Daily, genre-inspired writing prompts for authors, teachers, and journaling

Literary – July 6

“It is the absence of facts that frightens people: the gap you open, into which they pour their fears, fantasies, desires.” -Hilary Mantel, born this date in 1952. Writing prompt: Write a scene in which your protagonist pours him/herself into a gap in his/her knowledge.

Big Questions – July 6

What would you do if you walked past an injured dog on your way to a job interview? Journaling prompt: Spend 15-20 minutes writing your answer in the spirit of exploring yourself and the world around you. If you can answer with a simple “yes” or “no,” explain the sources or implications of your response. Fiction writing prompt: Write a scene that forces a character in your story to answer the question, or spend...

Journaling + Fiction – July 6

“The universe had an odd sense of fairness; it took away things one did not want to give up, and then gave things one did not ask for.”Laila Lalami Journal prompt: Spend at least 20 minutes writing about what you plan to do with something you received but did not ask for. Fiction writing prompt: Write a scene in which your protagonist is compelled to trade something s/he loves for something s/he...

Romance – July 6

“I leave you my portrait so that you will have my presence all the days and nights that I am away from you.” -Frida Kahlo, born this date in 1907. Writing prompt: Write a scene in which your protagonist prepares a message for a departing love.

Mystery – July 6

Burt Ward was born on this date in 1945. Writing prompt: Write a scene in which your protagonist gets an earnest, annoying sidekick.

Words Not Pages

I frequently hear from writers who are interested in a manuscript review or editing services, or who want to pitch an agent or publisher, and they tell me their book is 200 or 425 or howevermany pages long. When I’m feeling indulgent and patient, I’ll spend some time explaining why I don’t care how many pages their manuscript is – and why they shouldn’t, either. What counts is the number of words in the manuscript,...

Literary – July 5

“Silence moves faster when it’s going backward.” -Jean Cocteau, born on this date in 1889. Writing prompt: Write a scene in which your protagonist learns this lesson.

Big Questions – July 5

What choice you made thinking it would make a minor difference in your life has had a major impact? Journaling prompt: Spend 15-20 minutes writing your answer in the spirit of exploring yourself and the world around you. If you can answer with a simple “yes” or “no,” explain the sources or implications of your response. Fiction writing prompt: Write a scene that forces a character in your story to answer the...

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