In graduate school, I took a creative nonfiction class where the professor offered a fruitful writing prompt. She asked us about our “unanswered questions” that still linger in our lives. These questions–about people, place, events, unresolved mysteries, or anything else that comes to mind–might then shape a short story, essay, novel, or longer memoir. When you begin with an unanswered question (How did this happen? Why did this work out like this? Who was this person? When did I first think this way?) you write in order to learn and discover something. You sift through an experience to make sense of it, to make meaning, to provide closure and connection.
I love this writing prompt because, at least in this class, we could use it to produce a genuine piece of nonfiction–the true account that begins with something in our lives we still wonder about–or we use the curious question to begin a work of fiction where the characters must resolve our question. Either way, I loved the prompt.
I thought about that prompt today as I allowed myself to indulge in the possibility that it’s time to write some fiction. Where would I begin? What questions do I still have? What needs resolution or further inspection?
Maybe this prompt will start you on your own journey to write.