5 Creative writing exercises to get your imagination flowing

12 April 2023

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Student writing in lecture theatre
Type: Text
Category: Industry insights

This piece was written by Dr Kit Chapman, award-winning journalist and Course Leader of Journalism MA (Online).

While some writers can jump straight in at a blank page and get going, others need to ease into the writing mindset.

Here are five creative writing exercises we use at Falmouth University to help our students break out of the Monday morning mindset and set their imagination roaring to life. 

1. A little help from AI

Artificial Intelligence is getting more powerful and can be used to create artworks that can then be used as creative writing prompts. One of the creative writing exercises we use involves asking students to access a free, online random face generator – which generates a completely imaginary person using AI technology. Alone, or in groups, students then have to come up with a character to fit the face. Who are they? Are they protagonist, antagonist, or a supporting character? In what story, and what genre? The possibilities are endless. 

2. Murder most horrid

The internet is filled with incredible resources: there are websites where you can see every bomb that fell on London during the second world war, or where every crewmember on the Titanic slept before the ship’s ill-fated voyage. These historical links can be used as inspiration for creating powerful stories. A regular creative writing exercise, I ask students to access this online London medieval murder map and write a news story that reports on a real murder from the 14th century. 

3. Cast The Muppets!

This is a fun, silly creative writing exercise about adaptation and understanding how to look introspectively at characterisation, tropes and themes. Pick a famous movie, and then replace all the characters with one of The Muppets (you’re allowed a single human actor). Now share which film you’ve picked, and who the Muppets have been cast as in your remake! 

4. Writing a book together

A rapid-fire creative writing exercise, ideal for large groups who aren’t familiar with each other. Go around the room, pointing to each person in turn and ask them to come up with a single part of a story idea. What’s the title? What’s the genre? What’s the protagonist’s name? Who’s the villain? Where is the story set? What’s the opening line? The story will likely be nonsensical, but it doesn’t matter - everyone will be invested. At the end of the session, go around the room again, asking each person to recall a fact about the story; usually, everyone will be happy to work together to recall the tale in detail. 

5. One of you is a murderer!

This is an energising creative writing exercise for a large group. I inform the class that I was murdered at a nearby location and that one of the students did the deed! Each person needs to quickly come up with an alibi, and then question each other to find the culprit. (It’s guaranteed that the group will always decide someone among them is the killer, even though they all know the crime is entirely fictional!) 

Use these creative writing prompts to help ignite your imagination, sharpen your skills, and say goodbye to writer’s block. 

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