Poetry Prompt – 15: The Moth and the Butterfly

Photo by Paul Horner
Photo by Robert Verzo

For today’s prompt, write a “moth” poem and a “butterfly” poem.

These can be two complementary poems – with the “moth” representing one aspect of a metaphor, and the “butterfly” the other – or two entirely separate poems with each as an individual subject.

You could also try combining the two subjects into one poem, giving each one a distinct identity against the other.

As you’re brainstorming, look at various photographs and videos of moths and butterflies. Or, if you’re able, examine them in real life. Research their metamorphoses, their similarities and differences. But, most importantly, relate them to your own personal perspective.

Short Story Prompt – 2: Childhood Memory

Photo by Jef Safi

For your short story, write about a childhood memory (either a real one, or one of your own invention) with an unreliable narrator/main character. Use the distortions and superstitions and insecurities of a child’s perspective to guide your plot choices, and take it somewhere that’s awkward, mysterious, terrifying, or overly romanticized. Your narrator/MC can either be a child, or an adult looking back on childhood who is still somehow incapable of knowing or telling the whole truth of a situation.  Continue reading “Short Story Prompt – 2: Childhood Memory”

Poetry Prompt – 14: Ekphrastic Poem – The Luncheon on the Grass

Today, write an ekphrastic poem based on the Impressionist painting “The Luncheon on the Grass” by Edouard Manet. For those who don’t know what an “ekphrastic” poem is:

“An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the ‘action’ of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.” – Poetry Foundation

More simply put, describe the painting through poetry. But, I would like to add, try to describe it in a way that is personal to you.

What is your interpretation of what is happening in the painting? How can you relate it to your own personal poetic style and point-of-view? Is the scene in the painting vulgar? Innocent? Terrifying? Beautiful? Does it project a feeling of familiarity and comfort, or something unnatural, perverted, or perhaps monstrous? Answer these questions for yourself, though your poem. Continue reading “Poetry Prompt – 14: Ekphrastic Poem – The Luncheon on the Grass”

Poetry Prompt -12: Wild Animal

Write a poem about a wild animal. Watch videos of the animal, look at photos, or observe the animal in real life if you’re able. What makes this animal mysterious, or beautiful, or terrifying? How does this animal behave, and how can that behavior be metaphorical for something we find in humanity? Is there something pure about this animal? Something inherently monstrous? Something alien about it, or something strikingly familiar? Let your observations expand your imagination and wonder.

The Tyger

by William Blake

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Poetry Prompt – 11: Literary Character

Renfield from "Dracula" (1931)
Renfield from “Dracula” (1931)

For today’s poem, think of one of your favorite fictional characters from literature. What makes this character unique? What interesting attributes does he/she possess? What role does he play in the story, and how does she interact with other characters? Sketch out these details, until you find something about the character that inspires you. Then write a poem reflecting that inspiration.

The character I chose for my poem is Renfield from Bram Stoker’s Dracula (hence the photo), but here is an excerpt of a poem from Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Bronte, which applies nicely to the character of Jane Eyre.

The Poor Orphan Child (excerpt)

by Charlotte Bronte (from Jane Eyre, Chapter III)

My feet they are sore, and my limbs they are weary;
Long is the way, and the mountains are wild;
Soon will the twilight close moonless and dreary
Over the path of the poor orphan child.

Why did they send me so far and so lonely,
Up where the moors spread and grey rocks are piled?
Men are hard-hearted, and kind angels only
Watch o’er the steps of a poor orphan child.


Check out the rest of the poem here.


Short Story Prompt – 1: Fairy Tale

"The Five Sisters" by Annie Stegg
“The Five Sisters” by Annie Stegg

For a change of pace, today is a short story prompt. However, if short story writing isn’t your thing, this prompt can easily be tailored to poetry.

For today’s story, re-tell or modernize (or horror-ize) a fairy tale. It could be one of the classics, like “Snow White” or the “Princess and the Pea,” or a holiday-themed tale, like Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus, or Krampus, or even an original story of your own invention that has fairy tale qualities and characters. Some good sources are, of course, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and stories by Hans Christian Andersen. Use the story itself, or a specific character, or the overall moral lesson from the fairy tale to influence your writing. Whatever the case, make it your own original creation.

Poetry Prompt – 10: William Wordsworth

Daffodils by Mike Mozart
Daffodils by Mike Mozart

Today, write a poem inspired by William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils.” You could borrow the subject and write about flowers, or something specific to nature, or peaceful pleasure. Another option would be to have an entirely different subject, but use the same rhyme scheme as Wordsworth (ABABCC). Or you could focus on an often overlooked item and write about it in the Romantic style. Whichever way you choose, let Wordsworth inspire you.


by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
  That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
  A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
  And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
  Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
  Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
  In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
  In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
  Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Poetry Prompt – 9: Amazed

I’m often amazed by how much I love Christmas. What’s funny is that I’m not even sure why I love it so much. It could be many things: the carols, getting together with family, the Christmas lights, the cheesy movies on TV, snow and Christmas trees and coziness, etc. But, the amazing part is that all the things I love about the season are tied together in one inexplicable essence that radiates peace, joy, and love. 

So, to start December off right, write a poem about whatever amazes you. It could be a baby, or a relationship, or the sublime of nature. Anything that feels so incredibly inexpressible, attempt to express it in your poem.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
– William Butler Yeats

“In all things of nature there is something marvelous.”
– Aristotle

Poetry Prompt – 8: Addicted to…

For today’s inspiration, fill in the blank: “Addicted to ____.” Make this phrase the title or first line, or both. 

Your poem can be about an addiction to a person, emotions, life, habits (i.e. Addicted to Love, Addicted to You, etc.). It can be about something more material (Addicted to Chocolate, Addicted to Coffee, etc.). Or make the addiction a metaphor.

Addictions tend to be related to excess, lack of self-control, giving in to the things that eat you alive, and the fruitlessness of emotional highs. That being said, there is some room for play between the pleasure and pain of addiction and addictive behavior.

“The Moth don’t care when he sees The Flame.
He might get burned, but he’s in the game.
And once he’s in, he can’t go back, he’ll
Beat his wings ’til he burns them black…
No, The Moth don’t care when he sees The Flame. . .
The Moth don’t care if The Flame is real,
‘Cause Flame and Moth got a sweetheart deal.
And nothing fuels a good flirtation,
Like Need and Anger and Desperation…
No, The Moth don’t care if The Flame is real. . .” – Aimee Mann