Summer Writing Prompts: 35+ Ideas to Get You Started

One of the worst things about being an adult is you can't take summers off from work (unless you're a teacher, I suppose). The last day of school before summer vacation was always brimming with possibilities. The seemingly endless days of summer stretched out before you like a sparkling river under a tire swing.

But even for adults, there's plenty of fun to be had in summer. And it's some of that magic we're tapping into with the summer writing prompts below. 

In this article, you will learn:
  1. How to make the most of the writing prompts.
  2. A list of writing prompts to choose from.
  3. Tips for vetting your story idea.

Tips for Using the Writing Prompts Below

Writing prompts have a great many uses. But like any tool, it helps to know how to use them for whatever it is you want to accomplish. The quick tips below are by no means mandatory, but they may be able to help you get the most out of these summer writing prompts. 

Choose a Writing Skill to Strengthen

In On Writing by Stephen King, the Master of Horror talks about how the various aspects of writing are like tools in the writer's toolbox. Some you will naturally be proficient with, while others will require a bit more practice before you can master them. This is where writing prompts can be incredibly helpful. Choose one or more “tools” from the list below and then focus on it (or them) with a writing prompt. 

  • Character Development – There's an art to crafting round characters and satisfying character arcs. By focusing on these aspects, you can strengthen these skills. 
  • Action – Action scenes can be hard to write without confusing the reader. That's why practice makes perfect. 
  • Point of View – There are nuances to understand when it comes to POV, so choosing one you're not necessarily comfortable with can help improve your use of POV. 
  • Dialogue – Compelling dialogue is one of the hardest things to pull off. But if you work at it, you'll get better. 
  • Show, Don't Tell – Showing how a character is feeling through their actions, mannerisms, dialogue, and the use of subtext can be hard to master, but it's certainly not impossible. 

Form a Writing Habit

It can be hard to write every day on a large project like a novel or a nonfiction book. But if there's one thing professional writers have in common, it's that they write every day—or at least regularly. Unfortunately, creating a writing habit is easier said than done. But by using writing prompts to get you excited to sit down at the computer every day, you can ingrain the habit in a matter of weeks. 

This is also a good way of getting warmed up to tackle your work in progress. By writing a few hundred words (or even just a paragraph) on a writing prompt, you can get the words flowing before moving on to your current work in progress. 

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Disassemble Writer's Block

If the words just don't want to come, a writing prompt could be the ticket through writer's block. By starting on a story that you're not as invested in, you can unleash your creativity and get back on track. 

The key here is to really let yourself get creative with the prompt. You may even want to go so far as to write in a completely different genre than your work in progress. If you're writing a romance, try instead doing a horror short story. If you're writing a gritty thriller, try a goofy mystery. Or forget all about genre and just go with stream-of-consciousness writing!

Summer Writing Prompts

Boost your creative writing skills with these summer story prompts. 

1. Write about a whirlwind romance that only takes place over the summer months. 

2. Write a story in which a group of teenagers working at an amusement park must solve the murder of a mysterious Jane Doe that wound up dead in the food court. 

3. Write about a character who experiences a summer that's both the best and worst of their life. 

4. The world is about to end, and humanity collectively agrees to take the last summer off. What happens during the last months before the apocalypse?

5. Start your story with a child going missing from a summer camp. 

6. Set your story at a summer camp for adults. 

7. Write about a small group of students dreading summer break. Why do they fear it? What happens in their town during summer that is so frightful?

8. Explore the origins of a strange summer tradition one family practices every year. 

9. Think of your favorite summer memory and write a story in which a character experiences that for the first time. 

10. Write about a group of kids who have summer activities planned but they keep getting interrupted before they can enjoy them. 

11. Write about a character whose favorite thing about summer is the heat. 

12. It's the first day of summer vacation and a group of friends decides to run away from home to live in the woods. Explore this from the point of view of both the kids and their parents. 

13. Write about a crime that happens on July 4th during the fireworks display. The town's only detective—brand new to the area—has to solve the case. 

14. Write about a second-grade teacher who decides to hitchhike to Woodstock in the summer of 1969. 

15. Write a thriller story about a family on summer vacation when they're held hostage by two desperate criminals. 

16. Write a horror story about a hot summer day that just keeps getting hotter and hotter. How would people survive? What could they do to escape the heat?

17. Start your story with a young writer for the school newspaper witnessing a crime committed by the principal on the last day of the school year. 

18. See if you can convey the magic of summer fun with a story about kids without a care in the world trying to make the most out of their summer in small-town America. 

19. Begin your story with a character getting an anonymous note that says, “Contact me when summer starts.”

20. Write a story that takes place exclusively on the three major summer holidays: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. 

21. Start your story with a water balloon fight that soon gets out of control. 

22. Write about a character who sets out to do 100 random acts of kindness during her summer. 

23. Pick a summer activity you love and write about characters doing that activity when they're interrupted by something completely unexpected. 

24. Write an acrostic poem about the joys of summer. These types of poems are great for creative thinking and expanding your vocabulary.  

25. Tell the story of a character's summer vacation through a series of their blog posts. This type of epistolary story is great for character development!

26. Set your story on a beach near a bonfire. A fight breaks out, and one of the fighters is your protagonist!

27. Write about two groups of kids with rival lemonade stands trying to outdo each other. 

28. Your protagonist gets a summer job at a local resort. But he soon finds out that something shady is going on at the resort, and he may have seen too much. 

29. A small town's summer festival goes awry when nearly all the attendees are drugged. When the dust settles, someone's dead. But who's to blame?

30. A group of once-tight-knit friends gets together after many years apart. The idea is to reconnect over the summer, but one member of the group has an ulterior motive. And it's not a nice one.

31. A group of strangers boards a small boat for a trip to a secluded island resort. But a summer storm lands these vacationing strangers on a deserted island. They must learn to work together—or pay the ultimate price.  

32. Your protagonist is a camp counselor at a summer camp that has been closed since some awful murders happened there. It soon becomes clear that something strange is happening again. . .

33. Write about three competitive friends who participate in a summer scavenger hunt that sends them all over New England. 

34. Write about a family staying at a cabin when the high temperatures and low moisture cause a forest fire. They must escape, but that's easier said than done. 

35. When a young girl is upended and moved across the country during the summer, she befriends an old woman who has been shunned by the town. What does she learn about herself and the world by starting this friendship?

Will Your Story Sell?

I hope these writing prompts are to your liking! Whether you use one of the creative writing prompts as a story starter or a creative writing activity, the important thing is getting the words down. 

That said, I encourage you to use them however you like. While not every writer wants to sell their work, there are plenty who do. And if you're one of them, then it's a good idea to see if there's a niche audience for your story. This is easily done with Publisher Rocket

This tool can compress what would otherwise take hours of research on Amazon into just minutes, helping you identify ideal markets for your book. Once you find a niche market, it can help you position your book for success when you do publish. With Publisher Rocket, you get insights directly from Amazon on:

  • Keywords – Metadata to position your book on Amazon.
  • Competition – Allowing you to see what's selling and how stiff the competition is.
  • Categories – So you know where people who are looking for books like yours go to find them.
  • Amazon Ads – Helps you quickly configure a list of profitable keywords for running ads for your novel, novella, or short story collection.

Best of all, it’s easy to use and comes with quick little videos to get you started. Check out Publisher Rocket here.

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