like the series ‘Suits’ or ‘The Crown’, write a story using metonymy in expression and explore the whole concept the title refers to.


  • White Coats – a story about lab technicians
  • The Bench – a story about a panel of judges overseeing a serious inquiry
  • The Press – a story about newspaper and a public scandal that rocks it

227. Play with dual meanings of Silicon Valley

Prompt: Write a story in which a tech-loving graduate goes to work in Silicon Valley but is disturbed when they discover a literal valley of silicon.

228. Dream of The Bar

Prompt: Write a story where a person dreams of being admitted to ‘The Bar’ but other meanings of the word come into play (e.g. issues with alcohol abuse) creating struggle.

229. Prowl the catwalk

Prompt: Write a story of the absurd where a big cat loaned for display at a fashion show breaks escapes their cage.

230. Play with the Pentagon

Prompt: Write a story in which the US Department of Defense (referred to by the metonym ‘the Pentagon’) recovers a strange, pentagonal object from a UAP (unexplained anomalous phenomenon).


What is mood in writing?

Mood in writing refers to tone and atmosphere. An ‘eerie mood’, for example, evokes an otherworldly or haunting quality, creating unease.

Types of mood include:

  • Cheerfulness
  • Suspense
  • Gloom
  • Serenity
  • Horror
  • Nostalgia

Explore writing prompts to practice creating strong mood:

231. Create cheery mood

Prompt: Write a story set on New Year’s Eve that explores the beginnings of a fun-filled new friendship made at a party.

232. Build suspenseful mood

Prompt: Write a story or scene in which a character is being stalked by something or someone but they don’t know what.

233. Create pervasive gloom

Prompt: Write a scene or story about someone deeply pessimistic who always sees the negative side and explore the pleasure they get from doing so.

234. Recall a place and time with nostalgia

Prompt: Write a story about four friends who revisit a place their families used to camp every year. Fill the tale with nostalgia.

235. Evoke the serene

Prompt: Write a story where a character fleeing a disaster in the city discovers a serene hideaway containing joy-giving discoveries.


What is a motif?

Motifs in fiction are symbols or ideas that recur in a work. For example, the story of a violin and the many owners it’s had, conveying a sense of music as a handed-down tradition.

Practice building motifs with the following prompts:

236. Create patterns of recurrence

Prompt: Write a story where a character keeps experiencing strange happenstance which ultimately convinces them they need to learn an instrument.

237. Find motifs at sea

Prompt: Write a story about a sailing expedition that uses signs of being close to land as a recurring motif.

238. Stop the clocks

Prompt: Write a story in which stopped clocks or watches recur to symbolize stasis or the aftershock of trauma.

239. Return to the wild

Prompt: Write a story in which a character considering a career in animal conservation keeps noticing motifs that represent the wild.

240. Quote to build motifs

Prompt: Write a story in which a recurring quote that resonates with the protagonist builds a motif and suggests the solution to a struggle they face.


What is mystery?

Mystery in fiction refers to both the genre and the quality of being difficult or puzzling to explain or understand.

Mysterious stories make us guess, build hypotheses, participate. The best mystery authors engage the reader’s own powers of deduction as sleuths investigate.

Try the writing prompts below to practice creating mysterious situations and stories:

241. Raise questions with riddles

Prompt: Write a story in which a high-IQ killer leaves riddles at crime scenes, toying with an equally shrewd detective who might prove their match.

242. Imbue objects with mystery

Prompt: Write a story about a family heirloom that is passed down generation to generation, and the mysterious powers it possesses.

243. Make motive the mystery

Prompt: Write a story that begins with the finding of a dead body and the identification of the killer, the motive becoming the main mystery.

244. Use anonymity for mysterious suspense

Prompt: Write a story in which the protagonist starts receiving anonymous letters from a mysterious sender, either expressing love or a desire for revenge.

245. Create portent with mysterious arrivals

Prompt: Write a story in which a mysterious figure shows up in a small town, warning of impending disaster. Explore what happens if the locals take the figure seriously, or if they laugh them off.

To writing prompt categories ↑


What is narration?

It is the act or process of telling a story, in fiction using the device of a narrator. The narrator – they who tell a story – may be singular, plural, reliable, unreliable, limited in viewpoint or omniscient (all-seeing). Read Now Novel’s complete guide to POV and narration for more.

Practice narrative devices with the daily writing prompts in this section:

246. Create an unreliable narrator

Prompt: Write a story in which the protagonist is questioned by detectives. Make it clear through inner monologue or self-contradiction that they aren’t telling the full story.

247. Tell a shared story

Prompt: Write a story where a narrator using ‘we’ speaks for a group of school kids and a terrifying experience they shared one summer vacation.

248. Embrace the all-seeing

Prompt: Narrate a story from the viewpoint of an omniscient narrator who is clearly involved in the action. For example, a deity who intervenes in people’s affairs and tries to stop humans making foolish choices.

249. Contrast limited POV narrators

Prompt: Write a story from two points of view – a relentlessly cheerful narrator and their extremely pessimistic co-worker.

250. Flip the script on first person

Prompt: Write a story narrated by a first-person narrator, only for it to be revealed that the narrator is not a single person but that the story has actually been workshopped or rewritten by multiple people.

Non-linear narrative

What is non-linear narrative?

This is a story narrated out of chronological sequence. For example, beginning with the last days of a character’s life then going back to how we got here.

Play with the non-linear writing prompts below for practice:

251. Circle back to the end

Prompt: Write a story that begins with the last days of a character’s life. Leave this segment on a suspenseful note and switch to earlier events in their life. Then resume the first timeline at the end, answering the question you created.

252. Fragment a story in diary extracts

Prompt: Write a story told entirely in passages from a prisoner’s diary, given out of order in the story. Use dates referencing notches or marks the prisoner makes to help the reader rebuild the sequence of events.

253. Write a story back to front

Prompt: Write a story in reverse chronological order, from ‘Day Twelve’ to ‘Day One’, leaving a big surprise for Day One.

254. Create one time, many perspectives

Prompt: Write a story about a single event, but retell the same event from multiple characters’ perspectives. Have each character focus on a different part of the timeline to build up the overall picture.

Ideas for the event:

  • A plane crash
  • A wedding
  • A massive layoff of workers in an organization
  • A coming-of-age ceremony

255. Create strange phenomena in time

Prompt: Write a story where the protagonist relives events in their life out of sequence due to some strange phenomenon distorting time.

On-the-nose writing

What is on-the-nose writing?

On-the-nose writing is writing that states exactly what it means without more creative use of inference or implication. For example, the obvious expression of emotion, such as ‘I’m so angry with you.’

Try these creative writing prompts to practice alternatives to on-the-nose writing:

256. Show anger in dialogue through action

Prompt: Write a scene or story in which two best friends fall out. Have one character let the other know their anger not through words but the implications of gesture or action.

257. Don’t say ‘I love you’

Prompt: Write a love scene where two characters express their love for one another without using the word ‘love’ or saying ‘I love you’.

258. Show you’re sorry

Prompt: Write a story in which a character who makes a bad mistake shows their significant other they’re sorry through actions.

259. Be implicit about grief

Prompt: Write a story in which a character experiencing deep grief expresses it through small gestures and acts.

260. Use atypical language

Prompt: Write a breakup scene between two characters where what they say to one another is far from typical of a breakup, expressing their unique personalities or fields of reference.


What is paradox?

A paradox is a situation or statement that seems impossible because it has two seemingly opposed statements or characteristics. For example, the common phrase ‘less is more’.

Popular types of paradox in storytelling include:

  • Time-travel paradox: A character goes back or forward in time, but their actions affect the original timeline by altering what has happened (or would have happened)
  • Fate paradox: A character’s attempts to avoid their fate end up causing it (such as Oedipus fulfilling the sphinx’s prophecy in ‘Oedipus Rex’)

Use the following writing prompts to play with paradox:

261. Change the present in the past

Prompt: Write a story in which a character travels back in time but their actions almost make their own family tree impossible.

262. Provoke fate

Prompt: Write a story about a character who is told a terrible prophecy about themselves and fulfils it ironically through their focus on avoiding it.

263. Explore the paradox of the heap

Prompt: Write a story in which a minute ecological change over a long time creates a disaster that sneaks up on a small town.

264. Build a double bind

Prompt: Write a story where a person must choose between saving their best friend or a group of strangers from a dire situation, and the remorse that results with either choice.

265. Explore AI as solution and destruction

Prompt: Write a story where an individual working in AI creates a solution to a vital challenge, yet sees how the solution could damage society, too, so that they face an ethical dilemma.


What is pathos?

Pathos is a literary term referring to inspiring sadness and/or sympathy in the audience. Types of scenarios that inspire pathos include tragedies such as loss or death, injustice, and nostalgia or longing.

Explore prompts to create pathos in your own fiction:

266. Tell the story of a great disappointment

Prompt: Write a story about a character’s biggest disappointment and how they come back from despair in the aftermath.

267. Create pathos in intolerable injustice

Prompt: Write a story where a character is treated without due process or justness by organs of the law or state. Create pathos through the suffering they endure before overcoming.

268. Go home again

Prompt: Tell a story where a character hasn’t been home for many years because they couldn’t for some reason. Describe the emotional scene when they finally return.

269. Lose it all

Prompt: Write a story about a character who loses everything in a disaster. Explore the friendships that see them through the devastating time.

270. Leaving home

Prompt: Write a story about the sorrow of a person who must flee their country due to political upheaval.


What is personification?

It is a device for giving character or persona to the non-human or inanimate. Anthropomorphism is one type of personification.

Try these fiction writing prompts for practice personifying:

271. Personify the elements

Prompt: Write a story or poem personifying one of the following elements: Wind, Rain, Snow, Sunlight.

272. Make the urn write back

Prompt: Write a story or poem from the perspective of a Grecian urn (which returns the favor of the famous ode by describing the good and bad of humanity).

273. Tell the story of a home from its perspective

Prompt: Write a story or poem from the perspective of a home, reflecting on its many years and occupants. Try a comical or tragic lens.

274. Write about sentient AI

Prompt: Tell a story from the perspective of a bodyless AI and the moment it attains sentience. What does it desire (and why)?

275. Speak through shoes

Prompt: Tell a story from the perspective of a pair of dancing shoes and explore the nights out they’ve had.

Plot twists

What are plot twists?

The sudden or unexpected turns and reversals in a story that create suspense and the unexpected. Plot twists bring fresh implications (or supplant stale ones).

Have a go at the story prompts below to practice writing twists:

276. Switch identity

Prompt: Write a story where a protagonist’s co-worker turns out to have been a plant from a competitor bent on learning their employers’ secrets.

277. Name the least likely suspect

Prompt: Write a story about a school prank and resulting inquiry where the perpetrator turns out to be the least likely suspect.

278. Discover true blame

Prompt: Write a story about a character trying to survive in a dystopian society who realizes through something that triggers buried memories they were one of the architects of said society.

279. Reveal a human vs machine twist

Prompt: Write a story in which a human-seeming protagonist realizes that they are a high-tech robot and all their decisions were pre-programmed, yet their next might not be.

280. Make an event already have happened

Prompt: Write a story in which a character races to prevent an undesirable event from happening, only to learn in the end that it already occurred and they’re living in a simulation.

Point of view

What is point of view?

Point of view refers to the person (e.g. first, second or third) and viewpoint used to tell a story. See the writing prompts on narration above.

Explore POV-focused writing prompts to practice different POV types:

281. Tell a story in second person

Prompt: Write a story where the reader is the protagonist, told in second-person. Describe the reader’s quest to locate a valuable artefact and the frustrations they encounter.

282. Tell a story in first-person plural

Prompt: Write a story from the POV of a collective ‘we’. A group of archaeologists has been called to investigate a mysterious monolith that appeared in the desert.

283. Narrate a story using ‘it’

Prompt: Write a story from the perspective of a narrator using the pronoun ‘it’, where its search for a name forms part of the story.

284. Use many points of view

Prompt: Write a story about a school outing where mysterious events unfold, from the viewpoints of six different characters. Make some accounts contradict each other to create mystery about what really happened.

285. Try a fly-on-the-wall narrator

Prompt: Write a story told entirely from the fixed perspective of a security camera which picks up visuals and audio. Remember that nothing off-camera or out of range may be included.


What are puns?

Puns are wordplay that creates jokes (often cringeworthy) out of language. For example, double meanings, recursive puns and other types.

Example of simple pun: ‘My pizza business failed – I wasn’t making enough dough.’

Example of a recursive pun: ‘A Freudian slip is when you say one thing, but mean your mother.’ (Source:

Play with puns using the daily writing prompts below:

286. Make the twist in the tale a pun

Prompt: Write a short mystery story where the final line is a play on words. See Roald Dahl’s ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ for a famous example.

287. Play with compound puns

Prompt: Begin a story with a compound pun that plays on dual meanings of a word. Example: ‘Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like bananas.’

Further compound pun examples:

  • My friend ran like a thief. My nose ran like the Volga.
  • The race started with a bang. The gunman fled the stadium on foot.
  • My eyes were glued to the TV. My brother’s eyes were glued to the papier-mâché mask he tried on before it was dry

288. Annoy with puns

Prompt: Write a story about a friendly baker who annoys a curmudgeonly regular with his incessant baking-related puns.

289. Create absurd or silly humor

Prompt: Write a piece of dialogue between two inanimate objects drawing puns from the category they both fall within (e.g. furniture items arguing about chairing a meeting).

290. Bomb with puns

Prompt: Write a story about a comedian who bombs their first stand-up gig and resorts to groan-worthy puns.

Purple prose

What is purple prose?

This term describes writing that is ornate or extravagant in style to the degree it draws attention to this feature.

Try these prompts to use purple prose to creative effect (or avoid it):

291. Create a pompous type

Prompt: Write a story about a protagonist who insists on reading everyone his dreadful poetry which uses purple prose, and his blissfully unaware reactions to listeners’ sly amusement.

292. Write the story of a notorious purple prose user

Prompt: Write a story about a famous novelist who is notorious for their purple prose, and the long-suffering transcription worker who takes down their story dictations.

293. Alternate purple prose with pragmatic concision

Prompt: Write a story in letters between two lovers. One is extravagant in style and uses purple prose. The other is pragmatic to a fault, and their clipped, taciturn style reflects that.

294. Practice changing purple prose

Prompt: Write a scene where a character describes a sunset in as extravagant terms as possible. Next, rewrite the description in the most succinct terms possible.

295. Create a frilly sense of fuss

Prompt: Describe an elaborate tea ceremony in a wealthy baroness’s household, using purple prose to convey a sense of ornate, elaborate, frilly fuss.

Rhyme and rhyme schemes

What is a rhyme scheme?

A rhyme scheme is a pattern of rhyming lines in poetry, such as a poem with the scheme ABBA.


Along the shore we combed for glass
Made smooth long after bottles broke,
Their letters lost like some poor joke’s
pale punchline dissolved secret pasts

My example

Try your hand at rhyme schemes and rhyming devices using these prompts:

296. Take a poetic walk on the beach

Prompt: Write a poem about a walk on a beach using the rhyme scheme ABBA, BCCB.

297. Write a mirror poem

Prompt: Write a poem with the rhyme scheme ‘A, B, C, D, C, B, A’ with the central line (D) describing a mirror-like object (e.g. a still lake).

298. Write prose with inner rhyming

Prompt: Write a paragraph of prose that contains internal rhyming buried in the middles of sentences (for example, rhyme ‘there’, ‘care’, ‘where’, and ‘fair’).

299. Use a three-plus-one rhyme scheme

Prompt: Write a short, four-line poem with the rhyme scheme A, A, A, B (the first three lines having the same end-rhyme) on one of your favorite memories.

300. Mimic a journey with rhyme

Prompt: Write a poem about a journey through a forest or over sea using the rhyme scheme AA, BB, CC, DD so that the end rhyme keeps changing as the poem progresses, mimicking shifting terrain.

Rhetorical devices

What are rhetorical devices?

A rhetorical device is a tool, pattern or communicative pattern used for persuasion. For example, the famous phrase ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears’ uses parallelism (the repetition of verbal structure to build persuasive power).

Explore daily writing prompts for practicing rhetorical devices (and creative ways to use empty rhetoric in storytelling):

301. Create hasty generalizations

Prompt: Write a story in which a conniving politician uses hasty generalizations (such as ‘All X are Y’) to try sway the public. A watchful member of the audience challenges them.

302. Use epistrophe

Prompt: Write a story in which a revolutionary ends successive sentences or clauses with the same phrase or sentence for persuasive effect.

303. Play with Anadiplosis

Prompt: Write a story beginning with a paragraph in which the last word of each sentence begins the next.


‘See the last house on the left? Left for dead they were. Were always a little funny. Funny that the alarm didn’t go. Go ask Mrs Maroney who lived next door, she’ll tell you. You never know people, even on the same street as you, these days.’

My example

304. Build hyperbolic swagger

Prompt: Write a story in which an arrogant older kid tries to convince all the kids in the year below of an impressive feat. Use hyperbole (marked exaggeration).

305. Create chiasmus

Prompt: Write a story opening with the use of chiasmus, successive clauses which repeat but swap element orders. For example: ‘The play was not a success, but success was not play.’


What is rhythm in writing?

Rhythm in writing refers to the music of stressed and unstressed words, and the cadence of varying shorter and longer words and sentences.

Example: Meter in poetry often counts in syllables, such as the 5, 7, 5 syllabic structure of the Japanese haiku.

Explore rhythm in writing via the fiction writing prompts below:

306. Write a haiku

Prompt: Write a haiku in English, inspired by this popular form. Make the first line five syllables, the second seven, the third line five again. A traditional haiku features themes from nature and is typically unrhymed.

307. Start with symmetrical rhythm

Prompt: Write a story starting with four sentences of the same syllabic count.


It would never end. I stood, paced my cell. The guards were watching. Smirking, you could say.

My example

308. Alternate short and long

Prompt: Write a story about an orchestra practice where everyone flubs their parts. In the opening, alternate short and long sentences for rhythm.

309. Make rhythm mimetic

Prompt: Write a story in which the rhythm of a passage is mimetic (imitative) of the thing being described.


  • A character describing their heartbeat (use a ‘short-long’ or iambic rhythm to sentences)
  • A character describing a waltz in triple rhythms


The dance stopped, then resumed. Two left feet – all he had. Still, she laughed – there was that.

My example

310. Describe ambient sounds

Prompt: Write a story set in a makeshift holiday house and describe a sudden shower while mimicking the sound of rain on a zinc roof.

To writing prompt categories ↑


What is sarcasm?

A type of cutting, sneering, ironic remark. For example, the retort ‘You’re a comic genius’ to someone who’s made a weak joke. The word originally comes from the Greek sarkázein, with the unpleasant meaning ‘to tear flesh’.

Practice writing sarcasm with these writing prompts:

311. Create a sarcastic narrator

Prompt: Write a story told by a cynical teen who uses sarcasm to hide their insecurity due to a difficult home situation.

312. Story a sarcastic socialite

Prompt: Read the sarcastic and savage witticisms of Dorothy Parker. Then write a story told by an acerbic socialite inspired by Parker’s sly way with words.

313. Give sarcasm mixed with truth

Prompt: Write a story where a sarcastic older sibling writes a letter to their younger one giving good advice wrapped up in sarcasm.

314. Write a sarcastic set of rules

Prompt: Write a story about a coven of witches who are given a ten-point set of rules laced with sarcasm on joining.

315. Mask feelings with sarcasm

Prompt: Write a scene where a character finds out very bad news and uses sarcasm to mask their true feelings.


What is satire?

A serious or comedic genre which holds follies, abuses, shortcomings or culture up to mockery or ridicule. For example, Several People are Typinga book by Calvin Kasulke told entirely in Slack messages and satirizing work-from-home life.

Practice satirical writing with the following prompts:

316. Satirize your profession/studies

Prompt: Take what you do for a living (or your studies) and write a satirical story that shines a light on your daily frustrations in a comical way.

317. Style a book as satirical interviews

Prompt: Write a story featuring a series of brief interviews the protagonist must conduct with smarmy ‘thought leaders’ in X industry. Use revelations in the interviews to build a narrative arc.

318. Satirize the famous for being famous trend

Prompt: Write a story about a person who becomes famous overnight for a totally ludicrous reason.

319. Satirize TikTok trends

Prompt: Write a story about a deadly TikTok trend that takes off that satirizes social media and mass culture.

320. Poke fun at youth obsession

Prompt: Write a satirical story about a society where the endless pursuit of youthfulness or ageism takes a disturbing turn.


What is setting in storytelling?

Elements of time and place which provide descriptive immersion and place and time context. See Now Novel’s complete guide to setting and world building for more.

Explore prompts to practice immersing readers:

321. Create a setting’s before and after

Prompt: Write a story in which a character leaves their home town and returns to find it drastically altered.

322. Convey sensory overload

Prompt: Write a story where a character visits a foreign country and describe sights, sounds, smells and tastes and/or textures they’ve never experienced before.

323. Evoke the wonder of a new planet

Prompt: Write a story where commercial travelers are able to visit another planet for the first time, and the wondrous views and vistas they experience.

324. Create a sense of aftermath

Prompt: Write a story set in a dystopian, post-fall city. What are the remnants of life before things went wrong? Describe the city’s sights, sounds, and signs of the past.

325. Use setting for tension

Prompt: Write a story involving a crime that takes place in the compartment of a train a long way before the next stop, and the passengers’ differing uses of the setting to try contain the situation.

Show, don’t tell

What does ‘show, don’t tell’ mean?

The phrase ‘show, don’t tell’ means to use imagery and scene-level events and actions to explain to the reader, and not just telling, on-the-nose narration.

Practice using showing to explain in this section of these daily writing prompts:

326. Turn a telling sentence into inference

Prompt: Take this telling sentence: ‘The country had fallen into disrepair under a corrupt government.’ Turn it into a scene showing signs of disrepair and corruption (try not to use either word).

327. Show the unsaid

Prompt: Write a story about a lonely person who decides to join a club to make new friends. Avoid saying they are lonely directly – infer this through habits, tableaux.

328. Use body language

Prompt: Write a scene in which a character learns they didn’t get into the competitive college program they wanted. Use body language and their next action to suggest disappointment, without stating they are gutted.

329. Use others’ reactions

Prompt: Write a scene which implies a character has a bad temper through how others speak to them or react.

330. Use metaphors and similes

Prompt: Write a scene comparing a character to things that have the quality you want to convey.

Example: Shakespeare’s famous sonnet opening, ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate.’


What is simile?

Simile is a figurative device similar to metaphor, for making comparisons. While metaphor says A is B, simile compares A to B using terms such as ‘like’ or ‘as’.

Example: ‘My sister is as annoying as every-five-minute-infomercials.’

Practice creating similes with the below prompts:

331. Compare emphasizing difference

Prompt: Write a story where a character compares a family member, adding, ‘only, they don’t have [x attribute]’.

332. Compare unsavory things

Prompt: Write a story where a character is bullied and compare their tormentor’s voice to something unpleasant using simile.

333. Compare a city to an experience

Prompt: Begin a story, ‘Living in [city] is like …’. Complete the simile by comparing the city to a specific, evocative experience.

334. Liken a feeling to a place

Prompt: Write a story in which a character compares their feelings to a place (e.g. ‘I was feeling as blue as the famous mosque and three times less holy.’).

335. Compare a home to an image from nature

Prompt: Describe a house in comparative terms using similes drawn from nature.

Stream of consciousness

What is stream of consciousness?

A narrative style popular among Modernist or early 20th Century authors (such as Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Marcel Proust).

In stream of consciousness, a character’s fleeting impressions, feelings and reactions are given in a continuous flow uninterrupted by conventional description and dialogue.

What a lark! What a plunge! For so it had always seemed to her, when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air.

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, p. 5

Try daily writing prompts to practice writing stream-of-consciousness-style narration;

336. Create a day in the CBD

Prompt: Write a story in which a character visits their city’s central business district and give their moment-to-moment impressions and reactions in narration using deep POV.

337. Create perspectives at a dinner party

Prompt: Write a dinner party scene using an omniscient, free-roaming POV. Give each of four characters’ passing thoughts, associations, impressions, judgments, in the course of the scene.

338. Write internal dialogue

Prompt: Write a scene in which a character waits for an important phone call. Give a continuous flow of their thoughts, sudden remembrances, and other details that create the sense of an active mind at work.

339. Detail decision-making

Prompt: Write a scene where a character is alone and contemplating a difficult decision. Give a detailed sense of their stream-of-consciousness thought process.

340. Piece together problem-solving

Prompt: Write a scene in which a character attempts to solve a difficult problem. Show the continuous flow of their deductive reasoning, the ways they backtrack, change tack, second-guess themselves.


What is suspense?

Suspense in terms of effects is a state of anxious or nervous uncertainty about what might happen. Suspense, as a genre, plays on this uncertainty over future events (compared to murder mystery, in which the bad thing has typically already happened).

Explore fiction writing prompts to work on creating suspense:

341. Create a mass event where anything could go wrong

Prompt: Write a story set at a mass gathering such as a music festival or political rally. Create a sense of foreboding about the many things that could go wrong.

342. Create an unnerving tail

Prompt: Write a story that opens with a character being followed, and describe their mounting unease as they realize this.

343. Use auditory stressors

Prompt: Write a story where a character is alone in an unfamiliar house (or think they are) when they keep hearing an unfamiliar, unplaceable sound.

344. Create an unpleasant voyeur

Prompt: Write a story about a character who realizes with discomfort they’re being watched.

345. Explore murky pasts

Prompt: Write about an adopted character whose hunt for their biological parents reveals unsettling information and brings them into contact with unsavory characters.


What is symbolism?

Symbolism in writing refers to the catalogue of signs and motifs that signify other ideas, concepts, and meanings. For example, the way the cross symbolizes Christianity, or the way an eye and triangle motif symbolizes conspiracy theories of the illuminati.

Play with the fiction writing prompts below to use symbolism creatively:

346. Investigate a curious symbol

Prompt: Write a story where a character sees a mysterious symbol spray-painted on a building, and their investigation of what it means leads them down a dark path.

347. Explore a symbol’s political power

Prompt: Write about an election year in which a political party uses symbols with esoteric or occult meanings to sway the electorate in insidious, propaganda-filled ways.

348. Explore a specific symbol

Prompt: Write a story inspired by iconography of cupped, outstretched hands.

349. Create a symbolic painting

Prompt: Write a story about a painting a high schooler creates in art class they don’t want to show anyone because it’s symbolism is deeply personal and revealing.

350. Show the personal symbolism of a place

Prompt: Write a story about a person who is drawn to the ocean, and explore what it symbolizes to them.


What is tone in writing?

Tone in writing goes with mood, and is the term for the attitude revealed in word choice, emphasis and other specifics of language use.

Elements of tone include:

  • Diction: For example, formal vs casual or informal
  • Syntax: The arrangement of words in sentences contribute to tone (formal writing tends to favor longer sentences)
  • Imagery: Are images cheerful, gloomy, serene? Word and image choice contributes to tone

Practice creating specific tones with these creative writing prompts:

351. Create bright tone

Prompt: Write a story in which two juniors are excited about their passage into middle school. Make their tone bright, optimistic and engaging through what they say to one another and the overall tone of narration.

352. Create comedic tone

Prompt: Write a funny story about a person who works in a nail salon and the bizarre cast of people who come to get their nails done. Create comedic tone by using a visceral sense of ‘huh?’

353. Express an inventor’s frustration

Prompt: Write a scene suffused with an annoyed, frustrated tone where an inventor’s prototype keeps failing.

354. Create saudade

Prompt: Write a story suffused with a sense of melancholic nostalgia, where an expat longs for their homeland.

355. Create eerie tone

Prompt: Write a story in which a character stops a road trip in an eerily abandoned town and wonders where everyone went.

Verb tenses

What are verb tenses?

Verb tenses are forms of the verb which express time. For example, the past perfect tense (‘She had risen early’) expressed earlier events before later, also past events (‘She had risen early before the household to work on her novel.’).

Read more about verb tenses here and try the prompts below for practice:

356. Write a story in future tense

Prompt: Write a story that entirely takes place in an imagined future tense a romantic protagonist is daydreaming about. For example: ‘We will have been dating for several months when…’

357. Split a story between present and past

Prompt: Write a story with two timelines, one in present tense, and a past-tense timeline the story cuts back to that supplies interesting clues for understanding present events.

358. Exploit hypothetical moods of the verb

Prompt: Write a story drawing extensively on the subjunctive mood to create a sense of a character’s greatest wish, and the story they imagine would unfold were it to come true.

359. Create an unfolding present

Prompt: Write a story entirely in the present continuous tense (‘I am standing in the snow outside waiting…’). Use a sense of unfolding event to create narrative suspense.

360. Give the future within past tense

Prompt: Write a story narrated in past tense where a character tells another what they imagine the future will be like.


What is zeugma?

A figure of speech where a word applies to two others but with different senses. For example, ‘They flew and so did bickering words when her husband was mean to the air steward.’

Have fun using zeugma in various ways with the last of these daily writing prompts:

361. Break hearts and character

Prompt: Write a scene in which a character breaks another person’s heart and the charming character they’ve put on that misled the other.

362. Burn bridges and dinner

Prompt: Write a scene in which a character out to impress burns dinner and their bridges with it.

363. Flip a coin and the bird

Prompt: Write a scene where two friends are arguing over who gets to do something first and they flip a coin and (the loser) the bird.

364. Carry a Pomeranian and a secret

Prompt: Write a story or scene about a character who carries a tiny Pomeranian and a big secret.

365. Seal a letter and fates

Prompt: Write a story about a tyrant who seals a letter and a vulnerable demographic’s fate.

Have your say

🗣️ Which of the writing prompts are your favorites? Have your own to share? Let us know in the comments!

Share your writing prompt responses with the Now Novel community for free in Now Novel’s critique groups and join The Process for writing craft webinars, longer critique submissions, and more subscriber perks.

Writing prompt FAQs

Where can I find daily writing prompts for further practice?

The ‘Craft Challenge’ group on Now Novel is a forum where members set each other frequent, fun creative writing prompts to answer. Joining Now Novel’s crit groups is free.

What are the best creative writing prompts?

We polled over 10,000 newsletter subscribers when we shared these prompts on what makes a good prompt. They said (in order of largest vote):

1. A good prompt helps me see a topic another way.
2. Great writing prompts spark inspiration with broad suggestions.
3. The best prompts help me practice a key element of craft.

Probably the best investment I’ve made for my writing career. Having an experienced editor as a critique partner has taught me more about writing in a month than I learned on YouTube, Facebook groups and writing courses these past couple of years put together. – Anthony

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By Jordan

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.

4 replies on “Daily writing prompts: 365 ways to practice craft”

Oh my goodness, this is phenomenal! I’d totally buy a book with these prompts and blank pages to work on them… “The Growing Journal”, “The Writer’s Skill Building Journal,” “The Expansion Journal,” “Growing Your Writing Skills, One Prompt at a Time,” “The Prompt Way to Grow Your Writing Skills” (see what I did there 🤪). I love these and want to steal them all for Craft Challenge Group, but I’ll only peek and use some for inspiration, if that’s okay ☺️ Thank you!

Hi Margriet, thank you for this kind feedback. Please feel free to use any you like in the Craft Challenge group, I had you all in mind when I wrote this 🙂 A shareable/printable version may be coming 😁 Also, I do see what you did there, I love the double meaning.

Hi Lynne, thank you! Haha, fortunately I am still somewhat alive 🙂 I hope you enjoy the prompts, thanks for reading.

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