100 Creative Writing Prompts for Middle & High School – 2024

April 15, 2024

creative writing prompts for high school and middle school teens

Some high school students dream of writing for a living, perhaps pursuing an English major in college, or even attending a creative writing MFA program later on. For other students, creative writing can be useful for school assignments, in English and other subjects, and also for preparing their Common App essays. In a less goal-oriented sense, daily freewriting in a journal can be a healthy life practice for many high schoolers. Not sure where to start? Continue reading for 100 creative writing prompts for middle school and high school students. These middle/high school writing prompts offer inspiration for getting started with writing in a number of genres and styles.

Click here to view the 35 Best Colleges for Creative Writing.

What are Creative Writing Prompts?

Similar to how an academic essay prompt provides a jumping-off point for forming and organizing an argument, creative writing prompts are points of initiation for writing a story, poem, or creative essay. Prompts can be useful for writers of all ages, helping many to get past writer’s block and just start (often one of the most difficult parts of a writing process).

Writing prompts come in a variety of forms. Sometimes they are phrases used to begin sentences. Other times they are questions, more like academic essay prompts Writing prompts can also involve objects such as photographs, or activities such as walking. Below, you will find high school writing prompts that use memories, objects, senses (smell/taste/touch), abstract ideas, and even songs as jumping-off points for creative writing. These prompts can be used to write in a variety of forms, from short stories to creative essays, to poems.

How to use Creative Writing Prompts

Before we get started with the list, are a few tips when using creative writing prompts:

Experiment with different formats: Prose is great, but there’s no need to limit yourself to full sentences, at least at first. A piece of creative writing can begin with a poem, or a dialogue, or even a list. You can always bring it back to prose later if needed.

Interpret the prompt broadly: The point of a creative writing prompt is not to answer it “correctly” or “precisely.” You might begin with the prompt, but then your ideas could take you in a completely different direction. The words in the prompt also don’t need to open your poem or essay, but could appear somewhere in the middle.

Switch up/pile up the prompts: Try using two or three prompts and combine them, or weave between them. Perhaps choose a main prompt, and a different “sub-prompt.” For example, your main prompt might be “write about being in transit from one place to another,” and within that prompt, you might use the prompt to “describe a physical sensation,” and/or one the dialogue prompts.  This could be a fun way to find complexity as you write.

Creative Writing Prompts for Middle School & High School Students (Continued)

Write first, edit later: While you’re first getting started with a prompt, leave the typos and bad grammar. Obsessing over details can take away from your flow of thoughts. You will inevitably make many fixes when you go back through to edit.

Write consistently: It often becomes easier to write when it’s a practice, rather than a once-in-a-while kind of activity. For some, it’s useful to write daily. Others find time to write every few days, or every weekend. Sometimes, a word-count goal can help (100 words a day, 2,000 words a month, etc.). If you set a goal, make sure it’s realistic. Start small and build from there, rather than starting with an unachievable goal and quickly giving up.

100 Creative Writing Prompts for Middle School & High School Teens

Here are some prompts for getting started with your creative writing. These are organized by method, rather than genre, so they can inspire writing in a variety of forms. Pick and choose the ones that work best for you, and enjoy!

Prompts using memories

  1. Begin each sentence or group of sentences with the phrase, “I remember…”
  2. Describe a family ritual.
  3. Choose an event in your life, and write about it from the perspective of someone else who was there.
  4. Pick a pathway you take on a regular basis (to school, or to a friend’s house). Describe five landmarks that you remember from this pathway.
  5. Write about your house or apartment using a memory from each room.
  6. Write an imaginary history of the previous people who lived in your house or apartment.
  7. Write about an ancestor based on stories you’ve heard from relatives.
  8. What’s your earliest memory?
  9. Who was your first friend?
  10. Write a letter to someone you haven’t seen since childhood.
  11. Write about yourself now from the perspective of yourself twenty, or eighty, years from now.
  12. Write about the best month of the year.
  13. Write about the worst day of the year.
  14. Rant about something that has always annoyed you.
  15. Write about the hottest or coldest day you can remember.
  16. Visualize a fleeting moment in your life and as though it’s a photograph, and time yourself 5 minutes to write every detail you can remember about the scene.
  17. Draw out a timeline of your life so far. Then choose three years to write about, as though you were writing for a history book.
  18. Write about a historical event in the first person, as though you remember it.
  19. Write about a memory of being in transit from one place to another.

Objects and photographs as creative writing prompts

  1. Describe the first object you see in the room. What importance does it have in your life? What memories do you have with this object? What might it symbolize?
  2. Pick up an object, and spend some time holding it/examining it. Write about how it looks, feels, and smells. Write about the material that it’s made from.
  3. Choose a favorite family photograph. What could someone know just by looking at the photograph? What’s secretly happening in the photograph?
  4. Choose a photograph and tell the story of this photograph from the perspective of someone or something in it.
  5. Write about a color by describing three objects that are that color.
  6. Tell the story of a piece of trash.
  7. Tell the story of a pair of shoes.
  8. Tell the story of your oldest piece of clothing.

Senses and observations as creative writing prompts

  1. Describe a sound you hear in the room or outside. Choose the first sound you notice. What are its qualities? It’s rhythms? What other sounds does it remind you of?
  2. Describe a physical sensation you feel right now, in as much detail as possible.
  3. Listen to a conversation and write down a phrase that you hear someone say. Start a free-write with this phrase.
  4. Write about a food by describing its qualities, but don’t say what it is.
  5. Describe a flavor (salty, sweet, bitter, etc.) to someone who has never tasted it before.
  6. Narrate your day through tastes you tasted.
  7. Narrate your day through sounds you heard.
  8. Narrate your day through physical sensations you felt.
  9. Describe in detail the physical process of doing an action you consider simple or mundane, like walking or lying down or chopping vegetables.
  10. Write about the sensation of doing an action you consider physically demanding or tiring, like running or lifting heavy boxes.
  11. Describe something that gives you goosebumps.
  12. Write a story that involves drinking a cold glass of water on a hot day.
  13. Write a story that involves entering a warm house from a cold snowy day.
  14. Describe someone’s facial features in as much detail as possible.

Songs, books, and other art

  1. Choose a song quote, write it down, and free-write from there.
  2. Choose a song, and write a story in which that song is playing in the car.
  3. Choose a song, and write to the rhythm of that song.
  4. Choose a character from a book, and describe an event in your life from the perspective of that character.
  5. Go to a library and write down 10 book titles that catch your eye. Free-write for 5 minutes beginning with each one.
  6. Go to a library and open to random book pages, and write down 5 sentences that catch your attention. Use those sentences as prompts and free-write for 5-minutes with each.
  7. Choose a piece of abstract artwork. Jot down 10 words that come to mind from the painting or drawing, and free-write for 2 minutes based on each word.
  8. Find a picture of a dramatic Renaissance painting online. Tell a story about what’s going on in the painting that has nothing to do with what the artist intended.
  9. Write about your day in five acts, like a Shakespearean play. If your day were a play, what would be the introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution?
  10. Narrate a complicated book or film plot using only short sentences.
  11. Read a short poem. Then write a poem that could be a “sister” or “cousin” of that poem.

Abstract ideas as creative writing prompts

  1. Write about an experience that demonstrates an abstract idea, such as “love” or “home” or “freedom” or “loss” without ever using the word itself.
  2. Write a list of ways to say “hello” without actually saying “hello.”
  3. Write a list of ways to say “I love you” without actually saying “I love you.”
  4. Do you believe in ghosts? Describe a ghost.
  5. Invent a mode of time travel.
  6. Glass half-full/half-empty: Write about an event or situation with a positive outlook. Then write about it with a miserable outlook.
  7. Free-write beginning with “my religion is…” (what comes next can have as much or as little to do with organized religion as you’d like).
  8. Free-write beginning with “my gender is…” (what comes next can have as much or as little to do with common ideas of gender as you’d like).
  9. Write about a person or character that is “good” and one that is “evil.” Then write about the “evil” in the good character and the “good” in the evil character.
  10. Write like you’re telling a secret.
  11. Describe a moment of beauty you witnessed. What makes something beautiful?

Prompts for playing with narrative and character

  1. Begin writing with the phrase, “It all started when…”
  2. Tell a story from the middle of the most dramatic part.
  3. Write a story that begins with the ending.
  4. Begin a story but give it 5 possible endings.
  5. Write a list of ways to dramatically quit a terrible job.
  6. Write about a character breaking a social rule or ritual (i.e., walking backwards, sitting on the floor of a restaurant, wearing a ballgown to the grocery store). What are the ramifications?
  7. You are sent to the principal’s office. Justify your bad behavior.
  8. Re-write a well-known fairytale but set it in your school.
  9. Write your own version of the TV show trope where someone gets stuck in an elevator with a stranger, or a secret love interest, or a nemesis.
  10. Imagine a day where you said everything you were thinking, and write about it.
  11. Write about a scenario in which you have too much of a good thing.
  12. Write about a scenario in which money can buy happiness.
  13. Invent a bank or museum heist.
  14. Invent a superhero, including an origin story.
  15. Write using the form of the scientific method (question, hypothesis, test, analyze data conclusion).
  16. Write using the form of a recipe.

Middle School & High School Creative writing prompts for playing with fact vs. fiction

  1. Write something you know for sure is true, and then, “but maybe it isn’t.” Then explain why that thing may not be true.
  2. Write a statement and contradict that statement. Then do it again.
  3. Draft an email with an outlandish excuse as to why you didn’t do your homework or why you need an extension.
  4. Write about your morning routine, and make it sound extravagant/luxurious (even if it isn’t).
  5. You’ve just won an award for doing a very mundane and simple task. Write your acceptance speech.
  6. Write about a non-athletic event as though it were a sports game.
  7. Write about the most complicated way to complete a simple task.
  8. Write a brief history of your life, and exaggerate everything.
  9. Write about your day, but lie about some things.
  10. Tell the story of your birth.
  11. Choose a historical event and write an alternative outcome.
  12. Write about a day in the life of a famous person in history.
  13. Read an instructional manual, and change three instructions to include some kind of magical or otherwise impossible element.

Prompts for starting with dialogue

  1. Write a texting conversation between two friends who haven’t spoken in years.
  2. Write a texting conversation between two friends who speak every day and know each other better than anyone.
  3. Watch two people on the street having a conversation, and imagine the conversation they’re having. Write it down.
  4. Write an overheard conversation behind a closed door that you shouldn’t be listening to.
  5. Write a conversation between two characters arguing about contradicting memories of what happened.
  6. You have a difficult decision to make. Write a conversation about it with yourself.
  7. Write a conversation with a total lack of communication.
  8. Write a job interview gone badly.

Final Thoughts – Creative Writing Prompts for Middle School & High School 

Hopefully you have found several of these creative writing prompts helpful. Remember that when writing creatively, especially on your own, you can mix, match, and change prompts. For more on writing for high school students, check out the following articles: