Do you dream of becoming a best-selling author?
Or maybe you want to be a web content writer who makes six figures a year.
Whichever the case, writing prompt generators can be a huge help.
Today, we’re taking a 360-look at writing prompts.
What’s their purpose?
How can you come up with creative prompts?
And we’ll finish with a review of six generators.
Cozy up, grammar geeks (#ProudNerd), it’s time to dissect the wide world of name and story generators.
- What Is the Purpose of Creative Writing Prompts?
- What Is a Writing Prompt Generator?
- How Do You Come Up with Creative Writing Prompts?
- 6 of the Best Writing Prompt Generators
What Is the Purpose of Creative Writing Prompts?
Writing prompts are a great way to jumpstart your scribbling. They help:
- Kickstart your imagination
- Battle a bout of writer’s block
- Encourage interest in a new topic or idea
- Introduce you to new perspectives
Contrary to popular belief, writers don’t sit at their desks, and perfect prose automatically flows through their fingers. Even the accomplished ones still need ideas on occasion.
To wit, you can use writing prompts for:
- Journaling: Many people use writing prompts for journaling. They’re great for getting you started on a topic or thought.
- Creative Writing: Do you dream of having a short story published in The New Yorker? Then best get writing. You have hundreds of rejection slips to go.
- Non-Fiction Writing: Most prompts are for creative writing, but non-fiction writers use them too. Why? How? Journalists and content scribes may take a creative prompt and massage it for a true story or topic. Using this tactic adds an engaging narrative edge to non-fiction pieces.
- Competitions: Many new authors aren’t aware of the writing competition world. There are thousands. Now, unless you win a Nobel or Booker Prize, you won’t make enough winnings to even spring for a celebratory dinner — by yourself. But they are great for consistency purposes. Or, to put it another way, competitions keep you writing. And the more you write, the better you’ll get.
What Is a Writing Prompt Generator?
What is a writing prompt generator? In basic terms, it’s an app or website that serves up story ideas, opening paragraphs, sentences, names, characters, or words. Some even create entire stories.
Essentially, writing prompt generators can help jumpstart a writing session or aid in worldbuilding.
How Do You Come Up with Creative Writing Prompts?
How do you come up with writing prompts? Methods abound. Let’s take a look at five ways.
Good, old-fashioned brainstorming is a super way to create a list of prompts for now or later.
Whether you’re a bed, desk, or outdoor writer, get comfortable. Instead of using a computer or tablet, get a notebook. Find one you love (hardcover, college ruled) and a pen that glides across the page.
Then start storming. Think about your childhood and jot down moments that stand out. They can be funny or traumatic, sentimental or practical. Put whatever comes to mind on the paper.
Possible topics to plumb include:
- Sporting victories and mishaps
- First job tales
- Office nightmares
- Babysitter mishaps
- Friends, enemies, and nemeses
- The teenage years
- The dating years
- The newlywed years
- The single years
- The stupid years
- Death and illness
- Professional and academic successes and failures
No, we’re not advocating for plagiarism. But copying is a great way to build prompts. How’s it done?
- Pick a pile of books — or an e-reader if you’ve gone digital.
- Open or jump to any page and pick a sentence.
- Write it down exactly as it’s written.
- Right underneath, write your own version of the sentence.
This is a fun exercise that accomplishes two things. Firstly, handwriting other people’s work refines your own — especially if you work with the good stuff.
The method is called “copywork,” and it’s how kids in the 18th and 19th centuries learned how to write. Secondly, it’s good exercise for your writing brain, allowing you to become more intimate with words and sentence structure.
3. Ask What If…
“What if” is a powerful question to ponder. It’s also an excellent way to develop topic and story ideas. Here’s an exercise to try.
- First, set a timer for 20 to 25 minutes. If you have oodles of time, make it 45 minutes.
- Break out a notebook or pull up a keyboard.
- Ask yourself the same question repeatedly: What if [insert first thought that pops into your head]?
- Keep going.
- It’s not easy the first several times. It may even take a few months. But once you get the hang of it, the Ask If game can loosen your imagination and remove creativity blocks.
4. Use Art
Art therapy has been tried and tested, and the results are in: It’s incredible for your mental health. Try the following art prompt writing exercise:
- Go to a gallery or museum and bring a notebook. If you’re a notes app person, have at it. (Be aware, though, that you’ll get more out of the exercise by using a notebook because it strengthens your kinetic bond with the art.)
- After arriving, pick a room.
- Consider the gallery. Look at each piece for at least three minutes, then write whatever comes to mind. Maybe it’s a prompt, a list of emotions, or a “story behind the picture/item” description.
- Permit yourself to write atrociously. This exercise is more about stirring your emotional or historical senses. And remember: the magic is in the editing.
5. Keep a Notebook
If you want to be a writer, carry an observation notebook. Take it everywhere.
Anytime something strikes you, write it down — whether it’s the lilt of a laugh or a wild encounter. Have it by your side when watching TV, scrolling through social media, or listening to music.
If you hear or read a good line, write it down. (Just remember to mark where it originated for credit reasons in case you eventually use it in a piece.)
6. Prompt Generator
A creative writing prompt generator is another excellent tool to get the scribbling juices flowing. Thousands are out there and cater to different genres, writing categories, and languages.
Most are free; some charge a subscription fee.
Scour the web and app stores. If you spend one hour looking for some, you’re bound to find at least a dozen that’ll work for you.
Let’s look at our choices for the six best writing prompt generators currently on the market.
6 of the Best Writing Prompt Generators
As mentioned above, prompt generators are a huge help when you need a boost or are running against a deadline. So let’s explore six options.
1. Seventh Sanctum
Seventh Sanctum is a popular prompt program with over 1,000 niche generators ranging from the “Punk Genre Generator” to the “Envisoner.” The website isn’t what you’d call “modern” and rocks a late-90s aesthetic. But the options are unique and regularly updated.
- Has a lot of niche options
- Fun, active community
- Site layout is a bit outdated
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Squibler is the Mercedes of writing prompt generators. The website features a distraction-free editor and prompts for everything you could think of, including professional emails.
Fair warning: Squibler isn’t free and costs about $10 a month.
But it’s worth it. Squibler will level up for work and help improve your writing.
- Features a distraction-free editor
- Includes lots of bells and whistles, including organizational tools
- Can import work you’ve already done
- It’s a pay-to-use service
3. The Story Shack
The Story Shack is another top-notch writing prompt generator that boasts cool author tools. In addition to standard generators for different genres, it sports Taleforge, a writing game that helps authors “think on their feet.”
Story Shack also allows you to create your own random generator. How cool is that!?
The platform maintains a few dozen name generators, ranging from wolf names to Wu-Tang Clan appellations. It also has a classic story prompt generator.
- The Mecca of name generators
- Super writing exercises
- Most of its prompt generators focus on names
SpringHole.com is a generator for the fantasy, role-playing, and D & D crowds. It also features quality mood and character generators. But like Seventh Sanctum, it’s not a “modern” website.
Generator options on the hub include (but are not limited to): Backstory and Origin, Worldbuilding, Location, and Setting, in addition to a Genre, Plot, & Story generator.
- Geared toward fantasy genre
- Full story generator available
- Lots of generators
- Old-fashion interface
Servicescape is a clean website with over a thousand writing prompts. It’s also a marketplace for writers and editors.
Their authors fall on the higher end of the payment scale, charging between $35 to $150 for 300 words, but their writing prompt generator for authors is free!
And it’s a good one!
Not only is the website’s UX great, but it also has super prompts. Servicescape has a few dozen generators, including children’s fantasy, billionaire romance, and military stories.
- Great, user-friendly website
- Quality prompts
- None that we can find
6. Masterpiece Generator
Squibler is the Mercedes of writing prompt generators — and Masterpiece is the mom blog of the same.
This fun prompt generator goes the extra mile. Not only will it give you ideas, but it also writes short stories for you! Yes, you read that correctly. It writes itself.
How does that work?
You answer a few questions in the generator, press submit, and poof, a story appears. Granted, it’s not the best tale, but it’s something you can start with and tweak.
Masterpiece has over two dozen generators on the platform that range from a Bronte sisters hub to a smelly trolls portal. It’s perfect for people who love to write so much they spend their free time toying with words.
- Lots of unique options
- Goes above and beyond many other generators in terms of what it throws back
- Underlying technology is a bit outdated
If you were born to write, using generator prompts is an excellent exercise for your brain and imagination. It’s a way to hone your craft. To draw an analogy, prompt work is to writers as training is to professional athletes.
Hang in there. We get it: writing is HARD! But there’s no better feeling than crafting a perfect sentence. Don’t give up. You’ll get better if you keep at it.