Day 6: What’s in the Box?

Day six, pick ‘n’ mix, because we have THREE prompts for you today — pick your fave and get to work!

Take one of the story starters below and run with it for 10 minutes of freewriting (i.e. no editing as you go, no backspace, just write whatever comes into your head, loosey goosey)


Picture a (pre-covid!) crowded space. A packed train carriage. A crowd at a music concert. A busy street. A playground. Whatever. 

People are moving all around you, jostling past you, and you notice someone’s slipped something into your pocket. 

A very small box—just a couple of inches square. 

Curious, you open it up to see what’s inside… 


Imagine a wide open space with no one else around: a beach, a field, a desert, a city square in the middle of the night, an empty parking lot.

You spot something on the ground, right in the middle of the place. 

A box, about the size of a microwave. 

Curious, you open it up to see what’s inside…


You’re at home and there’s a knock on the door. 

You’ve got a delivery. A massive box, right there on your doorstep, two metres square. 

There’s no sign of who left it there, no note, no label. 

Curious, you open it up to see what’s inside…

Gif of a door camera catching a  postal delivery person throwing down an Amazon cardboard box on a driveway like he doesn't give a shit.

Freewrite around your chosen prompt for 10 minutes, and then take another 10 to revisit what you’ve written. It’s totally fine if it’s a load of waffle—that’s what first drafts should look like—but hopefully there are a few little sparks there; some ideas or phrases or images that are interesting enough to explore… Highlight/underline the best bits. Then see if you can make a few notes on how you might develop the idea further!

Or perhaps your chosen box just didn’t do it for you. No worries—try another one! Or take your prompt out and about and manifest random imaginary mystery boxes wherever you go. On the top shelf at the supermarket. Under your desk. Stuck half way through the cat flap. On the roof of the bus. In the bath.

What’s inside these mysterious boxes? Who’s leaving them? Why are they appearing everywhere?

(And in 19 days you can play this game for real when you open your Christmas presents—aw yeah!)

Happy unboxing… Come tell us all about what you discovered on the advent forum and we’ll see you again tomorrow for Day 7’s exercise.

Gif of a young woman standing by a desk opening up a black box. It's filled with a pink glow and dry ice smoke and a bright light shines out when she opens it.

Useful Stuff & Things:

Incorporate your imaginary box searches into this lil’ exercise next time you’re heading out: Turn a Day Out Into a Story

There’s also this GREAT unit in our Flash Fiction course on finding snippets of inspiration wherever you go…

Want to be a better writer?

Or just to laugh at bum jokes? Either way, you need the famous Writers’ HQ newsletter. You know what to do – put your thing in the thing.