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Writing prompt: Origin stories

Use these activities to write your own origin story

Language: English

Last updated: 23 March 2023

Origin stories are the tales that make you, you. No matter where you hail from, we all have stories that explain how we became who we are now. Or know the defining stories of those around us.

There are many ways to tell an origin story. Your origin story could follow the archetype of a superhero origin, where a fateful day or a tragic event led to something heroic, filled with larger than life characters and moments. Your origin story could also be more subdued, a quiet recollection of being changed forever. Whatever way you choose to tell your origin story, here are some writing exercises to help you get started.

Warm-up: Personify objects

Look around your space and select five objects. For each object, consider its practicalities and functions. Then consider what personality these objects could have, this could include their likes and dislikes, aims for the day or how they are feeling. Write a short paragraph for each object, and imagine their interactions. What makes these objects unique and special? What story could you give them?

For example: Tom the flask was feeling quite deflated today. His cap, somewhat ajar, was causing him bother. He was letting out some hot air. 'I can’t believe this!' piped Tom. 'She’s done it again!'

Brainstorm: The last five years

Reflect on the last five years of your life and consider what the defining moments have been. Write a sentence per year that you feel is representative. This could be a memory or a significant moment, or it could be a line that summarises the year overall. Once you have written a line for each of the last five years, consider other blocks of time you could write these lines for. You could write a sentence each for the first five years of your life, and search these for defining moments in your origin story. You could also write a sentence each on the hopes for the next five years of your life.

Start writing

With great power comes great responsibility

These words are well known to most Spider-Man fans as the sage advice Peter Parker was given at a pivotal time in his journey. Think of a phrase that someone once told you and the effect it had on your life. You could use this phrase as the first line of your story

For example: My mum once told me 'don’t count your chickens before they hatch . . .'

A moment

Think of a moment that changed your life. It could be something like the birth of a child, or the day you said 'I do'. It could also be a moment that had a domino effect on your life, such as going into a shop and bumping into someone new or someone you hadn't seen in a while. Once you have your moment in mind, try to describe it as much as possible. Write a short piece on everything you remember seeing, feeling or hearing at that moment.

Origin story

Write your own origin story in the style of a comic book. Draw a nine-panel grid by dividing a sheet of A4 paper with three lines horizontally and three lines vertically. Plot what happens in each panel and any accompanying text. The text can appear in speech bubbles if people are speaking or in a text box to function as narration.