I follow a number of writerly fan pages of on Facebook, and many of them post writing prompts to help get the creative juices flowing for writers. This is great. Really. If it helps to fight writers block, then how can it not be great? However, I’ve noticed something about recent prompts that seem as if they might be hindering more than helping. Specifically the ones about your book’s/story’s characters.
Now, I understand that it’s vital to really know your characters. What do they look like? What are their habits? Even what is their favorite color? You may not use all of this information in the story or book, but it’s good to know it to help make the characters more 3 dimensional. However, some off these writing prompts seem to take it a bit too far by asking to write paragraphs about a certain aspect of your protagonist or antagonist. “Write four paragraphs about your antagonist’s favorite color.” “Write a paragraph about what your character had for breakfast.” I’m somewhat waiting for the prompts to start being “Write a 15,000 word novella on what types of makeup your protagonist shops for.”
I mean, sure, sometimes these paragraphs can only be two or three sentences each, but I’d much rather get to writing the actual book then spending my time figuring out what my antagonist’s favorite cell phone provider is and why, which is why I’ve never attempted a writing prompt. I don’t want to say they’re a waste of time, but I feel as if my time could be better spent contributing to my book.
What do you think? Do you use writing prompts? Have they been helpful? Have you seen any particularly ridiculous ones?