SUNDAY SITE SWEEP: Five Fab Sites for Beating Writer’s Block

This week, sites to generate ideas and spark creative thinking. Are you champing at the bit, ready to start a new project, but can’t fix on a starting point? Or perhaps you’ve come to a sticky patch in something you already have on the go? Whichever it is, hopefully one of these sites will provide the inspiration you need….and an ancient post of mine, A Walk Round The (Writer’s) Block, might prove useful too.

Plinky Prompts

Plinky: ‘because sometimes you need a push’. Plinky prompts can be sent to you via email, Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr and there is a new one every day. They used to do specific creative writing prompts but as far as I can tell these are a thing of the past (they used to include prompts such as ‘write the dialogue between a cop and the mother of a lost child’).  Also, overall the prompts seem to require less soul searching than they used to – describing the worst day in your life is very powerful, but describing your three most hated Facebook statuses, perhaps less so. Despite that, they are still very useful and it amazes me that so many writers are still ignorant of Plinky; there will be something to get you thinking at least a few days a week. You get a recap of the week’s prompts every week by email, and on the website you can access hundreds of old prompts – and perhaps even better, look at other people’s answers. Inspiration gold!

The Scriptorium

This site has a whole host of useful features including some excellent printable worksheets. The whole site is well worth any time you have spare for browsing, but for the purposes of inspiration these pages are the ones to focus on:

Free-writing exercises and scenes to write up

First lines and paragraphs to get your story brain working.

These exercises are in the young writers’ section, but are useful for writers of any age!

Errant Dreams

Scroll down the page until you see category listings. Category 1 is Images – visual prompts; anything from ‘a car with a web of cracks on a side window’ to ‘a star was tattooed on his brow’. Other categories are phrases, concepts and techniques.


‘PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.’ I think this mission statement – or perhaps it’s more of a raison d’etre – tells you why it is a great place for story and character ideas.

The Seventh Sanctum

This novel site has a random story generator and, in the left hand side bar, a whole host of genres – click on one and you will find lots of info on the chosen genre and links to story generators for that genre. Very…novel!

And as a bonus – I’m not an ipad user, but the apps below were mentioned in Webbo’s Web Watch in the September issue of Writing Magazine. Thanks, Webbo 🙂 I’ve added the links so you can investigate for yourself.

Flash Fiction Prompter

iDeas for Writing



A Walk Round The (Writer’s) Block

If you’re a writer, at some time you’ve been stuck (if not, I’m green with envy).  Flat as a pancake, stuck in the mud, brain so mushy that if you dyed it green and stuck it in a tin, it would pass for peas. Caught up in cliches. You get the idea.

We all know – don’t we? – that WB isn’t a strange incurable disease. You’re just stuck; feeling unusually uninspired.  Short of new ideas, unsure how to start or end – or wondering where to go next. How does Matilda Mudbottom get to America? What clue leads Patrick Pritstick to the old vault under the church? Perhaps your plot’s got more holes than a teenage boy’s socks. The internet’s full of ideas to help, but not all ideas work for everyone, all the time. So the more the merrier, I say – here’s mine. Which, like all good ideas, engenders lots of others.

You take the opening line of one novel and the last line of another. Then ask yourself – how could I get from here to there?
Of course, there’s lots of variations. You could:

  • use the idea above – but use lines from the same book
  • if the first try doesn’t work, swap the books round and use the first line from your ‘last line’ book, etc.
  • use a last line as your first line – or vice versa
  • try the same idea with chapter beginnings and ends
  • look at chapter titles and imagine what chapter you would write for that title – or make it the title of your short story or novel instead
  • or if you’re a non-fiction writer (or writing hussy like me, who writes both!) you could challenge yourself to write an article from a chapter title.

And of course once you get going, you can change those lines and titles as much as you want.

Just in case you are suffering from the dreaded WB right now, here’s your starter for ten. I have beside me Sebastian Faulks Human Traces  and Kate Mosse Crucifix Lane…

Faulks starter (shortened!): An evening mist, salted by the western sea, was gathering on the low hills.

Mist, eh? Will someone get lost in it? Is it normal mist or a supernatural phenomenon? Who could be out on those hills? Or in the sea?

Mosse finisher:  Annie took it. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I’ve come home.’

What did she take? Who is she talking to? Where’s home? Perhaps she was lost out on those hills, in the mist devised by Mr.Faulks…and just for variety, we’ll try it the other way round.

Mosse starter: Five o’clock. A wet and grey London morning.

Somebody’s up early…

Faulks finisher: …the last vestiges of her presence were washed away, the earth closing over as though no one had passed by.

Who is she? Vestiges – footprints or something else? Are we on a beach or in a flood…

Go on then – off you go and WRITE. 🙂