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Writing prompts – How to use them

Writer, author or author to be? Have you heard of ”writing prompts”?

When I was first introduced to writing prompts it was through my sister, published children’s author Louise Lund Olesen (check out her writer & illustrator blog here!). She told me how she used writing prompts to kickstart her imagination.

Writing prompts can be short sentences, a single word or a picture, that you can use for inspiration for a text of any length. I have collected (and continue to add) some writing prompts to my Pinterest board here, that I think are some of the best. You don’t have to use them for a specific book or story, but can practice with them and write something you don’t normally write, like a new genre or a new point of view. Sometimes, you’re lucky and find a writing prompt that helps you solve a major plot issue for your novel or book, because prompts can help you think a little outside the box.

There are a lot of different writing prompts, but I’ve encountered mostly 3 types of prompts; Pictures, Sentences and “Write about..”

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Writing prompts – Pictures

Inspiration from pictures can come from everywhere, even just looking around or browsing pictures online or in magazines. The trick with using photos as writing prompts is, that it is up to you to explain to the reader, what is going on in the picture, without thinking about where it comes from or what the original setting was.

Can be used when: You have an idea for a setting, a situation, a character or a certain atmosphere, but you aren’t sure where to begin describing it.

Writing prompts – Sentences

Around the internet, like on Pinterest or just through a simple search, you can find writing prompts based on sentences that you can kickstart your writing with. Sentences such as ”You are in the future and the currency is the minutes of your remaining life” or that sort of thing and then it’s up to you to tell us a story, based on that sentence. It’s a great way to jump right into writing, without waiting for inspiration to show up.

Can be used when: You really want to write something but can’t really get started. It can be a good exercise to warm up with, before continuing to write on your book or novel. A lot of the really great writing prompts with sentences are often open to interpretation and lets you take it in different directions. This is what makes these writing prompts fun to work with, because most writers end up with very diverse text materials based on the same prompts.

Writing prompts – “Write about…”

The last category of writing prompts I’ll tell you about, are the ones I call “Write about…” and they basically give you a task of describing something. This could be your worst food experience, best day in the sun or your favorite socks. It varies a lot but the concept of the task is the same, and you will often be asked to write something based on your own experiences. There are writing prompt challenges, where you get a new prompt to write about every day.

Can be used when: You want to write but have no ideas to get going. You might want to write something with your main character but nothing springs to mind and you can’t come up with a situation for them. In this case, a “write about…” prompt can be a great starting point, even if you end up not using it in your book.

Are you familiar with more types of prompts or would you like to share your experience with using writing prompts, then please share with me here!

You’re also welcome to find writing tips and prompts on my Pinterest Board created for authors and writers!

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