Starting each day with a blank page can be intimidating. If the ideas don’t flow, panic can set in. Next comes self-doubt, and then writer’s block is right around the corner. Utilizing a creative writing prompt unrelated to your current manuscript can help ignite your creativity. After all, there’s no pressure with a simple writing exercise.
A writing prompt is a single word, phrase, paragraph or picture meant to inspire a creative writing session. It can be used as a simple writing exercise or even to spur an idea for your next short story or novel.
Creative Writing Prompts for August 2019
Each month, Writing Middle Grade publishes a list of daily creative writing prompts for middle grade authors. Feel free to use them as part of your morning routine (I use them as a 15-minute warmup). If you’re really inspired, you just might find the idea for a bestselling middle grade novel.
When I think of August, I’m reminded of summer vacation is winding down, back to school shopping is in full effect, and that my favorite season (autumn) is just around the corner. It’s also a month for state fairs, which brings back memories of funnel cakes, corn dogs, and rickety rides that cost far more money to ride than they were worth.
Hopefully these creative writing prompts inspired by those memories will help kickstart your day. Remember, the purpose of a quick writing exercise is to get your creative juices flowing. Write fast and try to make the shift from your conscious mind (where your critical inner voice lives) to your subconscious (where creative ideas flow freely without judgement).
He was supposed to finish his chores by two o’clock, but he was too tired. He’d been up all through the night playing video games with his friends. It’s what thirteen-year-olds do in the summer. So, instead of doing his chores after lunch he decided to take a nap. His mom had warned his that she was going to take away his phone if he didn’t meet his deadline. “But it’s not my fault,” he said. “I fell asleep.” His mom explains that it was his responsibility to set an alarm. She reaches for his phoen, and he pulls it back. The phone slips from his hand and hits the tile floor. When he picks it up he can see that the screen is shattered.
Her mom had always told her that she wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until she was in eighth grade, which she thought was ridiculous. What was the big deal? After all, she was thirteen and every other girl going into seventh grade was allowed to wear makeup. “You’re not everyone else,” her mother would say, and the answer infuriated her. She ended up in the bathroom before homeroom on her first day of school, and that’s when Samantha told her that she could borrow her makeup. “Here,” Samantha said, handing her some eye shadow. “I mean, just wash it off before you go home. They’ll never know.”
He’s having trouble reading the board from the back of the room, so his mom takes him to an eye exam. That’s when he finds out that he needs glasses, but he doesn’t want anyone to make fun of him. “You look cute,” his mom says when she sees the on him, but he’s convinced that’s what moms always say. He’s pretty sure his friends are going to mock him all day if he wears them, so he keeps them in the front pouch of his backpack. Then his teacher asks him to read the board from his seat in the back of the room.
Her softball team was down by a run with two outs in the last inning. The two girls before her struck out, and as she walked up to the plate she felt the weight of their entire season on her shoulders. Not only had they won the regular season, but they had beaten this team twice before. She fouled the first ball off, and as the bat hit the ball, butterflies raged in her stomach. The second pitch was a ball, but third pitch must have caught the outside of the plate because the umpire called a strike. She stepped out of the batter’s box, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.
He’s not allowed to watch R-rated movies. His parents don’t think they’re appropriate for an eleven-year-old, but there’s a problem. He’s at his best friend’s birthday party and all the kids want to watch a horror movie. He knows that he could get away with it. After all, his parents aren’t there so ho would they find out? The only problem is that he doesn’t like horror films anyway, but he doesn’t want to ruin his friend’s birthday. And he doesn’t want to be perceived as a baby.
His dad turned on his blinker before he veered their pickup off the highway and onto a gravel road. Ten minutes later they were winding through a forest thick with birch trees. It was their annual fishing trip, and now that he is 13- years-old, his dad was finally going to let him drive the boat. “Remember the moose we saw last year?” his dad asked. “It was right over there.” He pointed to a patch of thickets. “Yeah,” he replied, but he wasn’t paying attention. Instead, he was watching a compilation YouTube video of a bunch of kids crashing their skateboards. That’s when a text from a private number popped up on his screen. Look up, it read. “That’s weird,” he said, but for whatever reason he felt compelled to do just that. He looked up and there, just outside his window, was a man riding in a saddle on the back of what appeared to be a grizzle bear. The man looked a bit like Santa Clause, but he was wearing jeans and a plaid shirt instead of his typical red.
She had always looked forward to her eleventh birthday. After all, she shared a birthday with her grandpa, and he was turning 77. That meant both were double numbers, and they had decided they would splurge and spend the day together at Disneyland. Just the two of them. But three days before their special outing, she was called to the principal’s office. Her mother was standing there in tears. “Your grandfather…” she said, her voice trailing off. “He… well, honey. He had a heart attack.”
He scrolled through his Instagram feed, wondering what it would have felt like to get invited to Jake’s thirteenth birthday party. All the popular kids from his school were there, along with a few who he thought were marginally popular at best. But if they were just marginally popular, what did that make him? He liked the post, hoping Jake would notice and at least think about him. Then he sighed. He felt alone. No, it was actually worse than that. He felt invisible. Against his better judgement, he decided to take his mom’s advice and invite a few of the popular kids over for a swim party at their new house. Most of them ignored the invite. A couple said they’d come, but when they day finally arrived, they never showed up. He wanted to cry, but he wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction. Still, he had to do something.
It was his last chance to make the Little League all-star team, which is why he worked so hard in the off season. Two years ago, their town had made it to Williamsport, and there was talk that they’d have a good shot again this year. He had been the starting catcher on the best team in the Major division. He led the league in throw outs, and he led his team in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. But when the all-star team was announced, he didn’t make it. Instead, another coach’s son, who also played catcher, made the team. He’s so angry (and embarrassed) that he told his parents that he’s either going to transfer schools or he’s dropping out.
Okay, so she tried out to play the Genie in her middle school’s production of the Aladdin musical, but that ended up going to an eighth grader. Instead, she’s got the role of Jasmine. Everyone was excited—especially since she was just a sixth grader, but she was disappointed. And she was nervous. Jasmine has to wear a crop top and she doesn’t think she’s thin enough. She wants to quit, but she’s afraid to tell the director—or even her parents—why.
He has a predictable routine every day after school. Dump his backpack by the front door, head to the kitchen for a snack, and then it’s off to feed the fish in all five of his aquariums. It was Friday, and he was feeling good about acing his first sixth grade vocabulary test. It didn’t take long for his mood to change, though. The moment he walked into his bedroom, he noticed the water was boiling in the aquarium where he kept his prized discus. He rushed over and found all five of them floating, along with a dead Plecostomus, and three panda corydoras. He’d texted his mom to make sure the water was at 84 degrees. After all, a cold front had swept through and he didn’t want the temps to drop too low. The problem is that she set both the heaters to the max temperature and now everything was dead.
She’s a great athlete, and she really wants to go out for the seventh-grade volleyball team, but she’s convinced that at least half the girls on the team hate her. When her parents ask her why, all she can tell them is that it’s the way the girls look at her. Well, that and she’s pretty sure when they’re whispering, it’s always about her. If she could transfer to a school where at least one of the girls from her club team plays, she’d go out. But Just thinking about it gives her anxiety. Her dad doesn’t believe her, though. He’s making her go to tryouts, and that’s sending her anxiety into overdrive.
He heard that his best friend has a crush on his little sister, but there’s no way that’s possible. Okay, so she’s only a year younger than they are but first of all, she’s still only in sixth grade. And second, gross. It’s his sister. He decides to confront his best friend in the locker room after gym class, and he couldn’t believe it when the answer was, “I mean, yeah. I kinda like her, I guess.”
She was dress coded at school because her skirt was a half inch shorter than school regulations allow. She’s pointed out several time where boys have worn shorts that were too short. Boys also aren’t allowed to wear tank tops, but she counts at least three boys each day who wear them anyway. She might only be thirteen, but she’s tired of the double standard and she’s ready to do something about it.
A thirteen-year-old boy was sitting in the food court eating burgers with his friends when the girl he’d had a crush on for the last two years walked over. “Is it true?” she asked. She was smiling, but he couldn’t tell if it was a friendly smile or one of those “I already know the answer, and it’s kind of embarrassing so you might as well say it” kind of smiles. He looked around the tables and saw that his friends seem to be as shocked as he is. This girl had never talked to any of them before, so why now?
A twelve-year-old girl is finally tired of streaming movies and watching YouTube all summer. Her parents are both at work, and with her sister already at the college dorms, she’s all alone. The dishes have piled up in the sink, but she isn’t bored enough to do chores without getting asked. Instead, she decides to go exploring in the attic. After rummaging through her old dress up box and all her family photo albums, she turns and sees an old chest. She walks over, and as she unclasps the lock, a bright light starts to seep out from the edges.
An eleven-year-old buy decided that he can’t wait to try out the new markers that were supposed to be part of his back to school shopping. With his mom distracted by his baby sister’s temper tantrum, he snuck into his bedroom, shut the door, and opened his sketch book. He decided to warm up with a quick
She designed a winter coat that can also be configured as a sleeping bag to help homeless people without shelter to stay warm. An outdoor brand offered to pay six figures for the rights to the patented design, but she refused to sell it. Instead, despite the fact that she’s only twelve-year old, she wants to raise money for the manufacturing and then give them away for free. Now she’s been asked to be on the hottest late night talk show to talk about her story.
A ten-year-old boy is skipping ahead two grades. Now, instead of staying in fourth grade with kids his own age, he’ll be starting sixth grade in two weeks. He begged his parents not to do it. He’d always been mocked for being smart—which he never really understood. The last thing he wanted to do was stand out, and now he’s certain that things are about to get a lot worse. Especially since he just found out that his mom has set up a “play date” with three other sixth grade boys.
Now that he was twelve years old, his parents finally allowed him to take the kayak out to island in the middle of the lake by himself. It not like it was dangerous or anything. His mom was just one of those helicopter parents who freaked out when he fell off his bike or got hit by a pitch in a baseball game. Whatever. He was alone on an island and it was time to explore. The trees were thick and everything was overgrown, which made it hard to walk. Still, he pushed on. About an hour into the hike he found the ruins of an old house where the roof had caved in. Most of the windows were broken up and vines snaked up the weathered siding. He was about to head up the front steps when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye.
She was laughing as she made her way through the fun house. It was her last summer as a kid—at least that’s what she was telling herself. After all, junior high was a lot more sophisticated than elementary school. You actually moved around from class to class instead of sitting in the same boring home room all day long. The lunch room also had a salad bar. Finally, a healthy option to the canned vegetables and mystery meat patties. Anyway, she’d been going to the fun house at the state fair for as long as she could remember and she was about ready to enter her favorite room. You know, the one where the mirrors make everyone look short and fat or tall and skinny. That’s when she saw the clown. It was wearing pretty typical clown stuff, like big shoes, a giant bow tie, and all that goofy clown makeup. Something was different, though. Its eyes were fiery red, and when it smiled, it revealed teeth that had been filed to points. She wanted to scream, but when she opened her mouth nothing came out.
A twelve-year-old human was jettisoned to a nearby planet after his starship was attacked. When his pod opens, he finds what looks like a bipedal robot staring back at him. The robot has four arms and a cluster of eight eyes that look as though they may be cameras. However, the boy can’t take his eyes from the strange symbol on its shoulder. Though scratched and fading, there’s no denying that it’s an American flag. But how?
Her alarm clock goes off promptly at six in the morning. Typically, she’d hit her snooze button at least twice, but not on picture day. She’s in seventh grade now, and she’s seen how much boys pay attention to girls based solely on their looks. She kicks off her comforter and rolls out of bed before marching to the bathroom. That’s when she catches a glimpse of something strange in the mirror. She turns, looks, and gasps. Her human flesh has been replaced by coarse green scales. She has what looks like tiny goat horns growing from her forehead and her incisors have turned to fangs.
An eleven-year-old boy heard a rumor that the corndogs at the state fair are actually made from the ground shelter dog meat. He ignored it. After all, he’s pretty sure everything he’s ever eaten gets been inspected by someone in the government. It’s a law or something. Besides, they aren’t exactly going to let people eat dogs. Opening night for the fair is finally here and he’s heading to the ticket booth with his friends when a series of fireworks goes off. The noise sends what sounds like a pack of dogs barking. He turns to see a man with nine dogs on separate leashes leaning against the corn dog stand, and that’s when he starts wondering if the rumors are true.
A twelve-year-old boy told all of his friends back home that he was going to camp. He just wouldn’t say where because he was pretty sure everyone would find out his parents were sending him to magic camp. He figured it was going to be a bunch of misfits walking around in Gryffindor and Slytherin robes and for the most part he was right. One day he decided to skip his advanced coin trick lesson to explore walk in the woods, but he stopped when he heard someone begging for help. He slid behind and tree and peaked around the edge in time to see a flash of light. One of the magic instructors turned a girl who looked to be about his age into a wild boar.
Sixth grade has been harder than she thought it would be. It’s not the classes. She’s even taking advanced math classes and it’s still easy. The drama is what’s exhausting her. She doesn’t know what’s worse, the gossip or the backstabbing. Either way, she’s ready to ask her parents if she can switch to online school. Homework finished, she opens her YouTube app and clicks on a video titled “Adventure Awaits.” The video goes full screen without being prompted, and a man with curly auburn hair, a goatee, and two small horns protruding from his forehead like a goat. He addresses her by name and asks if she would like to go on adventure in a strange land filled with magic, mischief, and just a touch of danger.
Seventh grade is going to be different. That’s what he promised himself. In fact, it’s why he took any job that would pay him real money all summer long. That meant skipping time with friends—including Little League—to mow lawns, wash and wax cars, and even babysit. He was tired of being the poor kid with the lame wardrobe bought from big box chains and thrift stores. Then, the actual Sunday he was set to go back to school shopping, the pastor at his small church asked for donations to help some foster kids who were living in a nearby shelter. They needed new school clothes and backpacks. He told a story about how every room in the shelter had six kids who were forced to share a single closet full of clothes. They didn’t actually personally own anything.
Heart is pounding in her chest, she clamps her hand over her sister’s mouth before Lauren can scream. After all, the dead are attracted noise as much as they are the scent of blood and human flesh. She looks down and sees the terror in Lauren’s eyes. She thinks about telling her everything will be alright. I mean, the girl just turned six yesterday, but she refuses to lie. They’ve already lasted longer than they should have given the situation and hiding in a barn stall isn’t exactly the same as barricading yourself in mall or even a house.
This was the first year that his teacher not only gave him a supply list, but she insisted that every student in her class buy their school supplies from a specific store. No exceptions. He shrugged. Maybe fifth grade was different. They had to drive nearly an hour to get there, which was odd considering they could have bought everything on the list in at least a dozen stores in town. “This can’t be it,” his mother said, as she pulled off the road into a gravel driveway that led to what looked like an old barn.
She started to text her response, but she didn’t want to hit send. How was she supposed to tell her best friend that she wasn’t going to wear matching outfits on the first day of school? Sure, it was a tradition they started way back in kindergarten, but this was seventh grade and she was pretty sure the social rules had changed.
Money had been tight since his dad lost his job, but he was tired of hearing about it. He’d already worn the same backpack for two years and he wanted something different for his first day of seventh grade. Okay, maybe you could get away with Star Wars or even The Avengers. But Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? He was going to get mocked, that was a done deal. The only question was whether or not he was going to get beaten up as well.