The single most important piece of writing advice I have ever received (and frequently give) is that you ought to get into the habit of writing 500 words of new fiction every day of your life. In order to do this, good writing prompts become less of a luxury and more of a necessity. Not every prompt leads to a full and satisfying work of fiction, but almost any prompt can generate 500 words.
In my ongoing effort to remove the excuses of other writers for not Getting the Work Done, I offer you an entire week’s worth of prompts targeted specifically at generating 500 word fiction fragments. Perhaps those fragments will lead to fully-developed stories; perhaps not. Either way, you’ll be keeping your creative muscles limber and fighting authorial inertia.
Take the central concept of a science fiction or fantasy story you started but were never satisfied with. Find a way to change that central concept from science fiction to fantasy, or vice versa. Science becomes magic, magic becomes a techno-religious cult, etc. Write 500 words that occur at any point in this new version of the story.
Go get your mail. Pick an item from the stack, and give it the most sinister and disturbing twist you can possibly imagine. Write a scene in which someone receives that piece of mail.
Remember your least favorite teacher from childhood or adolescence? Exaggerate his worst qualities and turn him into an alien or monster. Write a scene in which you do verbal or physical battle with the teacher-creature.
Take this phrase–“revolting monks”–and write 500 words of whatever comes to mind.
Write a scene in which the most adorable animal you can possibly imagine suffers a traumatic experience from your own past.
Think of a creature from myth or classic science fiction. Imagine the worst possible being for such a creature to fall in love with. Now write the scene in which the creature tries to woo the object of his/her desire.
Look outside your kitchen window. Find the most otherworldly and out-of-place object in the scene. Write 500 words from its point of view.