Maybe it’s the distractions or maybe the stress, but it’s a rare day when I can pop open my laptop and launch into my manuscript. I need a running start, and I’ve found the writing prompts can help.
What’s a writing prompt? It’s a word, phrase, paragraph or even a picture that is meant to inspire your creative writing session. It’s often used as a short writing exercise but it can also be used as the catalyst for a new shot story or a novel.
Writing Middle Grade publishes a list of daily creative writing prompts for middle grade authors. They’re a great way to start your daily writing routine (I use them as a 15-minute warmup in the morning).
Creative Writing Prompts for October 2019
October is my favorite month of year. I’m reminded of autumn leaves, crisp air, and the sweet smell of word burning fireplaces. There’s nothing I like wearing more than a pair of old jeans and a sweater, sipping hot cocoa, and going for long walks in the woods to clear my mind.
Then, of course, it’s football season—college and pros. That means tailgating and barbecue, marching bands and fresh cut grass. These creative writing prompts were inspired by all those wonderful memories, along with a dash of Halloween. Remember, though, these are writing exercises meant to get your creative juices flowing. Don’t think too hard about it. Just write. The objective is to get you to shift from your conscious mind (that critical inner voice) to your subconscious (creative ideas that flow without judgement).
A twelve-year-old boy is running late to his gaming session so he decided to cut through the woods on his bike to save time. The sunlight is fading, but he can still see the winding path without his flashlight. Twigs snap and leaves rustle in the distance, but he presses on. He knows it’s just the sounds of squirrels or maybe a raccoon, because there’s no such thing as spirits—no matter what the rumors about these woods are. In time the trees start to thin and he can just make out the church steeple on Main Street in the horizon when a cloaked figure steps out of the woods and onto the path. He crashes into the figure, but instead of fall the man bursts into a hundred crows the fly into the trees.
She ended up with straight A’s in sixth grade, which meant that her parents had to let her try out for the football team in junior high. She knew that she was going to get mocked, but she didn’t care. The last thing she wanted to do was wear a pound of makeup and a tiny skirt while she jumped around with pompoms and fawned after the boys. She ran out of the girls’ locker room and onto the practice field in full pads, helmet on and mouthguard in place. Yeah, she could hear the laughter but it just fueled her.
Maybe Gunnar was a prodigy, maybe he wasn’t. Either way, he was going to work hard to honor his dad’s legacy. There weren’t many thirteen-year-olds on the planet who had an arm like his, but Gunnar knew that was just genetics. His dad had been an All-American quarterback in college, but thanks to a knee injury his pro career had been cut short. Then, two months ago, a drunk driver struck his parents’ car. The guy had been going the wrong way on the interstate and they were killed on impact. Gunnar moved in with his grandparents, and tonight is his first game as the starting quarterback of the seventh-grade team. As Gunnar runs out of the locker room to the field, he sees news vans and cameramen everywhere. What were they doing there? It’s just junior high school. They crowd in as he approaches, pushing microphones in his face as they ask him how he’s feeling.
A twelve-year-old girl discovers that she has a rare genetic condition that’s slowly stealing her eyesight. She had a dream of becoming the first female hired by a professional football team to do their play-by-play broadcasts, and that dream has been crushed. When the Vikings hear about her story, they invite her to be a part of the broadcast team for the first preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. She’s flown to Minneapolis in first class, and she even has a limo waiting for her at the airport. But that was just the beginning of the surprises that were in store.
A thirteen-year-old boy is desperate to play tackle football for the school team, but his parents are concerned about brain injuries so they won’t let him play. Instead, they sign him up for a seven-on-seven passing league, but it’s flag football, not tackle. He’s so angry that he punches a hole in his wall. A sharp pain shoots up his knuckles and through his wrist, and when he looks down he can see the back of his hand is swollen.
Four twelve-year-old friends are playing Dungeons & Dragons around an oak table in the basement. One of the boys says that his dad won an eBay auction for a pair of dice that Gary Gygax had owned. He pulls out a small velvet bag, loosens the string, and dumps them on the table for everyone to see. There’s a flash of light that momentarily blinds them. As their vision returns they’re still sitting at the table but they aren’t in the basement any more. They’re in a field surrounded by creepy looking woods.
There had been rumors for years that blood bank downtown was owned and operated by a benevolent vampire who preferred to pay people for their blood instead of killing them for it. It was summarily dismissed by most rational thinkers, but for a pair of twelve-year-old twin sisters who were convinced that vampires were real, it was a problem that needed to be solved. Sure, there hadn’t been anyone from town who’d been reported missing since the blood bank opened—but they were afraid the vampire could turn on them at any moment and they weren’t willing to risk it.
A thirteen-year-old girl is looking to earn enough money to afford a new jacket, gloves and beanie from The North Face for an upcoming skip trip with her church youth group over winter break. She knows her parents don’t have a lot of money. After all, they’re both teachers. But she’s tired of wearing her cousin’s hand-me-downs. It makes her feel like a charity case. There was an ad on Craig’s List for someone to do house cleaning and yardwork for twenty dollars per hour, but she knew her parents wouldn’t let her do it if she asked. She told them she was going to stop at the library to do homework after school, but she rode her bike to the house instead. It was on the outskirts of town and looked rundown. If she didn’t know different, she would have thought it was abandoned. She rang the doorbell and waited on the front porch for what felt like five minutes. Disappointed, she turned to walk back down the steps when the front door opened.
Andrew’s parents dropped him off at the church youth center for the Wednesday service. It was hard enough getting ignored at school, but things weren’t much different at church. It seemed like the kids had their friend groups already and Andrew was left on the outside looking in. That’s what he got for moving again, but it seemed making friends in seventh grade was a lot harder than it had been in elementary school. He walked into the foyer where most of the boys were playing foosball and ping pong. The girls were huddled by the coffee shop, sipping hot cocoa and talking about who knew what as music blared through the speakers. That is, all except one girl. Andrew watched in amazement as she beat boy after boy in ping pong. One kid looked like he could have been an upper classman in high school. His muscles bulged under his t-shirt, and he had quick hands and feet. They just weren’t quick enough. She beat him 21-10 and he almost fell down as he stumbled to reach the ball on the last point. She laughed and then turned to Andrew. “Want next?” she asked. He shrugged. Maybe this was his chance. After all, he’d had a tennis coach for the last five years and he wasn’t bad at ping pong, either.
Despite being a mere eleven years old, his shoulders and broad, his neck thick, and his hands covered in callouses. He’d been selected at an early age to be the blacksmith’s apprentice, but given that the blacksmith was his uncle, he didn’t think it was that big of deal. He was, however, fascinated by gargoyles. It was said that they came to life at night to protect the villagers from dark spirits that lived in the forest outside their small village. He hoped it was true—well, not that spirits were lurking about, but that the gargoyles were actual living beings. It was his third night in a row attempting to stay up until dawn. His eyes were growing heavy, and just as he was about to fade to sleep, he heard what sound like boulders splitting in two. He looked up to see one of the massive beasts turn from stone to flesh. It scanned the horizon, eyes glowing in the darkened night before it spread leathery wings and flew towards the tree line.
Friday nights mean one thing in Texas, high school football. There’s no bigger rivalry in the country than West Lake Highschool and Lake Travis Highschool, and this year is no different. Both teams are ranked nationally, and the game is going to be broadcast on ESPN. Tickets are impossible to get unless you’re willing to buy them from a scalper for $500. Charlie, however, is a special guest of the West Lake Highschool head coach. Charlie is a promising running back who is currently on the seventh-grade team at West Ridge Middle School and he plans on starring for West Lake High one day. Watching games form the sidelines is incredible. The speed is impressive and the hits are vicious. The game is tied going into the fourth quarter, but something strange is happening in the visitor’s section. The fans from Lake Travis start screaming as they jump up from their seats and rush down the steps. Charlie is confused until he hears the moaning sound. That’s when he sees a mass of people lumbering through the gates near the far end zone. As they get closer, he can see the gray skin, lifeless eyes, and rotting flesh. One of the zombies grabs a cheerleader form Lake Travis and pulls her to the ground. Three more attack a referee. The football players stand dumbfounded for a moment. Then a few of them start to fight back, but it doesn’t take long before they realize it’s a losing cause. Charlie turns to find his parents in the stands, but there’s too much chaos. He feels a hand on his shoulder and turns to find one of the dead looking at him, gnashing its teeth.
She’d always loved photography. For her seventh birthday she got an instamatic camera. For her ninth birthday, her grandpa gave her his old 35mm Minolta that used actual film. Then, for her thirteenth birthday, she saved enough money to buy a used full frame DLSR camera off eBay that came with a telephoto lens. She had more than a natural eye. She had a curiosity to learn everything there was to know about lighting, composition, and post production. The faculty liaison for the school yearbook told her that she was the best photographer the school had ever seen—then he told her that he’d submitted some of her photos to the local paper. They were so impressed by her work that they offered her a press pass to be a photographer at the big instate rivalry football game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones.
Most kids who post on Instagram want to emulate social media influencers or they want to become a social media influencer. Not Caleb. He might only be twelve year sold, but he wants to become a nature photographer who travels the world. He uses his Instagram feed to share landscape vistas and wildlife images from his home state of Colorado. And he has over ten thousand followers, but most of them are adults. In fact, the only person at school who even knows about his Instagram feed is his science teacher. One day he opens up his account to see that one of his images has over 100,000 likes in less than a day, not to mention a near endless stream of comments. A quick scan reveals that most people think the image is a fake, but a few are steadfast that its real. He’s confused, because he doesn’t do any Photoshop work. They’re all images taken with his phone. He reads a few more of the comments before he understands what they’re saying. Apparently, there’s what looks to be a sasquatch in the background. Certain that its nothing more than a shadow or maybe a small tree, he scrolls back up to the photo and zooms in. Sure enough, there it is. An actual sasquatch that was less than a hundred yards from where he was standing. But how? Cryptids aren’t real.
Like most people who grow up near Snoqualmie Falls, she loves the outdoors. Her parents had been taking her on hiking and camping expeditions a week after she was born. And even though her father is one of the founding members of the Snoqualmie Sasquatch Rescue Team, she’s still proud of the fact that at 13-years-old she is the youngest person to be considered for membership in the club’s history. To make it into the club, she has to hike the 3,1000-foot Mount Si and spend the night alone. The Snoqualmie people believed that Mount Si was actually the body of the moon, which fallen to earth. It’s also prime land for Sasquatch sightings. She makes her way to the top without any problem, but she’s a little frustrated that her dad decided to sleep in his van at the base of the mountain. In her mind, it kind of defeats the purpose of being alone. But when the sun goes down she finds out there were plenty sounds and moving shadows that made her appreciative that he was nearby. Then she hears something heavy walking through the trees, and it sounds like it’s getting closer.
He had always been quiet around his classmates, and in turn they hardly realized he was there. In fact, he was convinced that if he transferred to another school, there wasn’t single person who would know that he was gone. But online, things were different. He was vibrant and talkative. In fact, his Twitch channel had over 20,000 subscribers—and it was growing fast, which wasn’t bad considering he was only thirteen. He often wondered how many kids at school followed his channel but didn’t know who he was sitting alone at the lunch table across from them every day. He was good at video games. In fact, he was so good that his nickname was Prodigy. Sponsors were starting to reach out to him, which is how he got invited to his first professional event. The winner got a million-dollar prize, and even though he didn’t think he’d have much of a chance, he figured he’d give it a try. Defying the odds, he won. It was all over social media. The local paper and news channels covered it. So did ESPN. Suddenly everyone at school wanted to talk to him—including the popular kids. In fact, a girl he’d had a crush on since kindergarten invited him to her birthday party.
The men of their village were gone on a raid, leaving the women, children, and the elderly behind. Things had been quiet as they went about their daily lives, preparing for the long winter ahead. Astrid was in charge of tending the livestock on her small family farm. Each morning she woke up long before the sun rose, as she fed the cattle, pigs, and goat. Midday was approaching and she was about to break to find something to eat when she spotted a ship in the horizon. Eyes squinting in the sun, Astrid watched, hoping it was her father and brothers so she could get back to practicing with her sword. But it wasn’t. The warship was from a rival clan and she was certain that it held at least fifty men. She ran to grab her sword before heading back to the village to warn the others.
The man had asked Logan to burn the leaves when he had finished raking them. Logan didn’t think twice. After all, that’s what everyone did out in the country. He sprayed some of the leaves with lighter fluid and then pulled out the book of matches that he had been given. There was a whooshing sound as the leaves caught fire. Soon the flames were burning bright, but it wasn’t long before the wind swept through. Burning leaves lifted into the air, bouncing until the came in contact with the barn. At first, nothing happened. But it wasn’t long before he could see smoke coming out of the loft. Flames followed and he started to panic. The barn was on fire, and there were animals inside.
When your dad is the head varsity football coach in a small town that shuts down every Friday night to watch the game (whether its home or away) people tend to treat you differently. That’s why Xavier was used to hanging out with people that were older than he was, but he should have known something was up with the eighth-grade boys showed up wearing black from head to toe. Xavier was in seventh grade, and he was already getting attention from college scouts. He didn’t need the kind of attention that you get when you egg the cars from the visiting team, but the eighth graders started mocking him for being soft.
She had recently moved to Minneapolis from the Sudan. It was hard enough for the thirteen-year-old to adjust to the cold autumn weather—especially since she didn’t have the right clothes. But it was harder to fit in with the students. Few people looked like her, and each night she went home and cried because she wasn’t able to make friends. Her mother told her to do her best to fit in. She had always been good at soccer and she figured that would be a good way to meet friends, but in Minnesota nobody played soccer until the spring. Then she heard a story about a soccer player who became a kicker in professional American football. There was a signup sheet for football tryouts next to the boy’s locker room, and she decided to put her name on the list. Maybe she could become the next soccer player to transition to an American football kicker.
An eleven-year-old boy is at the costume shop with his friends looking for Halloween costumes when he gets a text that reads, whatever you do… don’t fall asleep tonight.
Rebecca is watching her favorite YouTuber’s live feed when she hears a sound like a wild beast in the background. The YouTuber spins around and screams. Rebecca can just make out the silhouette of a massive form in the background. The camera falls over all she can see is carpet and shadows as the screams continue.
History shows that Tenzing Norgay was the only Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer to join Sir Edmund Hilary in his expedition to the top of Everest in 1953, but it isn’t true. At least if you believe a recent interview published in the New York Times. According to the story, a twelve-year-old girl from Nepal name Daxa Bhandari joined them as well, and she is still alive today. She recounted how she was tasked with setting up the tents and cooking the meals, but the most remarkable part of her story was the night they were attacked by an abominable snowman.
Isaiah saw smoke in the horizon, so like any twelve-year-old would, he hopped on his bike to investigate despite the cold drizzle. He was the first on the scene of what looked like a bad accident. A red 1956 Ford Mustang had veered off the wet roads and smashed into a telephone pole that had snapped at the point of impact. It landed on the car, smashing the rooftop. The windshield was shattered, and from the look of things, there was a girl slumped over on the dashboard. Her head was bleeding, and there was blood splattered on the glass. A kid who couldn’t have been much older the seventeen stumbled out of the driver’s seat. It looked like he was going to a sock hop or something. His wore black a jacket with a white t-shirt, cuffed blue jeans, and penny loafers. He stared at Isaiah for a moment before he fell over. Isaiah rode his bike back home as fast as he could and called 9-1-1, but by the time the paramedics showed up, the car was gone. So were the kids. They questioned Isaiah, who started to feel like he was crazy. When he told his friends at school the next day, one of them said he thought he knew who it was. He led them all to the library where he pulled out a yearbook that was almost 60 years old. “Is that him?” he asked, pointing to the picture of Johnny Newton. Isaiah nodded, but didn’t understand. “Dude,” his friend said. “You just saw a ghost.”
Halloween is still a week away, but the horror has started early for twelve-year-old Samantha. She had a nightmare that her mouth had been sewn shut by a hideous creature with no eyes and rotting flesh. Samantha wants to scream, but she can’t. She reaches up to feel that her nightmare was a reality. Her mouth has been sewn shut.
He was big enough to play offensive line. In fact, the coaches had begged him all summer long to go out for the seventh-grade team. The problem is that he just wasn’t interested. Sure, he was “country strong” and the way things were going he was going to end up at well over six and half feet tall and 300 pounds. Still, his passion was cooking. And his tailgates were already legendary in their county. Every Friday night there was a home game for the high school, he’d set up his smoker and a grill near the bed of his dad’s pickup truck. He’d serve brisket, smoked turkey, sausages with sweet peppers and onions, baked beans, coleslaw, and lemonade. There was a donation bin in case people wanted to chip in, but other than that, it was free. Most nights he made a few hundred dollars that’d he put in his college fund, but one night he counted the money and discovered that he had over ten thousand dollars in rolled up one hundred-dollar bills.
Her father was murdered in a botched bank robbery and even though the police knew who did it, they didn’t have the proof. At thirteen, she was already the editor of her school newspaper and blog, and she was also the founder and president of the podcasting club. She decided to put her investigative skills to work and launch a podcast about the crime—including the rumors of police corruption, pay offs, how the murders were connected to the mayor’s brother—a known crime boss—and that the newspapers refused to cover the story for fear of retribution from the mob. She didn’t care, though. All she wanted was her father’s killer to be brought to justice—and if that meant taking down the mayor and his criminal brother at the same time, fine. The first three episodes had less than twenty downloads each, and she was about to give up when a true crime blog with a big following wrote a review about her podcast. By the fifth episode, she was getting almost twenty thousand downloads in the first day. And by the seventh, she reached 100,000 downloads. That’s when she started to notice the man in the dark trench coat following her everywhere she went.
Eric was doing his homework when his father entered the room holding a wooden box. “Grandpa wanted you to have this,” his father said as he placed it on the bed. Eric’s hand caressed the grain as he studied all the scuffs and scratches. Eventually his fingers made it to the metal clasps and he opened the lid to find what looked like a small sledgehammer. Strange symbols were carved into the handle and the anvil alike. “They’re Norse runes,” his dad told him. He stood there for a moment and smiled before he turned and walked out of the room—but not before offering a warning. “Just be careful,” he said. “That thing isn’t a toy.”
Elisabeth looked down at her bloodied knuckles. She winced as she flexed and unflexed. Her hand was swollen but even though it hurt, she didn’t care. And she didn’t care the she broke his nose, either. She was tired of harassment—tired of the groping and the accidental bumps every time she walked down the hall. She overhead the principal mention that she was going to get a suspension, and it just made her angrier. Of course, a male was going to punish her and let the guy who grabbed her backside go. I mean, all he did was sexually assault her. But he said it was an accident, and apparently his parents were already threatening to sue the school and her family. As she sat there, waiting to see the principal, her dad stormed through the front door. He looked angry, and he didn’t bother to sign in as he marched toward her.
His uncle was legendary. He led the local high school to back-to-back state champions, was first team all-conference in college, and he played professionally for five years before he returned home to coach his alma mater. By the looks of things, Kirk was going to be taller than his uncle. He had a broad frame, despite the fact that he was only thirteen years old. He had the genetic makeup of an elite athlete, but just didn’t care about football. In fact, he pretty much hated sports. His passion was music, but he could see the look of disappointment whenever his uncle or any of the other coaches from the junior high and high school were around. One day, his grandpa, who used to coach the high school, offered to pay Kirk $1,000 every year he played football—including seventh grade. That was a lot of money—especially since Kirk was saving up for a vintage Les Paul electric guitar.
She was supposed to be home before the sun set, which meant she needed to take a shortcut or she was going to be late. Of course, that meant she had to cut through the cemetery where her grandparents were buried. Most days that wouldn’t bother her, but it was the night before Halloween and something just felt off. Still, it beat getting grounded. She gripped her handlebars extra tight as her tires hit the gravel road. The last thing she needed was to wipe out. It seemed fairly quiet until she spotted three men with shovels. That’s when she noticed almost a dozen coffin-sized holes that had been into the ground. One spotted her, because when he pointed the other two looked her way. Their eyes were all glowing faintly in the twilight, and suddenly her legs felt like gelatin. She willed them to continue to pedal, but she didn’t know if she had the strength.
He didn’t mind that his parents made him watch the Charlie Brown Halloween special when he was a little kid, but he was twelve and he was starting to feel too old. That is, until her overheard some of the girls talking about waiting out in the pumpkin patch just outside of town for the Great Pumpkin instead of going trick or treating. He was pretty sure they didn’t really believe in the Great Pumpkin, not that it mattered. They were three of the pretty girls in the entire elementary school and he decided then and there that he had to find a way to get invited to their little party.
More Creative Writing Prompts
The dates, month, and year of the writing prompts is ultimately arbitrary. That means you can mix, match, and skip around as you see fit. So, if you’re looking for more writing prompts to choose, be sure to click here.