Essential Sentence Prompts for Writing

Sentence prompts are short phrases or sentences that can spark ideas and inspire writing. As a writer, having a bank of good sentence prompts at your disposal can help overcome writer’s block and generate new stories, characters, scenes and more.

Here are some tips for making the most of sentence prompts:

  • Keep a running list. Maintain a list of prompts that catch your attention as you read books, articles, etc. Revisit it when you need fresh ideas.
  • Set a timer. Give yourself 5-10 minutes to free write after reading a prompt, without self-editing.
  • Try variations. Tweak a prompt by changing the tense, perspective or adding details. See where it leads.
  • Combine prompts. Blend two prompts together for unexpected results and richer stories.
  • Spark scenes. Use a prompt as a scene starter or transition in a story you’re writing.

The key is responding to prompts freely, to tap your subconscious creativity. Now let’s look at some categories and examples of effective sentence prompts.

Evocative Prompts

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Evocative prompts are vivid and descriptive sentences that create a strong visual image or feeling. They transport you into another time and place and evoke the senses.

Examples

  • The crumbling old mansion held shadows and secrets around every corner.
  • The air smelled like pine and petrichor after the rain storm moved through the forest.
  • The stars glittered like a thousand tiny diamonds against the inky night sky.

Use evocative prompts to easily establish an atmosphere and setting. They provide rich sensory details to dive into and can suggest intriguing storylines.

Character Prompts

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Character prompts introduce or hint at fictional characters. They invite you to imagine personalities, backstories, motivations and relationships.

Examples

  • She always wore red lipstick and a confident smile, but her eyes told the story of a woman who had seen too much.
  • The old sea captain had the most enchanting tales that transported children to faraway lands full of mystical creatures and epic adventures.
  • He was awkward and shy as a boy, but now commanded the courtroom with an imposing presence that demanded respect.

These prompts allow you to flex your creativity as you construct characters and imagine how they might speak, act and connect with other characters.

Plot Prompts

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Plot prompts offer a story hook, an interesting premise to launch your writing. Some provide resolution, while others pose a cliffhanger.

Examples

  • The coded message arrived too late to stop the assassination attempt.
  • I went to bed in my tiny apartment, but woke up in a large four-poster bed in an unfamiliar, luxurious mansion.
  • The child opened the forbidden door even as the others screamed for him to stop.

Let these prompts guide the basic narrative, while you design the details, build tension and flesh out the story.

Emotional Prompts

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Emotional prompts express a feeling or state of mind, allowing you to explore psychology and write in a lyrical style.

Examples

  • Sarah felt a sickening wave of grief watching the coffin lower into the ground.
  • Sam was nervous, but underneath the table his sister squeezed his hand reassuringly.
  • With trembling fingers, Alicia opened the letter containing her final grades.

Use these prompts as a gateway into characters’ inner lives and emotional journeys. Translate prompts into scenes that show rather than tell.

Philosophical Prompts

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Philosophical prompts pose thought-provoking questions and present intriguing ideas to analyze.

Examples

  • If you could master one skill instantly, what would it be?
  • What might society gain but lose if intelligent robots became widespread?
  • Given the choice, would you rather know the exact date you will die or the cause of your death?

These prompts help develop critical thinking skills and inspire reflective, persuasive or argumentative writing.

Abstract Prompts

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Abstract prompts use vivid imagery that communicates an intangible concept, emotion or sensation.

Examples

  • Justice is a wild horse that lets few ride upon its back.
  • Heartbreak tastes like bitter wine that stings going down.
  • Freedom is a songbird that can never be caged without losing its will to sing.

Use metaphors, symbols and poetic language to interpret these prompts with richness and flair.

By experimenting with all different types of sentence prompts, you can flex your creative muscles in new ways. Approach them with an open mind, let your imagination wander, and don’t overthink responses. The most unique ideas often come spontaneously. Keep writing!

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