Friday, October 21

Posted by Laurel Garver on Friday, October 21, 2016 10 comments
I've been hard at work on several collections of writing prompts that I hope to release in the coming months. Just for fun, I thought I'd give you a small taste of what's in store. The prompts below are a very small sampling of the character and emotions prompts collection, over 1,000 in all. on 40 different emotions and numerous aspects of character development.

(Update: 1001 Evocative Prompts for Fiction Writers is available NOW!)


Emotions are the raw material for all creative writing (and quite a lot of nonfiction as well). Use one of the following prompts to delve into a strong emotion, writing as yourself, a fictional character, or a poetic persona. Let your exploration lead you toward the beginnings of a work of memoir, fiction or poetry. Some hint at a particular genre, others could be spun to fit multiple genres.

Amusement / Mirth

  • The best prank I’ve ever pulled / heard about.
  • How the court jester turned back an invading army.
  • Ten terrible metaphors and/or similes
  • Epic fail involving a skateboard, trampoline, or rope swing.
  • Mischievous magical folk create havoc in a village one spring evening.
  • Ten of the most ridiculous ways to kill off a character.
  • I can’t keep a straight face when I see ____.
  • A group of stand-up comics is taken hostage and must joke their way out of captivity.


  • The most boring family event I can remember (or imagine)
  • You are a spinster noblewoman in 1815 England.
  • An athlete recovering from a concussion may not do, watch, or read anything to rest his/her injured brain.
  • A child’s eye view of a wedding.
  • You work as a lifeguard at a lap pool in a retirement home.
  • The diary of a prisoner in solitary confinement.
  • To marry your true love, you must attend weekly three-hour prayer meetings with your future in-laws for the next six months.
  • The dullest person you have ever dated.
  • An astronaut must live alone on a space station for a year.

Defeat / Discouragement

  • A setback or failure from which you thought you would never recover.
  • You missed the last bus/train/flight for the day.
  • Your science fair invention works perfectly until the judges come to observe it.
  • A false rumor causes everyone to shun you.
  • In a team competition, your teammates suffer a series of injuries, one after another.
  • Your corporate sponsor threatens to withdraw funding for a minor mistake.
  • You can’t hold a job because of a crazy relative who makes trouble everywhere.
  • A chronic illness makes it impossible to complete an important task.


  • I have never been so embarrassed as when ____.
  • A beauty queen gets a nosebleed/gas attack during a pageant.
  • A dignitary comes for dinner and you/your child/your pet vomits on him/her.
  • Your swimsuit gets gobbled up by the pool drainage system.
  • Your parent with Tourette’s Syndrome chaperones the class trip/school dance.
  • The bakery accidently sends a lewd bachelorette party cake for Nana’s 90th birthday party.
  • The fart that changed my destiny.
  • Your doting mother shows off your baby pictures/awkward adolescent pictures/dweeby polka-band pictures to a potential mate.


  • You romantically connect with someone on a chance encounter, and the person asks for your number or gives you theirs.
  • A woman who has suffered several miscarriages enters the 36th week of a healthy pregnancy.
  • Describe the bodily sensations you have when you are hopeful.
  • Interstellar explorers find what looks like a viable planet for colonization, capable of sustaining human life.
  • A cancer patient begins an experimental treatment.
  • Police get an anonymous tip about a cold case.
  • The addict you love reaches their first anniversary of sobriety.
  • A group of castaways finds a crate on the beach full of farming and fishing equipment.


  • I could never tell ____.
  • How someone with an eating disorder might think about his/her body.
  • What deeply shameful experience could I more easily write myself free of if I gave it to a fictional character?
  • What skeletons do my parents have in their closets?
  • The day I realized there was something deeply wrong with me.
  • What shameful secret might my antagonist hide at all costs?
  • Deeply religious parents learn their child is leaving the faith because…
  • You learn that your parent or grandparent was once a Nazi, a torturer, or slave dealer.
  • A doctor makes a simple error that causes a patient to ____.

Interested in doing more with emotion in your writing? Pick up my guided journal Emotions in the Wild: A Writer's Observation Journal. This tool, based on exercises used in method acting, leads you through observation activities so that you can better describe character emotional responses in your writing. 

Pocket sized, with plenty of space to record your observations, this is a tool useful for writers of any genre. 

Available here: 
Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Createspace / Book Depository

Which of these prompts appeal most to you? Why?


  1. I love these, Laurel!!! Please let me know via e-mail when you're ready for releasing your prompt books! I would love to help and I definitely would like to purchase a copy.

    1. Thanks so much, Tyrean. Your enthusiasm is definitely a motivation to wrap up the collections. :-)

  2. Those are great prompts. Some look quite challenging.

    1. Thanks, Dolorah. I've tried to give a wide variety to fit multiple temperaments and skill levels.

  3. I like the way you put your prompts into categories. I'm eyeing several. Thanks, Laurel.

  4. A couple of those had me laughing just thinking about what I would write. A great list.

    1. Let me guess.."the fart that changed my destiny"? :-D Whichever appeals, I hope they spur you on to create.

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks, Lynda. They are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Hope they inspire you!