Nine Writing Prompts to Fuel Your Creativity by Laurel Osterkamp

Nine Writing Prompts to Fuel Your Creativity by Laurel OsterkampLet’s welcome back Laurel Osterkamp as she shares with us “Nine Writing Prompts to Fuel Your Creativity.” Enjoy!


Whenever I’m teaching young fiction writers, I always look for new ways to spark creativity. However, there are also some tried and true methods that I find helpful, and not just for school-age students.

If I ever need a short story idea, or if I’m at an impasse plot wise with a WIP, looking at these prompts can help.

They say there are only NINE original stories, and everything else is a variation on a theme. The same may be true for writing prompts.

Here are NINE prompts to get those creative juices flowing.

1. The Mysterious Object

Imagine discovering a mysterious object. It could be anything — a strange artifact, a mysterious box, or even a futuristic device. Write about the discovery of this object and its implications.

Is it a source of great power or danger?

Is it a portal to another world? 

The possibilities are endless.

Example: Sarah was walking in the woods and noticed an odd glowing orb. After touching it, she’s suddenly transported to a parallel universe where she is revered and given lots of power. But then she realizes that this orb could destroy everything she holds dear.

2. The Dilemma

In this prompt, your main character faces a difficult decision that will impact their life.

It could be a moral dilemma, or a choice between two conflicting desires.

Explore the consequences of their choice and how it affects not only their life but the lives of those around them.

Example: Tanya dreams of becoming a successful lawyer, but her family needs her to take over their struggling business. She must choose between her dreams or her family’s legacy. Will she follow her heart or her duty?

3. The Unlikely Hero

We are all familiar with the classic hero archetype — strong, brave, and fearless.

But what about an unlikely hero? An ordinary, unassuming person who rises to the occasion when faced with a great challenge.

Write a story about a character who surprises themselves and those around them by stepping up and becoming a hero in an unexpected way.

Example: Bree had always been shy and introverted, but when her female work colleagues are harassed by men in positions of power, she puts herself on the line and speaks out. By doing so, she discovers not only her power, but the power of female friendship.

4. The Time Traveler

Time travel is a popular theme in fiction because of its multiple possibilities for storytelling.

Your prompt is to write a story about a time traveler who journeys to a significant event in history. 

How do they function in this new time and place?

What impact do they have on the course of history?

And what lessons do they learn along the way?

Example: Clara travels back in time to the 1901 World’s Fair in Buffalo, New York. She saves President William McKinley from being assassinated. However, after she realizes the effects of her heroism, she must decide— Is the world better off?

5. The Magical Realism Twist

Magical realism blends supernatural elements with everyday life.

This prompt challenges you to incorporate magical elements into an otherwise realistic story. 

It could be a character with special powers, a mysterious object, or an unexplained event.

How does this magical element affect the characters and the world around them?

Example: In a small town, a young girl can bring inanimate objects to life. At first, she uses this power for fun, but when she accidentally hurts people, she must learn to control her gift before it’s too late.

6. The Reimagined Fairy Tale

Fairy tales have been told and retold for generations, but what if we put a modern, unexpected twist on them?

Choose a well-known fairy tale and reimagine it in a completely different setting or time period. The goal is to create a unique story that is both familiar and new at the same time.

Example: Instead of a princess in a castle, Cinderella is a struggling artist in New York City. Instead of a glass slipper, she loses her phone at a gallery opening, and it’s up to the prince to track her down using the only clue – a selfie they took together.

7. The Forbidden Love

Love is a universal theme in fiction, but what about forbidden love?

Write a story about two characters who shouldn’t be together — whether it’s because of societal norms, their families, or even a supernatural force.

How will they overcome the challenges and risks they face?

What sacrifices must they make for their love?

Example: In a dystopian society, love is strictly forbidden and punishable by death. When two young rebels fall in love, they must keep their relationship a secret, knowing that one mistake could cost them their lives.

8. The Road Trip

Road trips are a great way to explore new places and have unexpected adventures.

In this prompt, your characters embark on a road trip that takes an unexpected turn.

It could be a wrong turn that leads them to a hidden gem, a car breakdown that forces them to rely on strangers, or a detour that changes the course of their journey.

Example: Two estranged siblings set out on a cross-country road trip, but their GPS malfunctions and they totally lose their way. Searching for a way back, they stumble upon a mysterious community of people living off the grid. Will this experience help the siblings repair their relationship?

9. The Identity Swap

What if your characters woke up one day in someone else’s body?

This prompt challenges you to write a story about two characters who swap bodies and must navigate each other’s lives.

How do they adapt to their new identities?

And can they find a way to switch back before it’s too late?

Example: Two strangers, a high-powered CEO and a struggling artist, wake up in each other’s bodies. As they try to navigate their new lives, they realize they have more in common than they initially thought.

Writing prompts are a great way to break out of a creative slump.

Whether you choose to use these prompts as a starting point or let them lead you in a completely different direction, they are sure to help you come up with fresh story ideas and compelling characters.

So the next time you find yourself stuck, give one of these prompts a try and see where it takes you.


About the Author 

Laurel OsterkampLaurel Osterkamp is from Minneapolis, where she teaches and writes like it’s going out of style. Her short fiction has been featured in Abandon Journal, Idle Ink, Tangled Locks Literary Journal, Bright Flash Literary Journal, and The Metawoker, among other places. Her novel Favorite Daughters was released last year by Black Rose Writing, and her new novel, Beautiful Little Furies, will be released in December.


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