Narrative Writing Prompts

Narrative writing involves the production of stories or personal essays. It encourages writers to use their creativity and powers of observation to develop stories that can capture a reader's imagination. It recounts a personal or fictional experience or tells a story based on a real or imagined event. Examples include autobiographies or fictional stories. Some of the narrative topics in the 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress writing assessment asked students to write stories in response to photographs, cartoons, or poems.
  1. Think of a real experience you have had that would be hard to forget. Think about what makes it so hard to forget. Tell what happened.
  2. Think about your best holiday celebration ever. Write an essay to tell about this celebration and why it was your favorite.
  3. Think about how you spend Saturdays during the school year. Pick out a particularly memorable Saturday, and explain exactly what you did that day and why it was especially memorable.
  4. Remember the best school assembly ever. Write an essay telling what happened, how the audience responded, and why the assembly was important.
  5. Write a letter to an old classmate about an event in elementary school that was the most memorable to you.
  6. A flying saucer has been sighted over your town. You have never believed in flying saucers, but then you see it for yourself and... Write a science fiction story telling what happens next. Does the saucer land? Do you meet the crew? How do you communicate? What do they look like? Are they friendly? Puzzled? Shy? Suspicious? What about sounds? Sights? Smells? Make your story as interesting as you can for your reader. Create characters and describe the setting. Make your plot move along to a climax and a satisfying conclusion.
  7. Pretend you were selected to receive a special award. Write the article that would be in the newspaper to announce your award.
  8. Have you ever been stranded in a place you didn't want to be? Maybe your parents forgot to pick you up after a ball game, and you were left stranded long after everyone else had gone home.
  9. You won a school contest that allowed you to be teacher-for-a-day. Write about your experience as teacher-for-a-day.
  10. At an awards assembly you were surprised to hear your name called for a certain award. Afterward, when your teacher asked you to write in your journal, you decide to write about this experience.
  11. One April Fool's day you played a safe but terrific joke on your best friend. Write about your April Fool's joke to your classmates.
  12. You and your family went on a camping trip during the weekend. A friend of yours, who has never been camping, wants to know what it was like. Write a letter to your friend telling about one evening of your weekend camping trip.
  13. Pretend your favorite book character or comic book character came to life for a day. Write a story for your classmates about the character that came to life for a day.
  14. We all have memories connected to our experiences. Think about an experience you feel you'll always remember. Try to picture the time, the place, and the people involved. Try to remember everything you can about this experience. Write about the experience you remember. Be sure to include enough details so that your reader can share your experience. Show why this memory stands out for you.
  15. Weather can affect your life. Think about a time in your life when you have been affected by some kind of weather. Write an article for a popular young people's magazine. Tell about your experience so that other young people can understand what it was like.
  16. Choose something for show & tell, but rather than bringing your object to class, your job is to write a short story or poem that shows us the object and tells us why it's important to you. You'll need to use lots of details to demonstrate the significance of the object -- use your words to create images that show readers the object and why it is important to you.
  17. Write about a time you experienced or learned something for the first time. It could be when you first rode a bike or learned a new game. It could have been your first day of school, your first train or plane ride, or your first trip to an amusement park. First experiences are special for some reason. They may be funny, scary, or exciting.
  18. Write about a time when you were surprised. It could have been a birthday party or when you got something you had not expected. It could be when you planned something and it did not turn out the way you thought it would. It could have been when someone came for a surprise visit. Surprises can be funny, scary, or exciting.
  19. Write about a time when you did something that made you feel good. It could be when you helped a team, sang, or played music for others. It could be a time when you were nice or did a special favor for someone. It could be when you did something you had never done before. The important thing is that you felt good about what you did.
  20. Because you have been sick, out of town, or working on other homework, you didn't have as much time to study for an important test as you needed. Think of a specific test that you took that you felt unprepared for and narrate the events. Your paper should help readers understand what it felt like to be unprepared.
  21. Think of an experience when you realized that you suddenly understood an idea, a skill, or a concept you had been struggling with. Write a narrative that tells the story of your movement toward understanding. Your paper should help readers understand how you felt to struggle with the idea or skill and then to understand.
  22. Choose a vivid time from your childhood. Narrate the events related to the childhood memory that you've chosen so that your readers will understand why the event was important and memorable.
  23. Think of a time when you achieved a personal goal. Tell your readers about the story of how you met your goal. Be sure that your readers understand why the goal is important to you.
  24. Think about an event in your life that seemed bad but turned out to be good. Tell the story of the event that you experienced and help your readers understand how an event that seemed negative turned out to have valuable consequences.
  25. Teaching someone else how to do something can be rewarding. Think of a skill that you've taught someone else how to do. Think about the events that made up the process of teaching the skill, and narrate the story for your readers.
  26. Think of a change to a place that you know well, and narrate the events that occurred. Readers should know the details of the change, and they should know how you feel about the changes that occurred.
  27. Choose a time when you did something that took a lot of nerve, a time when you didn't follow the crowd or a time when you stood up for your beliefs. Think about the details of the event and write a story that tells about what happened. Your narrative should show your readers why you decided to make a stand or try something that took nerve, give specifics on the events, and share how you felt after the event.
  28. Think of a time when you disagreed with a decision that had been made and did something about it. Write a paper that narrates the events that occurred -- from the decision that was made to your response. Be sure that your paper gives enough details that your readers understand why you disagreed with the decision and why you felt that your response was appropriate.
  29. Suppose aliens abducted you as you were walking to school. Write a letter to your best friend on Earth telling him or her about this experience.
  30. Imagine yourself as a passenger on a bus. The bus driver announces "We're here! Everyone off." As the bus pulls away, you realize you don't know where you are. Describe to your family the surroundings in which you found yourself and the adventure you had trying to get home.
  31. Think about either your first or last day of school. Write a story to a friend telling about that day. Be sure to describe the atmosphere and tell what impressed you most about your experience.
  32. To tell a story, we often take photographs or create paintings. Imagine yourself dropped into the scene represented by this (painting, photograph, or image).
  33. Picture yourself awakened as (an animal, an object, a gas, etc.). Write a story to tell a human friend what your new life is like.
  34. Imagine you are a newspaper reporter covering the Revolutionary War. You find yourself pinned down by a wave of enemy troops. Write a newspaper story telling readers what your experience is like.
  35. Suppose you woke up one morning to find that (everyone had disappeared, there was no electricity, telephones stopped working, the world had run out of gasoline, the Earth had left its orbit, etc.) Write an account for future generations of what life is like with this sudden change.
  36. Tell a friend about an experience that you had involving an animal. It might be an experience with your pet, someone else's pet, or even a wild animal. Be sure to tell the story in a way that shows why this experience was memorable to you.
  37. Write a story with the title, "(insert relevant topic here)."
  38. A travel agency is looking for exciting vacation destinations that are a bit out of the ordinary. Imagine that the agency asks you to explore (a particular country, city, or area). Write an account for them that describes the interesting experiences you had there.
  39. Imagine that as you are taking a shortcut through the woods, a tree topples pinning you underneath. Explain how you freed yourself.
  40. Imagine that you find a page torn from a short story that has only two lines: "That's how I became known as 'Captain.' THE END" For a friend, create another story that could still end with this page.
  41. Tell about a time when you were embarrassed.
  42. Think of a friend you have, in or out of school. Tell one story that comes to mind when you think of this friend.
  43. Write about one day you will never forget. Tell what happened and why it was special, memorable, or meaningful.
  44. Write about an hour that you would like to live over again.
  45. Retell a fairy tale from the villain's point of view.
  46. Choose one of your favorite authors. Write a letter telling why you like his/her work.
  47. A home in the community has burned. Tell how you would help the family recover from the loss.
  48. Think about something that happened at school that you will remember for a long time. Tell what happened.
  49. Pretend you are not a person. You can be anything your mind can think up. Make up a story about one thing that happens to you.
  50. Imagine that the time is late at night, you are at home when the telephone rings. Create a story that includes this scene.
  51. Pretend that you have superhuman powers. Think about all the different types of super powers that you would have. Explain to the reader of your paper about your superhuman powers and how you use them.
  52. All children have fun with their friends. Think about a friend you have. This friend might be a classmate, neighbor, family member or pet. Think about something fun you have done together. Now tell about a time you had fun with your friend.
  53. You are a letter in the alphabet on your classroom wall chart. You are tired of being up on the classroom wall. Think about an adventure you could have if you were down for one hour. Tell a story about a letter set free in the classroom.
  54. Sometimes we wonder what it would be like if we could fly. Imagine that you woke up one morning and were able to fly. Write a story about where you went and what you did.
  55. Many of you have been in a situation that you did not think was fair. It may have been something that happened to you or someone else. Think about a time you thought, "It's not fair." Write to tell the reader about something that happened to you that was not fair.
  56. We have all taken trips, even if it is to the library or grocery store. Think about a trip you have taken. Where did you go? Why did you go there? What was it like? Write about a trip you have taken.
  57. We have all had happy things happen to us that we will never forget, like getting a good grade, being picked for a team or winning an award. Think about some unforgettable thing that has happened to you. What happened? How did you feel? Tell about this memorable experience so that your reader can picture it in his or her mind.
  58. Have you ever thought of just the right thing to say or do after an experience was over? Here is your chance to rewrite history. For your literary school magazine, write a narrative about something that happened to you - but make this story unfold just the way you wish it had in real life.
  59. A younger relative has just learned that he wasn't chosen to be in his school talent show. Disappointed, he has come to you for advice and support. What kind of story might you write to give him hope, comfort, and encouragement? You might think back over your own disappointments and successes. Then write a story based on one of these experiences to share with your relative.
  60. The editors of your school literary magazine have decided to devote one entire issue to heroic adventures and daring rescues. Think about the rescues you have witnessed, participated in, or read about. Then write a story based on one of these rescues.
  61. How would you like to be only two inches high or so tall that some forests looked like clumps of broccoli? What would be some of the advantages of being so tiny or so huge? What would be some of the problems? Write a children's story about a person of unusual size. In your story, show how this character's size creates a problem or helps to solve one.
  62. Imagine that the time is late at night, you are at home when the telephone rings. Create a story that includes this scene.
  63. Think of a day in your life when everything seemed to be going wrong. Tell about it.
  64. Tell about a time when you felt proud.
  65. What is one of the funniest things that has ever happened to you? Retell the event as completely as you can.
  66. Recall a time when you felt really disappointed about something. Tell about this experience.
  67. Think of a day in your life when everything seemed to be going in your favor. Tell about it.
  68. Think about a really great vacation you took. Tell about one of your best days there.
  69. Think about a time when you felt you were treated unfairly. Tell about it.
  70. Think about a time when you felt scared about something. Tell about it.
  71. Think about a time when you felt important. Tell about it.
  72. When you get to school, there's a sign on the door stating, "School's Closed." What do you do?
  73. Tell about a time you "saved the day." Your experience can either be one that really happened or one that you imagine.
  74. Suppose that one day you woke up and were grown up. Write a story about the first day you were grown up.
  75. Suppose you woke up one morning and had magical powers for a day. Write a story about the day you had magic powers.
  76. You and a friend find an empty building and decide to make it your secret place. Now write a story for your teacher about your secret place.
  77. Yesterday at school, you discovered a giant hole in the middle of the playground. Write a story about what happened next.
  78. Think about a time when you felt special. Write a story about this time that you felt special.
  79. One day at school, your teacher comes into the classroom, places a box on the floor, and leaves the room. Suddenly, the box begins to move. Write a story about what happens next.
  80. One day while you are sitting in your classroom, a creature appears at the window. Write a story for your teacher about what happens next.
  81. One day on the playground at school, you see a large green bag. Suddenly, the bag begins to shake. Write a story about what happens next.
  82. Think about a time you had an important responsibility. It may have been a time when you were asked to something or help someone. Write a store about this time when you had an important responsibility.
  83. If you could become any animal, what animal would you choose to be? Why?
  84. What is the best part of your day? Why?
  85. If you could have any job/career you wanted, what would it be? Why?
  86. What is the best place to go for vacation? Why?
  87. State your favorite animal and give reasons why.
  88. Choose your favorite season. Name the season and explain why it is your favorite.
  89. Write a composition for your classmates, describing the most interesting place you have ever visited, Describe in detail where the place is, how you got there, what you saw, and how you felt.
  90. For a children's magazine, describe your first attempt at playing a particular sport. The sport might be one that looked easy but turned out to be a real challenge, or it might be one that came quite naturally to you. Be sure to describe everything you did and how you felt.
  91. What are some of the more important or interesting experiences you have had in your life? Have you moved, lost something that was important to you, or overcome a big fear? As you grow older your memory of the events is bound to fade. So capture one of these experiences now in as much detail as possible by writing a journal entry about it. Be sure to tell why the event was important to you.
  92. Enter a magazine contest by writing an essay about somebody you admire. According to the contest rules, your hero should be a person you know well or a historical figure - male or female, living or dead - that you've heard or read about. Tell how you feel about your hero, what qualities you admire, and the ways in which you would like your life to be like your hero's.
  93. Have you seen a particularly skillful feat or performance by an athlete, a dancer, or an acrobat recently? Try to visualize the physical movements of the person, and write a description of the performance for the sports and entertainment section of your local newspaper. Use concrete details and imaginative comparisons to help your readers appreciate what you saw.
  94. Is there a special object or family tradition that is important to everyone in your family? For example, do you have an heirloom that has been handed down through generations, a quilt your grandmother made, or a special way of celebrating birthdays? For a younger relative - perhaps even for someone who hasn't been born yet - describe this family treasure or tradition in as much detail as you can.
  95. For an audience of your classmates, write a description of a particular time and place that you know well, such as your room on a rainy afternoon, the video arcade after school, or the waiting area at your doctor's office on a busy day. Use as many specific sensory details a you can. Try to capture the moment - and share how you felt about it.
  96. Think about a time you experienced or learned something for the first time. It could be when you first rode a bike or learned a new game. It could have been your first day of school, your first train or plane ride, or your first trip to an amusement park. First experiences are special for some reason. They may be funny, scary, or exciting. Choose one time when you experienced something or learned something for the first time. Tell about the time by giving details about what you did, how you felt, and why this experience was special or important for you.
  97. Choose a historical figure whom you know something about. Choose one of the following sentence beginnings below, and complete the sentence for your figure. Compose a short story in first person, speaking as the historical figure where you explain the figure's wish, dream, or fear.
  98. The thing that I regret most about my life is _____________________.
  99. If I could accomplish one more thing, I would ___________________.
  100. The accomplishment that I am proudest of is ___________________.
  101. If I could live anywhere in the world, I would choose ______________.
  102. The saddest moment in life was when ________________________.
  103. My favorite childhood memory is _____________________________.
  104. The thing that scares me the most is _________________________.
  105. Think about something that happened at school that you will remember for a long time. Tell what happened.
  106. Pretend you are not a person. You can be anything your mind can think up. Make up a story about one thing that happens.
  107. If you had to flee from your burning house, what would you choose to save? Explain your choices.
  108. What do you do when you get bored?
  109. On Sunday, this is what my family does.
  110. Once I went on a trip to....
  111. One morning a child looks out the window and discovers that a huge castle has appeared overnight. The child rushes outside to the castle and hears strange sounds coming from it. Someone is living in the castle! The castle door creaks open. The child goes in. Write a story about who the child meets and what happens inside the castle.
  112. A noise outside awakens you one night. You look out the window and see a spaceship. The door of the spaceship opens, and out walks a space creature. What does the creature look like? What do you do? Write a story about what happens next.
  113. Write a story about something that has been recycled, like a can, newspaper, or plastic bag, and its adventures along the way.
  114. Write a story about a ride in a hot air balloon.
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Updated 06/17/2005