How to Use Creative Writing Prompts

How to Use Creative Writing Prompts
November 27, 2013 1 Comment Writing Lynneklippel

by Bryan CohenBryan Cohen Author of 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts

The brain works like a computer. If you give it the right codes, it will do what you ask it to do. One of the best creative codes you can feed your brain is a well-worded question. The reason most of the creative writing prompts I come up with are questions is because questions are the fastest way to get you into a creative flow state. When you give yourself an open-ended question, your brain will spit out words like a jackpot slot machine spits out coins in an effort to provide the answer.

Let’s say you wanted to use creative writing prompts to write a novel. Here’s one way you might do it.

1. Start with a question related to what it is you want to write about. Go really general with it. For example, “What is the story I want to share?” or “What kind of characters do I want to follow around for a whole book?” or “What is the tale I’ve always wanted to tell?” Let yourself have free reign to give a lot of answers. Pick the one that makes you the most excited.

2. Start to populate your story with people and a setting. Try prompts like “What place do I want to explore more than anywhere else?” and “Who are some characters who would surprise me?” Keep devising and answering prompts until you feel happy with the people and places in your novel.

3. Create a plot outline for your novel using some general prompts related to the characters. “How should this character and this character meet?” or “Why are all these people coming together now?” or “What makes this day special for this character?” Create a general outline for what happens in each act or chapter using your responses.

4. Create one or multiple prompts to go along with each chapter. You can use the prompts to get you going just enough to start the chapter and to keep you writing when you lose your nerve. “Why does this character kidnap this character?” or “How did this character learn about the secret of the runes?” or “What would happen if this character found out about his cheating wife?” Once you have a prompt or two for each chapter, it’s time to write your rough draft!

5. If you ever get stuck, try out some mind-jogging prompts like “If that’s true, what else is true?” or “Why is she acting this way?” or “What would be the most exciting way for me to write my way out of this?” Keep pushing until the first draft is finished!

1,000 Creative Writing Prompts Volume 2 Cover


Creative writing prompts exist to give writers a little push into the deep end of the pool. According to some of my readers, even a single prompt can lead to a rich and entertaining yarn. If you need some prompts to get you started, feel free to take a look at some of my 1,000 prompt books!


About the Author


In honor of his new book, Cohen is hosting the “1,000 Prompts, 1,000 Dollars” Writing Contest on his website. Click the link to find out how to enter!  Click the next link to check out the rest of Cohen’s blog tour!


Bryan Cohen is an author, a creativity coach and an actor. His new book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2: More Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More is now available on Amazon in digital and paperback format. His other books include 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, The Post-College Guide to Happiness, and Ted Saves the World. He has published over 30 books, which have sold more than 20,000 copies in total. Connect with him on his website, Build Creative Writing Ideas, on Facebook or on Twitter.


About The Author
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    Thanks, Lynne, for having me on the blog today!


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