101 Scene Writing Prompts

A lonely desert road and blue mountains to inspire scene writing prompts

Continuing our writing prompt series (check out our wildly popular 101 character writing prompts), we’re moving on to scene writing prompts. Scene writing is writing. And it’s not just for screenwriters, either. If you’re writing a novel, short story, or even memoir, you will almost certainly write in-scene. In fact, most novels come together by writing scene after scene after scene, until you have a book-length project.

Scene writing is highly visual and visceral. Think of it like stepping into a movie, and watching the scenes play out in sequence. To quote MJ Bush: “Step into a scene and let it drip from your fingertips.”

Scene writing in context

However, coming up with the right scene in context of your story isn’t always that simple. And scene isn’t always synonymous with setting, either, although the two are closely related. Say you have a down-on-their-luck police officer (character) go into a coffee shop (setting). You still need to reveal the scene—what happens next? Where is the heat or conflict? How does the scene drive the wider story? As with all good writing, you need something to change. Something needs to happen to your character and how they exist and move through the world. Think of scene as the sweet spot between character, setting, and change.

Writing Deep Scenes: Plotting Your Story Through Action, Emotion, and Theme by Martha Alderson and Jordan Rosenfeld

101 scene writing prompts

Below are 101 scene writing prompts that will spark your creative writing and help you show (not tell!) in scene, and in context, rather through exposition. We’ve split these scene writing prompts out by character, setting, drama, and structure, which should help you identify the best prompts to help you get unstuck.

Characters in scene

  1. Write a scene where a suspicious character enters the room.
  2. Write a scene without using dialogue. What can you show in the silence?
  3. Write a scene in a library where the characters must whisper or stay silent.
  4. Write a scene with a mother trying to calm a screaming baby.
  5. Show one character asking another for a divorce.
  6. Write about all the characters around a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table.
  7. Show one character having a bad reaction to another.
  8. Write about a character waking up with amnesia.
  9. Show one character being followed by another.
  10. Write about two characters going on a blind date.
  11. Show a character’s reaction to a movie.
  12. Describe a stranger entering a room.
  13. Show a teacher trying to control a classroom.
  14. Show a character weighing themselves.
  15. Show awkward eye contact—what happens next?
  16. Write a scene that starts with a character’s heart beating loudly.
  17. Show a character getting their fortune told.
  18. Show characters arguing with each other.
  19. Show one character discovering that their partner is cheating on them.

Setting in scene

  1. Write a scene set on top of a snowy mountain.
  2. Write a scene in a cave that is slowly filling with water.
  3. Write a scene in a tattoo parlor.
  4. Write a scene in a morgue.
  5. Write a scene in an elevator.
  6. Write a scene in a playground.
  7. Write a scene by a campfire.
  8. Write a scene in a wine cellar.
  9. Write a scene at sea.
  10. Write a shower scene.
  11. Write a scene in a vineyard.
  12. Write a scene in a karaoke booth.
  13. Write a scene in a hotel lobby.
  14. Write a scene in a science lab.
  15. Write a scene at a supermarket checkout.
  16. Write a scene in a hospital.
  17. Write a scene at a cocktail party.
  18. Write a scene in the woods.
  19. Write a scene in a museum.
  20. Write a scene in a graveyard.
  21. Write a scene set in a 1980s video arcade.
  22. Write a scene at the top of a skyscraper.
  23. Write a scene in an escape room.
  24. Write a scene at a zoo.
  25. Write a scene in a busy city.
  26. Write a scene on a bridge.
  27. Write a scene in a restaurant.
  28. Write a scene on a spaceship.
  29. Write a scene on a submarine.
  30. Write a scene in a dive bar.
  31. Write a scene in a greenhouse.

Drama in scene

  1. Show the dialogue of a 911 call.
  2. Write a birth scene.
  3. Write a sex scene.
  4. Write a fight scene.
  5. Write a death bed scene.
  6. Show a surprise proposal.
  7. Show the approach to a finish line of a race.
  8. Show a lottery win.
  9. Show love at first sight.
  10. Describe a plane crash.
  11. Show a prison break.
  12. Show a duel at dawn.
  13. Show a car chase.
  14. Write a scene where a dark secret is revealed.
  15. Write about a shipwreck.
  16. Write a scene with a ticking clock (or bomb!).
  17. Show someone drunk on a plane.
  18. Reveal a secret at a family reunion.
  19. Show someone heckling a speech.
  20. Write about a treasure hunt.
  21. Show someone cheating on an exam.
  22. Write about a job interview that goes terribly wrong.
  23. Write a scene in an operating room.
  24. Write a damning political speech scene.
  25. Show two characters swimming during a storm.
  26. Show a car running out of gas in the middle of the desert.
  27. Show a police line-up.
  28. Describe a tense board room vote.
  29. Show the aftermath of a traffic accident.
  30. Show someone driving up to a haunted mansion.
  31. Write about a disastrous wedding day.

Structure in scene

  1. Write a scene that starts with a knock at the door.
  2. Write the opening scene to your next novel.
  3. Write a scene based along the course of a map.
  4. Write a dream scene.
  5. Write a flashback scene.
  6. Write a nightmare scene.
  7. Write a scene in the style of a eulogy.
  8. Write a scene in the style of a movie script.
  9. Write a scene using voice-over narration.
  10. Write a scene just in monologue.
  11. Write a scene based around a letter.
  12. Write a scene based around an email.
  13. Write a scene based around a diary entry.
  14. Write a scene based around a breaking news story.
  15. Write a scene based around an old photograph.
  16. Write a scene based around two people texting.
  17. Write the closing scene to your next novel (without writing the rest).
  18. Write a happy ending.
  19. Write a cliffhanger.
  20. Write a scene that ends with a door closing.

Of course, there are countless more scene writing prompts that you can work on but we hope that these 101 character writing prompts from Aspiring Author give you just enough to spark your writerly imagination and take your scene writing to the next level.

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