Writing Prompts

Sometimes the hardest thing is to find a starting point. You can spend so long trying to find that opening line that is 'just right' that the pen never quite finds the paper. And we all have bad days (or weeks) when, even though we want to write, we can't seem to find the way in. Short exercises can help to loosen up the writing muscles and get the ideas flowing again. So we've created a series of prompts and suggestions that might help you to get going. We'll update these regularly, so there's always fresh inspiration for you.


1. Use another book to get you going

Pick up the book nearest to you. Open it at a random page and, without looking at the book, point your finger onto a spot on the page. Now look - whatever sentence your finger has landed on is your opening line.

2. Thinking about relationships

Write a scene in which a character arrives late to a dinner party. There is someone else there who has a significant impact on them – they might already know this person or they might be meeting them for the first time that evening.

3. Using your own experiences

Recall an event that happened to you as a child or teenager – write a letter to your younger self about this. How do you feel now when you look back on that event? Would you do anything differently? What do you want to tell a younger you?

Opening lines

Sometimes it can be good to work with a given starting point to see where it leads you. The following are some suggested prompts for opening lines.

1. She picked at the scab on her knee and stared down the road.

2. He knocked on the door and waited, listening for movement from within.

3. Prices had risen sharply; she fingered the notes in her pocket, mentally calculating what she could afford.

The day I got the email to say I had received a Highly Commended Prize for my poem from the Bridport Arts Centre was like finding the caramel sweet in the box of Cadbury’s Roses, after years of getting the slightly yucky orange, strawberry and coffee ones.

We decided to make hay while the sun shone and make the journey from Ireland to attend the prize-giving, we packed up Granny, 3 year old and husband and hit the sky and road early on the day of the big event. We were all so delighted we did, the lunch and presentations were just lovely, we were made to feel so welcome. It was a real treat to hear the judges and prizewinners speak and read from their work, forget the Roses we were having fancy posh chocolate now.

Maresa Sheehan, (Ireland) Highly Commended, poetry competition 2017

What now?

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