What Is a Writing Prompt and What Types There Are?


Do you love writing but sometimes feel stuck or uninspired? Are you looking for a way to jumpstart your creative process? If so, writing prompts may be just what you need. But what is a writing prompt and what is its role in writing?

In this article, we will discuss the definition of a writing prompt, explore different types of prompts, and learn how to write one yourself.

What Is a Writing Prompt?

A writing prompt is a sentence, paragraph, or (rarer) an image that provides inspiration and guidance for creative writing. It may be used as a possible topic or starting point for an original essay, report, journal entry, story, poem, etc. A writing prompt’s main aim is to test a writer’s analytical capabilities, writing skills, and ability to express their point of view.

Writing prompts for students have long been used in the classroom to encourage student attention and develop their capacity to focus on a certain subject, idea, or concept. They also give students the chance to express their own opinions on a certain topic. Prompts stimulate students’ critical thinking and offer them an opportunity to construct a well-reasoned, structured argument in response to another writer’s viewpoint.

What Is An Essay Prompt?

An essay prompt is a subtype of the writing prompt. Essay prompts are generally made up of 1 to 3 sentences that provide some context about the subject, followed by a question that asks students to write about a certain topic in the form of an essay.

The goal is to get students to respond with an essay focusing on a statement or issue in order to assess their writing, reasoning, and analytical abilities.

DID YOU KNOW: When reading your essay topic, look out for any limiting phrases that keep you focused on one area, because some essay questions may provide special instructions. When constructing your arguments and evidence, make sure that you comply with these restrictions.

Understanding Writing Prompts

Analyzing your writing prompt is easier if you highlight the important words while reading it. Here are some of the words you should watch out for:

  • Argue – requires you to present facts that support your opinion
  • Compare – determine the similarities and differences between two or more concepts
  • Define – provide a definition of a specific concept or subject
  • Discuss – explain various aspects of a subject or problem and reach a conclusion
  • Describe – give a detailed description of an event or a particular person, place, or thing

Prompts can help improve your writing skills by providing practice in brainstorming, planning, drafting, revising, and editing. Daily writing prompts can also help you practice and develop your understanding of grammar when learning a new language.

Types of Writing Prompts

Following are the most common types of writing prompts that students come across as a part of their degrees or continuing education programs:

  • Descriptive

Descriptive prompts frequently include cue terms such as “describe in detail,” “describe how something looked/felt/smelled/tasted,” and so on. In this type of writing, the reader should be able to experience what you’re writing about. Descriptive writing exercises frequently request writers to provide details that will help the reader construct a vivid picture by including sensory elements, such as sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.

  • Expository/Informative

Expository writing prompts are a good writing practice for teens and college students. Expository prompts typically ask the writer to describe, compare and contrast, discuss pros and cons, or define something.

Expository writing has a particular purpose and audience in mind; as a result, the style and voice must correspond to the set subject and audience. The following words are used as cues to elicit expository answers: why, how, what, and explain.

  • Narrative

The act of writing a narrative is the process of recording and telling events from one’s personal or fictional experience. Identifying what a narrative writing prompt look like is easy when you know what to look for. These prompts call for insight, creativity, drama, suspense, humor, and/or fantasy, and often contain the term “tell about…,” “write a story,” or “describe”.

Writers should use real or invented experiences when responding to narrative prompts. They should also incorporate dialogue, sensory elements, and sensible sequences into their response.

  • Opinion

In this sort of prompt, the writers are expected to express their viewpoint on a certain subject, followed by logical reasoning and facts. This can either be a controversial issue or something light-hearted and fun. No matter what the topic is, if you’re wondering how to start a writing prompt like this, just make sure you’re clear and concise so that the reader knows exactly what is being discussed.

  • Persuasive

Persuasive prompts are writing prompts that require the writer to convince or persuade the reader to agree with a certain point of view. These types of prompts typically use cue words such as “convince,” “persuade,” and “why” rather than “how.”

To write a persuasive prompt, it is important to first brainstorm ideas and then narrow down your focus to come up with a creative and unique prompt. Remember to consider your audience when writing persuasive prompts.

  • Research

The research approach to daily writing prompts encourages writers to look for information on a given topic using books, internet resources, films, etc. Such a writing assignment asks students to look up all the details and provide the resources as well, sometimes in the form of a bibliography.

How to Write a Prompt?

When you start writing, no matter the type and form of the written piece, it’s important to consider your audience and purpose. When you’re responding to a written prompt that lists children as your target audience, for example, you’ll need to use age-appropriate language and focus on the topics that are interesting for the particular age group. Apart from the audience, you need to pay attention to the following factors, as well:

  • Prompt Construction

Breaking down the writing prompt into three parts is another useful approach for better conveying the task’s meaning:

  • the first part introduces the subject
  • the second part encourages writers to think about it, perhaps with a brainstorming pre-writing exercise
  • the third portion explains what needs to be written
  • Brevity 

In order to avoid confusion, writing prompts should be brief and focused. The instructor must make sure that the students are provided with sufficient information in order for them to understand the writing assignment completely.

  • Repetition

The components of the prompt can be repeated, but using parallel wording will help writers stay focused on the specific writing task.

  • Bias and Sensitivity

The topics of your creative writing prompts should be inclusive and fair to all potential writers. The prompts should be written in a way that allows writers to easily comprehend them, regardless of their cultural background or other variables. It’s important to avoid cultural, ethnic, gender, or any other form of bias when developing prompts.

How to Respond to Essay Writing Prompts for Beginners

After you’ve examined your prompt, it’s time to get creative and prepare for your essay writing:

  1. First, make a thesis statement to address the main issue. Your thesis statement should be the focal point of your whole essay and should reflect your stance on the issue.
  2. When responding to writing prompts for beginners, write simple topic sentences that cover all the criteria. Add any facts, elaborations, or evidence you need to back up your viewpoint.
  3. After you’ve finished, you may add more facts and smooth transitions between each phrase and paragraph. Make sure to include an eye-catching opening line in your first paragraph, as well as a conclusion that summarizes your ideas and thesis statement.
DID YOU KNOW: Becoming a better writer, either for school or freelance writing purposes, only happens if you interact with other writers and, most importantly, opposing viewpoints. Responding to another author entails not simply comprehending their argument or viewpoint but also deciding whether you agree or disagree.

Key Takeaways

Creative writing prompts usually come in the form of a sentence or paragraph that provides inspiration and guidance for writing.
Essay prompts are a writing prompt subtype that asks the writer to respond in the form of an essay.
The most common types of writing prompts are descriptive, informative, narrative, opinion, persuasive, and research prompts.
When responding to a writing prompt, you need to pay attention to repetition, prompt construction, brevity, bias, and sensitivity.


All in all, understanding what is a prompt in writing and how to respond to one is a key skill for all writers. By taking the time to analyze the prompt and brainstorm ideas, you’ll make sure that your written piece is clear, concise, and on-topic. Practicing with different types of prompts will help you hone your skills and become a more confident writer.


What are the 3 parts of a writing prompt?

The three parts of a writing prompt are the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. The introduction sets the tone for the rest of the piece, the body provides support for the thesis, and the conclusion ties everything together and leaves readers with a final thought or impression.

What are all the parts of a prompt?

Most writing prompts consist of the following six parts: articulation of purpose, a summary of the assignment, logistics, paper’s key components, framing questions, and evaluation criteria.

What are the most common prompt requirements?

What is a writing prompt supposed to be like in order to both challenge a writer and let them showcase their writing skills? It must be clear and concise, and possible to answer in a short amount of time. It should also be open-ended enough to allow for creative interpretation, not requiring prior knowledge in order to be answered.



I am curiosity-driven and detail-oriented so you will often find me researching the latest trends, experimenting with search engine optimization, or testing software. As a keen observer of content, my teammates often like to joke that "noting escapes the eye of Beti."

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