It came to me one windblown, sleepless night—not the secret of the ages, but the answer to a question I had never known to ask—as cold lips pressed against my ear and a raspy voice breathed five words I’ll never forget: “Make your first sentence remarkable.”
I never heard the voice again. For a long time, I thought about getting a second opinion. The kind a headshrinker or exorcist might deliver. But then I thought about it some more, and the more I did the more I realized the voice had been a gift and not a curse. Because what it spoke was truth. And I’ve been trying to live up to that truth ever since.
The thing is, writing is hard. Writing well is even harder. Finding inspiration is a big part of that, but you can’t exactly force the Muse to pay a visit, and last I heard they haven’t found a way to bottle inspiration. Sometimes you need help. A spark.
That’s what creative writing prompts are for.
Writing prompts are pre-written first sentences that serve as a springboard for the creativity. They’re the sparks that can set your imagination alight. I’ve seen it work for others, and if you’ve never tried one before, it will work for you, too.
Once, I used a starter sentence from a writing kit I picked up at Barnes & Noble to come up with the entire plot structure of a book. It was that fast. The flame struck and I was off. I’m still not finished, and I’ve since put other projects on the front burner while the original idea percolates, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing? How do I know that without that initial first spark I would be writing anything at all today?
Since that time, writing prompts have become a big deal. The internet is rife with all manner of resources to help writers find inspiration, and a lot of them center around writing prompts. You’ve got starter sentence repositories; random first-sentence generators; Facebook groups and Instagram communities that help and challenge writers. There are even general-idea prompts that don’t so much provide you with first sentences as they do helpful direction if you’re feeling stuck—like “write a story about a bank robbery gone wrong.”
All of which brings me here. Since I’ve always found writing prompts so helpful, I thought why not add my own voice to the mix? It can’t hurt, and if it helps only a single writer break through writer’s block or catch a flash of inspiration, it will have been worth every word.
So without any further ado (or clichés, for that matter), I hereby put forth the inaugural Glass Spider Publishing writing prompt of the week:
Buddy spoke for the first time today, which wouldn't be such a big deal if not for one thing: Buddy is my dog.
Use it freely and in good health. If it nudges you in the direction of a story or inspires a constructive writing exercise, please share it in the comments below or tag us on social media @glassspiderpublishing.