Writing Prompts, Collection I

“That joy you’re experiencing is not only contagious, it’s necessary and urgent and irresistible.”

Wesley Morris talking about Black music / Sept 7 episode of The Daily, a #1619 episode

“The ghosts shudder, but they do not leave.”

“We hold hands and pretend at forgetting.”

“There is soft yellow sunlight and drifting pollen where he was, and me and [Pop] embracing in the grass. The animals are quieting in grunts and snorts and yips. Thank you, they say. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, they sing.

Jesmyn Ward, Sing Unburied Sing

“… All the patience lost with holding on and finding out the cost of being strong.”

Amy Wedge, “Not Enough” — soundtrack to “Keeping Faith” TV program

“Where is the ground we can stand on?”

A friend, about the current state of American affairs

“She slid like a seal out of any old sadness she carried.”

“Why does death catch us so by surprise?”

“The slightest clue can give us away.”

“Dizzy, I eventually found the car…”

Colum McCann, TransAtlantic

“She didn’t tell me anything until we were standing by the river.”

Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the #1619 project speaking on one of The Daily shows

“And that is the way she saw the land, with no difference between the different kinds of yesterday.”

Anne Enright — sorry not sure which novel

“There is no full circle, tidy conclusion, or simple solution to any of this.”

Suki Kim, Land of Darkness, in The Best American Essays, 2018, talking about N. Korea

After reading Maureen Jones’ poem titled “Nuptial” (blessed are the menial chores) and Robin Greene’s poem titled “This Old Dress I Call Jewish,” (Illuminations, Expressions of the Personal Spiritual Experience) the prompt was simply: write about a dress.

“… in the next age, the forests will prevail, not you humans.”

Goddess Alchemy

“… a shard of ice shivered through me. I was aware of a terrible voice.”

“His voice — his beautiful voice — rang high and light.”

Geraldine Brooks, The Secret Chord These two voice prompts worked well one right after the other.

“Nature has the talent to soften, forgive, and remake, to create something beautiful out of our mistakes, paradoxes, and counterpoints — even when it comes to you invisibly.”

Mark Helprin, Present Tense in Paris

“My soul. She was eating my soul.”

Mather Schneider, “Suicide Lane,” Rattle, Vol. 61, page 35

These next seven prompts were given at six minute intervals. I was worried about interrupting the writers’ flow, but it worked marvelously. These are headings from one of the fairy tales in The Complete Fairy Tales of George MacDonald. With each heading I supplied a few words from that section of the fairy tale, to use or not.

1. Where is she? (rose bush, sultry, ethereal, mischief)

2. She laughed too much (awkward, abandoned, consultation, peculiarities)

3. Try metaphysics (ecstasy, mineral, imponderable)

4. Try a drop of water (condescended, balcony, wind)

5. Look at the moon (canopies, knot, trembling)

6. Hiss (horizontal, unlocked)

7. This is very kind of you (fate, joy)


11 thoughts on “Writing Prompts, Collection I

      1. snicklefritzin43

        Dee, I am writing down a list from your post in my journal. I work well from prompts. In 2006 I spent a week in Taos writing with Natalie Goldberg and found the prompts to successfully reach deep and find some writing unimagined before. Some of my best poems and prose comes from these exercises. I look forward to using your suggested prompts, for sure. If I get something worthwhile, I will share with you in an email. Public posting of my writing is not something I do, other than LTE’s and OPED’s. I read poetry at local open mic events and poetry classes. Mostly pretty private.

        1. deemallon

          I really look forward to reading some of your work, Kristen. And you inspire me to keep doing this periodically. I wasn’t sure there’d be any interest.

        2. deemallon

          And NATALIE GOLDBERG?! I’m so jealous. I’ve been reading passages from “Writing down the bones” at the beginning of each class. Other writers too (Brenda Ueland, John Gardner, Stephen King), but she is just great.

        3. snicklefritzin43

          Dee, That week of writing was a turning point in my life. A gift of forever. I have gifted many friends with “Writing down the Bones”.

  1. Cheryl Fillion

    Great writing prompts, Dee. Thanks so much for sharing them. And Natalie Goldberg??? She spoke to a small group of us in St. Louis, and it was such a treat. She feels like my “old friend from far away.” Were it only true!


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