Writing Prompt Sources

Like so many of you, I read the announcement last week that WordPress is discontinuing some of its regular features, including its Daily Prompts on May 31st. I haven’t been using their one-word prompts for a long time; nevertheless, this announcement sparked my curiosity. I decided to have a look at how many other sites on the net offer writing prompts.

Hello Mr Google… WOW! I could write a story a day for a hundred years with what’s available out there.

Some sites are maintained by publishers like Writer’s Digest. Some are blogs by published authors like Graeme Shimmin and John Matthew Fox. (For your convenience I’ve put their links at the bottom of my sidebar under Writing Help)

Searching specifically, you can find random first line generators, random plot generators, random character generators, movie script generators. There are prompt sources for teachers, for students, for songwriters. There’s one titled, “Twenty-one writing prompts to help you finish an entire novel this summer.” There’s even “80 Letter-writing prompts” from Compassion International.

Just for curiosity I clicked on THIS ONE and generated a random set of ideas; you can click the buttons and come up with a story line that suits your fancy. Much like WriterIgniter, a site I’ve used before.

Just for fun I clicked the buttons and this is what I came up with:
MC: A young man in his late teens who is very wise
2nd character: A woman in her late thirties who is very lively
Setting: The story begins in a nursing home.
Situation: something precious has been lost
Theme: It’s a story about justice
Character action: MC reluctantly becomes involved

This combination called to mind a real happening, back when I worked in a seniors’ home. Something precious really did go missing. I don’t know if the truth was ever revealed, so I’ll have to fake it. Stay tuned for my tale — with details changed to protect the guilty. 🙂

The Daily Post also has a free e-book of writing prompts that can be downloaded as a pdf. Get it HERE.

When I go to Amazon.ca and do a Writing Prompts search, again I’m bowled over by the 84 pages of books containing writing prompts — and I see a lot of these are “Read Free with Kindle Unlimited.”

The down-side of picking a prompt at random instead of using a central source like Daily Post Prompts is lack of the sense of community. You’re on your own; there aren’t hundreds of people using the same word or photo. For those of you currently connecting via the Daily Post will you miss this? Will you try another community like The Write Practice (link in side bar) or one of the various Flash Fiction groups going?

And for anyone reading this post, what writing prompts sources have you found useful?

42 thoughts on “Writing Prompt Sources

  1. Thanks for this, Christine. First I’d heard that they are discontinuing the word prompts. I wonder why? I, too, liked the sense of community and it is how I met most of the bloggers I now follow. Perhaps someone here will start up a prompt with a list of those following so we can see who else has written to the prompt. Hope so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your reply. You’ve been using both the one-word prompt and the photo prompt, right?
      People have done that with flash fiction sites (photo prompts.) And one blogger in the “community” said he was going to at swimmersweek.wordpress.com, if you want to check that out.

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      • You can drop in to visit here any time. After all your years of blogging I’m sure you have a lot of contacts. For myself, I’d like more TIME rather than more online contacts. (Though it’s always nice to meet someone new.) However…
        I do feel sympathetic to those just starting out, who haven’t made the contacts we long-term bloggers have made. For that reason, I really hate to see First Friday dropped. I had in mind my new followers, just getting started, when I published this.

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    • It really isn’t about the prompt. It’s about the company you keep. I’ve been writing every day for more than five years. More then six, actually. I’m not short of things to write about but being able to meet people and connect was important. It was what made WordPress different. They took it away and now … what are they except a platform?

      Liked by 2 people

      • As the US narcotics division has learned to their sorrow, 🙂 where there is a demand there will be a supplier. I have full confidence that some little cloud will arise from cyberspace and fill the empty hole we’re looking at now. Actually, we still have the Reader where we can connect with people interested int he same topics we are. Being enthused about haiku, I often check the Reader to see who’s writing them., and drop in to say “Hi.”

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      • The same thing happened to OKCupid when March.Com bought it. All of the fun, interesting features were abolished, one by one. Now it is just a “dating” site. Before it was a place to meet interesting people and see that they were interesting through the different creative interchanges.

        Liked by 1 person

      • When I was diagnosed with CLL, I visited a hematologist and he said, “It may never get much worse. You’ll probably never need chemo-therapy.”
        And I said, “Time will tell.”
        With WordPress, too, time will tell what direction the thing will take. Or if some other company will start up that will offer more of the features we want.

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      • I have been hoping for some other company to enter the market for the past few years. When it became obvious WordPress was no longer under the control of the people who began it and were trying to become a “commercial” site, I knew. I don’t know how long you’ve been on WordPress, but it used to be absolutely FORBIDDEN to advertise or “monetize” your site. Then, one day, they started pushing us to try to make money. Special links on how to make more money and how they could help us make money.

        At that point, a lot of other things became obvious — why they were pushing this particular type of software which is so unfriendly to bloggers and is really aimed at telephone users. Who writes on a phone? No one who does photography on a phone. You can take the picture there, but you can’t process it. There’s no room.

        It was clear that they were looking for bigger money. Been here and it has never gone well. The problem is that bloggers are NOT business people. Blogging is a hobby. It’s fun. It’s not a business. Sure they’ve always had a business side, but it was entirely separate from the blogging side.

        They ARE making money. They just aren’t making ENOUGH money. Greed is going to kill us all in the end. All the worst things we do in this world are based on greed. Apparently there is no such thing as making enough money. You’ve got to make more, then next year, 25% more — and the NEXT year and the year after that. It never ends. There will never be enough for the greed mongers and those of us who are not motivated by greed will eat the dust of the rest.

        There’s nothing new about this and sadly, nothing unique.

        Will there be “another” WordPress? I was sure there would be … but after four years of being sure, now, I’m not so sure. It’s not business. It’s not going to make anyone as rich as Amazon or Facebook or Bank of America.

        How rich to you have to be? How much money will be enough? IS there such thing as enough money? I’m beginning to think not. This is my third go-round at blogging. The other two closed down — one bought out by Facebook and then closed down. The other, Yahoo, did what WP is doing and closed down the blogging part of the venture. Now, I don’t even know what Yahoo is.

        I want to believe the magic will happen, but I’m beginning to think we’ve seen the best of it. I would miss this terribly, so I would like very much to be wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You may be right. Pity, too. Because we have been such an entertaining, thought-provoking group. It has so improved the quality of my retirement.

        I don’t think any bloggers are making them lots of money. They have a commercial side … but most of their commercial users are authors and artists … some quite famous ones, mind you. I don’t think they are going in a direction that will make them into what they want to be. It certainly isn’t what I want to be.

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    • You’re welcome. Really, the Reader is a great place to meet and new, like-minded writers.
      For those of you just learning the ropes, the Reader button is on the top left right beside “My Sites.” It will take you to the TAGS. And DO remember to tag your posts, everyone, so others can find your wise words. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I follow a bunch of photography prompts (from individual bloggers) which sometimes become writing with pictures, but I have never followed any other writing prompts, at least not for quite a few years.

    Yes, the sense of community IS the issue. i can always find something to write about. i can write about nothing too … but the loss of friendly daily links is big deal for many of us. It was the ONE thing that made WordPress different and the single thing that made it special. They dumped it and in a way, I think they may have dumped many of us, too. I get that it’s all about money and they want to turn this into a commercial site.

    I doubt it will work. It didn’t work for all the other (gone) sites that tried it and it won’t work here, either. Their prices are high and they are in a market for which they are unprepared. The current blogging crowd, most of us paying $100 a year to customize our themes are NOT going to pay $50 a month to do exactly the same thing. We don’t have businesses and we aren’t making money. If the issue was genuinely finding something to write about, most of us would have given up blogging years ago. When you write every day for six years, you aren’t short of ideas. If you are a writer, this was a place to write and to make friends. Ditto photography. It’s not that we are lost in the world and need a leader so we know what to say, but we all need a few areas to meet other people and make this a social thing, too.

    They took it away because putting up ONE single word a day for a prompt and ONE weekly photo prompt took too much of their energy. Seriously? That is very unlikely to make me — AS a business person — want to use them anyway. There are many more aggressive and better-known (and educated) business platforms. This won’t be one of them.

    Death will do them part. I think it’s a matter of time. I remember when GeoCities went the same way — done and gone faster than you could say … “Hey, wait a minute!” Sadly, I don’t see an alternative.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never heard why they decided to drop it. I thought maybe they all just plain got tired of the thing, A lot can change in a person’s life over eight years — and obviously in a business, too.

      I haven’t followed the prompts, but have spent time both on Community Pool and First Friday and I can tell the sorting out and responding to questions every week for those two features would take days. New bloggers tend to “wing it” without reading the tutorials and then need the same basic guidance you’ve already written fifty times today. Seasoned bloggers were supposed to help the newcomers, but I noticed that only a few dis so consistently. I didn’t. So I take my hat off to the WordPress staff who looked that side of things; they’ve been remarkably patient and tactful. 🙂

      The Word Press features have been a free community service all this time. I know nothing about their profit line, but you may be right. This may all be about profit and it could be that WordPress will fade away in time. I would be sad. Even if it continues as a platform only, it’s still the best there is for my own needs.

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      • Marketing. They aren’t making enough money. They have been trying to increase commercial usage and dump “bloggers” who are, in their opinion, just taking up space. But you see, their whole audience are bloggers and they aren’t going to change us into businesses. Many of us are either post-business as in retired, or involved in other things and this is a fun thing. The more commercial they get, the fewer of us they will retain. That’s always been the way this works and doing the same thing again won’t change that.

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  3. wow – wonder why – but I guess changes happen for many reasons and this is a good post.

    I have a list of blog challenges (a page) and I will add this post to it…
    Have a nice day, CG

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this post. Frankly. I hadn’t thought of Googling. I generally go to a paperback and pick a random page. Sometimes it works. When it doesn’t I usually read something because I’m trying too hard and it soon becomes obvious that I’m surfing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment. I have a book of quotes, Words of Wisdom I like to go to and find some tidbit I could illustrate with a story. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I can post the quote itself if nothing else.

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  5. Hi Christine: I’m so very glad you wrote this post and so very sorry WordPress has decided to discontinue the very things that made them different from all the rest. I, as a business person, expected this when they started pushing their commercial model and the “store” concept, which some of us can use and some of us can’t or don’t want to. The good old profit motive has bitten WordPress. Nothing wrong with that, but this platform drives over 1/5 of the Internet – yes, 1/5 – and I don’t think discontinuing such small features of the daily prompt was going to make or break them. They have driven a significant portion of the Internet for a long time. I would like to see someone else on WordPress pick up the charge and continue the daily prompt. Maybe another person or five could do First Friday, etc. until the whole thing could become self-sufficient. At any rate, I appreciate this post. More of us need to sponsor writing challenges and yes, that includes me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment, Rosemary. As I said to another blogger, “Time will tell which way the ball will bounce.”

      Seeing their decision was a business choice, they must have counted the cost before they made their announcement. They no doubt considered all the flak they’d get and how it would affect their sales. We’ll see if other sites pick up on this. The Daily Prompt wouldn’t be that hard — sit down with a dictionary. (Oh, I forgot to mention Merriam-Webster gives a new word every day.)

      Running a Daily Prompt replacement site would involve some policing so posts don’t get too nasty or obscene. But it would take someone(s) serious long-term dedication to keep First Friday going. The poor moderator had to repeat a zillion times, “This site is for NEW bloggers publishing a link to their FIRST posts. Please post your link on Community Pool.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Christine: Running any of the sites – FirstFriday, DailyPrompt, etc. would really be a commitment that most writers don’t want to make. But there might be someone out there who would enjoy it? Before just shutting those valuable sites down, I really wish WordPress had considered trying to find help, even a bunch of volunteers. They really are what made this platform different.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m up for anything … but I need the summer to sort out the issues in THIS family. Husband going in for surgery and probably going to need significant support post surgery, so I can’t tie myself up into something else at this moment. But by September, with a little luck, I can. So I’m on the list for contributions and will eventually be willing to sponsor something. I did in the past, but it was a lot more work than I was ready for at that point. I’m willing to give it my best shot … just not this exactly minute. But don’t forget me 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here’s hoping all goes well with your husband’s surgery and recovery. Some of us who are older just can’t promise to devote the next five years to some worthy blogging cause, much as we’d like to.

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      • Sadly true. He’s going to need me a lot during the next months and I can’t blow him off. He has seen me through some really terrible times and I need to be here for him, too. I think his won’t be so terrible, but we are both old and all surgery is hard on us.

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  7. Hi Christine, I am still getting my head round this I am not sure I understand what this means.
    I understand the Reader will continue which means we can continue to post on it right, how will those following your blog get your post? Every time you posted a new post Christine automatically I got an e-mail notifying of your new post. Will that be happening still?
    Second are we able to still keep our blog sites is WordPress going to continue to the provider? You can see from my comment that I a bit confused as what it all means.
    I will be grateful if you can throw some more light. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What is discontinuing: the Daily prompt word corner; the Community Pool where any blogger can post the link for their latest post and ask for feedback, and First Friday, where new bloggers can post their links to their first post and ask for feedback on their post or their blog’s look, etc.

      The Daily Prompt word was send out to whoever subscribed to that site. You got the word, you wrote your story, you tagged your post Daily Prompt and connected to the main switchboard, if I might call it that. There, the title of your post was displayed for the whole group to see, and they may click on it to come visit your post. I am surprised they are dropping this feature, because it almost runs on its own.

      “Follow this blog” will continue to bring you a notice about all the posts you wish to follow. And e-mail notice, if you choose the e-mail option. If you click on your Reader, you’ll see the titles and a few lines of new posts also appear there, for all the blogs you follow.

      You wouldn’t need to get an e-mail notice, you’d just have to go to your Reader to see who’s posted something new. A lot of bloggers do that. Saves having your In-Box fill up with notices. I prefer e-mail notices; they are an instant visual reminder that so-and-so has posted.

      The Reader is where your Categories and Tags go automatically — you never have to “post” on it. Just put C’s & Ts on each of your posts. Anyone can search the tags and see what’s been posted on any tag. Not just the tags you see, but you can do a search for ANY tag. For example, I can search for Haiku even though that tag doesn’t appear in the reader. This system will continue as always — it’s an automatic thing.

      People may speculate on the future of WordPress — but they’re all guessing. I myself think WordPress will continue for years longer. WordPress has been a free service all these years; they may someday decide to charge us a fee for use. The statement they issued never said anything like that, so again, I’m only guessing.

      I’m thinking the WordPress “Happiness Engineers” have quite a bit of work checking out complaints, answering questions, writing up tutorials, checking out recommended blogs to put in their “Discover” section, etc. I give them credit and am grateful for all the “behind the scenes” stuff they do.

      Thanks for your comment, for following my blog, and I hope this explains some of what you’re wondering about.

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  8. Pingback: Writing Prompt Sources — Christine’s Collection – Write Already! Professional Copyediting/Proofreading

  9. It is sad that wordpress cannot keep something as simple as daily word prompts up to maintain a sense of community. I was not much of a participatn but do wish that wordpress will look at means to assist communities to form.

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    • Thanks for your comment. I don’t want to be too critical of WordPress. I guess they have quite a few irons in the fire with millions of blogs to monitor, SPAM and cyber crime to watch out for, new designs to work on, etc. Also, they may well have realized bloggers could take more initiative and do some of these things for themselves. Different bloggers are now providing one-word challenges and it seems to be working out quite well. We find our “tribe”, the people we best like to connect with, and share the love.
      The important thing is to let new bloggers know about what’s available. This is harder to do now that First Friday is gone. That’s one thing I will really miss.

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