Starting With A Prompt [Short Stories]

February is a short month so I decided to talk about short stories. No, that’s not the only reason why, but I think it’s a cool reason anyway.

I never imagined myself writing short stories or flash fiction of any kind. However, when I started this blog I wanted to get more of my writing out there in the world. I very well couldn’t post full-length novels onto the blog. Short stories were the way to go and they’re all starting with a prompt.

Short Stories: Starting With A Prompt | Creative Writing | Writing Prompt | Short Story Writing | Flash Fiction Writing | RachelPoli.com

Short Story Sunday

I started this blog in 2012 and had the idea for Short Story Sunday in late 2014, early 2015… I believe. If I’m remembering correctly. I had never really written any short pieces before. I tried but the ideas always expanded into bigger, better plots. Thus, I had a five-page list of “novels to write.”

I think it was Kris who told me to start writing short stories and/or flash fiction and post it on the blog.

“What am I supposed to write about?”

All my great ideas were turned into novels – or were being saved for novels. So, how could I give up those “brilliant” ideas and publish them on the Internet in just a few hundred words?

Creative Writing Prompts

You can use writing prompts for whatever you want – whether you’re writing a short story, novel, poem, whatever. However, I’ve never really used writing prompts before. I always felt as though I was stealing someone else’s ideas and, if I turned it into a novel and published it, I’d feel like it wasn’t my own, original idea.

That’s not true, of course. The words are still your own and you turn the prompt into your own ideas. Still, it was a weird concept for me at the time.

So, I found prompts online. I bought a couple of prompt books. Kris would give me a random prompt or I’d make one up myself at the top of my head. Thus, short stories were born for me.

There have been plenty of shorts I’ve written where I’ve taken the idea and set it aside in case I want to expand on it into a longer piece – a novel or even just a novella. However, most of them have just remained as shorts. Some are good, some are bad, and some are just plain ugly. But they’re all ideas nonetheless.

How To Begin A Short Story

Like I said, I never imagined myself being a “short story writer.” I thought I would keep it strict to the blog. I didn’t think I would ever submit short pieces to magazines or contests, let alone self-publish a collection. They’re not easy to write. For novels, you have 50,000-plus words to develop characters, establish the setting, elongate the plot, and even throw in some sub stuff. You need to do all that for a short story in about 5,000 words – obviously sometimes more, sometimes less. Sometimes way less.

So, how do you begin a short story? Well, it’s the same as starting a novel. You just do. I know there are people out there who always say that there’s a “right” way to begin a novel and a “wrong” way to begin it to hook your readers. But still, I always just start them. Sometimes my character is just waking up – which even I find annoying most of the time, but hey – I’m writing.

When it comes to writing shorter pieces, I begin with the prompt. The prompt maybe a character’s name or a single word or phrase. It could be a dialogue cue or a snippet of a potential plot.

Whenever I try to write something without beginning it with the prompt, I always find myself stuck. Then I wonder, “where do I fit in the prompt?” Of course, if you come up with a different idea, then you don’t need to worry about throwing the prompt in somewhere, but that’s beside the point.

Why I Love Prompts For Short Stories

I feel like writing prompts are perfect for short story writing. There’s room to explore your own creativity, but it doesn’t take over. It doesn’t take too long for the story to be told for the most part, either.

If you’re interesting in trying to write short stories, I think using a prompt is the way to go. Not to mention, it opens your mind more to things you wouldn’t normally write. If I didn’t use writing prompts, I wouldn’t have nearly 300 shorts written to this day.

Plus, I love looking back at my old stories and seeing how far I’ve come and how much I’ve improved in my writing since then.

Do you use writing prompts and write short stories or flash fiction? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Time To Write: Random Words 11 [Creative Writing Prompt]

Last week’s writing prompt was a sentence starter. Check out some great pieces by fellow writers:

Now onto this week’s writing prompt:

Creative Writing Prompt | Random Words Prompt | Writing | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Writing Ideas | RachelPoli.com

Write a story incorporating the three words above.

If you use this prompt, please leave a link to your post in the comments below and I’ll share it next week. Please be sure to link back to my blog so your readers know where you got the prompt!

Happy Writing! If you want more, check out all my other Writing Prompts here!

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Time To Write: Red Herring [Creative Writing Prompt – Mystery Month]

Last week’s writing prompt was a Random Words exercise. Check out some great pieces by fellow writers:

Now onto this week’s writing prompt:

Creative Writing Prompt: Red Herring | Creative Writing | Mystery | RachelPoli.com

Write a story based on the word above.

If you use this prompt, please leave a link to your post in the comments below and I’ll share it next week. Please be sure to link back to my blog so your readers know where you got the prompt!

Happy Writing!

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Time To Write: Sentence Starter 34 [Creative Writing – Mystery Month]

Last week’s writing prompt was a Picture Prompt. Check out some great pieces by fellow writers:

Now onto this week’s writing prompt:

Creative Writing Prompt | Sentence Starter | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Begin a story using the sentence above.

If you use this prompt, please leave a link to your post in the comments below and I’ll share it next week. Please be sure to link back to my blog so your readers know where you got the prompt!

Happy Writing!

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comPatreon | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double JumpSign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

5 Fun And Useful Books Of Writing Prompts [NaNoWriMo Prep]

How do you prep for NaNo?

Most of the time, when I talk about outlining on this blog, pretty much everyone who comments tells me that they don’t outline at all.

So, how do you exactly prep for NaNo, if you prep at all?

I find that writing prompts are a great way to get your creative juices flowing.

5 useful books of writing prompts

3am Epiphany 

This book by Brian Kiteley is filled with various writing prompts and exercises. Prompts that have to do with point of view, characters, emotions, time, and much more. It’s really a great read and great practice.

4am Breakthrough 

Like the previous book, this one, also by Brian Kiteley has more great prompts and exercises. The themes around the prompts are a little different. These exercises have to do with various themes in writing such as love or death. It also goes deeper into friends and family as well as school and the like.

The Amazing Story Generator

This writing prompt book by Jay Sacher is unique as each page is broken into three pieces. It’s spiral bound on the inside and you can move the pages around as you wish. This means endless prompt possibilities for you.

The Write-Brain Workbook

Written by Bonnie Neubauer, this is a big book of prompts. It ranges from scene prompts, scenerio prompts, first lines, pictures, and more.

The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts

This is a great one by Martha Alderson. These prompts cater to where you are in your book: the beginning, halfway point, climax, and end. These prompts are pretty in depth, but they’re helpful.

Have you used any of these books? What other books of writing prompts do you use? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

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