Need help with your writing. Find exercises, tips, and fiction and life story prompts here.

Wired for Stories

Stories Are As Old As Humanity—And May Be The Key To Saving It by Vicki Phillips appeared in the July 22, 2021 issue of Forbes. "Humans are wired for stories," she writes. Story telling is as old as humanity and there is a story teller in all of us. Read or listen to...

Start Over

"What we could have, should have, or would have done—these kinds of thoughts follow an if-then logic. But we’re also drawn to alternative selves that hover on the edge of sense." Joshua Rothman, What If You Could Do It All Over? The New Yorker, December 21, 2020. Take...

Childhood Crush Ends

At the Alaska State Fair, I was finally alone cruising through the amusement booths looking for and really hoping to see Randy, the boy from sixth grade I had a crush on in the crowd. Before I was always considered too young to wander on my own through the booths,...

Abecedarian Writing

Abecedarian writing is a twenty-six line poem, list essay or story written so that the first word of each line follows in alphabetical order. Start your first line with the letter A, the second with the letter B. Then continue until you end with a line starting with...

Another Angle

How do you see new things in a familiar scene?  Look at usual things from a new angle. When writing about something that happened in your family, pretend for a bit what the occasion was like for your parents or siblings. Imagine you are standing in your brother's...

100 Word Story

Can you tell your history in 100 words? Can you make your pitch in 100 words? Can you convey your message in 100 words? If Warby Parker can, so can you. Thanks to Josh Spector for this thought. For more of Josh's thoughts subscribe to The Daily Graph.

My Favorite (fill in the blank)

My favorite (home, garden, vehicle, vacation) was ___________________________ because ___________________________. My special memory is _____________________________. Share some photographs of ___________________________. Consider asking others who remember your...

Writing Temperatures

Ever wondered how to write out temperatures in your stories? Should you write as numerals or words? How should you format them? Here's a useful resource at Proofed.

Start with a List

Start with a blank page, either paper or word processing page. List every memory of your life that comes to mind. Don't stop to think about each one, just write enough, a few words or sentence, so that you identify it. Keep going as long as you can recording as many...

Write your way to Happiness

Nancy Olson is a fan of all things handwritten. Her article Write Your Way To Happiness In As Little As Ten Minutes A Day  is a testament as she gives tips for getting started and what to write about.

Stephen King’s Writing Tips

See What Are Stephen King's 10 Writing Tips? by Jason Hellerman. You'll watch a twelve minute video of Stephen King discussing his tips from Outstanding Screenplays. Then read or listen to Hellerman list and reviews them. Each one is a guide to improving your writing...

Why Doesn’t my Story Work

Four possible problems with your story are: Terrible structure Too many characters, not enough development Too much description Needless dialogue Read How to Write Good Fiction: 4 Foundational Skills and How to Build Them by J.D. Edwin at The Write Practice for...

Listen to Others Stories

Listening to others life stories can be a great way to get ideas for stories you might write about your own life. It also helps to hear how people look back at their own lives and put them into perspective. Here are some places you can find personal stories: Follow...

Tangible Things You Keep

What are the tangible things in your life you value most? Are there objects in your clutter that matter to you? What is the story behind one thing you own that means more than its monetary worth? What Objects Bring You Comfort? is a New York Times article to read and...

Family life and traditions

Family life and traditions are precious to us. Here are some ways to start a story. My family celebrates birthdays by . . . We always had a special dinner on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Easter, and other special days. We enjoyed . . . As I child, I was assigned...

Beautiful Things Seen

@ClaraLilyRose shared a Tweet "Beautiful things seen stay with you forever" along with an image of a lake and forest. Think of some beautiful places you've seen and write a description of what you saw and what it meant to you at the time. End by telling us what your...

In the News

Do you remember a news story that changed your views or influenced your life? When “I like Ike” was a slogan. When protests of the Vietnam War were going on? When the first men landed on the Moon? When the first atom bombs were dropped? Where were you when President...

Quick List – Something Unexpected

Take five minutes and write down three to five times in your life when something unexpected happened that caused a change in your plans. Don't "think" as you write the list. Just make it as quickly as you can. List everything that comes to your mind without evaluating...

Online Writing Classes

There are many online classes on writing your life story or just writing. Eventbrite offers many good ones, both free and for a fee. “Eventbrite is a global self- service ticketing platform for live experiences that allows anyone to create, share, find and attend...

Storytelling through Photography

Photographs help you recall the times of your life and also help you share those stories. Look back through your images for story ideas. Share the photos you find with friends who were with you and compare your memories. You'll be surprised at the memories that will...

Describe the Sky

Make a list of all the words you can think of to describe the sky at different times of the day and in varying weather conditions: Dawn - Morning - Midday - Dusk-Evening - Night Clear - Cloudy - Overcast - Rainy - Stormy Here are some resources to check out after you...

Harvard Classics

Harvard Classics, originally referred to as Eliot’s Five-Foot Shelf, are a time capsule into the thinking in 1909 and include literature, philosophy, and the sciences. The entire set is now available free online in two places. Open Culture Internet Archive

Library of Congress Searches

One interesting place to search is Chronicling America. The site contains many complete digitized newspapers from 1777 to 1963. Anything prior to 1924 is very likely to be out of copyright so you can use stories or photographs you find. Try search for the local paper...

Furious Fiction Prompts

Furious Fiction Prompts The Australian Writers' Centre holds a monthly contest for 500 word fiction based on a series of prompts.  You can read prior month's winners here. The stories are fun to read and the prompts are great places to start your own story.

Furious Fiction Contest

Here is the signup link for the next Furious Fiction. If you sign up by clicking Notify Me When It Begins, you will get an email with the next month’s prompts every month which come out the first Friday of every month. You’ll also get a limited number of other emails...

What Do You Carry

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is a hard book to read about individual soldiers in Vietnam and they items they carried with them. The book is described on Amazon (available as paperback, Kindle and audio) as follows: One of the first questions people ask about...

Collection of Shorts

Visit Paulo Coelho blog, Stories & Reflections, for a collection of quick, interesting reads. Random Stories & Reflections. He has published 30 books in over 170 countries. His books have been translated into 83 languages and have sold over 320 million copies....

List the Colors

How many colors can you name? See how close to forty-eight you can get before checking the List of Colors at Wikipedia. Also check out the Crayola crayon color list at Wikipedia for even more color names.

Your Last Tweet

What if you were given a chance to write your last Tweet?  What message would you left the world? Write a last Tweet now. You have 280 characters to let us know how you sum up your life. Or use your characters to leave us with a joke. Here's where you can read other...

Favorite Transportation

What's your favorite mode of transportation: car, train, airplane, bike or . . . Start this life story with one of these phrases: My first car was a . . . I once went on a long bike ride . . . My favorite way to travel is . . . We traveled across the country on a...

Four Word Story

The most famous short story is Ernest Hemingway's six-word story, For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. A few examples of sad short stories are: Combat boots unlaced forever. Population zero, plus us. We’re out of chocolate. The phone never rang. Meanwhile she moved on....

Frozen Water

It's said there are many ways to describe snow. Write down as many words as you can think of that describe frozen water or winter storms. Then check out some of the lists. Poetry & Contingency lists 55 words. Farmers' Almanac has 40 words. The Free Dictionary...

Who are you today?

Paul Wallace shows us an interesting way to write a list essay describing who you are today. Everyday, you could write a list essay describing who you are and every day it would be different. It would likely be different if you wrote one many times a day, Another...

Bedtime Stories

Write a story about your childhood to read to you grandchildren or nieces and nephews. Share an experience from your childhood. Retell a story your parents shared with you. It's a chance to share some family history with the next generation. What do you remember about...

Sports I like

Participate in sports? Sports fan?  Here are a couple ways to start your next life story. Tell us why you like the sport and some of your favorite memories. The sports I really like to play include . . . The sports I really like to watch are . . . The sport I wish I'd...

Cast Iron Frying Pan

Look around your house and choose an item that has been with you for a long time. Write a story from the object's perspective. The Washington Post published some examples of writing stories based on a cast iron frying pan that had been part of the family.

Protests & Public Service

Think back over your life and the things that mattered to you enough that you supported the cause. Have you ever joined a protest march? Did you protest the Vietnam war? Against police violence such as the March on Washington, Rodney King protests or Black Lives...

Let Down

Remember a time when someone you trusted let you down. It could be a minor occasion such as forgetting to pick you up at the airport or an emotionally damaging event when someone you counted on did not stand up for you. How did you process and recover from the event?...

Technology Changes

Pick a technology that’s changed in your lifetime: Telephone service and devices Texting Email Internet Electronics Digital Cameras Transportation Did you see the change coming? What difference has the change made for you? Do you miss the old...

School Year Memories

Think back to your school years. Remember your teachers and coaches. What organizations and school activities were you involved with. Here are some questions that may suggest story ideas. Who was your favorite teacher in grade school, high school or college? Why? What...

First Job

Think back to your first "real" job. What was your first real job? What do you remember about it? What were you paid? Did it seem like a lot of money at the time? Did you save your earnings? were you saving for a special thing you wanted to buy? What was it? Or id you...

Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus

Did you ever hide your baby teeth under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy or write to Santa Claus at the North Pole? Do you remember when you learned that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy were not real people? Or learned that they were really your parents or caregiver?...

Weather or Acts of God

There are times when something unexpected happens and changes our plans. Think of times in your life when you had all your plans made for a trip or activity and something out of your control occurred that changed everything. Do you remember a time with a weather event...

How to get ideas?

"I can't think what to write about." "Where do ideas for stories come from?" These are statements you hear often in writing class. The Twilight Zone is one of my favorite shows. Rod Sterling’s comments about each show always added to my enjoyment of them. Here is a...

Obits & More

Write your ethical will. What life learnings, personal philosophies, mottos, and core values do you want to leave as legacy to your descendants? How did you learn these lessons or acquire these philosophies? Read about the history of ethical wills on Wikipedia. How...

Small Things Matter

Many times we write about the big things that happened in our lives. The small things we do everyday are part of who we are. Think about some of the things that you did during the pandemic year. With the lock-down orders and limited or no travel, you may be thinking...

Winning or Losing

Sports, games, contests: these are all opportunities for winning and losing. We can learn lesson from both as we grow up and attend school and other activities. What are your memories that involve winning or losing? Ever won a contest, drawing or a prize. Share your...

Your Words Are Worthy

Here’s some good advice from Robin Finn. an author, essayist, and coach. “As a Mom and a Writer, I’m Here to Tell You that Your Words Are Worthy.”