21 NaNoWriMo writing prompts to help you get started with your manuscript


For me, November is the best month of the year for a reason: National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Writers all over the world are taking up the challenge, and while it’s certainly difficult, it’s a great way to motivate yourself to write this book.

Writing a 50,000 word novel in a month ultimately means writing 1,667 words a day. While this task may seem daunting, it is not impossible. All you need is the right attitude, and maybe just a little nudge in the right direction. What if you’re sitting here wondering, “What would I have even written about?” – don’t worry, I have ideas.

Here are 21 writing prompts to start your NaNoWriMo project. You can use them to start your novel on November 1, or you can turn to them when it’s the middle of the month and you’re feeling stuck. The most important thing is just to keep writing. Turn off your inner editor and let your fingers hover over the keys. The most exciting thing about NaNoWriMo is that you never know where your novel may end.

So if you take the NaNoWriMo challenge this year, good luck and good writing!


Begin your novel with a scene that takes place in your high school cafeteria. But one huge thing is completely different …


Every year when the clock strikes midnight on November 30, something very small (and very important) happens. What is that?


One morning, your grandmother pulls you aside and tells you that there is a huge family secret that it’s about time you got to know. But even though what she’s telling you is outrageous, there’s a part of you that isn’t surprised. What’s the secret ?


Tell your readers all you can about a character who’s cursed for never being able to tell the truth (even when they want to).


A huge tech company just announced its latest technology: a brand new device that has the power to change the world forever. But a few minutes after making their announcement, they discover that the device has been stolen. What happens next?


Start by describing (in as much detail as possible) an environment full of dangers at every turn. But standing right in the middle of it, is the person you would least expect …


In an astonishing turn of events, the citizens of Florida elected a real, literal bird to Congress in the midterm elections. How did it happen and how is it going?


No one knows the REAL story of how your main character got famous. But now, this, your novel, is their revealing book. Pour out those secrets!


What if the Snow White story was a psychological thriller? Or if Cinderella was an epic fantasy? Take your favorite fairy tale and rewrite it in a different genre.


Finally, after years and years of hard work, your main character will finally be able to fulfill his dream of going to space. But they hardly want to go when they find out who will be in the spaceship with them …


Write a novel that takes place in a school that is, well … unusual. What about this school that makes it different from the others?


Your main character is sitting at home, going about his own business, when he receives a phone call. The person on the other line tells them that they are from the future and that it is extremely important that they do not hang up. The fate of the world is at stake. What happens next?


The Olympic committee has created a whole new sport that will be featured in the next round of games, and there is a lot of controversy surrounding it. Write from the perspective of the athletes who will compete.


There is a long lost pirate treasure buried somewhere in your hometown. What happens when someone finds an old map with clues as to where it’s hidden?


Your main character is a world traveler, who has been almost everywhere. But there is one last place they have never been able to go. Tell the story of why it is and how they manage to make it happen.


One morning, a woman wakes up to find a tiger in her house. What happens next?


Write from the perspective of a character who has your dream job. How is their life?


Your main character thought he was enrolling in a magic camp where he would learn tricks and illusions. But instead, they find out that this camp teaches real magic. What happens next?


Your main character is on a first date which actually seems to be going pretty well! But then their date says something that changes their lives forever …


There is a huge deadline ahead for your main character, and they will do whatever they can to meet it. What happens when they go to extremes?


The aliens have landed on Earth, and they have a simple request in return for peace. What is that?


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