Prompts, Exercises & Challenges

Due to popular demand I’m listing our monthly short works assignments as well as other prompts, exercises and challenges we have or that I’ve come across to keep your writing muscles warm.

If you have any favorites, or come across any great writing exercises, let me know via email or comment. The more, the merrier!

0742And don’t be shy!

Share your work with your writing buddy or the Group via email or on the blog for our helpful feedback. We’re all in this to get better together, and it’s working!! (because we are!)

AWWG Current Exercises:

These exercises are short form, typically 1-2 pages (350-700 words) in length, and issued each month at the 2nd Monday meeting. Completed works can be read aloud at the following month’s Monday meeting.

for AUGUST 2016 Travel Writing: draft an essay about a travel experience you’ve had (or wish you’d had) Re-write it and discover what happens!
for MAY 2016 Look out the window, describe what you see, and imagine something happens that totally transforms the scene, good or bad. Re-write it and discover what happens!
APR 2016 PROMPT ONE – THE JUICER: Getting your writing practice going….

Find a photograph of a stranger. Imagine they come up to you in a coffee shop, and ask if you’ll listen to them for a bit. What story does this person share?
THE DEEP CLEAN: Working through issues in your current writing project….

This exercise is simple, but it takes discipline and clarity. Make sure your inner critic doesn’t turn on the self-judgment in this exercise! You need your editor, but you, the writer with a goal, run the show!
THREE-STAGE REVISION PROCESS: Choose a chapter of your novel, or a short story, a poem, a scene in a play, or any section that feels “stuck” in your current project.
1. Print out a copy. Go through and highlight the sentences/lines/phrases that say what you want to say, and say it well. (Use a pretty color marker).
2. Then go through and underline the sentences/lines/phrases that say what you want to say, but need to be rewritten before they say it well.
3. Now go through and cross out (using one clean line) the sentences/lines/phrases that repeat what you’ve already said, or say it in a way that doesn’t add anything to your pages.
4. Now make a duplicate copy of your document on your computer, and edit in in the following ways:
a. delete all the crossed out text. (Don’t worry, it’s a duplicate. Nothing is lost.)
b. revise the underlined sentences so they are clearer/stronger/more compelling.
c. read the results aloud. Better, right!?
FEB 2016 PROMPT ONE: Describe as fully as possible the kitchen in your childhood home.

PROMPT TWO: Take 1 page of a writing project you’re working on that you want to make GREAT. Rewrite that page 3 times, each time taking a different approach. For example, as an experiment:

  • change the voice
  • raise the stakes, and increase the tension of that event or incident
  • simplify it
  • integrate an internal monologue from the main character into the page
  • make it rhyme (if it’s a poem) or take out the rhyme
  • make it funny or take the humor out of it
  • make it almost entirely dialogue if it’s prose, or action if it’s a scene from a play

Now go back and rewrite the page, integrating what really worked in your three experiments.

for the March meeting
JAN 2016 Why I love Writing for the February meeting
SEPT 2015 Write a one-page response to a news story or current event that has grabbed you. monolog, pov response by a character, essay, play with it however you want.
AUG 2015 Write a 6 word story. Yes, you read that right: SIX WORDS. The most famous example is Ernest Hemingway’s:

“For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

some examples 


JULY 2015 Write your 7-sentence autobiography.
And by the way, sentences a paragraph long are considered cheating! Sentences should be reasonably long, like the sentences you would write if you weren’t panicked by the 7-sentence limit.
JUNE 2015 New Yorker cartoons as prompts. famously dry or oblique, the New yorker magazine cartoon as a prompt can jog a memory, tickle a question, puzzle a brain cell. turn a randomly assigned cartoon into a piece (genre of your choice) pick a cartoon
MAY 2015 Take an ordinary event, (like a cat up a tree! or your child’s school play, or a flat tire) and write a serious news article as if you were a reporter. Use the traditional structure where the main facts are up front. Write a head line and 2 or 3 subheads. include a quote from an ‘expert.’ NA
APRIL 2015 Take a paragraph or two that you’ve written, and rewrite it. Try different things: expand your detail, enrich your dialog, deepen the mystery, call on more emotion. See what you can do to make it better! NA
MARCH 2015 Write from the POV of an inanimate object. A non-living object, a thing: how does it see the world? what is it’s experience, and how is it different from yours? Fiction or non-fiction! NA
FEBRUARY 2015 edit and revise your Story Generator story, with a writing buddy NA
JANUARY 2015 Story Generator from Holly LisleThis is an intuitive plotting exercise – using randomness to spark some ‘aha!’ ideas that can lead you somewhere you’d never get to by the direct route. It is mandatory to HAVE FUN! Documentclick icon to open; right- or control-click to download pdf file
 2014 EXERCISES If anyone has a record of our previous monthly assignments, please provide in a comment or email. NA

Various Prompts & Inspirations:

PROMPT: The writers of Breaking Bad went on to develop the spinoff show Better Call Saul. they asked themselves: “What problem does becoming Saul Goodman solve?” NA

Table Cell

Dr. Sacks wrote in “An Anthropologist on Mars,” that illnesses and disorders “can play a paradoxical role in bringing out latent powers, developments, evolutions, forms of life that might never be seen or even be imaginable in their absence.”


Table Cell
Table Cell Table Cell Table Cell
Table Cell Table Cell Table Cell

Create a website


2 thoughts on “PROMPTS

  1. Pingback: NEW PAGE! Prompts & Exercises | The Women's Pages

  2. Pingback: Next Meeting Monday June 8 | The Women's Pages

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