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Writing Prompts for Fall

As the dog days of summer drag on, some of us find ourselves in stasis again, wondering what will happen next with the pandemic, or our abilities to travel, or our abilities to start making plans. If this odd, never-ending period has bled into your writing life, you’re not alone. Many writers are experiencing a bit of burnout. Some of us don’t want to write about the pandemic anymore. Some of us haven’t been able to engage in the things that inspire us. Some of us are just downright tired.

If this sounds like you, it sounds like me too. So what am I doing? I’m decidedly turning my creative soul upside down and doing something a little different. I’m actively seeking magic. Do I mean a fairy is going to come do my writing for me? No, not quite. But in my experience, engaging in anything different is a surefire way to kickstart my inspiration muscles. So, I’m going to do some writing that is specifically focused on the magical, as a way to manifest some magical feelings toward writing.

Want to join me? Here are some magical writing prompts that will get your imagination going and will hopefully make you feel like a kid again — a kid who lives to write, is ready to write, and can’t wait to create new worlds. And please: even if magical writing isn’t your thing (it isn’t usually mine, either!) try this out. Sometimes it’s when we take ourselves away from our norm that we can jump-start our excitement the most.

Writing prompts for bringing back the magic this fall

Each of these prompts can be used as a jumping-off point. This is the setup — now you run with it and write a story. It may be a good idea to set a little timer for yourself, here. Say, pick a prompt and write for 30 minutes uninterrupted. The whole point of this exercise is to see what crazy places your mind goes when it’s set loose. Have fun!

Fall

  1. A boy is walking in the woods and sees a furry monster. They make eye contact, then the monster runs away. What happens next?
  2. You’re looking up at the sky one night when all of a sudden, poof! The sky goes blank. The stars are gone. Where did they go, and what happens next?
  3. Time travel, apparently, is possible. Thomas Edison has just arrived on your doorstep — pre-lightbulb Thomas Edison, that is. How do you interact with him without accidentally changing the course of history by cluing him in to his invention before it’s time?
  4. You’re sitting in your office when the door swings open and a small dinosaur runs in, knocking things over with his tail. What?
  5. Santa Claus has has it. He quits. What now?
  6. You are a scientist alone in a lab and you’ve just made an incredible, albeit accidental, discovery — one that will allow humans to swap bodies, lives, and lifestyles, for better or worse, and the swap can be made with the consent of only one of the people involved. Yikes. What do you do with your information? What power do you now wield, and how will you use it?
  7. If you took a not-evil approach for your story spurred from #6, take an evil approach, now. You are an evil scientist alone in a lab and you’ve just made an incredible, albeit accidental, discovery — one that will allow humans to swap bodies, lives, and lifestyles, for better or worse, and the swap can be made with the consent of only one of the people involved. What evil power do you now wield, and how will you use it, evilly?
  8. You’re five years old, and your sister is six months old. Imagine your surprise when you walk into the nursery and find your sister, who, again, is six months old, talking in full sentences in her crib. You run to tell your parents, but they don’t believe you. So you go on a quest to figure out how this baby can talk and what it all means.
  9. You wake up to find you’re a ghost. What next?
  10. You’re at a kids’ baseball game, watching your nephew play ball, when lo and behold, a spaceship lands in the middle of the field. A small green man emerges. “We come in peace,” he says. “There’s just one thing we need from you.” What’s the one thing? What happens next?

Fall

Some of these prompts are a little outlandish, of course, and that’s the point! Really let yourself go as zany as possible with the details you create here. Engaging in writing that’s nothing like our normal work is a great way to keep ourselves on our toes, creatively speaking, because it stretches our muscles beyond their comfort zone. Even if you’re a writer of the most serious, dramatic stuff, remembering what it feels like to see things from another perspective, ready to invent the oddest of characters, creatures, and circumstances, can be a true gift to your craft.

I hope these prompts take you somewhere new, exciting, and otherworldly!

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Lauren Harkawik
Author

Lauren Harkawik

Lauren Harkawik is a journalist, essayist, and fiction writer based in Vermont. You can read her writing on her website.

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