Posted on by Steven Savage

As you may guess what is up?  The Writing Prompt Generator!

Took a bit of a change here, not adding new vocabulary or prompt structures, but jazzing up and extending the ones I’d created.  It’s actually made it a lot more interesting and diverse, and made me think about a few things.

Mostly I think of generators as involving a structure and language in the structure when they’re simple, or a kind of “tree of possibilities” when more complex.  Superhero names are of the former variety, a character generator where you have certain things that can or can’t happen (having hair) or that relate to each other (“x item produces y occurrence”).

But the prompt generator feels more like a kind of matryoshka doll, a bunch of nested patterns.  I need to have the place-word-in-slot complexity on one level, but overall complexity isn’t quite linear, but is a series of elements that can relate linearly.

There’s the overall structure (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”), lower-level components (“The X of times”) and then the words itself (“best”, “worst”).   In turn you could also complicated it (By randomly adding “She was sure it was . . .” to the start), or randomly adding something to the end, (“, so said my father”).  But in turn I could make those complicated as well, by adding multiple beginnings or endings.  You could have “I was sure it was the most disgusting time, and the most glorious age, but who listens to me?” emerge from slotting words and groups of words into a similar structure.

Yet the relation of the parts is a tad tenuous, because I need them to be unpredictable and not connected to inspire the imagination and create diversity.  It’s nested randomness.

I’m quite sure the generator will never be perfect, yet at the same time it’s already far better than my worst-case scenarios – enough I can declare it to be out of Alpha and into Beta.  I certainly learned a lot!

I’ll probably take a few more stabs at it, get it to at least decently release-worthy, then take a break and maybe get to some other generators.  This is one I may have to revisit.

But some results for you with my thoughts . . .

  • Then came the mutants, or that’s what he thought. – Not mutants, but aliens, good job lousy space adventurer, now your sidekick has to sort it out.
  • Such a common time, this time of science and space wars. – Space combat is automated so people are used to it.
  • Terrorist attacks, political collapse, sanity and wanderlust. – Sometimes you have to get away from the chaos to stay sane.
  • The crazy girl was weeping all night. – . . . this doesn’t end well.
  • I will be a linguist, with my lamps. – A linguist-interrogator, checking others for unlawful language.
  • I’ve found that all supervillains lack any understanding of religion – he was the exception as well as my friend. – Your best friend is a religious fanatic supervillain, teenage years just got complicated.
  • I have a tale about war, alchoholism, and a king – your story. – The king drank himself into oblivion and amnesia – and now he has to remember who he is as his advisor tries to help – and the story is written as if someone is talking to YOU.
  • Like a person, a political collapse is always sleeping. – And always ready to wake and turn over and crush things.
  • Everyone predicted there will be a mass murder, and that’s when everything when wrong. – What happens when a group of criminologists make an embarrassing prediction that doesn’t come true?
  • It will be the month of scheming. – A very organized supervillain is preparing . . .

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, publishes books on career and culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at

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