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Book: Mid-Novel Writing Prompts - 100 Inspiring Ideas For The Fiction Book You've Started To Write (Writer's Craft 23) by Rayne Hall

Book: Mid-Novel Writing Prompts - 100 Inspiring Ideas For The Fiction Book You've Started To Write (Writer's Craft 23) by Rayne Hall

categories: Book, Authorship, Novel Writing, NaNoWriMo, Creative Writing, Writing Reference, Writer's Craft, Fiction Plotting, Writer's Block, Writing Ideas, Writing Inspiration, Writing Guide, Writing Fiction


Rayne Hall

Author Rayne Hallabout this book: INTRODUCTION

Do you want a daily dose of inspiration to carry your novel plot forward? Conventional lists of writing prompts are great for starting new projects, but don't work if you're already well into a story with developed characters and an ongoing plot. This book can help.

Whether you seek to boost your own imagination, to rekindle your passion for a book project or to release a creative block, these prompts will get the juices flowing.

Did you know that human creativity performs best under pressure, when it has a specific problem to solve? Given unlimited time and freedom, many a writers' imagination dries up. With an assignment and a deadline, however, creativity flourishes.

The writing prompts in this book deliver this challenge. If you ask your brain to come up with solutions fast, it will respond to the pressure. Give your brain a task and the freedom how to solve it, and you'll stimulate original ideas and high productivity.

For best effect, pick a prompt at random, or ask a friend to give you a number between one and 100, and stick with that choice. Don't allow yourself to browse until you find the ideal prompt, because this would remove the challenge factor. You may, however, amend the prompt (for example, changing the gender of the characters) and interpret it freely, so that it suits your genre and plot.

Set a kitchen timer or countdown clock to ten minutes. Freewrite about the topic - preferably in longhand on paper - jotting down ideas how this scenario might play out in your novel. Write fast without pausing, and don't censor your thoughts. When the ten minutes are up, take a quick break, and perhaps drink some coffee or water, before you look at your notes.
Underline anything usable, play with the ideas you've come up with, and plan how to build them into the scene. Then get writing.

This method works well whether you're doing it on your own or with writing buddies. Several of you can meet up, perhaps over a latte in your favourite coffee shop. One picks the prompt, and everyone responds to it. At the end of the 10-minute freewrite, you can discuss your ideas. This ensures you're all honouring the prompts and you won't be tempted to cheat. Shared writing sessions are great for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) participants and writers' circles.

To stimulate the flow of your imagination, I provide some ideas for every prompt: guiding questions, what-if scenarios, and suggestions how you might interpret the topic. While they may not be an exact fit for your novel, they will open the flood gates so your own ideas gush forth.

Once you've used a prompt, highlight it or write it in a list. Although you can use the same prompt twice, fresh prompts are more fun.

Please note: this is not a novel-plotting guide. If you want structural help for your 'sagging middle', you may find my book Writing Vivid Plots more useful.

I've written the prompts in British English, with British grammar, vocabulary, punctuation and spelling. You can change them to American (or other regional) English.

'MC' stands for 'main character', the hero/protagonist of your book.

Are you ready to start? Set the timer. Ten minutes. Go!

Rayne Hall


Sample prompts:


A character wants something, but hides her desire.

Ideas you can use:

For this prompt, you can write about the MC or another character.

What does she want? Food? The man on whom she has a secret crush? A job promotion? A cat? A jewel hoard? A sports trophy? Appreciation?

Why does she hide her desire, and from whom? What would happen if her desire was discovered?

Does she pretend to be uninterested, or does she fake dislike? How does she do this?

Does anyone suspect?



The MC finds an item from his childhood.

Ideas you can use:

What is it? A teddy bear, a photo, a letter, a toy he thought was long lost, a vase his mother treasured, a blanket from his grandparents' home?

Where does it find it? Is searching for it, or does he come across it by accident?

Why does this item turn up now?

What emotional associations does this item bring? Happy memories of cosy afternoons? Childhood bullying? Grief? Shame?



A character receives, presents or discovers a bunch of flowers.

Ideas you can use:

Is the bouquet an expected ritual or a surprise?

Is it gift to the hostess on visiting her home, or to the patient who's laid up in hospital? Does it represent an apology? If yes, for what?

Maybe a mystery admirer sends a bouquet with a floral delivery service or a ballerina receives flowers at the end of the show?

If you write a wedding scene, you may want to include the custom of the bride throwing her bouquet, with the assumption that whoever catches it will be the next bride.

How about flowers at a funeral, on a grave, or at the site of a lethal accident?

Maybe a character has preserved a bunch of flowers given to her long ago - at her first ball perhaps, or on occasion of her engagement, or by a suitor she loved but whom her parents rejected.

Are the flowers fresh or wilted? Shop-bought orchids, cosmos from the giver's garden, or wild violets picked in a forest clearing?

Does the recipient appreciate the flowers, treat them with disdain, or view them as a hypocritical gesture?



The MC realises something about herself.

Ideas you can use:

What strength, weakness, or character flaw does she discover? Why has she not acknowledged this part of herself before?

What triggers the insight?

In what way does this self-knowledge effect what she does in this scene, and the choices she will make later in the novel?



A character's loyalties are questioned.

Ideas you can use:

For this prompt, you can write about the MC or a different character.

Who questions his loyalties - he himself, because he is no longer certain that a person or cause deserves his loyalty? Or someone else - his boss, his superior officer, his wife?

What if the MC has suspicions about a team member's loyalty? What if the team leader thinks the MC is disloyal? Are the suspicions justified?

What causes examination of loyalties? What incident has put them in question?

How does he respond?



The MC has a health problem or injury.

Ideas you can use:

This can a chronic problem that flares up in the worst possible moment, such as osteoarthritis in the knee just when he needs to jump from the window onto the road. Or it could be an acute injury, like a sprained ankle.

Perhaps the problem is the result of his actions in the previous scenes. What if the recent stress and lack sleep give him a pounding headache? What if he spent so much time searching information on the computer that he now has severe eye strain?

Maybe he caught an infectious illness from people with whom he spent time in a previous scene. How about a wound sustained in a duel or brawl that refuses to heal?

How does this illness or injury impact his actions? Does he need to take time out? Is he laid up in hospital? Is he unable to concentrate on the task in hand and misses a crucial clue?

How does he react to the handicap? Does he pretend it doesn't exist, or use it as an excuse to get out of an unwanted duty? When talking about it to others, does he play it up or down?



The MC resolves to improve his fitness.

Ideas you can use:

Why? What triggers his resolution? Does he want to overcome or prevent a health problem. Has his doctor or his wife urged him? Does he want to impress ladies, or one lady in particular? Is he scared of ageing? Does he need to pass a fitness test to access a career path? Did a recent experience cause him a shock about how unfit he has become?

Does he actually act on his resolution, or does he only think about it and postpone the action?

What steps (if any) does he take immediately? Does he go for a run, sign up for a gym membership, hire a personal trainer, buy an instruction DVD?

What kind of fitness programme does he join/do/think about? Martial arts? Yoga? Circuit training? Weight lifting?

Does he tell anyone about his resolution? If yes, whom?



The MC spontaneously visits a place where he has never been before.

Ideas you can use:

What place does he visit? The home of someone he's neglected or avoided? A museum, library, art gallery? A gym? A recruitment centre?

What motivates him? Curiosity? Personal challenge? Professional duty?

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