21 NaNoWriMo Writing Prompts To Help You Get Started On Your Manuscript

Carina König/Stocksy

For me, November is the best month of the year for one reason: National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Writers all over the world take up the challenge, and while it is definitely hard, it's an excellent way to motivate yourself to write that book.

Writing a 50,000 word novel in a month ultimately means writing 1,667 words per day. While that task may seem daunting, it is not impossible. All you need is the right attitude, and maybe just a little push in the right direction. And if you're sitting here wondering "What would I even write about?" — don't worry, I've got some ideas.

Here are 21 writing prompts to jumpstart your NaNoWriMo project. You can use these to start off your novel on Nov. 1, or you can turn to them when it's the middle of the month and you feel stuck. The most important thing is just to keep writing. Turn of your inner-editor, and let your fingers fly over the keys. The most exciting thing about NaNoWriMo is that you never know where your novel may end up.

So, if you're taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge this year, good luck and happy writing!

1Start your novel with a scene that takes place in the cafeteria of your high school. But one huge thing is completely different...

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2Every year, when the clock strikes midnight on November 30, something very small (and very important) happens. What is it?

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3One morning, your grandmother takes you aside and tells you there is a huge family secret that it's time you know. But even though the thing she tells you is outrageous, there's a part of you that isn't surprised. What's the secret?

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4Tell your readers everything you can about a character who is cursed by never being able to tell the truth (even when they want to).

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5A huge tech company has just announced their newest technology: A brand new device that has the power to change the world forever. But minutes after they make their announcement, they discover the device has been stolen. What happens next?

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6Start by describing (in as much detail as possible) a setting that is filled with danger at every turn. But standing right in the middle of it, is the person you would least expect to be there...

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7In a stunning turn of events, the citizens of Florida have elected an actual, literal bird to Congress in the midterm elections. How did this happen, and how does it play out?

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8No one knows the REAL story of how your main character became famous. But now this, your novel, is their tell-all book. Spill those secrets!

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9What if the story of Snow White was a psychological suspense? Or if Cinderella was an epic fantasy? Take your favorite fairy tale, and rewrite it in a different genre.

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10Finally, after years and years of hard work, your main character is finally going to get to achieve their dream of going to space. But they almost don't want to go when they find out who is going to be in the spaceship with them...

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11Write a novel that takes place in a school that is, well... unusual. What about this school makes it unlike any other?

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12Your main character is sitting at home, minding their own business, when they get a phone call. The person on the other line tells them that they're from the future, and it's vitally important that they don't hang up. The fate of the world hangs in the balance. What happens next?

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13The Olympic committee has made up an entirely new sport that will be featured in the next round of games, and there's a lot of controversy surrounding it. Write from the perspective of the athletes who will be competing.

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14There's long-lost pirate treasure buried somewhere in your hometown. What happens when someone discovers an ancient map with clues as to where it's hidden?

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15Your main character is a world traveler, who has been nearly everywhere. But there's one last place that they've never been able to go. Tell the story of why that is and how they manage to get there.

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16One morning, a woman wakes up to find a tiger in her house. What happens next?

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17Write from the perspective of a character who has your dream job. What is their life like?

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18Your main character thought they were signing up for a magic camp where they would be learning tricks and illusions. But instead they find that this camp teaches real magic. What happens next?

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19Your main character is on a first date that actually seems to be going pretty well! But then their date says something that changes their life forever...

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20There's a huge deadline coming up for your main character, and they'll go to any lengths to meet it. What happens when they go to the extreme?

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21Aliens have landed on Earth, and they have one simple request in exchange for peace. What is it?

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