Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

All Kinds of Writing Prompts . . .


“Writing prompts” are anything that gets a writer writing.

Some writers find the idea strange since they never have situations or feelings block their writing.

Even though I’m in that group of writers who don’t experience blocks, I’ve spent the last few Mondays at an event on Book Island in Second Life called Writers’ Wave.

We all sit down to our typewriters or laptops, June Faramore gives us a one or two word Prompt, and we capture whatever we feel moved to write for twenty minutes.

Then, we share our creations and give each other a few comments.

Of course, there is the desire to go back and edit before sharing, but I’m always pleased to see so many coherent ideas developed in so little time :-)

Even though I’m an unblockable writer and don’t need prompts to make my creative vehicle move, it’s still enjoyable to see what I come up with on the spur of the moment.

Naturally, there is no dearth of places to find this kind of “writing prompt”—just put the words in Google.

However, there are different kinds of Prompt that operate in certain writers’ work.

Prompting can come from more than a word or two. It may be a sentence heard or read, an article or essay, or even a complete book that Prompts the writer to take things in their own literary direction

While I was at the Writers’ Chat on Book Island yesterday, one of the participants gave two different links to the same WebSite when she wanted to give us resources to back-up what she was saying.

I got very intrigued with that site and went to visit.

Alan Bellows is the man behind this site and does the bulk of the writing.

It’s essentially a collection of stories and articles that are damned interesting and could easily Prompt a writer to create

The name of the Space clearly echoes its content: DamnInteresting.com :-)

As they say about themselves: “Damn Interesting is a growing collection of legitimately fascinating information culled from the past, present, and anticipated future. We tend to write about timeless topics, so we leave each article’s discussion open indefinitely. New insights are always welcome.”

Here are a couple of their Greatest Hits to get you going:

The Unfortunate Sex Life of the Banana

The Wrath of the Killdozer

Doctor Watson’s Phobia Factory

BTW, if you have a message come up that says the site is unreachable, just click the link again and you’ll more than likely succeed. Here’s Alan’s explanation :-)

“As you may have noticed, until about a week ago the Damn Interesting web server was about as sturdy as a pair of paper pajamas….After a week or so of testing I am happy to announce that the server is now approximately as sturdy as corrugated cardboard pajamas.”

Do you use Writing Prompts?

What are your favorite kind?

Have any good places to find Prompts?
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16 responses to “All Kinds of Writing Prompts . . .

  1. Catana March 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    The world is so full of prompts that I’d probably curse anyone who suggested that I go looking for them. I don’t lack for ideas. I lack the energy and hours to follow up the ones I’m really in love with. Right now, I probably have two or three years worth of ideas stacked up, with more coming all the time.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai March 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      I know Exactly what you mean, Catana :-)

      Like

  2. Simone Benedict March 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Ha ha, damn interesting. I love that! I love writing prompts too. Some trip my trigger. Others don’t.

    I suppose one of my more unusual prompts came from seeing a 16 oz. jar of pickled okra at the store for $3.89. I was shocked, but realized okra might just be worth that much. After a few days I came to my senses and wrote a post about my Aunt Donna. I’d guess that type of processing of the high price of pickled okra might not make any sense to some people. It does to me.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai March 8, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      Great example, Simone :-)

      And, folks, here’s the post that that jar of Okra Prompted:

      Aunt Donna’s Pickled Okra That I Shouldn’t Write About

      Like

  3. Jaleta Clegg March 8, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I use pictures as prompts a lot of the time, but then I tend to write very visually. It’s a way to stretch my creativity. Give me a box (prompt) and I’ll see how far I can stretch it out of shape without breaking it.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai March 8, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      Yes, Jaleta, stretching Prompts is, to me, nearly Necessary

      And, I know some writers who have well organized boxes full of Prompt Pictures.

      Like

      • Jaleta Clegg March 9, 2012 at 12:55 am

        I’ve found Pinterest to be of some use there. It’s a website where you can pin pictures of things you like or interesting links from around the web. I’m collecting setting pictures for some of my upcoming novels. I know other authors who use it to collect character information.

        Like

        • Alexander M Zoltai March 9, 2012 at 5:01 am

          Thanks, Jaleta, I’ve heard of Pinterest but hadn’t yet explored it :-)

          Like

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  5. Reya Starck (Shyara Lutrova in SL) March 10, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Time for a wonderful moment of synchronicity. I have just been reading an article on the BBC website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17231436) about memory, which also features author SJ Watson and his bestselling book ‘Before I Go To Sleep’. The novel was inspired by the story of Henry Gustav Molaison, whose story was featured on Damn Interesting some time ago (http://www.damninteresting.com/living-in-the-moment/). While he states that his initial interest was piqued by an obituary of Mr Molaison it’s highly likely that the author discovered that article during his research for the novel.

    I find inspiration and prompts in many places, but one I’ve not seen mentioned yet is linkhopping around places like Wikipedia and wide-ranging scientific sites such as Nature, Cosmos, and the BBC’s Focus magazine. I’ll jot down articles that pique my interest (I don’t use Pinterest, as Jaleta mentioned in previous comments; I find Clipix to be far more adaptive) and browse through them until two or three start to coalesce and form an interesting ‘what if?’ in my mind.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai March 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Reya/Shyara!!

      So good to see you in our Comments :-)

      It really is a wonderful synchronicity that you were at the BBC and found a DamnInteresting connection in the same time-frame of reading this post………

      CyberLinking Prompts I shall call them—Great addition to the possible forms of mind-jogging we all need :-)

      Like

  6. Barbara Blackcinder March 10, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Loved your link to “The Unfortunate Sex Life of a Banana”. Makes me think of a story…..

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai March 10, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      Yay, a Prompt worked :-)

      Like

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