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57 Genius-Sparking Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers

writing stories practice

The best writing exercises for fiction writers are the ones that help you tap into the story you already wanted to tell.

Sometimes we writers get ourselves overwhelmed by the thought that there’s something we “should” be writing. We play fill-in-the-blanks with the supposed formula for a bestseller or obsess over style rules until writing is more confusing than fun. That’s why we need writing exercises.

To be clear, I’m not against formulas. Plot structures , character archetypes , and genre tropes exist to help us create seamless, compelling stories that satisfy expectations.

But writing exercises allow us to step away from the formulas, think purely in terms of creation, and harvest our inner fields of genius.

After all, you are a writer because the urge to tell stories is already within you. There is something you want to communicate, even if you haven’t quite put your finger on it, yet.

A great writing exercise helps a fiction writer like you pinpoint that something. It helps you find inspiration in the world around you and connect it with the deeper purpose that drives you. It can even help you improve your voice and style without having to analyze the living daylights out of these elements.

And lucky you! We’ve put together 57 writing exercises just for you. Whether you need help finding story ideas, fleshing out a work in progress, or advancing your prose, you’ll find something here that does the trick.

What’s the Point of Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers?

Close-up of a paper in a typewriter with a poem typed on it.

Unlike, say, math exercises, writing exercises are designed to spark unique responses. There are no correct answers here. There’s only the vast sea of your imagination, washing magical objects up onto the shore when you summon its waves.

Or whatever.

Writing exercises can fulfill a wide range of purposes (more on that in a moment), but one thing they all have in common is they’re meant to inspire new ideas. In many cases, they also challenge you to add complexity or nuance to your storytelling.

And—my favorite benefit—they help you stay connected to the joy of creativity even through the tedious, pride-crushing editing process .

When to Do Writing Exercises

A person with a ponytail writes in a journal with their feet propped up on a table filled with books and notebooks.

Do writing exercises whenever you need them! Seriously. All writing exercises fulfill at least one of these four needs:

  • Inspiration to get started
  • Help getting unstuck
  • A guide for perfecting your craft
  • Something to reignite creative enthusiasm

That pretty much covers every conceivable goal you might have when you sit down to write.

Not sure what to write about? Do a writing exercise. Your scene description reads like you vomited a thesaurus onto the page? Writing exercise. Discouraged, bored, or distracted? You know what to do.

You can even use a writing exercise as a warm-up before every writing session. The possibilities are endless.

Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers

Okay, let’s get to the goods. Here are 57 writing exercises for fiction writers, organized by category. Some prompts are designed to help you come up with new ideas, while others are meant to help you go deeper on an existing project.

Try the exercises that speak to you, skip the ones that don’t, and adapt anything to meet your needs.  

Story Ideas

A man sits in the doorway of a green tent, looking at his phone.

  • Start a story folder. Anytime you come across an article, social media post, or even an ad that sparks thoughts like, “I wonder what that was like,” or “I wonder what happened next,” cut it out or print it out. Put it in a folder. When you need inspiration, open the folder, pick an item, and write the part of the story the article doesn’t show.
  • Look at your own life and ask “What if?” Imagine if you’d made a different decision or if your biggest worry (or biggest dream) actually had come true. Write that story.
  • Try a modern day retelling of a myth or fairy tale.
  • Here’s a fun question: what’s going on in your life right now in a parallel universe? Write that story.
  • Wander an art museum and find a work of art that speaks to you. What’s the story here? Even if the art is three hundred years old and you don’t write historical fiction, identify a narrative, theme, or emotion. Place it in the modern day (or whenever your stories take place) and get writing. 
  • Choose three objects at random, then look them up in a dream dictionary . Write down what each object symbolizes and imagine the person who would dream about them. What is the dreamer going through? Build a story from there.
  • Start with a character goal . Write down an obstacle that makes reaching that goal hard. Think of a bigger obstacle that makes it even harder. Do that again three more times. Find an obstacle so big you’re not sure how your protagonist can get around it. Build your story from there.
  • Write the last line of your favorite book. This is the first line of your story. Keep writing.
  • Think of an invention you wish existed. Who would invent it? Tell their story.
  • Start with a problem. A shocking murder, a struggling marriage, melting ice caps… anything. Now create a character who seems like the least likely person to solve this problem. Explain why they’re actually the best candidate for the job. 
  • Search your soul. What ideas do you feel strongly about? What societal issues weigh on your mind? What do you think is the best or worst thing about being a human in the world? What makes you laugh? What does it mean to hope? Love? Rescue someone else? Rescue yourself? Once you find the themes that tug at you, find the story.
  • Someone is cleaning out their garage, and it’s a bigger deal than it seems. What are they hiding, clearing out, or preparing for?
  • A hurricane has trapped two people together in a tiny island airport. They have opposing goals, personalities, or viewpoints. What happens?

Two women dressed as flappers—one in a red dress and one in a green dress—smile together in an urban setting.

  • Take a walk or go to a park. Find a really cool tree. Write about its shape, angles, health, stature, movement, scent… whatever stands out to you. Then use the same descriptions to write about a new character .
  • Eavesdrop on a conversation in a public place. Zero in on one specific person. Listen until you have a grasp on their voice. Then write a completely different conversation involving that person.
  • Remove a random object from your junk drawer. This is the most important thing to someone. Write about that person and why the object is so valuable to them.
  • Explore your character’s signature style. Take inspiration from television characters, magazines, and friends as needed. Write a description of your character’s three favorite outfits and how they feel in those clothes. (For a little help, check out our article on clothing description.)
  • What was the defining moment that made your character the person they are at the start of your story? Write that scene.
  • What’s something your character feels very strongly about? Write their rant.
  • Someone else is toasting (or roasting) your character. Write their speech.
  • What is the opinion, desire, fear, or behavior that makes your character unique? Write about it from their point of view. Keep digging until you hit on the universal emotion at the core of that seemingly unusual trait.
  • Imagine someone who would be the polar opposite of your character. Describe them: how they look, what they love, what they hate, what they believe… everything. Then pick one trait and make it part of your character. 
  • Write a dialogue between you and your character . You’re giving them a heads-up about the flaws they can’t see in themselves. How do they take it? Are they ready for this conversation?
  • Write your protagonist’s one-sentence definition of love. Do the same for every character in your story.
  • Who does your character love most in the world? Write a scene showing where that relationship is ten years after the story ends. If that person is no longer in the character’s life, write a scene from each person’s life without the other.

An overhead view of seven friends clinking glasses over a meal.

  • Rewrite the climactic scene of your favorite book from the antagonist’s point of view.
  • Write a tense, dialogue-only scene where your characters never really say what they’re really mad about.
  • What is the worst thing that could happen to your protagonist? Write a scene where it happens and make their most trusted friend the reason it happens. (I know it hurts. Try it, anyway.)
  • What is something your protagonist would never, ever do. Now make it something they have to do to reach their goal.
  • Write a scene that makes your reader think everything is going to be okay. Put it immediately before the most devastating scene of your story. See what that does.
  • Write about the biggest mistake your protagonist has ever made in their pre-story life. Then decide what mistake they can make within the story that is even bigger than that.
  • Revisit a scene where a character gets bad news. Make the news worse. See what happens.
  • Write an apology letter to your character. Tell them you’re sorry for all the misery you are about to put them through. Explain why it’s necessary for the story—why you can’t hold back or solve all their problems immediately. Let them forgive you. Forgive yourself. Writing is brutal.
  • Write a monologue in which your character confesses what they hate most about themselves. Don’t add the monologue to your book, but see what happens if you give that same quality to the antagonist.
  • Write the villain’s most painful memory from their point of view. Keep writing at least until you feel genuine empathy for your villain . Read the memory every time you are about to write a scene between your villain and hero.
  • Pick a scene that’s already heavy with conflict and throw a little nature into the mix. It can be as small as an obnoxious gust of wind or as destructive as a tornado. It just has to be an antagonistic force that cannot be controlled or persuaded to back off.

An empty cafe patio with small, round tables, soft lighting, a wooden back gate, and greenery overhead.

  • Think about your favorite vacation spot. Look up their local online newspaper and get a sense of what life is like there. Write about a community event from the perspective of someone who was born there. 
  • Think of a place that is incredibly familiar to you. Imagine it, or—if you can—go there. Describe it like you’re discovering it for the first time.
  • Write about the place where your character feels the safest.
  • Write about the place where your protagonist feels like an outsider.
  • Take a tour of your home like you’re at an estate sale or open house. Draw conclusions about the people who live here.
  • Write a scene where something huge happens in a small place or something small happens in a huge place.
  • Write a scene in which the setting is important. You can describe exactly five details about the setting. Which five do you pick to give the reader the most vivid image? How can you use dialogue or character actions to deepen the sense of place?
  • Think of a place that makes you feel big feelings. Describe that place, trying to get the reader to feel what you feel without using any emotion words.
  • Describe a setting that embodies isolation. Terror. Hope. Anticipation. Security. Adventure. Menace.
  • Do an Internet search for “abandoned places.” Pick one. Write a scene that takes place there either in the present day, in that location’s heyday, or at the time when it became abandoned.

Bonus Writing Exercise Photo: A person standing at the edge of a sharp mountain ridge, surrounded by thick fog.

  • Pick a scene from your story. Find every abstract description in your narration—any instance where you talk about an emotion or a “vibe.” Replace it with something concrete that creates the same feeling. (Example: “The guy was creepy” becomes, “He didn’t break eye contact as he wiped his hands on his bloodstained shirt.”)
  • Highlight all the adverbs in one scene. Delete each one. If it feels like they’re needed to clarify the adjectives or verbs they describe, try finding better adjectives or adverbs.
  • Try the exercise above but with adjectives. When you remove an adjective, can you replace the noun it describes with a more specific noun? “Louboutins” instead of “expensive shoes”?
  • Get wild and reckless with language. Make a list of ten nouns. Then write a scene using all ten nouns as verbs. Have your protagonist “flashlight” a memory or attempt to “drywall” someone’s reputation. Don’t worry if it works; just play. 
  • Think of a real-life person whose voice you know very well. Rewrite the first page of your story as in that voice. Then write the page one more time in your own narrative voice. Has anything changed from your original version? 
  • Rewrite a scene as a poem, twelve lines maximum. When you have to recreate your scene as something much shorter and (probably) more emotionally driven, what do you discover? What is the core story at the heart of this scene? How do you draw that out of your prose?
  • Choose a mundane thing you do every day. Write a story or scene where this action takes center stage as a symbol of something greater.
  • Choose ten textbooky words from a textbook. Words like “theorem,” “chlorophyll,” or “gerrymandering.” Work them into a scene that is not about that topic.
  • Buy a postcard. Write a message on it from an imaginary sender. In that one message, tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end .
  • Go to your local hardware store and get a bunch of color chips from the paint section. Organize them by character. Who would wear cupcake pink ? Whose apartment would be painted in glacial stream ? Add one color to each of your characters’ worlds. 
  • Read. Write down sentences that stun you. Explain what you like about them. Read them again before your next writing session.

When in Doubt, Try Fanfiction

On a grand, philosophical level, fanfiction is a beautiful testament to the way we connect with one another’s stories. On a practical, writerly level, it’s a darn good way to sharpen your storytelling skills.

I was about to disclose that I have never actually written fanfiction myself, but then I remembered that Anne of Green Gables / Little House on the Prairie hybrid play I wrote when I was about nine. My cousin and I performed it for our grandma, and I’ll have you know: she loved it. As for me, it was a useful writing exercise, because it allowed me to play with elements that already worked.

With fanfiction, you’re starting with compelling characters whose rich backstories are already known to you. The world and its rules are clear as day. You’re clear on motivations and goals. All the pieces are there for you to play with. You can take things apart, rearrange them, and reconstruct them.

It’s a hands-on way to understand why things work. Not to mention, it’s not unheard of for a work of fanfiction to morph into its own successful series .

Where Do Your Best Ideas Come From?

Two women sitting at a table behind microphones, doing a podcast interview.

People will ask you this someday. A lot. When you’re on your book tour or being interviewed on television, people will want to know where you get your ideas.

For most writers, this is a semi-impossible question. Our best ideas are often a weird soup made from childhood memories, song lyrics, and the evening news. And of course, writing exercises.

If you need somewhere to manage that mess of ingredients, I recommend Dabble . Between the Character Notes, Story Notes, Plot Grid, Comments, and Stickies, there are plenty of tools for organizing your bursts of inspiration as you plan and as you draft. Bonus: you can try all the Premium Features for free for fourteen days without involving your credit card. Just click here.

‍ And even if you’re not ready to become a full-fledged Dabbler, you can still find inspiration and support in the Story Craft Café community. It’s free, and it rocks.

Abi Wurdeman is the author of Cross-Section of a Human Heart: A Memoir of Early Adulthood, as well as the novella, Holiday Gifts for Insufferable People. She also writes for film and television with her brother and writing partner, Phil Wurdeman. On occasion, Abi pretends to be a poet. One of her poems is (legally) stamped into a sidewalk in Santa Clarita, California. When she’s not writing, Abi is most likely hiking, reading, or texting her mother pictures of her houseplants to ask why they look like that.

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Writers.com

The best writing exercises bring out our latent creativity. Especially if you ever feel stuck or blocked, making creative writing exercises part of your daily writing practice can be a great way to both hone your skills and explore new frontiers in your writing. Whether you’re a poet, essayist, storyteller, or genre-bending author, these free writing exercises will jumpstart your creative juices and improve your writing abilities.

24 of the Best Free Writing Exercises to Try Out Today

The best creative writing exercises will push you out of your comfort zone and get you to experiment with words. Language is your sandbox, so let’s build some sand castles with these exercises and writing prompts.

Write With Limitations

The English language is huge, complicated, and — quite frankly — chaotic. Writing with self-imposed limitations can help you create novel and inventive pieces.

What does “limitations” mean in this context? Basically, force yourself not to use certain words, descriptions, or figures of speech. Some writing exercises using limitations include the following:

  • Write without using adverbs or adjectives.
  • Write without using the passive voice – no “being verbs” whatsoever. (Also called “E-Prime” writing.)
  • Write a story without using a common letter –  just like Ernest Vincent Wright did .
  • Write a poem where each line has six words.
  • Write without using any pronouns.

Among exercises to improve writing skills, writing with limitations has the clearest benefits. This practice challenges your brain to think about language productively. Additionally, these limitations force you to use unconventional language – which, in turn, makes you write with lucidity, avidity, and invention.

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Freewriting & Stream of Consciousness

What do you do when the words just don’t come out? How can you write better if you can’t seem to write at all? One of the best poetry exercises, as well as writing exercises in general, is to start your day by freewriting.

Freewriting, also known as “stream of consciousness writing,” involves writing your thoughts down the moment they come. There’s no filtering what you write, and no controlling what you think: topicality, style, and continuity are wholly unnecessary in the freewriting process. While the idea of freewriting seems easy, it’s much harder than you think – examining your thoughts without controlling them takes a while to master, and the impulse to control what you write isn’t easy to tame. Try these exercises to master the skill:

  • Do a timed freewrite. Start with five minutes.
  • Freewrite until you fill up the entirety of something – an envelope, a receipt, a postcard, etc.
  • Freewrite after meditating.
  • Freewrite off of the first word of today’s newspaper.

Among daily writing exercises, freewriting is one of the best writing exercises. Poets can use freewritten material as inspiration for their poetry. Prose writers can also find inspiration for future stories from the depths of their consciousnesses. Start your writing day with freewriting, and watch your creativity blossom.

Copy What You Read

Plagiarism is still off the table; however, you can learn a lot by paying attention to how other people write. This is what we call “reading like a writer.”

Reading like a writer means paying attention to the craft elements that make an excellent piece of literature work. Good writing requires different writing styles, figurative language, story structures, and/or poetry forms, as well as key word choice.

When you notice these craft elements, you can go ahead and emulate them in your own work. As a fiction writer , you might be drawn to the way Haruki Murakami weaves folklore into his stories, and decide to write a story like that yourself. Or, as a poet, you might be inspired by Terrance Hayes’ Golden Shovel form — enough so that you write a Golden Shovel yourself.

  • Read a favorite poem, and write your own poem in the same poetic form.
  • Blackout poetry: take another poem, cross out words you don’t want to use, circle words you do, and write a poem based on the circled words.
  • Copy a single sentence from a favorite novel, and write a short-short story with it.

Among free writing exercises, this is a great way to learn from the best. The best kinds of exercises to improve writing skills involve building upon the current canon of works — as Isaac Newton said, you achieve something great by “standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Write From Different Perspectives

The conventional advice given to writers is to “write what you know.” We couldn’t disagree with that statement more. The best creative works force both the writer and the reader to consider new perspectives and learn something new; writing from a new point-of-view makes for a great exercise in expanding your creative limits.

Try these ideas as daily writing exercises:

  • Write a story with the same plot, but with two or more perspectives. For example, you could write a lover’s quarrel from two different view points.
  • Write from the point-of-view of a famous historical figure.
  • Write a story or poem from the perspective of an object: a statue, a doll, a roomba, etc.
  • Write from the perspective of a person you dislike.

While playing with perspective makes for a great fiction writing exercise , poets and essayists can do this too. Patricia Smith’s poem “Skinhead,” for example, is a persona piece written from the perspective of a white nationalist, but the poem clearly condemns the speaker’s beliefs.

Thus, perspective writing also works as a poetry exercise and an essay writing practice exercise . If you’re stuck in your own head, try writing in someone else’s!

Write Metaphor Lists

All creative writers need figurative language. While metaphors, similes, and synecdoches are more prominent in poetry , prose writers need the power of metaphor to truly engross their reader. Among both exercises to improve writing skills and fun writing exercises for adults, writing metaphor lists is one of the best writing exercises out there.

A metaphor list is simple. On a notebook, create two columns. In one column, write down only concrete nouns. Things like a pillow, a tree, a cat, a cloud, and anything that can be perceived with one of the five senses.

In the other list, write down only abstract ideas. Things like love, hate, war, peace, justice, closure, and reconciliation — anything that is conceptual and cannot be directly perceived.

Now, choose a random noun and a random concept, and create a metaphor or simile with them. Delve into the metaphor and explain the comparison. For example, you might say “Love is like a pillow — it can comfort, or it can smother.”

Once you’ve mastered the metaphor list, you can try the following ideas to challenge yourself:

  • Create a coherent poem out of your metaphor list.
  • Turn your metaphor list into a short story.
  • Try making lists with a different figurative language device, such as personification, pathetic fallacy, or metonymy.

Any free creative writing exercise that focuses on figurative language can aid your writing immensely, as it helps writers add insight and emotionality to their work. This is an especially great creative writing exercise for beginners as they learn the elements of style and language.

Daily Journaling

Of course, the best way to improve your creative writing skills is simply to write every day. Keeping a daily journal is a great way to exercise your writing mind. By sitting down with your personal observations and writing without an agenda or audience, a daily writing practice  remains one of the best writing exercises , regardless of your genre or level of expertise.

Consider these ideas for your daily journal:

  • Track your mood and emotions throughout the day. Write those emotions in metaphor — avoid commonplace adjectives and nouns.
  • Write about your day from the second- or third-person.
  • Journal your day in verse. Use stanzas, line breaks, and figurative language.
  • Write about your day backwards.
  • Write about your day using Freytag’s pyramid . Build up to a meaningful climax, even if nothing significant seemed to happen today.

Writing Exercises: Have Fun with Them!

Many of these writing exercises might feel challenging at first—and that’s a good thing! You will unlock new ideas and writing strengths by struggling through these creative challenges. The main point is to have fun with them and use them to explore within your writing, without indulging too many monologues from your inner critic.

Are you looking for more exercises to improve your writing skills? Our instructors can offer prompts, illuminating lectures, one-to-one feedback, and more to help you improve your craft. Check out our upcoming creative writing courses , and let’s put these skills to practice.

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Sean Glatch

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Thank you for this. I’ve been stuck for months—more than that, actually, and you’d think that a pandemic stay-at-home would be the perfect time to do some writing. But no. I’m as stuck as ever. In fact, the only time I seem able to write consistently and well is when I’m taking one of your classes! I’m still saving my pennies, but these exercises will hopefully get me writing in the meantime. Thanks again!

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Hi Kathy, I’m glad to hear some of these tips might spark your creativity 🙂 I feel the same way, I was hoping the stay-at-home order might spark some creativity, but we shouldn’t push ourselves too hard – especially in the midst of a crisis.

The best part about writing: all you have to do is try, and you’ve already succeeded. Good luck on your writing endeavors!

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Bravo….!What a great piece! Honestly I learnt a lot here!

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I picked interest in poetry just a week ago after reading a beautiful piece which captivated my mind into the world of writing. I’d love to write great poems but I don’t know anything about poetry, I need a coach, a motivator and an inspiration to be able to do this. This piece really helped me but I will appreciate some more tips and help from you or anyone else willing to help, I am really fervid about this.

Hi Anthony,

Thanks for your comment! I’m so excited for you to start your journey with poetry. We have more advice for poetry writing at the articles under this link: https://writers.com/category/poetry

Additionally, you might be interested in two of our upcoming poetry courses: Poetry Workshop and How to Craft a Poem .

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at [email protected] . Many thanks, and happy writing!

[…] 24 Best Writing Exercises to Become a Better Writer | writers.com  […]

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Hi, kinsey there. Thanks for giving information. it is a very informative blog and i appreciate your effort to write a blog I am also a writer and i like these type of blogs everyone takes more knowledge to check out my essay writing website

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As a writer, I often struggle to break free from the chains of writer’s block, but this blog has gifted me with a map of inspiration to navigate through those creative storms. It’s like being handed a box of enchanted writing exercises

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Writing practice worksheets terms of use, finish the story writing worksheets.

  • Beginning Finish the Story - The Snow Day
  • Beginning Finish the Story - The Fair
  • Beginning Finish the Story - Summer Camp
  • Beginning Finish the Story - The Birthday Party
  • Beginning Finish the Story - The Halloween Costume
  • Beginning Finish the Story - The 4th of July
  • Intermediate Finish the Story - The Beach Trip
  • Intermediate Finish the Story - The Great Find
  • Intermediate Finish the Story - Which Way?
  • Intermediate Finish the Story - Finding Muffin
  • Intermediate Finish the Story - The Zoo
  • Advanced Finish the Story - The Troublemaker

Question Response Writing Worksheets

  • Beginning Question Response - Your Favorite Color
  • Beginning Question Response - Your Favorite Day
  • Beginning Question Response - Your Favorite Number
  • Beginning Question Response - In Your Family
  • Beginning Question Response - Your Favorite Sport
  • Beginning Question Response - Your Favorite Clothes
  • Beginning Question Response - Your Favorite Music
  • Beginning Question Response - How You Relax
  • Beginning Question Response - Lunch Time
  • Beginning Question Response - With Your Friends
  • Beginning Question Response - Collecting Stamps
  • Beginning Question Response - Your Birthplace
  • Beginning Question Response - Starting Your Day
  • Intermediate Question Response - Your Favorite Food
  • Intermediate Question Response - Your Favorite Movie
  • Intermediate Question Response - Your Favorite Song
  • Intermediate Question Response - TV Programs
  • Intermediate Question Response - Your Favorite Time
  • Intermediate Question Response - Which Country?
  • Intermediate Question Response - The Wisest Person
  • Intermediate Question Response - Someone You Admire
  • Advanced Question Response - A Great Accomplishment
  • Advanced Question Response - The Most Exciting Thing
  • Advanced Question Response - Oldest Memory
  • Advanced Question Response - The Most Productive Day of the Week
  • Advanced Question Response - An Interesting Person
  • Advanced Question Response - What Have You Built?
  • Advanced Question Response - What You Like to Read

Practical Writing Worksheets

  • Beginning Practical - Grocery List
  • Beginning Practical - TO Do List
  • Beginning Practical - At the Beach
  • Beginning Practical - The Newspaper
  • Intermediate Practical - Absent From Work
  • Intermediate Practical - Your Invitation
  • Intermediate Practical - Paycheck
  • Intermediate Practical - The New House
  • Advanced Practical - Soccer Game Meeting
  • Advanced Practical - Note About Dinner
  • Advanced Practical - A Problem
  • Advanced Practical - A Letter to Your Landlord
  • Advanced Practical - A Product

Argumentative Writing Worksheets

  • Intermediate Argumentative - Cat, Star, or Book?
  • Intermediate Argumentative - Soccer or Basketball?
  • Intermediate Argumentative - Giving and Receiving
  • Intermediate Argumentative - Does Practice Make Perfect?
  • Advanced Argumentative - Five Dollars or a Lottery Ticket?
  • Advanced Argumentative - The Most Important Word
  • Advanced Argumentative - An Apple
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105 Creative Writing Exercises To Get You Writing Again

You know that feeling when you just don’t feel like writing? Sometimes you can’t even get a word down on paper. It’s the most frustrating thing ever to a writer, especially when you’re working towards a deadline. The good news is that we have a list of 105 creative writing exercises to help you get motivated and start writing again!

What are creative writing exercises?

Creative writing exercises are short writing activities (normally around 10 minutes) designed to get you writing. The goal of these exercises is to give you the motivation to put words onto a blank paper. These words don’t need to be logical or meaningful, neither do they need to be grammatically correct or spelt correctly. The whole idea is to just get you writing something, anything. The end result of these quick creative writing exercises is normally a series of notes, bullet points or ramblings that you can, later on, use as inspiration for a bigger piece of writing such as a story or a poem. 

Good creative writing exercises are short, quick and easy to complete. You shouldn’t need to think too much about your style of writing or how imaginative your notes are. Just write anything that comes to mind, and you’ll be on the road to improving your creative writing skills and beating writer’s block . 

Use the generator below to get a random creative writing exercise idea:

List of 105+ Creative Writing Exercises

Here are over 105 creative writing exercises to give your brain a workout and help those creative juices flow again:

  • Set a timer for 60 seconds. Now write down as many words or phrases that come to mind at that moment.
  • Pick any colour you like. Now start your sentence with this colour. For example, Orange, the colour of my favourite top. 
  • Open a book or dictionary on a random page. Pick a random word. You can close your eyes and slowly move your finger across the page. Now, write a paragraph with this random word in it. You can even use an online dictionary to get random words:

dictionary-random-word-imagine-forest

  • Create your own alphabet picture book or list. It can be A to Z of animals, food, monsters or anything else you like!
  • Using only the sense of smell, describe where you are right now.
  • Take a snack break. While eating your snack write down the exact taste of that food. The goal of this creative writing exercise is to make your readers savour this food as well.
  • Pick a random object in your room and write a short paragraph from its point of view. For example, how does your pencil feel? What if your lamp had feelings?
  • Describe your dream house. Where would you live one day? Is it huge or tiny? 
  • Pick two different TV shows, movies or books that you like. Now swap the main character. What if Supergirl was in Twilight? What if SpongeBob SquarePants was in The Flash? Write a short scene using this character swap as inspiration.
  • What’s your favourite video game? Write at least 10 tips for playing this game.
  • Pick your favourite hobby or sport. Now pretend an alien has just landed on Earth and you need to teach it this hobby or sport. Write at least ten tips on how you would teach this alien.
  • Use a random image generator and write a paragraph about the first picture you see.

random image generator

  • Write a letter to your favourite celebrity or character. What inspires you most about them? Can you think of a memorable moment where this person’s life affected yours? We have this helpful guide on writing a letter to your best friend for extra inspiration.
  • Write down at least 10 benefits of writing. This can help motivate you and beat writer’s block.
  • Complete this sentence in 10 different ways: Patrick waited for the school bus and…
  • Pick up a random book from your bookshelf and go to page 9. Find the ninth sentence on that page. Use this sentence as a story starter.
  • Create a character profile based on all the traits that you hate. It might help to list down all the traits first and then work on describing the character.
  • What is the scariest or most dangerous situation you have ever been in? Why was this situation scary? How did you cope at that moment?
  • Pretend that you’re a chat show host and you’re interviewing your favourite celebrity. Write down the script for this conversation.
  • Using extreme detail, write down what you have been doing for the past one hour today. Think about your thoughts, feelings and actions during this time.
  • Make a list of potential character names for your next story. You can use a fantasy name generator to help you.
  • Describe a futuristic setting. What do you think the world would look like in 100 years time?
  • Think about a recent argument you had with someone. Would you change anything about it? How would you resolve an argument in the future?
  • Describe a fantasy world. What kind of creatures live in this world? What is the climate like? What everyday challenges would a typical citizen of this world face? You can use this fantasy world name generator for inspiration.
  • At the flip of a switch, you turn into a dragon. What kind of dragon would you be? Describe your appearance, special abilities, likes and dislikes. You can use a dragon name generator to give yourself a cool dragon name.
  • Pick your favourite book or a famous story. Now change the point of view. For example, you could rewrite the fairytale , Cinderella. This time around, Prince Charming could be the main character. What do you think Prince Charming was doing, while Cinderella was cleaning the floors and getting ready for the ball?
  • Pick a random writing prompt and use it to write a short story. Check out this collection of over 300 writing prompts for kids to inspire you. 
  • Write a shopping list for a famous character in history. Imagine if you were Albert Einstein’s assistant, what kind of things would he shop for on a weekly basis?
  • Create a fake advertisement poster for a random object that is near you right now. Your goal is to convince the reader to buy this object from you.
  • What is the worst (or most annoying) sound that you can imagine? Describe this sound in great detail, so your reader can understand the pain you feel when hearing this sound.
  • What is your favourite song at the moment? Pick one line from this song and describe a moment in your life that relates to this line.
  •  You’re hosting an imaginary dinner party at your house. Create a list of people you would invite, and some party invites. Think about the theme of the dinner party, the food you will serve and entertainment for the evening. 
  • You are waiting to see your dentist in the waiting room. Write down every thought you are having at this moment in time. 
  • Make a list of your greatest fears. Try to think of at least three fears. Now write a short story about a character who is forced to confront one of these fears. 
  • Create a ‘Wanted’ poster for a famous villain of your choice. Think about the crimes they have committed, and the reward you will give for having them caught. 
  • Imagine you are a journalist for the ‘Imagine Forest Times’ newspaper. Your task is to get an exclusive interview with the most famous villain of all time. Pick a villain of your choice and interview them for your newspaper article. What questions would you ask them, and what would their responses be?
  •  In a school playground, you see the school bully hurting a new kid. Write three short stories, one from each perspective in this scenario (The bully, the witness and the kid getting bullied).
  • You just won $10 million dollars. What would you spend this money on?
  • Pick a random animal, and research at least five interesting facts about this animal. Write a short story centred around one of these interesting facts. 
  • Pick a global issue that you are passionate about. This could be climate change, black lives matters, women’s rights etc. Now create a campaign poster for this global issue. 
  • Write an acrostic poem about an object near you right now (or even your own name). You could use a poetry idea generator to inspire you.
  • Imagine you are the head chef of a 5-star restaurant. Recently the business has slowed down. Your task is to come up with a brand-new menu to excite customers. Watch this video prompt on YouTube to inspire you.
  • What is your favourite food of all time? Imagine if this piece of food was alive, what would it say to you?
  • If life was one big musical, what would you be singing about right now? Write the lyrics of your song. 
  • Create and describe the most ultimate villain of all time. What would their traits be? What would their past look like? Will they have any positive traits?
  • Complete this sentence in at least 10 different ways: Every time I look out of the window, I…
  • You have just made it into the local newspaper, but what for? Write down at least five potential newspaper headlines . Here’s an example, Local Boy Survives a Deadly Illness.
  • If you were a witch or a wizard, what would your specialist area be and why? You might want to use a Harry Potter name generator or a witch name generator for inspiration.
  • What is your favourite thing to do on a Saturday night? Write a short story centred around this activity. 
  • Your main character has just received the following items: A highlighter, a red cap, a teddy bear and a fork. What would your character do with these items? Can you write a story using these items? 
  • Create a timeline of your own life, from birth to this current moment. Think about the key events in your life, such as birthdays, graduations, weddings and so on. After you have done this, you can pick one key event from your life to write a story about. 
  • Think of a famous book or movie you like. Rewrite a scene from this book or movie, where the main character is an outsider. They watch the key events play out, but have no role in the story. What would their actions be? How would they react?
  • Three very different characters have just won the lottery. Write a script for each character, as they reveal the big news to their best friend.  
  • Write a day in the life story of three different characters. How does each character start their day? What do they do throughout the day? And how does their day end?
  •  Write about the worst experience in your life so far. Think about a time when you were most upset or angry and describe it. 
  • Imagine you’ve found a time machine in your house. What year would you travel to and why?
  • Describe your own superhero. Think about their appearance, special abilities and their superhero name. Will they have a secret identity? Who is their number one enemy?
  • What is your favourite country in the world? Research five fun facts about this country and use one to write a short story. 
  • Set yourself at least three writing goals. This could be a good way to motivate yourself to write every day. For example, one goal might be to write at least 150 words a day. 
  • Create a character description based on the one fact, three fiction rule. Think about one fact or truth about yourself. And then add in three fictional or fantasy elements. For example, your character could be the same age as you in real life, this is your one fact. And the three fictional elements could be they have the ability to fly, talk in over 100 different languages and have green skin. 
  • Describe the perfect person. What traits would they have? Think about their appearance, their interests and their dislikes. 
  • Keep a daily journal or diary. This is a great way to keep writing every day. There are lots of things you can write about in your journal, such as you can write about the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of your day. Think about anything that inspired you or anything that upset you, or just write anything that comes to mind at the moment. 
  • Write a book review or a movie review. If you’re lost for inspiration, just watch a random movie or read any book that you can find. Then write a critical review on it. Think about the best parts of the book/movie and the worst parts. How would you improve the book or movie?
  • Write down a conversation between yourself. You can imagine talking to your younger self or future self (i.e. in 10 years’ time). What would you tell them? Are there any lessons you learned or warnings you need to give? Maybe you could talk about what your life is like now and compare it to their life?
  • Try writing some quick flash fiction stories . Flash fiction is normally around 500 words long, so try to stay within this limit.
  • Write a six-word story about something that happened to you today or yesterday. A six-word story is basically an entire story told in just six words. Take for example: “Another football game ruined by me.” or “A dog’s painting sold for millions.” – Six-word stories are similar to writing newspaper headlines. The goal is to summarise your story in just six words. 
  • The most common monsters or creatures used in stories include vampires, werewolves , dragons, the bigfoot, sirens and the loch-ness monster. In a battle of intelligence, who do you think will win and why?
  • Think about an important event in your life that has happened so far, such as a birthday or the birth of a new sibling. Now using the 5 W’s and 1 H technique describe this event in great detail. The 5 W’s include: What, Who, Where, Why, When and the 1 H is: How. Ask yourself questions about the event, such as what exactly happened on that day? Who was there? Why was this event important? When and where did it happen? And finally, how did it make you feel?
  • Pretend to be someone else. Think about someone important in your life. Now put yourself into their shoes, and write a day in the life story about being them. What do you think they do on a daily basis? What situations would they encounter? How would they feel?
  • Complete this sentence in at least 10 different ways: I remember…
  • Write about your dream holiday. Where would you go? Who would you go with? And what kind of activities would you do?
  • Which one item in your house do you use the most? Is it the television, computer, mobile phone, the sofa or the microwave? Now write a story of how this item was invented. You might want to do some research online and use these ideas to build up your story. 
  • In exactly 100 words, describe your bedroom. Try not to go over or under this word limit.
  • Make a top ten list of your favourite animals. Based on this list create your own animal fact file, where you provide fun facts about each animal in your list.
  • What is your favourite scene from a book or a movie? Write down this scene. Now rewrite the scene in a different genre, such as horror, comedy, drama etc.
  •  Change the main character of a story you recently read into a villain. For example, you could take a popular fairytale such as Jack and the Beanstalk, but this time re-write the story to make Jack the villain of the tale.
  • Complete the following sentence in at least 10 different ways: Do you ever wonder…
  • What does your name mean? Research the meaning of your own name, or a name that interests you. Then use this as inspiration for your next story. For example, the name ‘Marty’ means “Servant Of Mars, God Of War”. This could make a good concept for a sci-fi story.
  • Make a list of three different types of heroes (or main characters) for potential future stories.
  • If someone gave you $10 dollars, what would you spend it on and why?
  • Describe the world’s most boring character in at least 100 words. 
  • What is the biggest problem in the world today, and how can you help fix this issue?
  • Create your own travel brochure for your hometown. Think about why tourists might want to visit your hometown. What is your town’s history? What kind of activities can you do? You could even research some interesting facts. 
  • Make a list of all your favourite moments or memories in your life. Now pick one to write a short story about.
  • Describe the scariest and ugliest monster you can imagine. You could even draw a picture of this monster with your description.
  • Write seven haikus, one for each colour of the rainbow. That’s red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. 
  • Imagine you are at the supermarket. Write down at least three funny scenarios that could happen to you at the supermarket. Use one for your next short story. 
  • Imagine your main character is at home staring at a photograph. Write the saddest scene possible. Your goal is to make your reader cry when reading this scene. 
  • What is happiness? In at least 150 words describe the feeling of happiness. You could use examples from your own life of when you felt happy.
  • Think of a recent nightmare you had and write down everything you can remember. Use this nightmare as inspiration for your next story.
  • Keep a dream journal. Every time you wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning you can quickly jot down things that you remember from your dreams. These notes can then be used as inspiration for a short story. 
  • Your main character is having a really bad day. Describe this bad day and the series of events they experience. What’s the worst thing that could happen to your character?
  • You find a box on your doorstep. You open this box and see the most amazing thing ever. Describe this amazing thing to your readers.
  • Make a list of at least five possible settings or locations for future stories. Remember to describe each setting in detail.
  • Think of something new you recently learned. Write this down. Now write a short story where your main character also learns the same thing.
  • Describe the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your whole life. Your goal is to amaze your readers with its beauty. 
  • Make a list of things that make you happy or cheer you up. Try to think of at least five ideas. Now imagine living in a world where all these things were banned or against the law. Use this as inspiration for your next story.
  • Would you rather be rich and alone or poor and very popular? Write a story based on the lives of these two characters. 
  • Imagine your main character is a Librarian. Write down at least three dark secrets they might have. Remember, the best secrets are always unexpected.
  • There’s a history behind everything. Describe the history of your house. How and when was your house built? Think about the land it was built on and the people that may have lived here long before you.
  • Imagine that you are the king or queen of a beautiful kingdom. Describe your kingdom in great detail. What kind of rules would you have? Would you be a kind ruler or an evil ruler of the kingdom?
  • Make a wish list of at least three objects you wish you owned right now. Now use these three items in your next story. At least one of them must be the main prop in the story.
  • Using nothing but the sense of taste, describe a nice Sunday afternoon at your house. Remember you can’t use your other senses (i.e see, hear, smell or touch) in this description. 
  • What’s the worst pain you felt in your life? Describe this pain in great detail, so your readers can also feel it.
  • If you were lost on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere, what three must-have things would you pack and why?
  • Particpate in online writing challenges or contests. Here at Imagine Forest, we offer daily writing challenges with a new prompt added every day to inspire you. Check out our challenges section in the menu.

Do you have any more fun creative writing exercises to share? Let us know in the comments below!

creative writing exercises

Marty the wizard is the master of Imagine Forest. When he's not reading a ton of books or writing some of his own tales, he loves to be surrounded by the magical creatures that live in Imagine Forest. While living in his tree house he has devoted his time to helping children around the world with their writing skills and creativity.

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Creative Writing Prompts

When the idea to start a weekly newsletter with writing inspiration first came to us, we decided that we wanted to do more than provide people with topics to write about. We wanted to try and help authors form a regular writing habit and also give them a place to proudly display their work. So we started the weekly Creative Writing Prompts newsletter. Since then, Prompts has grown to a community of more than 450,000 authors, complete with its own literary magazine, Prompted .  

Here's how our contest works: every Friday, we send out a newsletter containing five creative writing prompts. Each week, the story ideas center around a different theme. Authors then have one week — until the following Friday — to submit a short story based on one of our prompts. A winner is picked each week to win $250 and is highlighted on our Reedsy Prompts page.

Interested in participating in our short story contest? Sign up here for more information! Or you can check out our full Terms of Use and our FAQ page .

Why we love creative writing prompts

If you've ever sat in front of a computer or notebook and felt the urge to start creating worlds, characters, and storylines — all the while finding yourself unable to do so — then you've met the author's age-old foe: writer's block. There's nothing more frustrating than finding the time but not the words to be creative. Enter our directory! If you're ready to kick writer's block to the curb and finally get started on your short story or novel, these unique story ideas might just be your ticket.

This list of 1800+ creative writing prompts has been created by the Reedsy team to help you develop a rock-solid writing routine. As all aspiring authors know, this is the #1 challenge — and solution! — for reaching your literary goals. Feel free to filter through different genres, which include...

Dramatic — If you want to make people laugh and cry within the same story, this might be your genre.

Funny — Whether satire or slapstick, this is an opportunity to write with your funny bone.

Romance — One of the most popular commercial genres out there. Check out these story ideas out if you love writing about love.

Fantasy — The beauty of this genre is that the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

Dystopian – Explore the shadowy side of human nature and contemporary technology in dark speculative fiction.

Mystery — From whodunnits to cozy mysteries, it's time to bring out your inner detective.

Thriller and Suspense — There's nothing like a page-turner that elicits a gasp of surprise at the end.

High School — Encourage teens to let their imaginations run free.

Want to submit your own story ideas to help inspire fellow writers? Send them to us here.

After you find the perfect story idea

Finding inspiration is just one piece of the puzzle. Next, you need to refine your craft skills — and then display them to the world. We've worked hard to create resources that help you do just that! Check them out:

  • How to Write a Short Story That Gets Published — a free, ten-day course by Laura Mae Isaacman, a full-time editor who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn.
  • Best Literary Magazines of 2023 — a directory of 100+ reputable magazines that accept unsolicited submissions.
  • Writing Contests in 2023 — the finest contests of 2021 for fiction and non-fiction authors of short stories, poetry, essays, and more.

Beyond creative writing prompts: how to build a writing routine

While writing prompts are a great tactic to spark your creative sessions, a writer generally needs a couple more tools in their toolbelt when it comes to developing a rock-solid writing routine . To that end, here are a few more additional tips for incorporating your craft into your everyday life.

  • NNWT. Or, as book coach Kevin Johns calls it , “Non-Negotiable Writing Time.” This time should be scheduled into your routine, whether that’s once a day or once a week. Treat it as a serious commitment, and don’t schedule anything else during your NNWT unless it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Set word count goals. And make them realistic! Don’t start out with lofty goals you’re unlikely to achieve. Give some thought to how many words you think you can write a week, and start there. If you find you’re hitting your weekly or daily goals easily, keep upping the stakes as your craft time becomes more ingrained in your routine.
  • Talk to friends and family about the project you’re working on. Doing so means that those close to you are likely to check in about the status of your piece — which in turn keeps you more accountable.

Arm yourself against writer’s block. Writer’s block will inevitably come, no matter how much story ideas initially inspire you. So it’s best to be prepared with tips and tricks you can use to keep yourself on track before the block hits. You can find 20 solid tips here — including how to establish a relationship with your inner critic and apps that can help you defeat procrastination or lack of motivation.

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Write a Short Story: Practice 1

Introduction, section 1: introduction.

Say you are sitting in Mr. Thomas’s third period English class. It’s a Monday morning in early May, but it’s already 85 degrees outside—springtime in Texas. As you fish your notebook out of your desk, you hear your teacher’s voice from the front of the room. “All right, before we get started on our writing lesson, I need to remind you about the timed writing exercise scheduled for Friday.” You exchange shocked looks with your friend across the aisle. Swallowing hard, you blurt out, “What exercise? We don’t know about any exercise this week.” Turning to your friend for support, you begin saying, “You didn’t tell us . . .” Before you can finish, Mr. Thomas answers. “Now I know to some of you this might come as a bit of a shock,” he says. Looking in your direction, he continues. “This is not a surprise,” he says. “In fact, you might say we’ve been preparing for this writing exercise since the holiday break. Besides, this exercise is for practice. Maybe you can have some fun with it.” “Oh, that,” you say, relaxing a bit. “Now I remember. Short stories, right?” Mr. Thomas nods, smiling benevolently. “That’s right, Robert. Short stories, the things we’ve been reading, studying, and writing since the holidays. Now it’s time to try one on your own. You’ll need to remember everything we have talked about in terms of planning, organization, and writing. But that shouldn’t be a problem. You have all done so well on literary text reading and writing up to now that it’ll be as easy as taking a dip in Barton Springs and twice as satisfying!” You and your friend roll your eyes. “He always says something cheesy like that,” your friend says. You let out a heavy sigh. “Yeah, it makes you wonder if he’s ever been to the Springs!”

Although this story is presented as a piece of fiction (maybe you don’t have English class third period, and you don’t know a Mr. Thomas), what if it the part about having to write an in-class, timed short story was true? Would you be able to complete the task successfully?

If you’re unsure, you can relax because that’s what this lesson is about: how to write a short story within time and writing space limitations using proper organization, believable characters , an engaging plot , proper point of view , and a vivid setting . We will return to the scene above later in this lesson.

A Word about the Reading/Writing Connection

A photograph of a poster that reads: Read & Write. The words are part of an image of a person’s head with butterfly wings under it

You know that reading and writing are connected, and you probably know that you can analyze how authors achieve their purpose, and then use this knowledge to inform your own writing. This connection is one reason writers study literature: to appreciate and imitate it. The same is true when considering short story writing. How does this connection relate to the focus of this lesson?

Simply put, if you have studied the methods of successful writers, you will find it easier to write a short story within time and writing space limitations. Also, when you encounter a writing prompt for a short story, you will be able to access certain elements, methods, and techniques you have studied.

This lesson focuses specifically on how to create a work of fiction within a short period of time and limited writing space. Our consideration of various authors’ texts will be limited to how the authors use elements to achieve their purpose.

Short x 3 (short story, short space, short time)

A photograph of the tile page of the book, “The Oxford Book of English Short Stories.

The literary components of short stories include plot, characters, setting, point of view, and theme. For in depth study on these components you may want to review Writing an Engaging Short Story with Well-Developed Conflict and Resolution , Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters , and Writing an Engaging Story with Literary Strategies Including Dialogue and Suspense to Enhance Plot . This lesson is about how to integrate these elements into an engaging story on the spur of the moment.

Writing a short story is an act of creation. Even though you may take certain elements of your story from real life, you are, in fact, making it up as you go along. As you can imagine, this act of creation takes not only a solid understanding of the elements of a good short story, but also knowledge about how to plan, organize, and write it—all within time and writing space limitations. If this task seems daunting, rest easy; you may find that writing a short story under these circumstances is not only possible, but enjoyable. You only need to do a little preplanning, thinking, and feeling ahead of time.

As Mr. Thomas suggests in the opening scenario, writing a short story can be fun. Watch this video to see how writers in Peru turned writing a short story into a spectator sport.

Images used in this section: Source: Revere High School Visit, Massachusetts Education, Flickr Source: High School Science Bowl, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Flickr Source: Red Write, Imelda, Flickr Source: The Oxford Book of English Short Stories, dlacrose, Flickr

Before Writing—Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Brainstorm!

Section 2: before writing – brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm.

A photograph of large white pieces of paper divided into sections under headings with idea post-its stuck on them

Although literary texts vary widely, they also enjoy shared characteristics. This lesson will concentrate on three elements basic to all short stories: setting, character, and plot.

Keep in mind, though, that in addition to these three elements, a short story also needs other ingredients (normally considered part of the plot) such as the following:

  • rising action
  • falling action
  • a resolution

You have studied plot diagrams in previous lessons, as well as in your English classes at school. Using your knowledge of the way authors craft the plots of their stories, complete the following plot diagram by dragging each element into the appropriate box on the plot diagram below.

an icon for an interactive exercise

Some of your efforts toward a successfully negotiated, timed writing experience should occur before the writing exercise. This means you need to use the prewriting strategy of brainstorming . For example, you can brainstorm about the three major elements of a short story mentioned above: character, setting, and plot. When brainstorming for ideas, feelings, and thoughts, take the time to write about them.

The next three subsections offer several lists that can help you effectively brainstorm about the major elements of a short story before the actual writing exercise.

To prepare yourself for the writing exercise, brainstorm ahead of time about different settings you have experienced, heard about, seen in films, or read about in books (e.g., The Wizard of Oz, The Great Kapok Tree, or The Outsiders ). Write about how the settings look, feel, and smell. Think about how you felt or would feel if you were there. This will help you choose vivid words to describe the setting and make your writing realistic. Having a specific setting in mind will also invite your readers to feel as if they are right there with you.

A photograph of a leafless tree by a lake at sunset; there is a park bench next to the tree

Is the setting you’re thinking about

  • dark and gloomy?
  • bright and cheery?
  • contemporary or historical?
  • primarily indoors or outdoors?

Does the setting make you feel

  • happy and optimistic?
  • sad and defeated?
  • worried but hopeful?
  • thoughtful and energetic?

Jot down something about each of the settings you are conjuring up in your mind. Later in the lesson, you will have an opportunity to use a graphic organizer to develop your thoughts.

A photograph of a person’s hand sketching out a comic book style character

Think about people you know, have heard about, read about, or seen in a movie ( Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The X-Men: The Last Stand, The Diary of Anne Frank ). If you find people you think will help with the creation of your character, you can interview them or simply analyze them on your own to gather the personal attributes you wish to use for your own characters. Do you know or have you seen people who are

  • quirky, strange, or weird?
  • funny or maybe the class clown?
  • nerdy or extremely talented?
  • mean, judgmental, or unfair?
  • keeping a big secret?

Note:  You can use a T-Chart similar to the one in the lesson “Write a Literary Text That Develops Interesting Characters” to help you brainstorm about specific attributes for your characters. Remember that an author can develop her characters through action and dialogue. You will want to consider adding dialogue as a way to make your story come alive for your readers.

A photograph of a plaque on the ground that reads, Plot”

When you are brainstorming for plot ideas, think of stories that have left a lasting impression on you, such as events in your own life, in the lives of those close to you, in books, and in movies (e.g.,  The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Cinderella ). While you’re at it, don’t forget to consider story elements such as exposition, rising action, conflict, climax, and resolution. Here are a few common plots you might consider:

  • Character with a problem or goal
  • Character against nature
  • Lost and found
  • Good guys versus bad guys
  • Mystery gets solved
  • Boy meets girl

With all this information at your fingertips, you will be able to construct the basics of your short story. You may want to keep a notebook of your creative thoughts that contains short story ideas, or you can record everything in a graphic organizer.

Graphic Organizer Icon

Images used in this section: Source: Setting on Rondeau (Explored), John Ryan, Flickr Source: Character Design, Tom Hoyle, Flickr Source: Drain, "plot", Gwen Harlow, Flickr

Writing Prompts

Section 3: writing prompts.

A photograph of a student taking a written test

Writing prompts give you a chance to respond to a text or picture. The following are some sample prompts using texts:

  • His feet were already numb. He should have listened.
  • It was the first snowfall of the year.
  • He hadn’t seen her since the day they left high school.
  • The streets were deserted. Where was everyone? Where had they all gone?
  • He’d never noticed a door there before.

Sometimes, an image will be provided, and you will be asked to respond to it in a particular way. Look carefully at the image, and then relate your writing directly to what you see, including any feelings or memories that come to mind. Image prompts can be anything that could be in a picture: kids involved in a singing competition, an open window overlooking the sea, a boy playing basketball, or a picture of a big city landscape.

a collage of four photographs.  1st photograph: A photograph taken of a window that looks out onto the sea; 2nd photo: A photograph of the Houston, Texas downtown skyline; 3rd photo: A photograph of a youth Mariachi band in full mariachi uniform; 4th photo: A photograph of a young man shooting a basketball on an outdoor court

In any event, what you need to do is write. Avoid sitting for long periods of time staring at the blank page. Write whatever comes to mind and keep writing until something grabs your attention. Then, consult your graphic organizer for the elements that will help you tell your story.

Working with a plot prompt using an image

A photograph of a female student writing in a notebook

Let’s use an image to practice writing for a prompt that emphasizes plot. Remember that a good plot will include rising action, conflict, and a climax followed by the resolution to the conflict.

A short story generally involves a character with some sort of problem or situation that causes actions and events and involves another character or two. An event near the end brings the action to a head and produces either a resolution that solves the problem or a change in the character that implies a solution.

take notes icon

Sample response:

Bob was in a hurry. He got the call earlier that day and was now speeding toward Wolf Canyon to meet up with his brother. It was all over the news by now: big fire in Wolf Canyon, 0% contained. Bob slammed his old Jeep into high gear and jammed on the cruise control. Three hours later, he found himself way off course, hypnotized by the arrow-straight road, lost in worried thoughts for his mom’s safety. He dozed several times, catching himself just in time to avoid the rocky shoulders of Interstate 40. It was a lonely stretch of road, one that he and his mom had traveled a million times, stretching as it did from his place in Sedona to hers in the canyon. He was daydreaming about one of those trips, a particularly happy occasion when . . . CRASH! RRRRRRIIIPPPP! BANG!

Working with a setting prompt

A photograph of an isolated viewing place near the ocean, There are three people in the frame

Sometimes writing prompts provide one or more elements for you to consider. You may be asked to write a story in which the historical setting (past or future), the physical setting (a beach or tree house), or the social setting (sitting around a campfire or playing basketball) plays a major role.

Always keep in mind that what you are being asked to do is write a story, not an essay. This means it is not enough to organize your writing efficiently and clearly. You must tell a story that includes the necessary elements (i.e., setting, character, and plot). The following is an example of a prompt focused on setting:

Think of a place that is special to you and, perhaps, that no one else knows about. Write a story about the time you went there, only to find someone else there.

Remember, if you are writing a story in which the setting plays a major role, you will need to include vivid descriptions for your reader.

A painting of a street corner in early 20th century Russia; It shows small shop entrances and people walking in the streets.

Here is an excerpt from the short story “At the Barber” by Anton Chekhov.

The barber's shop is small, narrow, and unclean. The log walls are hung with paper suggestive of a cabman's faded shirt. Between the two dingy, perspiring windows there is a thin, creaking, rickety door, above it, green from the damp, a bell which trembles and gives a sickly ring of itself without provocation . . .

Let’s see how successful Chekhov is at describing the setting in his short story. After reading the passage carefully, answer the following questions.

  • The barber shop in the story is—
  • Which of the following most accurately describes the barber shop?

My uncle paused, drew a deep breath, and went on to describe the scene that day.

The ground was scorched, as if it had been bombed or something. Everywhere you looked, there was something charred as black as coal. The air was thick with a bluish haze. People had bandannas wrapped around their mouths and noses, making it seem like we were in a Western movie, except there were no cameras, no actors, and no crew. It was a terrible sight, the worst I’d ever seen, or so I thought. Turns out, I was wrong. Because just then, as we cleared a stand of burning pines, Bob and I saw it: my mom’s house—or what was left of it.

Working with a character prompt

A photograph of F. Scott Fitzgerald taken in the 1920s; he is wearing a suit and tie and is seated at a table with a pen in his hand and paper on the table.

Believable characters are indispensable to a good short story. Sometimes a prompt is geared directly toward a specific character or a particular character trait that a character might possess. You may be asked to write a story about a character who shows unusual courage, kindness, plainness, or even wickedness. Similar to writing with an emphasis on setting and plot, writing an imaginative story with a strong, believable character is easier if you think about people you know or have encountered before it’s time to sit down and write.

The excerpt below is from a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald titled “The Rich Boy.” It shows how an author can create a believable character through description. Notice how Fitzgerald hints at a possible conflict in the plot’s rising action.

At eighteen, when he went to New Haven, Anson was tall and thick-set, with a clear complexion and a healthy color from the ordered life he had led in school. His hair was yellow and grew in a funny way on his head, his nose was beaked—these two things kept him from being handsome—but he had a confident charm and a certain brusque style, and the upper-class men who passed him on the street knew without being told that he was a rich boy and had gone to one of the best schools. Nevertheless, his very superiority kept him from being a success in college . . .

A photograph of USA track and field star Lolo Jones

Everyone has his or her moment in the sun. Write a short story about a person who faces a challenge and finds the courage to persevere.

Uncle Robert had a problem. His mother owned a pet llama. She loved her llama more than any pet she’d ever known, and she’s a zookeeper, so that’s saying a lot. One day Robert got a phone call from his brother, Joe.

“Hello,” said Robert.

“Hello,” said Joe. “What are you doing right now? No, wait, whatever it is, stop it and get over here fast!”

“What’s wrong? Do you need help? Is the llama loose again?”

“No, the llama isn’t loose. Well, it might be. I don’t know. You gotta get over here! As fast as you can,” cried Joe.

“OK, OK,” said Uncle Robert. “I need to get dressed first.”

“No! There’s no time. Mom needs us. NOW! Jump in your Jeep and get over here, pronto! There’s a wildfire, and it’s closing in fast!”

Images used in this section: Source: Eraser, ccarlstead, Flickr Source: Window to the Sea, Grant potter, Flickr Source: Houston Skyline Reflected, joelwillis, Flickr Source: Frank Tellez, Flickr Source: Untitled, youdontknowanythingatall, Flickr Source: P1040500 Nabila, Chiew Pang, Flickr Source: UtahSignByPhilKonstantin, Phil Konstantin, Wikimedia Source: you be my witness how red were the skies, Martin Sharrman, Flickr Source: F Scott Fitzgerald 1921, The World’s Work, Wikimedia Source: LoloJones2008, KD Sanders, Wikipedia

Point of View

Section 4: point of view.

A close up photograph of a man’s eye

Writing a good short story involves planning and organization. For this reason, you may want to spend a few minutes thinking about how you want to tell your story in terms of perspective, or point of view. To help you think about point of view, let’s go back to the short scene in this lesson’s introduction. In particular, let’s look at the somewhat unusual point of view from which the scene is written: second-person singular.

As you probably know, a story written from this point of view uses the pronoun “you,” thereby giving the reader the feeling of being a character in the story. When choosing the point of view of your story, keep in mind that the plot generally centers on one character’s personal journey. First-person point of view will allow you to show the reader how the character thinks and feels without relying on the plot’s events to bring the character to life.

Watch this short video about point of view.

icon for an a video

Use your knowledge of point of view to answer the following question having to do with second-person narratives.

Which of the following statements best illustrates the reason the author chose the second-person point of view for the opening scene in this lesson? ( Note: Keep in mind the author’s purpose for writing this lesson and the audience who will read it.)

The author likely uses a second-person point of view because—

A Word about Conventions

A close up photograph of sentences written in a notebook

When writing in response to a prompt, one thing to keep in mind is how your point of view affects other English conventions such as verb tense and subject/verb agreement. In your writing, you need to observe these rules and other usage conventions (e.g., logical sentence connections, correct punctuation, and vivid word choice). This alone will go a long way in ensuring that your readers can easily follow the action in your story. Remember that adding believable dialogue, as in the opening scene in this lesson, is also a powerful tool that you can use to help make your characters come alive for your reader. Now let's turn our focus back to point of view.

Say you are sitting in Mr. Thomas’s third period English class. It’s a Monday morning in early May, but it’s already 85 degrees outside—springtime in Texas. As you fish your notebook out of your desk, you hear your teacher’s voice from the front of the room. “All right, before we get started on our writing lesson, I need to remind you about the timed writing exercise scheduled for Friday.” You exchange shocked looks with your friend across the aisle. Swallowing hard, you blurt out, “What exercise? We don’t know about any exercise this week.” Turning to your friend for support, you begin saying, “You didn’t tell us . . .” Before you can finish, Mr. Thomas answers. “Now I know to some of you this might come as a bit of a shock,” he says. Looking in your direction, he continues. “This is not a surprise,” he says. “In fact, you might say that in one way or another, we’ve been preparing for this writing exercise since the holiday break.” “Oh, that,” you say, relaxing a bit. “Now I remember. Short stories, right?” Mr. Thomas nods, smiling benevolently. “That’s right, Robert. Short stories, the things we’ve been reading, studying, and writing since the holidays. Now it’s time to try one on your own in one period and in a space of less than 30 lines. You’ll need to remember everything we have talked about in terms of planning, organization, and writing. But that shouldn’t be a problem. You have all done so well on literary text reading and writing up to now that it’ll be as easy as taking a dip in Barton Springs and twice as satisfying!” You and your friend roll your eyes. “He always says something cheesy like that,” your friend says. You let out a heavy sigh. “Yeah, it makes you wonder if he’s ever been to the Springs!”

Sample Response:

I am sitting in Mr. Thomas’s third period English class. It is Monday morning in early May, but it’s already 85 degrees outside—springtime in Texas. As I fish my notebook out of my desk, I hear my teacher’s voice from the front of the room.

“All right, before we get started on our writing lesson, I need to remind you about the timed writing exercise scheduled for Friday.”

I exchange shocked looks with my friend across the aisle. Swallowing hard, I blurt out, “What exercise? We don’t know about any exercise this week.” Turning to my friend for support, I begin saying, “You didn’t tell us . . .”

Before I can finish, Mr. Thomas answers. “Now I know to some of you this might come as a bit of a shock,” he says. Looking in my direction, he continues. “This is not a surprise,” he says. “In fact, you might say that in one way or another, we’ve been preparing for this writing exercise since the holiday break.”

“Oh, that,” I say, relaxing a bit. “Now I remember. Short stories, right?”

Mr. Thomas nods, smiling benevolently.

“That’s right, Robert. Short stories, the things we’ve been reading, studying, and writing for a while now. Now it’s time to try one on your own in one period and in a space of less than 30 lines. You’ll need to remember everything we have talked about in terms of planning, organization, and writing. But that shouldn’t be a problem. You have all done so well on literary text reading and writing up to now that it’ll be easy as taking a dip in Barton Springs and twice as satisfying!”

My friend and I roll my eyes.

“He always says something cheesy like that,” my friend says.

I let out a heavy sigh. “Yeah, it makes you wonder if he’s ever been to the Springs!”

Images used in this section: Source: Eye, Firas, Flickr Source: the written word, palo, Flickr

Quick Tips for Writing a Timed Response

Section 5: quick tips for writing a timed response.

A sign that reads “Good Advice”

There are some things you can do to help to write a successful short story, given time and writing space limitations.

Before writing

  • Read fiction written by your favorite authors.
  • Brainstorm character, setting, and plot ideas.
  • Practice writing for both written and image prompts.

During writing

  • Read and reflect on the prompt.
  • Refer to “before writing” brainstorming ideas.
  • Avoid using the wrong organizational patterns (e.g., don’t write a personal narrative).
  • Don’t wander off topic; make your plot flow logically.
  • Use vivid details, the appropriate point of view, and believable dialogue.
  • Follow English writing conventions.
Images used in this section: Source: good advice, jen collins, Flickr

Section 6: Resources

bladeusa09. “ third person point of view .” YouTube video, 1:07. Posted October 29, 2011. //youtu.be/cuk2-r2et6U.

Chekhov, Anton. “ At the Barber .” Project Gutenberg. September 9, 2004. //www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/13412/pg13412.html.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “ The Rich Boy .” Project Gutenberg, Australia. //gutenberg.net.au/fsf/THE-RICH-BOY.html.

University of Texas System/Texas Education Agency. Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills: English Language Arts and Reading . Austin, TX: 2009.

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50 Fantastic Creative Writing Exercises

writing stories practice

Good question.

Creative writing exercises are designed to teach a technique. They are highly specific, more specific than creative writing prompts, and much more specific than story generators.

Creative writing exercises for adults are not designed to lead the writer into crafting a full story, but are only designed to help them improve as a writer in a narrow, specific category of writing skills.

I’ve broken the exercises below into categories so you can choose what category of skill you’d like to practice. Can you guess which category in this list has the most prompts?

If you guessed characters, then you’re right. I think characters are the heart blood of every story, and that a majority of any writing prompts or writing exercises should focus on them.

But I also think any of these will help you create a narrative, and a plot, and help you generate all kinds of dialogue, whether for short stories or for novels. These writing exercises are pretty much guaranteed to improve your writing and eliminate writer’s block. 

Also, if you’re a fledgling writer who needs help writing their novel, check out my comprehensive guide to novel writing.

Enjoy the five categories of writing exercises below, and happy writing!

five senses

1. Think of the most deafening sound you can imagine. Describe it in great detail, and have your character hear it for the first time at the start of a story.

2. Have a man cooking for a woman on a third date, and have her describe the aromas in such loving and extended detail that she realizes that she’s in love with him.

3. Pick a line from one of your favorite songs, and identify the main emotion. Now write a character who is feeling that emotion and hears the song. Try to describe the type of music in such a beautiful way that you will make the reader yearn to hear the song as well.

4. Have a character dine at a blind restaurant, a restaurant in pitch blackness where all the servers are blind, and describe for a full paragraph how the tablecloth, their clothing, and the hand of their dining partner feels different in the darkness.

5. Select a dish representative of a national cuisine, and have a character describe it in such detail that the reader salivates and the personality of the character is revealed.

Dialogue exercises

7. Describe two characters having a wordless conversation, communicating only through gestures. Try to see how long you can keep the conversation going without any words spoken, but end it with one of them saying a single word, and the other one repeating the same word.

8. In a public place from the last vacation you took, have two characters arguing, but make it clear by the end of the argument that they’re not arguing about what they’re really upset about.

9. Write a scene composed mostly of dialogue with a child talking to a stranger. Your mission is to show the child as heartbreakingly cute. At the same time, avoid sentimentality. 

10. Have two character have a conversation with only a single word, creating emphasis and context so that the word communicates different things each time it is spoken. The prime example of this is in the television show “The Wire,” where Jimmy and Bunk investigate a crime scene repeating only a single expletive.

writing stories practice

11. Pick an object that is ugly, and create a character who finds it very beautiful. Have the character describe the object in a way that convinces the reader of its beauty. Now write a second version where you convince the reader (through describing the object alone) that the character is mentally unstable.

12. Write down five emotions on slips of paper and slip them into a hat. Now go outside and find a tree. Draw one emotion from the hat, and try to describe that tree from the perspective of a character feeling that emotion. (Don’t mention the emotion in your writing — try to describe the tree so the reader could guess the emotion).

13. Describe a character’s bedroom in such a way that it tells us about a person’s greatest fears and hopes.

14. Root through your desk drawer until you find a strange object, an object that would probably not be in other people’s drawers. Have a character who is devastated to find this object, and tell the story of why this object devastates them.

15. Go to an art-based Pinterest page and find your favorite piece of art. Now imagine a living room inspired by that flavor of artwork, and show the room after a husband and wife have had the worst fight of their marriage.

16. Pick a simple object like a vase, a broom, or a light bulb, and write a scene that makes the reader cry when they see the object.

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writing stories practice

17. Make a list of the top five fears in your life. Write a character who is forced to confront one of those fears.

18. Write an entire page describing the exact emotions when you learned of a happy or calamitous event in your life. Now try to condense that page into a single searing sentence.

19. Think about a time in your life when you felt shame. Now write a character in a similar situation, trying to make it even more shameful.

20. Write a paragraph with a character struggle with two conflicting emotions simultaneously. For example, a character who learns of his father’s death and feels both satisfaction and pain.

21. Write a paragraph where a character starts in one emotional register, and through a process of thought, completely evolves into a different emotion.

Characters:

writing stories practice

22. Create a minor character based upon someone you dislike. Now have your main character encounter them and feel sympathy and empathy for them despite their faults.

23. Have a kooky character tell a story inside a pre-established form: an instruction manual, traffic update, email exchange, weather report, text message.

24. Write about a character who does something they swore they would never do.

25. Have a character who has memorized something (the names of positions in the Kama Sutra, the entire book of Revelations) recite it while doing something completely at odds with what they’re reciting. For instance, bench pressing while reciting the emperors in a Chinese dynasty.

26. Write a paragraph where a character does a simple action, like turning on a light switch, and make the reader marvel at how strange and odd it truly is.

27. Have a couple fight while playing a board game. Have the fight be about something related to the board game: fighting about money, have them play monopoly. Fighting about politics, let them play chess.

28. Write about two characters angry at each other, but have both of them pretend the problems don’t exist. Instead, have them fight passive-aggressively, through small, snide comments.

29. Describe a character walking across an expanse field or lot and describe how he walks. The reader should perfectly understand his personality simply by the way you describe his walk.

30. Write a first-person POV of a character under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and try to make the prose as woozy and tipsy as the character.

31. Describe the first time that a character realizes he is not as smart as he thought.

32. Describe an hour in the life of a character who has recently lost their ability to do what they love most (a pianist who has severe arthritis; a runner who became a quadriplegic).

33. Write an argument where a husband or wife complains of a physical ailment, but their spouse refuses to believe it’s real.

34. Write a scene where a stranger stops your main character, saying that they know them, and insisting your main character is someone they are not. Describe exactly how this case of mistaken identity makes your character feel.

35. Describe a small personality trait about a person you love, and make the reader love them, too.

36. Write a personality-revealing scene with a character inside a public restroom. Do they press a thumb against the mirror to leave a subtle mark? Do they write a plea for help on the inside of the stall door? Do they brag about the size of what they’ve just dumped off?

37. Give your character an extremely unusual response to a national tragedy like a terrorist attack or natural disaster. Maybe have them be aware their response is unusual, and try to cloak it from others, or have them be completely unaware and display it without any self-consciousness.

38. Have one of your main characters come up with an idea for a comic book, and tell a close friend about the idea. What about this idea would surprise the friend, upsetting what he thought he knew about your main character? Also, what would the main character learn about himself from the comic book idea?

39. Think of an illness someone you love has suffered from. How does your character respond when someone close to them has this illness?

40. Have your main character invent an extremely offensive idea for a book, and show their personality faults through discussing it with others.

41. Have your character write down a list considering how to respond to their stalker.

42. Write a scene where a man hits on a woman, and although the woman acts repulsed and begs her friends to get him away from her, it becomes apparent that she likes the attention.

43. Write about a 20-something confronting his parents over their disapproval of his lifestyle.

44. Have your character write a funny to-do list about the steps to get a boyfriend or girlfriend.

45. Have a risk-adverse character stuck in a hostage situation with a risk-happy character.

46. For the next week, watch strangers carefully and take notes in your phone about any peculiar gestures or body language. Combine the three most interesting ones to describe a character as she goes grocery shopping.

47. Buy a package of the pills that expand into foam animals, and put a random one in a glass of warm water. Whatever it turns out to be, have that animal surprise your main character in a scene.

48. Have your character faced with a decision witness a rare, awe-inspiring event, and describe how it helps them make their decision.

49. Imagine if your character met for the first time his or her long-lost identical twin. What personality traits would they share and which ones would have changed because of their unique experiences? 

50. If a character got burned by a hot pan, what type of strange reaction would they have that would reveal what they value most?

Once you’ve taken a stab at some of these exercises, I’d recommend you use them in your actual writing.

And for instruction on that, you need a guide to writing your novel . 

That link will change your life and your novel. Click it now.

Creative Writing Exercises

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32 comments

John Fox, you have some excellent resources, and I thank you. I read your comments, then scrolled down to glance at the list of 50 exercises. The FIRST one, “loud noise’ is already in my head. My Hero is going to be side swiped in my Cozy. I was side swiped on a state highway here in Virginia a couple of weeks ago and, although the damage was minor, the sound of that big SUV “glancing” off my little car was SCARY!!! I once heard a fast-moving car REAR-END is stand-still car; that sound was something I’ll never forget. So, your exercise is very timely. THANK YOU!!!

This is a great list! Thanks!

You know what would be motivating? If we could turn these in to someone and get like a grade lol

I’ve been thinking a lot about “how to master writing,” and this is the first time that I found an article that makes it clear the difference between prompts and exercises. I fully agree with you. These are bound to make you a better writer if you focus on doing a variation of them daily.

An excellent list – thank you very much. I run a small writing group and we’ll be trying some.

Yes, thank you. I too run a small writing group and you got me out of a slump for tomorrow’s group!

yes,thank you . It’s good for improve your writing skills.

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What a lovely list! I am working on the final draft of my very first novel, and am constantly working at improving the final product. Your exercises are just what I need to kickstart my writing day. Thank you so very much.

Thank you very much When I turned50 I received my diploma from Children’s Institute in West Redding Ct I got my inspiration from being near water however now that I am in Oregon I have had a writing block thanks to your list my creative juices are flowing

I suppose I better have good punctuation, seeing this is about Writing. Thank you for this great list. I am the Chair of our small Writing group in Otorohanga and we start again last week of Feb. I have sent out a homework email, to write a A4 page of something exciting that has happened over the holiday break and they must read it out to the group with passion and excitement in their voices. That will get them out of their comfort zone!

A formidable yet inspiring list. Thank you very much for this. This is really very helpful. I am from India, and very new to writing and have started my first project, which I want to make it into a Novel. This has been very helpful and is very challenging too. Prompts look sissy when compared to this, frankly speaking. Thank you very much again.

Where can I get the answers for these?

There aren’t “answers.” You create responses to these exercises.

Thank you so much for the detailed suggestions focusing on HOW to put the WHAT into practice; really helpful & inspiring.

Just started rough drafting a story I’ve always wanted to write. Do you have any advice for someone writing their first real story? I’m having trouble starting it; I just want it to be perfect.

I consider this very helpful. Just started my journey as a creative writer, and will be coming back to this page to aid my daily writing goal.

I have always loved writing exercises and these are perfect practice for my competition. I have tried lots of different things that other websites have told me to try, but this by far is the most descriptive and helpful site that i have seen so far.

This is really a creative blog. An expert writer is an amateur who didn’t stop. I trust myself that a decent writer doesn’t actually should be advised anything but to keep at it. Keep it up!

I’ve always enjoyed writing from a little girl. Since I’ve been taking it a bit more seriously as does everybody else it seems; I’ve lost the fun and sponteneity. Until now…..this is a marvelous blog to get back the basic joy and freedom in writing. Or should that be of?:) These exercises are perfect to get the creative juices flowing again…..thank you:)

These are interesting exercises for writing.

These are fantastic! I started reading a really awesome book on creative writing but it just didn’t get any good or easy to follow exercises. So I found your site and having been having a lot of fun with these. Exactly what I was looking for, thank you!

creative and inspiring, thank you

I always wanted to have an exercise where a friend and I each wrote a random sentence and sent it to each other to write a short story from that beginning sentence, then exchange the stories for reading and/or critique. Maybe both writers start with the same sentence and see how different the stories turn out.

Thanks for these exercises. Some are really challenging. To truly tackle them I’m having to spend as long beforehand thinking “how the HECK am I going to do this?” as I do with ink on paper. Would be a great resource if other authors submitted their replies and thoughts about how they went about each exercise.

Start the conversation: submit one of yours.

I think I can use these to inspire my students.

Hi there. Thank you for posting this list- it’s great! Can I ask you to consider removing number 42 or perhaps changing it somewhat? I teach sex ed and every year am shocked by how many young people don’t understand issues around consent. Stories about woman who ‘say no but really mean yes’ are deeply unhelpful. Really appreciate your post but felt I had to ask. Thanks.

What’s wrong with the number 42?

It promulgates the belief that when a woman says no, she doesn’t mean it, potentially resulting in sexual assault.

I just make this list a part of my teaching in Creative Writing Classes. Very good list of ideas!

Thank you so much for posting this! I have used it to create a creative playwriting activity for my high school creative writing class–so much good stuff here for me to pick through and select for my kiddos that will allow them to shine and improve their knowledge of writing as a craft!

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English Writing Exercises for B2 – A story

English Writing Exercises for B2

Preparation

1. read the task and the story below. match time expressions a-f with gaps 1-4 in the text. there are two extra time expressions..

a   After a few more minutes

b   It all started one day last term

c   Looking back

d   On the day of the ceremony

e   The following year

f   Within two or three weeks

Write a story about an occasion when somebody started a rumour which caused problems.

A    1 …… when we heard that a special guest was going to speak to the school at the summer prize-giving ceremony. I don’t know who started the rumour, but people started to say that this guest was going to be the actor Matt Damon. Of course, this was very exciting news!

B    2 …… , nearly everybody in the school had heard the rumour. What is amazing is that nearly everybody thought it was true! People started to plan what they were going to do when they saw Matt Damon. Some wanted autographs; others wanted to take selfies. One student even set up a live stream on the internet!

C    3 …… , the atmosphere in the school was electric. As we waited in the school hall, we whispered excitedly. Then the doors opened and the head teacher walked in with the special guest: the local police commander. We were stunned – and extremely disappointed! We listened while he gave a speech, but when the head teacher asked for questions at the end, nobody said a word. The only question we had in our minds was: where’s Matt?

D    4 …… , I feel quite sorry for the police commander. He didn’t know that we were hoping for Matt Damon, but he probably sensed our disappointment. I still don’t know who started the rumour, but I sometimes wonder if they feel bad about it.

1 b   2 f   3 d   4 c

2. Answer the questions. Which paragraph (A-D) contains:

1   the main event in the story? ……..

2   speculation about how somebody felt? ……..

3   information about how it all started? ……..

4   information about different students’ plans? ……..

1 C   2 D   3 A   4 B

3. Rewrite the sentences so that they have a similar meaning. Start with the words in brackets.

1   I wanted to be honest with them. (What I wanted …)

     ………………………………………..

2   Her opinions hurt my feelings. (What hurt …)

3   The possibility of failing the exam worried her. (What worried her …)

4   We needed more time. (What we needed …)

5   I really wanted to take the exam again. (What I really …)

     ………………………………………..

1   What I wanted was to be honest with them.

2   What hurt my feelings were her opinions.

3   What worried her was the possibility of failing the exam.

4   What we needed was more time.

5   What I really wanted was to take the exam again.

Writing Guide

Writing Strategy

When you write a story:

–  you can choose to narrate the events in the first person (using /) or the third person (using he, she, it, they )

–  use paragraphs to show that events happened at different times.

–  include time expressions (e.g. a week later, soon afterwards ) to move the story forwards.

–  describe how people felt and reacted to the events.

Write a story about an occasion when somebody caused problems by cheating.

4. Read the Writing Strategy and the task above. Make notes below.

Paragraph 1: Set the scene. How did it begin?

………………………………………….

Paragraph 2: Lead-up to the main event.

Paragraph 3: The main event. How did people feel / react?

Paragraph 4: Ending / Looking back

your own answers

5. Write your story using your notes from exercise 4.

Related posts.

  • English Writing Exercises for B2 – A letter to a newspaper
  • English Writing Exercises for B2 – A report
  • English Writing Exercises for B2 – An article
  • English Writing Exercises for B2 – An opinion essay
  • English Writing Exercises for B2 – A letter of complaint
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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (for Elementary Levels A2)

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

By Lewis Carroll

Retold by Jennifer Bassett

Chapter one: Down the rabbit-hole

Chapter two: the pool of tears, chapter three: conversation with a caterpillar, chapter four: the cheshire cat, chapter five: a mad tea-party, chapter six: the queen’s game of croquet, chapter seven: who stole the tarts.

     Alice was beginning to get very bored. She and her sister were sitting under the trees. Her sister was reading, but Alice had nothing to do. Once or twice she looked into her sister’s book, but it had no pictures or conversations in it.

     ‘And what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’

     She tried to think of something to do, but it was a hot day and she felt very sleepy and stupid. She was still sitting and thinking when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran past her.

English Stories to improve English - Suddenly a White Rabbit ran past her

Suddenly a White Rabbit ran past her

      There was nothing really strange about seeing a rabbit.  And Alice was not very surprised when the Rabbit said, ‘Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!’ (Perhaps it was a little strange, Alice thought later, but at the time she was not surprised.)

     But then the Rabbit took a watch out of its pocket, looked at it, and hurried on. At once Alice jumped to her feet.

      ‘I’ve never before seen a rabbit with either a pocket, or a watch to take out of it,’ she thought. And she ran quickly across the field after the Rabbit. She did not stop to think, and when the Rabbit ran down a large rabbit-hole, Alice followed it immediately.

     After a little way the rabbit-hole suddenly went down, deep into the ground. Alice could not stop herself falling, and down she went, too.

     It was a very strange hole. Alice was falling very slowly, and she had time to think and to look around her. She could see nothing below her because it was so dark. But when she looked at the sides of the hole, she could see cupboards and books and pictures on the walls.  She had time to take things out of a cupboard, look at them, and then put them back in a cupboard lower down.

     ‘Well!’ thought Alice. ‘After a fall like this, I can fall anywhere! I can fall downstairs at home, and I won’t cry or say a word about it!’

      Down, down, down. ‘How far have I fallen now?’ Alice said aloud to herself. ‘Perhaps I’m near the centre of the earth. Let me think …  That’s four thousand miles down.’ (Alice was very good at her school lessons and could remember a lot of things like this.)

      Down, down, down. Would she ever stop falling? Alice was very nearly asleep when, suddenly, she was sitting on the ground.  Quickly, she jumped to her feet and looked around. She could see the White Rabbit, who was hurrying away and still talking to himself. ‘Oh my ears and whiskers!’ he was saying. ‘How late it’s getting!’

      Alice ran after him like the wind. She was getting very near him when he suddenly turned a corner. Alice ran round the corner too, and then stopped. She was now in a long, dark room with doors all round the walls, and she could not see the White Rabbit anywhere.

      She tried to open the doors, but they were all locked. ‘How will I ever get out again?’ she thought sadly. Then she saw a little glass table with three legs, and on the top of it was a very small gold key. Alice quickly took the key and tried it in all the doors, but oh dear! Either the locks were too big, or the key was too small, but she could not open any of the doors.

      Then she saw another door, a door that was only forty centimetres high. The little gold key unlocked this door easily, but of course Alice could not get through it – she was much too big. So she lay on the floor and looked through the open door, into a beautiful garden with green trees and bright flowers.

     Poor Alice was very unhappy. ‘What a wonderful garden!’ she said to herself. ‘I’d like to be out there – not in this dark room. Why can’t I get smaller?’  It was already a very strange day, and Alice was beginning to think that anything was possible.

     After a while she locked the door again, got up and went back to the glass table. She put the key down and then she saw a little bottle on the table (‘I’m sure it wasn’t here before,’ said Alice).  Round the neck of the bottle was a piece of paper with the words DRINK ME in large letters.

     But Alice was a careful girl.  ‘It can be dangerous to drink out of strange bottles,’ she said. ‘What will it do to me?’ She drank a little bit very slowly. The taste was very nice, like chocolate and oranges and hot sweet coffee, and very soon Alice finished the bottle.

‘What a strange feeling!’ said Alice.  ‘I think I’m getting smaller and smaller every second.’

      And she was. A few minutes later she was only twenty- five centimetres high. ‘And now,’ she said happily, ‘I can get through the little door into that beautiful garden.’

     She ran at once to the door. When she got there, she remembered that the little gold key was back on the glass table. She ran back to the table for it, but of course, she was now much too small! There was the key, high above her, on top of the table. She tried very hard to climb up the table leg, but she could not do it.

      At last, tired and unhappy, Alice sat down on the floor and cried. But after a while she spoke to herself angrily.

      ‘Come now,’ she said. ‘Stop crying at once. What’s the use of crying?’ She was a strange child, and often talked to herself like this.

      Soon she saw a little glass box near her on the floor. She opened it, and found a very small cake with the words EAT ME on it.

     Nothing could surprise Alice now. ‘Well, I’ll eat it,’ she said. ‘If I get taller, I can take the key off the table. And if I get smaller, I can get under the door. One way or another, I’ll get into the garden. So it doesn’t matter what happens!’

English Stories to improve English - Alice tried very hard to climb up the table leg

Alice tried very hard to climb up the table leg.

     She ate a bit of the cake, and then put her hand on top of her head.  ‘Which way?  Which way?’  she asked herself, a little afraid. Nothing happened.  This was not really surprising. People don’t usually get taller or shorter when they eat cake. But a lot of strange things were happening to Alice today. ‘It will be very boring,’ she said, ‘if nothing happens.’

      So she went on eating, and very soon the cake was finished.

       Curiouser and curiouser!’ said Alice. (She was very surprised, and for a minute she forgot how to speak good English.)

      ‘I shall be as tall as a house in a minute,’ she said. She tried to look down at her feet, and could only just see them. ‘Goodbye, feet!’ she called. ‘Who will put on your shoes now? Oh dear! What nonsense I’m talking!’

     Just then her head hit the ceiling of the room. She was now about three metres high. Quickly, she took the little gold key from the table and hurried to the garden door.

     Poor Alice!  She lay on the floor and looked into the garden with one eye.  She could not even put her head through the door.

    She began to cry again, and went on crying and crying. The tears ran down her face, and soon there was a large pool of water all around her on the floor. Suddenly she heard a voice, and she stopped crying to listen.

    ‘Oh, the Duchess, the Duchess! She’ll be so angry! I’m late, and she’s waiting for me. Oh dear, oh dear!’

    It was the White Rabbit again. He was hurrying down the long room, with some white gloves in one hand and a large fan in the other hand.

     Alice was afraid, but she needed help. She spoke in a quiet voice.  ‘Oh, please, sir—’

    The Rabbit jumped wildly, dropped the gloves and the fan, and hurried away as fast as he could.

     Alice picked up the fan and the gloves. The room was very hot, so she began to fan herself while she talked. ‘Oh dear! How strange everything is today! Did I change in the night? Am I a different person today?  But if I’m a different person, then the next question is — who am I? Ah, that’s the mystery.’

English Stories to improve English - The Rabbit jumped wildly, and dropped the gloves and the fan.

The Rabbit jumped wildly, and dropped the gloves and the fan.

     She began to feel very unhappy again, but then she looked down at her hand. She was wearing one of the Rabbit’s white gloves. ‘How did I get it on my hand?’ she thought.  ‘Oh, I’m getting smaller again!’ She looked round the room. ‘I’m already less than a metre high. And getting smaller every second! How can I stop it?’ She saw the fan in her other hand, and quickly dropped it.

      She was now very, very small — and the little garden door was locked again, and the little gold key was lying on the glass table.

     ‘Things are worse than ever,’ thought poor Alice. She turned away from the door, and fell into salt water, right up to her neck. At first she thought it was the sea, but then she saw it was the pool of tears. Her tears. Crying makes a lot of tears when you are three metres tall.

    ‘Oh, why did I cry so much?’  said Alice.  She swam around and looked for a way out, but the pool was very big. Just then she saw an animal in the water near her. It looked like a large animal to Alice, but it was only a mouse.

     ‘Shall I speak to it?’  thought Alice.  ‘Everything’s very strange down here, so perhaps a mouse can talk.’

     So she began: ‘Oh Mouse, do you know the way out of this pool? I am very tired of swimming, oh Mouse!’ (Alice did not know if this was the right way to speak to a mouse. But she wanted to be polite.)

      The mouse looked at her with its little eyes, but it said nothing.

     ‘Perhaps it doesn’t understand English,’ thought Alice. ‘Perhaps it’s a French mouse.’ So she began again, and said in French:  ‘Where is my cat?’  (This was the first sentence in her French lesson-book.)

English Stories to improve English - It looked like a large animal to Alice, but it was only a mouse.

It looked like a large animal to Alice, but it was only a mouse.

     The mouse jumped half out of the water and looked at her angrily.

    ‘Oh, I’m so sorry!’ cried Alice quickly. ‘Of course, you don’t like cats, do you?’

    ‘Like cats?’ cried the mouse in a high,  angry voice. ‘Does any mouse like cats?’

    ‘Well, perhaps not,’ Alice began kindly.

     But the mouse was now swimming quickly away, and soon Alice was alone again.  At last she found her way out of the pool and sat down on the ground. She felt very lonely and unhappy. But after a while the White Rabbit came past again, looking for his white gloves and his fan.

    ‘The Duchess! The Duchess! Oh my ears and whiskers! She’ll cut my head off, I know she will! Oh, where did I drop my gloves?’ Then he saw Alice. ‘Why, Mary Ann, what are you doing here? Run home at once, and bring me some gloves and a fan. Quick, now!’

     Alice hurried away. ‘But where is his house?’  she thought while she ran. Strangely, she was no longer in the long room with the little door, but outside in a wood. She ran and ran but could not see a house anywhere, so she sat down under a flower to rest.

   “Now,’ Alice said to herself. ‘First, I must get a little bigger, and second, I must find my way into that beautiful garden. I think that will be the best plan. But oh dear! How shall I get bigger? Perhaps I must eat or drink something, but the question is, what?’

     Alice looked all around her at the flowers and the trees, but she could not see anything to eat. Then she saw a large mushroom near her. It was as tall as she was. She walked across to look at it, and there, on top of the mushroom, was a large caterpillar, smoking a pipe. After a while, the Caterpillar took the pipe out of its mouth and said to Alice in a slow, sleepy voice, ‘Who are you?’

     ‘I don’t really know, sir,’ said Alice. ‘I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I have changed so often since then. I think I am a different person now.’

    ‘What do you mean by that?’ said the Caterpillar. ‘Explain yourself!’

    ‘I can’t explain myself, sir,’ said Alice, ‘because I’m not myself, you know.’

    ‘I don’t know,’ said the Caterpillar.

English Stories to improve English - 'Explain yourself!' said the Caterpillar.

‘Explain yourself!’ said the Caterpillar.

     ‘It’s difficult to describe,’ Alice replied politely.  ‘One minute I’m very small, the next minute I’m as tall as a house, then I’m small again. Usually, I stay the same all day, and changing so often feels very strange to me.’

      ‘You!’ said the Caterpillar, in a very unfriendly voice. ‘Who are you?’

      They were now back at the beginning of their conversation, which was not very helpful. Alice felt a little cross and decided to walk away.

      ‘Come back!’  the Caterpillar called after her. ‘I’ve something important to say.’

      This sounded better, so Alice turned back.

     ‘Never get angry,’ said the Caterpillar.

      ‘Is that all?’ said Alice, trying not to be angry.

     ‘No,’ said the Caterpillar. For some minutes it smoked its pipe and did not speak, but at last it took the pipe out of its mouth, and said, ‘So you’ve changed, have you? How tall do you want to be?’

     ‘I would like to be a little larger, sir, please,’ said Alice. ‘Eight centimetres is really very small.’

     For a while the Caterpillar smoked its pipe. Then it shook itself, got down off the mushroom, and moved slowly away into the grass. It did not look back at Alice, but said, ‘One side will make you taller, and the other side will make you shorter.’

     ‘One side of what?’ thought Alice to herself.

     She did not say this aloud, but the Caterpillar said, ‘Of the mushroom.’ Then it moved away into the wood.

     Alice looked at the mushroom carefully, but it was round, and did not have sides. At last she broke off a piece in each hand from opposite sides of the mushroom. She ate some of the piece in her left hand, and waited to see what would happen.

     A minute later her head was as high as the tallest tree in the wood, and she was looking at a sea of green leaves. Then a bird appeared and began to fly around her head, screaming, ‘Egg thief!  Egg thief! Go away!’

    ‘I’m not an egg thief,’ said Alice.

    ‘Oh no?’ said the bird angrily. ‘But you eat eggs, don’t you?’

    ‘Well, yes, I do, but I don’t steal them,’ explained Alice quickly. ‘We have them for breakfast, you know.’

     ‘Then how do you get them, if you don’t steal them?’ screamed the bird.

      This was a difficult question to answer, so Alice brought up her right hand through the leaves and ate a little from the other piece of mushroom. She began to get smaller at once and, very carefully, she ate first from one hand, then from the other, until she was about twenty- five centimetres high.

     ‘That’s better,’ she said to herself. ‘And now I must find that garden.’ She began to walk through the wood, and after a while she came to a little house.

     There was a boy outside the door, with a large letter in his hand. (He was dressed like a boy, but his face was very like a fish, Alice thought.) The Fish-Boy knocked at the door, and a second later a large plate came flying out of an open window.

      ‘A letter for the Duchess,’ the Fish-Boy shouted. He pushed the letter under the door and went away.

     Alice went up to the door and knocked, but there was a lot of noise inside and nobody answered. So she opened the door and walked in.

English Stories to improve English - 'A letter for the Duchess,' the Fish-Boy shouted

‘A letter for the Duchess,’ the Fish-Boy shouted

      She found herself in a kitchen, which was full of smoke. There was a very angry cook by the fire, and in the middle of the room sat the Duchess, holding a screaming baby. Every few minutes a plate crashed to the floor. There was also a large cat, which was sitting on a chair and grinning from ear to ear.

     ‘Please,’ Alice said politely to the Duchess, ‘why does your cat grin like that?’

     ‘It’s a Cheshire Cat,’ said the Duchess. ‘That’s why.’

     ‘I didn’t know that cats could grin,’ said Alice.

     ‘Well, you don’t know much,’ said the Duchess. Another plate crashed to the floor and Alice jumped. ‘Here!’ the Duchess went on. ‘You can hold the baby for a bit, if you like. The Queen has invited me to play croquet, and I must go and get ready.’ She pushed the baby into Alice’s arms and hurried out of the room.

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There was a large cat, which was grinning from ear to ear.

     ‘Oh, the poor little thing!’ said Alice, looking at the baby, which had a very strange face. She took it outside into the wood and walked around under the trees. Then the baby began to make strange noises, and Alice looked into its face again. Its eyes were really very small for a baby, and its nose now looked very like the nose of a pig.

      ‘Don’t make noises like that, my dear,’ said Alice. ‘It’s not polite. You’re beginning to sound like a pig.’

    But a few minutes later, there was no mistake. It was a pig.  Alice put it carefully on the ground, and it ran quietly away on its four legs into the wood.

    ‘I’m pleased about that,’ Alice said to herself. ‘It will be a good-looking pig, but it would be terrible to be a child with a face like that.’

     She was thinking about pigs and children when she suddenly saw the Cheshire Cat in a tree. The Cat grinned at her, and she went nearer to it.

    ‘Please,’ she said, ‘can you tell me which way to go from here?’

      ‘But where do you want to get to?’ said the Cat.

      ‘It doesn’t really matter—’ began Alice.

      ‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

      ‘But I would like to get somewhere,’ Alice explained.

      ‘If you just go on walking,’ said the Cat, ‘in the end you’ll arrive somewhere.’

     That was true, thought Alice, but not very helpful, so she tried another question.  ‘What kind of people live near here?’

     ‘To the left,’ the Cat said, ‘lives a Hatter. And to the right, lives a March Hare. You can visit either of them. They’re both mad.’

     ‘But I don’t want to visit mad people,’ said Alice.

     ‘We’re all mad here, you know,’ said the Cat. ‘I’m mad. You’re mad.’

     ‘How do you know that I’m mad?’ said Alice.

     ‘Of course you’re mad,’ said the Cat.  ‘Only mad people come here.’

     Alice was thinking about this, but the Cat went on, ‘Are you playing croquet with the Queen today?’

    ‘I would like to very much,’ said Alice, ‘but nobody has invited me yet.’

    ‘You’ll see me there,’ said the Cat, and vanished.

     Alice was not really surprised at this, because so many strange things were happening today. She was still looking at the tree when, suddenly, the Cat appeared again.

     ‘I forgot to ask,’ said the Cat. ‘What happened to the baby?’

     ‘It turned into a pig,’ Alice said.

     ‘I’m not surprised,’ said the Cat, and vanished again.

     Alice began to walk on, and decided to visit the March Hare. ‘It’s the month of May now,’ she said to herself, ‘so perhaps the Hare won’t be as mad as he was in March.’

    Suddenly, there was the Cheshire Cat again, sitting in another tree. Alice jumped in surprise.

    ‘Do you think,’ she said politely, ‘that you could come and go more slowly?’

    ‘All right,’ said the Cat. And this time it vanished very slowly. First its tail went, then its body, then its head, and last, the grin.

      ‘Well!  I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,’ thought Alice, ‘but never a grin without a cat!’

     Soon she saw the house of the March Hare in front of her.  It was a large house, so she ate a little piece of mushroom to get bigger, and walked on.

This time the Cat vanished very slowly.

      There was a table under a tree outside the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea. A Dormouse was sitting between them, asleep. The three of them were all sitting together at one corner of the table, but the table was large and there were many other seats. Alice sat down in a big chair at one end.

     ‘Have some coffee,’ the March Hare said in a friendly voice.

     Alice looked all round the table, but she could only see a teapot. ‘I don’t see any coffee,’ she said.

    ‘There isn’t any,’ said the March Hare.

     ‘Then why did you ask me to have some?’ said Alice crossly. ‘It wasn’t very polite of you.’

     ‘It wasn’t very polite of you to sit down. We haven’t invited you to tea,’ said the March Hare.

    ‘But there are lots of seats,’ said Alice.

    ‘Your hair’s too long,’ said the Hatter, looking at Alice with interest.

    ‘It’s not polite to say things like that,’ said Alice.

    The Hatter looked surprised, but he said, ‘Why is a bird like a desk?’

    Alice was pleased.  She enjoyed playing wordgames, so she said, ‘That’s an easy question.’

    ‘Do you mean you know the answer?’ said the March Hare.

    ‘Yes,’ said Alice.

    ‘Then you must say what you mean,’ the March Hare said.

    ‘I do,’ Alice said quickly. ‘Well, I mean what I say. And that’s the same thing, you know.’

    ‘No, it isn’t!’ said the Hatter. ‘Listen to this. I see what I eat means one thing, but I eat what I see means something very different.’

    Alice did not know what to say to this. So she took some tea and some bread-and-butter while she thought about it. The Dormouse woke up for a minute and then went to sleep again. After a while the Hatter took out his watch, shook it, then looked at it sadly.

    ‘Two days slow! I told you that butter wasn’t good for watches!’ he said angrily to the March Hare.

    ‘It was the best butter,’ said the March Hare sadly.

    Alice was looking at the watch with interest.  ‘It’s a strange watch,’ she said. ‘It shows the day of the week, but not the time.’

    ‘But we know the time,’ said the Hatter. ‘It’s always six o’clock here.’

    Alice suddenly understood. ‘Is that why there are all these cups and plates?’  she said.  ‘It’s always tea-time here, and you go on moving round the table.  Is that right? But what happens when you come to the beginning again?’

    ‘Don’t ask questions,’ said the March Hare crossly. ‘You must tell us a story now.’

    ‘But I don’t know any stories,’ said Alice.

    Then the March Hare and the Hatter turned to the Dormouse. ‘Wake up, Dormouse!’ they shouted loudly in its ears. ‘Tell us a story.’

    ‘Yes, please do,’ said Alice.

     The Dormouse woke up and quickly began to tell a story, but a few minutes later it was asleep again. The March Hare poured a little hot tea on its nose, and the Hatter began to look for a clean plate. Alice decided to leave and walked away into the wood. She looked back once, and the March Hare and the Hatter were trying to put the Dormouse into the teapot.

The March Hare poured a little hot tea on the Dormouse’s nose.

    ‘Well, I won’t go there again,’ said Alice.  ‘What a stupid tea-party it was!’ Just then she saw a door in one of the trees. ‘How curious!’ she thought. ‘But everything is strange today. I think I’ll go in.’

    So she went in. And there she was, back in the long room with the little glass table. At once, she picked up the gold key from the table, unlocked the little door into the garden, and then began to eat a piece of mushroom. When she was down to about thirty centimetres high, she walked through the door, and then, at last, she was in the beautiful garden with its green trees and bright flowers.

    Near the door there was a rose-tree and three gardeners, who were looking at the roses in a very worried way.

     ‘What’s the matter?’ Alice said to them.

    ‘You see, Miss,’ said the first gardener, ‘these roses are white, but the Queen only likes red roses, and she—’

    ‘The Queen!’ said the second gardener suddenly, and at once, the three gardeners lay down flat on their faces. Alice turned round and saw a great crowd of people.

     It was a pack of cards, walking through the garden. There were clubs (they were soldiers), and diamonds, and ten little children (they were hearts).  Next came some Kings and Queens. Then Alice saw the White Rabbit, and behind him, the Knave of Hearts. And last of all, came THE KING AND QUEEN OF HEARTS.

    When the crowd came near to Alice, they all stopped and looked at her, and the Queen said, ‘Who are you?’

    ‘My name is Alice, Your Majesty,’ said Alice very politely. But she thought to herself, ‘They’re only a pack of cards. I don’t need to be afraid of them!’

    ‘And who are these? said the Queen, looking at the three gardeners. Then she saw the white roses, and her face turned red and angry. ‘Off with their heads!’  she shouted, and soldiers hurried up to take the gardeners away. The Queen turned to Alice. ‘Can you play croquet?’ she shouted.

    ‘Yes!’ shouted Alice.

     ‘Come on, then!’ shouted the Queen. The crowd began to move on, and Alice went with them.

    ‘It’s — it’s a very fine day,’ said a worried voice in her ear. Alice saw that the White Rabbit was by her side.

    ‘Very fine,’ said Alice. ‘Where’s the Duchess?’

     ‘Shhh!’  said the Rabbit in a hurried voice.  ‘She’s in prison, waiting for execution.’

     ‘What for?’ said Alice.

    But just then the Queen shouted, ‘Get to your places!’ and the game began.

    It was the strangest game of croquet in Alice’s life! The balls were hedgehogs, and the mallets were flamingoes. And the hoops were made by soldiers, who turned over and stood on their hands and feet.  Alice held her flamingo’s body under her arm, but the flamingo turned its long neck first this way and then that way. At last, Alice was ready to hit the ball with the flamingo’s head. But by then, the hedgehog was tired of waiting and was walking away across the croquet-ground.  And when both the flamingo and the hedgehog were ready, there was no hoop! The soldiers too were always getting up and walking away.  It really was a very difficult game, Alice thought.

     The players all played at the same time, and they were always arguing and fighting for hedgehogs. Nobody could agree about anything. Very soon, the Queen was wildly angry, and went around shouting ‘Off with his head!’ or ‘Off with her head!’ about once a minute.

    Alice began to feel worried. ‘The Queen is sure to argue with me soon,’ she thought.  ‘And what will happen to me then? They’re cutting people’s heads off all the time here. I’m surprised there is anyone left alive!’

     Just then she saw something very strange. She watched carefully, and after a minute or two she saw that the thing was a grin. ‘It’s the Cheshire Cat,’ she said to herself.  ‘Now I’ll have somebody to talk to.’   

The balls were hedgehogs, and the mallets were flamingoes

    ‘How are you getting on?’ said the Cat, when its mouth appeared.

    Alice waited. ‘I can’t talk to something without ears,’ she thought. Slowly the Cat’s eyes, then its ears, and then the rest of its head appeared. But it stopped at the neck, and its body did not appear.

    Alice began to tell the Cat all about the game. ‘It’s very difficult to play,’ she said.  ‘Everybody argues all the time, and the hoops and the hedgehogs walk away.’

    ‘How do you like the Queen?’ said the Cat quietly.

     ‘I don’t,’ said Alice. ‘She’s very—’ Just then she saw the Queen behind her, so she went on, ‘—clever. She’s the best player here.’

    The Queen smiled and walked past.

    ‘Who are you talking to?’ said the King. He came up behind Alice and looked at the Cat’s head in surprise.

      ‘It’s a friend of mine — a Cheshire Cat,’ said Alice.

      ‘I’m not sure that I like it,’ said the King.  ‘But it can touch my hand if it likes.’

     ‘I prefer not to,’ said the Cat.

    ‘Well!’  said the King angrily.  He called out to the Queen, ‘My dear! There’s a cat here, and I don’t like it.’

     The Queen did not look round. ‘Off with its head!’ she shouted. ‘Call for the executioner!’

      Alice was a little worried for her friend, but when the executioner arrived, everybody began to argue.

     ‘I can’t cut off a head,’ said the executioner, ‘if there isn’t a body to cut it off from.’

      ‘You can cut the head off,’ said the King, ‘from anything that’s got a head.’

     ‘If somebody doesn’t do something quickly,’ said the Queen, ‘I’ll cut everybody’s head off.’

      Nobody liked that plan very much, so they all turned to Alice. ‘And what do you say?’ they cried.

     ‘The Cat belongs to the Duchess,’ said Alice carefully. ‘Perhaps you could ask her about it.’

    ‘She’s in prison,’ the Queen said to the executioner. ‘Bring her here at once.’

     But then the Cat’s head slowly began to vanish, and when the executioner came back with the Duchess, there was nothing there. The King ran wildly up and down, looking for the Cat, and the Duchess put her arm round Alice. ‘I’m so pleased to see you again, my dear!’ she said.

     ‘Let’s get on with the game,’ the Queen said angrily, and Alice followed her back to the croquet-ground.

    The game went on, but all the time the Queen was arguing, and shouting ‘Off with his head!’ or ‘Off with her head!’  Soon there were no hoops left, because the soldiers (who were the hoops) were too busy taking everybody to prison.  And at the end there were only three players left — the King, the Queen, and Alice.

     The Queen stopped shouting and said to Alice, ‘Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?’

    ‘No,’ said Alice. ‘I’m not sure what a Mock Turtle is.’

    ‘Then come with me,’ said the Queen.

    They found the Mock Turtle down by the sea. Next to him was a Gryphon, asleep in the sun. Then the Queen hurried away, saying, ‘I have to get on with some executions.’

    The Gryphon woke up, and said sleepily to Alice, ‘It’s just talk, you know. They never execute anybody.’

    Alice was pleased to hear this. She felt a little afraid of the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle, because they were so large. But they were very friendly, and sang songs and told her many stories about their lives. The Mock Turtle was in the middle of a very sad song when they all heard a shout a long way away: ‘It’s beginning!’ ‘Come on! We must hurry!’ cried the Gryphon. It took Alice by the hand and began to run.

The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon were very friendly.

      The King and Queen of Hearts were sitting on their thrones when Alice and the Gryphon arrived. There was a great crowd of birds and animals, and all the pack of cards.

    Soldiers stood all around the Knave of Hearts, and near the King was the White Rabbit, with a trumpet in one hand.

    In the middle of the room there was a table, with a large plate of tarts on it. ‘They look good,’ thought Alice, who was feeling a little hungry.

     Then the White Rabbit called out loudly, ‘Silence! The trial of the Knave of Hearts will now begin!’ He took out a long piece of paper, and read:

The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts,

All on a summer day.

The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts,

And took them all away.

        ‘Very good,’ said the King. ‘Call the first witness.’

    Alice looked at the jury, who were now writing everything down. It was a very strange jury. Some of the jurymen were animals, and the others were birds.

     Then the White Rabbit blew his trumpet three times, and called out, ‘First witness!’

    The first witness was the Hatter.  He came in with a teacup in one hand and a piece of bread-and-butter in the other hand.  ‘I’m very sorry, Your Majesty,’ he said.  ‘I was in the middle of tea when the trial began.’

     ‘Take off your hat,’ the King said.

     ‘It isn’t mine,’ said the Hatter.

    ‘Stolen! Write that down,’ the King said to the jury.

     ‘I keep hats to sell,’ explained the Hatter. ‘I don’t have a hat myself. I’m a Hatter.’

     ‘Give your evidence,’ said the King, ‘or we’ll cut your head off.’

    The Hatter’s face turned white. ‘I’m a poor man, Your Majesty,’ he began, in a shaking voice.

     Just then Alice had a strange feeling. After a minute or two she understood what it was.

    ‘Don’t push like that,’ said the Dormouse, who was sitting next to her. ‘I’m nearly falling off my seat.’

     ‘I’m very sorry,’ Alice said politely. ‘I’m getting bigger and taller, you see.’

     ‘Well, you can’t do that here,’ said the Dormouse crossly, and he got up and moved to another seat.

    The Hatter was still giving evidence, but nobody could understand a word of it. The King looked at the Queen, and the Queen looked at the executioner.

     The unhappy Hatter saw this, and dropped his bread- and-butter.  ‘I’m a poor man, Your Majesty,’ he said again.

    ‘You’re a very poor speaker,’ said the King. He turned to the White Rabbit. ‘Call the next witness,’ he said.

    The next witness was the Duchess’s cook, who spoke very angrily and said  that  she  would  not  give  any evidence. The King looked worried and told the White Rabbit to call another witness. Alice watched while the White Rabbit looked at the names on his piece of paper. Then, to her great surprise, he called out loudly, ‘Alice!’ ‘Here!’ cried Alice, jumping to her feet.

     ‘Here!’ cried Alice, jumping to her feet.

     ‘What do you know about these tarts?’ said the King.

     ‘Nothing,’ said Alice.

     The Queen was looking hard at Alice. Now she said,

     ‘All people a mile high must leave the room.’

     ‘I’m not a mile high,’ said Alice. ‘And I won’t leave the room. I want to hear the evidence.’

    ‘There is no more evidence,’ said the King very quickly, ‘and now the jury will—’

     ‘Your Majesty!’ said the White Rabbit, jumping up in a great hurry.  ‘We’ve just found this letter. There’s no name on it, but I think the Knave wrote it.’

    ‘No, I didn’t!’ said the Knave loudly.

    ‘Read it to us,’ said the King.

    ‘Where shall I begin, Your Majesty?’ asked the Rabbit.

    ‘Begin at the beginning,’ said the King, ‘and go on until you get to the end, then stop.’

    Everybody listened very carefully while the White Rabbit read these words.

They tell me you have been to her,

And talked of me to him.

She thought I was a gardener,

But said I could not swim.

He tells them that I have not gone,

(We know that this is true).

If she decide to hurry on,

What will they do to you?

I gave her one, they gave him two,

You gave us three or more.

They all returned from him to you,

But they were mine before.

   ‘That’s a very important piece of evidence,’ said the King. He looked very pleased. ‘Now the jury must—’

     ‘If anybody in the jury can explain that letter,’ said Alice (she was not afraid of anything now, because she was much bigger than everybody in the room), ‘I’ll give him sixpence. It’s all nonsense! It doesn’t mean anything.’

    The jury busily wrote this down.  ‘She thinks it’s all nonsense.’

     ‘All nonsense, eh?’ said the King. He read some of the words again. ‘But said I could not swim. You can’t swim, can you?’ he said to the Knave.

    The Knave’s face was sad. ‘Do I look like a swimmer?’ he said. (And he didn’t — because he was made of paper.)

     The King smiled. ‘I understand everything now,’ he said. ‘There are the tarts, and here is the Knave of Hearts. And now the jury must decide who the thief is.’

    ‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Off with his head! The jury can say what it thinks later.’

    ‘What nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. ‘The jury must decide first. You can’t—’

    ‘Be quiet!’ said the Queen, her face turning red.

    ‘I won’t!’ said Alice.

    ‘Off with her head!’  screamed the Queen.  Nobody moved.

    ‘It doesn’t matter what you say,’ said Alice.  ‘You’re only a pack of cards!’

    Then the pack of cards flew up into the sky and began to fall on Alice’s face. She gave a little scream . . . and woke up. She was lying next to her sister under the trees, and some leaves were falling on her face.

    ‘Wake up, Alice dear,’ said her sister.  ‘You’ve been asleep a long time.’

    ‘Oh, I’ve had a very curious dream!’  said Alice, and she told her sister all about the strange adventures in her wonderful dream.   

Powerful Tips To Lift Your Writing To the Next Level

Posted: September 23, 2023 | Last updated: September 23, 2023

<p><span>Most of us aren’t lucky enough to land <a href="https://partnersinfire.com/lifestyle/dream-job/" rel="noopener">dream jobs</a> or work in industries that align with our passions. Instead, we take jobs we don’t like and, if lucky, have a little free time to do what we love. </span></p><p><span>While scrolling through my favorite Reddit community, R/Askreddit, I stumbled upon a question seeking to discover why more people don’t follow their dreams. </span></p><p><span>The answers, though unsurprising, showcase some of the problems inherent in our current system. </span></p>

Everyone wants to write the next great American novel until they sit down and discover that writing is hard!

It takes a particular skill and mindset to craft an intriguing story and write in a way others will appreciate. On the plus side, it’s a skill anyone can learn. While scrolling through a fantastic writing community on Reddit, I found a great question asking writing enthusiasts to share the best advice they ever received on how to improve their writing. 

Use some of this advice to practice your craft and become a better writer. 

writing stories practice

Write Often

They say practice makes perfect, and the same is true for writing. The more you write, the better you will become. 

“ Get in the habit of writing as often as you can,” shared one user, adding, “you’ll get nothing done if you wait to be inspired.”

<p>Need more help being productive? <a href="https://partnersinfire.com/lifestyle/books-for-productivity/">Here are 11 of the top books on productivity to help you get more done</a>. </p>

To be a great author, you should learn from the greats (and not so greats.) Devour as many books as possible to taste different genres , writing styles, and techniques. Discover through reading what works and what doesn’t. 

“I got into a big writer’s block with all options and ideas. Reading really dug me out; I understood what I liked, what I didn’t, reminded me why I wanted to write,” admitted one commenter. 

<p><span>Holidays are ideal for learning about our history and culture. Take the opportunity to teach your kids about the pilgrims, natives, and the true story of Thanksgiving.</span></p><p><span>Don’t neglect the negatives as they do in school. Showing the whole story, warts and all, will help your kids understand the mistakes of the past and help them build a better future.</span></p>

Write What You Want to Read

“When I first started in writing, I took any gig I could to make ends meet, and rarely was I writing about something that interested me, and my god, could you tell,” explained one user. 

Although you have to do what you have to do to make ends meet, the best stories will be the ones you’re excited about writing. 

<p><span>Someone volunteered, “My faith in humanity.” Another agreed, “So true. Before, you just had a heavy suspicion that fools surrounded you. Now, you have the depressing certainty. It sucks.” </span></p><p><span>A third confessed, “Some dark corners of the internet make me really hate people. And I’d like to know if the internet ruined people or enabled us to see how terrible people are.”</span></p>

Don’t Judge Your First Draft

First drafts are drafts for a reason. They aren’t going to be good. “It should be really bad!” exclaimed one user, discussing the quality of first drafts. 

The user went on to give a great lesson for all aspiring writers that they heard elsewhere “Every first draft is perfect because the only purpose of a first draft is to exist,” they said, explaining, “if you wrote and finished a first draft, you did it perfectly.”

<p><span>Everyone wants a partner they can trust. Even white lies can spell doom for a budding relationship. </span></p><p><span>If you want a successful partnership, embrace honesty, even when it’s hard. The only things that you should ever lie about are surprises. </span></p>

Character Develop is Vital

Compelling characters are critical to a great story . “Flat characters are way too common these days, even in ‘professionally’ made stuff,” lamented one user. 

Others said you need to make your characters want something and make them change as the story develops. “In the end, make sure they have undergone some change,” advised one Redditor, “even if they didn’t get what they wanted.”

<p><span>There are lots of ways to</span><a href="https://partnersinfire.com/blog/10-awesome-ways-to-save-money-on-groceries/"><span> save money at the grocery store</span></a><span>. You can clip coupons, compare prices per unit, use the store’s loyalty program, and choose </span><a href="https://partnersinfire.com/lifestyle/5-things-to-never-buy-generic/"><span>generic offerings</span></a><span>. Limiting unhealthy snacks and skipping sugar-laden soft drinks will also save you a bundle – and are better for your overall health.</span></p><h3><b>Getting Help</b></h3><p><span>If you’re truly strapped, consider going to a food bank. Numerous charities offer food to households in need. However, please don’t use a <a href="https://partnersinfire.com/lifestyle/relationships/wife-leaves-husband-because-he-gets-groceries-at-the-food-bank/" rel="noopener">food bank if you can afford to buy your own groceries</a>. </span></p>

Understand When Inspiration Happens

One user shared words of wisdom from acclaimed author Madeleine L’Engle “Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it.”

You need to start. It’s unlikely a random spark of inspiration will hit while you’re twiddling your thumbs, waiting for it. Get started, and you’ll be surprised by how quickly the words flow. 

<p><span>Sometimes it takes a conscious effort to make yourself productive. You must tell yourself what you will do and stop yourself from getting distracted.</span></p> <p><span>Here are ten things that will help you achieve that:</span></p>

How many stories have you started but not finished? “You don’t know what the story really is until you finish it.” shared one user. 

Don’t leave your stories hanging. You may discover a gem of an idea hidden in your initial story’s ending. 

<p><span>What’s a warning that everyone should heed? For example, don’t eat yellow snow. It’s basic. It’s stupid, but it’s accurate. After polling the internet, here are the top-voted warnings.</span></p>

Stop Caring About Politeness

One user shared a gem they picked up from Stephen King’s best-selling resource On Writing . 

“If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway,” King said in the book. 

When writing, you need to be truthful. You need to dig deep into the vast darkness of humanity and showcase what you’ve found, flaws and all. If you avoid the truth to appease the pearl cultures, you’ll never be successful as a writer. 

<p><span>Some writers try to mimic the popular stories of their time. How many aspiring writers attempted to emulate the success of works like </span><i><span>Harry Potter</span></i><span>, </span><i><span>Twilight</span></i><span>, and the </span><i><span>Hunger Games</span></i><span> to disappointing results?</span></p><p><span>“You’ll never make a splash by just doing what everyone else is doing,” advised one user, adding, “If you’re not passionate about something, then it usually shows in the writing.”</span></p><p><span>Write the story you want to write, regardless of current trends. Your passion for your story will shine through. </span></p>

Don’t Worry About What’s “Hot”

Some writers try to mimic the popular stories of their time. How many aspiring writers attempted to emulate the success of works like Harry Potter , Twilight , and the Hunger Games to disappointing results?

“You’ll never make a splash by just doing what everyone else is doing,” advised one user, adding, “If you’re not passionate about something, then it usually shows in the writing.”

Write the story you want to write, regardless of current trends. Your passion for your story will shine through. 

<p><span>Getting things perfect seems like a standard to strive for, but perfection has a downside. Some folks get so obsessed with perfection that they never finish anything. </span></p><p><span>Perfection is really the enemy of progress. </span></p>

Perfection is the Enemy of Progress

“Stop trying to make it perfect and just write!” exclaimed one user. 

Your writing will never be perfect. Nothing we do in life will be perfect. Perfect is an unachievable goal that gives people an excuse not to accomplish anything. 

Instead, just write. Write horribly at first. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you’re doing it. The more you do it, the better you will get at it. If writing is worth doing to you, it should be worth doing poorly . 

writing stories practice

Show, Don’t Tell

Show, don’t tell is one of the biggest rules of literature. One aspiring writer in the thread said it prevents them from writing a boring story and helps them expand their vocabulary. 

You don’t need to explain everything in a book. Show the reader what’s happening through action and dialogue, don’t describe it. 

<p><span>Homer wrote the Greek epics </span><i><span>The Odyssey</span></i><span> and the </span><i><span>Illiad</span></i><span>, while Sun Tzu authored </span><i><span>The Art of War</span></i><span>. </span></p><p><span>But is that true?</span></p><p><span>Reddit users claim there’s no historical record of either author outside these books, and most were compiled centuries after they supposedly lived. The works are likely compilations from various authors accredited to a single source. </span></p>

Use Flourish

Great authors use literary devices to enhance their writing and story telling. Try incorporating some of t hese 25 literary devices into your story . 

<p><span>Creative writing allows you to explore the world of your imagination. Put pen to paper and let the characters running around in your head come to life.</span></p> <p><span>Creative writing allows you to build worlds or make a statement about modern society. It lets you dig deep into your subconscious and unleash your inner dreams and desires.</span></p> <p><span>The best part about picking up creative writing as an artistic hobby is a cost. All you need is a pen and paper. If you need help developing ideas, you can use a <a href="https://partnersinfire.com/passion-fire-2/creative-writing-prompts/" rel="noopener">creative writing prompt</a> to get your juices flowing.</span></p>

Creative Writing Prompts

If you’re struggling to come up with a great tale, use a prompt to help. Creative writing prompts can spark your creativity . 

<p><span>Sometimes, we are so overwhelmed with everything in our heads that we can’t focus on the most critical task. We might need help to determine what that task is!</span></p> <p><span>A</span><a href="https://partnersinfire.com/lifestyle/brain-dump/"> <span>brain dump</span></a><span> can help. It’s a system of getting everything floating in your head out on paper. Getting your thoughts on paper will help you organize them and stay focused on what is essential. </span></p>

Write an Epic Rising Action Sequence

Rising action is the most important part of your plot. Here’s how to write it . 

<p>Literary elements are the building blocks to every story. <a href="https://partnersinfire.com/passion-fire-2/art/literary-elements/">Here’s how to excel at the basics</a>. </p>

Know the Basic Literary Elements

Literary elements are the building blocks to every story. Here’s how to excel at the basics . 

writing stories practice

The Most Compelling Characters in Fiction

Consider popular character archeotypes when writing your tale. Dungeons & Dragons chaotic neutral alignment makes great characters . 

<p><span>The internet is a fantastic source of knowledge and entertainment. It’s filled with resources to help you learn, create, and relax. </span></p> <p><span>The vastness of the internet has one shocking limitation: with so much content, it’s hard to find valuable resources online. Therefore, I was delighted to see a thread in my favorite Reddit sub, R/Askreddit, asking users to share their favorite fun, free internet resources. </span></p> <p><span>You may be shocked at how many cool things you could have gotten for free online!</span></p>

Writing is Tough, But Practice Makes Perfect

You can be a great writer. The Reddit thread is filled with advice to help you on your journey, but the most important thing you can do is start. 

Write that first chapter. Develop engaging characters. Revisit your story and revise your drafts. Before you know it, you will have a fantastic tale you’ll be proud to share.

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The Write Practice

How to Write a Short Story: Free Tutorial

Short stories were once the training grounds for the best writers in the world. Writers like Ernest Hemingway, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, and Stephen King learned the craft of writing through short stories before they published their first novels. Even though short stories have gone out of favor, they are still the best way for writers to learn the craft quickly.

In this free tutorial, you will learn why short stories are important for aspiring writers, how to write a short story, and how to submit your short stories to magazines and get them published.

Short Story Typewriter

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Ten Steps to Publishing Short Stories

This effective tutorial will be conveniently delivered to your email inbox in ten manageable chunks. You’ll also get links to helpful resources and professional services. Here are the topics we’ll cover:

  • Five Steps to Write Short Stories
  • Four Reasons to Write Short Stories
  • Three Tips to Write a Great Short Story
  • The Best Way to Become a Better Writer
  • Three Ways Short Stories Are Different Than Novels
  • Should You Focus on a Mood or an Event?
  • How to Write a Short Story Only You Could Write
  • How to Format a Short Story Manuscript for Submission: a Checklist
  • 4 Tips to Avoid Having Your Short Story Rejected by a Literary Magazine
  • You Will be Rejected 
  • BONUS : How to Get Published in a Literary Magazine [Interview with Glimmer Train Stories]
  • BONUS :  How to Publish 99 Short Stories in 8 Years [An Interview with Stefanie Freele]

How to Write a Short Story

Everyone needs a little kick in the pants every once in a while. If you want to write but have been struggling with the discipline to do it, this tutorial will help by providing practical challenges given with a dose of inspiration.

Get Published

Thousands of literary magazines exist today to publish up and coming writers like you. This tutorial will help you discover those magazines and submit your short stories the right way so you can get published sooner.

Begin a Career In Writing

Short stories are a good way to start your career in fiction. We'll show you how short stories have been used by other writers to build their writing careers, and how you can do it, too. Join thousands of other writers who trust The Write Practice to help them improve at the writing craft through  deliberate practice.

Yes, I Want In »

Join over 450,000 readers who are saying YES to practice. You’ll also get a free copy of our eBook 14 Prompts :

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Example prompts to try with Microsoft Copilot with Graph-grounded chat

Experience the power of Get started with Microsoft Copilot with Graph-grounded chat  (formerly named Microsoft 365 Chat). See how much time you can save and how much more you can get done. Use Microsoft Copilot to catch up, create content, and ask questions. This article provides several example prompts you can try.

Tip:  When you’re giving Copilot instructions, you can direct it to specific work content by using the forward slash key (“/”), then typing the name of a file, person, or meeting.  If you write a prompt and don’t reference a specific file, person, or meeting, Copilot will determine the best source of data for its response, including all your work content.

Synthesize large amounts of data into simple, consumable responses and catch up on things quickly. Here are some examples:

You've been on vacation now you're back. You need to find out what's going on with Project X. Find the latest about Project X. What's the current timeline? When are deliverables due?

You've just joined a new team and you're trying to ramp up on recent activities. Summarize team communications over the last 30 days. What are the team's priorities? 

There's been a recent change in how your team is tracking work. Find information about the new way our team is tracking work. Include email communications and points of contact for questions.

Create content

Brainstorm ideas and draft new content based on information at work. Here are some examples:

You want to draft a one-page description of a new project (let's call it Project Foo) that's just about to kick off at work. Using information in file1, file2, and file3, write a one-page description of Project Foo. Write it so non-technical people can understand what the project is about and when it's scheduled to be completed.

You're preparing an email to invite customers to attend an upcoming conference and visit your company's booth. Using information in Document Z, write a fun, catchy email inviting our customers to come see us at our booth during next month's conference.

You want to plan a morale event for your team. List 3-5 ideas for group activities in the Seattle area that would be suitable for my team. Include approximate cost and time estimates. 

Ask questions

Find information and get answers quickly, even if you can't remember where the information you need is or how it was shared. Here are some examples:

You need to know what's left in the budget for supplies. How much did we spend on supplies for Project Foo?  How much budget do we have left for Project Foo?

Your team received customer feedback. You want to identify the top things your team should address. Review the feedback we received from customers via email last week. What are the top three issues we should address?

Overview of Microsoft Copilot with Graph-grounded chat

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Meet the 2024 Writing Freedom Fellows

By Jim Plank / February 13 2024

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Breaking News

Adapting ‘Poor Things’: ‘I sit at my desk and realize the obstacles are insurmountable’

Tony McNamara stands outside with foliage in the foreground and a building in the background.

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Screenplays usually have a three-act structure, and the experience of writing a screenplay seems often to have the same.

Status quo. I’m at lunch with Yorgos Lanthimos. We’re going into preproduction on “The Favourite” soon, so that script is done and I’m in a relaxed, lunching “Who invented pear brandy? So many unsung heroes in the world” kind of mood, when: inciting incident. Yorgos slides a book across the table. “See what you think.” “Poor Things.” I’ve never adapted a book before. I read it and realize it’s definitely not the one to start with. It’s a crazy story about Bella Baxter, a woman who is reanimated to life when her own baby’s brain is put into her head. I see the chance to do something wild and unique. A gothic comedy fantasy, a philosophical satire about shame, a joyous coming-of-age movie, all in one. And with one of the great directors of the era.

I go back to Yorgos.

“Of course,” I say. “Good,” he says.

I sit down at my desk and realize the obstacles are insurmountable, my talent probably insufficient and I’ve made a grave error of judgment. So, like any character, I start with one obstacle at a time.

Bella’s story is narrated by the men in the book, her point of view and internal experience isn’t told. This becomes the biggest choice in my adaptation. Yorgos and I decide Bella will be the center and driving force of the film. And the men, instead of controlling the narrative, will attempt to control her and fail dismally. I then construct her journey around the world to operate in tandem with her internal journey of growth and discovery.

CULVER CITY-CA-JANUARY 23, 2024: Phil Lord, and Chris Miller, from left, writer-producers whose sequel to the award-winning "Spider-Man: Into the Multiverse" called "Spider-Man: ACROSS the Multiverse" is expected to garner the same awards for screenplay, are photographed at their office in Culver City on January 23, 2024. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

With ‘Spider-Man,’ how do you top a winner? Try doing the opposite

To create “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” all Phil Lord and Chris Miller “had to do was write a better movie than the one that just won an Oscar,” they say in an essay..

Feb. 12, 2024

It’s a period film, so it has to have a formality of language, but also I want it to feel very contemporary, so I riff on some scenes, playing around until I can hear how it should sound. In most films, characters talk the way they talk for the whole film, but Bella’s language has to evolve scene by scene, sequence by sequence, as she grows at this accelerated but inconsistent rate. As Duncan says, “Who are you? You know what empirical means, but you don’t know what a f—ing banana is.” Language for Bella evolves out of trying to articulate her experiences, trying to find words to express how she feels, which is how “sex” becomes “furious jumping.”

The mid point fail

Conventional wisdom is, halfway through a script, the protagonist fails and seemingly can’t go on. So does the writer. My midpoint fail happens just before the third act. Bella is back in London and is to marry Max, and her ex-husband Alfie, hitherto unknown, turns up at the wedding to claim her.

Hmmm. A new character after two hours who will carry the third act and hasn’t been mentioned.

The audience have no relationship to him. What I planned seems wrong, but what else can I do? I go and stare at a tree for a while. Sometimes it helps. I drink four coffees. Sometimes it helps. I lie down, and my 4-year-old throws a ball hard in my face. It helps. I see what he’s trying to say. It’s staring you in the face. You’re done.

I write to Yorgos. “It’s too hard. We tried. Let’s never speak of this again. I am returning the money, though not intact.” He writes back. “We knew it would be hard. Keep going. It’ll be worth it.”

I go back to my desk.

I dive into the third act, wondering on the ending. I suddenly have an idea for the last image of the movie. Bella has put a goat’s brain in Alfie, her psychotic ex-husband’s head. Absurdist, full circle, funny and somehow logical. It gives me somewhere to aim and gives her a satisfying end.

I finish, and even though I rewrite the third act three or four times, Alfie’s goat brain stays intact as it was first written. I deliver it. Yorgos writes back. “It’s good. Some things, of course.”

We start a couple years of doing the “some things.”

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Yorgos Lanthimos and Robbie Ryan on the set of POOR THNGS. Photo by Atsushi Nishijima Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved.

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Through many different lenses, the Frankenstein myth endures. Teen rom-com, anyone?

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From the Oscars to the Emmys.

Get the Envelope newsletter for exclusive awards season coverage, behind-the-scenes stories from the Envelope podcast and columnist Glenn Whipp’s must-read analysis.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

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writing stories practice

Welcome to the Oscar club, casting directors. Now, what is it you do?

Los Angeles, CA, Friday, January 26, 2024 - Kevin Tent, the Oscar-nominated film editor behind The Holdovers at home. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

The art of film editing: ‘Try things out and see what works emotionally’

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  • Buyer's Guide

Tested: 2024 Lexus RX450h+ Serves as Plug-In Practice

The plug-in-hybrid version of the RX is a half step toward EVs.

2024 lexus rx 450h luxury plugin hybrid

This plug-in-hybrid powertrain, however, has been seen before. It appeared in the smaller Lexus NX SUV starting with the 2022 model year and in the Toyota RAV4 Prime the year prior. It consists of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a trio of electric motors; all-wheel drive is standard, with the rear wheels being driven solely by electric power.

.css-1rvrtxn{font-family:Gliko,Gliko-fallback,Gliko-roboto,Gliko-local,Georgia,Times,Serif;font-size:1.625rem;line-height:1.2;margin:0rem;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-decoration-color:#DBCA8B;text-decoration-thickness:0.25rem;}@media(max-width: 48rem){.css-1rvrtxn{font-size:2.25rem;line-height:1.1;}}@media(min-width: 48rem){.css-1rvrtxn{font-size:2.625rem;line-height:1.1;}}@media(min-width: 64rem){.css-1rvrtxn{font-size:3rem;line-height:1.1;}}.css-1rvrtxn b,.css-1rvrtxn strong{font-family:inherit;font-weight:bold;}.css-1rvrtxn em,.css-1rvrtxn i{font-style:italic;font-family:inherit;} HIGHS: Worthwhile EV range, cosseting ride, on-brand interior.

An 18.1-kWh battery pack, same as in the NX, feeds those e-motors, and the EPA estimates EV range at 37 miles, same as the NX but less than the RAV4's 42. The RX weighs 379 pounds more than its smaller sibling and is 466 pounds heavier than the Toyota. Still, 37 miles would cover the daily driving needs of many folks, and it's on par with the Volvo XC60 Recharge (36 miles) and betters the Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring (27 miles) and the Audi Q5 55 (19 miles).

2024 lexus rx 450h luxury

And recharging is speedy here, thanks to a 6.6-kW onboard charger. Figure two and a half hours to take the battery from 10 to 80 percent, using a 240-volt source.

In the RAV4, this powertrain knocked us out with its performance . That wasn't quite as true in the NX , though it was still the quickest variant. That's not the situation in the RX, where the performance-oriented RX500h is the top dog. The RX500h is a traditional hybrid, but it uses a more powerful gas engine: a turbocharged 2.4-liter four rather than the RX450h's naturally aspirated 2.5-liter. The 500h, therefore, is able to garner 366 horses to the 450h's 304 ponies.

Predictably, then, the RX450h is not as quick as its higher-number sibling, reaching 60 mph in 6.0 seconds, half a second behind the RX500h. The gap is nearly the same at the quarter-mile mark, which the plug-in hybrid reaches in 14.6 seconds at 95 mph, versus the hybrid's 14.2 at 97 mph. And with the RX PHEV's extra avoirdupois, it's also a step behind the plug-in-hybrid NX and RAV4. Furthermore, the RX450h is left in the dust by the plug-in-hybrid SUVs from Audi and Volvo: The 362-hp Q5 55 rips to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds , and the 455-hp XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered does so in 4.2 seconds .

2024 lexus rx 450h luxury

Buttons on the RX's console allow the driver to choose from Hybrid, EV (provided the battery has sufficient charge), or Auto modes. With EV mode selected, you don't have to feather-foot the accelerator to keep the engine off—it won't awaken even if the pedal's floored. Of course, it does so when in either of the other modes, and handoffs between the gas engine and electric motors are smooth. But when the engine is giving its all, it sounds very much like a four-banger—its 72 decibels under wide open throttle, at least, is less than the RX500h's 75 decibels.

LOWS: On-brand handling, rival plug-ins are quicker, whopping price premium.

If the RX450h's acceleration is not so racy, that aligns with its chassis tuning. The creamy, light steering is mute on feedback, and there's ample body roll in corners. The 0.83 g of lateral grip isn't such a bad showing, though, and the 178-foot stop from 70 mph is a marked improvement on the RX500h's 195 feet.

Where the chassis really shines is in ride comfort—even though the RX450h suspension has passive damping, not the adaptive dampers of the RX350 F Sport and RX500h. During our time with the RX450h, a mid-winter thaw brought a full bloom of potholes, and this Lexus stoically suffered through them, sending no impact harshness into the cabin, despite the RX's standard 21-inch wheels.

2024 lexus rx 450h luxury

The RX450h also comes only in the full-on Luxury trim. As such, its interior is swathed in semi-aniline leather with microsuede inserts on the seats, door panels, dash, and on the headliner. There's a choice of bamboo or open-pore wood trim, and the cabin is finished to a high standard.

The RX450h also gets the larger, 14.0-inch infotainment system as opposed to the lesser 9.8-inch unit in the base car. And, yes, it's a touchscreen—Lexus's much-reviled remote touchpad interface is being quickly broomed from the lineup. Excepting the two temperature dials, most climate controls are in the screen, including a touch-slider (ugh) for fan speed. We're also not fans of the overly fussy four-way buttons on the steering wheel.

Not everything is included with the Luxury trim level, however. You pay extra for a hands-free power liftgate, smartphone-as-key, a surround-view camera, Mark Levinson premium audio, and triple-beam LED headlights—those options and more pushed the as-tested tab of our RX450h to $77,005. Woah. Even the starting price, $70,580, is $11,500 more than an RX350 Luxury and over $11,000 dearer than the XC60 Recharge's base figure as well.

VERDICT: An RX for the EV-curious.

Plug-in hybrids for a time seemed to be a rather pointless, neither-fish-nor-fowl solution, but they're starting to come into their own for buyers who are EV-curious but aren't yet ready to go fully electric. Surely some of the legions of current RX owners and lessees fall into this category. For them, the RX450h may be worth it. Most other shoppers who are drawn to the RX for its characteristic virtues will be better served by either of the two traditional RX hybrids.

Specifications

2024 Lexus RX450h+ Luxury AWD Vehicle Type: front-engine, front- and rear-motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon

PRICE Base/As Tested: $70,580/$77,005 Options: premium LED headlights, $1565; Convenience package (panoramic view monitor, Traffic Jam Assist), $1420; Mark Levinson premium stereo, $1160; illuminated cargo and door sills, $760; Advanced Park with Remote Park, $480; Technology package (digital key, digital rearview mirror), $475; mudguards, $165; power rear door with kick sensor, $150; carpeted cargo mat, $150; Cold area package (windshield wiper de-icer), $100

POWERTRAIN DOHC 16-valve 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-4, 180 hp, 168 lb-ft + 3 AC motors, front: 179 hp, 199 lb-ft; rear: 53 hp, 89 lb-ft (combined output: 304 hp; 18.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack; 6.6-kW onboard charger) Transmission: continuously variable automatic

CHASSIS Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink Brakes, F/R: 13.4-in vented disc/13.4-in vented disc Tires: Bridgestone Alenza Sport A/S 235/50R-21 101V M+S

DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 112.2 in Length: 192.5 in Width: 75.6 in Height: 67.3 in Passenger Volume, F/R: 52/45 ft 3 Cargo Volume, Behind F/R: 46/30 ft 3 Curb Weight: 4866 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS 60 mph: 6.0 sec 1/4-Mile: 14.6 sec @ 95 mph 100 mph: 16.3 sec 120 mph: 29.1 sec Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec. Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 6.3 sec Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.9 sec Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.1 sec Top Speed (mfr's claim): 124 mph Braking, 70–0 mph: 178 ft Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.83 g

C/D FUEL ECONOMY Observed: 27 MPGe

EPA FUEL ECONOMY Combined/City/Highway: 35/36/33 mpg Combined Gasoline + Electricity: 83 MPGe EV Range: 37 mi

C/D TESTING EXPLAINED

Headshot of Joe Lorio

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Tested: GR Corolla Morizo Is a True Pocket Rocket

Ash Wednesday is quickly approaching. Here's what Christians — and others — should know

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If you see people with dark smudges on their foreheads Wednesday, don't think it's by mistake.

Millions of Christians — mainly Catholics — will wear ashes on their foreheads after attending mass to celebrate Ash Wednesday, one of the most popular holy days of the year in the Christian religion. The day marks the start of Lent, a weekslong period of spiritual preparation for Christians, and serves as the official countdown toward Easter.

Here's everything you need to know about Ash Wednesday and its significance for Christians around the world:

More: 14 places to eat on Valentine's Day if you're observing Ash Wednesday in Austin

What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday, also referred to as the Day of Ashes, is a day of repentance for Catholics and Christians as they confess their sins and profess their devotion to God leading up to Easter. 

Experts say the day is a bit of an anomaly because, unlike some other religious holidays, Ash Wednesday is widely observed by people who typically aren't closely tied to their religion.

More: 'Kolache Shoppe Queen' Irene Bucanek baked her way into hearts of customers in Taylor

When is Ash Wednesday in 2024?

Ash Wednesday always falls six and a half weeks before Easter. Because it's dependent on the date Easter falls on, it can occur as early as Feb. 4 or as late as March 10.

This year, Ash Wednesday shares a date with Valentine's Day on Feb. 14.

When is Easter in 2024?

Easter is celebrated in the U.S. on March 31 this year.

More: Here's the history and traditions of Día de los Reyes Magos, or Three Kings Day

How do Christians observe Ash Wednesday?

The most obvious sign a person celebrates Ash Wednesday is with ashes in the shape of a cross being placed on their forehead by a priest. During Ash Wednesday masses, churchgoers line up to receive their ashes, which are derived from palm branches that are burned after Palm Sunday, a Christian celebration that falls on the Sunday before Easter. During the process, a priest will say to worshipers, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" or "Repent and believe in the Gospel."

The ashes represent a person acknowledging and showing remorse for their sins, a tradition that dates to 1091, William Johnston, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton, told USA TODAY.

Catholics also abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, a tradition they continue each Friday during Lent. In fact, Christians are supposed to fast on Ash Wednesday and only consume one meal, but children and the elderly are exempt from that expectation.

During Lent, the spiritual period that starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter, Christians will give up something they normally indulge in — such as sweets or alcohol — or practice an act they feel is giving to others. It's meant to demonstrate Christians' devotion to God through learning to say no to themselves and yes to things they may be neglecting.

Reporting from USA TODAY reporter Jordan Mendoza contributed to this story.

IMAGES

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  2. First Grade Writing Stories Handwriting Worksheets: Story Starters

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COMMENTS

  1. 100 Writing Practice Lessons & Exercises

    What Is Writing Practice? Writing practice is a method of becoming a better writer that usually involves reading lessons about the writing process, using writing prompts, doing creative writing exercises, or finishing writing pieces, like essays, short stories, novels, or books. The best writing practice is deliberate, timed, and involves feedback.

  2. How to Write a Short Story from Start to Finish

    1. Training Short stories help you hone your writing skills. Short stories are often only one scene and about one character. That's a level of focus you can't have in a novel. Writing short stories forces you to focus on writing clearly and concisely while still making a scene entertaining.

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  8. Write & Improve

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  22. Meet the 2024 Writing Freedom Fellows

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