This is probably the most common writing prompt that I’ve encountered. The human mind is very adept at making connections and that principle comes into play as you select five random words and attempt to make sense them in story form.
Nouns works best, but verbs and adjectives are fine as long as you keep them to a minimum. One method of randomly selecting the words you will use it to leaf through the newspaper and take the first noun, verb, or adjective you see. You can also flip through the channels of your television or radio and just copy down whichever word catches your attention or ask five people for their favorite word.
Once you have decided on the number of words you can look them over. If a story idea doesn’t immediately jump out to you select one word at a time and determine if it represents a character, a placed, a motive, or a goal in the story. By the time you finish assigning a role to all of the words you should have an excellent idea what the story is all about.
Here are five words I selected by flipping through the television channels.
Based on these five words I generated this following elevator pitch.
Hunger Strike – Joe Carson’s dreams of a daring career in the FBI vanished on the day they assigned him to be a supply clerk in a dead end post. Now the lead investigators in the office have mysteriously eaten themselves to death and Joe is the only person with a lead on what they were investigating when it happened.