One of the best things that writers can do to exercise their mental and creative muscles is to play around with writing prompts. I don’t often see prompts that are focused on fantasy (or speculative fiction), so I thought that this would be a good place to try it out. Not that the below ideas can’t be applied to any writing genre, but I’ve written them with fantasy in mind. What I’m going to use here is a method that I’ve seen done during my time as an educator, which is to use movie trailers as the basis for the writing prompt. I love movie trailers. As commercial products, their job is to manipulate you with high energy, high comedy, and high drama in small bursts of creativity. As such, they are perfect for putting you in the inspiration mindset you need when working with prompts.
Fantasy Writing Prompt #1: Trailer Visuals
First let me begin by explaining what this writing prompt is not. You don’t want to watch the trailer below and think “how can I write a story similar to this?” Instead, you want to watch the trailer and use it for some completely random source of inspiration. Let me give you an example with the king of all fantasy trailers:
If I were to just tell you to watch this trailer and use it as a prompt to get an idea for your own story, then you would likely end up with an idea that is as derivative as most fantasy novels in the post-Tolkien era. No, the point of this type of movie trailer prompt is to drain the trailer of all story details and focus purely on the visuals. As I watch this trailer, I’m struck by this visual:
Now I know exactly what is happening in this scene of Fellowship, but instead of thinking of that, I want to drain myself of all knowledge of that story and pull out an idea that could take me in a completely different direction. So I study the film frame and look for my own story. Here are examples: