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How to Write a Poem Using One Sentence as a Prompt

John is a poet and short fiction writer who enjoys collaborating on stories with other writers, and partaking in challenges.

how-to-write-a-poem-using-one-sentence-as-a-prompt

The Previous Writing Prompt

Back in 2014, I wrote an article titled "How to Construct a Short Story Using One Sentence as a Prompt." Rather than repeat everything here is an excerpt from that article:

"As fellow writers, you all know that there are numerous ways of finding inspiration for your next article, poem, short story etc. Prompts and muses can come in various forms from a stunning photo, a book title, a phrase, a song, our environment, a significant event in our life, or even a writing challenge instigated from one of our peers at Hub Pages or elsewhere.

When I was in my early 20s I began a commercial writing course with "The Writing School" and one of the suggested prompts for beginning a short story was to select a random sentence and use it as the skeleton to build a story around.

Now, this wasn't as simple as just selecting a sentence and then constructing an entire story from the idea or theme of that particular sentence (though you could try this). It involved using each word in the selected sentence (in order) to begin each sentence in your story."

Below is the sentence I chose, and from that, I actually wrote a story in three parts called "Maureen's Story."

Maureen, 74, told me of when, back in 1952, she entertained a special young man, "Of course in those days," she said, "buffet suppers were all the fashion."

— The Woman's Weekly

The Challenge

So, I issued a challenge to other hubbers to try to do the same, and there was a great response. I think there were at least nine stories written, and most were very well done.

That being said, and knowing that many of you (like me) enjoy writing challenges like Bill Holland's Picture Prompts and various prompts by Ann Carr and Brenda Arledge. I thought why not issue another similar challenge. So here it is.

Rules

  1. Find your own sentence (please don't use mine)
  2. If possible show the source of your randomly chosen sentence (name of the book, magazine etc)
  3. You can write a story or poem (I like poems)
  4. Try to use the prompt the way I have eg. each word of the chosen sentence beginning each sentence or line of your story or poem. (if you find this too challenging however just use the sentence for the basis of your story. I don't want to make it too difficult so no one participates.)
  5. Have fun, there is no time limit.
how-to-write-a-poem-using-one-sentence-as-a-prompt

Show By Example

What better way to demonstrate than for me to write something from a random sentence as an example. As the last story became much longer than I expected from just one sentence, this time I decided to write a poem. In fact, I thought the poem was too short so I added a second sentence to extend it.

The two sentences I chose came from a novel called "No Time For Goodbye" by Linwood Barclay.

When Cynthia woke up, it was so quiet in the house she thought it must be Saturday.

What was that in the wastebasket next to the bed?

— Linwood Barclay ~ No Time For Goodbye

When Was the Last Time You Heard Silence?

When was the last time you heard silence?

Cynthia felt something was wrong.

Woke up to a lack of noise.

Up she rose out of her bed.


It felt more like the weekend,

Was it Saturday perhaps?

So at first, she didn't panic,

Quiet was sometimes good in fact.


In awhile her mind was clearing,

The sleepy thoughts were brushed aside.

"House," she said, "why are you silent?"

She walked downstairs to check it out.


Thought her parents must be sleeping-

It was strange that no one stirred.

Must not jump to rash conclusions,

Be brave in the face of doubt.


Saturday? No..no.. it was not.

What was happening? This was Thursday!

Was it earlier than she thought?

That must be the explanation.

In her mind, she knew not though.


The sun was high above the window.

Wastebasket overturned, caught her eye.

Next to it, she knelt slowly

To check what was inside.


The contents caused her breath to halt -

Bed-sheet bloodied, dripping red.


Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Now Over to You

I really enjoyed the challenge of using these sentences as a prompt to write this poem (even though it turned out a bit macabre), and am sure you will too. I can't wait to see what you come up with. Are you up for it? Good luck.

If you join in leave a comment or link here so I can read your poem or story.

Responses to the Challenge

© 2021 John Hansen

Comments

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on April 16, 2021:

Thank you Misbah.

Misbah from The Planet Earth on April 16, 2021:

Nice to see that people like your challenge, John and they are still responding. So kind of you that you are making edits on the article for the new ones

Blessings always

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on April 16, 2021:

Thank you Alyssa, and Chrish for your recent contributions. Well done.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 15, 2021:

Hi Kyler, yes it is a pain to have to scroll through the feed to find an article, so thanks for going to the trouble. I thought this way to use a sentence as a prompt was a cool idea and glad you do too.

Thanks for taking up the challenge and I will come and read your contribution right now.

Kyler J Falk from California on March 15, 2021:

Hey, John, gave your prompt a shot. It was a really cool idea, and I enjoyed writing in this style. Had to scroll one-hundred miles down my feed to find this and comment, lol.

https://letterpile.com/poetry/The-Hero-Becomes-the...

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 15, 2021:

Thank you, Rosina. I read it and you did a great job. I have posted the link below as well.

Rosina S Khan on March 15, 2021:

John, I have posted a short story in response to your challenge. Here is the link:

https://letterpile.com/creative-writing/The-Entail...

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 14, 2021:

Thanks Brenda. yes i don’t think there is a limit on links capsule. It will only stop the article being moved to a niche site probably.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on March 14, 2021:

You have mine already. I didn't realize we could include that many link. Nice to know.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 14, 2021:

If anyone has written a response that I haven’t included here in the links, please let me know as I may have missed it. Thanks.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 12, 2021:

That is great Alyssa. I am glad this challenge captured your intention, and I look forward to your response. I know it will be high quality. Thank you.

Alyssa from Ohio on March 12, 2021:

What a fun challenge! I love the idea of using each word to begin each line or sentence. Thank you for this! I'm definitely going to participate!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 11, 2021:

Yes, Mel. I am certainly trying. Hopefully I will succeed. Out of all those great books you read you must have seen one sentence that really stands out. Look forward to it.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 11, 2021:

Thank you Greg. I knew I could count on you to take up the challenge and come up with something great. I was even confident saying that before I read your contribution. I will go check it now.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on March 11, 2021:

You're trying to sucker me into another challenge? I remember long ago you had me write a story where the first word of every sentence started with all the words of a famous saying. I used the Gettysburg Address for mine, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. But I better think about this before I commit. I need a good random sentence to stir my fingers into action.

greg cain from Idaho, USA on March 11, 2021:

John - thanks for putting this out there, my friend. I've accepted your challenge put a short piece together called, "Respite From the Storm" in response. Hope you enjoy, brother. Be good, be safe, be well.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 11, 2021:

Do you mean the ‘Worms, Candles, Acorns and Random Thoughts’ in Poems From the Porch 56? That may be the one you mean.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 11, 2021:

I was looking for your latest poem on thought process, but can't find it. Sigh! Anyway, I love the process when muse sends a message to the writer. I would not be able to explain it to a non-writer, but it is magical.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 11, 2021:

I read your poem EK. You did well. Thank you for taking part. I added the link to your response below.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on March 11, 2021:

Here is my response towards your challenge. Don't laugh and just read. LOL.

https://discover.hubpages.com/literature/The-Road-...

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on March 11, 2021:

Thanks John.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 11, 2021:

You did a great job, Ravi. I add a link to your response at the bottom of this article.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on March 11, 2021:

Hi John I accepted the sentence challenge. Please do read my tanka poem.

https://letterpile.com/poetry/In-The-Dark-Alley

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 11, 2021:

Thank you, Harriet. I will go and read it now.

Harriet Dionela from Taguig City, Philippines on March 10, 2021:

I thought I’d give it a try. Here is my contribution to the challenge.

https://letterpile.com/poetry/Take-the-High-Road

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 10, 2021:

Hello Nithya, I enjoy writing a bit of horror/mystery from time to time. these sentences seemed to fit that perfectly. I am glad you found this a unique writing prompt and hope you give it a try.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on March 10, 2021:

A spine-chillin poem using a sentence as a prompt.This is a unique and a creative way to write a poem. Thank you for sharing.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on March 10, 2021:

John,

For some reason I didnt get a notification when you wrote these comments...not sure why.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on March 10, 2021:

John,

I was having problems finding your comments too.

I just went back through feed settings and added a few options or redid them.

It must have helped, because your article popped up on the feed.

So glad you liked my poem. It was fun to try.

Here's the link again.

https://discover.hubpages.com/literature/Poem-Thou...

I just reposted underneath the feed again.

Maybe you can find it.

I was happy to provide link for the Creative Exiles.

Take care.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 10, 2021:

Brenda, for some reason I can’t find your response on my feed to leave a comment there so let me thank you for what you said there and the link to The Creative Exiles etc.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 10, 2021:

Brenda, I loved your poem. Excellent response to this challenge. Well done.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 10, 2021:

Hi Ravi, i am glad this challenge appeals to you, and I hope you exercise those brain cells and take Poirot’s advice to write a response. Thanks for reading.

Misbah from The Planet Earth on March 10, 2021:

Thanks a lot John

I am glad you liked it

Blessings

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on March 10, 2021:

John,

Here is my attempt at this writing challenge.

https://discover.hubpages.com/literature/Poem-Thou...

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on March 10, 2021:

This is awesome John and is a perfect way to exercise the creative grey cells of the brain as Hercule Poirot calls it. This is really fun. Thanks for sharing.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 10, 2021:

I just checked out your response and I loved it. Great job!

Misbah from The Planet Earth on March 10, 2021:

Here's my link to the sentence prompt

https://discover.hubpages.com/literature/Desire-th...

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 10, 2021:

Flourish, thank you so much. I am glad you thought this was a good creative challenge.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 10, 2021:

Thanks, EK. I appreciate your comment and look forward to whatever you come up with, you can write a short story if it is easier for you.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 10, 2021:

That is one really creative way to spark creativity for a poem or short story. I really like what you did with this one! Bravo!

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on March 10, 2021:

Jodah, I am amazed by your work, eagerly waiting for hubbers reponse. This will be a fun, I think. .

I will try to give it a shot. But I am not much good in poetry. Lol.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 10, 2021:

Yes, I got this comment twice. See you soon Misbah. Blessings.

Misbah from The Planet Earth on March 10, 2021:

John, I accept the challenge

I promise you will see me soon and I hope you will like it too

The feed is disturbing

I made the same comment on another poem of yours

Silly of me.. lol....

Blessings

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 10, 2021:

You are always so generous with your comments, Devika. Thank you so much. I am sure there will be some wonderful responses to read.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 10, 2021:

Hi Jodah your poems are fun and interesting all you say and express is of many emotions. A challenge for many good writers here. You are one of the best.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Thank you Linda. Yes, it did end rather dramatically. I hope you can find time to write something for the challenge. I'd love to read it.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 09, 2021:

Your challenge sounds interesting and fun, John. The last line of your poem is certainly dramatic!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Hey Brenda. Yes it is an interesting and fun way to create a piece of writing. I am sure you will find a sentence somewhere....even on HubPages.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Wow! You were fast out of the blocks, Rodric.i will be right over to check it out. Thanks for participating.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on March 09, 2021:

John,

This is an interesting way of creating a poem or story.

I might give it a try. Of course I gotta find a book or magazine...something that has sentences in it first.

I'll figure something out..I have my mobile phone.

Let you know when I do.

Great work by the way.

Rodric Anthony from Surprise, Arizona on March 09, 2021:

Here! I wrote a story, not a poem. I thought about doing both, but I don't want to overtax my brain! Here is the link to my contribution to the challenge: https://discover.hubpages.com/literature/When-Prom...

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Hi Rasma. Believe me, it isn’t as difficult as it first seems. I hope you take up the challenge.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Rosina, you can do this challenge as a short story rather than a poem, if you wish to partake. Thanks for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

MsDora, did I tempt you enough for you to give this a try? I hope so. Thank you for you wonderful comment anyway.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

“Gripping” was my aim, manatita. Thank you for reading and I am glad it captured your interest.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Hi Pamela. Glad you found this interesting, and I hope you give the challenge a try.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Thank you Shauna. You see why I couldn’t stop at just one sentence. I could have used more to create a longer poem but was happy finishing with a cliffhanger. I hope your muse is inspired...just choose a sentence and see what happens.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Hello Chitrangada. Thank you for reading and showing interest. I hope that translates into you taking up the challenge.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on March 09, 2021:

Sentence prompts are interesting if inspiration can incorporate the sencetence into the poem.

Rosina S Khan on March 09, 2021:

A interesting challenge, John. I would like to read what others come up with to meet this challenge. Thank you for the wonderful share.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 09, 2021:

Clever writing from a sentence prompt. Tempting. You have a ready knack for poetry from any and every origin Excellent as always.

manatita44 from london on March 09, 2021:

Gripping and intriguing read, John. Darkness indeed, as the video says, within the sound of silence.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 09, 2021:

This is an interesting challenge, and I appreciate the history you included. I am making no promises right now, John, but I may try it out. Thanks for keeping things interesting.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 09, 2021:

Interesting challenge, John. I'll have to see if my muse is back from her vacation. I haven't heard from her in a while, so she must be having fun wherever she is!

I love your poem. It almost begs a sequel. What happened? Whodunit?

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 09, 2021:

Great writing and I am sure, it will help many writers, with new ideas. I enjoyed reading it.

Sounds like an interesting challenge. I am getting interested, will let you know.

Thank you for sharing.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Hey Fran. I am so glad this inspired you and can't wait to see what you come up with. Thank you.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on March 09, 2021:

John, this is great. I am anxious to try this and it should be fun!. What inspiration you gave to me. Thanks for tour article.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Haha Mr. Happy, what better way to start the day? Thank you for reading and your comment. Hopefully you decide to respond to this challenge.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Rodric, sorry you were in hospital again, but glad you are free again. I look forward to reading your response to this challenge.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on March 09, 2021:

Nice: eating my toast and goat cheese and reading a poem about a possible murder. Lovely way to start the day, haha!!

You are quite creative though and I appreciate your play with words. I find it very different than my play with words and that's what makes it even more interesting. Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Thank you, Misbah. I hope you give it a try.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Hi Ann, yes I thought you may have participated in the original challenge. I hope you do again this time. Thank you.

Rodric Anthony from Surprise, Arizona on March 09, 2021:

This was a great read and I want to do it. I just finished another stint in hospital the last month or so gaining freedom last Friday the 5th. I am ready to take on this structured task that you give me. I need the challenge. Thanks for this poem and for sharing your writing knowledge here.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Hey Bill, it doesn't have to be a poem..can be a piece of short fiction. Thanks though. Hopefully a few take it up.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 09, 2021:

I think I have a mental block when it comes to writing poems, but I wish everyone good luck with this challenge, and I look forward to the responses.

Carry on, John! Have a great week!

Misbah from The Planet Earth on March 09, 2021:

Sentence prompt is a cool idea, John

The poem is very lovely

Thanks for sharing

blessings

Ann Carr from SW England on March 09, 2021:

Great poem, John! Full of suspense.

I remember responding to your last one ('Writing can be a Lonely Business' - a sentence I took from the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook), which I had great fun writing. It would be fun to try it again, so it's on my list.

Thanks for rekindling this idea!

Ann

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on March 09, 2021:

Thank you Tanmoy. I am glad this may be of help.

Tanmoy Acharya 100 on March 09, 2021:

I like it. This is educational for me. I really learned a new trick here. You are a gifted teacher, John.

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