By J. A. Marlow
Copyright © 2009 by J. A. Marlow, All Rights Reserved
Writing prompts are little snippets of information which can be used as
inspiration. There are many types of writing prompts out there, such as
picture or photo prompts, prompt-a-day blogs, challenges, various lists,
Generators are typically Java- or PHP-based scripts that produce random
results on a defined subject. One advantage of generators is a simple
refresh of the page or a click of a button can provide all new results.
They can inspire scenes, plot points, details, world building, and help
spur writing in the face of writerís block.
Seventh Sanctum (http://www.seventhsanctum.com/) brings together over
100 generators organized into categories. They range from silly and
fandom to serious and original, and all levels in between. The
generators are offered free and thereís no claim to ownership over
anything produced by them.
When using the generators available on this site, be sure to look for
any drop-down menus, as these can help refine results. Also, give
yourself flexibility in adopting what is generated. By their very
nature, every generator will give unusable results along with the good
ones. Donít be afraid to take bits and pieces from the same generator or
from several generators. Then string them together in a manner which
works for you. Above all, keep your mind open to the possibilities. You
never know what will spark the right idea.
Below are a few generators that turn out consistently usable results.
The list is by no means exhaustive. A word of warning: this site can be
very addictive. Be prepared to spend a while exploring it.
Whole Story Ideas
Writing Challenge Generator
This generator is very nice for one specific reason: generalities.
Instead of details, it lists elements your imagination can then string
together. Many of the results are not tied to a specific genre or
location. As such, it has the potential of being very useful no matter
your preferred genre.
Quick Story Idea Generator
When it says Ďquick,í it means it. Three or four sentences are produced
which give general information. Many of these can be used in multiple
Lost Civilization Generator
With the help of a drop-down box you can specify the types of results as
either ĎFantasyí or ĎScience Fictioní. Iíve found several good ideas
among the results to use not only for lost civilizations but also for
contemporary species in a science fiction story.
Fantasy Race Generator
of the results of this generator are truly hilarious. However, by
generating several possibilities at a time and mixing and matching, itís
possible to get a start on interesting races you can then expand upon.
Alien Race Generator
is the Science Fiction version of the above generator. As before, mixing
and matching from several will give you the best results. This is also
great if you are writing on a draft and need a throw-away new race, such
as for a canteen scene.
Need a little help with motivation, goals, and/or background of your
villain? Come to this generator to see if anything sparks the
imagination. The Villain Generator offers several options: Evil
Magic-Users, Mad Scientist, and Supervillain. Be prepared for hilarious
results among the more serious. To help out, also take a look at the
Supervillain Theme Generator (http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=supervillaintheme),
which offers interesting simplified villains.
Specific World Building Generators
Quick Name Generator
There are a lot of name generators out there, but not many will bring
results of both a first name and a surname. This one does. As such, it
can be a huge help in finding names for your characters during the
planning stage. Itís also helpful if you need to quick name for a
walk-on character. A drop-down menu allows you to choose male or female.
These names are more suitable for ocean vessels, but you can also find
among them ideas for spaceship names. Not all the names produced are
useable, but they can often spark other ideas. As an alternate
inspiration also try the Pirate Ship Namer (http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=pirateshipnamer).
This generator offers one word vehicle names. It almost inspired a
steampunk plot-bunny for me (which I donít write) before I managed to
push the name into another novel already in the works. Itís useful for
science fiction, steampunk, cyberpunk, and perhaps a little fantasy.
Academic Realm Generator
Need a quick name for classes at a college or university? Along with the
bizarre, this generator also provides with some that could show up at an
institution near you. For pure fantasy, be sure to look at Academic
Magical Realm Generator (http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=magicrealm).
Magical Phenomena Generator
Space Phenomena Generator (http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=spacephenomena)
If you need a name for a strange phenomenon, come to these two
generators. A high percentage of the results are useful, and you might
find them inspiring entire story lines.
Iíve covered only a few of the many generators available on Seventh
Sanctum. Be sure to look at the generators for weapons, materials,
technology, genre names, and settings. Itís worth your time to browse
through all the categories at least once. The site is active and new
generators are added regularly. The site also links to other generator
sites across the Internet.
Take a look and be inspired!