After the enthusiastic reception to Adriana Bielkova’s Musical Writing Prompts on writing.ie, we were quite excited to find out about a website dedicated to writing prompts, and asked them to tell us more…
Hi, my name is Tal Valante, writer, co-owner of Riptide Publishing, and founder of All Writing Prompts. Two years ago I was learning life coaching with a group of very special people. At the beginning of every session, one of us—we took turns—had to head a little activity he or she came up with. We did everything from making Fimo faces to dancing together, and it was a great fun.
When my turn came, I debated what activity to present. I love writing, and I wanted to share that love with the group. I wanted them to feel the same kind of wonder that I feel when a story takes form under my fingers. That’s why I came up with a bunch of writing prompts, with my own little twist: a series of exploration questions following each prompt. I passed around the papers and hoped for the best.
As expected, some people took up the task without complaint, while others protested loud and long that they weren’t writers, didn’t know how to write, and so on. Try, I told them. Just start answering the questions and see where they take you…
The results were magnificent.
One of my fellow students wrote a funny short piece about a gift-bearing elf. Another wrote a poem on wind chimes. Our lecturer wrote a heart-wrenching piece from the point of view of a guide dog, and one of the women who had protested she can’t write, wrote a beautiful, mysterious piece about a stranger in a strange city.
“It was amazing,” she told me later. “I never imagined I could write, but once I started answering your questions, the story unfurled in my mind and wouldn’t let me go until I wrote it down. I’ve never felt anything like this.”
I was thrilled, of course, and wanted to do more with this powerful tool. And so the idea of a writing prompts website was planted in my head.
Today, two years later, I’m proud and happy to share that website with you, and I hope it brings you some of the writing pleasure it has brought me and others.
What’s So Special About My Prompts?
Writing prompts are easy to find on the Internet, but all too often they seem shoddy and rushed, and fail to spark creativity. I tried to go for the opposite. Instead of tossing you one-word topics that leave you stranded in the dark, I’ve developed a format that will help you really squeeze all the juice out of every prompt. What’s my edge, you ask? Good. Because questions, believe it or not, are the key to innovative writing. Hang on, let me put that in bold: Questions are the key to innovative writing.
Why is that? (Good question, by the way.) Because questions, ever-burrowing questions, help us reject the shallow and expected in favor of deep, special ideas. They help us sharpen our awareness to details that make a story real. Knowing what to ask and how to do it can open your mind to a thousand new possibilities, each more exciting than the last.
Now, imagine if someone harnessed all that power and coupled it with a bunch of good writing prompts. Voila! Rather than a simple story starter, you now have an initial map for exploring a wholly new terrain. Or better yet, exploring a known terrain with new eyes.
That’s exactly what I’m trying to do at All Writing Prompts. Instead of leaving you alone with the prompt, I start fanning the fires of your creativity by asking a series of exploration questions based on that prompt. How come, what if, who else, why then. Once the questions are introduced, the mind can’t help being tempted to answer, and new ideas spring forth. Better, even more questions spring forth, making this a magical cycle of creation.
Try one, try all!
I’ve pulled a prompt from my site at random, and here’s what I got. (There is, by the way, a random feature on the website for your convenience.) See if this one gets your creative juices flowing.
Imagine two ambulances and an ice-cream truck pulled up to the neighbor’s house. What happened?
And now for the exploration questions:
- Are the ambulances and the ice-cream truck parked neatly, with care, against the curb, or have they pulled in quickly at an angle? Are the ambulances’ lights on?
- Who lives in this house? Has an ambulance or an ice-cream truck ever pulled up there before?
- Who is narrating this story? Where does this narrator live? What does he/she think of this scene?
- Are any people from these vehicles standing in the yard, on the front porch, going in or coming out through the front door? What are they doing? Can the observer deduce why they are there? Does it seem to be an emergency, or something else?
- Are any other neighbors there? Is anyone watching from their porch, or have they come over to get a better look at what’s going on? Do they know the person/people inside, or any of the drivers? Have any of the neighbors asked questions?
Did you enjoy this prompt? Many others are waiting for you over at www.allwritingprompts.com!
Overflowing With Story Ideas?
You’re welcome to contribute your own prompts to All Writing Prompts! You’ll be credited and thanked, of course (if you wish). Try this link: www.allwritingprompts.com/contribute.
(c) Tal Valante