Short Story Writing Prompts and Exercises

Elvis Elvis

Try this writing game. You can play it solo or with a group. You play in rounds:

Describe the room you’re sitting in as you write this. If you’re in a public place – a coffee shop, mall food court, IHOP (if you’re in an IHOP, you shouldn’t be writing – you should be eating!), describe it. Start with no limits; then, gradually, challenge yourself to write within certain restrictions.

  • 1) Set a timer and free write about your room for one minute.
  • 2) Describe your room in one page, double-spaced (manuscript format).
  • 3) In one paragraph.
  • 4) In one paragraph of four sentences or less.
  • 5) In one sentence.
  • 6) In one sentence of twelve words or less.
  • 7) In one word.

If you start with freewriting, there’s no censor, no restrictions, no sense of limit – only a sense of space. This is a good first draft mindset. Get it all on paper and edit it later.

Short Story Writing Prompts and Exercises

When you’re done with #1, the rest of the rounds should be easy: for #3, edit #2 until you have the best page; for #4, edit #3, and so on.

It’s just a game, a way to practice. Have fun and don’t take it too seriously. By the time you’re finished with #8, you will probably have written about 1,000 words. That’s a good count.

I’ll be interested to hear how many writers, when completing #7, use a word they didn’t use in any of the previous rounds.