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What Happens Next Writing Prompts

What Happens Next Journal Prompts

You’re reading a killer book, or maybe you’re glued to a show – BAM!

The episode ends on a cliffhanger, the book slams shut with a twist you never saw coming, and you’re left screaming, “What happened next?!”

Well, fret no more, my friends!

Because today, we’re taking the reins and crafting our own stories that answer that very question.

We’re diving into the wonderful world of “What Happens Next?” prompts! These little story starters are gold for sparking your creativity and getting those fingers flying across the keyboard (or pen furiously scratching paper, if that’s your jam).

So, grab your notebooks, fire up your laptops, and let’s get ready to explore some prompts that will have you building on existing stories and weaving your own unique magic!

“What Happens Next” Writing Prompts

  1. Imagine a character who finds an old, unopened letter in their late grandmother’s attic. The letter, dated several decades ago, is addressed to the grandmother but from a name the character doesn’t recognize. The handwriting is elegant and the envelope bears a foreign stamp. Intrigued, the character debates whether to respect their grandmother’s privacy or to open it and unveil potential family secrets. What happens when they make their decision?

  2. A young musician, struggling to find inspiration, decides to take a random train ride at midnight. They end up in a small, seemingly abandoned town where they encounter a group of elderly musicians playing a hauntingly beautiful melody. This melody stirs something within the musician, awakening a deep, creative passion. What unfolds as the musician spends more time with these mysterious figures?

  3. Two childhood friends, now in their late thirties, unexpectedly reunite in their hometown. During their catch-up, they recall a pact they made as kids: to accomplish a specific, somewhat whimsical goal before they turned 40. With the deadline approaching, they debate whether to pursue this long-forgotten promise. What happens as they embark on this nostalgic quest?

  4. A renowned chef, nearing retirement, discovers an old family recipe book. Among the recipes, they find a note from their late parent, mentioning a secret dish that was never shared with anyone. The ingredients are rare and the preparation is complex. Driven by curiosity and respect for their heritage, the chef decides to recreate this mysterious dish. What happens as they begin this culinary journey?

  5. A middle-aged, financially struggling individual receives a letter informing them of an unexpected inheritance from a distant relative. The inheritance includes a large sum of money and a property in a rural area. Surprised and skeptical, the individual decides to visit the property, uncovering a series of hidden truths about their family’s past. What happens as they delve deeper into their family’s history?

  6. A retired music teacher suffering from mild memory loss begins to recall a melody from their youth, a melody of significant personal importance. However, they can’t remember the complete tune or its origin. Driven by a need to recapture this lost piece of their past, they start a journey to uncover the melody’s origin, leading to unexpected revelations about their life. What happens as they piece together the melody’s mysterious history?

  7. In a small, quiet town, a seemingly unremarkable middle-aged individual witnesses a minor accident that reveals their innate, unrecognized talent for crisis management and leadership. This incident leads them to become an unintentional local hero, and soon they are faced with larger challenges that test their newfound abilities. What happens as they grapple with their unexpected role in the community?

  8. An art historian stumbles upon a painting by an unknown artist in a small, local museum. The painting is striking and displays remarkable skill, yet there is no record of the artist’s identity or other works. Intrigued, the historian embarks on a quest to discover the story behind this mysterious artist, leading them to uncover a tale of lost love, ambition, and a forgotten legacy. What happens as they unravel the artist’s hidden past?

  1. A struggling playwright finds an old lottery ticket tucked inside a book at a thrift store. The ticket is from a big draw years ago, and surprisingly, it’s a winning ticket. The expiration date for claiming the prize is just a week away. The playwright faces moral and legal dilemmas about what to do with the ticket. What happens as they navigate this unexpected situation?

  2. A freelance writer discovers a quaint, charming café in their city, which seems to appear only at certain times and is not listed on any map. Each visit reveals unique and intriguing characters with fascinating stories. The writer decides to document these stories, but the café’s elusive nature poses a challenge. What happens as they delve into the mystery of the vanishing café?

  3. A history teacher receives a cryptic letter containing a series of codes and puzzles that hints at an undiscovered historical secret. The letter suggests that solving these puzzles could lead to a significant historical revelation. Driven by curiosity and a love for history, the teacher begins to unravel the codes. What happens as they get closer to uncovering the truth?

  4. A retired athlete, who never made it big due to a career-ending injury, is given a chance to coach a struggling local team. This opportunity rekindles their love for the sport and provides a chance to pass on their knowledge. As they begin coaching, they face challenges but also discover a promising talent in an unexpected player. What happens as they mentor this new talent and confront their own past in the sport?

  5. A young, overworked city dweller stumbles upon a hidden, abandoned garden in an unlikely urban space. They decide to restore the garden, seeking a respite from their hectic life. This project not only transforms the garden but also brings together a diverse group of community members. What happens as the garden flourishes and becomes a symbol of community and renewal?

  6. A post office worker finds an old, unclaimed parcel with no return address. Curiosity leads them to investigate its contents, revealing a set of mysterious, possibly valuable items and an incomplete story about their origin. The worker decides to trace the intended recipient, leading them on an unexpected journey. What happens as they uncover the story behind the unclaimed parcel?

  7. A landscape photographer captures a beautiful, remote scene, but upon developing the photo, they notice a small, unusual detail that suggests a historical event might have occurred there. Intrigued, the photographer starts researching the location’s history, uncovering a long-forgotten incident. What happens as they explore the truth behind their photograph?

  8. A barista with a passion for old music finds an unmarked, vintage record in a box of donations at their café. When played, the record reveals a beautiful, unknown song that resonates deeply with them. Driven by a desire to find the origins of the song and the artist, they embark on a musical journey. What happens as they uncover the story of the forgotten tune?

  1. On a routine morning commute, a reserved librarian accidentally swaps their briefcase with that of a stranger on the train. When they open the briefcase at work, they find an assortment of puzzling items and a cryptic note that hints at a secret mission or a hidden past. Curious and slightly alarmed, the librarian decides to seek out the briefcase’s owner. What happens as they delve into a world far removed from their own?

  2. A young environmental scientist discovers a hidden, hand-written journal during a field study in a remote forest. The journal, dating back several decades, contains detailed observations of a now-threatened ecosystem and hints at an undiscovered species. Intrigued by the potential scientific breakthrough, the scientist sets out to retrace the journal author’s steps. What happens as they follow the trail of the mysterious environmentalist?

  3. A small-town journalist, while researching for a story, uncovers an old map in the town archive showing a ‘green space’ that no longer exists. This discovery leads them to investigate the town’s past, revealing a series of events that changed the community’s landscape and legacy. Driven by curiosity, they begin a campaign to unearth and share this forgotten history. What happens as they piece together the story of the Echoing Green?

  4. A seasoned detective nearing retirement becomes obsessed with an unsolved case from their early career – a series of mysterious occurrences at an old diner that abruptly closed and vanished without a trace. With time on their hands, they revisit the case, uncovering layers of small-town secrets and unexpected connections. What happens as they delve back into this cold case?

  5. An antique clock, passed down through generations, suddenly starts working after years of being dormant. The current owner, a young engineer, discovers that the clock contains a hidden compartment with an enigmatic letter and a strange mechanism unlike anything they’ve seen before. Fascinated, they begin to explore the history and mechanics of the clock. What happens as they unravel the mysteries of this family heirloom?

  6. While hiking in a well-known national park, an adventurous couple strays off the main path and discovers an uncharted trail leading to a secluded area with extraordinary natural beauty. They decide to document and share their discovery, but are torn between revealing this hidden gem to the world and keeping it a secret to preserve its untouched splendor. What happens as they grapple with this dilemma?

  7. A retired actress finds an old VHS tape of a play she performed in during her early career, a performance she had completely forgotten about. Watching it triggers a flood of memories and leads her to reconnect with former cast members. Together, they reminisce and uncover truths about their shared past and the play’s unexpected impact on their lives. What happens as they revisit this pivotal moment in their careers?

  8. An architecture student inherits a box of old blueprints and letters from their late grandfather, an acclaimed but enigmatic architect. Among these documents is a design for a revolutionary building that was never constructed. Fascinated by the concept and the story behind it, the student decides to pursue the project, uncovering a legacy of ambition, creativity, and hidden truths. What happens as they attempt to bring this visionary design to life?

  1. During renovations, a family discovers a concealed room in their century-old house. Inside the room, they find an assortment of antiques and a diary belonging to a previous occupant from decades ago. The diary contains entries that hint at a significant historical event and a deeply personal story. Intrigued, the family decides to investigate the room’s history and the life of its mysterious occupant. What happens as they uncover the secrets hidden within these walls?

  2. A struggling artist receives an anonymous donation that allows them to focus on their art full-time. The only clue to the benefactor’s identity is a cryptic note that speaks to a deep understanding of the artist’s work and vision. Curious and grateful, the artist sets out to find and thank the mysterious donor, leading to a journey of self-discovery and unexpected connections. What happens as they trace the source of this life-changing generosity?

  3. A retired detective hears about a unique burglary in their neighborhood where nothing of apparent value was stolen, but a series of intricate puzzles was left behind. Intrigued by the intellectual challenge, the detective decides to come out of retirement to solve this unconventional case, leading them into a world of enigmatic clues and unusual suspects. What happens as they delve into this puzzling heist?

  4. A middle-aged person reconnects with a childhood friend through social media, only to find out that the friend has been leading a life vastly different from what was expected. As they rekindle their friendship, they learn about the diverse paths people take and the realities of life choices. This reunion becomes a journey of understanding, acceptance, and renewed friendship. What happens as they explore the chapters of life they’ve missed in each other’s stories?

  5. A psychology student conducting research on dreams encounters a subject whose dreams accurately predict minor future events. Intrigued by this phenomenon, the student delves deeper into the study, uncovering a mix of science and mysticism. This journey not only challenges their scientific beliefs but also leads them to question the very nature of reality and consciousness. What happens as they delve into the mysteries of the human mind?

  6. While cleaning out their attic, a family finds an old, ornate radio that surprisingly still works. Tuning into the radio, they discover it can receive broadcasts from different eras in history. Each broadcast reveals a piece of a larger story that seems to connect with their family’s past. Fascinated, they decide to explore these historical connections. What happens as they tune into the past and uncover family secrets?

  7. A group of friends discovers a time capsule they buried 20 years ago as teenagers. As they open it, they find predictions about their future selves and a set of challenges they had written for their adult selves. This discovery leads them on a nostalgic journey, prompting them to reflect on their past hopes, dreams, and the reality of their current lives. What happens as they confront their younger selves’ expectations?

  8. An accountant with no interest in botany inherits a greenhouse from a distant relative. While planning to sell it, they discover a rare plant species thought to be extinct. This discovery sparks a newfound interest in botany and conservation, leading them on a journey of environmental activism and self-discovery. What happens as they transition from numbers to nature?
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