Story Prompt: Use a list

by Jul 16, 20223 comments

Story Writing Prompt

Start with a list

Creating a list is a simple and sometimes surprisingly effective way to capture important elements of a story.

It is an excellent way to capture the key elements that you want to include.  Lists can have as much or as little detail as you want for each item.  So you can use it as more of an outline or make it the key points and then provide details with images or expanded explaination.

One approach is to create a small book with short descriptions and a photo on each one, taking advantage of the power of ‘a picture is worth a 1000 words‘.  In this way, a compact story can be very powerful yet not require a big commitment to produce or consume.  As a bonus, this approach encourages you to curate photos and eliminate duplicates as well as any that are unfocused, too busy or otherwise unlikely to help you present details of the story.



Use a list as a quik and effective way to capture your details.

Some List Prompts

You can use a list approach to tell the story of anything.  It works for a person, event, location, pet, hobby, or even a physical object like a heirloom item.

Here are some title prompts to get you started:

  • # things that I like / love about….
  • What I like best about….
  • Lessons that I have learned from…..
  • Reasons that I love ….
  • Top # favourite things about …..
  • Why I  (paint, ski, garden, quilt, read….)

Try Different Formats

Integrating lists can work as the basis for a wide variety of presentation formats, althought its biggest strenth is really in short format like a mini-book, a short presentation or video, or even a blog.

This combination of using a list is pictures is a perfect way to create a small digital or traditional scrapbook albums.  The growth of inexpensive printable books creating from social media feeds is reflecting a desire of many people to have photos not only on digital medium.  The popularity and ease of this strategy has led to the growth of products like ChatBook with its monthly subscription to capture the moments from a month.  (NOTE:  I haven’t tried this service yet so can’t recommend it but have heard many people rave about this or similar companies.)


sample shown at left is a 6×6 mini album using traditional papercrafting to illustrate how a list can be incorporated into small picture book.

Here are three examples of blog posts that I have done based around a list:

Lessons From the Garden

Lessons Learned from Daily Blogging

10 Random Things About Me


Identify 3-5 stories that you could tell with a list.  Maybe it will be of an event you want to remember, or a gift for a special person, or even the stories you associate with an item you have but you no longer want.  In the case of the latter, write the stories as part of the process of letting go.

Choose one (or more) of the lists you have identified – or created – and capture the details.  

Happy Writing (or sketching, painting, stitiching – whatever works for you).

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


  1. Martha

    I love a challenge and I love your list of prompts! I’m taking your challenge!

  2. Mia Bella

    I’ve been scrapbooking since I was a teenager and love this idea. It’s a great idea for a memory journal. Thanks so much for the inspiration

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