Story Starters and Writing Prompts

Storyboard That Style

By Anna Warfield

Find this and other great teacher resources in our Education Blog!

Finding Writing Ideas

Writer’s block. Everybody’s been there. Especially students who don’t like to write.

Writing Workshop in school can be a very difficult part of a student’s day. Some kids take naturally to the task of putting their thoughts to paper, but there are many who struggle. The hardest part is often getting ideas down in the first place. Blank pages, whether a piece of paper or a word processing document, can be extremely intimidating. Many people can’t get past that empty white space.

But think: the human brain is amazing.

The brain can associate events, people, and concepts with a blend of imagery, sounds, emotions, descriptive words, tastes, impressions, and more. Processing all that information and then synthesizing it into just words is challenging. Help young writers get past that blankness with a visual story starter.

Determination Story Starter

Story Starters

Storyboard That has come up with a variety of story starters to help people get thinking about narratives. Storytelling is a part of everyone’s daily life, and we want more people to feel confident in telling all of their stories. Our starters are single cells comprised of various scenes, characters, and items. Many of them are intended to be ambiguous, strange, or indicative of an upcoming change. The story starter could be just a picture of a character in a scene, and sometimes there is a lot of action involved.

The point of these images is to get you thinking, NOT necessarily to get you to write a story about the specific image. The person who created the image may have been thinking one thing when making it, and the person responding to the image could have a completely different reaction. In fact, the story starter may lead to a seemingly unrelated story, and that is A-OK.

Create a Storyboard 

(This will start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)

Here’s a picture. Let’s write about it.

Sometimes that’s all somebody needs. Most of the time, however, struggling writers will need a little extra help in getting started. One way to get somebody thinking is to ask questions (thanks, Socrates). Focus questions around different parts of the story starter.

Dragon Story Starter

Identify characters, if any. Give them names. How are characters related? Do physical characteristics, including age, clothing, appearance, and pose indicate anything to you?

Identify setting, if any. Where is this? When is this? How did the characters/objects get there? Why are the characters/objects there? Where are they going? Is there something odd about the characters or objects in this particular setting?

Identify action, if any. What is happening? What JUST happened? What is about to happen? What would (or could) happen if everything stayed the same or continued on the same course?

Identify mood or emotional feel, if any. Is the setting or situation happy, spooky, sad, confusing, uncomfortable, funny? What is normal in this situation or setting? What emotions do the characters feel? Why do they feel that way? What would they do next because they feel that way? What are they thinking?

Identify items, if any. What are these things? Do they belong there? What’s missing? What are the items for? How are the items being used?

In the process of thinking about and answering these questions, new ideas could spring up from anywhere! Associations from a single image or question may take your writers on an incredible journey in multiple directions. Let students be creative, and guide them when they need it! Create your own story starters using Storyboard That.

A picture is worth a thousand words? Prove it!

Be sure to check out some of our realistic and fantasy story starters, too!

Make Story Cubes!

Story cubes are great for helping students come up with awesome stories. They can roll characters, props, weather, scenes, and more, and craft stories out of their results! Create your own story cubes or have your students create some to share with their classmates for collaborative storytelling!

Storyboard That Idea

A great next step to take for a struggling writer is to storyboard first! If writing/typing the words is too much of a challenge, show what happens next with images. Create a narrative in three or six cells to get the basic idea ready, then flesh out the idea in text!

Story Starter Example
Story Starter Example


Customize this Storyboard

(This will start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)

Create Awesome Story Starters  

Help Share Storyboard That!

Read More of Our Blog

Teacher Favorites

Get the most out of Storyboard That with these great features!

Classroom Features

During your 14-Day free trial, you and your students will have full access to all the classroom features.

  • Unlimited Storyboards with up to 100 cells
  • Personal Teacher Dashboard
  • Support for Google Sign On

Photos for Class

Easily find that perfect photo thanks to integration with Photos for Class.

  • Millions of Creative Commons photos
  • Automatically cited when used
  • Makes storyboards POP

Powerful Export

After your storyboard is created easily export it to high resolution storyboard cells, PDF, slideshow, and so much more!

  • Export to PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides
  • Upload to your blog, wiki, email or social media
  • Create classroom posters and custom printables

Presentation Ready

Quickly turn any storyboard into a presentation to receive immediate feedback!

  • One Click Live Slide Shows
  • Export to PowerPoint (Keynote, and Google Slides compatible)
  • Create a new presentation just as easily after edits
Start My Free Teacher Trial
© 2020 - Clever Prototypes, LLC - All rights reserved.
Start My Free Trial
Explore Our Articles and Examples

Business Resources

All Business ArticlesBusiness Templates

Film Resources

Film ResourcesVideo Marketing

Illustrated Guides

Try Our Other Websites!

Photos for Class   •   Quick Rubric   •   abcBABYart   •   Storyboard That's TpT Store
Prefer a different language?

•   (English) Story Starters and Writing Prompts   •   (Español) Instrucciones de Escritura y Arrancadores de Historias   •   (Français) Messages D'écriture et Début D'histoire   •   (Deutsch) Schreiben von Eingabeaufforderungen und Story Starters   •   (Italiana) La Scrittura e la Storia Prompt Starters   •   (Nederlands) Schrijven Vragen en Story Starters   •   (Português) Escrevendo Prompts e Story Starters   •   (עברית) מנחת הכתיבה ראשונה סיפור   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) الكتابة مطالبات وقصة البداية   •   (हिन्दी) संकेत और कहानी शुरू लेखन   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Написание Подсказок и Стартеров Историй   •   (Dansk) Skrivning Prompts og Story Startere   •   (Svenska) Skriva Frågar och Story Starters   •   (Suomi) Kirjoittaminen Kehotteet ja Story Aloituksia   •   (Norsk) Skrive Ledetekster og Story Starters   •   (Türkçe) Yazma İstemi ve Hikaye Başlama İşlemleri   •   (Polski) Pisanie Monitów i Rozstajaczy   •   (Româna) Scrierea și Prompts Story Demaroare   •   (Ceština) Psaní Výzvy a Příběh Spouštěče   •   (Slovenský) Písanie Výziev a Štartovateľov Príbehu   •   (Magyar) Írás Felszólítja és Történet Indítók   •   (Hrvatski) Pitanja i Priče za Pisanje   •   (български) Писане на Съобщения и Стартови Разкази   •   (Lietuvos) Rašymas Paragina Istoriją ir Starteriai   •   (Slovenščina) Pisanje Prompts in Story Starters   •   (Latvijas) Rakstīšana Uzvedinošus un Story Uzkodas   •   (eesti) Kirjutamine Küsimata ja Story Eelroad