2021 Prompts

Here are all the 2021 writing prompts, collected together in one place.  If any (or all!) of them inspire, you have until 23:59 on Sunday, 27 June 2020 to submit your work for possible publication here at The Write-In.  Happy writing! 

NFFD 2021: Prompt #0

 


  And so it begins...

Happy National Flash Fiction Day 2021 and the tenth anniversary of NFFD UK!  We've got a long 24 hours of prompts ahead of us, so let's dive right in with a writing prompt.  

The very first Write-In published 117 stories in its inaugural event, so your first challenge today is to write a flash with 117 words and 10 paragraphs.

If you want an extra thematic challenge, make your flash about beginnings....


If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 0: And so it begins....


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NFFD 2021: Prompt #1


 Tenth Anniversary

It's National Flash Fiction Day's tenth anniversary, and also ten years since the first Write-In.  For this prompt, we're going back to our roots and directing you to one of our earliest prompt posts. 

Have a look at this post from 2012 which offers a whopping 200 prompts.  Instead of picking one prompt though, your challenge this year is to write a flash incorporating ten prompts from the list!

Want an extra challenge?  Pick a random place to start in the list and then either choose a run of ten consecutive prompts or find your collection of ten prompts by picking every tenth prompt. 

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 1: Tenth Anniversary.Photo credit: 'Anniversary' by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #2

 

Jawbreakers

Jawbreakers was the first National Flash Fiction Day anthology, published in 2012.

For this prompt, embrace the jawbreaker structure and write flash that involves at least one story within a story.  

If you'd like an extra challenge, embed multiple stories within stories, but keep your piece under 300 words.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 2: Jawbreakers.
 

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #3

 


Bathroom

This prompt was sent to us by Linda Irish in response to Prompt #24 in the NFFD 2020 Write-In, which challenged writers to come up with their own prompt. 

Write a story set in an unfamiliar bathroom, or where a bathroom features. Why is your character here? 

For an additional challenge, write from the POV of the room.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 3: Bathroom.  
 
Artwork by Linda Irish.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #4

 


Scraps

Scraps was the second National Flash Fiction Day anthology, published in 2013.  In a nod to this past title, have a rummage through your home and find some scraps of paper.  These can be old grocery lists, scribbled notes, food packaging in the recycling bin, or any old, unwanted paper that has already served its purpose.

Write a flash incorporating text from at least three different scraps that you find.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 4: Scraps.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #5

 


Allsorts

What's better than one writing prompt?  That's right, three writing prompts!  These prompts were sent to us in response to Prompt #24 of the NFFD 2020 Write-In, which challenged writers to come up with their own writing prompt. 

 

#1 Life Sentence (by J F King)

Your lead character consults a coach who speaks only in aphorisms (or are they clichés?), e.g., ‘You only come this way once, go for it, pulling punches…’

Is this irritating or helpful in addressing the situation presented?

 

#2 Litotes (by J F King) 
 
Create a day in conversation from a character who (over) uses litotes in their speech pattern, e.g., ‘I shan’t be sorry', 'it is not without merit', 'the day was not unenjoyable...’
 
Does the day change? Does the speech pattern change?

 

#3 Animal Dreams (by Cath Barton) 

When your cat or dog is sleeping, you see them twitching, having a dream. Write their dream.

Feely Sleeping by Cath Barton

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 5: Allsorts. (Let us know which of the three you choose as well!)

You can submit responses until 23:59 BST on Sunday, 27 June 2021 for a chance to be published here at The Write-In.  (And yes, there will be opportunities to submit your own prompts this year as well.  Check back around midnight on Saturday, 26 June for details!)

Photo of Allsorts by David Edgar via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Feely Sleeping by Cath Barton.

 

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #6

Eating Words

Eating My Words was National Flash Fiction Day's third anthology, published in 2014.  For this prompt, we're embracing its title....

Write a flash in which the things the characters don't say are much more important than what they do say.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 6: Eating Words.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #7


Double Up

Yeah, we're excited about our tenth anniversary.  So excited that our next prompt involves two tens!

Write a 10-word flash with a 10-word title (so 20 words in all).

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 7: Double Up.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #8

 Landmarks

National Flash Fiction Day's fourth anthology, Landmarks, was published in 2015.

For this prompt, take an expression or idiom and write a flash in which you interpret it literally.  Landmarks are literally marks on land. Jawbreakers break jaws.  If it's raining cats and dogs, the animal services need to get involved.  Feel free to delve into the magical or the ridiculous if you so desire.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 8: Landmarks.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #9

 


The Inscription

This prompt was sent to us by J F King in response to Prompt #24 in the NFFD 2020 Write-In, which challenged writers to come up with their own prompt.  We thought it was highly appropriate for our anniversary year, so here it is!

Look at an inscription on a memorial bench, e.g., ‘...Who spent many happy hours enjoying this view…’.
 
Who placed the plaque? Why? Is it really true? Would you re-word the plaque?
 
 
Write a flash that addresses some (or all) of these questions.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 9: The Inscription.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #10


 Stars Beneath the Bed

National Flash Fiction Day's fifth anthology, A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed was published in 2016.

For this prompt, write a flash in which you treat something that is impossible in real life as completely normal and unremarkable.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 10: Stars Beneath the Bed.

 

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #11

 


 Prelude

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of National Flash Fiction Day, we're running our first ever novella-in-flash competition.  Whilst writing an entire novella-in-flash might be a little much for a single writing prompt with a turn-around-time of 24 hours, we'd love for you to spend a few minutes dreaming up ideas for a novella-in-flash you'd like to write.

Then, for this prompt, write a sort piece of microfiction -- 100 words or fewer -- that could serve as a prelude or an endnote for your novella-in-flash to be.  (Or, if you fancy writing something longer, a first or last chapter...though keep it to 300 words or fewer if you wish to submit your work to The Write-In!)

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 11: Prelude

Photograph of Basilica di Santa Maria Novella by Photo2121 via Wikimedia Commons.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #12

 

Sleep is a Beautiful Colour

Sleep is a Beautiful Colour was National Flash Fiction's sixth anthology, published in 2017.  It is also the motto of all of us NFFD volunteers, and therefore worth celebrating with a prompt.

Write a flash in which a character perceives or experiences non-physical things, ideas, or concepts with one or more of their five senses.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 12: Sleep is a Beautiful Colour.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #13


 The Decennial

It's National Flash Fiction Day's tenth anniversary, and we'd like to celebrate ten years of microfiction competitions.  We've had amazing writers and judges join us over the years, and you can read our entire archive at the NFFD website, under the 'Competitions' tab.

Our microfiction competition has a maximum word limit of 100 words (excluding title), so for our next 2021 prompt, we'd like to challenge you to write a flash of 100 words or fewer that spans a decade.  Feel free to employ flashbacks, flash forwards, segmented flash, jumping through time, or any other means to pack a ten-year time span into a mere 100 words.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 13: The Decennial

 

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #14

 

Ripening

National Flash Fiction Day's seventh anthology, Ripening, was published in 2017. 

For this prompt, write a flash in which an irreversible process reverses.  Someone gets younger instead of older.  Clouds reclaim their raindrops.  Ripe fruit reverts to the seed.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 14: Ripening.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #15

 


From the Archives

For the next prompt of our Tenth Anniversary NFFD Write-In, we bring you the set of prompts that were set for the 2014 Write-In, run by NFFD Founder Calum Kerr and team. In those days, instead of posting a prompt an hour, all prompts were posted at once, and writers had only hours to craft and submit a response.  This year, you have over 24!  Enjoy a blast from the past and have a go at one of the prompts below....

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 15: From the Archives.  (If it's not obvious, let us know in your email which image, theme or picture sparked your story!)

You can submit responses until 23:59 BST on Sunday, 27 June 2021 for a chance to be published here at The Write-In.

  

Archive of 2014 Write-In Prompts


Write a flash-fiction that begins with the sentence: "Amelia still isn't sure what it was she saw that day exactly, but ..."

or

Write a flash-fiction on the theme of one of the following:
  • back window
  • lost (and found?)
  • folded
  • TV highlights
  • torn curtain
  • nobody agrees
or

Write a story using one of the following photo prompts:









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NFFD 2021: Prompt #16

 


Passing Through

2019 marked the eighth National Flash Fiction Day anthology and the first year of the new team of NFFD Co-Directors.

For this prompt, write a story about someone just passing through a place, a situation, a role, or a stage of life.  It's up to you whether to tell the story from the point of view of the passer-through, or from the point of view of someone stuck in that place, situation, role, or stage of life.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 16: Passing Through.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #17


Flash Walk

When National Flash Fiction Day was first founded, many of the annual celebrations took place in Bristol. (We celebrated in Coventry in 2019, and have been online-only for the past two years.)  One lovely event that happened a few times in Bristol was the Flash Walk in which anyone interested could join a walk around Bristol to hear actors read flashes between 40 and 400 words that were inspired by physical places in Bristol or the theme of Urban Landscape. 

While we aren't holding in-person events this year for obvious reasons, there's no reason why we can't hold our own virtual Flash Walk this year.

Write a flash based on a place near you (or one from your hometown if you prefer).  If you can, send us a picture that we can publish alongside your flash.  (It needs to be your picture, or one that is in the public domain or licensed for us to reuse.)

If you're looking for some inspiration, Judy Darley ran the 2018 Flash Walk and has recorded the stories with some photos on her website, SkyLightRain.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 17: Flash Walk.

Photograph of Bristol viewed from Windmill Hill (30 April 2011) by Nick via Wikimedia Commons. (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #18


 Root, Branch, Tree

Root, Branch, Tree, published in 2020, was National Flash Fiction Day's ninth anthology. 

Write a triptych flash (three separate flashes that complement each other when read together) or a segmented flash in three sections.  

Title your flashes or segments with titles that are somehow related to each other.

You're welcome to think about the relationship between 'Root', 'Branch', and 'Tree' as a starting point, but feel free to explore whatever works for your story.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 18: Root, Branch, Tree.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #19

 

 

The Big Picture

A picture may be worth 1000 words, but can you do one justice in 300 (or fewer)?

We would be remiss in celebrating our tenth anniversary if we didn't raise a glass to our National Flash Fiction Day Artist in Residence, Jeanette Sheppard, who joined us in 2019 and has provided us with beautiful logos, anthology covers, and writing prompt images ever since.  You can read our interview with Jeanette on the NFFD website.

At the bottom of this post are some of Jeanette's sketches and artwork that have been used as prompts in Write-Ins past.  Choose one and write a flash in response.

If you'd like an extra challenge, incorporate a 'big picture' in your flash, in some sense.  Maybe your story is about a large group of people rather than a single character.  Maybe you 'zoom out' at the end and cover a long period of time.  Maybe you have another way to interpret 'big picture' and relate it to one of the prompt images....

Some Image Prompts from 2019 & 2020

 


 

 


 

 If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 19: The Big Picture.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #20

 


Legerdemain

2021 marks National Flash Fiction Day's tenth anniversary and tenth anthology, Legerdemain.  

For this prompt, write a micro incorporating one or more non-English words.  These can be words from a different language, or words that you make up -- without providing a definition in the text of the story.  See if you can make the meaning or impact of the word clear enough to a reader who isn't familiar with it, without relying on obvious definitions.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 20: Legerdemain.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #21


Screen Fatigue

Until 2020, National Flash Fiction Day held live events with workshops, flash walks, and of course the annual anthology launches.  For obvious reasons, we've been online-only these past two years.  Overall, we've been delighted with the result; people from all over the world can celebrate with us.  However, there are some things that just don't translate to the screen....

Your challenge for this prompt is to write a flash that would lose something if it were 'just' displayed as text on a screen.  Maybe handwriting plays a role in character development.  Maybe the flash requires big, long, unbroken lines of text that couldn't easily be displayed on a screen.  Maybe it's a scratch-and-sniff flash.  Maybe your flash has tabs that need to be pulled, or flaps that need to be lifted, picture-book style.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 21: Screen Fatigue.  Hopefully, your flash won't translate directly to our blog, but we welcome photographs, textual notes, audio, video, interpretive dance, etc.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #22


Archeology

For our tenth anniversary celebrations, we've been searching back through the NFFD archives that have accumulated over the years, but we have some gaps, particularly with The Write-In where new prompts used to overwrite old prompts.  We've found all of them except for 2014, although we have recreated what we think the prompts were from the evidence left behind....

We think there were at least three 'word' prompts:

  • Orchard 
  • Cheapskate
  • Row

 We think there were several image prompts including:

  • A beach scene
  • Butterflies
  • A train carriage
  • Explorers on a mountain range
Also, several stories started with the sentence, 'Amelia still isn't sure what it was she saw that day exactly' (which seems to have been carried over to 2015). 

For 2021, your challenge is this: choose one or more of the prompts above, and use it/them to write a flash about something lost.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 22: Archeology.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #23


Arriving 

This prompt was sent to us by Linda Irish in response to Prompt #24 in the NFFD 2020 Write-In, which challenged writers to come up with their own writing prompt.  Since anniversaries are as much about where one is as where one has been, we thought it was a highly appropriate prompt for our anniversary year, so here it is!

Write a story inspired by this picture. 

For an additional challenge, write a story where there is something inappropriate about your character’s arrival somewhere. 

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 23: Arriving.

Artwork by Linda Irish.

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NFFD 2021: Prompt #24

 


The Prompt Prompt


Write your own writing prompt.

We'll post as many as we can for writers to enjoy throughout the year, and we'll even pick a few to use for the 2021 NFFD Write-In (crediting you, of course).

If your prompt requires an image, sound or video file, send it or a link to it in your email, and also be sure to send in links or full details of the source.  We must either have permission from the artist, or the work must be in the public domain or otherwise licensed for reuse.

If you’re submitting this to us, make sure to note that this is a response to Prompt 24: Prompt Prompt.  Make sure to send details of any images, sound or video files you use.

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