What is a writing prompt?
A writing prompt is an assignment or exercise designed to help a writer stimulate the creative juices to improve or increase writing skills.
Writing prompts come in all shapes and sizes, and I’ve found myself helped by them tremendously as I’ve worked on my first couple of novels.
Here is a writing prompt that I’ve found particularly helpful in developing characters:
canoe lamp axe boulder alligator clamp stone wall wind
Do you see how that sort of exercise can help a writer begin to think of a character in a different light? It’s actually kind of fun when you begin applying writing prompts to the way you go about developing characters.
But writing prompts are not only helpful regarding characters, they are quite beneficial in writing about scenes or settings also.
fog sunshine mountainous swamp midnight moonless drought blizzard
Many writing instructors put writing prompts like this into a “homework” sort of format, giving assignments that have nothing to do with the student’s current writing project. It’s kind of like giving a page full of math problems to a child, so they can become accustomed to completing the type of problems they’ve been studying.
I’ve tried to incorporate writing prompt exercises into my current projects, simply because I’ve not had the time to write about things that are not related to my books.
It might be a shortcut, but I think it’s been very helpful. I’ve particularly enjoyed it when developing characters. Some of the more colorful characters like Irwin, Hampton, and Quinn (in book two) have been influenced greatly by the things I’ve learned while using writing prompts.
Christian fiction authors have an added dimension of challenge, and writing prompts can help
Christian fiction authors, like any fiction authors, want their story to be alive with detail, contain engaging characters, and be memorable and engaging. But they want an additional component as well… the integration of biblical truth that will impact the reader far more than on an emotional level.
The Christian author wants to engage the reader on a spiritual level, incorporating the spiritual truths revealed in the scriptures in a way that causes the reader to think about life issues in a way they have not before.
Writing prompts are powerfully helpful in doing that. Here’s an example:
trusting God in the face of loss or suffering the effectiveness of prayer understanding when a scriptural promise seems to have not come true remaining faithful to Jesus though facing persecution approaching death without fear
Writing prompts of a spiritual nature force the author (and consequently, the reader) to face the realities of life in a fallen world and to struggle with what it means to have faith in God.
I think it makes the Christian author notice the temptation to “sterilize” their work in a way that avoids the difficulties of faith in a real world. When the writer notices the temptation, he/she is better able to avoid it and write a more realistic, life-integrated novel.
I’m curious what you think about this idea of “writing prompts.” How do you see them being beneficial?