Tag Archives: writing prompt

Writing Prompt: Dungeons & Dragons

D&D Books

If you are a writer then you have inevitably run into the dreaded writer’s block. You have probably scoured the internet for writing prompts that might just yield something. You may have even dived back into your own favorite stories in the hopes that something will inspire you. Well, I’m here to provide you with one more tool to combat this unwelcome guest.

Play Dungeons & Dragons.

Aside from the fact that geek chic is apparently “in” at the moment, renewed interest in this classic table-top game seems to be growing. Perhaps this is because it was featured prominently in Stranger Things, or maybe the 5th edition release made it easier for new players to join and became more accessible. Either way, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a group of willing victims to play with you while you battle your own personal writer’s block demon. Here’s some of the intricacies and how it can help you with your own writing:

Start with character development: Build your own character
Having a tough time creating characters that are likable? Untrustworthy? Or just down right evil? D&D can absolutely help with this. To even start playing, you need to build character on your “character sheet.” This includes picking a race, class, backstory, and alignment. (Actually, it includes quite a bit more than this, but these elements help you write a story for your character.) If one were to purchase the 5th edition Player’s Handbook for D&D, one is provided with extensive race and class break-downs that also give you some insight as to the kind of character you would create, should you choose those prompts. For instance, elves have three different sub-races with drastically different characteristics. High elves, as one might imagine, are often arrogant, but incredibly noble. They are wicked intelligent and are often interested in their own self-preservation. Wood elves, on the other hand, are a bit more mischievous, sometimes to the detriment of themselves or their team. Dark elves, known in the game as Drow, are dark and mysterious beings, and at times very dangerous. There are many other races and sub-races within the game to choose from, each with general strengths and weaknesses to play on. Selecting a class also adds some characterization. Druids are keenly and primarily concerned with nature and gravitate to the more natural elements of the world. They can even transform into animals, and some druids even prefer that form over their human one. Clerics are a bit more complicated, but incredibly fun to create. You can have your standard, holy cleric driven by a divine deity aimed towards healing the weak and innocent. Or you can create a trickster cleric that does best when they deceive and talk their way out of confrontations. Your deity could be, oh I don’t know, Loki? Characters are so customizable in this game that creating something as contradictory as that actually works!


Next, you work on the backstory, but perhaps that writer’s block is just too darn heavy to push, even for this. Do not fret, you can turn to the backstory chapter in the Handbook and roll for it. That’s right, roll the dice and leave it to chance. What are one of your ideals? Roll a 2: To protect myself first. What is a weakness you have? Roll a 4: I am incredibly clumsy. Now how would a character constantly worried about their own self-being be able to survive in the world by being a klutz? You get to act that out. Lastly, your character alignment helps make your character more complex. You have probably seen those memes floating around on social media where they place characters from popular television shows into an alignment chart, starting with lawful good and ending with chaotic evil. While these are fun to look at, they actually go a bit more in-depth. One character I currently play is chaotic good. This means that she is drawn to freedom and kindness, but has little use for laws and regulations. She performs good acts to help others achieve their own freedom as well. The way this is enacted in play is by keeping my actions in check and making sure I stay true to my character. Killing someone out of spite would have negative affects on my character, whereas showing mercy would be more in line with her views. Dungeon Masters will also help with this by giving you real in-game consequences if you stray. It is possible you can change your alignment, but that requires cooperation with your DM, which leads me to my next point.

The Amazing Story Generator

I’m not much of a shopper. Ask my little sister, who tries to get me to go clothes shopping with her at least once a month, in which I decline or sit outside of the stores with a book while she tries to get my opinion on clothes she’s trying on (generally to not buy anything I say looks good or that I like on her).

But I like books. Drop me off in a used bookshop or a Barns & Noble and say goodbye to me for a few hours. I may not have a passion for shoes, but I do have a passion for books.

I found this cool little book that generates writing prompts. Not just a few, but a ton. It’s called The Amazing Story Generator.

Thousands? I'm in.
Thousands? I’m in.

I opened the book up and liked what I saw. The book generates the thousands of prompts by combining three elements – a starting situation, a protagonist, and the driving action of the story. By randomly flipping through this book, one can generate several prompts and never get the same writing prompt twice. Here’s a few example prompts from me randomly flipping through the book:

While dog-sitting,/ a clown in training/ is tormented by vengeful spirits.

Following a disastrous job interview,/ a gold prospector/ is transported to another galaxy.

Upon breaking a lifelong promise,/ a big-time weather reporter/ is elected mayor of Chicago.

Some of these generated story premises work better than others, but overall, they’re all fun and a great way to challenge yourself, as a writer, to literally write anything. I decided to give that theory a go and do a quick write-up on a randomly generated plot.

Right. Okay, coffee, bad comedy, and time travel. I got this.
Right. Okay, coffee, bad comedy, and time travel. I got this.

Story Shots: Vodka

SS_Circle

Story Shots started off as an ode to tequila—that golden liquid that impairs us so perfectly. While tequila seemed to be a party liquid that made us think of margaritas and concerts, vodka has a very different relationship with our writers. Vodka for some is a social lubricant, but for others, it has a much darker connotation.


“Are you from Los Angeles? You look like you’re from Los Angeles,” he said.

“I don’t know if that’s a compliment or an insult,” I replied, taken aback by his strange, intuitive remark. “How did you know?” I asked.

“You look like you put thought into your outfit for tonight,” he replied with his voice flat.

Your outfit looks premeditated, too, I thought to myself. He wore an Arab keffiyeh around his neck, a black and white checkered scarf, and a thin layer of eyeliner beneath his eyes with his hair perfectly coiffed to the side.

I shifted my body from the awkward tension.

“Again, I don’t know if that’s a compliment or an insult.”

“It’s an observation. See, that’s exactly what I mean. People from Los Angeles are always worried about what people think, or what they mean. Who gives a fuck? I used to live there. That’s why I moved here.” He glanced around the San Franciscan apartment and returned his eyes to mine, as if summing up his statement. I didn’t see the conversation going anywhere further. Wherever he was, I didn’t want to be. He had a point that I didn’t want to mull over, in fear of losing my buzz.

I walked into the next room, which was supposed to be the dining room. Instead, the oak dining table had been converted into what looked like a mountainous collection of red Solo cups.

Someone whispered into my ear, gently tingling the soft fuzz around my skin. When I turned to admire my boyfriend, I was abruptly startled by the crass voice of one of the roommates making an announcement: “Seriously, no one wants to fucking play?”

“What are we playing?” said my boyfriend.

“Oh! So you’re in! It’s just like beer pong. You know the rules of beer pong, right?”

“You just throw the ping pong ball into the cups?” he replied.

“Yeah, sorta. Except we’re using vodka.”

I chimed in, “Vodka? Are you kidding me?”

“We don’t have enough beer. The cups are empty. No one wants to drink from a cup with some nasty ping pong ball that just fell on the floor. You score, we remove the cup and drink a shot of vodka. You can chase it, if you’d like.”

I looked around the room, spotting my flattering, yet undercutting scarf-wearing friend, and shrugged, “Alright. I guess I’m in, too.”

“She’ll drink for my shots!” declared my boyfriend.

Again, I shrugged the declaration off, assuming we were in the game to win it.

He missed the shot. In fact, we both missed all the shots. The other team, like some dauntless heavy weight champions made every single shot and I, as a result of poor ping pong throwing skills, drank all the vodka. In the morning, my nineteen year-old frame laid stiff on a deflated air mattress due to my inability to figure out how to use the air pump in my drunken stupor. I managed to stand up, twisting my back from side to side, becoming increasingly nauseous with each movement. I stopped, seemingly, while the room kept moving. And when the room settled and I was on the brink of hating myself for venturing out with enough brazen confidence to play a vodka-pong tournament, I inhaled and thought to myself, “Who gives a fuck?” Then, all sudden-like, that rumbling feeling, like an internal landslide, loosening age-old gravel, free from it’s tightened and rigid past. A moment of invigoration. All at once. And then I puked.

–Lauren Sumabot


I was nineteen. I shouldn’t have been drinking, so my drink of choice at the costume party was simply vodka and cranberry juice. The party wasn’t very intense—it was a bunch of twenty-somethings, plus one nineteen year old, drinking and watching scary movies. That all changed when there was a knock at the door. The party had officially been crashed.

These uncostumed men were older and cousins of someone living across the street. I was dressed like an angel—irony, I thought, because of my atheism. It wasn’t a sexy angel, either. I was wearing a long white robe, sandals, and wings.

After my third drink, I had to pee. I went to the downstairs bathroom only to find it occupied. That was fine. I wandered upstairs. One of the men followed me up while the rest of his crew stayed downstairs and turned the music up.

I was a little fuzzy, so as I was washing my hands I splashed a bit of cold water on my face and looked up. I was makeup-less. I was wearing a baggy white sack. I was there with my bros. The night was a little scary with the new additions to the party, but they weren’t bothering me any so I was fine. Or so I thought.

I opened the door and he pushed me back into the bathroom and closed the door behind him.

“Hello,” I said, confused.

“You’re pretty,” the drunk, probably thirty year old, said.

“Thanks, I guess,” I replied as I went past him and to the door to unlock it and leave.

He pinned me against the sink counter and tried to kiss me. He started clawing at my chest.

“No,” I breathed.

He ignored my words and my struggle and continued to try to kiss me. I wiggled out of his grip and walked towards the door again. This time he pushed me into the large bathtub. I continued to push him off of me and fight his advances. As I struggled against his large body, I felt it. His gun. He was armed.

He didn’t reach for it, though. Maybe he didn’t remember that he had it. Maybe he genuinely thought I was playing hard to get and he wasn’t trying to rape me. I got away once again and got to the door before him. I ran downstairs. He followed, casually, and found his friends had left.

“You missed it!” my friends cried.

“What?” I said while eyeing the man that had assaulted me in the bathroom.

“Dude, the cops came and one of the crashers pulled a knife on him. The cop slammed him down and arrested him. The rest of the guys left.”

“Fuck,” said my assailant. He walked out the front door.

I took off my wings and sat on the couch. I stared at my sandals.

–Anonymous


Story Shots: Shotgun

StoryShotCar

There’s something so Americana about the riding in the front passenger’s seat of a car. For me, movies like Grease pop into my head and I see all the greasers at the drive-in. For others, riding shotgun invokes memories of childhood, riding alongside their parents on road-trips or sitting alongside a friend during their first time driving as a licensed adult. Like our other pieces of short creative nonfiction, these stories are uniquely our own yet share a common theme. We invite you to read our tales, and add your own to the comments below.


“Shotgun!” She yelled. That meant that I was in the backseat. Her new boyfriend was driving. He was a friend of both of ours before they started dating; he was also a really nice guy. I had just gotten hired at my first job. We were all going out that night to celebrate. I got into the backseat, behind the passenger’s seat, and we were on our way. We were about a block from my house when we were rear ended in an intersection. It had happened so quickly and unexpectedly that not one of us looked back to see the car that had hit us pull back into the intersection, change directions, and drive away. No one pulled over to see if we were okay. I was dazed. “Are you guys alright?” the driver asked. “I think so,” his girlfriend replied. “I think I broke your passenger seat headrest with my head,” I replied as I looked at the damage. It was definitely bent in a way it shouldn’t have been bent. His girlfriend was leaning against the window instead of the headrest, at least, so I didn’t hurt her with my big, thick, seat-breaking skull. “Is your head okay?” he asked as he turned around to see if I were more damaged than his car. “Just a little stunned, I guess,” was my reply. We didn’t call the cops because we didn’t want his car insurance to go up. We were young and stupid and not sure how to proceed with these kinds of incidences. The only real damage to his car was a dented bumper, and the shock the three people inside the car were in didn’t register with any of us. We went to the mall that night and I spent my first paycheck on posters. Let me repeat that: I spent $75 on posters – really shitty posters from Spencers. I probably should have spent that money on an emergency room visit to make sure my head was okay. In the morning, we found that Mindy, the woman driving, had left an imprint of her vanity plate on my friend’s bumper – 5MINDY5. We called the cops then, but they told us because we didn’t report the hit and run at the scene of the accident, there was nothing we could do. We just had to live with our sore necks and the fact that Mindy is a bitch.

By Amanda Riggle


I called shotgun in case I had to take my shirt off. It seemed safer. The name of the game escapes me, but it involved risk and the removing of clothes—it screamed “I’m sixteen” and “Fuck you, Dad.” We watched the streetlights as the car neared the intersection, waiting for a flash of yellow. The boys waiting for the sight of bare skin and the girls waiting to be seen. I sat, spine leaning forward and hand clutching the door handle. The light turned. “Slow down,” it said. I slapped the ceiling with the back of my hand, hearing the loud thuds of the others who followed. I always had quick reflexes. Bunny rabbit girl.

A month earlier, we played battle of the sexes in health class. The girls lost in every category, except for reflex. The teacher dropped the yardstick above the empty space between my thumb and fingers. And the bunny rabbit girl closed her fist before she could remember to hold her breath. You had to move fast.

Stacy took off her top and threw it in my lap, the soft cotton brushing against my thigh. Her hand was the last to hit. And he draped his arm against the back of my seat, his fingers delicately wrapping around my shoulder. He was leaving tomorrow. To a college in another state. I figured, what better way to say goodbye.

By Melanie Figueroa


He looked nervous as he dropped me off at my car. He was twiddling his thumbs on his steering wheel. He unbuckled his seatbelt as I struggled to figure out a way to carry all my books. I like books, and I had bought too many from a used book store out in L.A. He offered to drive because I didn’t want to drive. We had had dinner together. It was a good night. I just didn’t know if it was a date. I can never tell. Do I make him too nervous to make a move or is he just not interested in me like that? I’m not pretty. I’m not skinny. I’m not quiet. I’m not the usual girl guys pursue. I know that. But I’m also a great friend. My default mode with everyone is to treat them like a new best friend. I smiled as I tried to jam another book into my bag. It wouldn’t fit. It looks as if my hands were pretty full. He looked over at me and shot me a nervous smile. I smiled yet again. We smile at each other a lot. Is that flirting? He made a motion like he was going to get out of his car, but I panicked. “You can give me an awkward car hug,” I offered. “Oh, okay,” he said, gave me another smile, and wrapped one arm around my shoulders as I sat in his passenger seat. I blew it. I think?

By Amanda Riggle