Monday, June 1, 2009

Writing Prompt, Anyone?

Have you ever tried using a writing prompt to get those creative thoughts flowing? I have, and they can be quite useful. You never know where it will take you, writing wise, that is, and if nothing else, it gets you thinking and writing. And thinking and writing are good things!

I also like to use writing prompts for my online writing co-ops. I teach writing to homeschool students in grades 9-12. (For more info, visit the co-op website at Writing prompts often offer an opportunity to write from a different angle, providing some cross training to stretch our writing muscles.

The following prompt is borrowed from a recent co-op lesson; I've also included some general info about Flash Fiction that might be helpful as you write.

No doubt you've heard of Flash Fiction. In case you haven't heard of it - Flash Fiction has various definitions and interpretations (just as poetry or a novel can). There is no big secret to Flash Fiction; it is merely a type of short story. It has been around for a while, and has been made more popular through the Internet.

Flash Fiction contains certain components that set it apart from longer works of fiction. The first, of course, is that it is short. Average Flash Fiction word counts range from 100 to 1500 words. Some are even shorter, and some slightly longer. The idea is that the story is written tightly and efficiently. The writer makes the most of their word choices.

Another important component to Flash Fiction is that it provides a snapshot: small flashes of life, events, thoughts, and so on. They can provide different perspectives: a bird’s eye view, a fly on the wall, a first person experience, and more. The focus is on the action. Readers are enlightened about a particular slice of life, an angle on an event that they may not have considered before. Surprising plot twists are not uncommon with Flash Fiction. They may be short, but they can pack a punch.

Some Flash Fiction stories have even been written in unlikely forms, such as a quiz, a biography, a survey, character sketch, or an advertisement. Flash Fiction tones and styles are as varied as their authors are. They can be funny, serious, surprising, cynical, ironic, philosophical, etc. They reflect whatever the writer wants to convey to the reader.

**Here is the actual writing prompt...

Begin a Flash Fiction scene using this question,

"How much is this bunch of carrots?"

Use the question as your opening and move from there. Feel free to do whatever you like, using it in context or using it in something completely out of context. Shoot for a word count of 300-700 words. I'd love to see the finished product; feel free to email it to me at

Happy writing!

Writing prompt info copyright 2009, Karen Lange.


  1. I like the prompt... makes me want to write the rest. I suppose that's the idea - quite effective!

  2. I'll have to send my dd18 over here. She loves to write :)


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