20 Creative Writing Prompts for Teens
Sometimes, inspiration comes easily. A writer can sit down at a desk and immediately come up with a topic for an assignment. Other times, it takes a long time to come up with a topic, or the topic is restricted by a teacher or gaurdian. This is where a prompt comes in handy. A prompt is defined as "to move something to action", " to assist (one acting or reciting) by suggesting or saying the next words of something forgotten or imperfectly learned" or " to serve as the inciting cause of [something]." (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2015) Prompts are used by amateur and professional writers to spark creativity and create more works of fiction. Here are twenty prompts any teenager could use in their writing.
Prompt 1: Word Jar
Write down random words on slips of paper and put them all in a jar. Then, mix up the papers and draw two or three slips of paper. These words will form the basis of your work of fiction.
If you want your work to have a bit more coherence, you could try using words that only fit in a specific theme. Words like "quantum", "electric", or "wormhole" could be used for a sci-fi theme, for example.
Prompt 2: Five Years From Now
Imagine what you, a family member, a friend, or an enemy could be doing five years from today. What kind of job do they have? What kind of life do they lead? Where do they live and do they like it there? Take your answers to those questions and turn them into a work of fiction.
Prompt 3: Aliens
Write from the perspective of an alien from outer space trying to pretend to be you. What things would be easiest for them? What would be most difficult? Why would the alien even want to be a teenage human? Remember that there are many different types of aliens, from the kind in War of the Worlds to the kinds in Star Treck.
Prompt 4: Erasure
What would happen if all the information that ever existed about you was erased? If you had no presence in the government or the school, what would you do? How would people around you react? Would you even try to live differently?
Prompt 5: Flip the Formula
Take an old literary formula or classic story you know well and turn it on its head. Write Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of the parents, or The Adventures of Peter Rabbit from the perspective of Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail. What sorts of things would they know that the protagonist would not?
Prompt 6: Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Open your local newspaper to a random page and point to a random article. The headline of that article must be a theme of your work, either minor or major. For extra difficulty, you could try using the classified section of the newspaper.
Prompt 7: Rainy Day
Some of your best friends are stuck in the middle of nowhere in a rainstorm. There is no way to get out. How do they pass the time? Do they get along well, or is there a fight?
For extra difficulty, there is no phone or internet access.
Prompt 8: Where Dropped Popcorn Goes
Write about a mouse that lives inside a movie theatre, living off the dropped crumbs left by movie patrons. How does this mouse live inside a theatre? What challenges does it face?
Prompt 9: Mad Lib Madness
Choose a random Mad Lib and fill it out with logical answers. Then expand the Mad Lib into a 1000 word story, keeping the answers the same but making it as strange as possible.
Prompt 10: Raindrops on Roses
Write a list of your favourite things. Once you have a list, choose two or three of them at random. These words must be used in your writing, or must form themes in your writing. For a more challenging task, try putting together your list using responses from the internet.
Prompt 11: Take a Break
Go do something different for a while. Once you're done the activity, jot down several details about it. Pick your favourite detail and write as much about that detail as you can. Then, write as much as you can about your second favourite detail. Continue with the other details until you run out of ideas.
Prompt 12: High School
If you're a teenager, you're presumably in high school. Explain your school to somebody who has never heard of the concept. Go over the classes, the teachers, the classmates, and everything that comes with being in high school.
Prompt 13: Ultimate Birthday
Your birthday is next week. Your parents are going away for the weekend, but they are leaving you a huge cheque that you can spend creating the best birthday party ever. You have two weeks to prepare your birthday. You can travel wherever you like unsupervised. The only caveat is that everything you do must be legal. What sorts of things do you do?
Prompt 14: Nobel Prize
You've just received a letter informing you that you have won a Nobel Prize. There's just one problem: you didn't do anything. You can't figure out who was actually supposed to get the prize. Do you let the Nobel Committees know they've made a mistake, or do you accept the prize? If you take the prize, how does the world react?
Prompt 15: I See The Future
A young child is able to predict the future through his dreams, but as the dreams become more common, the predictions of the future become mired in symbolism. Last night, the child dreamed he was riding an ostrich while eating pizza and wearing a giant floppy hat. Write what this dream predicts.
How often do you get writer's block?
Prompt 16: Happy Trails
You and your dog are walking through a long, winding walking trail in the woods. It's a nice day, and the trail isn't difficult to follow, but it's not that interesting. Then, you run into a band of hippies camping in the middle of the woods. They try to encourage you to join them. Do you?
Prompt 17: Dinner Date
Congratulations! You've got a date with the person you've always had a crush on. To impress them, you take them out to a fancy resturaunt. You and your date look amazing, and the food is delicious. Were it not for the extremely attractive wait staff, you might just be enjoying it. Now you're conflicted between an old crush and a new one.
Prompt 18: Film Flop
Take the one-sentence summary of a popular film and rewrite it so that it would flop. For example, you could change Up into a story about an old man going insane after losing his wife, or changing the ending to Forrest Gump into something incredibly cliché. You can find a series of one-line movie summaries here.
Prompt 19: Penny for Your Thoughts
Someone offers to pay for your university tuition, including books and extra pocket money. You don't have to keep a certain grade level, and even if you fail a class, you don't have to pay a cent. All you have to do is reenact one of your worst memories for your benefactor and forget one of your best memories. Is the trade worth it?
Prompt 20: Dead Teen Walking
You have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. The doctors have given you twenty-four hours to live. What do you do with the time you have left? How would your friends and family react? What legacy would you leave behind?
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