The sixteen prompts are listed in no particular order. We selected a few from online prompt
websites, but we wrote most of them. Thank you for participating in this project.
Most importantly, have fun with it.
Prompt Option #1
Bibliomancy---open the dictionary to any random page; place your finger on any random word. Make that one word your story's title, or make it part of your story's title. Your story should have: a cumulonimbus cloud, pomegranates, your favorite color, an animal, a stoneware crock, a commonly known superstition, an emotion, and at least two characters who have rhyming names. (Sample-rhyming names: Aaron/Sharon, Paul/Saul, Zoë/Chloe)
Prompt Option #2
Write a story that has happened to you, but write it from a different point of view. (This can also be from the point of view of a domestic or wild animal.)
Prompt Option #3
Write a story that consists mostly of dialogue.
Prompt Option #4
"It's not what you think," he or she said.
Prompt Option #5
You thought that little winged fairies with glittery stardust didn't exist. You were wrong. They are giggling and fluttering among the flowers in your garden.
Prompt Option #6
Your character is an extremely rich elderly man or woman living in a quiet retirement home. He/she is of sound mind, has a bucket list of things he/she wants to do before he/she dies, and has an adult grandson or granddaughter who is game for anything. Without telling anyone, the two plan a midnight escape. The next morning a caregiver discovers a note explaining that by the time the note is found, they will be long gone, and they will return when they want to, but not before. Where do they go, what do they do, what happens to them, etc?
Prompt Option #7
Seņora Gabriela is a respected storyteller. Her age has never been told, but everyone knows she is more than 90 years old. One Saturday, at the close of a warm spring afternoon, Seņorita Margarita, a young woman whose strawberry blonde hair is silky soft, unlike the coarse black hair of everyone else, decides to spy on Seņora Gabriela. It is a desperate decision that grieves Margarita. Seņora Gabriela and the others have been so kind. Margarita is cherished, fed, clothed, and since she was an infant, she has lived with Seņora Francisca and her large family in their modest hacienda. Margarita does not wish to spy, but she doesn't know what else to do. Seņora Gabriela is unwell. She will pass on soon. Where does she hide her treasure chest of untold stories? Everyone knows there is such a chest, but nobody knows where it is. If it can be discovered, they will be able to have wonderful new stories after Seņora Gabriela is gone.
At twilight, Margarita tiptoes to a window of Seņora Gabriela whitewashed adobe at the edge of town. Seņora Gabriela is relaxing in her dwelling that is sparsely appointed, but it has everything anyone could ever need---a rectangular kitchen table and tiled bench, a creaky rocking chair, a woven rug, a tidy stack of raffia ribbon bound notebooks on a low stool, a comfortable bed, a carved dresser, a wrought iron lamp, and a mural of magenta begonias. Margarita has always felt comfortable in Seņora Gabriela's humble home.
Suddenly, the old storyteller stops rocking in her chair. She leans forward and folds the faded rug back, revealing a worn leather pull that is nailed to the floor. Her gnarled fingers tug on the strap and a square section of the floor lifts up. She reaches down and retrieves the small and unadorned treasure chest. Margarita had always imagined that it would be large and elaborately jeweled. To Margarita's surprise, Seņora Gabriela opens it and removes a clay-colored stone that is about the size of a mango, but flatter. Next, she removes a miniature hammer and a slender chisel. She carefully taps off a tiny chip of the stone, and then puts the stone, hammer, and chisel back into the chest, returns the chest to its hiding place, replaces the square floor piece, and smoothes the rug.
Seņora Gabriela's feeble hands take a notebook from the stool. She unties the raffia ribbon binding, opens the papel picado cover, and sets the stone chip on the top page. Miraculously a puff of smoke begins to swirl like a tiny tornado. As quickly as it materializes, it disappears. Margarita is flabbergasted to see four fresh parchment pages. It is a new story! Seņora Gabriela binds all the pages with the raffia ribbon, slips the notebook into her tapestry bag, and retrieves her walking cane.
Margarita hides while Seņora Gabriela hobbles to the community courtyard where everyone congregates each Saturday evening to sing, dance, converse about interesting things, and listen to stories. When Seņora Gabriela takes her place, all the others---including Margarita---gather to listen. Seņora Gabriela smiles and speaks with a frail but persuasive voice, "Dear ones, I cannot tell stories anymore, stories that encourage us, and fill our hearts with joy. It is time for me to choose someone to come live with me so that I may teach her the art of storytelling. When I pass on, my home will be hers. Respect and cherish her because she will be the trusted keeper of our stories. Seņorita Margarita, take this book and read to us; you are our new storyteller."
(In 1000 words write the story that Margarita will read.)
Prompt Option #8
Choose one scenario:
When Jack (or character's name of your choice) woke the next morning from his little romantic tryst with a beautiful alien, she was gone, and to Jack's astonishment, he could hear the thoughts of other people.
When Jaclyn (or character's name of your choice) woke the next morning from her little romantic tryst with a handsome alien, he was gone, and to Jaclyn's astonishment, she could hear the thoughts of other people.
Prompt Option #9
Choose one scenario:
A husband or boyfriend catches his wife or girlfriend in a lie and suspects that she is cheating. She isn't cheating; she is planning a surprise birthday party for him. Write a story with twists and turns that end with the surprise birthday party.
A wife or girlfriend catches her husband or boyfriend in a lie and suspects that he is cheating. He isn't cheating; he is planning a surprise birthday party for her. Write a story with twists and turns that end with the surprise birthday party.
Prompt Option #10
When he or she opens the fortune cookie he or she finds a small map inside.
Prompt Option #11
One of your characters is a drama queen waitress who works at a main street diner. Everyone in the community has learned about a serial killer from TV news reports and from reading the newspaper. The murderer is on the run in their state. The night before, he stole a blue Toyota Camry only 200 miles from their small rural town. The waitress is fascinated with the case. Her incessant talk about it is getting on the sheriff's nerves and driving everyone crazy.
It is a stormy night. She's only had a few customers all day. She decides to close the diner early because nobody is coming out in this bad weather. While she is cleaning the counters and getting ready to lock up, a white Nissan truck pulls into the parking lot and a soaked man hurries inside. The truck is from Charlie's used car lot. She recognizes it. Poor Charlie doesn't sell many vehicles. The stranger orders, and in spite of her attempts to have a friendly conversation, he won't say much. He just sits at a corner table and stares at the rain. When she serves his meal, he wolfs it down like he is starving. Suddenly she realizes that the man looks a lot like the serial killer. The killer had a mustache in the photographs she saw on TV and in the newspapers. This man is clean-shaven. Yes, this man, he might be the killer---she is positive, well---nearly positive.
Prompt Option #12
Your character has learned that he or she will die soon. Write a 1000 word story-letter that discloses this realization with as much detail, or with as little detail, as you wish. Have the character state whatever he or she wishes to say to one person, a final communication. Who is that person to the character?
Prompt Option #13
Brody McDermott (or the name of your choice) is a no-nonsense guy, a dusty cowboy ridin' long and hard on the open range, his boots have spurs, his coffee is black, his song is sung, and all he wants to do is finish this doggone roundup and git on back home to his wife Sherry Ann (or the name of your choice) and their three daughters. While bringing a few wild horses he has lassoed back to his ranch, he notices that one is small and mighty funny looking, but he is too dang tired to cut it loose. At home his daughters shriek with delight. The smaller one, it is not a horse---it is a unicorn.
Prompt Option #14
Think Archie Bunker (played by Carroll O'Connor) and Michael Stivic (played by Rob Reiner) from "All in the Family" --- the popular 1970s TV sitcom.
One of your characters is ultra-conservative politically and religiously. He is stubborn and outspoken. He is a sports fanatic and an ardent hunter. Another one of your characters is a politically liberal agnostic. He is bored by sports, he thinks hunting is barbaric, he believes in gun control, abortion, and global warming.
The conservative character is in the forest hunting. The liberal character is in the forest taking nature photographs. Suddenly a fire blazes near each of them. As they draw back from the advancing flames, they come upon one another and eventually together they find a remote cabin on a ridge above the fire line. They are far from where they had parked their cars. They don't know how long they will be stranded here, but they are safe.
It is obvious that the one-room cabin belongs to a hunter. It has a toilet and shower, a little corner counter area with a sink, small refrigerator, electric hotplate, electric coffee pot, and electric toaster---and mismatched furnishings: a coffee table, two lazy boy recliners, two TV trays, and a twin-size bunk bed set. Hunting and fishing magazines are on the coffee table.
They are fortunate that the kitchen is stocked with plenty of canned food, a manual can opener, jugs of water, matches, emergency candles, a kerosene lamp, and three bottles of Jack Daniels---two are unopened, one is nearly empty. There is no radio or television, and the electricity is out, probably because of the fire. They have cell phones, but they cannot get service, both of their phones are dead. All they can do is wait.
Prompt Option #15
A character does not want to do something. They have tried to make him or her do it, but they have failed. He or she walks into the master bedroom of the mansion, opens the safe, and takes all the cash, a substantial sum. He or she walks into the sunroom, puts the parrot in his cage, and then puts the cage in the convertible. He or she hops into the car and speeds off.
Prompt Option #16
At their local libraries two middle aged people (two men, two women, or a man and a woman)
signed up to be pen pals long before the Internet and long before social media sites such as
Facebook. For 25 years they mail one another handwritten letters, cards, and photographs.
They are intimate confidants, but not romantically, just as friends. They live in different
countries and have never been able to afford to travel to meet one another face-to-face.
Now they are retired, respected senior citizens in their communities, and for the first time
in their lives, they have time on their hands. One of them has a son, who has purchased them
an all expenses paid 21-day cruise. This will be the first time they meet in person. They are
thrilled, but both are concerned about hidden secrets. The person whose son bought the cruise
vacation has never revealed that he or she has been wheelchair bound most of his or her life from
a childhood car accident. The other person has never revealed that he or she has a shocking past
and has been in the witness protection program for 26 years.