How to Create Endless Writing Prompts | B.A. Burgess | Skillshare

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How to Create Endless Writing Prompts

teacher avatar B.A. Burgess, Writer | Writing Facilitator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Welcome to How to Generate Writing Prompts


    • 2.

      My Tools


    • 3.

      Step 1 - Make a List of Categories


    • 4.

      Watch Me Make My List


    • 5.

      Watch Me Roll the Die to Assign a Category


    • 6.

      Step 2 - Make a List of Genres


    • 7.

      Watch Me Make My Genre List


    • 8.

      Watch Me Roll for a Genre


    • 9.

      Step 3 - Search and Roll for an Image


    • 10.

      We Did It! Here's a Recap!


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About This Class

Learn how to generate an unlimited supply of writing prompts that assign a genre, provide visual inspiration, and an anchor element.

This course is excellent for writers who need to get out of their own way and just write some random fun stuff!

Meet Your Teacher

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B.A. Burgess

Writer | Writing Facilitator


B.A. Burgess is a multi-genre author.  She has published works of poetry, romance, non-fiction, and children's book under various pen names (or author voices as she prefers to call them).
When she isn't writing, working out, taking photos, and encouraging others to write.

Speaking of, would you like to start writing? 

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1. Welcome to How to Generate Writing Prompts: Hello and welcome to How to make writing prompts unlock unlimited writing prompts quickly and easily. In this course, I'm going to show you how you can generate unlimited story ideas for all of your creative projects. And you'll need the following items. You'll need a 20 sided die in real life or a digital. I'll give you a link for that. You'll need some writing implements. Use your favorite ones. I like to use marker and paper when I'm doing this, but I'm going to show you how to do this prompt generation technique on the computer. So you can certainly use word processing software as well. I didn't put on here that you need a computer. Obviously, you have access to the internet. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to take this course, but just the heads up, you will need access to the Internet because I'm going to give you not only the link to a digital 20 sided die, but I'm going to give you the link to a royalty free site that provides images, which is going to be part of the generation process. Before I tell you a little bit about myself, I want to stop right here and say if you are a writer that has too many ideas and your problem is not idea generation, but it's more focusing on one idea at a time. This course will not help you with that. What it can do if you're a writer like that, because I am a writer like that, I have a lot of ideas is it can pull you out of your normal stream of writing consciousness and take you away from the ideas that have been paying rent in your brain for a long time that maybe you haven't addressed yet. I recently used the technique that I'm about to share with you with the writers at Pilgrim file press to generate a short story collection that's going to be coming out soon. And we all had a really good time using this. And we're going to use it again for sure. So if that sounds like you, this can still help you as well. If you're a person that likes to write creatively, but you feel like you don't have any good ideas or, or maybe you're afraid you're writing the same story over and over again. Again will help you with that. It takes you out of your own way and it gives you the opportunity to stretch her writing muscles in different genres or areas and things. I think you'll really enjoy it. So before we dive into the course, this is really quick. I'll tell you about me briefly if you want to skip this because you know who I am totally can. Hello, my name is Barbara. I'm a writer, writing facilitator, founder, film file press. That's me right there, peeking behind this cartoon desk. My teaching style is very casual. I laugh a lot because I tend to smile audibly. You'll probably hear me drink some water on the mic. And I'm just going to go ahead and tell you up front that I cannot change that. I'm a thirsty person. But I will teach you quickly. And I will teach in actionable ways, meaning that I will tell you what to do. Then I will show you how to do it, and then I will ask you to go do it. And that leads me to the course project. So your class project at the end of this is to share your prompt parameter list, which you'll know what that is, but the end and your first or second set of prompts that you come up with. I know sometimes when you first do it, the first time you do this, it's a little clumsy. So if you don't quite get the hang of it, immediately share the second one. I would just want you to take a screenshot or take a picture and you can post it in the class and let everybody see what's going on. Don't worry. We see your parameters or we see your problems and were inspired by them. Anything that we write that it's not going to be like anything you've written because we are all very different people. Additionally, if you want to go and get some extra imaginary bonus points, if you use your prompt to do a creative writing project, whether it be a personal essay, story, poem, Song, whatever, if you want to share a link to that as well, I'd love to have it and I'm sure everybody else would as well so that we can cheer you on and be inspired by all the great work that you're doing. Okay, so if you're ready, I'm ready. Let's move on to the prompt generation process. 2. My Tools: Before we dive in, here are some links that you might want to have. These two links here are four virtual 20 sided die. So you can literally Google 20 sided die and it will give you a virtual randomized die roller, which is fantastic. Also one of the links you'll get is for roller D2L, which is also roll a And you can select any kind of dye you want a role there. I find both of these very helpful. I have a die that I roll around me. In fact, you can hear it in my cup there, but I'll be using the virtual die for this. Also, you'll need this link here. For some freely usable images on, I find that these are the best stock images you can get on the Internet anyway. And luckily they're free. Which is just wonderful. So that means that if you select an image for a story and you want to put the image at the front of the story, give the photographer credit and put it in there. They're happy to have that happen on Okay. I will be using pages for writing pages on Mac. When I do my writing, when I share my screen, you'll see that. And I'll also be using Google's D20. So you'll see that as well. 3. Step 1 - Make a List of Categories: Now that we know what tools we're going to be using, Let's talk about laying down some parameters or some guidelines going forward. We're going to need three of these parameters in place to make this idea generation thing work. If we were just looking around and getting inspired by things around us, which is awesome, but it's sometimes overwhelming. We might get idea paralysis. You know, you have too many ideas, you get paralyzed and then you end up not writing. So what we want is a system that we can rely on and lean on so that we don't get overwhelmed and have too many ideas. So to do that, we're going to narrow our options By pinging category. I also call it an anchor sometimes. But what we'll be doing here is we'll be making a list of one to 20, hopefully, all 2020 categories that you might search on a photo websites such as So some examples here. I mean, you can type in animal car, red, whatever. And that's gonna give you a list, just a magnificent list of images that you can choose from. But you won't have to just decide. You're going to let the dice decide or the die if you're using just one day, decide which image are going to land on. But first we have to decide what kind of images we're going to search for. And that's what parameter one is four. So what we're actually going to be doing here in this first step is making a list, numbering the page one to 20, and making a list of different categories that you might search for on a photo site. And I'll show you how I do that. And you can even copy this list if you want it, you can use the list that I generate and I'm doing this cold. I don't have the list pre-made, so this'll be interesting. Let me share my screen with you and we'll get started. 4. Watch Me Make My List: Okay, here we are on my screen in pages and I'm just going to make a list of 20 things that I see around me. And these things are categories for photos that are on Unsplash that I'll be looking at. So the first thing that I see is some yarn. Got some yarn, and we've got a coffee cup. And we've got plants. I see plants. And I see I don't know if people still call these kinda pillows, throw pillows, but I see throw pillows. There's a decorative pillows that you have on your couch. What else is around me? See a candle. See pill bottles. The pill bottles or four. I supplements and allergy medicine. Really attractive. I see a kettle. Let me look at my window here. That was the shade lifting up there. There are lots of birds outside. And there's a barn Simon Tennessee lamp over there. There's a nice fireplace. I see my dumbbells or in the corner beckoning me to use them. I have a skull in the corner that I got from the Renaissance Festival. It's made out of this beautiful rainbow clay. I love that skull so much. They love it. Skull. What else do I see? There are some blooms on the trees outside. It's also a pond outside. Guess I could write down hands on keyboard. That might end up being typing. That might be the better category to type typing. Let's see, I need three more things. If I could handle it, three more things. There is a jar of pins beside me, so I'll do pins. Who's about to type tissues, but that, actually, that'll be funny. Let's do that tissues. And there's a stuffed animal across from me and Rubik's cube. Now it's funny how much you reveal about yourself by listing the things that are near you. Okay, so there's my list of 20 things. 20 things list. Cool. Let's move on to the next step. 5. Watch Me Roll the Die to Assign a Category: Now it's time to roll the dice to see which option on my list. It's going to be my first perimeter. So I will roll my 27 die now. Seven. Okay, What was seven? A kettle. Okay, fantastic. Okay, so kettle is my first parameter. 6. Step 2 - Make a List of Genres: Okay, with step one complete, we have assigned our category for me. It's the kettle, so I'm just listing kettle here. But, you know, you know what yours is. I know what minus our next parameter that we're going to set its genre. Now this one is hard for me. I cannot tell a lie. I have specific genres that I like to write in and only those genres. So we're going to list 20 genres. I know it's going to be hard. But we can list 20 and we can just go with it. It's just a roll the dice. No problem. This is all exercise for our writing muscles, so it'll be worth it. So step 2, clearly we're going to make another list of potential genres this time. And once again, I will share my screen with you and we'll see how everything goes down. 7. Watch Me Make My Genre List: Okay, let's make a list of genres for a writing project. And again, this makes me really uncomfortable because I only like to write in certain genres, but here I am, stretcher my legs like you are. So let's just start with the easy stuff. We know that romance genre, sci-fi, or just gonna do the big ones. And then we'll get into sub-genres as we run out. Action adventure could be anything, right? Action venture, children's book, if that's something you're interested in, It's important as well. Put things on here that you're not exactly interested in. Okay, So this is where you might need to go to books, to a book website, to Amazon and look at all their book categories because there are lots of sub genres, stuff like holiday, romance, holiday. I think if that's not a sub-genre, it should be. And this will make it one. Let's just put a bunch of holiday stuff here to make it easy. Holiday fantasy, urban fantasy, magical realism. Man, I'm gonna put this on here. Period. Literature I don't like. That's also called historical fiction. For those of you playing along at home. We'll just call it historical fiction. And like to read historical fiction. I don't like history in general. I want to like it more, but I just, I'm not interested enough in it to retain any of it. So writing historical fiction would be very difficult for me. We'll do flash fiction, short story. So these are genres that word count dictates that they fall into that category. So if you just say short story, you still have the option of writing whatever kinda short story you want, like a romance short story or horror short story, that kind of thing. We need four more. So let's start getting specific, right? So we're gonna say zombie story, right? Vampires story. What would you call an Indiana Jones type story? Let me look at my bookshelf. There's so much nonfiction up there. I don't know if that'll be helpful to 0, 0. Fairy tale. Let's do that. Fairy tale in honor of pilgrim file press writer and net Williams McCann. And what about what else? To do a cop story, right? Top story. We'll just call it cop story. So as you can see, I'm literally making these things up as I go. They don't have to be real genres. You can just throw some stuff out there. But again, it's just another parameter, but it does need to be something that you could personally classified as a genre. Let's do like a superhero down here. Okay, there's our list of 20. It's not a perfect list, but it'll do. All right, let's move on to the dice roll. 8. Watch Me Roll for a Genre: Okay, let's roll the dice again, the die again, and hope it rolls on to something reasonable is 16. What was the number? 1600 zombies. Excellent. I get to write a zombie story. I'm into it. 9. Step 3 - Search and Roll for an Image: Okay, so we've got our first parameter, which is kettle. That's what we're going to be searching for. And we've got our genre. Genre is the zombie variety. Now it's time to put in our third parameter, which is going to be an image. So now all we have to do no list this time we have to go to And because that's what we're using again, you can use any other image source you like. But I choose Unsplash because I think they are the best. And we're going to search for a kettle on Unsplash, because that's our category. Oops. All right, we're going to search and then we're going to roll a die to select an image. All right, let's see how this goes. 10. We Did It! Here's a Recap!: Okay, friends here are all of my parameters laid out right here. My category was kettle, that's also the anchor. That means I'm going to include the word ketal in my stories somewhere. Now you don't have to apply that rule to yourself. I like to. You might want to leave that roll off. You can. And if that's the case, then the only two parameters you really need, our perimeters, 2 and 3, the genre and the image. But for me, my three parameters are used. The word ketal in the story somewhere. My story must be a zombie genre story. And my image is going to be this beautiful image here. And that's going to be my inspiration for the kettle and maybe even part of the setting. So everything that we just did you can do over and over and over again. You can create an unlimited supply of story prompts. So let me recap just really quickly to make it very clear how the system works. All you have to do is make a list of 20 categories or 20 things that you would search for on a free image site, and then roll a 20 sided die to select one of those categories or items or angers, whatever you want to call them words. And then you'll create a list of 20 genres, real or unestablished. It doesn't matter as creative writing, you do what you want. And then you'll roll a 20 sided die. And that will then select the genre. And then you will take whatever you landed on in the first parameter, this first in the first list exercise, you will search for that on an image site and then roll the die again to figure out which image is the one that you were supposed to use for your prompt according to science statistic and the luck of the draw. So I genuinely hope that you enjoyed this and I hope that you use this prompt generating system for yourself and in the future. There are some downloadable PDFs here in this course for you. There is a colorful worksheet that looks a lot like this slideshow here. I did not make this myself. This came from Canvas, so shout out to whoever did this, don't know who did it. Really colorful, really cute, doesn't go in my branding at all, but I really loved it. So there will be a worksheet that looks similar to the side show. There's also going to be a very clean, minimalist one that you can use either by printing it out or you can import either of these PDFs into an app like GoodNotes or something on your iPad and you Sure Apple pencil or whatever other pencil and pad related thing that you're doing. So anyway, we're going to be some options for you. You can also just do all this on your computer or on scrap sheets of paper, but I'll include some quick cheat sheet instructions for you as well. And again, don't forget to let us know how you get on with this. I say us, me and my other writing friends because we're using this right now to write a short story collection and we're having a blast. So please leave links to any short stories that you write using this method or poetry or whatever that comes of this, this writing prompt project, please just let me know. I want to hear about it. Thanks so much for hanging out and happy writing.