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.

“Writing can often feel like stumbling around in the dark, but being highly commended for poetry in the Bridport Prize 2017 gave me a huge confidence boost that I was on the right track. To be recognised in such a prestigious, world-renowned competition; to have my work read by the great Lemn Sissay and to be described publicly for the first time as 'a poet' - each has inspired me to write more than I've ever written before. Without getting a nod from Bridport, I might not have had the confidence to put together a full poetry collection for the first time. It has proved the galvanising force I needed to throw off the shackles of self-doubt and say proudly that yes - I am a writer”. 

Victoria Richards (UK) Highly Commended, poetry competition 2017

What now?

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