Story Prompts Offer Versatile Applications: Part 1

I love collecting story prompts and activities because they have applications across the spectrum of the kinds of things I explore here, on A Storied Career. Organizational practitioners can use them as warmups/icebreakers or to get at deeper objectives. Memoirists and journalers can use them to get their creative juices flowing and explore aspects of themselves they may want to write about. Careerists can use them to learn more about themselves so they can convey their authenticity to employers. The list goes on…

Here are some nice ones I’ve encountered. More to come tomorrow: offers a whole slew of Storytelling Games and prompts, from activities that use no props, like “Cast of Thousands,” to storytelling board games, roleplaying games, and games that use decks of cards.

Joe McKeever describes 10 ways for preachers to sharpen their storytelling skills, taken from Austin Tucker’s book, The Preacher as Storyteller; however, I can see uses for these activities outside the pulpit:

  1. Summarize a short story.
  2. Turn a cartoon or comic strip into a narrative.
  3. Place a quotation in its historical context.
  4. Glean from leisure reading and TV time.
  5. Quote a verse of a hymn or other poetry in its narrative setting.
  6. Use one of the elements of narrative to brighten exposition.
  7. Try your hand at creating a parable, a fable, or an allegory.
  8. Narrate in a few sentences your own thoughts on the passing parade of life.
  9. Use your testimony or the testimony of others.
  10. Recast a news story.

In a list of 100 Useful Web Tools for Writers, Laura Milligan includes a section called Finding Inspiration that offers links to idea prompts and inspirational tools.

From an article on this year’s International Day for Sharing Life Stories back in May, the story prompt, “Miracle Story,” “a story centered by what, by its impact on your life and/or surprise, felt like a ‘miracle’ to the teller.”

“Evergreena” in her blog, Evergreena’s Journal, describes a game she invented with her brother in which they both start a writing a novel with the same title and characters and race to get to the 50,000-word mark. “Whoever gets there first is the winner.” She notes they both finished in six days in 2007 and five days in 2008. I know it’s not easy to write 50,000 words in five to six days, and I’m not sure what purpose this activity serves, yet I find it oddly compelling.

Thomas Clifford once kicked off a blog entry with the question: “Do you remember the exact moment you knew what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?” What a great story prompt! And I do remember my moment. A story I wrote in third grade, “Our Funny Dinner,” was published in the school paper. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

Katie Neuman described in a blog entry a Charlie Rose lecture in which he revealed his secrets of storytelling. The list of Rose-inspired questions Neuman devised to apply to her field works as a set of story prompts for products, services, businesses, and job-seekers:

    • Explain to me what your [product/service/self] does and why it excites you.
    • Tell me the moment you realized there was a need to invent this new [product/service/self] because you had a vision of something that could be.
    • Tell me the moment you saw on your [customers’/employers’] faces that your [product/service/self] would change their lives.
    • Take me back to what it was like when you were first getting the [product/service/self] off the ground.
    • You joined the [entity] years after it was up and running. Take me back to the moment when you realized you just had to be a part of realizing this vision.

More story prompts and activities tomorrow.