This article is part five of a series about starting your own creative writing group/club. Part one is here. Topics will include giving constructive criticism, running a workshop, and writing games/prompts.
Writing prompts are both fun and a great club icebreaker. There are several types of writing prompts. My favorites are story prompts and first-line prompts. I used to come up with them for the teen creative writing club I ran. I’ve put some of each below to get your club started.
Here are my general rules for writing games/prompts:
- Encourage everyone to share their writing, but no one ever has to share. This creates an environment where people feel comfortable. The important thing is doing the exercise. If they decide to share, they must read their prompt aloud so everyone knows what it was.
- Set a time limit. I would generally give everyone five to ten minutes per round to write, and then I would open up for sharing. Once everyone had the opportunity to read their work, I would start another round or move on. This also encouraged people to share. After all, no story is good after five minutes.
- No one ever has to keep their prompt. If someone doesn’t like their prompt, they’re allowed to put it back and pick something else.
One last thing. My personal rule for coming up with prompts was I would never put it in the basket unless I could take the prompt in at least a couple of directions. Take the first line prompt below, “I hated that smile.” I could imagine a creepy story where the main character faces someone that scares them. I could also see the main character coming home to their mother, and the smile means they’re about to do something they don’t want to, like spend the weekend volunteering. Those are two very different stories. So, the prompt went into the basket.
I would always allow people to change the pronouns for their prompts. He to she, she to I, you to they, etc.
- You’ve decided to go on a road trip by yourself.
- You’ve wandered farther than usual and discovered an old cabin in the woods behind your house.
- You’re reading a book in the middle of the night when you hear a massive bang downstairs.
- You’re walking home, and you think you’re being followed.
- It’s been raining for a week straight with no signs of stopping.
First Line Prompts:
- I hated that smile.
- “Wait, isn’t he supposed to be dead?”
- It was too quiet.
- “Have you seen this?”
- Was that a scream?
Check out my Pinterest board for weekly writing prompts!