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Prompts and Topics for Writings


What is a hero? What makes him or her different from others? Do you know any heroes, or consider someone your hero? Describe him or her.

What is your favorite book? Why?

Tell about your favorite television program. Why do you like it? What makes it better than other similar programs?

Watch ________ on television this week. Tell me about it. Did you like it? Why or why not?

(a) Take an article from the newspaper this week. (Either cut it out or make a copy for me. Include it with your paper.) Discuss it. What did you think about it? Discuss the reporter's writing style. Was he or she objective in reporting the subject? Did he or she give you enough information, or did you still have questions after reading the article? What would have made the article better?

(b) This is the same as the newspaper article assignment, except choose an article from a magazine.

Who do you admire? Why?

Who don't you admire? Why?

This week your life is a comic strip. Draw at least one comic strip, preferably a few, to illustrate occurrences which happen during your day.

Interview someone. You're Barbara Walters, or Jay Leno. Before cornering the person, ask yourself what you REALLY want to know about this person. Ask at least 12 questions

Reflecting on your college experience, write a letter to high school sophomores and juniors who are considering going to college. Give them some advice about how best to prepare for the academic demands of college, and about what to expect in the way of campus life. Honestly evaluate your own preparation in high school as an example of how to or how not to get ready to succeed in college.

Write about a time when you changed something about yourself. For example, you broke a bad habit; you changed the way you thought about or acted toward an individual or group; you decided to acquire a new skill or new relationship(s), or you decided to change your circumstances in some way by moving or changing jobs or goals. Be sure your reader has a clear sense of what you were like before and after this change.

Choose someone you dislike. Why do you dislike him or her? Is it because of jealousy, anger, disapproval?

How would you be a different type of parent than your own? Why?

Describe an early morning during autumn. Use all your senses.

Describe a walk in the forest. Use all your senses.

Tell about a hobby of yours. Discuss why you enjoy it and try to convince me to take up the hobby.

What did you see on campus recently that you did not expect? Discuss.

If you could have a meeting with any person from history, who would it be? Why? Tell me about your imagined meeting.

If you could meet with the President, what would you discuss with him? What issue is of most importance to you, and how would you try to influence him on this issue?

Describe your favorite teacher. Why is he or she your favorite?

Describe your least favorite teacher. Why is he or she your least favorite?

How do you think people see you? Do you think they see the real you? Why or why not?

More topics for writing:

1) How to write an essay that is guaranteed to get a failing grade.

2) Describe three ads on television. What is your opinion of them, personally? Do you think they are effective? What was particularly good or bad about them?

3) Compare / contrast two ads for the same or similar product.

4) Compare / contrast three fast food restaurants.

5) Tell about your favorite holiday.

6) What is your opinion on genetically modified foods?

7) What is your opinion on extraterrestrial beings?

8) What is your opinion on the connection between violence and the media?

9) There have been several violent incidents connected with secondary schools recently. Explain why you believe this has taken place.

10) Should secondary schools have uniforms?

11) Choose a favorite childhood fairy tale and update it.

12) I would like to throw a cream pie in __________'s face for three reasons.

13) How to be a horrible driver.

14) How to make sure you have a miserable day.

15) How to make you mother or father incredibly angry.

16) Tell about one main problem you've encountered on campus. How could it be corrected?

17) Tell about your favorite season of the year.

18) Describe a fault in your home town. How could this be corrected?

19) Does being employed affect a student's academic performance?

20) What is your New Year's resolution? Explain why you chose it and how you intend to fulfill it.

21) Write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper.

22) Write a letter to a television network commenting on a specific program.


Choose one of the following quotes. What does this quote mean to you? Explain.

Self-reliance and self-respect are about as valuable commodities as we can carry in our pack through life.

There are two days about which nobody should ever worry, and these are yesterday and tomorrow.

It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one's neighbor.

You don't look back along time but down through it, like water. Sometimes this comes to the surface; sometimes that; sometimes nothing.

Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.

Having children makes you no more a parent than having a guitar makes you a guitarist.

"Imagination and memory are but one thing which for diverse considerations hath diverse names."  --Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

It is one thing to learn about the past; it is another to wallow in it.

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.

A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity, and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon, and by moonlight.
"The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." ---William Arthur Ward

"You can always tell a real friend: when you've made a fool of yourself he doesn't feel you've done a permanent job." ---Laurence J. Peter

" The problem with half truths is that you may get the wrong half..." -Anon.

To withdraw when your work is finished, that is the Way of heaven. ---Tao Te Ching

We shall not cease from exploration/ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time. --- T. S. Eliot

"In dreams begins responsibility." W. B. Yeats

"The end of understanding is not to prove and find reasons, but to know and believe."  --Thomas Carlyle

"If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats."   Richard Bach -- "Illusions"


"The Jews. Who were the Jews? People had been killing Jews by
the fistful for thousands of years. Who were these Jews who
were doing the killing now? The Elders of Zion? The bankers?
The Israelis? Were Israelis Jews? Were all Jews Israelis?

That was the horror of racism; it was a house of cards built
out of sweeping generalizations, generalizations based on
clichés, on myths, on ignorance, until the human beings
themselves, those whose only crime was to look different or act
different, were conveniently erased, buried under the weight
of facile slogans and summarizations, until it actually became
possible to wipe out an entire race because it wasn't people
who were dying anymore, it was a thing. Racism stripped so-
called races of their individual faces, their workaday
existence, their participation in the same loves, the same
struggles, the same joys, the same heartbreaks that defined
the lives of those who wanted to annihilate them.

Jesus. The Jews. The Africans. The American Indians. The
Armenians. The Tibetans. The Kurds. The Bosnians. Just a
few of many. Genocide after genocide in the name of religion,
greed and patriotism."

---Madeline Partous, Floaters


Undertake difficult tasks
by approaching what is easy in them;
Do great deeds
by focusing on their minute aspects.
All difficulties under heaven arise from what is easy,
All great things under heaven arise from what is
-Tao Te Ching


"Love is not ruled by what must be nor what is possible. Love knows nothing of this law; it has no rule, it knows no bounds."--- St. Peter Chrysologus (406-450)

"The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference"

"The memory of a happiness is no longer happiness
The memory of a pain is always pain"  ---Lord Byron

"Your scientists have yet to discover how neural networks create self-consciousness, let alone how the human brain processes two-dimensional retinal images into the three-dimensional phenomenon known as perception! Yet you somehow brazenly declare ‘seeing is believing’?" --Man in Black One, Jose Chung's From Outer Space episode of The X-Files

"Men can never be free because they're weak, corrupt, worthless, and restless. The People believe in authority. They've grown tired of waiting for miracle and mystery. Science is their religion. No greater explanation exists for them." --CSM, Talitha Cumi episode of The X-Files

"Before the exploration of space, of the moon and the planets, man held that the heavens were the home and province of powerful gods, who controlled not just the vast firmament, but the earthly fate of man himself, and that the pantheon of powerful warring deities was the cause and reason for the human condition, for the past and the future, and for which great monuments were then created on earth and in heaven. But in time man replaced these gods with new gods and new religions that provided no more certain or greater answers than those worshipped by his Greek or Roman or Egyptian ancestors, and while we've chosen now our monolithic and benevolent gods and found our certainties in science, believers all, we wait for a sign, a revelation. Our eyes turn skyward, ready to accept the truly incredible to find our destiny written in the stars. But how do we best look for faith, with new eyes or old?"--- Fox Mulder, Patient X episode of The X-Files

"Sometimes the only sane response to an insane world is insanity." --Mulder, The Walk episode of The X-Files

"Life is like a box of chocolates: a cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for." --CSM in The X-Files

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," --- Thomas Jefferson

"Obscurum per obscurius, ignotum per ignotius" --------- "Let the obscure be explained by the more obscure, the unknown, by the more unknown." ---Clive Barker (from The Great And Secret Show)

"She's the sort of person who thinks the Spanish Inquisition was a type of tough love for heretics."  ---Frasier

Journal Topics
by: M Kay Miller and Lisa Donnelly, Somerset Community College Somerset, KY

1 your earliest memory

2 pet stories

3 stories about your younger brothers, sisters, nieces, etc.

4 about grandparents, uncles, aunts, parents

5 accidents -- car, horse, skateboard, etc.

6 the thing you most appreciate about your house, yard, back porch, room, car. etc.

7 your most valuable possession and why

8 favorite things and why

9 the biggest mistake you ever made

10 the nicest thing anyone ever did for you

11 the night your dreams came true

12 your dream car, man, spouse, friend, etc.

13 the last time you laughed and what made you laugh

14 the happiest time of your life

15 the saddest time of your life

16 your future goals and how you hope to accomplish them

17 the most repulsive thing you have ever encountered

18 the most scared you have ever been

19 your favorite person and why

20 your favorite trip and why

21 disasters away from home

22 getting caught racing and its consequences

23 falling overboard

24 the first time you tried bowling, water/snow skiing, horseback riding, basketball, baseball, etc.

25 memorable sports events

26 the first time you used a computer

27 playing video games

28 being in a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, etc.

29 living in a small town, big town, country

30 dancing, prom, cheerleading, the big game, etc.

31 wild animals, hunting, fishing, etc.

32 staying with a sick friend

33 helping out in an emergency

34 If I were stranded on a desert island I would want - -

35 the last time I tried to - -

36 describe the thumb on your non dominant hand

37 describe yourself physically

38 describe the policeman who gave you your last citation

39 describe your favorite place

40 describe the computer lab

41 your favorite animal and why

42 the first time you drove a car/truck

43 your first kiss

44 waiting in line at the grocery, at school, to buy something

45 doing your hair for the big night

46 how to burn toast

47 what kind of animal would best describe you and why

48 do a time- line of your life, pointing out your major milestones

49 Write this week's entries as if you were a ghost watching yourself

50 Write this week as if you were writing a play

51 Include poetry in this week's entries

52 This week, your life is a comic strip. Draw one (at least) per day

53 This week, you're national news. If Dan Rather (or whoever) did a broadcast for each day, how would it sound?

54 This week you're a philosopher. Get DEEP. What is the big deal in each day? Have you heard of Hamlet? Change your gender, your age, your race. Play with this idea.

55 If only....  What would you have changed, if you could go back in a time machine? Each day, think of at least one thing.

56 If Mulder and Scully were sent to investigate your life, what would they write in their reports each day?


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