Seeking a new creative writing prompt? Here is a prompt I discovered for poetry but can be easily used for fiction as well. Within the course of a single day, simply make note of 5 random phrases — either overheard directly by you or contributed by friends, preferably not from movies or TV. A poem or story devised around little snippets of the real world around you results in fresh and unusual word combinations. It’s also unbelievably fun.
Hint: It helps to start with at least a rough idea of some sort of action, if not a story, and as in the case of my poem, it can be lifted from reality or imagination. I think you’ll find that the “random” phrases you use will spark your imagination in many directions!
Let’s look at an example. Here is one I wrote last week with 5 phrases that came my way. At the very end you will see a “key” for the source of the phrases.
I Write the Book You Play the Fiddle
Do you ever close your eyes and draw
your finger down a state map—
any state but yours—and land
on a town with a name that sounds
a lot like a town in your state
say Jonesville or something like that
and wonder if the people in that Jonesville
are anything like the people in your Jonesville
and then imagine yourself strolling
down their Main Street and going into
a coffee shop only to hear those people say
things like not my circus, not my monkeys
or I write the book you play the fiddle,
and that’s a separate conversation and
looking up at you like they know you
and having the waitress slide you a latte
just the way you like it with the cream
so high you have to swirl it before
you take a sip and then seeing the old man
who looks just like your grandpa pat
the seat beside him and tell you
the people in this place are as thick
as the hair on a dog’s back and you
not knowing whether that’s a good thing
or a bad thing but because everyone laughs
you decide it’s a good thing and the next
thing you know it’s getting late so you say
See you tomorrow to your new friends
but add maybe because you’re not sure
how you got here in the first place?
I write the book you play the fiddle — conversation overheard by Ashley between two students at Lenoir Dining Hall at UNC
not my circus, not my monkeys – Melissa K., a co-worker
that’s a separate conversation – Melissa K.
people in here as as thick as the hair on a dog’s back – Brian W., another co-worker
See you tomorrow maybe – overheard by my son on a NYC subway