November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and writers the world over and sweating nervously and pacing about, trying to come up with the perfect idea for a story or just trying to overcome writer’s block. If you’re at a loss for what to write about, why not try out a few of these writing prompts? The first section “Story Prompts” give you the first few lines of a story for you to complete. The second grouping “Short Prompts” are a bit more general and can be used however you want–as an essay, story, poem, or something else entirely!

Story Prompts:

  • The knocking continued, but when John opened the front door, there was no one there. He tried the door to the attached garage–again, nothing. That’s when he realized where it was coming from, and with a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, he turned to the boarded-up crawlspace under the stairs.
  • When Emma checked the mail that day, there was only one item in the box–a white unstamped letter that said “For You!” in bold, blocky letters.
  • It was bad enough that her powers developed late. Most of her classmates were able to fly or shoot fire from their hands by the time they reached puberty, but Amanda’s abilities didn’t come to light until she was nearly seventeen. After waiting so long, you think the payoff would have been better, but no. Instead of water-breathing or turning invisible, she had _______________.
  • If Rick had known that Mrs. Smith was actually a witch, he probably would have been a better neighbor. But, he hardly felt that throwing too many loud parties merited his being turned into a mouse!
  • “Is this seat taken?” Jasper shook his head without looking up from his phone. “Thanks.” The newcomer sat down next to him. When Jasper turned to see who it was, he was shocked to find himself staring into his own face!
  • The detective had just announced the name of the killer. Everyone was talking at once, and Aunt Edna fainted from the shock. Bartholomew panicked as the police put him in handcuffs: “It wasn’t me! I swear it!” He felt a hand on his shoulder, and the calm, resonating voice of his butler, Giles. “Excuse me, Detective Latimer,” he said, “but I’m afraid you are incorrect. There can’t be a murder if Lady Stacey is not actually dead.”
  • This was it! The day they had all been waiting for. After years of cold nights spent in a field with telescopes and flare guns, sending messages into the unknown, it had finally happened. A real-live, honest-to-goodness spaceship appeared! James was so excited that he was practically crying, and even stoic Lani had a lump in her throat. But, when the saucer landed, and the door opened, the four friends were shocked by what came out.
  • She opened her eyes and was astonished at what she saw in the mirror.
  • Brent knew it would be a lifetime before the world realized what it was doing. He decided he had to do something.

Short Prompts:

  • Write about your “best day ever”
  • Describe your first day of school (any grade) or your first day at a new job
  • Write a poem that does not include the words “the” or “and”
  • Describe a color to someone who cannot see color
  • They say “You are what you eat” but this is ridiculous!
  • Retell a fairytale from the perspective of one of the characters
  • You wake up, check your phone, and realize that you’ve just been offered your dream job! Describe the moment and what that job is.
  • Describe falling in love
  • You find an unexpected prize in your box of Cracker Jack
  • You just found out that you won unlimited frequent flyer miles and can fly anywhere in the world for free! Where would you go?
  • You suddenly found an invisibility cloak. What would you do?
  • Turn back time. Write about your favorite age. (Was it five-years old, twenty-five years old?)
  • You suddenly find out that you are related to someone famous. Who would it be?


I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.