Narrative Writing Prompts

Tamsen Butler

Reaching a Goal

For those who aspire to improve their writing skills, narrative writing prompts can be a useful tool. In many cases, writers find that work begun as the result of a prompt can be revised and polished into a publishable piece. Narrative writing is widely used in short stories, novels, essays, and plays.

To begin your narrative writing, tell a story about how you worked to achieve an important goal in your life, such as losing weight or learning a foreign language. Or, if you want to take this story deep into the realm of fiction, tell a story about you preparations after realizing space invaders were on the way to attack.

The Great Realization

Describe a time in which you had a dramatic realization about something after doing a little research. Consider these scenarios to progress the story:

  • Your main character realizes their parents aren't truly their parents. Was this hidden for a nefarious reason?
  • Your main character discovers a substantial savings account in their own name. Where did it come from?
  • Your character has the realization that they have been to this place before - perhaps in a dream or another life.
  • A huge betrayal is realized by your character - what is it?

First Day at Work

It's the first day at a new job for your main character. As they walk in, things seem amiss. Tell the story with the help of these refining prompts:

  • What's wrong? Is it the building, the people, or something else?
  • How do the people receive your character?
  • What does your character's workspace look like?
  • Insert one tiny, recurring detail that makes the first day seem bizarre and eventually explain its meaning.

Bravery in Action

Describe a time in which your character needed to be brave and go against the opinion of others.

  • Your character is wrong in their opinion. What happens when they realize it?
  • What is the cost of going against the crowd? Ostracization? Death? Nothing?
  • Is there something specific one must do with this group in order to signify their dissent?
  • Do people eventually agree with your character?

Fighting With Mom

Tell a story about the biggest fight you ever had with your parents. Take it into fiction with these prompts:

  • The woman in the picture isn't your mom. Who is she and what led to this moment?
  • The family settles arguments in a very strange way. What is it?
  • When the mom points her finger, her power is unleashed. What is it?
  • Your character is rescued from the argument. By who?

A Night to Remember

Describe the most memorable party you have ever attended. A few extra prompts take the story to another level:

  • The party takes place in a strange place. Where is it?
  • One of the partygoers keeps disappearing and reappearing. Why?
  • The music controls the attendees far beyond making them dance. What happens?
  • The party is to celebrate something strange. What are they celebrating?

Hurt Feelings

Tell a story about a time emotions got the best of you. Flesh out the story further with these prompts:

  • What happened in the moment leading up to your character' emotions overflowing?
  • How did the people around your character respond?
  • Is there something unusual that happens to your character during emotional moments?
  • How does your character calm down?

The Pet Whisperer

Write about a time you enjoyed the company of a pet. Escalate the story with these prompts:

  • Your character's pet came from somewhere unusual - where?
  • The pet tries to warn the character of impending danger. Does your character understand?
  • The pet detects supernatural activity in the next room - what happens next?
  • The pet turns out to be a robot. Who created the pet and why?

Near Death

Tell the story of a time you were in a situation that could have led to death. Allow your creativity to take over with these prompts:

  • Was the situation intentional or accidental?
  • What did your character feel as they realized they might die?
  • Suppose your character did slip into death for a moment. What did they see?
  • Was the return to life welcomed or disappointing?

Comfortable Love

Think of a time you felt entirely comfortable with another person. Fictionalize the moment into a narrative story with these prompts:

  • What was the relationship between your character and the other person?
  • Was the person real, or imaginary?
  • What happened when the two characters touched?
  • Something abruptly ends the comfort - what was it?

Wake Up Time

Write about a time you had trouble waking up and starting your day. The story gets more interesting with these prompts:

  • Something is stopping your character from getting out of bed. What is it?
  • Where did your character awaken? Do they know where they are?
  • Do they know who they are?
  • Something strange will happen once they set foot off the bed - what is it?

Rude Stranger

Think of a time a stranger was rude to you. Help your character fictionalize the story with these prompts:

  • What happened to the stranger to make them act that way?
  • Your character is in danger if they confront the stranger. Why?
  • The surrounding crowd rallies behind your character or the stranger. Which one?
  • A dramatic battle ensues that far exceeds the gravity of the situation - narrate it.

More Narrative Writing Prompts

Keeping a journal of the day's events can be a great way to build narrative writing skills. Sometimes the most mundane moments can make the best stories when you allow your creativity to adjust a few details.

Tamsen Butler
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Narrative Writing Prompts