Writing a book
can a wonderful experience provided you know where to start. So to help you get started, here are 70 writing prompts across 14 genres which will get your creative juices flowing. Go on, read them and get started on that novel you have been dreaming of writing. Good luck and happy writing!
- The life of Lal Ded, the Kashmiri mystic, also known as Lalla or Lalleshwari. She wrote mystical poetry called ‘Vakhs’.
- Choose any person—famous or obscure—and 10 objects in their life that tell their life story.
- The life story of an ordinary Indian woman who trained in Netaji’s Azad Hindi Fauj. Why did she join it? How did her family react? What did she do after she left the INA? What legacy did she leave behind?
- The life of a character from the footnotes of history. People who are forgotten. Write their life as seen by other people.
- The life of a self-made man or woman from the city you live. Do take their permission before you put your heart and soul into the project.
- A girl who discovers the formula for making time go faster or slower. She starts exploiting it for her own petty ends. One day a man approaches her for her help. How did he know about her? Will she agree to help him? What is it in it for her? What is it in for him?
- A new tribe, discovered in the Amazon, don’t look like a pre-historic tribe but like the rest of the world, the latest fashions and devices. But there is something different about them. They all look like versions of one person. Who is that person? Why do they look like that?
- A man who makes old chess sets in Syria claims to have the power to influence real-life wars. The two sides have to play a game of chess in the workshop. Whoever wins there, wins in the real world. Who will take him up on his offer?
- A man in South Korea is famous for making the best desert—sweet rice cakes. Except every time he makes a rice cake, something incredible happens. It becomes too much of a good thing. How can he stop it?
- A character wakes up every day with the feeling that they have travelled somewhere else during the night. Her close friend discovers that’s true. How will they use this ability? For what purpose?
- Write a novel about your favourite fictional character written from his/her point-of-view if they lived in the real world.
- A character leaves their well-settled life and moves to another continent on a whim. What happens next? How do they cope?
- A man who grew up in a tribe in a remote mountainous area lives in mainstream society. What identity crisis affects him? How does he solve it?
- A character works for the most powerful man on this planet and has access to information no one else has. He/she writes it all as fiction to hide the reality and doesn’t want it published. What happens next?
- A woman who suffers from schizophrenia and all her personalities write separate diaries. An outsider stumbles on them and pieces all the diaries together to tell her story.
- A man is shipwrecked on a beach of an old coastal town in the 1920s. He walks to the lighthouse asking for help. Who receives him? How does the community react?
- A man who has lived through and during the Japanese occupation of Andaman Islands during World War II. How did he survive?
- The story of an Armenian family in Kerala who deal in precious stones and fabric back in the 7th century during the time that India and Armenia started trading with each other.
- The story of the artisan who made the Indus Dancing Girl, the prehistoric bronze sculpture from the Indus Valley Civilisation, Mohenjo-daro. Did it have some personal significance for the artisan?
- The story of an Indian shawl owned by British writer Jane Austen given by her Aunt Philia. How did it go from Colonial India to Britain?
- The history of a famous historical house in your neighbourhood or city which is probably dilapidated and forgotten but is historically precious nonetheless.
- The history of a vanishing dialect spoken only by very select people in some parts of the country.
- The history of your own family. All those who migrated and those who stayed.
- The history of an authentically created craft object like your grandfather’s old table or a grandmother’s armoire. How did it get to your family? Where did it came from originally?
- The history of your neighbourhood. Old or new, each neighbourhood has a characteristic and history that can be captured in a book.
- Nine murders have taken place in the neighbourhood. The protagonist notices a connection only after the man downstairs is killed. What is the connection?
- An old collector buys a manuscript from an obscure shop. He reads it and wants more books by the same author. So he goes back the next day. Except the shop has disappeared. So he opens the book to look for clues and finds a story in it that wasn’t there the day before. It’s about him and the book he bought. What happens next?
- The new exhibition at the museum is displaying priceless artefacts from a bygone era. People go there to see the exhibition and are locked in. To get out, they have to solve an age-old puzzle inside an artefact. Who will solve it? How? Who wants the puzzle solved?
- A town has the disease of sleeplessness. At first people lose a few minutes. No one notices. Next, they start losing hours. No one is alarmed. One it turns out that all the people haven’t slept in a week. People start fainting and dying. What is going on? Who will help these people?
- The clock in the town’s main square stops. It can’t be repaired. Then it starts running backwards. Not just the clock, but other things too like cars and cycles. The protagonist has a theoretical cure but putting into practice might be harmful. Is there another way?
- Write a memoir of a fisherman surviving the 2004 Tsunami. He lost his whole family but has managed to survive and create a new life.
- A memoir of a woman wrestler and how she manages to compete with all the obstacles against her.
- A memoir of a politician who lived through some of the most significant political events of this century.
- A memoir of a musician who overcame prejudices and competition to become a leading singer today.
- A memoir of a novelist who was criticised right from his first novel but has continued to write and make a name.
- A novel about a character who leads a double life. An ordinary person and a government agent. What problems will he/she face? How does he/she manage them?
- A novel about a mysterious family that moves next door to the protagonist. They mostly stay inside and rarely move out. Who are they? Where have they come from? What are they waiting for?
- A novel about a series of break-ins at many temples across the country. What are the thieves looking for? Who will solve these crimes?
- A novel about a billionaire who has contracted a super virus. He is willing to pay any amount to cure him and find out who gave it to him. Who will save him and solve the mystery?
- A novel about a professor of archaeology called to decipher a new script found at the excavation site and evaluate some artefacts. But things and people start disappearing. Who will solve the mystery?
- A poem about how you live now when compared to how you lived 5 to 10 years ago. Is it better or worse? Why?
- A poem about finding out a secret that changes your world. How did you find out the secret? How does it impact you?
- A poem about the day you made a sacrifice for a loved one. What was the sacrifice? How did you make it? What were the consequences? Were they what you expected?
- A poem about your mother or father and their meaning in your life. What memories do you have of them? How are they now? What have they done for you? What have you done for them? What is their value in your life?
- A poem about the destruction of nature. What weather and climate changes have you witnessed? How does it impact your life and that of your loved ones?
- A tomboy hides her gender to get a job employing only men. The boss has no idea and treats her like a male employee. They start falling for each other but are so confused about it. How does this situation resolve itself?
- A young lady discovers her grandmother’s dairy with the details about a holiday affair she had many years ago. Intending to write a novel about this, the young lady sets off to trace her grandmother’s lover. She finds a guy who says he can help. He turns out to be her grandmother’s lover’s grandson. What will happen next?
- An overweight man hires a female personal trainer to help him lose weight. As the pounds fall off and a handsome man emerges, the personal trainer and the client discover their feelings for each other. What will happen next?
- A female scientist who has a bizarre theory about solving the problem of climate change. But no one believes her. Except an old ex-boyfriend. Now she has to go back and ask for his help without letting any feelings get in the way. Is that possible?
- A woman inherits one half of an old villa and shares ownership with a distant relative’s nephew. When they meet for the first time, they hate each other. They have to work together to restore it or they will lose it. And they find out they like each other.
- From the future, a teen accidentally time travels his/her way to the Vedic age. Some mortals are being elevated to ‘gods’. What happens when the teen is also give a spot in the pantheon? Does he/she accept/not accept it? What happens when he/she time travels back?
- In the distant future, Africa has united to become one country and has colonised the whole world. How does the world look like now? Who are resisting this new order? Will they succeed?
- A man discovers a portal in his child’s toy guitar. Through it he can travel backwards or forwards in time but first he has to learn to play it. What accidents does he have while learning to play it?
- A woman runs into another woman in the coffee shop. The second woman claims to be an alien and needs her help getting back. But the alien police are after her for murder. Should the earth woman help the alien?
- Many years in the future, in a post-apocalyptic world, a girl finds an egg amidst the ruins of a house. What comes out of the egg defies everyone’s imagination.
- The perfect kind, nice and motherly landlady turns out to be something else. How does your character found out? What are the consequences?
- A scar that you got, physical or emotional. What is the shape of the scar? How did you get it? What memories are connected to it? What did you do to get rid of it? Did you succeed?
- You posted something online and it went viral. What did you post? When did you discover that it went viral? What was your reaction? How did it impact your life? What happened after the viral moment passed?
- Write a short story about life in a small community. Where does your character live? What rules bind the community? Is it a good experience or bad? What happens to make the character leave/stay in the community?
- The day you met the person who left a great impression on you. Whom did you meet? Where? What made him/her stand out? Did you keep in touch with him/her?
- Follow a food item that has travelled all over the world and trace its history. For example: noodles/pasta, biryani.
- Write about going back to your native city/town after living in a different city and all the memories good and bad that dregs up.
- The city that you live in as a local. Look at the city through familiar eyes and recount events that happened to you.
- Write about the worst vacation you have been on. Why? What fights happened? What did you lose?
- Write about surviving in a city where you don’t know the language and have lost your belongings including cash. What would you do?
- A young boy/girl makes a list of things to do before his/her next birthday and goes to any lengths to get them done. What are the unintended funny/serious consequences of this wish?
- A young boy/girl makes friends with a stranger, a possibly good demon. But it is on a mission. What happens next? How do they get along? Who helps whom?
- A young girl works as a waiter to help her family. One say she discovers a door that she had never seen before. She opens it and walks in. What happens next?
- A sensitive young boy growing up in a family of wrestlers, hates wrestling and loves cooking. How does he manage to follow his chosen calling?
- A bright young girl invents a device for her science project. What happens when the government wants to talk to her and is interested in her device?