Find your new direction

  • 1300 76 2221
  • Australian owned and operated since 2008
10 best creative writing careers

9 Creative Writing Prompts (to Inspire Your First Novel)

There’s at least one ‘bestseller’ in all of us (so they say). Could you be the next Liane Moriarty? There’s only one way to find out – write!

There are many ways to switch on your ‘novel-writing’ brain, from taking creative writing courses to joining a writer’s group, but these creative writing prompts are sure to get your story started.


  1. A Picture Sets the Scene

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So, what better way to kickstart your creativity than to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) by writing about a photograph.


You can choose any image or photograph that grabs you. It could be a picturesque, snow-capped mountain in the Himalayas or a white sun-soaked beach in the Whitsundays – whatever inspires you to start a story. It doesn’t even need to be idyllic, it can be just as thought-provoking to glean inspiration from a rundown village in the middle of nowhere.


Think about what happens in this beautiful (or desolate) place. Creative writing prompts like this are perfect for coming up with the settings for your novel. Some of the bestselling authors have drawn their inspiration for whole novels from a place they have visited. Think Picnic at Hanging Rock, inspired by Hanging Rock, Melbourne, Victoria.



  1. Pin-Up Photographs of People

Cut out photos of people that spark your imagination from magazines, newspapers or print from websites; next pin them up in your office or stick them to the fridge where you can see them every day. This will help you create three-dimensional characters for your novel.


Creative writing prompts that focus on people and faces are an excellent way to create interesting yet relatable characters. Try describing these people in detail – not just how they look, but also their personality, likes and dislikes, family, interests and their career.


This can be the beginning of your character map (a graphic document that illustrates the personality elements, flaws, relationships and journey of a fictional character in a novel) – simply find inspiring photos and make a collage.


  1. Random Words in the Dictionary.

Open a dictionary, or any book, and choose a word at random from six different pages. This often works best with the most obscure words so don’t worry too much if they’re completely unrelated or strange.


Now use each of these words to start a new paragraph and you’re on your way to finishing the first chapter of your book. Creative writing prompts like this one can sometimes spark a completely different idea for a novel and that’s okay – just run (write) with it!


  1. Dream it, Write it!

Have you ever woken up from a bizarre dream and thought it would make a great book, only to forget it a few hours later? Often dreams are the best creative writing prompts, as they’re thoughts and ideas unencumbered by our conscious mind. When you’re asleep your subconscious state-of-mind takes over and the most imaginative characters and plots develop.


Keep a notebook beside your bed to record any dreams that you think might inspire a book. You never know, your next nightmare might make the next thriller or horror genre bestseller list. Now there’s a silver-lining!


  1. Keeping a Secret? Spill it.

If you’ve been keeping as secret – your own or someone else’s – this could be the start of a great novel. Be sure to change names to protect the people surrounding the secret of course. After all, creative writing prompts shouldn’t be the catalyst for losing friends before your literary career even begins. That can wait until after you’re a famous writer (joking)!


  1. Listen.

It’s amazing what you hear when you’re out in public. Next time you’re at a coffee shop, bar, playground, on a bus or train, at work – anywhere really – listen carefully to what people say – there’s a wellspring of inspiration at all watering holes!


Write down a conversation that sparks your interest and see where it leads. You may like to keep a good-quality notebook handy for those occasions when creative writing prompts strike.


  1. Three’s the Charm.

Combine three random things (objects or people) as creative writing prompts. Such as, a stolen necklace, a fear of snakes, and a crazy fiancé. Now use these three random phrases and try to incorporate them into a plot for your book or first chapter.


This creative writing prompt is perfect when you’re stuck for ideas, whether it’s finding a great idea to start a novel, or you need a bit of extra drama to add some spark to a plot line that’s gone stale.


  1. Write About a House or Hotel.

What’s going on next door, across the road or in that creepy old house on the corner? It’s probably best if you don’t know the occupants – there’s something imagination-igniting about the element of mystery!


You could also pick up a brochure advertising a new hotel or resort as a creative writing prompt! Could the entire novel be based on someone’s holiday? Or perhaps one day in the life of a staff member who works at a five-star hotel!


Creative writing prompts that focus on a place can be the foundation of your novel and may spark sensational plot lines and fascinating characters –simply let your imagination run wild!


  1. Read Between the Headlines.

You know they (also) say real life is stranger than fiction. So true! A real-life story could be the catalyst for a bestselling novel. In fact, creative writing prompts like this one have already inspired famous novels, including Jaws and Murder on the Orient Express (also major movies), which were both loosely based on real-world news stories!


Don’t copy the events of a news story verbatim but do use some of the details to infuse some ‘real life’ drama into your novel. So, next time you’re reading the news think about how a fictional world could be based on this narrative.


Certificate of Creative Writing

They say there’s at least one great novel in all of us. Could yours be the next bestseller?

The Certificate of Creative Writing is an introductory professional development program that will provide you with the knowledge, skills and techniques required to create compelling fiction and creative non-fiction.


Australian Online Courses

Australian Online Courses is an online education provider offering hundreds of professional development courses covering a diverse range of subjects and industries. A state-of-the-art eLearning platform combined with friendly tutors and helpful learning consultants is the ultimate in flexible learning.

Contact Learning Consultant today on 1300 76 2221 for more information or to enrol in an online professional development course today.