A Petite Pack of 5 Perfect Writing Prompts
With the busy days of summer, writing prompts and exercises can keep your creative mind sharp when your actual time available for writing is limited. The best writing prompts are fun and fast. Think of these as games you play with your brain.
Inspired by Car Games
My daughter has always loved car games that involve thinking and imagining. Unfortunately, she rarely liked to play the same game twice, so I constantly had to come up with new games for us to play on the long road trips every summer to visit relatives. But car games can make interesting writing prompts. For example, create a sentence using as many words beginning with a specific letter of the alphabet as possible. Include one place name and one character name in each. Points for the number of words of the specific letter that you were able to use.
In Alabama, Alex asked agricultural agents about apples and almost always got an alarming answer.
In the back streets of Boston, Briana bought boxes of broken Barbies.
On the California Coastline, Carl couldn’t comprehend Chelsea’s commitment to camping.
To take this game still further, begin to ask yourself questions about your sentences. What kind of alarming answers did Alex receive and why? What does Briana want with those dolls? And what might happen to Carl and Chelsea on one of these camping trips? The more questions you ask, the more likely you are to find a story hiding in one of these sentences.
Inspired by Your Summer Senses
I find there is a unique smell to every summer day: the briny, fish scent of salt water, the sharp snap of ozone in the air in a summer storm, the smell of hot pavement, the scent of rich soil when planting or weeding. Summer is one of the most acutely sensory times and so recording sensory details from this time of year is always a good idea.
If you’re on a trip, take time to experience your location using sense beyond your sight. What do you smell? What do you hear? What do you feel? Summer heat alone can be all different sorts of feelings against your skin. The relatively mild tingling burn of spending a little too long in the sun or the sodden stickiness of clothes soaked through by sweat and clinging to your skin. Do some freewriting about a single moment, while taking time to feel, smell, and hear everything you can. Practicing this kind of sensory freewriting makes it easier to bring senses beyond sight into your stories, making them deeper and more evocative for your readers.
Inspired by Fresh, Fantastic Food
One of the most fantastic elements of summer is the availability of fresh food. I love a good wintertime cozy comfort food, but the tastes of summer can be a party in your mouth. Pick your favorite summertime treat. Maybe it’s freshly churned ice cream or a drippy cone bought to eat quickly in the summer sunshine. Maybe it’s a ripe, sweet slice of watermelon, dripping with juice. Whatever summer treat you love, describe the process of eating it in as much detail as possible. Really take the time to see it, smell it, and taste it. If it makes a mess, glory in the sticky splendor of it.
Not only does this kind of exercise sharpen your writing, but it can also make a great go-to description when you’re scrambling to write a summer scene in the dead of winter because you can pull out this description and experience the summer treat all over again.
Inspired by Tourist Trinkets
Think about all the weird, kitschy things available to tourists. What is the weirdest memento you’ve ever seen? What’s the weirdest you’ve ever bought or been given? What if the buyer got more than they expected when buying some odd item on a vacation? Think of the kinds of genres that could be tied to a tourist trinket. Could the object be the key to a mystery? A pivotal link to spies? A source for a haunting? Or perhaps two people try to buy the same trinket and romance ensues?
Inspired by Tourist Traps
Tourists don’t just have weird trinkets they cart home, they also run across strange tourist traps. What’s the strangest tourist trap you’ve ever visited? What is the strangest tourist trap you could possibly imagine? What would it use to lure people off the highway to see it? What would they find once they got there? Describe the wackiest, more impossible tourist trap ever (extra points if you later look online and find something like it actually exists.)
That makes five sizzling summer writing prompts to inspire you to spend some more time with your summer writing journal. Give one a try just for the fun of it or keep writing until you find the story in the middle of your creative flow. Whatever you do, have a good time and keep the writing light. Remember, it’s summer!
With over 100 books in publication, Jan Fields writes both chapter books for children and mystery novels for adults. She’s also known for a variety of experiences teaching writing, from one session SCBWI events to lengthier Highlights Foundation workshops to these blog posts for the Institute of Children’s Literature. As a former ICL instructor, Jan enjoys equipping writers for success in whatever way she can.
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