I’m just going to say it: creative writing prompts suck.
Well, maybe that’s not fair … but a lot of them do. As a writer I often get stuck and if I’m really desperate I’ll google writing prompts, and more often than not, I end up more frustrated than I was when I just had writer’s block.
Most prompts I find are things like: “You go into a room and a giant egg is sitting on your bed. What do you say?”
So I thought that it’d be fun to come up with a few of my own, BUT there’s a catch! If you send us your best two-page story using one of these prompts we’ll publish it in an upcoming issue of TII! (note: this is not paid)
Here are a couple of tips:
Stories live or die by irony (i.e: What if monsters weren’t evil, but working joes trying to earn a paycheck #monstersinc) try to lean into the irony of your story.
Really think of how your character’s job, dreams, fears can fit into your story. A rule I always try to stick with is to ask, “What’s the worst thing that can happen to THIS character?” and then make it happen (Luke wants to be a Jedi like his heroic father … and then he finds out Darth Vader IS his father).
How to Submit
- Email your submissions to [email protected] (Please only submit one story per email.)
- In the subject line, include: Short Story Contest – Story Title By Your Name.
Ex. Short Story Contest – CEO Street By Gregory Garofalo
- In the body of the email, include the prompt and the word count followed by your story. Please note, attachments will not be read.
You may submit one story for each prompt.
The best story from each writing prompt will be selected for publication on our website.
We will not respond to submissions until after the contest has closed. Please wait two months from the end of the contest to query on any submissions.
Submissions will close 14 April 2020.
Quick guidelines as we try to be a magazine everyone can enjoy:
1,000-1,500 word limit
Any genre is acceptable
No cursing or sexually explicit material
Ready? Okay let’s get started:
- A search engine CEO unveils a new version of “street view” at a press conference only to see his wife with another man.
- An overworked woman buys a new virtual assistant for her home, but it keeps screaming in the middle of the night.
- A man waits for his online date to show up, afraid he’s been stood up, he strikes up a conversation with his cynical waitress.
- A dishonest advertiser wakes up to find he’s stuck in television commercials.
- A teenager bullies their younger brother for playing dungeons and dragons, when they wake up they’ve been transported to a fantasy land in need of a hero.
And there you have it, five prompts to get you on your way! Below I’ll give a quick refresher of the hero’s journey story circle in case you need a refresher on story structure.
- Comfort Zone – Your character should start in their normal day to day, whatever that may be. (ie. Luke Skywalker looking out into the horizon).
- Need or Desire – They may have a day to day life, but there’s something missing that they will eventually have to go find. (ie. Rocky Balboa drifting through life)
- Unfamiliar Situation – Choosing, or being forced to search for this missing need or desire will eventually push them out of their comfort zone. (ie. Indiana Jones has to reconnect with his ex in order to find the ark of the covenant, forcing him to face his fear of intimacy and his past.)
- Adaptation – Eventually if the hero wants to survive they’ll have to adapt to their new surroundings. (ie. Marlin has to start taking his fears head-on if he wants to find Nemo.)
- They Get What They Want – The hero gets their goal … or do they? It can’t be that easy. (ie. Ellie gets Jurassic Park’s power back on, but is she safe?)
- But They Pay a Price – The hero will get their goal, but it’s going to come at a personal cost to them. (ie. Batman defeats the Joker, but at the cost of being the hero.)
- Return – The Hero needs to make their way back home to their new state of comfort. (ie. Andy realizes she doesn’t want to become like Miranda and throws her phone into a fountain before heading back to NY.)
- Change – Back in their new comfort zone, the hero now lives as a changed person, a master of their old and new world. (ie. Allan now has his arms around the two kids after they’ve escaped the horrors of Jurassic Park, he has a newfound love for children.)
And with that go ahead and write your creative and innovative story!