I love using writing prompts to come up with story ideas. I'm looking for good sites that have a lot of good writing prompts. One that updates fairly often would be best. :)
I know Writing Excuses has a writing prompt at end of each weekly show. Usually they are related to the topic of the show as well.
I haven't read it myself, but I think this book, The 3 A.M. Epiphany by Brian Kitely, sounds like exactly what you're looking for. It's got very nice reviews - both in terms of score, and the actual description. Here's the first one that sounded like a great match for your question:
The exercises also have an additional dimension to them that most don't. Each one is carefully constructed to help you explore a certain aspect of your writing. These aren't meant to be "merely" inspirational--they're designed to teach technique, as well, without reading like a dry instructional book.
There are types of exercises in here I really haven't seen anywhere else, particularly in the sections on "Internal Structure" and "Exercises for Stories in Progress", and I think you'll find them inspiring in ways that other books aren't. They'll make you think, work and write in whole new directions.
It sounds so tempting, I'm inclined to get a copy myself. :)
I love The Writer's Book of Matches for fiction writing prompts.
Not a writing prompt in a traditional sense, but this has worked for me: improv comedy classes. Every time you perform a scene, you're creating a completely new story on the fly. It's a great way to generate ideas. The story grows organically, and you'll get unexpected (i.e. creative) results.
It's a fun way to get new ideas for writing.
This article describes an interesting system for coming up with infinite writing prompts through Wikipedia.
Type Trigger is rather fun - you get a very short prompt (one to three words) and then write up to three hundred words on that prompt. There's a new prompt every hour. It's an energetic little writing exercise.
http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=writechallenge Updated every time you click
This is basically a link to an existing list elsewhere. That's because I think the most important aspects of writing prompts are:
- A variety of compelling topics
- A sense of community for peer support
The definition of each of these will differ for anyone asking this question, so the best answer is a list with diverse topics and diverse peers.
This, I think, is a writing prompt tool unlike any other. Whereas most prompts just start you off, this one can assist you with the continuation of your story.
It provides multiple ways to get a prompt depending on your mood or goal. Whether you want a complete scenario, a starting scene, a goal, or a character, you just click a button.
I recommend reading some of the example stories to get an idea of how people are using it here: Actual Play Reports
Here is the home page that has some more information on it: http://www.rpgsolo.com
If you get lost there is great documentation in the forum.
Instead of finding a source of explicit and structured prompts, I opt to look for randomized inspiration. Every day or two, I do the following:
- http://www.flickr.com/explore - I browse until I find 3-5 images that strike a chord of interest in me (for any reason).
- http://live.lmgtfy.com/ - I watch these live search terms with a text editor open and simply choose 5-10 individual words that pop up (again, whatever grabs me that day), writing them down.
Almost without fail, when I smash the words up against the images, I get struck with a nugget of a "wouldn't that be interesting..." kind of idea, then I write anywhere from 200-500 words on the topic. These short exercises are always brief and not well fleshed out, and they are often terrible. I write until the core of the idea is laid out, then I stop and file them into a folder with all the rest.
But the point isn't to get a winner every time, the point is that much later, when I'm ready to begin writing a new story, I don't need to go looking for prompts or ideas... I have a collection of dozens (or more) ideas that I've already had. All I have to do is browse through them and I always find at least a few that inspire me to explore them further.