This page contains a list of prompts for writing classes/activities for when you need a bit of inspiration for a writing idea. I will try to update it regularly with new ideas, so keep checking back!
If you have any great ideas for prompts for creative writing that you have used in class, please share them in the comments and I will add them to the list – thank you!
Photos and pictures can be great writing prompts. Photos of people to think about their lives, more than one person to think about relationships. Places, objects – any photo or picture can be used to generate some writing ideas! More than one picture, chosen at random can be used to think about how they are connected (see lesson plan on Newspaper Picture Stories)
If you are lucky enough to work in a school that keeps picture files, then use them! If not, why not start your own personal collection, or one to share with your school. Pictures and photos cut out of magazines and then laminated or stuck on card can be used again and again (for writing and many other activities!)
ELT pics is a great resource of photos shared by other teachers for use in class. You could print off, project on the board or even just get students to browse through and see what they think.
Going to an art gallery is one of my favourite trips to do with students and is a great way of firing up imaginations. Ask students to choose a favourite picture or one they find interesting and write about it and you will get all sorts of different responses. If there is no gallery near you or trips are tricky, find some works of art online or in magazines and display them on the walls of your classroom to make your own personal art gallery.
Giving the first line or last line, or both of a story can be a great prompt.
As a pre-reading exercise for a short story you can give students a first line, last line and a line or two from the middle and ask them to write a story to connect them. This can then be compared with the original reading.
There are a number of online writing prompt generators for creative writing.
A real object can be a great source of inspiration. Old keys, coins, jewellery, ornaments, shells; all these things can have a history and story for students to imagine.
There is a lesson plan on using objects here.
Short clips from films or TV shows with the sound turned off can be used to write dialogues.
Playing the first scene of a film can be a good story starter, students can imagine what will happen. It can also be a good pre-viewing exercise.
Film English website has lots of good short films, and many of them have creative activities on the related lesson plans.
Playing a song or a short piece of music and asking students to write what it makes them think of or feel can be a nice way to start a creative piece such as a poem.
Combined with the film idea, you can play part of a film soundtrack and ask your students to listen, imagine what is happening and write a description of the scene. You can then watch the scene to compare (a nice pre-watching exercise).
Rory’s Story Cubes
Rory’s Story Cubes are 9 dice with pictures on that students can throw and then connect up the ideas to make a story. Very simple, but really fun. Also available as an app.
I have recently been introduced to Storybird. It looks fantastic, although I haven’t had much chance to explore it yet. It has beautiful artwork that you can use to make stories. If anyone has used it in class I would love to hear of your experience!
Great suggestion on using sound effects from Adi (@adi_rajan) from the comments section below that I am copying here:
“You could also use sound effects to create a progression of prompts. You play a sound effect, get Ss to write a narrative in the first person and then build the story using subsequent sounds. These sites have some free downloadable sound files, everything from tornadoes to ambulance sirens.