What makes a good writing prompt?
Think about the following as you begin to develop your prompts: the essay type, prompt construction, brevity, instructional match, appropriateness, and fairness. An effective prompt introduces and limits the writing topic and provides clear instructions about the essay writing task.
- One a day keeps the blues away. It is good if you have a set, daily time to write. …
- Write by hand. I use an A4 hardcover spiral-bound notebook. …
- Set a timer and keep writing. I usually set a timer for ten minutes. …
- It is open to interpretation. …
- Don’t google prompts – at least not on the day. …
- Reap the rewards. …
- A cozy spot at home.
- A day at the beach.
- A day in the desert.
- A funny time in my family.
- A great day with a friend.
- A great place to go.
- A great treehouse.
- A helpful person I have met.
What is a writing prompt example?
A writing prompt is simply a topic around which you start jotting down ideas. The prompt could be a single word, a short phrase, a complete paragraph or even a picture, with the idea being to give you something to focus upon as you write.
Writing prompts or essay prompts are learning assignments that direct students to write about a particular topic in a particular way. They are designed to integrate a students imagination and creativity into guided writing practice.
What is a prompt?
A prompt consists of 1-3 sentences raising an issue, or asking a question that you will
have to respond to in an essay. Most prompts are given out by your coach as part of timed
exams or as essay prompts for an assignment. During a timed exam, you will be given a sheet
of paper containing a prompt, and must write a text in response with or without a certain amount of time.
What is the best strategy for understanding a prompt during a timed exam?
Writing in response to a prompt has the effect of focusing your thoughts on a specific
issue that has been chosen for you.
You are expected to express your opinion based on
facts or quotes from texts. It is important to understand the prompt, think quickly, and
formulate an argument so that you can begin writing the essay as soon as possible.
Note: You don’t want to spend an hour trying to understand the prompt and fail the
assignment. If this does happen, turn in your rough essay outline to your teacher, as this
may save part of your grade.
Also, if you can’t finish your essay in the given amount of
time, write a brief summary of what you would have gone on to say and how you would
have concluded your paper.
How do I start engaging with a prompt?
It’s a great idea to read the prompt as soon as possible, so that you can start thinking
about the subject. Each prompt contains a question or issue that you must address in an
essay. Underline the question or issue, and begin formulating an opinion.
If a work of literature or author’s opinion needs to be considered, think about quotes you remember that agree with or differ from your opinion. This will support your argument.
I’ve read it. What do I do now?
Start asking yourself questions.
Ask: What kind of prompt is this? Does it want me to compare and contrast two texts or events to find differences or similarities? Does it want me to take a stand on an issue? Does it want me to answer a question it is asking?
Next, dissect the prompt.
Circle words you think are significant, problematic, or that could be defined multiple ways. If some words might have different meanings, you could address this issue.
Example prompt: Decide if Plato’s Allegory of the Sun or Allegory of the Cave best
describes the process of human enlightenment.
In this example, you should underline the two texts so you know what you are
contrasting, and who wrote the texts.
Ask yourself what phrases like “best describes” could mean.
What exactly is meant here by “the process of human enlightenment”?
Now you are ready to begin writing! Outline the question/issue the prompt raises, and
then write a one-sentence thesis that sums up your answer. You could focus on the
prompt for hours without coming any closer to formulating an argument.
Begin writing as soon as you’ve thought about the prompt, since your grade does, after
all, depend on your essay. Start by summing up your argument in the topic paragraph,
making points in each paragraph’s topic (first) sentence, and then supporting your
argument with proof/quotes/facts from the text(s).
Answer the prompt
Write your essay using the ideas you have developed. Make sure you cite the sources you
use, such as philosophers, books, and theorists. Keep looking at the prompt to guarantee
that you are addressing all aspects of the question/issue in your response.
Last Things to Check For
If you have time after finishing your essay:
• Look back at the prompt to see if you have answered the question/issue it raises.
• Your essay should provide a thoughtful, logical analysis of the specific
• Your essay should cite information or use and explain quotations to support your
• Make sure your paper is formatted according to your teacher’s guidelines on the
prompt, or course syllabus if this is a take-home assignment.
• Hand in or email your paper as your teacher has instructed (See “Turning in an Essay
and/or Essay Portfolio”).
• Be proud: you answered the question/issue!