Writing Prompt Story Starter: Coat Hanger


Shutterstock / TanyaJoy © coat hanger

The inspiration for my story starter this week is a simple wooden coat hanger. The coat hanger, I think, must go back to World War II.

The reason being, it has my late grandfather’s name signed on it. It is written in pencil and, though faded now, you can still make out his flowing handwriting.

So, how can a simple coat hanger inspire a story? Here are a few ideas that spring to mind.

More than a hanger

My grandfather’s coat hanger is a bit battered around the edges, and its thin crescent shape looks dated in comparison to today’s modern equivalents.

However, I won’t part with it for its sentimental value.

Thus, your next story might feature such a possession hidden away, and a simple faded signature acting as a starting off point for a character’s quest.

Photograph by Alan Spink.

A new venture

I like that the main coat hangers image is so colourful and chic. A possible story scenario could be a character who wants to open up a clothes shop and make an impression in the fashion world.  Or a character who makes ethical and sustainable clothes as part of her, or his, new way of life.

A perfect match

At home, I have an array of coat hangers – some wooden, some plastic and, yes, like the aforementioned image, some coloured.

For me, though, when it comes to putting clothes on the hangers, anything goes. But say you have a character who is exactly the opposite – certain garments have to be placed on certain hangers. Is it a neatness trait, or something behaviouristic as OCD?

Picking a lock

OK, the last one is a bit of fun – but apparently you can pick a lock with a wire coat hanger. This, in a law-abiding way, could lead to all sorts of fun story scenarios. Especially if someone so happens to have a wire coat hanger on them – nope, I don’t know why, either.

So, the next time you hang an item of clothing on a coat hanger, pause for a second – maybe there’s a new story to tell.


For more Story Starters from “The People’s Friend”, click here.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.