23 Writing Prompts That Ask What If?

What-If Writing Prompts.

What-If Writing Prompts.

Some of the best poems and stories ask the age old question, “What if…?”

The phrase “what if?” is a writing prompt in its own right. Pause to contemplate it for a few minutes, and pretty soon, your mind will produce a host of scenarios that engage your imagination and spark plenty of writing ideas.

Today’s writing prompts use the what-if premise to ignite a writing session.

What-If Writing Prompts

The prompts below use “you” as the subject, but you should feel free to insert characters and write fiction. Use these prompts to inspire a poem, a story, a script, or even an essay. Just choose a prompt, think about it for a few minutes, and then start writing! You can sketch ideas, brainstorm characters, or outline a plot. As always, feel free to modify the prompts in whatever way you want.

  1. What if you woke up naked in a public place?
  2. What if the police showed up at your door and arrested you for a serious crime, like murder or treason?
  3. What if someone you loved dearly was injured and in a coma for months?
  4. What if you won the lottery?
  5. What if you could blink your eyes and transport yourself to anywhere in the world in a flash?
  6. What if you could meet any famous person, living or dead?
  7. What if people encouraged you to run for public office, anything from mayor of your city to president (or prime minister) of your country?
  8. What if you wrote a book that became a best-seller and had to go on the talk-show circuit?
  9. What if you went camping or on a nature hike and found a priceless ancient artifact?
  10. What if you could travel though time? When would you go?
  11. What if you could become a master at any one skill, overnight?
  12. What if you had a superpower?
  13. What if you could find the love of your life but would only be together for one year?
  14. What if you discovered a family secret that would change everything?
  15. What if you found a treasure map that would take you all over the world?
  16. What if aliens landed in your back yard?
  17. What if you could visit any fantasy world — Never Land, Wonderland, Oz, Narnia, Hogwarts — which would you pick?
  18. What if you had the opportunity to be a colonist on another planet?
  19. What if you could solve any world problem — hunger, poverty, war, or disease?
  20. What if you found out you were having octuplets — eight babies?
  21. What if you could control your dreams (lucid dreaming) and you could make events occur in the real world simply by dreaming them?
  22. What if you were the sole survivor of a plane crash or sunken ship and had to live out the remainder of your days on a desert island? What if there were one or two other survivors with you?
  23. What if you were drafted to fight in a war?

Did these writing prompts spark any ideas? Do you have any what-if prompts to add to this list? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, and keep writing!

Creative Writing Prompts

People-Inspired Writing Prompts

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Writing prompts for people inspired by people.

There are many sources of inspiration in the universe but perhaps none as potent or pervasive as the people who inhabit it.

Naturally, we’re all greatly impacted by other people, so it stands to reason that they would inspire, inform, and ultimately, appear in our writing.

The people with whom we have relationships affect us emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Whether it’s a lover, child, friend, stranger, or nemesis, other people provide compelling and meaningful inspiration for our writing.

Writing Prompts

Today’s writing prompts are designed to help you think about the people who have impacted your life. You can use these prompts in any way that feels comfortable for you. Write a poem, a story, an essay, or a private journal entry. Let the words flow, and try to connect emotionally with whatever you’re writing.

  1. They say it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Who have you loved and lost?
  2. Too often, writers are more motivated by heartache than by joy (all those broken-hearted poems and love songs!). Write about a love that is not stained by pain, betrayal, or heartbreak — one that is happy and healthy.
  3. Then again, heartbreak is part of life and often full of many lessons. It is worth writing about.
  4. Some relationships aren’t simple enough to be classified as painful or joyous. Writing about a complex relationship is…well, complex. Give it a shot.
  5. It’s possible to have a relationship with someone you’ve never met — a historical figure, a hero, maybe even a fictional character. Many people these days also have relationships (of sorts) with celebrities they admire (leaders and entertainers, for examples).
  6. Most of us have had an enemy of some kind, whether it was a bully on the playground, a nasty co-worker, or someone who caused us or our loved ones great pain and suffering. These people make great models for villains in our stories.
  7. Have you ever encountered a stranger who roused your curiosity? Not someone you found attractive, just a person who drew your attention. If you never had the chance to get to know that stranger, you’ll have to use your imagination.

Did you find these writing prompts helpful? Which did you choose? What did you write? Have you ever used writing prompts to inspire writing sessions? Leave a comment, and keep writing!

Creative Writing Prompts

Music-Inspired Writing Prompts

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Writing prompts for music lovers

At some point in their lives, all artistic people run into creative walls. Writers lose inspiration so frequently, they have their own special term for it: writer’s block.

Luckily, writing ideas don’t have to magically appear in order for creativity to flow. There are numerous tricks that we writers can use to lure the muse out of hiding.

Writing prompts are an ideal way to ignite a writing session when you’re feeling uninspired.

Today’s writing prompts are all about music, and since pretty much everybody loves music, you should find at least one prompt among these that motivates you to write something.

Before you get started, you might want to go put a little of your favorite writing music on. You know, to set the mood.

Writing Prompts

You can use these writing prompts in any way you see fit. Compose a poem, a short story, a personal essay, or write a song (that would be rather fitting). Use the prompt as-is or change it to suit your needs. Most importantly, have fun!

  • Almost every year, there’s a song that defines the time as an era, an anthem.
  • If you had to learn how to play an instrument, which one would you choose and why?
  • An old man who has been playing guitar all his life finds out he has severe arthritis.
  • A young girl dreams of becoming a musician in an orchestra but her parents will not hear of it.
  • Everybody wants to be a rock star. Or do they?
  • Did you know that learning music at an early age promotes discipline and kids who study music get higher scores in math and language arts, among other things?
  • While driving, you turn on the radio and that song comes on. The one that reminds you of you-know-who.
  • Why do we get songs stuck in our heads?
  • There are many things one can do while music is playing: dance, drive, exercise, clean, make out, and…?
  • Music has the power to…

Remember, choose the writing prompts that click for you. Write anything you want and feel free to change the prompt so it works for you. Have fun, and once you’re done, come back and tell us how it worked out for you.

Do you ever use writing prompts to spark writing sessions? Have you found them helpful? Got any writing prompts of your own to share? Leave a comment!

Creative Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts for Music Lovers

creative writing prompts

These creative writing prompts might make you want to dance.

Some days, ideas don’t come easily.

You may find yourself staring at a blank screen or doodling in your notebook with nothing to write about.

You may find that you’d rather just listen to some music or go out dancing. Maybe you’d rather play your guitar, practice your singing, or go to a concert?

If you’re a writer and a music lover, then these creative writing prompts are perfect for you. They’ll infuse your words with musicality and make your writing rock.

Writing Prompts

Writing prompts are a great way to break through writer’s block. Try the prompts below and see for yourself!

Below, there are two sets of prompts to choose from. First you’ll find a series of word lists. Pick any of these lists and use all the words from the list you’ve chosen in a piece of writing. Or mix and match the words. The possibilities are endless.

Below the word lists, you’ll find a series of music-related creative writing prompts that are designed to spark a writing session. Some get you thinking about your own relationship with music while others give you a scene where music is a key player.

Use these prompts to write anything you want: a short story, a poem, an essay, an article, or fill a page in your journal.

The Composer The Player The Singer The Listener The Dancer

More Musically Inspired Writing Prompts:

  • A six-year-old girl comes home from school one day to find a piano sitting in the living room. “What’s that for?” she asks her mother. “Today, you start piano lessons,” her mom says.
  • What was the first record you ever bought? Do you still like listening to it?
  • After a twenty-year career as a successful, underground singer with a voice that gives audiences chills, a singer with no other skills or experience loses his or her voice.
  • Have you ever played an instrument or performed music for a live audience? Ever recorded yourself singing?
  • A talented and homeless twenty-something is busking in the subway. A well-to-do Julliard student passes by, then stops, turns around, and approaches the busker with the offer of a lifetime.
  • Do you prefer to sing in the shower or in the car?
  • After years of writing commercial jingles and cheesy, B-movie scores, a composer writes a masterful piece that propels him or her into the limelight.
  • Are you one of those people who “don’t dance?” Why? Do you think everyone is watching you?
  • A young, professional dancer injures her knee and can never dance professionally again. She decides if she can’t move to the music, she’ll make it. Which instrument does she choose and why?

Enjoy these creative writing prompts, rock on, and keep writing!

Did these creative writing prompts inspire you? Got any prompts or writing ideas to share? Leave a comment!

Creative Writing Prompts

Movie-Inspired Writing Prompts

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Writing prompts inspired by the movies.

There’s nothing quite like sitting with a room full of strangers in a darkened movie theater. The air is filled with the smell of hot, buttered popcorn. Feet shuffle, chairs creak, and you can hear ice rattling around in plastic cups. The movie’s about to start.

Even though we have unlimited access to movies from the comfort of our homes, theaters are still going strong, and for good reason. Seeing a movie in a theater is an experience.

Films have impassioned and inspired countless writers to craft poems, compose stories and songs, and write articles, essays, and even blogs. Today, let’s find out how the movies can inspire your writing.

Writing Prompts

You can use these writing prompts to write anything you want. Change them up or switch them around. Use one or use them all. Just have fun.

  • It’s your all-time favorite movie. You know the one. You’ve seen it a million times and you can recite the dialogue by heart. You stop to watch it whenever it’s on, and just thinking about it makes you want to go watch it again right now. Now, imagine you are your favorite character in that movie.
  • Indiana Jones carried a whip. Luke Skywalker had a lightsaber. Robin Hood–he had a crossbow. In your adventure story, what is the weapon of choice? How is it used? Who possesses these weapons?
  • It all started in an old, abandoned movie theater…
  • What if every moment of your life was on film, as seen from your own eyes? What if the camera’s perspective was pointed at you at all times?
  • Some of the greatest books have been brought to life by filmmakers. But they say the book is always better than the movie. Is that true? Are there exceptions? Write about adaptations.

Choose the writing prompts that speak to you the most. Once you’re done, come back and tell us how these prompts worked for you.

Do you ever use writing prompts for your writing sessions? Have you found them helpful? Got any writing prompts of your own to share? Leave a comment!

Creative Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts for the Young at Heart

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Writing prompts that ignite your youthful imagination.

Stories and poems for children are among the most magical and delightful written works in the literary canon.

Children’s literature has a universal appeal; the phenomenal international popularity of the Harry Potter books and movies is a testament to the power of children’s stories.

But there plenty of other works that affirm the longevity of children’s literature: nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and classics such as Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, and everything Dr. Seuss ever wrote.

Most of us writers first fell in love with the written word when we were children. Stories carried us on fantastical adventures. Words danced and soared through our imaginations. Many of us never grew out of the poems and stories we first cherished. We continue to enjoy them, and we pass them on to our children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

Today’s writing prompts celebrate children’s literature and pay tribute to the young and the young at heart.

Writing Prompts

These writing prompts are filled with childlike wonder. Use them to write a poem, a story, or anything else that comes to mind.

Mythological Creatures
Dragons, unicorns, fairies, and mermaids. Trolls, goblins, and things that go bump in the night. Lore, legend, and myth are heavily populated with mythological beasts and creatures.
Maybe a character in your story discovers and befriends a legendary creature. Or maybe one of these creatures is the main character in your story. Better yet, invent a mythological creature of your own.
Magic Portals
Alice went down the rabbit hole and found herself in Wonderland. Lucy stepped through the wardrobe and into Narnia. Wendy, John, and Michael were sprinkled with pixie dust, which enabled them to fly off to Neverland. All great adventures begin somewhere, and some of the best stories start out in the ordinary world and then take readers through a portal to a fantastically magical place.
How do your characters get from one world to another? Create your own magic portal, and then, if the mood strikes, build the fantastical world beyond. 
Silly Nonsense
The nonsense of writers like Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein is a wonder to behold. What is it about their stories and poems that delight children? Much of their work defies logic and is purely nonsensical. But it is riddled with wondrous images and language that rolls off the tongue like music.
Forget about the laws of physics and the rules of the real world. Write a bit of silly nonsense in prose or verse. Fill it with unusual but mesmerizing characters and images and try to make it rhyme!
Loving Lessons
Children’s literature is often full of simple, useful lessons. But presenting a lesson without sounding preachy, whiny, or nagging is anything but easy. These stories have to be fun and intriguing, and the best lessons are not immediately obvious.
Think of a lesson or value that you’d like to impart to children, then build a story around it. Better yet, just write a story for children and see if holds a message within it. 
Nursery rhymes like “Hey Diddle Diddle” and “Ring Around the Rosie” have captivated children for centuries. They are often nonsensical and always easy to remember and fun to sing.
Write a nursery rhyme from scratch. If you get stuck, use an existing nursery rhyme for your rhythm and meter, and then make up new words for it.  

Some Tips for Using These Writing Prompts:

  • Children’s writing uses simple language and made-up words.
  • Nothing speaks to children like bright, vivid images and lively characters.
  • Use rhyme and other musical devices and choose words that are fun to say.

Do you still read children’s poems and stories? Do you remember the ones you loved best as a child? Have you ever tried writing for kids? Do these writing prompts inspire you? Share your thoughts in the comments, and keep writing!

Creative Writing Prompts

Poetry-Inspired Writing Prompts

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Writing prompts inspired by poetry.

Poetry is the most under-appreciated form of writing in the world today. Yet poems are ever-present in our lives. As children, we learn rhythm and language from nursery rhymes, and poems are read aloud at most major life events: baptisms, graduations, weddings, presidential inaugurations, and funerals, to name a few.

Today’s writing prompts are inspired by poetry but that doesn’t mean they have to inspire a poem. Use them to write anything you want: a short story, a blog post, a journal entry, or a freewrite. You might even try writing a song, keeping in mind that song lyrics are a type of poetry in their own right.

Writing Prompts

Some of these writing prompts require that you use an existing poem. Your poem choice can be a nursery rhyme, a Dr. Seuss story, or song lyrics. Be open and creative, and have fun!

  • The hallmark of great poetry is its imagery. A truly compelling poem paints a picture and invites the reader into a vivid and realistic scene. Choose an image or scene from one of your favorite poems and start writing.
  • One of the most famous poems in the English language is “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” a lengthy ode to a favorite holiday. What’s your favorite holiday and why?
  • Not all poems rhyme, but many do. And song lyrics often rhyme too. Other types of writing may incorporate less obvious rhymes. Give rhyming a shot.
  • Some poems are more than just poems. They tell stories. “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is one example. Shakespeare’s plays are another. Try writing a poem that is also a story, play, or essay. Or try writing a story or essay that is also a poem.
  • Read your favorite poem and take a few minutes to contemplate it. Then, write something about the poem. Why do you love it? How does it make you feel? What makes this poem so special to you?

Choose whichever writing prompts speak to you the most. Once you’re done, come back and tell us how it worked out. And keep writing!

Do you ever use writing prompts to inspire a writing session? Have you found them helpful? Got any writing prompts of your own to share? Leave a comment!

Creative Writing Prompts

Philosophy-Inspired Writing Prompts

philosophical writing prompts

Writing prompts for deep thinkers.

Writing provides a way to express one’s thoughts, feelings, or ideas. It’s a communication tool.

But writing can also be a tool for self-discovery and critical thinking.

Many authors have stated that they write stories so they can find out what happens to the characters they’ve created. Essayists explain that writing helps them organize their thoughts and ideas, and as a result they gain understanding of themselves and the world around them.

Today’s writing prompts encourage you to dig deeper into yourself and discover what you think about the big, unanswered questions. Even if you’ve already contemplated questions like these, writing out your answers may help you uncover ideas and beliefs you never knew you had.

What is Philosophy?

There are three branches of philosophy: natural, moral, and metaphysical. The term philosophy can refer to the study, analysis, and exploration of any of these branches.

Philosophy largely involves asking questions to which there are no known, absolute answers. Investigating these questions rationally helps us develop principles of existence, knowledge, and ethics or acceptable behavior. Belief systems, including spiritual paths, political systems, and religious organizations, are built on philosophical ideas and conclusions.

These philosophy-inspired writing prompts are designed to promote the exploration of philosophical questions from a personal perspective.

Philosophical Writing Prompts

You can use these writing prompts in any number of ways. You can simply sit down and start writing out your answers to these questions in essay format, which is the best way to truly explore your thoughts. If you write fiction, then try answering these questions from the perspectives of your characters. This will help you better understand your characters’ motivations. You can also use these writing prompts to inspire a poem, story, or freewriting session.

  • Humankind has been searching for the meaning of life for millennia. Is there any meaning or purpose to life? Why are we here?
  • They say two things are certain: death and taxes. I disagree. Plenty of people live and die without ever paying taxes (for a number of different reasons). But everybody dies. Why? Is eternal life possible? Is there life after death?
  • Have you ever had déjà vu, the strange sense that you’ve experienced something before? Have you ever felt like you were meant for something, that some event or moment in your life was fated? Do you think there is always a choice? In other words: do you believe in destiny or free will?
  • Do you believe in a higher power or deity? Can the existence of a higher power ever be proven or disproved?
  • Where does it all come from–the earth, the stars, the universe, us?
  • Do good and evil truly exist? What determines an action or person as good or evil? Who gets to decide who or what is good or evil?

Did you find these writing prompts interesting? Which did you choose? Did you learn anything from your writing session? Leave a comment, and keep writing!

Creative Writing Prompts

Winter-Inspired Writing Prompts

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Writing prompts for a wintery day or night.

Writers and artists have always been inspired by the seasons. Winter, spring, summer, and fall have functioned as metaphors, backdrops, and even characters in literature.

Like all artists, writers are constantly hunting for inspiration. But inspiration is fleeting. Sometimes, we need a little help.

When inspiration isn’t coming from within us, all we need to do is look out the window or step outside, where nature offers an abundance of ideas.

That’s where these writing prompts come in. These prompts are designed to generate imagery that will inspire a writing session. Use these writing prompts to create a poem, a short story, or just spend about twenty minutes freewriting.

Writing Prompts

You can use these writing prompts to write anything you want. Change them or mix them up. Choose the prompts that seem most vivid to you. Use these as idea-starters to create prompts of your own. Just have fun with them.

  1. The sky is laden with dark clouds and the land is buried under a blanket of pale, gray snow. The ground, the streams, and the lakes are frozen and the whole world is eerily quiet and still. It’s the perfect day for…
  2. You have decided that this year, you’re going to take up a winter sport. Now that winter is here, you…
  3. There’s an old man out on the lake. He’s sitting in a rickety wooden chair and fishing through a hole in the ice. A loud cracking noise suddenly reverberates and he feels the ice shift beneath him. He scurries, but the hole expands too quickly and he goes into the icy water before he can get away. What happens next?
  4. It’s the season of snowmen and sleigh rides. Children are out galavanting on snowy slopes and making snow angels in their backyards. One little boy longs to join them, but he cannot, so he watches from his lonely upstairs window. Why can’t he go play outside?
  5. It’s the end of the fall semester and two college students are tackling an unusual project. They’re building an igloo. First, they choose an isolated spot on the crest of a small hill that borders the university town in which they live. Then, they start digging. It’s freezing cold and the work is tough. They’re exhausted. But they are awakened and warmed with excitement when they dig up something unexpected…

Do you ever use writing prompts to initiate your writing sessions? Have you found them useful? Do you have any writing prompts of your own to share? Leave a comment!

Creative Writing Prompts

Holiday-Inspired Writing Prompts

writing prompts for the holidays

Writing prompts to get you through the holiday season.

What I love best about the holiday season is that there are so many holidays to choose from.

Here in the U.S., most people consider the holidays officially underway at Thanksgiving. From Thanksgiving weekend through the first day of the new year, people are busy celebrating every holiday from Winter Solstice and Hanukkah to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, just to name a few.

The holidays are a difficult time for many people. Those of us who have lost someone special in recent months or years tend to miss them most during this time. All the good cheer and festivities can be a sharp reminder of what’s missing from our lives.

That’s why it’s a good time of year for reflection. Instead of aching for those who are not here, let’s be filled with gratitude for the memories they left behind. Instead of obsessing over the goals we didn’t reach, mourning the jobs we lost, or sitting around wishing we had more, we can choose to embrace all of the positive things that the holiday season has to offer: good food, the company of friends and family, the spirit of giving, and the lights (I love the holiday lights!).

It’s not hard to find inspiration with all that’s happening. Today’s writing prompts honor the holidays and all that they represent.

Writing Prompts

Use these writing prompts to kick-start a writing session. There are no rules, so you can write anything you want, from a piece of fiction to a poem, an entry in your journal, or a post on your blog. Just pick a prompt that inspires you, and then sit down and start writing.

  1. If you are one of the many people who celebrate or honor a holiday at this time of year, think about what it means to you. Do you enjoy it? Why do you celebrate it? How does it shape or affect your life for the rest of the year?
  2. The setting is a festive party honoring the holiday of your choosing. But something unexpected happens, and the guests are all drawn into a drama, adventure, or mystery.
  3. Some of us don’t think much about the holidays other than the obligations they impose: presents, parties, appearances, and contributions. But holidays exist to remind us of the meaning of something — usually something significant. What does your favorite holiday represent? How did it become a holiday and why do so many people recognize it?
  4. If you are one of the many who are mourning the loss of someone dear, think about that person and the memories you have with them, especially your holiday memories. It’s hard to do, but there is joy in those memories and if you can embrace that joy (by writing about it), you may be able to honor your loved one’s life with comfort rather than sorrow.
  5. Although holidays have deeper meanings, we like to truss them up with a lot of decadence and nostalgia. All that food! All those presents! The folklore, the ornaments, and the lights! Oh what fun it is…

Which of these writing prompts did you choose? What did you write? Do you have any writing prompts to share? Leave a comment, and keep writing!

Happy Holidays!

Creative Writing Prompts

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