Writing tips

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. Here are our latest prompts. 

From our Judges

Six Ways to Develop Your Writers' Voice by Kirsty Logan


1. Pick an object

Look around the room you are in. Without thinking too much about it, let your eyes fall on an object in the room. It can be anything - a lamp, a cup, a picture. Write the (fictional) story of this object and how it came to be there. 

2.  I'm sorry, I forgot

Write a story or poem about someone who has forgotten something - a birthday, their house key, someone's name - and what happens as a result of this forgetfulness. This could be a comic tale or something more serious linked to memory loss. Aim for the act of forgetting something to have some consequences. 

3. It wasn't me, honest

Write a story or poem in which your protagonist is being accused of something, which they are vehemently denying was their fault. It's up to you to decide what they are being accused of and if they are, in fact, at fault. 

Opening lines

Sometimes it can be good to work with a given starting point to see where it leads you. We've updated our opening line prompts to give you something to get you started. We'll keep this updated regularly, so check back soon for some fresh ideas!

1. The lights dimmed and the audience chatter fell away to silence. 

2. It happened on a seemingly ordinary Tuesday afternoon, which was very much like many Tuesdays that had gone before.

3. He tucked his scuffed shoes under his seat and pulled the hem of his coat close over his knees.

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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