The Write Practice

Top 100 Short Story Ideas

by Joe Bunting | 128 comments

Do you want to write but just need a great story idea? Or perhaps you have too many ideas and can’t choose the best one? Well, good news. We’ve got you covered.

Below are one hundred short story ideas for all your favorite genres. You can use them as a book idea, as writing prompts for writing contests , for stories to publish in literary magazines , or just for fun!

Use these 100 story ideas to get your creative writing started now.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring guide, regularly updated with ideas and information.

100 Top Short Story Ideas

If you're in a hurry, here's my 10 best story ideas in brief, or scroll down for the full version.

Top 10 Story Ideas

  • Tell the story of a scar.
  • A group of children discover a dead body.
  • A young prodigy becomes orphaned.
  • A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost.
  • A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her.
  • A talented young man's deepest fear is holding his life back. 
  • A poor young boy or girl comes into an unexpected fortune.
  • A shy, young woman unexpectedly bumps into her soulmate.
  • A long journey is interrupted by a disaster.
  • A young couple run into the path of a psychopath.

The Write Structure

Why Creative Writing Prompts Are Helpful

Below, you'll find our best creative writing prompts and plot ideas for every genre, but first, why do we use prompts? Is it just a waste of time, or can they actually help you? Here are three reasons we  love writing prompts at The Write Practice:

1. Practice the Language!

Even for those of us who are native English speakers, we're all on a language journey to go from beginners to skilled writers. To make progress on this language journey, you have to practice, and at The Write Practice, believe it or not, we're really into practice! Creative writing prompts are easy, fun ways to practice.

Use the prompts below to practice your storytelling and use of language. The more you practice, the better of a writer you'll become.

2. When you have no ideas and are stuck.

Sometimes, you want to write, but you can't think up any ideas. You could either just sit there, staring at a blank page, or you could find a few ideas to help you get started. Even better if the list of ideas is curated from our best plot ideas over the last decade that we've been publishing lessons, writing exercises, and prompts.

Use the story ideas below to get your writing started. Then when your creativity is warmed up, you'll start to come up with your own ideas!

3. To develop your own ideas.

Maybe you do have an idea already, but you're not sure it's good. Or maybe you feel like it's just missing some small piece to make it better. By reading other ideas, and incorporating your favorites into your   story, you can fill your plot holes and generate creative ideas of your own.

Use the story ideas below to develop your own ideas.

4. They're fun!

Thousands of writers use the prompts below every month, some at home, some in classrooms, and even a few pros at their writing “office.” Why? Because writing prompts can be fun. They get your creativity started, help you come up with new ideas of your own, and often take your writing in new, unexpected directions.

Use the plot ideas to have more fun with writing!

How to Write a Story

One last thing before we get to the 100 story ideas, let’s talk about how to write a great short story . (Already know how to write a great story? No problem. Just skip down to the ideas below.)

  • First, read stories. If you’ve never read a story, you’re going to have a hard time writing one. Where do you find great stories? There are a lot of places, but check out our list of  46 Literary Magazines  we’ve curated over here .
  • Write your story in a single sitting. Write the first draft of your story in as short a time as possible, and if you’re writing a short story , try to write it in one sitting. Trust me, this works. Everyone hates being interrupted when they’re telling compelling stories. Use that to your advantage and don’t stop writing until you’ve finished telling yours.
  • Read your draft. Read your story through once, without changing anything. This will give you a sense of what work it needs going forward.
  • Write a premise. After reading your first draft, get your head around the main idea behind your story by summarizing your story in a one sentence premise. Your premise should contain four things: a character, a goal, a situation, and a special sauce. Not sure what that means or how to actually do that? Here’s a full premise writing guide .
  • Write, edit, write, and edit. Good writing is rewriting. Use your second draft to fill in the plot holes and cut out the extraneous scenes and characters you discovered when you read the first draft in step #2. Then, polish up your final draft on the next round of edits.
  • Submit! Real writers don’t keep their writing all to themselves. They share it. Submit your story to a literary magazine , an anthology series , enter it into a writing contest , or even share it with a small group of friends. And if it gets rejected, don’t feel bad. You’ll be in good company.

Want to know more? Learn more about how to write a great short story here .

Our 100 Best Short Story Ideas, Plot Ideas, and Creative Writing Prompts

Ready to get writing? Here are our 100 best short story ideas to kickstart your writing. Enjoy!

10 Best General Short Story Ideas

Our first batch of plot ideas are for any kind of story, whether a spy thriller or a memoir of your personal life story. Here are the best story ideas:

  • Tell the story of a scar, whether a physical scar or emotional one. To be a writer, said Stephen King, “The only requirement is the ability to  remember every scar .”
  • A group of children discover a dead body. Good writers don’t turn away from death, which is, after all, the  universal human experience. Instead, they look it directly into its dark face and describe what they see on the page.
  • A young prodigy becomes orphaned. Orphans are uniquely vulnerable, and as such, they have the most potential for growth.
  • A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost. What do Edgar Allen Poe, Ron Weasley, King Saul from the Bible, Odysseus, and Ebenezer Scrooge have in common? They all encountered ghosts!
  • A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her. “In life every ending is just a new beginning,” says Dakota Fanning’s character in Uptown Girls.
  • A talented young man’s deepest fear is holding his life back. Your character’s biggest fear is your story’s secret weapon. Don’t run from it, write about it.
  • A poor young boy or girl comes into an unexpected fortune. Not all fortunes are good. Sometimes discovering a fortune will destroy your life.
  • A shy, young woman unexpectedly bumps into her soulmate (literally bumps into him). In film, this is called the “meet cute,” when the hero bumps into the heroine in the coffee shop or the department store or the hallway, knocking her books to the floor, and forcing them into conversation.
  • A long journey is interrupted by a disaster. Who hasn’t been longing to get to a destination only to be delayed by something unexpected? This is the plot of  Gravity ,  The Odyssey , and even  Lord of the Rings .
  • A young couple run into the path of a psychopath. Monsters, whether people who do monstrous things or scaly beasts or a monster of a natural disaster, reveal what’s really inside a person. Let your character fall into the path of a monster and see how they handle themselves.

Now that you have an idea, learn exactly what to do with it.  Check out my new book The Write Structure which helps writers take their ideas and write books readers love. Click to check out  The Write Structure  here.

More Short Story Ideas Based on Genre

Need more ideas? Here are ideas based on whichever literary genre you write. Use them as character inspiration, to start your own story, or borrow pieces to generate your own ideas. The only rule is, have fun writing!

By the way,  for more story writing tips for each these plot types, check out our full guide to the 10 types of stories here .

10 Thriller Story Ideas

A thriller is any story that “thrills” the reader—i.e., gets adrenaline pumping, the heart racing, and the emotions piqued.

Thrillers come in all shapes and forms, dipping freely into other genres. In other words, expect the unexpected!

Here are a few of my favorite thriller story ideas :

Rosa Rivera-Ortiz is an up-and-coming lawyer in a San Diego firm. Held back by her ethnicity and her gender, she works twice as hard as her colleagues, and she’s as surprised as anyone when she’s requested specifically for a high-profile case. Bron Welty, an A-list actor and action star, has been arrested for the murder of his live-in housekeeper. The cop heading the case is older, ex-military, a veteran of more than one war, and an occasional sufferer of PTSD. Rosa’s hired to defend the movie star; and it seems like an easy win until she uncovers some secrets that not only make her believe her client is guilty, but may be one of the worst serial killers in the past two decades… and he knows she found out .

It’s the Cold War. Sergei, a double-agent for the CIA working in Berlin, is about to retire when he’s given one final mission: he’s been asked to “defect” to the USSR to help find and assassinate a suspected double-agent for the Kremlin. Sergei is highly trusted, and he’s given to understand that this mission is need-to-know only between him and very few superior officers. But as he falls deeper into the folds of the Iron Curtain, he begins to suspect that his superior officer might just be the mole, and the mark Sergei’s been sent to kill is on the cusp of exposing the leak.

It is 1800. A lighthouse on a barren cliff in Canada. Two lighthouse keepers, German immigrants, are alone for the winter and effectively cut off from the rest of the world until the ice thaws. Both Wilhelm and Matthias are settled in for the long haul with warm clothes, canned goods, and matches a-plenty. Then Wilhelm starts hearing voices. His personal belongings disappear from where he’d placed them, only to reappear in strange spots—like the catwalk, or dangling beneath the spiral stair knotted in brown twine. Matthias begs innocence. Little by little, Wilhelm grows convinced that Matthias is trying to convince him (Wilhelm) to kill himself. Is the insanity real, or is this really Matthias’ doing? And if it is real, what will he do to defend himself? There are so many months until the thaw. 

thriller story ideas

20 Mystery Story Ideas

Enjoy a good whodunit? Then you’ll love these mystery story ideas .

Here are a few of my favorites:

Ever hear the phrase, “It is not who fired the shot but who paid for the bullet?” This is a philosophy Tomoe Gozen lives by. Brave and clever, Tomoe follows clues until she learns who ordered the murder: Emperor Antoku himself. But why would the emperor of Japan want to kill a lowly soldier?

Mystery writer Dan Rodriguez takes the subway every day. Every day, nothing happens. He wears earbuds and a hoodie; he’s ignored, and he ignores. Then one evening, on his way home from a stressful meeting with his publisher, Dan is startled out of his funk when a frantic Middle-Eastern man knocks him over at a dead run, then races up the stairs—pursued by several other thugs. The Middle-Eastern man is shot; and Dan discovers a mysterious package in the front pocket of his hoodie. What’s inside, and what does he need to do to survive the answer?

A headless corpse is found in a freshly-dug grave in Arkansas. The local police chief, Arley Socket, has never had to deal with more than missing gas cans and treed cats. His exploration of this weird murder digs up a mystery older than the 100-year-old town of Jericho that harkens all the way back to a European blood-feud.

story ideas

20 Romance Story Ideas

Ready to write a love story? Or perhaps you want to create a subplot with a secondary character? We've got ideas for you!

Hint: When it comes to romance, a sense of humor is always a good idea. Have fun! Here are a few of my favorite love story ideas :

She’s a cop. He’s the owner of a jewelry store. A sudden rash of break-ins brings her to his store over and over and over again, until it becomes obvious that he might be tripping the alarm on purpose—just to see her. That’s illegal—but she’s kind of falling for him, too. Write the moment she realizes she has to do something about this crazy illicit courtship.

Colorado Animal Rescue has never been more challenging than after that zoo caught on fire. Sally Cougar (no jokes on the name, or she’ll kill you) tracks down three missing tiger cubs, only to find they’ve been adopted by millionaire Bryce Champion. Thanks to an antiquated law on the books, he legally has the right to keep them. It’s going to take everything Sally has to get those tiger cubs back.

He’s a museum curator with a fetish for perfection. No one’s ever gotten close to him; how could they? They’re never as perfect as the portraits, the sculptures, the art that never changes. Then one day, an intern is hired on—a young, messy, disorganized intern, whose hair and desk are in a constant state of disarray. The curator is going half-mad with this walking embodiment of chaos; so why can’t the he stand the thought of the intern leaving at the end of their assistantship?

20 romance story ideas

20 Sci-Fi Story Ideas

From the minimum-wage-earning, ancient-artifact-hunting time traveller to the space-exploring, sentient dinosaurs, these sci-fi writing prompts will get you set loose your inner nerd.

Here are a few of my favorite sci-fi ideas :

In a future society, neural implants translate music into physical pleasure, and earphones (“jacking in”) are now the drug of choice. Write either from the perspective of a music addict, OR the Sonforce agent (sonance + enforcer) who has the job of cracking down.

It’s the year 5000. Our planet was wrecked in the great Crisis of 3500, and remaining human civilization survives only in a half dozen giant domed cities. There are two unbreakable rules: strict adherence to Life Quality (recycling doesn’t even begin to cover these laws), and a complete ban on reproduction (only the “worthy” are permitted to create new humans). Write from the perspective of a young woman who just discovered she’s been chosen to reproduce—but she has no interest in being a mother.

So yeah, ancient Egypt really was “all that” after all, and the pyramids turn out to be fully functional spaceships (the limestone was to preserve the electronics hidden inside). Write from the perspective of the tourist exploring the ancient society who accidentally turns one on.

sci-fi story ideas

20 Fantasy Story Ideas

Need a dose of sword-in-the-stone, hero and/or heroine packed coming-of-age glory?  We love fantasy stories!

Here are a few of my favorite fantasy story ideas:

Bored teenaged wizards throwing a graduation celebration.

Uncomfortable wedding preparation between a magic wielding family tree and those more on the Muggle side of things.

A fairy prince who decides to abandon his responsibilities to become a street musician.

Just try to not have fun writing (or even just reading!) these fantasy writing prompts.

fantasy story ideas

The Secret to Choosing the Best Story Idea

Stories, more than any other artistic expression, have the power to make people care. Stories have the ability to change people’s lives.

But to write a great story, a life-changing story, don’t just write about what your characters did, said, and saw. Ask yourself, “Where do I fit in to this story? What is my personal connection to this story?”

Robert Frost said this:

If you can connect your personal story to the story you’re writing, you will not only be more motivated to finish your story, you might just be able to change the lives of your readers.

Next Step: Write Your Best Story

No matter how good your idea, writing a story or a book can be a long difficult process. How do you create an outline, come up with a great plot, and then actually  finish  it?

My new book  The Write Structure  will help. You'll learn how to take your idea and structure a strong plot around it. Then you'll be guided through the exact process I've used to write dozens of short stories and over fifteen books.

You can learn more about   The Write Structure  and get your copy here.

Get The Write Structure here »

Have a great short story idea?  We'd love to hear it. Share it in the comments !

Choose one of these ideas and write a short story in one sitting (aim for 1,000 words or less!). When you're finished, share your story in the practice box below (or our latest writing contest ) for feedback from the community. And if you share, please be sure to comment on a few stories by other writers.

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Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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44 Short Story Ideas

Story ideas - 3 elements.

  • A stolen ring, fear of spiders, and a sinister stranger.
  • A taxi, an old enemy, and Valentine's Day.
  • Identical twins, a party invitation, and a locked closet.
  • A broken wristwatch, peppermints, and a hug that goes too far.
  • Aerobics, a secret diary, and something unpleasant under the bed.
  • An ex-boyfriend, a pair of binoculars, and a good-luck charm.
  • An annoying boss, a bikini, and a fake illness.
  • The first day of school, a love note, and a recipe with a significant mistake.
  • A horoscope, makeup, and a missing tooth.
  • A campfire, a scream, and a small lie that gets bigger and bigger.

More short story ideas

  • A babysitter is snooping around her employer's house and finds a disturbing photograph...
  • At a Chinese restaurant, your character opens his fortune cookie and reads the following message: "Your life is in danger. Say nothing to anyone. You must leave the city immediately and never return. Repeat: say nothing."...
  • Your character's boss invites her and her husband to dinner. Your character wants to make a good impression, but her husband has a tendency to drink too much and say exactly what's on his mind...
  • It's your character's first day at a new school. He or she wants to get a fresh start, develop a new identity. But in his or her homeroom, your character encounters a kid he or she knows from summer camp...
  • Your character has to tell his parents that he's getting a divorce. He knows his parents will take his wife's side, and he is right...
  • At the airport, a stranger offers your character money to carry a mysterious package onto the plane. The stranger assures your character that it's nothing illegal and points out that it has already been through the security check. Your character has serious doubts, but needs the money, and therefore agrees...
  • Your character suspects her husband is having an affair and decides to spy on him. What she discovers is not what she was expecting...
  • A man elbows your character in a crowd. After he is gone, she discovers her cell phone is too. She calls her own number, and the man answers. She explains that the cell phone has personal information on it and asks the man to send it back to her. He hangs up. Instead of going to the police, your character decides to take matters into her own hands...
  • After your character loses his job, he is home during the day. That's how he discovers that his teenage son has a small marijuana plantation behind the garage. Your character confronts his son, who, instead of acting repentant, explains to your character exactly how much money he is making from the marijuana and tries to persuade your character to join in the business...
  • At a garage sale, your character buys an antique urn which she thinks will look nice decorating her bookcase. But when she gets home, she realizes there are someone's ashes in it....

Even more short story ideas

  • Your character starts receiving flowers and anonymous gifts. She doesn't know who is sending them. Her husband is suspicious, and the gifts begin to get stranger....
  • A missionary visits your character's house and attempts to convert her to his religion. Your character is trying to get rid of him just as storm warning sirens go off. Your character feels she can't send the missionary out into the storm, so she lets him come down into her basement with her. This is going to be a long storm....
  • Your character is caught shoplifting. The shop owner says that she won't call the police in exchange for a personal favor....
  • Your character is visiting his parents over a holiday. He is returning some books to the library for his mother and is startled to notice that the librarian looks exactly like him, only about thirty years older. He immediately begins to suspect that his mother had an affair at one time and the librarian is his real father...
  • Your character picks up a hitch-hiker on her way home from work. The hitch-hiker tries to persuade your character to leave everything and drive her across the country...
  • Your character has to sell the house where she grew up. A potential buyer comes to look at it and begins to talk about all of the changes she would make to the place. This upsets your character, who decides she wants to find a buyer who will leave everything the way it has always been....
  • A bat gets in the house. Your character's husband becomes hysterical, frightened that it might be rabid. In his panic, he ends up shutting the bat in a room with your character while he calls an exterminator from a safe place in the house. His behavior makes your character see her husband in a new way....
  • Your character changes jobs in order to have more time with his family. But his family doesn't seem interested in having him around...
  • Your character develops the idea that she can hear the voices of the dead on a certain radio channel. She decides to take advantage of this channel to find answers to some questions that are bothering her about her dead parents....
  • Your character's dream is to be a professional dancer. At a party, she mentions this dream to a stranger, who says that he has contacts in the dance world and gets her an audition for a prestigious dance troupe. One problem: your character doesn't know how to dance. Your character decides to accept the audition anyway and look for a solution....

And still more short story ideas

  • Your character thinks her boss is looking for an excuse to fire her. She decides to fight back....
  • Your character goes out for dinner on a date and becomes attracted to the waiter or waitress....
  • Your character notices that a stranger is following her. She pretends not to notice. The stranger follows her home and watches her go inside. Then when he leaves, your character turns the tables and starts to follow him....
  • A child moves into a new house and finds out that the other kids in town think it's haunted. She begins to invent ghost stories to tell at school in order to get attention. But the more stories she tells, the more frightened she becomes of the house...
  • Your elderly character escapes from the retirement home where his or her children have placed him or her....
  • Your character gets cosmetic surgery in an attempt to make her boyfriend love her more. But then she worries he only loves her for her looks....
  • Your character is a writer. But his new neighbors are so noisy that he can neither work nor sleep. He decides to take action....
  • Your character's mother-in-law comes to visit for a week, and your character suspects she is trying to poison him. He shares his suspicion with his wife, who says he's always hated her mother but this accusation is going too far. Meanwhile, your character has stomach cramps, and his mother-in-law is downstairs making breakfast again....
  • It's a freezing cold night. Your character finds a homeless family on his doorstep and invites them into his home to sleep. But in the morning, the family doesn't leave....
  • Your character has recently married a man with two teenage children. The children resent her, and she tries to avoid them altogether. Then her new husband (their father) disappears suddenly, leaving only a short good-bye note....

Story ideas: personal creative writing challenges

  • Make a list of five things you're afraid of happening to you. Then write a story in which one of them happens to your character..
  • Think of a big problem that one of your friends had to face. Then write a story in which your character battles with that problem..
  • What is one of your bad habits? Invent a character who has the bad habit, but a much worse case of it than you have. Write a story where this habit gets your character into trouble.
  • What is one of your greatest strengths? Invent a character who doesn't have this strength. Create a situation in which having this strength is very important for your character. What does your character do? Write the story.

creative writing story plot ideas

Photo credit: Pascal van de Vendel

Keep the short story ideas flowing

  • Looking for more detailed short story ideas? Find them here .
  • Use our free worksheet to develop your story plot.
  • Our online writing course Irresistible Fiction will show you how to write stories people can't put down.
  • Click here for a list of CWN pages with creative writing prompts and short story ideas.

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✍️ 200+ Short Story Ideas (and How to Come Up With Your Own)

Are you ready to write but don’t know what to write about? Prepare to kick your writing into gear by browsing through our list of 200+ short story ideas. New prompts are added each week, and you can search by genre. But don’t let our categories stop you from putting your own spin on a writing prompt: if you find a short story idea tagged as sci-fi, but you think it would make a great romance plot, run with it! For tips on how to come up with your own story ideas, scroll to the bottom of the page.

We found 539 stories that match your search 🔦

A character who loves reading finds out that their library has just been forbidden from carrying banned books.

A character doesn't know how to break up with their partner, and keeps putting it off until the very moment that the partner bends down on one knee and proposes., subscribe to our prompts newsletter.

Curated writing inspriation delivered to your inbox each week.

One character wants a snake, but their roommate has a phobia. They adopt one anyway.

For years, four characters have met for a monthly card game. write a story in which one character realizes that another is cheating., you visited a psychic for romantic advice. instead, they tell you that your spouse has a secret., a character doesn't know how to ask their parent to stop calling them 2+ times a day., a pair of best friends realize they're two corners of a love triangle — they both have feelings for the same person., top 10 story ideas... just for you.

Want a story idea right away? No problem! Here are our top ten favorite story ideas for you to use:

  • A group of villains go on a team-building retreat.
  • You are granted one wish. But you have to use the wish for someone else.
  • Instead of trying to get a man on the moon, every nation raced to be the first at the very bottom of the ocean.
  • Money really does grow on trees and is heavily regulated by governments.
  • A plane takes off with 81 passengers. It lands with 82.
  • You are home alone watching TV. A character dials a number on their phone. Your phone rings.
  • You open a fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant. Inside is a handwritten note.
  • A magician, a troll, and a college student walk into a bar.
  • It is the year 3000. The sun starts to flicker.
  • An optimist becomes a pessimist. Why?

Top 10 short story ideas... also for you! 

Everyone who writes short stories out there knows that short stories are different — and not just because they’re, well, shorter. So if you’re seeking a short story idea, we’ve got you. Here are our favorite bite-sized short story ideas:

  • Turn one of your grandparent's old stories into fiction.
  • A romance told through a series of texts.
  • Two people are playing chess. One person can read minds, the other person can see the future.
  • Write a story that draws from a moment in your life where you wish you'd made a different choice. Have your protagonist make that choice, and then see what happens.
  • Amazon has invented time travel and introduced pre-emptive shipping. Today, you receive something completely unexpected from your future self.
  • Write about the way the sunset looks from the perspective of two characters. One is sad, the other is happy.
  • A wand-maker goes to the forest ready to work, only to find a group of environmentalists camped out in front of their favorite hemlock tree.
  • Pick a genre and then write about a long walk home after school.
  • The last person on earth celebrates their own birthday.
  • A team of scientists have successfully teleported an apple. It reappears with a bite taken out of it.

How to come up with short story ideas yourself

We get it: writing prompts are an excellent resource, but you want to know how to come up with your own story ideas, maybe even ideas for a book -length project. Here are four of our go-to tricks when thinking of interesting things to write about.

1) People-watch:  Hands down, this our favourite way to come up with story ideas. All stories, even ones about robots or plants, have some element of humanity at its core. There are therefore a countless number of stories to be found by observing human nature. 90% of the prompts included in our  writing prompts newsletter  are inspired by simply staring out a window and watching people go by.

2) Forget what you already know:  Have you ever become trapped in a “but why?” loop with a child? It’s enough to make your head spin or an existential crisis occur. But if you can return to this sense of curiosity and wondering you had as a child, you can find a treasure trove of short story ideas to be found. Take in your surroundings and ask yourself  why  things are the way they are.  What if  they were different?  What  would that look like and  how  would it work?

3) Use your day job:  If you feel like you have the most interesting job on the planet, well, perfect! It shouldn’t be hard to use it as plot-fodder for a great short story. On the other hand, if you find yourself yawning a lot at work, ask yourself:  What could happen to make this work day interesting?  Let’s say you work as a receptionist but your real passion lies with art. Write a story about a receptionist who sees a colleague hang a new piece of art in their cubicle — one the receptionist recognizes as being famous for going missing a century ago.

4) Read:  Imagine walking up to a piano and trying to make beautiful music without ever having heard it played before. You need to consume great short stories in order to know what you enjoy about them. Figure out what you like, and you’ll be on the path to great writing topics.

Ready to start submitting your short story to writing contests? Find the right one for you in our  list of writing contests .

Looking for writing tips? Sign up for our free course:  How to Craft a Killer Short Story .

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301 Short Story Ideas Guaranteed to Kick Your Writing into High Gear

Tonya Thompson

With shorter attention spans and increasingly hectic lives, it's no wonder readers love short stories now as much as ever. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button , The Shawshank Redemption , Minority Report , and Brokeback Mountain —even Hollywood has taken a renewed interest in short stories.

Below are 301 short story prompts and starters to help you become inspired, get past writer's block and explore the fascinating process of writing in a genre that Stephen King famously once compared to a kiss in the dark from a stranger.

Please feel free to use any of these ideas to spark your next creative project. You don't have to credit us, but it would be much appreciated if you do! A simple link to ServiceScape is the best way to do that.

Need more writing prompts? Check out our writing prompt videos below or try out our Writing Prompt Generator .

660 Narrated Science Fiction Writing Prompts

  • A group of hunters are on a hunt. Their dress and actions are completely primitive until the end when they change back into suits and leave the area in modern vehicles.
  • Weather patterns across the globe suddenly shift, causing natural law to go haywire. A family tries to make sense of it while getting to safety.
  • A flood swept away an entire town, leaving only the library and its strange secret.
  • Your main character is evicted from their home and forced to call in some favors. Although, those favors take him/her on a wild ride they never expected.
  • The night before an important social function, your main character is tasked with saving the world.
  • Your main character's boat is sinking in the middle of the ocean and he/she only has 1 hour to make a raft from parts of the vessel.
  • Your main character joins the communist regime and leads the party to glorious victory over the capitalist bourgeoisie funded by your antagonist's Super-PAC.
  • Your main character has a change of heart and partners up with your antagonist, joining their evil organization and proving a much more capable evil overlord than your antagonist could ever hope to be.
  • Your character's things are packed up and they are ready to leave town tomorrow. Before they say goodbye to their town, they decide to stop by at their favorite bar just to say goodbye. Something that happens at the bar makes them question whether or not leaving is the right decision.
  • When your character is hanging out at their favorite coffee shop, they notice someone loitering outside. As your character leaves, they see a black SUV pull up and a very handsome man gets out. The loiterer goes to lunge for the man, but your character instinctively decides to jump on him, blocking him from attacking the unsuspecting man. It turns out that the handsome man is the governor of the state. What happens next?
  • Two giant fingers reach down and pluck your main character away from what they were just doing, and unceremoniously deposit them on a pirate ship.
  • Your main character finds an abandoned car, keys still inside, parked outside their home.
  • Your protagonist is a corporate CEO who suddenly must hunt and forage his own food.
  • Your characters are trapped in a structure that constantly shifts and changes. How do they find their way out?

Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Supernatural

  • Your main character wakes up in the body of the person he/she most despises.
  • An outdoor music festival receives strange, otherworldly visitors who decide to take the stage for their own performance.
  • A man wakes up to discover he can no longer hear but can see things he's never seen before.
  • A man and his dog go to the dog park to play and the dog finds a bone with strange carvings on it that reacts to the environment in unexpected ways.
  • A group of high school friends cross paths 10 years after graduation to catch up, only to learn that one in their midst has developed special, superhuman powers.
  • A secondary character stumbles upon a talking blade, and they begin behaving suspiciously.
  • Your character wakes one morning and finds that they are physically stronger, faster, and have greater reflexes than when they went to sleep. Each time they sleep, they become stronger.
  • As if losing everything she owned in the tornado wasn't enough, Lila learned that she'd been laid off from her job. And that's when she started noticing the monsters.
  • A tertiary character is revealed to be "The chosen one," and your main character must help them to succeed in fulfilling their destiny.
  • The antagonist dies, but the story doesn't end.
  • Your main character is given a suit that protects them from danger—unfortunately it has a different threshold for safety than seems ideal.
  • A character in your story becomes aware that they are in a story.
  • our character wakes up deaf and mute but sees more colors than he or she knew was possible.
  • Your main character finds that time has slowed for them. Each year they age only several weeks, and slowly those nearest them are beginning to take notice.
  • Your main character makes a pact with an alien visitor to trade bodies for the day to tour around unnoticed.
  • Your main character wakes up in an unrecognizable city that is at least 100 years more advanced in technology than we are today.
  • Lightning strikes your main character and he/she wakes up in the hospital with a small black goblin perched on their shoulder, which no one else can see.
  • The sun goes out, replaced by building-sized lights in the sky over each major city. Across the world, beams of light descend from the sky, and each points toward your main character.
  • A secondary character is visited by aliens. They are told that they have been chosen as a representative of humanity amongst the interstellar accord. They need your main character's advice.
  • Your main character has a theme song which plays for ten seconds every time they enter a room.
  • Your protagonist is visited by a comic book hero who needs their help.
  • Your character cannot wake from a series of back-to-back dreams that feel like he or she is awake.
  • All rhinos have gone extinct except for two, and your main character has been granted guardianship of the last two of their kind.
  • Your character notices a weird growth on their arm one morning. They brush it off as a weird bump or scratch—until it turns into something else entirely.
  • Your character has always thought of their parents in a certain way, but here lately they're doing something unusual that changes your character's opinion of them.
  • Your main character is the owner of a variety store and an invisible car crashes through the wall, driven by an invisible person.
  • Your antagonist and protagonist meet in the afterlife, hundreds of thousands of years after your story takes place.
  • Your antagonist and protagonist get freaky-Friday-ed. When they wake up, each is in the other's body.
  • Your main character is suddenly invisible, but they don't know how long it will last.
  • Your main character wakes up, in high school again, and finds that they are late for an important test.
  • Your main character is granted a single wish, but must be careful, because the genie granting the wish will attempt to misinterpret any wish they make.
  • Your main character finds himself/herself in the video game they were playing.
  • Your main character is the leader of a random group of apocalypse survivors who must now forage for food.
  • A cell phone is found locked inside a cabinet in a home recently purchased by newlyweds. On it is a recorded message from their future children. What does the message say and how did it get there?
  • Your main character and the three people standing closest to them, are thrown backwards in time three hundred years.
  • Your protagonist can see the future and doesn't want to leave his/her home.
  • Your main character discovers that they are a wizard, and that this means they will have to leave their family to learn how to safely practice magic, in a school they have never heard of.
  • Suddenly, your main character can hear the thoughts of everyone who is wearing the same color shirt as they are.
  • Your protagonist dies. The story doesn't end.
  • Your main character is really a guardian angel in human form.
  • Your protagonist meets a man claiming to be God. He/she doesn't believe the man, but then miracles ensue.
  • Two adult sisters discuss a fateful night when they were teenagers and ran away from home, only to encounter a pack of vampires waiting to take them in.
  • A family comes together for Christmas, only to discover that they have somehow switched bodies and perspectives over the course of the meal.
  • A man or woman wakes up as his/her dog or cat and it's breakfast time.
  • Two writers discover they've written the exact same text, word for word, 1,000 miles apart from each other.
  • A parent and child encounter their ancestor, who has been dead for centuries, and they go on a walk through the city/the woods.
  • A lost Incan treasure is found in the basement of a school in Ohio. How did it get there? And more importantly, how is it glowing?
  • Your main character suddenly loses his ability to see but can hear things he hadn't heard before.
  • .It's 2050 and most of America has become one large city except for a small area in the middle of the country, considered uninhabitable by most people except for a few. Who are they and how do they survive?

Romance and Drama

  • A secondary character starts their own business and enlists your main character to help it succeed but falls in love instead.
  • Your antagonist wins over your main character's best friend, convincing that friend of their good intentions.
  • Your main character gets a new job, working at the evil corporation run by your antagonist—but the work they would be doing could really help people.
  • Your main character and their best friend find themselves in a love triangle with your antagonist.
  • A couple is having an argument at the table beside your character at a restaurant. Although they are trying to avoid eye contact, your character realizes that one of them is the ex that the other never quite got over.
  • A tertiary character is seriously stressing out, and your protagonist feels the need to reach out to them with a kind gesture. It does the opposite of help.
  • Your character is talked into going to their romantic interest's mother's dance recital, and their romantic interest doesn't show up.
  • Your character is at a friend's house for a dinner party. Suddenly, someone they absolutely despise walks in. What do they do now?
  • Your character's boyfriend of five years surprises them with an engagement ring at a dinner with their whole family. They pause for a minute before they answer him. But if he knew their secret, there is no way he would be proposing right now. The whole room is waiting for the response.
  • Your character gets matched up with a famous person on Tinder. What happens on their date?
  • Your character's friend introduces them to someone at a party. It turns out that your character and the other person actually know each other quite well. However, neither of them acknowledges this fact. The friend steps away. What do they say to each other now?
  • Your character's mom seems really tense when they are out to dinner with her one evening. They ask her what's wrong. "I have something to tell you," she says gravely.
  • Write a story about a father and son reuniting for the first time in 20 years. Why did they go so long without talking? What finally brought them together?
  • Your main character's romantic interest finds one day that they are much more interested in your antagonist.
  • Suddenly, a tertiary character confesses their love for your protagonist, getting down on one knee and producing a ring. But your protagonist loves someone else.
  • One night when your character is at a bar with all of their friends, a mysteriously charming stranger starts talking to them. They are instantly captivated by their every word. They ask for your character's number, but there's just one (major) problem.

Mystery and Horror

  • A writer's manuscript contains words he didn't write…ghostwriting in its truest form. But who is his co-author and what does the ghost want?
  • Your main character comes home to find that their family is missing.
  • Your character wakes up covered with strange tattoos and can't remember how he/she got them.
  • Your protagonist awoke from a nightmare to find an object from his/her dream laying on the pillow.
  • Two cousins hitchhike along a deserted country road, following a stream of black smoke to an abandoned house, where there is no one tending the steadily burning fire.
  • Your main character wakes up in the trunk of a car, their head throbbing.
  • An escaped convict leaves behind evidence of his innocence for the search party to find.
  • Your protagonist wakes up aged considerably, after a Rip Van Winkle-esque 20-year nap, and his friends don't believe his story.
  • There's no way out of the concert hall but the concert-goers tried to find it anyway. Behind them, the snarling monster prowled.
  • Lost in the woods, two teens encounter a witch-like woman who offers them all they've ever wanted in exchange for one small thing—their baby sister.
  • Your main character discovers a long-lost sibling who is down on their luck.
  • Your main character is given an important heirloom, an item passed down for generations in their family. But it is cursed.
  • Your main character finds a black mahogany door in their basement, shut tight with chains.
  • One night while your character is camping in the woods with their family, there's a loud noise from inside the tent. At first everyone thinks it's an animal, but this sounds like nothing they've ever heard before.
  • Your main character has a conversation with a ghost from their past, either literally or figuratively.
  • Your main character goes broke drinking and gambling and wakes up the next morning with a small white rabbit perched on their chest, possibly stolen from the magic act they saw the night before.
  • Your main character wakes up on a rooftop, in their underwear.
  • Your main character inherits a vast fortune, but they must stay in a creepy old house for an entire night in order to earn it.
  • Your main character sells their soul and seems to have all of their problems solved, only to find out that the devil is a blood relation, and there are no catches.
  • Your main character wakes up to find that ¾ of the world's population has suddenly disappeared without a trace.
  • Two adopted twin sisters embark on a journey to find their birth father, only to find that he's been close to them all along.
  • Your main character's dog goes missing in the night, and they aren't the only one missing a pet. After some sleuthing they discover that a friend has become a werewolf, and that their best friend is the cause of the missing animals.
  • Your main character wakes up wearing a strange ring which glows with sparks of blue electricity.
  • People find that if they don't concentrate on keeping their soul attached to their body, it begins to separate. Without continuous concentration, everyone becomes ghosts of themselves.
  • Your character discovers that there's something really mysterious happening at the neighborhood park. Your character finally works up the nerve to go down there one evening, and what they find is even more peculiar than what they originally thought.
  • Your main character is trapped in a dream that is quickly becoming a nightmare.
  • After a particularly grueling day at work, your character groggily returns to work the next morning. The secretary, who your character has said hello to every morning for about five years, suddenly has no idea who they are. When they tell her their name, she responds: "No one by that name has ever worked here."
  • Your character wakes up one morning in what looks to be a hospital. They try to move, but it appears they are strapped into the bed. A nurse suddenly enters the room and calls them by the wrong name. What happened to them? What happens next?
  • The doorbell rings. No one is there, but a mysterious package was left behind. Your character opens it up and find something inside that's very unexpected.
  • Write about a scenario where a character does something terrible and gets away with it completely.
  • Your character's sibling is wanted for a serious crime. They swear that they didn't do it, but your character is not so sure.
  • A ghost of your antagonist's great-great-great-grandmother visits your protagonist, warning him to stay away from her great-great-great-grandchild.
  • On your character's walk to work, they notice that the streets are suspiciously empty. Brushing it off, they finally get to their office. There's no one inside at all. They walk around searching for someone, anyone to ask what's happening. They find no one and nothing.
  • A child draws scenes that end up happening exactly as he/she draws them. His/her parents try to understand what is happening.
  • Your main character has been knocked unconscious, and another character from your story needs to step up and take their place.
  • At the library one afternoon doing some research, your character notices an unusual photograph. Your character is immediately captivated by it. What's in the photograph?
  • Your character's grandma recently passed away. In her will, she left your character something very strange.
  • Your main character has just come face to face with their worst enemy, and they are monologuing.
  • Your antagonist has finally won, accomplishing their greatest feat. Now what?
  • Your antagonist and protagonist swap places for a day.
  • Your antagonist and protagonists are placed in the same dorm room at university. Hilarity ensues.
  • It turns out your antagonist was right the whole time, and now your protagonist has some explaining to do.
  • Your main character or antagonist wins the lottery, a jackpot of 3.4 million dollars. But he/she doesn't want it.
  • Your main character is contemplating suicide until a stranger stops him/her.
  • The king dies, and your antagonist's best friend becomes the new ruling monarch. The catch is, they don't seem too bad, other than the fact that your antagonist keeps whispering in their ear.
  • Your protagonist is incredibly late for their next scheduled meeting, and he or she just keeps running into obstacles which stall them further.
  • Your character's birthday wish that they made when they were blowing out the candles actually comes true. What is it? Is it everything that they hoped for?
  • Your character's home is a little worse for wear. It seems like everything is broken and your character has no more money to invest in this money pit. In the garage, they see an old can of gasoline. Would they do the unthinkable? What is going through their mind right now?
  • Your character's family has a lot of traditions. They go along with them, except for one. If their parents knew your character broke this rule, they would likely disown them. What is it? What would your character do if they found out?
  • Your character is a pretty shy, introspective person. One day they wake up and realize that they are saying everything that they think. They can't control the words that are coming out of their mouth at all. While this is helpful when they are trying to talk to friends and acquaintances at work, it really starts to get them into trouble.
  • Your character is a member of a family that has always feuded with their neighbors over trivial issues, and now must ask his/her neighbors for help in an emergency. How do the neighbors respond?

Story Starters

  • The place where the world stopped was not so strange, but the vertigo was overwhelming. The girl could not decide whether or not it would be wise to jump.
  • The gear turned, interlaced with another, and another. His eyes traced the inner workings of the machine to the place where the light shone.
  • Static played between the cracks of the monitor, the spark and hiss of the television muffled as the living room filled with water.
  • The hand was pale, as if circulation had long stopped; and the ring upon the creature's finger seemed to glow with a spark of interior fire.
  • They say that when you die in a dream, you die in real life. I can tell you that isn't true; because I died in a dream, and what happened to me was much stranger than that.
  • The girl spun, dragged by the momentum of her backpack, tilting from one foot to the next so that her balance was tenuous, her motions growing wilder.
  • The face in the mirror was not his own. It was handsomer, his eyes more vibrant, his skin clearer. He frowned, uncertain, but his reflection smiled.
  • Once upon a time, in a night with no stars and no moon, there was a shadow in the darkness.
  • Bright blue water held the stars' reflections, until she dove beneath the surface. Then for a long moment the lake was still, until I began to grow nervous. When she finally returned, she held aloft over her head the star which had hung in the North, the wish-making star.
  • It was, as the wave of mud descended, sprayed by the wheels of a yellow taxi – it was that moment which made that day the worst of her life.
  • Again, try again. Concentrate now, it will not come easily.
  • Strange, to see her here. She seemed out of place. Not the soft out-of-place, like an uncle entertaining unfamiliar nieces and nephews, but the hard of out-of-place which drew every eye in the room.
  • It was a trick of the fingers, and a twist of the wrist, which changed the shape of the shifting cloak. One moment the garment was a heavy green wool, and the next it was black satin, suitable for the night's entertainments.
  • I have been many things: a pawn, a dancer, a master of the blade; but none of these in the way you might think, and none of them for less than a moment.
  • The torch hissed as he plunged it into the river and let the current sweep the light away. Then he was alone in the dark with the red-ember eyes.
  • Like a dream she had drifted from the room, and like a dream she seemed unreal, and like a dream she was gone.
  • The pencil was now stuck in the ceiling, the glob of green hanging precariously from it; and before I could dash across the room, or throw the stapler again to dislodge it, Mr. Smythe reentered the classroom.
  • The lower level was waist-deep already, flooding from a number of breaches along the starboard hull. Younger crewmen were wading through the water in search of bailing buckets. Older crewmates were racing toward the ladders, offering prayers beneath their breath.
  • The river was home to a great many, and together they drifted along it. It was never fast, never sudden, but always full to brimming of fish, and always clean to drink.
  • The sphere was some metal he had never seen before, like steel but with a faint blue hue. It stood out nearly three feet from the earth; and where it was exposed to the air, lightning struck it repeatedly, illuminating his surroundings with each strike.
  • The woman swung her scythe with the steady clockwork motion of a pendulum.
  • Frost spread across the ground. Slowly at first, with the lingering laziness of autumn, but then with greater fervor; and the creature flew along behind it as it spread across the field.
  • Doom blanketed the town, like silence might have on a more peaceful night.
  • Typical, he thought. Another throwaway evening. Not a soul in town, and not a sound to be heard; but that night was anything but typical.
  • She didn't blink. Not when he made faces, or when he screamed; not when he brought out the joke about the garden gnomes, or the one about the flea circus. She didn't even blink when he resorted to the feather, or when he made a motion like he might poke her in the eye.
  • His favorite color had always been blue. Not because it was depressing or anything – it wasn't – but because it seemed to soak in the light, and then give some of it back. Like black, he thought, but less dead, less drab.
  • The ballet slipper would not fit, and that would never do. Only moments now, before they knocked on her dressing room door, and her sister's slipper would not slide onto her foot.
  • You aren't supposed to have conversations through the wall of the changing rooms, especially not the fancy kind where a woman waits outside to ask if everything fits just right. And yet, here she was, knee deep in the most awkward conversation she could imagine.
  • There was no gravity here, and so she floated, waiting to come close enough to something solid that she could push off from it, and toward the exit.
  • They say bleach for blood but the odor is too strong. Best to take it out with hydrogen peroxide. Then again, it looks strange buying thirty bottles of hydrogen peroxide at three in the morning, so I settle for a couple gallons of bleach.
  • The doctor looked up from the manila folder in his hands and said, "Your test results are positive."
  • Just as she settled into the backseat with her suitcase and carry-on bag, an oncoming headlight illuminated the driver's face and she realized this wasn't her Uber driver. He was the man they'd been showing on the news the last few days.
  • As the doctor handed the newborn bundle to her, she gasped.
  • As she threw her head back to soak up the flowering spring trees, she saw her ex-husband watching her from across the street. How could he have known she was here?
  • The young girl was maybe 5 or 6 but there was something about her that chilled me to the bone.
  • She might never get the chance to be alone with him again. Her husband was across the country; he'd never find out, so why not?
  • "Is this your handwriting?" the policeman asked with a scowl.

Story Starters

  • I could have been anything—a doctor, lawyer, architect. Instead, I became a carney.
  • When he saw the state troopers standing on his front stoop, he thought they must have the wrong house. But when the troopers took off their hats and one of them asked, "Are you James Cooper?" he couldn't find the strength to answer.
  • "I knew you'd come back to me," she whispered. "It's been a lifetime but I knew you'd come back."
  • The doctor emerged from the double doors and said, "There were some unexpected complications."
  • This was the moment he'd been training for. He strapped on his helmet and got in position.
  • She continued running, but as the trail of blood got thicker and the splattered drops got closer together, she started following the blood instead of the greenway path. She had to find the source of all this blood. Was it animal blood... or human?
  • When he looked around, he froze. He'd been here before. This was the same place where he kept getting stuck in his dreams. Would he be able to find his way out in waking life?
  • She shut off the kitchen light and turned to go upstairs to bed, unaware that two sets of eyes were watching her every move.
  • He frantically searched his lab, but he found no sign of the invisibility potion. How could someone have stolen it before he even got the chance to use it?
  • As she listened to him snore on the pillow next to her, she wondered how much longer she could stay married to him. She prayed he would die in his sleep or get hit by a car. Then her eyes fell on the pillow at the foot of the bed.
  • "Mr. Dempsey, they're not both going to make it. We can save your wife or the baby, but we can't save both. You need to let us know your decision in the next two minutes, or we may lose them both."
  • "Are you sure you want to do this?" the man asked as he positioned the needle over her heart.
  • Nothing had grown in that patch of grass for 50 years. It had been a barren dirt patch ever since that stranger had conjured a fire bolt and scorched the ground. But Tommy definitely saw a green sprout growing in the middle of the barren square. What was it, and how could it produce life in a place that nothing else could?
  • The car rattled as if she'd gone over a speed bump, but she knew there were no speed bumps on this road. She looked in her rear view mirror and thought she saw blonde hair… and maybe a human form on the road. She wondered if she should turn back. Had anyone seen her?
  • "If you walk out that door right now, I don't ever want to see your face in my home again," his mother said.
  • "I will get my money back one way or another," he growled, as he pinned her arms beneath her back.
  • "The price of freedom depends on what you're willing to pay. Tell me, sir: how much is your freedom worth to you?
  • She fumbled in her purse for her keys, but her hands were clumsy with fear. Just as her fingers grazed the familiar key fob, a sweaty hand grabbed her shoulder.
  • He'd seen her. She could tell by the smirk on his lips. She pushed through the thick crowd in hopes of making it to the exit before he blocked her way.
  • She glared at the thick bracelet on her bicep. Why did her parents make such a big deal about never taking off? It was heavy and not even stylish. She found clasp and fiddled with it for a moment. Surely her parents were exaggerating about all the awful things that would happen to her if she ever took this off.
  • He extended his hand to her and said, "Hi, I'm Finkel Wolfson." She looked at his outstretched hand as if it was crawling with spiders and roaches. "Oh, I've heard about you," she said with a sniff. Finkel panicked. He was 3000 miles away from home; how could she have heard about him?
  • "One of us has to try it," Amir said as he pointed to the lumpy, unfamiliar fruit on the tree in front of them. If we don't, we'll starve to death. Death by poison seems worth the risk in case it's edible, doesn't it?"
  • The night winds rustled as the door to the old woman's home slowly opened.
  • She laughed when he told her the news. It was exactly what she expected and she knew the lie was over.
  • He glanced in his rearview mirror and saw that the blue sedan was still following him.
  • She stepped off the elevator with a sense of purpose. This time, she would succeed.
  • He flicked the stub of his cigarette onto the pile and walked away without a second look.
  • Just as they got to the edge of town, the car started making a terrible clunking sound.
  • "What's that smell?"
  • He rolled down his window and called out, "Hey—do you want a ride?"
  • "You better get down to the station. It happened again."
  • The dog raced toward her with such intensity that she didn't have time to get out of his way.
  • "I don't think you're capable of love."
  • He picked up the glowing rock and inspected it. Where had it come from, and how had it ended up in his backyard?
  • By the time Johnny got home, thousands of sheets of paper had piled up on the floor beside the printer, each with only one sentence printed in bold type: "I am coming for you, and there's nothing you can do."
  • "How could you have married him? You promised you'd wait for me."
  • "I've lost him," she screamed, but none of us knew what she'd lost.
  • For a moment, time slowed, and the sound of the approaching storm was all that we could hear.
  • "Look out!" he shouted.
  • I'd never last long in the slammer. I get all frantic when I'm in tight spaces, start tryin' to climb the walls and such.
  • Tears filled her eyes as she scanned the list a second time. She didn't make the team.
  • "I'm pregnant."
  • He watched her leave, knowing that she only locked the flimsy doorknob behind her. He had at least two hours before she'd be back home.
  • "Where am I?"
  • "What happened to you?" She asked.
  • There are three things you never mess with if you know what's good for you: heroin, border patrol, and the Valdez cartel.
  • She fell to the floor when she heard the first explosion. She didn't know if she should try to escape or try to hide.
  • "We're sending you to live with another family. It's for your own safety."
  • As she watched this hulking, hairy animal lope across her backyard, she wondered what two creatures collaborated to make this tremendous beast, and what was it looking for?
  • "She hasn't spoken a word since the accident. Our friend said that you might be able to help her."
  • "Don't lie to me. I already know the truth."
  • As he walked away, his smile grew from a smirk to an all-out grin.
  • "Why is all of Daddy's stuff in the front yard?"
  • He counted his register drawer again. How could he be short $2500?
  • The teacher looked at his gaping shoes and tattered clothes and knew she had to find out what was really going on at home or this kid would end up in the system. She called him up to her desk and asked, "Do you want to help me on a project this weekend?"
  • If he hurried, he might be able to get back to work before anyone found out what he had done.
  • "Do you have experience with demons?" she whispered from under the table.
  • "This medicine numbs the pain, but it will also permanently numb your ability to feel pleasure. Do you want it?"
  • "Mr. Whipple, we've just learned that your wife is an undercover agent with the Russian government. We need your help apprehending her."
  • Once she'd confirmed that no one was looking, she ducked into the unmarked building.
  • When she walked outside the next morning, she realized his curse must have worked.
  • He pulled his hat low over his brow and tried to blend in with the crowd, hoping no one would realize who he was.
  • He was inside the video game! But wait—if he was in here... who had the controls?
  • She bent down to pick up the strange-looking shell from the sand, but as soon as her hand touched it, the earth started to shake.
  • He opened the letter and sunk to his knees in the middle of the driveway.
  • "What are we going to do once the last of this food is gone?" he asked.
  • She looked closer and realized that this tree was growing dollar bills instead of leaves and quarters instead of acorns.
  • There is never a better time to say "I'm sorry" than when karma is kicking you good.
  • When the pigeon swooped down in front of her, she realized it had a note attached to its right leg.
  • "I'll need to speak to at least three of your ex-girlfriends to check your references before I'll go on a date with you."
  • "Mommy, there's a ghost in my room!"
  • Something wasn't right. No one seemed to recognize her. No one even really seemed to see her. Could he have erased her existence?
  • They had never been this high before. As she reached for the next rock outcropping, she wondered if it was actually close enough to reach, or if she was about to fall into the canyon.
  • "This is something we don't usually show visitors," the museum docent whispered as she unlocked the door marked "DANGER!"
  • He looked both ways before crossing the street, not realizing that he had just made the worst decision of his life.
  • "How did you get that scar?"
  • He muttered a few extra spells as he stirred the potion. He couldn't risk it malfunctioning this time.
  • Every person on the street and in the mall looked identical. They were all wearing red shirts and blue shorts, and every single one was a man with light skin and short brown hair. What had happened, and how was she the only one who was still different?
  • "You don't understand," she said, looking at him sadly. "I am not who you think I am."
  • All the lights in the city went out and they knew the monsters were surrounding them.
  • "If you take one step closer, it'll be the last step you ever take," he said, pointing the weapon at the strange figure in front of him. But his threat was useless, since the creature had no feet.
  • There, nestled within the grove of trees, was the thing he'd been waiting for since he was 12 years old.
  • "Who's there?" Her words bounced off of the metal walls of shipping containers when she awoke. But there was only the echo of her own voice to answer her.
  • They were lost in the woods and they knew it, although this time was different. This time, they were hunted.
  • Looking into the fire was the wrong thing to do. He found he couldn't drag his stare away.
  • It wasn't until my father pushed me off the cliff that I believed he was telling the truth.
  • The sign hit them like an inanimate object.
  • The pumpkin would not stop growing, despite the application of the second potion. The witch had lied.
  • All four tires were on the ground, but I had started floating toward the surface.
  • Smoke leaked from the exhaust pipes of the Mustang as the plane began to descend. She looked into the jungle below, dreading the impact.
  • Picture us, standing against the world, armed to the teeth, walking out into that blizzard.
  • If romance is dead, then I suppose there are none to blame but the hopeless romantics. It was a boy, not too long ago, that taught me romance – real romance—isn't something hopeless, or unenergetic like stale poetry, or futile like canned compliments.
  • It's impossible to tell really, just how many times I've come back.
  • When a pet passes away, the moment is strangely dense. That moment as I held the shoebox was the longest of my young life, but there were harder times to come.
  • The girl crept past the open door, listening with piqued interests for clues revealed in the voices beyond it.
  • Thunder does not crash like a wave, but ripples outward like a pebble tossed into a pond. When the lightning struck, I was the first to hear that thunder.
  • Heroes wear masks for all kinds of reasons. I wear the mask so they can't see the grey at my temples or the weariness of age in my eyes.
  • The sun never shone like it did that day. It baked my skin until I felt I might burn in the shade, but I never did. Nothing went wrong that day.
  • The paper tore once, twice, three times. I shredded it and scattered it to the wind.
  • Ma always told me not to climb so high. Always lookin' out for me 'cause I ain't look out for myself. Too bad Ma ain't here now.
  • They think they know me, but they don't really. I hunt only at night and only when I know I have the advantage over my prey.
  • City slicker like myself doesn't have a wit of business in the country. They knew it. I knew it. Not a one of us in that room was happy I'd purchased the land.
  • Here's the thing about family. Family sticks together, but it's almost never roses and sunshine. Family sticks together when you have nothing; so when you have it all, well, things get complicated in a different way.
  • It wasn't my idea to paint the damn cow, it was Johnny's; but I suppose I'm to blame for going along with it.
  • Stars spin real slow. So slow you can't see it, unless you have the time and the resources to take a really close look.
  • I can't say I ever much liked gym class. I've never seen the point of running unless you were being chased. But I'm running now, aren't I? I guess I'm glad I never skipped gym.
  • It's been a few years since the guns got off the street, and the drugs. Didn't happen all at once, but it did happen fast. Not sure I like it.
  • My dad raised me believing that time is money. Now that money is time though, I'm not sure anything he taught me means what I thought it would.
  • I realized that something was wrong when I thought "I'm getting married," instead of "I'm getting married to John."
  • It wasn't a happy winter, but it wasn't so sad either, considering.
  • "Blood is thicker than water," we all heard that. What people don't do is say it out full: "The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb," which, (if you ask me, which you didn't) means almost the opposite.
  • Never thought I'd dance on his grave, not really.
  • Clouds parted that night, while I was bending picking weeds in the dark—fool thing to do—and the moon shone down on my garden.
  • There are dreamers like me, but none as vivid, and none who know the clouds and sunshine of my mind as I do.
  • You can't sing—can't really sing—a happy song when you are sad; but I know now that you can sing a sad song, and fill that song with life, when you are happy.
  • All it took was one step into the water and I knew I was home.
  • If love stories begin with wonder and end with tragedy, this isn't really a love story.
  • She looked out the window and saw moving shadows, as far as the eye could see, and was thankful at least for the light from the window on the house on the hill.
  • "I'm falling for you," he said. But he knew that look and he regretted it immediately.
  • Give me five minutes and I'll turn that girl's silly smile into a look of shock.
  • At dawn, we were swallowed up by the darkness, but it didn't matter, really. We had waited for it all night long.
  • If loss were a taste, you'd spit it out as soon as you were able to. But it isn't. It's a sound and a cry and it goes on forever.
  • That night in September, the body count was almost as high as the temperature.
  • ."They're not even normal," the little girl whispered. "Look Ma', those men have gills for ears."
  • She closed her eyes and remembered the flowers in her mother's yard and how red the roses grew.
  • There was nothing left to say but "I love you" as they stood together and watched the world burn.
  • "Mamma, there's someone here to see you." I knew from the sound of my daughter's scared voice who that someone was.
  • Lost in a wonderland of sorts, I wandered the home's slanted hallways until I found the right room.
  • "There he is," she shouted. "I told you he…..!" But before I could turn to look, she screamed and fell silent.
  • The explosion could be seen for miles around, but only two people saw it.
  • She couldn't identify the lifeforms standing across from her but she knew they weren't human. She also knew they weren't friendly.
  • "Here, put on this mask," she said. "They can't know who you really are."
  • It took 15 days and 11 hours to reach the mountain range on foot, but there it was in front of us, big as we knew it would be.
  • "I don't know how you handle this type of thing on Earth," she spat, "but here on Mars, we don't let killers run free."

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Gatekeeper Press

100 Creative Plot Ideas Organized by Genre

by GetPublished | Sep 17, 2019 | Blog , Writing

creative plot ideas

Table of Contents

Here are one-hundred plot ideas for when your mind is feeling frazzled and the noggin empty. Some of the plot ideas here are completely out of this world while others are down to earth. From dystopia to romance, to the cliché and outlandish, this list is sure to kickstart your imagination!

Overcome Writer’s Block With Some Fresh New Plot Ideas for Your Genre

Fantasy plot ideas.

First off, we have some fantasy plot ideas for all your magical needs!

fantasy plot ideas

  • A mortal has been accidentally placed onto Olympus.
  • Everyone is born with three wishes in life that they are not allowed to use until (input age here).
  • A contest for the queen after the sudden death of said queen from a magical realm.
  • The bridge between the realm of the fae and mortal shrinks with each day while tensions run high.
  • You are the first and last person to discover the fountain of youth.
  • You have lived for (insert time) but have run into the option to finally be set to rest, but (blank) makes you question what you truly want.
  • You have lived many lifetimes, always in an endless cycle of birth and death, you finally find someone the same though.
  • Each night you are woken by the shouts of sailors and deckhands, the ringing of bells, and the light. But no one else has seen or heard such things.
  • Luck has become a hereditary trait.
  • Imaginary friends have gone too far, now that friend is real… but something is totally off.
  • “Familiars” play pivotal roles in society, the strength of said creature determines your fate.

Live your fantasy writing dream, or find a genre that you should write for !

Romance Plot Ideas

Maybe love will always find a way with these romance plot ideas. Or will everything go down in flames?

romance plot ideas

  • She’s a world-class thief, he’s the lead investigator. At each crime scene, there’s a note left just for him.
  • He’s rich beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and no one has ever been able to get close to him. All he cares about in life is perfection which he always is looking for in artwork and whatnot. But then an unruly, perfectly imperfect girl bumps into him, ruining the vase he’s bought while at a show.
  • She has no care for love, all she cares about is ruling with an iron fist, making her the fearsome but prosperous boss nationwide. Her newest hire has all the skills needed and perfect in every aspect, but then she’s discovered to be sent by her rival… what will she do?
  • She’s motivated by blood and money and will take nearly any contract if there’s enough cash involved; he is to be the victim. But when one contract killer is trying to kill the other, what will occur?
  • In his kingdom, it is to be a queen that always rules. However, when both his parents are murdered, to keep some unpleasant relatives off the throne he must change his entire identity to be the new queen. This includes marrying the prince of another kingdom…
  • He ensures that everyone finds their soulmate, sometimes through much trial and error. All he’s ever done is watch idly by, but when he falls in love with a mortal meant for someone else, what is he to do?
  • She’s a writer, one that writes about love and death. One night she gets a call from someone who says and acts exactly as one of her characters did… alarmed she continues to contact this person. Soon enough she finds herself in love with the character…
  • She expects and wants everything to go exactly like all the fairytale stories she heard when she was younger, always with expectations high whilst being often the laughingstock. But then, she meets him…
  • Everyone knows their fate, hers is quite bleak. She has no motivation and low expectations because of it, but then she is mistaken for someone else. And when she is mistaken to be who she’s not, he comes into her life and finds herself with everything she was never supposed to have.
  • His father is quite literally (some well-known character that would cause problems, ex: the devil, Frankenstein/ doctor Frankenstein, Vampire/Werewolf, etc.), making him a total outcast. When a new girl who heeds no warnings approaches him, what will he do?
  • Their relationship was fake or at least supposed to be anyhow.
  • She began getting strange letters in her mail, they were yellowed and very old looking, but somehow well preserved all the same even though appearing to be from centuries ago. She eventually decides to write one back, and he receives it. They’re centuries apart but sure they’re soul mates.

Mystery Plot Ideas

What’s been stolen, who’s dead, what’s the motive? So much to ask for these mystery plot ideas.

mystery plot ideas

  • You can’t figure out whether you’re awake or asleep.
  • You have woken up after a terrible accident, at least that’s what everyone has told you. No one seems to be willing to give any details and you can’t remember the last year of your life…
  • You could’ve sworn that someone tapped you on the shoulder, but no one was there. As well you feel watched, and then you receive a letter.
  • A few months ago, you began to sleepwalk, but it’s not only you, but it also seems the entire town is as well.
  • As you’re restoring a painting you notice something strange, an engraving and the details seem to be changing.
  • A crime has occurred, more specifically a murder. The victim was found poisoned at the scene and as if they were sleeping, next to a bitten apple… and they were dressed as snow white. Will more follow?
  • A picture is worth a thousand words, or at least that’s what they say. This one was certainly worth more than that.
  • A box of pictures fell onto you as you bumped a shelf, it showed a person in each and seemed to go back quite a long time… but in each, the same cat sat.
  • People believed to be dead or lost for years have started to show up as if they never left with no recollection of where they went either.

Pro Tip: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook—don’t let distractions keep you from writing your first novel! Use different online writing tools to get the most out of your writing sessions.

Dystopian Plot Ideas

Suffering and injustice, the bread and butter of dystopian society, plenty of that in these dystopian plot ideas!

dystopian plot ideas

  • People are now able to quite literally bet their lives when gambling now.
  • In a desperate hope to cut down on crime and population, those convicted are now entered into a lottery of sorts, the prize? Death. Those with more convictions or worse crimes have a higher likelihood of being chosen.
  • No one remembers why the walls were built, no one wishes to leave either though.
  • Black Friday has turned into a “game” for the rich. They throw trinkets and cash to the crowds of those poorer to watch the bloodbath that ensues.
  • Due to the high-cost and overcrowding of prisons, the government has sent prisoners to man-made islands of which there is no escape. Each island is for a certain level of prisoner, they are left to create their own society or kill each other, whichever works, I guess.
  • It is now rare for twins to be born, and when they are born it most often is due to one that is meant to stop the other.
  • A very rare few are born without emotions; it is possible though for others to donate emotions for a time.
  • Physical traits are achieved through personality. Over time good deeds will create beauty.
  • Reincarnation is a real thing, and there are bounty hunters to track down these people. They may have been lovers, criminals, etc.
  • The ability to see color is a privilege of the aristocratic.
  • Only the smart, strong, and stunningly gorgeous survive. Everyone else is put to death to control the population.
  • Sometimes news stations find themselves lacking, that’s why you were born. You’re what they call a Joker, your entire purpose is to do all that will make for a great story.
  • It is now possible to entirely swap bodies with someone else. Of course, this always results in the death of who you’re swapping with.
  • It is illegal to look outside from the time 11:07 pm to 6:07 am. Each person is required to enter a windowless room for those times in which the government has the ability to lock and unlock the door.
  • The earth turns out to be a sanctuary for an endangered species, humans. Today is the first day they are to be introduced back into the wild.

Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner—what do all of these books have in common? They are dystopian novels turned blockbuster movies! Read more about the best—and worst— movie adaptations of all time .

Horror Story Plot Ideas

Clowns with red balloons and masked killers, don’t go into the haunted house! Here are some horror story plot ideas!

Horror plot ideas

  • As an assassin with a sixth sense, you seek vengeance for the restless souls.
  • You’re a sleepwalking murderer, but when you wake up, you’re a well-known and renowned detective. You’re hunting yourself and others.
  • In the future virtual reality is more prevalent and even realistic than it’s ever been, an entirely new world and life. It’s often used on high profile criminals to make them live what they did from the victim’s view or their worst nightmare.
  • You’re finally meeting your “soulmate’s” parents, thrilled and full of glee. But as they close the door behind you, they lean in to whisper, “I’m sorry” / “Forgive me”.
  • You’ve been noticing strange things when you awake, new marks or stains, objects moved, new, or even missing. So, you set up a camera. After a few weeks of going over the footage, there’s something strange and unnerving.

~Idea to further this: You wake up, get out of bed, and look into the camera… and then you die. (You kill yourself, duplicate comes in, etc.), Then someone who looks like they could be an exact clone comes in and drags out the body, cleans up, and slips back into bed.

  • She never seems to be able to get it right. She can’t seem to find “the one”, or someone even close to that. Little does she know it’s been the same… creature, a shapeshifter who at all costs will have her.
  • Each night you heard a tapping on the glass or shrill noise. One night it was too loud to ignore and persisted… soon you realized it was coming from the…
  • It’s 3:33 am, a blaring siren comes from your phone with an official notification: Do not look at the moon, do not even glance at it. As well there’s an unbelievable amount of texts and posts on social media saying in some way that it’s a must-see, stunningly beautiful, once in a lifetime view.
  • “The human mind is truly the most horrifying and gruesome thing of all.”
  • The crow counting rhyme: One for sorrow / Two for mirth / Three for a wedding / and Four for a birth / Five for silver / Six for gold / and Seven for a secret not to be told. There are also many variations of this rhyme that you could use instead, sets up for an interesting and creepy story though.
  • The last thing I saw was the glow of my alarm clock, 3:00 am, and then (something scary, death, creature, etc.) ex: its long and sharp rotting nails slowly tore through my neck, its other “hand” muffling my screams. I then woke up in a cold sweat and glanced at the clock, 2:59 am… and that’s when I heard a creaking and smelled of rot.
  • It is now possible to know some details of your past lives, how many, how long you lived, etc. As well it’s been linked that some of your phobias are how you died…
  • You’re on edge, a few weeks ago you there would be some weird occurrence. Then it was a note with messy and illegible writing. Now you can hear shrill noises, screams, shouting, indistinct. Now at seemingly the source of a scratching noise etched is a clear warning.
  • An anonymous admirer letter was slipped under your door at your college. It would seem cute and sweet if it hadn’t been from your closet.
  • I found a dead body in my trunk today… I could’ve sworn that I had more than that in there just yesterday.
  • Every night you visit me, sometimes in a dream, sometimes in my nightmares.
  • I kissed my wife and darling daughter goodnight… and then I awoke in a white padded room with a straight jacket on. They told me it was all just a dream.

Plot Twist Ideas

There are some real turnarounds in this list of plot twist ideas!

plot twist plot ideas

  • The princess saves the prince.
  • Write a story where one of your characters either from the start or at some point in the book are dead or presumed dead. Then have it be that they never were to shake up the story.
  • A character that keeps telling outlandish things, but it turns out they’re right.
  • A main character or “essential” character killed out of nowhere.
  • Have a very guilty and easy to hate a character in your story, have it be a double-cross or frame job.
  • A character who is mistaken for someone else but goes along with it.
  • A character is revealed to not be what they or the audience had thought.
  • An important character throughout the plot is revealed to never have truly existed.
  • Some devastating occurrence is caused by those whose entire goal was to fix it or keep it from occurring.
  • A character believed to be unimportant to quite bland turns out to be essential and far from.
  • Something the character has been searching for or desperately needed was right in front of their eyes the entire time.
  • Have it turn out to be that the entire time some blackmail has been the cause for nearly all of a character’s actions.
  • A character who is absolutely in love/ obsessed/ or infatuated with another learns it’s for the wrong reasons/ that they’re not at all what they seemed/ etc.
  • It turns out the character or group of characters have been led to helping the enemy.

Other Creative Plot Ideas

Here are the last fifteen plot ideas, hopefully you’ll find some other creative plot ideas as well here!

  • Make a hero or protagonist that most will hate, vice versa for an antagonist or villain.
  • Truth or Dare, your character has a secret, or a truth. What are they willing to say or do to keep said truth secret.
  • “I love you.”, “Lying isn’t a good look for you.”
  • A bunch of short stories that end on major cliffhangers, but a final one. Once you’re done writing those maybe have them somehow all connect or give the ending to each.
  • Everyone ages up until a certain age (ex: 18, 21, etc.) and will remain that age until they meet their soulmate. (Could be used as someone avoiding finding theirs to reign forever, or accidentally aging, or finding you aren’t aging even when with someone.)
  • A high school group can’t agree on the meaning and interpretation of Romeo and Juliet , so of course they split into two groups. But then, one person from one group falls in love with the other. Even though it seems nearly every Shakespeare is going on in the group at the same time.
  • The retelling of Snow White, if she truly had lips red as a rose, hair black as ebony, and skin white as snow.
  • A world where everyone is born with a unique tattoo that gives a hint to fate, personality, each person they love their tattoos will begin to form somewhere on them. These tattoos cannot be removed and will not go away, though they can be hidden and covered. They will receive a tattoo or mark for each love they have, it does not matter if they no longer do or what happens.
  • A customer-service worker (retail, support, etc.) who quits their day job to deal with demons, ghosts, and whatnot.
  • A story on vampires, but not all are the usual sophisticated, well mannered, well spoken, and so on. Instead, they do their best to not seem outdated, may mercilessly mix multiple slang from way to many different eras, or talking in laughable applications of slang and references, etc.
  • Vampires, but for once there are those who’ve been turned other than around nineteen or twenty. With some being turned as a child or while elderly.
  • A world where all the mythical creatures or monsters, etc., exist and try to coexist. Each with their own job, talent, and so on. Trying to live “normally”.
  • Cinderella went to the ball to murder the prince. Retellings of well-known fairy tales.
  • A “superhero” and “villain” who are roommates and nemesis. (Could be they don’t know about the other so both are lying, they both know but don’t want to give away themselves, so on)
  • A twist on the changeling stories. A mother caught a fair attempting to switch the child with a changeling soon after the arrival of her child. So she is unable to tell them apart, raises both. Both twins are exactly identical in voice and appearance.

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creative writing story plot ideas

100 Story Ideas

Since I have more story ideas than I can possibly explore in a lifetime, please allow me to offer some to you in this post.

Pick the idea that excites you the most, and you’ll find that its momentum will conjure up a whole new story world, replete with fascinating new characters!

Story Ideas - 100+ Story Prompts & Writing Ideas

Story Ideas

Here are 100 story ideas you can steal right now. And if that’s not enough, generate your own with the Idea Engine , or peruse these lists of scene ideas , flash fiction prompts , and writing prompts .

Write a story about…

  • A character with an addiction who discovers that they’re someone else’s addiction.
  • A historical character who travels to the present day and causes chaos when they steal back something that originally belonged to them.
  • An alien species that lands on earth but is only detectable through literature.
  • A world where every other person is born with wings and the history of how this came about.
  • A magical object that teleports into the hand of anyone who thinks about it, and the difficulties this causes for its owner.
  • A character who’s seeking justice for a murder they committed but can’t prove.
  • A faustian musician who’s trying to resurrect a dead musician so they can jam together.
  • A character who’s trying to win back their partner who ran away with their best friend.
  • A spirit animal’s quest to choose their human.
  • A mythical drug that’s at the root of someone’s family tree.
  • A fountain pen collector who’s found murdered, and the murder weapon is a fountain pen that was rumoured to have belonged to a famous historical figure.
  • A teenage boy who dreams of marrying a(n alien) princess.
  • A wedding planner who bears a secret grudge against happily married (or engaged) couples.
  • The history of a family who are committed to resurrecting an ancient art.
  • A character whose obsession with entomology threatens to unleash a plague of biblical proportions.
  • A group of archeologists who discover the ruins of Atlantis on a newly-formed volcanic island.
  • A knight who spends five years trying to break a spell cast on him by a witch, only to slowly fall in love with her.
  • A character whose family and friends believe that they are a mythological figure resurrected, even though they don’t believe it themselves.
  • A sailor who is shipwrecked on an artificial island-kingdom owned by an eccentric billionaire who has been presumed dead for ten years.
  • A character making friends while waiting for a hurricane to hit the hotel where they’re staying.
  • A graveyard that’s besieged by the souls of those who were buried outside its walls.
  • A bookshop that’s the last refuge of a group of fans of an unusual (and very specific) genre.
  • An occultist who develops a sudden interest in science.
  • A vintner who mans an interplanetary expedition to solve the mystery of a grape blight.
  • A dragon who’s in love with a rain deity and wants to find them the perfect gift.
  • A guest who begins to suspect that they’re not the only guest.
  • The founders of a town where the average IQ of the residents is abnormally high.
  • A warrior who discovers that their clan has been at war for centuries because of a typographical error that may have ben deliberate.
  • A magical world where all of the magic turns out to be an elaborate illusion.
  • A teacher who takes attendance and finds that there’s an extra student in their class.
  • An innkeeper who hires a magus, a troll, and an elf to guard their secret recipe, but finds they’ve put their trust in the wrong people.
  • A blind date that’s interrupted by a guardian angel.
  • A psychic tour guide who organises tours that help people turn their lives around.
  • A painter who travels to another planet in search of a rare pigment.
  • A character who discovers a strange calendar which appears to prophesy important events in their life.
  • A teenager who has to choose between two very different schools.
  • A builder who specialises in magical doors, extensions, and passages.
  • A character who gets trapped in their memory palace and has to find a way out in order to save someone else.
  • A character who accidentally discovers the world’s best pencil and spends the rest of their life trying to keep it secret at all cost.
  • A goddess who wakes up and finds that her religion has been abandoned, and sets out to seek the cause, and convert people back.
  • A miner who hits a vein of a strange new rock and becomes a target for a government agency that wants to keep the discovery a secret.
  • A florist who sends flowers to a wrong address and initiates a chain of events that leads to two people meeting and falling in love.
  • A country where citizens vote AI into leadership, rather than people.
  • A character who is obsessed with perfecting their life story by travelling back in time to correct mistakes or flaws.
  • A character who has to fall in love with someone from an enemy clan in order to lift a curse.
  • A book critic who is writing their first book but becomes paralysed by the fear of receiving vengeful reviews.
  • A character whose job is to create treasure hunts, but who finds themselves on someone else’s treasure hunt, and ends up discovering an old coffin.
  • A knitter who unravels a ball of yarn only to find it stained with blood, and helps the police investigate a possible murder.
  • A character who is afraid to leave their house, but needs to travel to see a loved one who is critically ill in hospital.
  • A character who steals what they think are the questions to an exam, and finds that they’re actually an application form for a secret, mythical order of scholars.
  • A protest that’s staged as cover for a huge heist.
  • A character who regains their sanity through chess.
  • The history of the most valuable dress in the world.
  • A character who discovers a secret message on a bottle of shampoo while showering, and is driven by curiosity to investigate it.
  • A peace treaty that’s signed on board a dirigible over no-man’s-land, and the people who fought for it.
  • A wealthy character who goes on a daytrip with a poor, homeless person, and switches places with them without realising.
  • Two people who fall in love but come from planets where time runs very differently.
  • A character who is the “chosen one” and discovers that they were the one who created the prophecy.
  • A society that’s organised according to an ancient symbol that they’ve misinterpreted.
  • A character who learns that the omens in their life are created by beings trying to guide them from another dimension.
  • A character who finds a baby abandoned in a bus shelter and embarks on a roadtrip with a wet nurse to try to find its parents.
  • A time-travelling antique dealer who steals their favourite author’s writing desk.
  • A detective who has to overcome their fear of flying in order to investigate the murder of a flight attendant.
  • A character who is biologically attracted to danger.
  • A character who is preparing to go through a rite of passage that involves death but not resurrection.
  • A character whose lover breaks up with them and then secretly follows them for a decade.
  • A gamer who has to rescue a real princess.
  • Two characters who leave to seek their fortunes in order to get married.
  • A rock band that tours the world and investigates crimes.
  • A psychologist who’s trying to hide their agoraphobia.
  • The crew of a spaceship that have been trying to find their way back to their home planet for centuries.
  • A vampire who gives blood rather than drinking it.
  • A private letter that falls into the hands of an influential leader and changes their outlook on life.
  • A character who learns that their parents were guilty of a terrible crime, and sets out to collect evidence against them.
  • A character who has been living as a recluse for many years, and learns that the people of a nearby settlement regard them as a guru, and have written books and made films about them.
  • What Romeo and Juliet get up to in the afterlife.
  • A character who stumbles upon a strange machine that their science teacher has been building in the school basement, and decides to help.
  • A character who reads their first book at the age of 81.
  • A character who awakens an ancient mythical beast while scouting for a movie location at a remote monastery.
  • Another planet’s space race.
  • A tattoo artist who helps a detective solve murders that involve tattooed victims.
  • Two lovers who are separated by a bridge that can’t be maintained much longer.
  • A fortune teller who becomes a suspect in a murder when it’s discovered that they foretold the victim’s death.
  • A retired hitman who resolves to atone for his work by saving people who are being targeted by their former employer.
  • A world where the gods of several pantheons join forces to eradicate their worshippers.
  • A character who is addicted to seeking out experiences of extreme solitude, and their eventual “healing”.
  • A memoirist whose distinction between their life story and the life they’re living begins to dissolve until their friends stage an intervention for them.
  • A diplomat to the fairy realm whose task is to negotiate a trade agreement.
  • A decorator who becomes increasingly convinced that the owner of the house they’re working on is trying to cover up a murder, even as they fall in love with them.
  • A character who works on a telephone helpline develops a relationship with one of the callers, and arranges to meet them only to be stood up.
  • A doctor investigating a rare disease that they specialise in who discovers that it’s artificially engineered, just as they begin to show symptoms themselves.
  • A character whose job is to clean up people’s imaginations.
  • A world where the people develop space travel in order to communicate with their deities who live on another planet, but find that the gods have vanished mysteriously.
  • A character living in a nursing home who wakes up one day to find themselves inundated with fan mail.
  • A character whose commute lasts a lightyear.
  • A character whose fear of missing out drives them to establish a surveillance network.
  • A character who has a fascination with all kinds of forgery, and how this interest will eventually lead to their death.
  • A film star who is actually two film stars.
  • A society that encourages and rewards mistakes and failure over success.
  • A writer who’s trying to give up their writing addiction.

How to Develop Your Story Ideas

This  free writing workshop  walks you through a STEP by STEP method to develop your story idea. Grab a sheet of paper and press play !

How to Plot a Novel on One Page for NaNoWriMo & Beyond

Where to Find More Story Ideas

  • Generate even more ideas by transposing the story ideas above into different genres , by replacing words or clauses, or by combining 2 or more ideas together.
  • My friend, Emma Welsh, has an ENORMOUS list of 365 story ideas here . My favourites: #8, #17, #111, #213, #273 & #360!
  • Watch this fun video to see how easy it is to invent 100 story ideas in an hour.
  • Self Publishing School has some great story prompts divided by genre.
  • I have another list of 52 romance story ideas  with built-in conflict!
  • Bestselling author, Jerry Jenkins, has an excellent post on finding story ideas and developing them into a full story (+ the Greyhound Bus Challenge)!
  • Too many story ideas? Try the Idea Ranker .

Roses, book & quill

I write about literature, language, love, and living off your pen. Also, fortifying fiction, personal amelioration, and tea.

creative writing story plot ideas

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101 Romance Story Prompts

creative writing story plot ideas

Do you want to write in the popular romance genre, but need a push in the right direction? Maybe all you need are some clever romance story prompts. If that's the case, we gotchu!

We have compiled a massive list of romance story prompts to help get your creative juices flowing so you can start conceptualizing your romance story.

1. A woman's date goes horribly wrong and meet-cutes the waiter. 2. One character thinks their relationship is a fling — the other thinks it's destiny. 3. Mutual friends set up a blind date. 4. A guy is auctioned off for a date at a company fundraiser. 5. Two characters at a vintage record store listen to the same record in the same listening booth. 6. A guy looking for an engagement ring for the wrong girl falls for the ring saleswoman. 7. A character goes on an online date with someone that lied about their looks. 8. A woman falls in love with the twin of the man she just dumped. 9. A man arranges for a random woman to call him during a date as an Escape Call — they fall in love. 10. Opposites attract when two characters pretend to be dating and fall in love. 11. Two characters are stuck on a Ferris wheel together and fall for each other. 12. A man delivers flowers to a beautiful woman that's being wooed by the wrong guy. 13. A fling goes south when one of them offers the other character a drawer in their apartment. 14. Characters meet their in-laws and discover that each has dated the other's sibling. 15. A woman discovers an old mix tape made by her high school boyfriend — she tries to reconnect. 16. Despite going on what are considered traditional dates, two people don't believe they're actually dating. 17. A couple breaks up and each is on the rebound. 18. A man uses his brother's baby to attract women. 19. Someone asks another out as a dare and ends up falling in love with them. 20. A man bets his female childhood friend that he can make her fall in love with him in two weeks. 21. A man asks his twin brother to fill in for him in the relationship after he grows tired of it. 22. Two people have a secret relationship. 23. Two people are stood up on their dates and end up falling for each other. 24. A teacher falls for her student's single parent. 25. A woman is always a bride, never a bridesmaid. 26. The third wheel of a couple struggles to find love. 27. The third wheel of a couple ends up falling in love with one of them. 28. Characters fall in love when the Tunnel of Love at the fair breaks down. 29. Two people that know each other only from an online fantasy football league meet for the first time. 30. A woman doesn't know her type and ends up seeking out every type of person to find her preference.

101 Romance Story Prompts_If Beale Street Could Talk

'If Beale Street Could Talk'

31. A woman seeks out the model that was used for a popular romance novel series. 32. One secret agent falls in love with another. 33. A popular character falls for an unpopular character. 34. An unpopular character learns that the popular character they had a crush on is not who they want to be with. 35. A character falls in love with an angel living on Earth for a limited time. 36. An angel falls in love with the human they are assigned to watch over. 37. A celebrity falls in love with a regular person. 38. Cupid is actually an angry relationship therapist. 39. A popular girl is highly attracted to nerdy types. 40. A popular guy is highly attracted to nerdy types. 41. The drama teacher's budget is reallocated to the football coach's program. 42. A chemist-by-trade finds a way to manipulate pheromones to make people attracted to them. 43. Two people drink a love potion that makes them fall madly in love. 44. An older woman is attracted to a much younger man. 45. A younger woman is attracted to a much older man. 46. A character falls in love with a fictional character, only to see them come alive. 47. A female coach's team budget is taken over by a male coach's budget. 48. A man who travels a lot falls in love with a flight attendant he always sees. 49. A woman who travels a lot falls in love with a small-town man that has never left his small town. 50. A woman falls in love with her AI phone. 51. A nanny travels abroad with the family she watches over, only to fall in love with a local. 52. One character must overcome a physical or emotional scar to find love. 53. There's a misunderstanding between a couple that is destined to be together. 54. A woman is attracted to both a man and a woman and must decide which one to choose. 55. A woman who was shamed by a bully in high school falls in love with him at the reunion. 56. A character comes home for the holidays. 57. A career-driven woman inherits a small-town property. 58. A businessman whose car breaks down while traveling cross country falls for a rancher. 59. A businesswoman whose car breaks down while traveling cross country falls for a rancher. 60. A character falls in love with the first human-looking android.

101 Romance Story Prompts_La La Land

'La La Land'

61. A couple that thought they were divorced is not. 62. Enemies in business fall in love. 63. A fake engagement leads to love. 64. A big city character falls for a small own character. 65. A small-town character falls a big-city character. 66. Characters are trapped in a confined location and fall in love. 67. Friends of a couple enjoy disliking each other but soon fall in love. 68. A character unknowingly falls in love with a ghost. 69. A grieving character falls in love with their deceased significant other's sibling. 70. A rich girl doesn't want her rich lifestyle anymore. 71. A rich guy doesn't want his rich lifestyle anymore. 72. Identical twins agree to change lives to see if sparks fly with the significant others they've grown tired of. 73. A character falls in love with their abductor. 74. A character is learning a new skill under the teaching of another — they fall in love. 75. There's a love triangle and only true love will prevail. 76. One character gets a makeover and finds love. 77. Characters have a marriage of convenience and agree to seek love elsewhere. 78. Medical industry co-workers fall in love. 79. A character falls in love with the police officer that saved them. 80. One character is actually a mystical creature living a normal human life for a short time. 81. The new girl in town finds love. 82. The new guy in town finds love. 83. The mysterious stranger in town attracts locals. 84. Police officers assigned as partners fall in love. 85. A character wins the lottery and falls in love. 86. A character thought dead returns home to the surprise of those that have moved on. 87. A rock star falls in love with a local during a music festival. 88. A runaway bride finds love elsewhere. 89. A runaway bride discovers that the groom she ran from is actually the right one for her. 90. High school sweethearts reunite.

101 Romance Story Prompts_Happiest Season

'Happiest Season'

91. High school best friends reunite, only to discover they should be a couple. 92. A rich character hides their true wealth to find true love. 93. A werewolf falls for a vampire. 94. Single parents find love together. 95. Soul mates finally find each other against all odds. 96. A character falls in love with someone that is terminally ill. 97. A character falls in love with someone that is traveling in time. 98. Two characters that had a fling discover that they're having a baby together. 99. Characters fall in love at a wedding. 100. Characters are accidentally married. 101. Two characters vowed years prior to marrying each other if they had not yet found love.

If you loved our list of romance story prompts, take a look at our other genre story prompts !

Should you write in the romance genre.

The romance genre — specifically the romantic comedies that are so popular right now on platforms like Lifetime and Hallmark — is booming. Those two cable networks produce dozens upon dozens of titles each year for their networks and streaming platforms. Why? Because audiences love them. They love the familiar. They love the formulaic. Both of which offer an easy and laid-back viewing experience at home. The networks that are producing and distributing them have created platforms more accessible to undiscovered screenwriters.

Only the top 1% of working screenwriters make a living writing for major studios and production companies.

Read More: How to Create Engaging Romance in Movies

Most working screenwriters could be referred to as blue-collar screenwriters — those that are signing non-Guild low-five-figure contracts for channels like Lifetime and Hallmark. Yes, there's a script market for Direct-to-Streaming action, science fiction, and horror thrillers that former A-list stars (and plenty of B, C, and D-list stars as well) make a living from, but nobody makes more movies per year than Lifetime, Hallmark, and other smaller networks and streaming platforms.

These are places where a screenwriter can build a resume of onscreen credits and compile a few noteworthy low-five-figure contracts that add up to a sustainable career as a paid screenwriter .

Even Netflix has seen the potential of these romance flicks. You can now see a steady flow of Lifetime-like and Hallmark-like titles produced and distributed on the Netflix streaming platform.

Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.

He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, and Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout , starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner, the feature thriller Hunter’s Creed , and many Lifetime thrillers.

Follow Ken on Twitter  @KenMovies

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creative writing story plot ideas


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