A Page Before Midnight – Writing Prompts

Everybody has a story and it’s made up of moments – this moment – of a story. These prompts are about a moment. Scribbles on a page. (I do mine really early in the morning, but if you’re a teen, you might do yours on the phone in the dark late at night.) These are for everybody, teens, kids, adults. No rules. Be a poet. Write a text. Write a paragraph. Make it true. Make it up. Turn the prompt upside down. You are creating the world! The prompts are to tap into your experience, your memory, your imagination. Stay in touch. What happened? My goal – to post a prompt on Instagram every week.

Terrifying Nights

In my town, every October, Steve Workman creates Night Terrors, a terrifying display of creatures with audio to haunt you. There’s no comfort here. Even the jack-o-lanterns threaten your breath.

Your prompt: You are creating your own Night Terrors. Create a tableau in words or picture to make someone quake.

A Dog Story

Your prompt: This is the jacket image of my first book. What’s the story you see in this picture? Get a nice pencil and a blank paper or maybe a pad. Find a place you can curl into with your paper and pencil. Write for ten minutes. Try not to lift your pencil from the paper. Don’t edit. Keep going, telling the story that this picture inspires in you. After 10 minutes you can get a cookie, and if you’ve got more to say in your dog story, keep writing.

Write in this Book you Find in the Woods

A Page Before Midnight Writing Prompt

April 21 was a hard day for so many. Many had died that day, especially in NYC. On that day, in the woods where I walk morning and night, people skirted each other and didn’t talked. But up on a ridge by a stonewall, I found a notebook, wrapped in clear plastic. Through the plastic I read, “Fill Me Out and Put Me Back.” With rubber gloves, I opened the book. Inside were invitations to write – I’m lonely, tell me who you are, why are you here? where are you from? what are your favorite things? Also inside the plastic were two pens and a pencil.

Prompt: Pick one of the pens or the pencil in your imagination. Draw a stick picture. Write your message in the book.

I opened the book again today, May 4. Many pages are filled with drawings and stories.


Leslie Pasternack, Creative Director “Where does one start? Leslie IS theatre.”

I’m sharing a prompt from Lemon Punch Theatre’s director, Leslie Pasternack. Leslie is running a Lemon Punch Microplay Festival adapted from work of the Dramatist’s Guild. I loved this prompt.

Prompt: Write a two-character tiny play – a microplay – that’s no more than 150 words. Relate the play to the theme, no matter how subtly, of the corona virus.


Girls dancing at Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival

Do you remember a dance you learned when you were younger or you’re learning now? Can you remember a step and the way you felt when you were dancing. “How is it that I can remember the movement sequences I learned back then….My body, not me, remembered it,” Alma Guillermoprieto wrote about dancing.

Prompt: Write about being in the moment of dancing. Show the movement and what the rhythm feels like in your body. How does the dance make you feel?



“My father kept birds – about 15 beautiful white doves – behind our house in Kabul,” Aqila Sharafyar wrote when she was a student at The Telling Room in Portland. In this memory of her father, Aqila brings him to life through the sounds of the doves that he loved. “He put bangles on their ankles, which would jingle when they walked.” “He loved to hear that, especially when they were walking at the same time. It sounded a little like raindrops.” (from “The Faithful Doves of My Father” collected in I Remember Warm Rain, (c) 2007, The Telling Room.)

Prompt: Describe a person, or a moment when something happens. Tell it with attention to the sounds you connect with that person or that moment you are describing.


The Telling Rooms’ “A Prompt a Day”

Ayat Basil reads on the window sill at The Telling Room in Portland. The program uses poetry, prose and nonfiction as a way to teach language and leadership skills. Troy R. Bennett | Bangor Daily News

Telling Room readers and writers in Maine are creating “#Writing Prompt of the Day” – prompts written by kids for kids. The composers of prompts are amazing, emerging writers themselves. See The Telling Room’s “Writing Prompt of the Day” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Also check out the events, publications at the tellingroom.org


A Dialogue in Questions

illustration by Barry Root from The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup

I went to an improv workshop. In one of our activities, I had a conversation with another person. (The cat, above, is not holding herself back from talking to the old man.) In our improv, my partner and I talked, but everything we said had to be a question. This screamed to also be a writing prompt. Thank you, Boynton Improv Education & Korabek Training, Fiercely Human Mindfulness and Improv

Prompt: Write a conversation between you and somebody else, or your imaginary characters. Build the conversation so that you show the relationship between the two. And each thing that’s said is a question. Maybe you reveal a conflict. Can you make it into a tiny story?


The Painter and the Cat

I met a painter named Saad Hindal. That’s his cat, Hantouse. And his studio. Saad is from Baghdad, Iraq and now lives with his family in Concord, New Hampshire. He loves cats. He paints cats in many of his brilliantly colored paintings. He says cats connect his memory of Iraq to his life of New Hampshire. He wants his paintings to say, “Iraq is more than war.” I dedicate this first prompt to Saad.

Prompt: Write about a cat – or other animal – that connects you or your character with two different places, real or imagined. Include a color. Include a cat. OR, paint a cat with your words.

4 Responses to “A Page Before Midnight – Writing Prompts”

    • terryfarish

      Yes, this is a resource for you and everybody. I’ll get back on it. I was waylaid by a prompt and kept writing.


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