100 Prompts to Inspire You

If you aren’t finished your NaNo novel, or are otherwise struggling to keep your story going, you might want to check out some prompts. There are tons of places you can go to find them. The various Dare Threads on the NaNo forum, apps, blogs, etc. But during November I made a list of 100 prompts to try and help inspire others in my home region to complete their novels (as I’d surpassed the 50k mark on the 11th they seemed to think I had some secret to finishing… Honestly, I just wrote almost every single day for at least two hours. Plus, I type pretty dang fast).

Now, I originally posted these in clumps of 20 prompts (with my last post being a double long list of 40). But in all it totals a nice even 100 ideas. You can read through and pick one or more that are appealing to you, or you can use an online dice roller to randomly pick one (or more).

I’m a fantasy writer, so most of these are geared towards fantasy style works. Additionally, I reference “you” a lot in the list. I’m referring (generally) to the a character within the story, not you as the author. (As I said when I posted these originally, I’m telling your character to go get drunk or fight a Vorpal bunny, not you as a person) Even the more obvious fantasy style prompts can be worked into a non-fantasy setting with a little bit of thought and effort.

Sure, there’s no magic in your space faring adventure, but rather than having an intelligent item “wake up”, maybe you work that into an AI, or somebody waking up from stasis that nobody even knew was there.

Or perhaps your gritty detective gets doused with a hallucinogenic drug that sends him on a terrifying trip where the people walking past on the street appear to be dragons, anthropomorphic deer, or undead abominations.

Use your imagination, and let these prompts be a springboard!

  1. Excerpt(s) from a travel guide (specific to wherever your story is set)
  2. A myth that is specific/relevant to your story (constellations, creation myth, legend about death, etc.)
  3. Sing a song in the story
  4. Throw a wrench in your character’s plans (suggested by chester_the_cat)
  5. Delve into the backstories of side characters (suggested by grlgoddess)
  6. Experience culinary delight and/or disgust
  7. Learn a new skill/discover a new talent
  8. Oh no! Quicksand!
  9. Develop a phobia or some form of irrational fear (that doesn’t hit phobic levels)
  10. Reference a fictional work of fiction. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, create your own and reference it
  11. Get a job, second job, third job, or lose all jobs
  12. Go for a walk. Find a stick
  13. Help someone with a quest that has nothing to do with your main quest/goals
  14. Witness a crime that is unrelated to your main quest/goals
  15. Meet the president of your fan club (didn’t know you had a fan club? Find out more about it!)
  16. Meet a celebrity/someone you admire
  17. Discover a secret that’s been kept for years/decades/centuries but has no bearing on your current quest/goals
  18. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Oh no!, it’s…
  19. Watch a movie and/or a play (bonus points if it’s a movie/play that you made up)
  20. Oh no! A villain! Only… it’s not your villain… “Boss battle” this villain only to have the ‘hero’ who was supposed to fight them show up halfway through
  21. Reference the Evil Overlord’s List.
  22. Sudden, impossible weather happens (raining daisies, blue snow, lightning strikes from the ground up to the clouds, etc.)
  23. Fight a vorpal rabbit.
  24. Reference a crazy fact (feel free to find your own site/facts)
  25. Go drinking and do something completely uncharacteristic for you.
  26. Get mistaken for someone else -with no opportunity to correct them right away (thrown in jail, kidnapped, isolated, or it’d be dangerous to reveal your true identity)
  27. Have a chase scene… through a sewer
  28. Deal with an infestation… of miniature versions of something (1″ dragons, tiny snakes, baby rabbits, etc.)
  29. Learn to drive a new vehicle (car, carriage, boat, plane, etc.)
  30. Dress up in an over-the-top costume (think mascot outfit, Halloween costume, or a cosplay)… but not for a special event where that would be socially acceptable
  31. Go on a blind date
  32. Rummage through another person’s sock drawer (optional: and wonder why on earth they have five neon socks that are missing their partners)
  33. Ninjas.
  34. Play a prank on someone
  35. Witness a death (not necessarily a murder)
  36. Experience an injury that will cripple you for at least 2 days
  37. Reference a Disney movie
  38. Include one of the following two quotes:  “The best way to keep one’s word is to not give it” (Napoleon Bonaparte), or  “Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do” (Voltaire) [bonus points if you can include them both]
  39. Sweat it out! Exercise, fight, or do some physically demanding task
  40. Discover a new area in your immediate surroundings (a garden you’ve never visited before, a room that’s been locked up until now, a neighbourhood you didn’t know was there, etc.)
  41. Include a terrifying , but very real animal … Because we all neednightmares… (also, those links are probably not safe for kids or work… some have strong language, and most are at least mildly disturbing)
  42. Play a physical game (football, baseball, quidditch, etc.)
  43. Go to a party
  44. Aw, somebody’s sick… Care for them, or send them a get-well gift
  45. Clean house/room/vehicle/etc. Find anything interesting?
  46. Look at old pictures
  47. Meet/interact with the personification of an abstract concept (Death, Anger, Love, etc.)
  48. Go gambling; learn a bizarre game (make one up!)
  49. Drink something strange that has unpredictable results (gives you antlers, makes you see things, turns you into a mouse, etc.)
  50. Receive a really cool gift, only to find out it was meant for someone else
  51. Relive an embarrassing moment from the past
  52. You’ve been robbed!
  53. Overhear a silly debate that leads to a fist fight (Edward vs. Jacob, PIXAR vs. Disney, Xbox vs. Playstation, Star Wars vs. Star Trek, etc.)
  54. Go somewhere, as an adult, that is obviously meant for children (like “It’s A Blast” or a “Mommy-and-Me” type class) but stick it out anyway
  55. Go to a zoo and/or circus
  56. Go to (or simply reference) a/the Goblin Market
  57. Love notes and presents shoved under the door; looks like somebody has a secret admirer!
  58. Dance! (at a club, at a party, in your bedroom, or in the park; with or without music)
  59. Meet the wise old character who gives amazing advice that saves the day… only this time, the character might be crazy, and the advice they give sounds good, but is actually very bad.
  60. Try some art therapy
  61. Make/receive a proposal…. of marriage, alliance, peace, or merger.
  62. Give it a ‘fairy tale’ touch (so lots of blood, mutilation, death, murder, and/or sex)… Alternatively, just reference a fairy tale.
  63. Twins! (Fraternal or Paternal)
  64. Get a bodyguard; hire one yourself, or have one assigned.
  65. Attend a tournament of some sort
  66. Magical, talking artifact (bonus points if it’s an item that the character has had all along, but the magic/intelligence is only just waking up due to something the character has done to or with the item)
  67. Make a deal (with a devil, fey, genie, god/dess, etc.)… watch it go awry because it always does (bonus points if the wish doesn’t go as the character expects, but they still end up with exactly what they wanted)
  68. Include a character (or reference one) from another universe.
  69. Shapechangers (either meet some, or hear a story about them)
  70. Meet a farm boy hero as he’s just starting off on his quest (bonus points if you kill him on purpose or accidentally, but now must complete his quest as well as your own. Double bonus points if his quest and your quest are somehow at odds, but both are vitally important and must be completed)
  71. Talk to the trees.
  72. Go somewhere with the suffix “of Doom”.
  73. Kill something with a spoon
  74. Stampede! (people, cows, minotaurs, or angry shoppers trying to get the best deals)
  75. Raise the dead (literally or metaphorically)
  76. Magical beans… give us a new twist on what they are and what they do
  77. Foil (or help!) an assassination attempt on someone
  78. Be asked to help determine what to do about a child born with a strange birthmark. Some people say it’s a mark of ultimate evil, and others say that it means the child will grow up to destroy an ultimate evil
  79. Meet a mute character that has vital information you need. Find a way to communicate with them (bonus points if this doesn’t involve writing or telepathy)
  80. A statue is slowly turning from stone into flesh (bonus points if someone else is slowly turning to stone at the same time)
  81. For some reason, no one can die anymore… include all the horrible  details to show why that would be an awful thing (if you need inspiration, watch Torchwood: Miracle Day)
  82. Be cursed by someone (if it’s a magical curse, obviously have whatever the effects are. If it’s a nonmagical curse/world have the character’s luck just turn inexplicably bad for no reason afterwards. They or someone else blames the curse “caster” only to be angrily told that “magic isn’t real, it’s all in your head!”)
  83. Hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and confusion!
  84. Deal with a witch hunt (in any sense of the term)
  85. Some rich, pampered, and unsuitable individual wants to join the quest… and they are quite willing to pay for the more suited characters to escort them/keep them safe.
  86. Meet someone in a witness protection program.
  87. Break a siege.
  88. Get caught in a temporal distortion.
  89. Be involved in a ‘Clue’ like scenario (somebody is killed, but no one can leave until the killer is caught)
  90. Discover the egg of some fantastical beast (bonus points if this is a non-magical world)
  91. Trees/plants are overtaking a city… literally tearing walls and buildings down as they reclaim the land
  92. Discover a mysterious object in your possession. When you wonder aloud where it came from a message/plea for help appears  on the object’s surface.
  93. Include a Tressym .
  94. Visit a cursed tower (legend only, or actually cursed)
  95. Experience some foreign delicacy that has strings attached (it’s addictive, it’s from an endangered species, it’s illegal and detectable with tests)
  96. Make a pilgrimage.
  97. Encounter a race/creature that is traditionally good, but turns out to be actually evil.
  98. Discover that you’ve gained a formidable enemy because of a passing acquaintance with someone else.
  99. Spa day!
  100. Meet a long lost relative (bonus points if they aren’t actually related; double bonus points if they’re more trustworthy/likeable/helpful than any actual relatives)
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