As a software developer who also writes fiction, I find myself occasionally coming up with software ideas for writers. Honestly, I’ll probably never put in the effort to make these things a reality, but I am curious if anyone else would be interested. Let me know in the comments if this is something you’d use.
There’s a truism in art: “constraints breed creativity.” Wide-open, endless possibilities make it harder to make something good. Humans tend to follow the same paths of thought when faced with a familiar situation, but unusual constraints force us to think in different and more creative ways.
Struggle Writer would be a tool that embraces this philosophy in a writing prompt generator.
Pick Your Constraints
Struggle Writer would come with lots of built-in constraints, such as:
- Write from a specific POV:
- 1st, 2nd, or 3rd
- Limited word count:
- 100, 500, 1000
- Finish your story in one hour
- Particular genre (from a list)
- Include a particular word (chosen randomly from a dictionary or list)
- Use a word you invent
- Someone dies
- Someone is born
- Include a mystery
- Include something scary
- Include magic
- Include death
- Include a birth
- Include an animal
- Include a natural disaster
- Include a flashback
- Include a joke
- Time of day: morning / evening / late at night
- Use a literary device (chosen randomly from a list)
You can probably think of many more possibilities, which is why Struggle Writer would include a simple interface for adding custom prompts, or removing prompts you don’t like.
Mix and Match
Depending on how much challenge you want in your writing prompt, you would pick the number of “struggles” you want the tool to include. Then you click the button, and the tool selects that many to build you a randomized prompt.
Don’t like the result? Click the button to re-roll for a new prompt with the same parameters, or change your criteria before trying again.
I could even imagine an interface where you can “lock” specific results and re-roll the ones you don’t like, although that takes away a little bit of the randomness.
While I think the tool would work pretty well as described above, some other, higher-effort additions might help to spice things up. These could include:
- Randomized images
- Randomized sound prompts
- A connected website to:
- Share prompts and templates
- Share custom criteria
- Share stories with their prompts
- Upvote the best of each of these
It’s a simple idea, but I think it could be a lot of fun for people who like to use writing prompts. The ability to add new options and remove old ones would keep it fresh.
What do you think? If it existed, would you use something like Struggle Writer?
2 thoughts on “Writing Tech Ideas #1 — Struggle Writer”
Ironically (or some other better word) I rarely use writing prompts while writing but I do like using them for coming up with RPG ideas. I think people would like what you have outlined here.
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What a fun idea! I think it’d be a nice diversion occasionally, but plotting and plowing my way through a novel I can’t see myself making use of it.
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