2023’s Best Creative Writing Prompts for High School Students

27 Dec, 2023 | English, University Preparation

Words can serve an almost unlimited number of purposes: communication, encouragement, explanation, instruction. They can also be used for creative purposes; to express your inner thoughts, feelings and ideas in a completely unique way. 

When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that despite hundreds of years of written English, you can still produce writing that is completely and utterly your own!

What Is Creative Writing?

If you’re used to writing essays and revision notes for school, it can be really liberating to write creatively, without the formal conventions of academic work and with the sole intent of embracing your own freedom of expression. 

What’s more, creative writing can actually help improve your academic work, because learning how to hold a reader’s intention, how to eloquently express your thoughts, and how to plan and execute a writing brief, are skills that both creative and academic writing have in common. 

At OxBright, we see the immense value developing reading and writing skills can have on your academic and professional future, so we’re proud to run creative writing courses for high-school aged students, as well as internships on literature and writing.

What Are the Benefits of Creative Writing for High School Students?

I. Enhanced communication skills

Teachers will often emphasise the importance of not only having a well-rounded argument in an essay, but also a strong reason why your argument matters to the subject you’re writing about. For an essay to stand out, it has to communicate something important to its reader. 

This is a skill that takes a long time to hone, and even at university, a lot of undergraduate students struggle with it. Creative writing is a great way of developing the communication skills so essential to both academic work and your contributions in class. 

Whichever class you’re in, you’re bound to have thoughts about what you’re learning. Perhaps you disagree with a particular point-of-view put forward by a teacher, or maybe you have seen a link between two seemingly separate schools of thoughts. What makes a student really stand out is their ability to eloquently express these thoughts. 

Writing creatively helps you hone language to share your ideas and thoughts with others, making you far more confident in your ability to express yourself with words.

II. Boosted creativity

Whether it’s macaroni art or pumpkin carving, creativity is something that we’re encouraged to embrace when we’re young, but as we grow up we often find that we have less and less time and opportunity to express ourselves creatively. 

However, many studies are keen to emphasise that staying in touch with our creative sides can help improve many aspects of our lives, helping relieve stress and even improving our health! Experimenting with creative writing means trying out different styles and genres of writing, fostering a really important skill for everyday life – the ability to adapt to different challenges.

III. Improved critical thinking 

Whatever you plan to study at university, from science to the humanities, critical thinking skills are essential. 

When writing creatively, you’ll need to evaluate characters, themes and plot structure, which helps you to think critically about your own work, and to decide what works and what doesn’t.

Critical thinking becomes increasingly important the further you progress into education. As the concepts you study become more complex, being able to think critically about what you read and write will give you the edge you need to produce exceptional work.

IV. Facilitates self-expression

Although it can seem like a bit of a cliché, growing up can be a challenging time. Being a high-school student means you’re in a period of self-discovery, which can be exciting but it can also mean grappling with a lot of complex emotions and navigating the adult world for the first time. 

For lots of young people, creative writing is a welcome escape from the stress of school life and the many other responsibilities they might have. Dealing with your personal life through creative writing is a great way to build emotional resilience and improve your mental-health.

V. Personal growth and confidence

It can be really empowering to channel your emotions into writing. Seeing your thoughts, feelings, and your own personal identity replicated on the page should be a source of great pride. 

Whether you choose to share your writing with other people is entirely up to you, but if you do decide to share your work with others, then receiving glowing feedback can be a great way to boost your confidence and self-esteem.

How to Use a Writing Prompt

So you think writing sounds like a great creative outlet, but you’re not sure where to start? 

Creative writing prompts are a great launch-pad for beginning a new poem, story or writing a creative essay, as they help to trigger ideas while leaving the actual writing part entirely to you. Plus, if you see a writing prompt that jumps out at you but you want to alter it slightly, then no problem! That’s exactly what writing prompts are designed for – to get your creativity flowing! 

Once you’ve got an initial idea from a writing prompt, you can begin brainstorming ideas, themes and characters based on your chosen prompt. By planning and structuring your writing before you begin, a creative writing project can seem a lot less daunting. Even if you end up deviating somewhat from your initial plan, at least you have an overarching structure to fall back on if you reach any hurdles! 

It’s also worth considering which form your writing is going to take. Poetry, narrative prose, and creative essays are all very different in style and form, so think about how exactly you think you’d best be able to express yourself. 

Having said that, the fun thing about creative writing is that there aren’t any hard-and-fast structural rules. If you want to write something that combines two or more of these forms, well that’s entirely your choice! 

If you get stuck along the way, it’s always worth sharing your work with friends, family or teachers, so you can receive encouraging feedback and helpful suggestions. Professional writers almost always draft and redraft their work several times before it’s ready for public consumption, so don’t be shy about sharing work that isn’t yet finished!

Young man writing in a notebook, with a city in the background

The Best High School Creative Writing Prompts of 2023

Imaginary worlds

1. A woman discovers a mystical island where her dreams are played out in physical form, including her nightmares.

2. A librarian discovers that some of the books in the library open portals to different times and places.

3. A group of adventurers discover a forest where trees possess ancient knowledge and they must decipher the messages written in the leaves to prevent impending catastrophe.

Mystery and suspense

1. A detective investigates the disappearance of a famous illusionist during a live performance.

2. An antique shop owner unravels the history of a cursed heirloom and must break an ancient curse.

3. A reclusive artist’s masterpiece holds a hidden message and an art expert must discover its meaning before it goes on display.

Magical adventures

1. In a world where music has magical properties, a musician with a mysterious instrument must stop a malevolent sorcerer.

2. An alchemist creates a potion which allows communication with mythical creatures and is able to learn their secrets.

3. A twenty-first century map-maker discovers a map that reveals a hidden continent which is home to dozens of mythical creatures.

Historical journeys

1. During the Renaissance, a young artist discovers a magical paintbrush that brings his creations to life.

2. A medieval farmer discovers an abandoned aircraft from the future and must unravel its mystery.

3. A group of friends discover a collection of letters written by a forgotten World War I soldier and set about tracking down ancestors.

Outer space and sci-fi

1. A team of interstellar archaeologists stumble across an ancient spaceship graveyard, each vessel holding clues to the mysteries of a forgotten civilisation.

2. A space mechanic encounters and fixes a malfunctioning robot that is more dangerous than it seems.

3. A group of friends acquire a device that enables them to swap places with their counterparts in parallel universes.

Family and relationships

1. Siblings discover letters left behind by their great-grandparents and realise how similar they are to their ancestors.

2. An estranged family reunite in their childhood home and learn to forgive each other and rediscover shared memories.

3. Sibling rivalry takes a sudden turn when a family crisis compels a brother and sister to set aside their differences.

Magical creatures

1. An ancient dragon, once feared by a village, seeks redemption by aiding a group of heroes on their quest.

2. A phoenix visits a young boy whenever he is in crisis and he wants to discover who is sending the phoenix to help him.

3. A young goblin rebels against tradition and explores forbidden realms beyond their home, discovering the diversity of the land.

Humorous adventures

1. During a summer job at an amusement park, a student discovers a hidden portal to a Victorian circus.

2. A group of students form a paranormal investigation club to unravel the mysteries of their strange, eccentric hometown.

3. A school science project goes haywire and creates a machine that swaps personalities among classmates.

Superhero scenarios

1. A retired superhero comes out of retirement to vanquish a villain who is able to manipulate people’s memories.

2. A superhero loses their powers after a strange cosmic event and must rely on their intellect to face a new wave of threats.

3. A superhero who can control time is suspended by the government due to ethical concerns about time-travel.

Dystopian worlds

1. In a world where emotions are outlawed, a resistance group tries to restore fundamental human experience.

2. In a future society where half the population lives underground after being convinced that radiation levels are too high, and the other half live above ground in the assumption that everything is in fact fine, one woman has to determine who is right.

3. An authoritarian regime uses AI to predict and punish crimes before they happen.

Time travel tales

1. In a world of time-travel tourism, a tour guide accidentally strands his customers in Ancient Rome.

2. A time traveller becomes trapped in a time loop, reliving his 18th year again and again.

3. A historian from the future travels back to 2023 to issue a historic warning, but most of society are unconvinced.

We hope this article has inspired you to dip your toes into the world of creative writing! 

From developing critical thinking skills to boosting your confidence, creative writing links self-expression to self-improvement in a way that’s worth exploring regardless of where your future ambitions lie. 

If you like the idea of creative writing but have been unsure where to begin, our creative writing prompts are a great starting point. Whether you use them directly, or just as a way of generating your own ideas, the writing you create will ultimately be entirely your own!

Sam

By Sam Cox

Sam is a recent English graduate from the University of Bristol whose interests include twentieth-century fiction, film, and cultural criticism.

Explore creative writing this summer!

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