The fall season is upon us, and with it comes the tinge of cider, the crinkle of leaves under our shoes, and the nip of cold. But with fall also comes early mornings with books and coffee, long nights writing with hot tea, and time off work entering writing contests or editing our manuscripts.
There’s a part of fall that feels like a fresh start, even as leaves die and fall to the ground.
But fall is also busy. Holidays like Halloween quickly roll into Thanksgiving, shopping sprees, and the much-anticipated Christmas season. It’s easy to fall behind in writing goals with family, friends, and work commitments piling up.
Writers write, as the saying goes. So whether you hope to get back your manuscript as your New Year’s resolution or want to try and fit it in among fall activities, a simple writing prompt can help keep you writing.
Pull out your phone as you sip coffee at your local cafe, crack open the notebook you bought three years ago but haven’t written in yet, or even open your voice memos application on your phone.
Whatever method you take to write, allow yourself a few minutes to choose one of the fall writing prompts below and keep writing.
Practice is critical, and it’s crucial to keep the writing rules in mind even during the transition season from summer to the winter holidays!
26 Fall Writing Prompts
#1 – Start a short with this line, “One Halloween night…”
#2 – Write about your favorite Thanksgiving memory.
#3 – What would The Pumpkin Spice Latte be like as a person? Describe a protagonist who embodies this trend.
#4 – Write a short story with the catch that leaves fall up, not down, this season.
#5 – Craft a poem featuring the words cozy, horrified, crunch, and home.
#6 – Describe the perfect home, fall décor, and make it your villain’s home.
#7 – An elderly man pays a neighborhood boy to pick up his acorns. The only problem is that the elderly man has been missing for a decade.
#8 – Your protagonist steps on the Mayflower not knowing the destination.
#9 – You are invited to the first Thanksgiving. What is your experience?
#10 – Three friends enter a corn maze. Once inside, they meet someone who completely changes their anticipated experience.
#11 – You stumble upon someone who’s been stood up by their significant other. The photographer invites you to stand in. True love or a Halloween nightmare?
#12 – You’re a famous chef and in charge of the turkey this year, but you’re vegetarian and don’t want to disappoint your family. What do you do?
#13 – Friendsgiving has always been a blast, until you walk in to find the high school clique you were never included in.
#14 – Write about a barista who is allergic to coffee.
#15 – You thrift a fall bowler hat and find a will crumped in the lining.
#16 – On a hike through the woods, you find a patch of sunlight that the summer season is caught inside.
#17 – Your dream college accepts you for the fall semester, but it’s already November.
#18 – You spill hot tea on your favorite novel and discover a hidden message.
#19 – It’s fall, but you refuse to wear any shoe except flip-flops.
#20 – Your protagonist goes for a summer swim and resurfaces to discover all the leaves have turned colors.
#21 – Someone goes to grab their scarf, beanie, and boots, but one item is missing.
#22 – It’s a pencil’s first day of school. Write from its point of view.
#23 – Siri and Alexa describe their favorite fall drink and why.
#24 – Write a story about fall, but only use nouns.
#25 – Your pet bearded dragon refuses to go into hibernation. Describe his first experience of winter.
#26 – You star in your favorite movie but change the setting to fall.
Now that you have a list of writing prompts, try pairing a few together to give a more unique twist to your story.
For example, combine #19 with #18: It’s fall, but you refuse to wear any shoe except flip-flops. You then spill hot tea on your favorite novel and discover a hidden message. Now your protagonist has to engage in an adventure during a season quickly turning to winter, without proper shoes.
What Prompts Teach About Storytelling
Writing prompts provide an exciting take on how to tell a story with twists the reader never expects. Take the above example. The protagonist finds a hidden message. This isn’t an unusual way to begin a story.
However, tie in the setting. It’s fall, and winter is approaching. This provides an ominous foreshadowing that the adventure may not be as simple as following a hidden message. Additionally, the protagonist isn’t equipped for the weather.
This small change provides an undertone of tension that raises the stakes. Take this example and apply it to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
The hero, Frodo Baggins, sets off on an adventure. Again, this is not an abnormal way for a story to begin.
But here’s the catch: Frodo is a Hobbit. He’s small, used to staying in his home, The Shire, and has only dreamed of adventures. In this sense, Frodo is not equipped for his journey. The secondary characters come along to help fulfill this need.
How Can You Make Your Story Stand Out?
Writing prompts can do more than simply get you writing. Yes, they get you writing, but they also teach you how to combine original elements to make a unique story.
Don’t forget the power of combining various elements in your story. One slight pivot with the plot can drastically change the trajectory of your story.
For example, Beatrice Prior in the Divergent series has to take a standard coming-of-age test. This is not atypical of the American SAT or ACT tests. However, rather than receiving a score and choosing what college to go to, if they want to go, or making a career change three decades later, the Aptitude Test sets the trajectory of each individual’s life.
This is a small pivot, but it changed the entire plot of the first book and the trilogy as a whole.
As you get back to writing, ask yourself the following questions:
What small change would make my story unique?
What prompts could I pair to start a great story?
How can I change one aspect of my character?
Don’t linger too long on where to start with your prompt. Remember, the purpose of a prompt is to take the work of creating an idea off your shoulders so that you can get back to writing!