BlogThe Writing Process20 Fantasy Prompts to Kickstart Your Writing (and a Trick for 216 Bonus Ideas)

20 Fantasy Prompts to Kickstart Your Writing (and a Trick for 216 Bonus Ideas)

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Contents:
  1. 20 Fantasy Prompts to Kickstart Your Writing (and a Trick for 216 Bonus Ideas)
  2. Prompts 1–4: Scenarios
  3. Prompts 5–8: Historical Events
  4. Prompts 9–12: Interesting Characters
  5. Prompts 13–16: Special Objects
  6. Prompts 17–20: Maps/World-Building
  7. Bonus: Adding Elements Together
  8. Final Thoughts

20 Fantasy Prompts to Kickstart Your Writing (and a Trick for 216 Bonus Ideas)

Writing fantasy is freeing and exhilarating. You get to break the rules of normal life, create new worlds, or add strangeness to everyday experiences. But rather than giving you hundreds of ideas, that much freedom can have the opposite effect on your creativity. There’s just too much to choose from.

Creative writing prompts are a useful way to get that initial spark and move past the blank page feeling. They work regardless of the type of writing you produce and can give you the push you need to get pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!)

Writing prompts are particularly useful for free writing activities. Use a prompt and just start writing whatever comes into your head. Avoid self-editing as you write, just let the ideas flow. In amongst lots of rubbish, there’s bound to be a few gems you can take further.

We’ve got 20 great prompts for you, organized into categories. Each one offers many possibilities to take your story in different directions. Then keep reading to find out a little trick that will give you over 200 more exciting ideas.

Openbookofmagic

Prompts 1–4: Scenarios

Familiar situations are a great way to find inspiration. Take a typical scenario and twist it. Make something wrong with the familiar set up.

For example, a man walks into a bar and… does anything except have a drink. Everyone knows if you’re in a haunted house, you’ll end up in the cellar, so try twisting the old clichés to create the unexpected.

1. An Important Meeting

The town leaders are suddenly and unexpectedly called together to discuss important news. What is the news and how will they react to it? What are the implications for the town?

2. Lost in the Woods

Take this tired cliché and turn it on its head. What’s in the woods to be found? What will happen to the person who finds it? Will they want to make it home, or stay in the woods forever?

3. Overhearing a Secret

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” Your protagonist overhears something they shouldn’t. What do they hear? What are the ramifications if they tell?

4. A Journey

Your character leaves suddenly on a journey. Where are they going? What do they take? Who wins if they never arrive?

Prompts 5–8: Historical Events

Plenty of fantasy writing takes inspiration from actual events in history. You don’t need the knowledge of a historical expert, simply use key moments from history to inspire you to create something new.

5. Civil War Breaks Out

Who are the major players? What do they have to win and lose from this war? What could drive them to turn against their own people?

6. Royal Abdication

Take inspiration from the real events of Edward VIII’s abdication in the United Kingdom. Why would someone choose to give up their throne? For love? Or what about something far darker?

7. Empire Building

What happens when one land isn’t enough for a ruler? Where do they go to expand their empire? What happens to those in power, and those they enslave?

8. Space Exploration

Get inspired by the USSR/US space race. Two countries will stop at nothing to be first to travel to a new location. What will they gain from being the victor? How can they gain advantage?

Prompts 9–12: Interesting Characters

An interesting protagonist makes an ideal starting point for fantasy writing. Think about what makes them different from everyday people. How do they behave? What do other people think of them?

9. The Opposite to Your Expectations

Take a traditional view of a character type and invert it. An honest thief, a gentle ogre, an educated soldier. How do they fit in (or not) in a world where everyone expects them to play to type? Why can’t they find peace?

10. The Strange Child

Children make great protagonists. After all, there’s nothing more innocent than a child, is there? What can this child do that others don’t? What makes them wise beyond their years, and why do people fear them?

11. The New Species

A robot that moves beyond AI into humanity. A human that’s evolved into something different. New life discovered on another planet. How is this character different from everyday people? What will they teach us, and will we be willing to listen?

12. Supernatural Characters

Witches, ghosts, and zombies blur the worlds of fantasy and horror. Do they want to fit in or are they born to stand out? What risk do they pose to the surrounding people? What lengths might they go to just to be normal?

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Prompts 13–16: Special Objects

High fantasy loves using special items, think of cursed wands, magical objects, and spell books. Special items are a useful starting point for a new adventure.

13. An Inheritance Piece

Passed down the generations from parent to child and opened on their birthday. A hidden secret or proud moment they’ve anticipated all their life? When it’s seen, everything changes. How will your character feel when they receive it?

14. A Magic Weapon

More than just your usual sword or spear, this weapon has secret powers that makes its owner invincible. It can start a war—or end it. How will your character use it, and what are their intentions?

15. A Spell Book

It’s not just anyone who can recite a spell and achieve success. So, what happens when the wrong person finds it? Are they in control of the book, or is the book controlling them?

16. A Camera

A camera captures more than just a picture. When your protagonist looks at the image, what do they see? Is there any way to prevent the picture coming true?

StrangeFantasyWorld

Prompts 17–20: Maps/World-Building

Maps offer great inspiration for a new piece of fantasy. Think about the physical geography of the terrain, human settlements, and man-made changes. Where is there tension? What problems arise?

17. Create a New World

Have you seen the amazing world-builder websites and apps you can use to create a new world? They offer great inspiration for fantasy writing.

Here are four sites you’ll love:

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18. Fictional Map Books

Rather than creating a new map yourself, take inspiration from famous worlds in literature and newly imagined places.

Here are four of our favorites:

19. Google Earth and Google Maps

You don’t need new worlds to get inspired. Check out the many mysterious, fantastical, and downright strange locations around our world using the power of Google Maps and Google Earth.

20. Inspiring Landscapes

PortalInRockWithStarrySky

Check out this stunning picture of a mysterious stone archway. Where does it lead to? Is it natural or man-made? When your character walks through it, they’ll change forever.

Bonus: Adding Elements Together

If those 20 prompts weren’t enough, there’s a simple way to generate lots of new ideas for fantasy writing. Inspiration strikes when unexpected connections are made, so list different possibilities in categories and match them together. For this example, I went with six characters, six objects, and six situations. Why choose six? That way a simple roll of the dice adds random luck into the mix.

216 Combinations

That’s right. Just thinking of three sets of six choices gives you over 200 great prompts for fantasy writing. Choose your favorite combination, or risk your luck, and let three rolls of a dice decide.

An example grid:

DiceRollFantasyPrompts

Using a dice stops us from taking the obvious route and using clichés. It forces you to take a risk. For example, rolling a 3, 2, and 5 gives you a witch, wand, and revenge. Roll 4, 3, and 1 and you’ve got a child, ancient tree, and a race against time. Sometimes you’ll hit a bad combination, but don’t immediately dismiss a strange mix. After all, fantasy writing should push us out of our comfort zone.

Final Thoughts

Fantasy writing lets us travel far beyond everyday experiences, but it’s hard to just think of wonderful new ideas on demand. If you’re looking for daily inspiration, want to join other writers like yourself, or fancy entering a contest, check out Reedsy Prompts for daily prompts and a weekly writing competition using them.

Prompts are a great source of ideas when you’re trying to think of something new. But don’t feel trapped. Your writing may move far away from the original idea you’ve chosen. Prompts should inspire, not be a stranglehold on your creativity.


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Helly Douglas

Helly Douglas

Writer and Teacher

Helly Douglas is a UK writer and teacher, specialising in education, children, and parenting. She loves making the complex seem simple through blogs, articles, and curriculum content. You can check out her work at hellydouglas.com or connect on Twitter. When she’s not writing, you will find her in a classroom, being a mum or battling against the wilderness of her garden - the garden is winning!

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