Story Writing Prompts (1200+ Ideas!)

Writing is easy when you have inspiration. 

Yet without it, the process can feel like a struggle and flow is illusive. 

We don’t believe in writer’s block at Sterling & Stone. That doesn’t mean that our authors never hit a wall or run out of ideas or steam. But we’re always able to diagnose the issue as one of two problems. Writer’s block only happens when a storyteller is either working on the wrong thing, or not excited about the thing they’re working on. 

Sometimes the best way to find your flow is to build from your baseline momentum. And often the best way to do that is to just start writing. 

Story prompts are a shortcut to making that happen.

Prompts don’t have to be complicated, nor do they need to be great ideas or something incredibly brilliant that no one in the world has ever heard before. A solid prompt has exactly one purpose: to get you writing. 

The simpler a prompt is, the more likely it is to get you started off right. Complications need to be untangled or ironed out. Yet there’s an excellent chance that a lack of clarity is what kept you from writing in the first place. You need a simple situation, scenario, or idea to get you going. 

A well-crafted prompt doesn’t need to be long, but it should act as a trigger for your story. And there should always be a purpose. Know what you want the prompt to do before you respond to one, because this will help you get the most out of the activity. Ditch your comfort zone, try something new, and use the prompt to help make you a better writer rather than simply occupying your time. 

You never know where a story prompt is going to. A single thought can sprawl into infinite possibilities. You imagination has no limits, but sometimes inspiration can feel like a wall. Prompts help you to get over, under, or around it. 

The best place to start is by choosing a type of prompt, again after knowing what you’re wanting to accomplish with this latest round of writing, then a specific prompt from within your genre selection. My job with this page is to eliminate every possible excuse by providing you with enough genres and choices within each genre that you’ll bookmark this article and eliminate writer’s block for the rest of your life. 

I can’t repeat this enough, so here it is yet again: when it comes to story prompts, simplicity is key. A sentence or two is plenty, and any longer than that and the idea will edge closer to a synopsis than a prompt. I want for you to have a lot of choices within each genre, with the genres themselves being easy to understand and in no way overwhelming. So we’re going to start with the following seven types of story prompts: 

I’ll give you a brief explanation detailing the purpose of each genre, then follow that up with a selection of prompts for you within that genre. 

What-If Story Prompts

The What-if? prompt is universal enough to transcend drama. Some of your favorite stories surely start with this stupid-simple premise. Of course, once the What if is asked the genre can be slotted into place. But until then, it’s a wide open query designed to get your wheels turning. 

  • Harry Potter: What if a young boy found out he was a wizard? 
  • Kill Bill: What if a pregnant bride is murdered on her wedding day … but wakes up thirsty for revenge instead? 
  • Good Will Hunting: What if the janitor is the smartest kid at MIT? 
  • Memento: What if a man hunting his wife’s killer couldn’t make any short term memories? 
  • War of the Worlds: What if aliens attacked … after they were already here? 

We’re starting with the what-if story prompts because this is the foundation of story. Everything can be reduced to this question, so asking it opens the doors of infinite possibility in your story, nurturing ideas that might not have ever otherwise occurred to you. 

Use any of the following prompts to get you started on your next what-if piece of writing, knowing that the questions apply to any genre. You’ve probably seen or heard many of these ideas before. Some of the world’s best stories started with a seed no bigger than the ones below. A prompt doesn’t have to be original to create a story the world has never seen. 

  1. What if shapeshifters were second-class citizens?
  2. What if a comatose patient wasn’t really as out of it as they appeared? 
  3. What if your main character could stop time just by thinking about it? 
  4. What if Mars was the capital of our solar system? 
  5. What if human flight was something that could be learned? 
  6. What if all of Earth was forced to colonize the moon? 
  7. What if time travel was possible, but only for the super rich? 
  8. What if the Greek Gods were more than myths, and now are coming back? 
  9. What if World War III was started by accident? 
  10. What if humans are really organic robots created long ago? 
  11. What if you could get a degree in lucid dreaming, and your hero is a scholar? 
  12. What if aliens invaded the earth … again? 
  13. What if the time space continuum was torn and we all woke up in the 60s? 
  14. What if the world’s leading technology company was being fed by aliens? 
  15. What if a zombie outbreak forced humanity to evolve? 
  16. What if all our humanity’s bank records (and debt) disappeared overnight? 
  17. What if Antarctica melted? 
  18. What if your future self invited you to coffee? 
  19. What if your main character wakes up believing they are the Messiah? 
  20. What if your hero woke up as a 12-year old, but knowing all they do now?  
  21. What if an asteroid was on its way to Earth? 
  22. What if our world is someone else’s simulation. 
  23. What if there was an archive of our past lives and it could be accessed? 
  24. What if there were portals to other dimensions and your hero buys a ticket? 
  25. What if your hero can read any mind of the opposite gender? 
  26. What if the first truly humanoid robot demands the right to vote? 
  27. What if dinosaurs started to make an inexplicable return? 
  28. What if ghosts were real and hunting them was a legitimate profession? 
  29. What if immortality could be bought? 
  30. What if most of Earth was swallowed by the sea? 
  31. What if magic was real? 
  32. What if Steve Jobs had never died? 
  33. What if Earth was really an intergalactic zoo? 
  34. What if Abraham Lincoln was cloned to give America the “perfect president”?
  35. What if we could understand what dogs were thinking? 
  36. What if Area 51 was a public attraction? 
  37. What if a born good guy suddenly realizes that he’s one of the bad guys? 
  38. What if human cloning was possible, fast, and the best way to cope with a loss? 
  39. What if vampirism was an operation you could have to live forever … at a cost? 
  40. What if a civilization was discovered beneath the ocean floor? 
  41. What if The Beatles had never existed? 
  42. What if war was outsourced to video game players around the world? 
  43. What if the missing link was finally discovered? 
  44. What if your hero woke up as one of their parents? 
  45. What if one twin found another that they didn’t even know they had? 
  46. What if your hero woke up in their favorite TV show? 
  47. What if all of humanity started sharing the same exact dream? 
  48. What if women could no longer get pregnant? 
  49. What if someone discovers that their parents are lying about who they are? 
  50. What if your hero woke up naked in a forest alone without any memories? 
  51. What if space travel was cheap? 
  52. What if your main character woke up in their favorite TV show? 
  53. What if the Titanic was intentionally sunk to bury a truth? 
  54. What if cancer was a way to control us? 
  55. What if a writer realized they were creating the world around them? 
  56. What if guns had never been invented? 
  57. What if light sabers were real? 
  58. What if your hero discovers that they’ve been emailing their future self? 
  59. What if your hero woke up in a space station looking down on the Earth? 
  60. What if an earthquake destroyed California? 
  61. What if a serial killer fell in love? 
  62. What if a cop was dirty without meaning to be? 
  63. What if angels were real and here for revenge? 
  64. What if all the world’s adults died overnight? 
  65. What if everyone on the planet woke up without any memories? 
  66. What if monsters are real? 
  67. What if we finally got jetpacks and flying cars? 
  68. What if photography had never been invented. 
  69. What if siblings were illegal? 
  70. What if your hero found out that their new love is an old enemy? 
  71. What if a newly elected President isn’t who she says she is? 
  72. What if time kept looping on itself without any way out of the loop? 
  73. What if your hero is shipwrecked on a planet instead of an island? 
  74. What if your protagonist is the first cyborg with a robot body and a human brain? 
  75. What if unregistered sex was against the law? 
  76. What if your dog started talking to you and telling secrets about the neighborhood?
  77. What if every time you talked about a famous person, they died? 
  78. What if God started talking to you from the bobble head on your desk?
  79. What if you ran for President as a joke but actually got elected?
  80. What if you had to choose between saving an entire city or only your family? 
  81. What if you woke up to find everyone in your town/state/country/world was gone?
  82. What if you woke and nobody knew who you were?
  83. What if you found a human skeleton while digging in your garden?
  84. What if you were in a boat with an inbound storm and you lost radio and engines?
  85. What if your main character were a storm whisperer, could divert hurricanes?
  86. What if your hero is a serial killer, employed by the government? 
  87. What if roses and daisies were sentient beings and your character figures it out?
  88. What if your hero can move between seconds, freezing time at will? 
  89. What if your hero can heal the terminally ill, but loses a memory every time?
  90. What if the monster under your little girl’s bed is real and she controls it?
  91. What if you could read the mind of the last person who touched any object?
  92. What if the cables break in your hero’s gondola and she must decide who survives?
  93. What if you’re part of the force subjugating humans after an alien invasion?
  94. What if a twin you didn’t know about showed up at your door to murder you?
  95. What if you are the cause of a viral outbreak that could wipe out humanity?
  96. What if your hero is the last person on the planet? 
  97. What if you found a journal that was obviously written by you, but you don’t remember writing it?
  98. What if a poem you wrote as a joke becomes the most critically acclaimed and beloved piece of writing in the world?
  99. What if you’re a writer and discover that you can kill people by naming characters after them and writing their death into your plot. 
  100. What if you went to the premier of the most anticipated movie of the year and found the plot to perfectly mirror your life (hero or villain)?

Fantasy Story Prompts

Fantasy stories have something in them that removes it from our everyday world (or, to set it apart from science fiction, an imagination or extrapolation of technology available in our everyday world). Either the entire story world is made up and not a reflection of our familiar geography, politics, physics, flora and fauna, etc., or, if it is, there is some element of the spiritual and/or magical that plays a role in the story and/or characters.

People usually read fantasy to escape their everyday mundanity. Because of the magical/spiritual nature of the genre, its tendency toward huge, sweeping plots and larger-than-life characters, these are stories that readers can get lost in. They can imagine themselves in the world, go on adventures with the characters that would be impossible to have on Main Street, USA, face the darkness in the world and in themselves somewhere safe. 

The purpose of fantasy is to entertain and escape, and while there are certainly fantasies with morals and messages, what readers primarily want is adventure, excitement, and a bit of magic. Use these prompts to stir your own fantastic imagination. 

  1. The world has been split into a day and a night side. What caused the split? And can it ever be fixed? If so, how? 
  2. There’s an old tale that speaks of a cursed queen on a high mountain, and that whoever rescues her will become the next king. How does a peasant girl make the journey and free the queen?
  3. You’re a prince whose land is being ravaged by a dragon. How can you defeat the dragon when all your best knights have failed?
  4. You’re a dragon who’s been trying to feed its family. How do you convince the knights coming to kill you that you mean them no harm?
  5. A terrible cursed object has recently come into your possession. What must you do to break the curse and free yourself from the object’s thrall?
  6. You’ve discovered a magical item in the back of your school locker. What is it? What does it do?
  7. You wake up one morning to discover the world around you is full of shadows not cast by the lights you can see. What are they? Why are you suddenly able to see them?
  8. There’s someone following you everywhere, but when you turn around, you can never see anyone. Who is it? Why are they following you?
  9. The neighborhood stray cat can talk. What does it say?
  10. There’s a mysterious world behind on our own. How do you get there?
  11. You woke up one morning with a strange sixth sense. Write about your day.
  12. You’re the only one who can communicate with the strange object that fell from the sky. What is it telling you?
  13. People around you are spontaneously dying. Why? What do you do about it?
  14. Each time you use your superpower, you have to give up something else in your life. Write about the sacrifices you must make to save the world — and the one thing you will never give up.
  15. You are approached by an angel. What is their message? Can you trust them?
  16. You’re a fair who has fallen in love with a human. What happens next? 
  17. Your best friend was killed in what was supposedly an accident. This evening, her ghost came to you and told you it was murder — and she wants your help exacting her revenge. What do you do?
  18. You’re a human brought before the ancient vampire council on charges of treason. What did you do to get you here?
  19. A customer has come to buy one of your love spells. You sell it to them and realize only afterward that the customer intends to use it on you. Why? How do you escape the fate they have planned for you?
  20. Sleeping Beauty was woken up in the 21st century. How does she adjust?
  21. Beauty can’t break the Beast’s curse because she loves another. What happens when the Beast finds out?
  22. A real mermaid is being displayed at a carnival. Where did she come from? How can she escape?
  23. The Evil Queen’s poisoned apple killed Snow White, and she was reanimated into a zombie. Can the dwarves and prince kill her (again) before she kills them?
  24. You’re Cinderella’s best friend and have been in love with her for most of your life. But you’re also the prince’s servant and so must watch them fall in love at the balls. What happens next?
  25. The Nazis discovered dragons in 1938. How does World War II play out from there?
  26. The Confederate Army had magicians. What happens in the Battle of Gettysburg?
  27. The last djinn had been passed down for centuries. In the height of the Islamic Golden Age, the Catholic church found out about it. What happens next?
  28. Stepping on the moon granted humanity a strange magical power. What is it? How has the Earth managed to cope (or not) with it since?
  29. John F. Kennedy wasn’t killed by a bullet, but by a curse. You’re the detective sent to find out why and how.
  30. You are the sole survivor of a barbarian slaughter. How do you get your revenge?
  31. You are a marauder who’s tired of rape and pillage — all you really want to do is write poetry. How do you escape your band of violent robbers?
  32. You’re a peasant who’s just come into possession of a sword that only answers to The One. How is your life transformed by learning you are, in fact, The One?
  33. Your master has just been killed in battle, and now you, a mere apprentice, are the court magician. How do you convince the king that you’re fully-trained and capable of the position?
  34. You’re a prisoner of war forced into the service of the enemy. How do you prove your loyalty well enough to keep your head? And how do you deal with the consequences of your treason once you escape?
  35. You have the lamest superpower you can possibly imagine. What sort of villain is coming after you?
  36. A village of peaceful elves is ravaged by evil wizards. A lone child survives. Tell their story. 
  37. Magic is normal and used by everyone, except the hero of your story. 
  38. A dragon plagues a local village. Only this brother and sister team can do something about it. 
  39. Your hero finds a strange box with a simple sword and shield on the outside latch. What is inside it? 
  40. Your character is a shapeshifter who has always remained invisible in society, but their power is no longer working. What happens once they are exposed? 
  41. Your hero wakes up as a slave to an army of vicious orcs. How do they escape? 
  42. Every one of your hero’s wishes come true. A different take on the old King Midas story we already know. 
  43. Someone wakes up only to find that they can no longer speak the language they know and are instead uttering something both familiar and ancient. Who are they and where do they come from? 
  44. Write a Rome and Juliet scenario, but between a magic user, and a non-magic user, assuming the two sides of society hate one another. 
  45. Your character goes on a quest to find a set of magical scrolls, but realizes upon finding them that the adventure is only beginning. 
  46. Your hero goes out to the ocean for a swim, sure that she’s seen a mermaid. 
  47. Your hero finds a magical tree dappled with sweet smelling fruit. But eating that fruit changes the very nature of her reality. 
  48. Magic is only for the rich. Your hero is the Robin Hood of Enchantment. 
  49. An ancient feud between species has finally reached the boiling point. 
  50. Your hero needs a miracle. Too bad they’re so expensive. 

Science Fiction Story Prompts

Science fiction will always be popular because it’s the most forward looking type of literature, and humans will always be drawn to the horizon. Sci-fi explores the human condition through a long range telescope, placing humanity in situations it has not yet encountered, but very well may. Great sci-fi takes the world of today, contrasts it against a possible world of tomorrow, and asks how the changes in between now and then affect our humanity. 

Science fiction explores our nature, asking us through character and setting what it means to be human. Whether we are dealing with robots, aliens, or technology, it all acts as a foil to compare our species both against other intelligences, and ourselves. 

Great sci-fi should always leave the reader with a sense of awe and possibility. Sci-fi has scale, like fantasy, but is much more interested in the possibilities of where we are going (both how we got there and what we’ll do once we are) more than anything else. 

Use any of the following prompts to start a story staring into the future. 

  1. Your hero learns he’s the result of an experiment.
  2. Your main character wakes up in a spaceship all alone, without any idea how she got there, or even who she is. 
  3. Your hero wakes up in their tent, steps outside into their tiny village, and sees a massive starship descending from the sky. 
  4. She wakes up and goes about her day, only to realize she’s in an alien zoo. 
  5. She’s been kept alive and imprisoned for centuries, but only now is she finally willing to trade the secret she’s been keeping for her life. 
  6. He’s the head engineer keeping the world in good order, until he finds out what his job actually is. 
  7. Your main character is trapped in their augmented reality. How do they escape? 
  8. Your hero has always heard rumors of Earth, the God Planet where her ancestors supposedly came from. Now she’s on a quest to discover the truth.
  9. Astronauts land on the dark side of the moon for a 48-hour experiment. Two days later, when they are back in range of communications, they’re twenty years older.
  10. A researcher studying the human genetic code discovers one of the patients in the study isn’t human at all.
  11. Every creature in the ocean jumps eons in evolution overnight. They leave the water for land and start a war with the human race.
  12. In the not-so-distant future, humans try to save the environment by shipping trash to the sun for disposal. One day, the shipments start returning.
  13. On a warden’s first day in charge of a maximum security prison, he’s told one of the inmates has completed his sentence and is due to be released that day. His term was 25 consecutive life sentences, one for each person he brutally murdered, and he served them all.
  14. A man wakes up deaf, but able to see what no one else can. 
  15. Society has been perfected, with everyone’s genetic makeup designed for them to work as a cog within a model world. But your hero hates their purpose and is determined to destroy themselves. The world will go with it. 
  16. A brilliant inventor creates a Holodeck style device that can be installed inside a person’s home to let them live their ultimate fantasy, but it never changes the world, or even makes it into production because he gets stuck inside his own. 
  17. Your character is called into her superior’s office and informed that she’s an experiment. 
  18. Your hero wakes up holding a glowing device with a gelatinous ooze leaking onto his skin. There’s a countdown timer, and he’s already turning invisible. 
  19. Computers have been outlawed, punishable by life in a labor camp. Your hero is head of the Underground, the only people still online. And the Underground has found a way to hack humanity itself. 
  20. Five friends invented time travel, without inventing a way to get home. 
  21. Eco terrorists are determined to reclaim the planet by any means necessary, and once and for all.
  22. He wakes up in the dark, naked, hands bound, surrounded by hundreds of men who look exactly like him. 
  23. Your spouse has OD’d, except they never did drugs and their earth shattering, game changing, WTF this can’t be true research into string theory was about to go public. Now her proof has gone missing. 
  24. Earth has been forced into a mass evacuation in the aftermath of a global catastrophe.
  25. A generation ship meant to last 1000 years is crumbling out in space after only 250 years.
  26. AI has been running society for over almost a century. But guess who’s been running the AI? 
  27. Identities are designed prior to conception and implanted at birth. But your hero knows they aren’t who they’re supposed to be. For the first time in history, two people will try to trade their personalities. Oops, they shouldn’t have done that. 
  28. The world is radioactive, but someone has to clean it up. 
  29. The alien occupation is almost a year. Sustenance is delivered in the form of a paste they have to choke down every day. No one is allowed to leave their premises. One family finally loses their shit while on lockdown. 
  30. An inventor intent on teaching the world a lesson invents a virus that spreads through behavior online. 
  31. An alien planet finds the remains of the golden record from the Voyager space probe.
  32. Instead of dying in childbirth, your hero became the world’s first human brain in a robot body. Now she’s the first cyborg to ever fall in love. 
  33. A colony ship arrives on one of Saturn’s moons, only to find that there are already colonists there. Same ship, same uniforms, and once they get closer, the same exact faces. 
  34. They’ve been looking for a planet to colonize for more than a hundred years. This is the third generation, and time is running out. The rules are clear: no inhabited planets. This one only has a hundred million or so. That doesn’t count, right? 
  35. Someone has finally found a way to deal with the planet’s over population problem. But can a solution as sick and twisted as this actually work? 
  36. Retell the Titanic, but with a luxury liner in space. 
  37. An exploratory mission lands on what they expect to be an uninhabited planet, only to find a world that is eerily similar to Middle Earth. 
  38. Earth has no oxygen. Decisions must be made.
  39. Your hero is the result of a natural, and therefore very illegal birth. Now that he knows who he is, he knows what he has to do. 
  40. Your hero was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Literally. What happened to the last 20 years?
  41. The first manned mission to Mars is going to take so long that the astronauts are cryogenically frozen for the trip. They wake in the medbay of another spaceship and discover that the year is 3552 and they were picked up near Alpha Centauri by mysterious aliens.
  42. It’s 4.5 billion years from now, and the sun is swelling into a red giant. The surviving life on the planet Earth has managed to evolve and adapt to the radiation and shrinking seas, but this is surely the last generation of life before Earth is swallowed entirely.
  43. There is life on Europa, but it’s like nothing we ever expected.
  44. We finally get to walk on Mars and discover the buried ruins of an advanced civilization. The question is: what destroyed it? And how can we keep it from destroying life on Earth next?
  45. Samples collected from the Cassini 2 mission to Jupiter and Saturn escape the NASA lab and jumpstart some crazy evolution here on Earth.
  46. There’s intelligent life in the TRAPPIST system, and everything they know about Earth is taken from I Love Lucy reruns.
  47. An alien med probe lands on Earth. When scientists open it, strange nanobots get to work fixing everything wrong with everything they find — with horrifying results.
  48. Your hero wakes up in a world with technology that’s far beyond what we have available today, with no idea how she got there. 
  49. Aliens have attacked, or at least that’s what it looks like. Your main character is the only one who knows the truth. 
  50. A grieving widow brings her husband back to life through AI and a robot shell.

Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Story Prompts

Dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories tend toward darkness, but there is also an honesty and catharsis in the setting and characters that gets readers relating to a future world in a way that helps them reflect not their every day life. Everything the reader knows is gone, and that’s scary, but also satisfying if the narrative can help them to deal with past or present trauma. 

Dystopian stories often have new social or economic systems, and those systems define the morality of the time and place that story takes place. It underlies the DNA of everything. Who the characters are and how they see themselves. 

Sure, there’s an awful lot of depressing stuff to wade through. War, death, the end of the world, environmental obliteration, corrupt governments, populations imprisoned or in despair. Entire planets depressed, and yet readers love this genre because they can experience their fears without actually having to live them. Depressing, yes, but to those readers dystopian narratives feel honest. 

The world should either be destroyed, or unsettling. Understand the genre as an outlet to explore the ails of our present day society by forecasting a possible future based on who we are as a society now.

  1. The internet is no more. America is cut off from the rest of the world and divided neatly into quadrants. Each quadrants had their many municipalities, and for more than a hundred years everything had been the same. Not good, but as it should be. But the quadrants aren’t created equal, and now they’re going to war.  
  2. There’s an airborne substance created to keep everyone healthy. But your hero develops an immunity and discovers the truth of what it’s really doing. 
  3. After a super virus knocks out a big percentage of humanity, a booster is created to strengthen our systems. It works a little too well on some of us, creating the next leap in evolution, intent on wiping the last one out. 
  4. In a world where governments are nonexistent and money means nothing, your hero must navigate a wasteland to find help for their dying sibling. 
  5. A global catastrophe has left the baddest of the bad guys in charge. This band of rebels has managed to stay invisible so far, but if they don’t act now, the good guys will never stand a chance again. 
  6. After nearly a century of growing plant-based diet sentiment, and “your meat has a face!” rallying cries, legislation passed to protect the animals. But now the populations are wildly out of control, and humanity doesn’t have a chance. 
  7. A thousand years after the fall of civilization, your hero discovers the reason for its collapse, along with a way to resurrect it. 
  8. Your hero has been waiting for their twenty-seventh birthday since … well, forever. Everyone did. That was when you became a citizen and were finally allowed to die for Her Majesty.
  9. The world has been divided into City and Country forever. There is no intermingling. But the city mice have exhausted themselves, and the country mice aren’t about to let them out of the coffins they created for themselves. The problem might get solved, if both places weren’t flooded with rats. 
  10. The planet no longer has a food problem. Sustenance is delivered to everyone, every day. It comes in a neat little box. It comes in whatever flavor you want it to, and the texture is pleasant. Subvert this dystopian trope by making the food exactly what it appears to be, a manufactured alternative to the environmental damage created by our present day diets. It isn’t recycled humans or anything like that. But it is slowly changing the species into something else. 
  11. The newly elected President learns the truth about his position, first day on the job. 
  12. The planet is under duress, and humans are being herded into a mass exodus from Earth, with fleets of ships constantly leaving the planet and moving populations into massive space stations. But the constantly launching ships are only holograms. Launch centers are really just a selection area and killing fields. An AI process decides who stays and who must go. There are no resources for an exodus, only for the story, and those who AI has determined by way of previous behavior will be an addition rather than a subtraction to the planet. 
  13. Your hero was lucky enough to grow up rich right after the world went to seed. They grew up not knowing much about what happened, and definitely none of the worst stuff. But now they’ve seen something they can’t unsee, and know what they can’t unknow. Something must be done. 
  14. When that big beautiful orb that sits in the town square finally stops glowing blue, the citizens of Avalon can finally see their city for what it is. And nothing will ever be the same. 
  15. It’s been a while since the birthrate began to look like a flatline. Your hero is pregnant, and that means the government will take her child and reassign it to another family, or she will be kidnapped and killed, immediately after the birth. She would never even get to see her baby before it was sold to a millionaire. Her only choice is to disappear. 
  16. The world is being wiped out by an epidemic. A scientist discovers her husband has a natural immunity, but before she can complete the cure, a foreign power abducts him.
  17. Scientists at RHIC (Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider) on Long Island lose control of the super collider to a terrorist group. They threaten to flood the device with particles (creating strangelets, which is exotic matter that can destroy any ordinary matter it comes in contact with) unless their demands are met. 
  18. Nanotech machines replicate like viruses and begin eradicating all life on the planet.
  19. A scientifically-advanced think tank releases new biotech that cures all diseases. One generation later, doctors discover the biotech has one side effect: sterilization.
  20. Kids the world over become addicted to a YouTube channel. It broadcasts subliminal messages telling them to kill their parents when triggered. The trigger is released simultaneously around the globe, and almost all the adults are slaughtered. We’re left with a small population of socially-stunted grown-ups, thousands of camps of “Lord of the Flies” kids, and a small, sinister organization that was behind the kill order.
  21. Everyone knows you’re never supposed to leave the city. Only death lies beyond the borders. But anything is better than living with her parents, and since everyone is tracked, and she’d rather die than spend another day with them, she escapes the city and goes beyond the borders. But what your hero finds inside the forest is the last thing she expected.
  22. Much of California is lost to a seismic disaster, leaving a cluster of archipelagos that declare themselves independent of the U.S. After a half-century of conflict, war is imminent. 
  23. Per square centimeter, fuel cells are the most valuable elements on the planet. That makes this the biggest heist in history. 
  24. Ten years after the fall of civilization, your main character finally reunites with his family. But after a decade of despair and turmoil, none of them are the same in body or mind. 
  25. Your hero has three children, and a choice to make. He knew the rules, they both did. One for them, one for the Enterprise, and the other to feed the Machine. 
  26. An astroid has struck the moon, knocking it into a much closer orbit than before, which has surprising and devastating effects on Earth, including rising tides and volcanic activity and destabilizing our orbit. Survivors must scrape together a life in an increasingly-hostile environment.
  27. Two generations after a coronal mass ejection knocked out all electronics, society has finally begun to reorganize itself into more agrarian lifestyles. But the remains of all our once-grand technology are still plentiful, and our group of heroes decide to reinstate it.
  28. After a genetic experiment gone horribly wrong, most people are deformed zombie monsters, and the few “normals” are forced to huddle behind barriers and scrape by in a world basically designed to kill them.
  29. Rising sea levels and mass extinctions have put the entire human population at risk. Can it be fixed before it’s too late for the rest of us? What might rise to take our place if we can’t save ourselves?
  30. Humanity has been rendered sterile. This is the final generation, guaranteed. Until one woman is discovered to be pregnant.
  31. Rumors of what lay beyond the city have run rampant for years. A better place than the misery behind the Wall. But when a small band of wannabe rebels breaks out, the find only endless miles of nothing. Turns out the truth was the truth, until they discover what’s underground. 
  32. A scientist meant to create a super vaccine but designed a super virus instead. Now humanity has a defect that is slowly destroying us. 
  33. The fall of civilization went precisely as planned. Now it’s a century later. 
  34. We’re born with trackers and we die with trackers, so no one ever questions why. Your hero is offered the chance to go off the grid. She says no, but then can’t stop thinking about it. Once she finally agrees, she changes her world and everyone else’s. 
  35. Your hero lives in a vicious caste society, and his is the lowest. There is only one chance of escape into a better life. He’ll probably die in the Trials, but that would be better than life as he knows it. 
  36. Your hero is a survivor of the Eugenics Wars.
  37. Your hero works for the Emperor, keeper of peace for more than a hundred years. After discovering the secret to his immortality, and his means for keeping that peace, your hero can no longer stay silent. Even if that means death, and destroying the world.
  38. Your hero is part of the working class, tagged from birth and treated like cattle. Until they fall in love with someone from the ruling class. The two will die to be together, and just might have to. 
  39. When Earth needs help, scientists come to the rescue with a chemical compound made in space and released into the atmosphere, designed to accelerate plant life. But since this is dystopia, that works a little too well. 
  40. Someone messed with the space time continuum. Either that or your hero is losing her mind. Every day is different. Sometimes even the hours are shaken and stirred. Best friends are enemies and rivals are suddenly strangers. Until your hero finds a way to stitch the tear. Or at least that’s the illusion that gives purpose to his life. 
  41. The world’s biggest rockstars throw the planet’s biggest concert, only to have history’s biggest audience all leaving with the same subliminal message.
  42. It’s the turn of the next century and the United States is now one massive sprawling city, except for The Republic of Texas. They each have something the other needs, and after a decade long Cold War, the conflict is finally heating up beyond the point of a cool down. 
  43. A garage engineer has heavily modified his own body, but when DIY augmentations become illegal, he must go on the run from the government agents that try to enforce the new law.
  44. A probe is sent through a wormhole, and it establishes a connection with an exact duplicate of earth, which has sent a probe of it’s own, only the duplicate probe is carrying a sinister payload.
  45. A state-of-the-art combat training facility begins to take it’s job a little too seriously, not only killing those inside, but eliminating threats in the company that owns it.
  46. After a plague wipes out most of humanity, the survivors evolve immune systems that not only attack the plague and its byproducts, but also the other survivors.
  47. Astronauts in a space station watch with horror as the zombie outbreak swallows humanity. At least they’re safe, until one of their own shows symptoms.
  48. A young apprentice learns the truth of the world from his master, the man responsible for ending it in the first place. 
  49. World War III was over a hundred years ago. There has been peace on the planet ever since. But the war never really even happened, and now a small group of rebels are about to unveil the true reality. 
  50. In a world where everyone is built to be beautiful, only the ugly can see. 

Adventure Story Prompts

We all love adventures, even if the only way we ever go on them is to watch Indiana Jones attempt to outrun a boulder or roll underneath a falling wall. You can swan dive out of a plane without a parachute, scale the Himalayas and not face the threat of frostbite, or hide from pirates while a giant squid attacks from behind. 

Readers love adventure stories because it’s a lot like playing pretend. There is something primitive and wonderful about that, returning us to our childhood and a time when imagination had more purity. 

Adventure stories draw the reader in by inviting them into a world they might otherwise never explore. The reader gets to visit places she would never go and makes choices explore a life she would not otherwise know. 

  1. Modern day explorers hunt for the Fountain of Youth. 
  2. Satellite footage is showing something impossible: dinosaurs on a small cluster of islands in the South Pacific. A team is on its way to see if the footage is a hoax. It is, because the assembled crew is needed for something else. 
  3. A bounty hunting legend gets talked into a posh job he sees as beneath him, only to realize it’s the toughest gig of his career. 
  4. A man who works for the government learns of a looming disaster then abandons his post to save his family. 
  5. Weather has declared war on the world. Amid the raging and constantly changing disasters, one family must make a trek to safety across a hundred miles of ever-present danger, before the youngest child’s oxygen runs out. 
  6. Your hero is of the wrong class, and not supposed to be getting an education. But after faking her way into a university system attended only by the 1% and learning the truth that’s been kept from the masses, she bands with an unlikely group of allies to start exporting that truth to the world. 
  7. A solar flare has wiped out all communication. Your hero must hand deliver a message within 48 hours or a Doomsday scenario will be triggered with millions of lives lost. Problem is, even if nothing goes wrong and your hero goes as fast as he possibly can, the destination is still about 46 hours away. 
  8. Your hero said he would do anything to save his house. He didn’t expect three continents over four days, or the five dead bodies behind him. 
  9. Ten years ago your hero asked a powerful person for an impossible favor. Now that favor is being called in, and he can’t believe what he’s being asked to do. 
  10. Your hero has left the life of a spy behind. He’s retired, it’s time to get married. And they’re going to let him go, really they are this time. He can say I do as scheduled on Saturday. But right now it’s Friday night and there’s a world to save. 
  11. You get cut off from your party while exploring the jungle. When you stumble into a clearing, you find them. They’ve been captured by cannibals. 
  12. You’re shipwrecked on Easter Island. The Moai come to life and chase you. Your only hope is shelter with the indigenous population, who now fear you. 
  13. While touring Machu Pichu, evidence of aliens are discovered, along with the schedule for when they’re supposed to make their next visit.
  14. No one ever talks to the weird neighbor across the street. When you go out for the mail, you see what you think is the neighbor struggling with someone through his window. You go over to help. When you step inside, you’re transported to a magical realm where he is a mage who was protecting your world, and he’s been abducted. To save your world, you must find and save him.
  15. Your tiny seaport town has one claim to fame — legend of a ghost ship. You take your girlfriend to the beach one night only to discover the legend is real. And the captain of the ship abducts her.
  16. The ship is sinking, but land ahoy, there’s an island ahead in the distance. Your hero is all alone, not a survivor inside. Can they make it there without drowning?
  17. A bunch of children find a treasure map and convince themselves that they’re just like the Goonies. Turns out that minus Sloth and the Fratellis, they sort of are. 
  18. A group of twenty-something inventors team with a bunch of gym rats to become the world’s first band of actual super heroes. They’re a laughing stock, until they save the world. 
  19. One of the biggest seafood distributers, Pirate’s Feast, funds the research and development of a sort of “sea fertilizer” that would encourage the rapid production of shrimp and crab, and smaller fish. This is absorbed differently by the squid population than scientists anticipate, and as a result of the abundance they grow to gargantuan sizes. Giant squids are a scourge to the seas. Your hero is the world’s best hunter. 
  20. Your hero has been working with the bad guys for a while, he just didn’t know it. Now he’s getting out of there, and taking everything he knows to the other side. If he can make it. 
  21. Smart phones are starting to pick up dragon sightings. Are they a hoax? One group of adventures sets out to discover the truth. 
  22. Your hero is an absurdly rich person who regrets not having more adventure in their life. They sign up for a service that promises to take them on “the adventure of a lifetime,” so it’s a while before they realize that they’re on an adventure they didn’t sign up for. 
  23. Your hero is at the park with his dog when Sparky finds an ancient artifact that shouldn’t exist, and instructions that tell him exactly what to do. 
  24. Your hero must lead a convoy of survivors to safety across a post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by cannibals and worse. 
  25. Your protagonist is a small child, separated from her parents while on a safari in Africa.
  26. Born rich and taken care of all of his life, your main character is leaving everything he knows to find himself in the wilderness. 
  27. When an ancient treasure map surfaces showing a lost city that supposedly has billions of dollars worth of gold, countries from all over the world get to send a team of adventurers in to try and plant the flag. Just like in the days of colonization, first one in claims the riches. 
  28. A cruise ship is taken over by pirates, and only your hero can stop them. 
  29. A pair of siblings are accidentally abandoned when their ship leaves the planet. Together they must survive for a year on the planet until it’s finally safe for the ship to return. 
  30. When your hero’s younger brother is kidnapped, nobody believes that she knows who did it and where they are hiding. It looks like she’ll have to rescue him all by herself. 
  31. Two rival families create an alliance via an arranged marriage of their kids. The boy and girl fall in love soon after meeting. The night before the ceremony, the girl is abducted and forced into a loveless marriage with a brute from a rival kingdom. There is no such thing as divorce or annulment in this realm. Only the man’s death will free the girl to marry her true love. The prince sets out on a quest to get her back.
  32. Your main character thought superheroes were only in his imagination, until his favorite one knocked on the door and begged for his help. 
  33. Your hero just found out they’re the chosen one, but they don’t believe it. Still, the adventure is necessary. Both so that there’s a story, and so your main character knows he’s a hero by the end. 
  34. A small band of heroes must venture out onto the landscape of a dangerous planet to retrieve minerals they can break down into fuel. Only their special suits will protect them from the noxious atmosphere. Problem is, those suits have been sabotaged. 
  35. Your main character’s best friend has been sucked into their favorite video game. It’s certain death, but your hero must follow his buddy into the game to save him.
  36. A future version of your hero knocks on his door and begs for help. If his younger self doesn’t do exactly what he’s asking him to, neither of them will ever exist. 
  37. A lost Atlantean treasure is discovered at a yard sale by the one of the few people in the world who can recognize what it really is. And now that it’s in her hand, that treasure is starting to glow. 
  38. Wild unicorns have been discovered, and now the hunt is on. Your hero and her friends must protect the youngling, and get it to its mother before the creature is killed for its magical horn. 
  39. Aliens land, but are here for a different reason than anyone could have ever expected.
  40. A group of friends have been shipwrecked for years. Now pirates have come to their island. 
  41. A group of reporters are invited to an event showcasing a company’s genetically engineered predators being released into the wild as a form of population control, only to find themselves on the run as the predators hunt them instead.
  42. After buying, and promptly losing, a trinket from a street vendor that told him it was a valuable object of ancient mystery, a man is confronted by treasure seekers who want it, and he finds himself on the run after they turn to violence when he can’t deliver.
  43. A homeless man living in the abandoned subway system under a big city leads attacker on a chase through the dark after being accused of killing another homeless man – the estranged brother of a gang leader.
  44. The personal assistant to a diva actress is at a swank party when it is infiltrated by men with guns demanding ransom victims. She has to decide how much assisting to actually do while trying to escape the men that seem to always be one step ahead.
  45. A couple’s relationship is put to the test during a vacation in Central America when the husband is bitten by a scorpion, and they’re not sure if they can make it to help in time.
  46. After an explosion at the zoo, a team of first responders who are way over their heads must wrangle all of the escaping animals. 
  47. When your hero’s daughter dies in a car bombing, he discovers that his daughter wasn’t really who he thought she was. Now he must travel to the place where she was murdered and find out what actually happened. 
  48. During an archaeology project in Machu Pichu, a team discovers that they aren’t alone, and that just because a weapon is ancient, that doesn’t render it incapable of mass destruction.
  49. Your hero is a decorated detective, working for the mob. 
  50. Your main character is a mother and wife who must struggle against all odds to find her family by traversing a landscape ravaged by the elements and a furious Mother Nature.

Supernatural Story Prompts

Humans love ghost stories and things that go bump in the night. For some reason, we love to be scared. Although horror has changed and bred new and unfortunate genres like torture porn, supernatural stories have always existed in one form or another. The Bible is filled with the supernatural, as is every religion and myth around the globe. 

Supernatural stories trigger both curiosity and fear. They keep us on the edge of our seats and make us wonder what we don’t know about the world. What might lie on the other side of some invisible veil. 

Whether you believe in God, aliens, or vampires and werewolves, supernatural stories are timeless and universal because some people will always believe in what they cannot see, others will be at the very least a little bit curious about it. Plus those who don’t fit in one of those categories and are obviously lying. 

  1. Your antagonist dies, but now they’re back and the hero of a very different story. 
  2. Your hero’s old locket starts talking to her. It’s fine at first, even a comfort, perhaps. Until her locket starts making her do things she doesn’t want to do. 
  3. Your main character realizes that she can feel the intentions of anyone she touches. 
  4. Three friends from college all happen to meet while on individual vacations more than a decade after the last time they saw each other, only to discover that they’ve each developed a special power, and that those powers not only harmonize, they are each much more powerful when near the other two. 
  5. Your hero’s dreams feel real and their reality surreal. From the opening paragraph it’s hard to tell them apart. 
  6. Your hero wakes up in the body of their worst enemy.
  7. The angel guarding the entrance to the Garden of Eden is killed by the devil, then he feeds his demon minions from the Tree of Life. They wage war on the angels but now can’t be killed.
  8. A cemetery groundskeeper shows up at work to find every gravesite has been dug up and every coffin is empty.
  9. A conspiracy theorist creates a secret language to communicate with his small group of “friends” so the government can’t understand him. Three strange men show up at his door speaking that language, warning him about the end of the world.
  10. Scientists studying a long-dormant, now-active volcano analyze large rocks found in the caldera that should be, but aren’t, volcanic. Studies find them hollow. Heartbeats are heard. The giant eggs start to crack open. Then mama dragon comes looking for her young.
  11. All cats are proven to be magical familiars that are bonded with their owners. Some are helpful spirits. Others very much aren’t.
  12. You’ve been dreaming of the Jack the Ripper killings for years, filling in details of the slayings that are not recorded. One day, while looking through a photo book of Victorian England, you come across a photo of one of the crime scenes. And you’re in it.
  13. Teenagers camping in the woods take turns adding gruesome details to a ghost story. The thing they are describing crashes into the clearing.
  14. While on a ghost-walk tour, a violent storm kicks up. The group takes shelter in the last “haunted house” on the tour. They find it’s not a gimmick.
  15. A woman is committed for violent acts of murder. She claims she’s being coerced by the devil and is ruled incompetent to stand trial. While she’s in the institution, strange and horrible “accidents” start to happen. 
  16. When having an “It’s a Wonderful Life” moment, your version of Clarence appears to show you what it would be like if you were never born. The world is a better place without you. You’re forced to witness countless ways you’ve hurt people and didn’t even know. Clarence reappears and offers you the chance to erase yourself from the timeline. 
  17. Looking at a reflective surface (mirror, darkened window) allows you to see the truth of a situation or person. While walking through a shopping center, you catch a glimpse of someone’s reflection. It’s monstrous, and you see that the person is about to do something terrible.
  18. You wake up one morning able to speak in a language you don’t recognize. You eventually find one person who understands you: a professor of dead languages. With your help, the professor translates an ancient scroll which reveals the secret to immortality, but at a cost.
  19. Someone offers to paint a portrait that would age on your behalf. The catch: someone has to die on your behalf on your birthday every year, and you have to decide who it is.
  20. You are able to make yourself have out-of-body experiences during which your spirit is connected to another living creature — animal or human.
  21. After getting caught in a furious lightning storm, your main character wakes up able to see things in the world that no one else can. 
  22. Your hero discovers that whenever they fall asleep during the daytime they get much strong, but while sleeping through the night somehow weakens their body. Soon, they sleep only during the day, becoming something that’s almost super human, and one with the night.  
  23. Everyone in the world has gone blind … except for your character. 
  24. Time is somehow different for the hero of your story. It’s slowed down significantly, aging them just hours for every month passed, and a week for every year. The people around her are starting to notice. 
  25. Your hero has lost his girlfriend, his job, and his vintage Mustang. That would all be bad enough without him also seeing monsters. 
  26. Your main character is killed in a horrible accident, then wakes up with a different identity on the other side of the world. 
  27. An angel descends from the sky and sends your character on an adventure with the knowledge that they are the representative for all of humanity. 
  28. Werewolves are supposed to be imaginary, but it turns out they’re only endangered. Your hero finds out his best friend is one of the world’s few remaining shifters, and must be protected at all cost. 
  29. Your main character wakes up to a weird growth on his body. At first he ignores it, but soon the growth turns into something that wants to control him .
  30. Vampirism isn’t passed through bites, it’s genetic, and guess what your hero just found out about her parents? 
  31. Your main character has just turned invisible, but the only thing in the world he’s ever wanted was to be seen. 
  32. Your hero finds a magic lamp with a genie inside, but the genie is dangerous and determined to misinterpret every one of those three wishes. 
  33. A hard working family moves into a new town and gets a good deal on an old house. Their first night in the place they find a big box of letters, all addressed to individual members of the family, and written by their future selves. 
  34. A man makes a deal with the devil. Seems like a fair trade at first, until the devil wants more than his share.
  35. Your character wakes up ready to take the SATs. Problem is, they already did that twenty years ago, with disastrous results that ruined their life. 
  36. Your hero can see the future. Either that, or she’s completely insane. 
  37. Your hero can look into anyone’s eyes and see their past lives. 
  38. Your main character owns a magic shop, selling charms for people in the know. But to the outside world it looks like any old thrift store. 
  39. Two sisters run away from an abusive family situation, only to find a place that’s even worse among a coven of witches. 
  40. Your hero finds out his parents are murderers. Not bad people, of course, that’s just the only way they can feed their souls to stay alive. 
  41. A famous author turns in the latest draft to his longtime editor only to discover that another writer has just submitted the exact same story, word for word, all typed out, even though the famous (and rather superstitious) author writes his drafts by hand, from inside a locked room. 
  42. While out for an early morning walk, your main character encounters her deceased mother. And after an enlightening conversation, your hero knows exactly what she needs to do, and why she needs to do it. 
  43. After growing up in foster care for all of his life, your main character turns 18. Once finally on his own, he gets a DNA test and discovers that his DNA isn’t even human. 
  44. Your main character can’t stop drawing things that happen a day or two later. Is she seeing the future, or creating it? 
  45. Your hero moves to a new town and tries to make friends, but even after a month of living there and constantly introducing himself, no one can remember him. 
  46. The metaphorical angel and devil on your shoulders manifest into real entities—after you’ve given in to what the devil suggested.
  47. You finally snag a seat at a poker game you’ve been dying to be a part of. Then you realize the ante is one human soul. Everyone else at the table brought one. You only have yours to gamble with.
  48. A family of witches has an apothecary shop. They only sell potions to witches; the rest of their customers only get harmless herbs. One of the kids decides to sell actual potions to anyone who comes in.
  49. Family legend says everyone in the family sees a grim three times before they die. You’ve seen one twice in the last two days.
  50. You look in the mirror only to find it’s a window to your life. You can’t get through the glass, and no one can see or hear you. Worst of all? Your doppelgänger is out there, living as you.

Mystery Story Prompts

Same as with other genres, people love mysteries because it allows them to experience the thrill of a dangerous situation without any of the danger. They can fell excitement of a high-stakes puzzle, without being the one who actually has to solve it. 

People love puzzles, and mysteries always revolve around a simple, central question such as, who did it and why? We’re fascinated by crimes and the people who commit them. We want to understand what could cause a criminal to do the things that they do, and mysteries help with that understanding. 

We have conflicting urges. The need to feel the thrill of fear is strong, but so is the need to feel safe. Mysteries offer a satisfying experience because the danger is bottled within the story. If it’s contained in the narrative, then it doesn’t impact our lives. We can live through whatever it is the villain has done without having to suffer. 

  1. Your hero is the only witness to a murder, but coming forward to report what they saw has now made them the prime suspect. 
  2. A strong of disappearances ravages a small town. They’re gone without a trace and there’s nothing connecting the victims. Your main character’s best friend is the last one to have gone missing. 
  3. Your hero is the third victim of a serial killer’s spree. She was left for dead, but when the police found her she became the only hope to save the women he’s not yet murdered. Problem is, she can’t remember a single thing about what happened. 
  4. Your main character takes a DNA test on a lark and finds out he’s not who he thought he was. No one in his family is. 
  5. While playing in the park, a young brother and sister stumble upon a chest filled with secrets.  
  6. Your hero’s husband has gone missing and is presumed dead, but now he’s started calling and leaving voicemails, every day at noon. 
  7. Members of a royal family are being killed, one on the first day of every month. There is exactly one week until it happens again. 
  8. All of the evidence points to your hero as the murderer, except for their airtight alibi.
  9. Your hero is sent a series of seven drawings in the mail, each one detailing a brutal murder. So far six of them have already happened. Only the hero of your story can stop the seventh. 
  10. The new neighbor who moved into the cul-de-sac is making everyone suspicious, especially your main character. And now, she’s determined to find out why. 
  11. Your main character hasn’t had a good night’s sleep for more than a month. Then one morning they discover why, and what they have become.  
  12. His daughter has been missing for more than a year when he gets a letter in the mail with coordinates and a rapidly scrawled message that reads, Help me Daddy! 
  13. While processing a series of completely unrelated crime scene photos (all of them grisly) your main character (the photographer) notices someone in every picture. Is it a person, a ghost, or the party responsible for all these seemingly unrelated atrocities. 
  14. There’s a string of murders in the city and all of the victims had a golden retriever. 
  15. Your main character was supposed to keep the main witness safe, instead she’s disappeared the night before the trial. 
  16. All the livestock outside a small town is suddenly dying. Why? 
  17. You wake completely unscathed after an accident you thought for sure was fatal. Your family doctor assures you you’re fine. When you leave the hospital, you recognize nothing, and fearing some kind of brain trauma, you turn to go back inside, only to find the hospital is gone.
  18. A decorated detective is days away from retirement when he discovers that he’s quite accidentally helped to cover up an unforgivable crime. 
  19. Your hero rents his house to someone using an Airbnb like service, only to realize that footage of him staying there and doing some unsavory things has been both captured and sold.  
  20. No one even jaywalks in your story’s tiny little town. Everyone knows everyone, and they’ve all gotten along forever. It’s like a real life Mayberry. Which is why the two dead children are like a lightning strike of fear for everyone. 
  21. Your hero finally gets around to finishing the book they’ve been putting off for years, only to find that when they open the file it’s already done. 
  22. Your hero is deeply in love with a person they’ve been seeing for about a month, but after reading that email forward, can he ever trust her again? 
  23. The acoustics in a man’s new apartment let him hear the conversations of the other tenants. It’s all fun and games until he hears someone plotting his murder.
  24. After a nurse reports a discrepancy in the quantities of an experimental drug that should be in inventory, she begins to get phone calls from somebody claiming to be the FBI, asking her to join an investigation against the hospital.
  25. The day after a woman receives a phone call saying her police officer husband died in the line of duty, the local authorities deny knowing anything about it.
  26. A man’s habitual crossword puzzle seems to be giving him clues addressed specifically to him, telling him about a conspiracy in the government.
  27. When she finds out her children’s symptoms match those of the other students in their school, a mother looks for more clues about what disease they all share, and why it’s being covered up.
  28. A small plot of land is being used to grow vegetables in what is otherwise an inner city food desert. But as the soil is tilled, body parts are discovered. 
  29. A string of disappearances ravishes a small town. All children between ten and twelve, and your hero’s son just had his eleventh birthday. 
  30. Your character wakes up screaming. Mommy, mommy, I had a bad dream! Problem is, your character doesn’t have any children. 
  31. The hero of your story finds a brown paper bag on the subway. Artifacts from both his past and possible future are inside.  
  32. A small town unearths a time capsule from 50 years before, only to find it filled with all the teeth from every person that had gone murdered or missing in the city for the last half-century. 
  33. Scientists discover a rare plant from Australia is a crucial ingredient to curing a global pandemic authorities think was intentionally created and released. A recent wildfire destroyed the plant’s natural habitat. Someone stole the seeds from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and is holding them for ransom.
  34. A video is played at a will reading. The deceased is on camera, telling the guests he believes he was killed by one of them—the one person who left the room right before the reading began. When the reading is over, that person is found dead in the foyer. 
  35. A new detective is assigned to work with a veteran cop rumored to be dirty. The chief gives them a serial killer case. The rookie thinks the clues point to his partner and the chief.
  36. A cop is placed on administrative leave when he’s implicated in a murder spree. (At that point, there isn’t enough evidence to arrest him, but clues are piling up.) Needing to get away, he goes on a cruise. While between port cities, a series of murders takes place on the ship. He is the prime suspect.
  37. Three murder victims are found in three different boroughs of NY. They share none of the same demographics. Then one detective notices they all have the same tattoo. His girlfriend has the same ink. Before he can ask her where she got it and what it means, she goes missing.
  38. A young couple with a toddler buy a plot of land in a new town to build their dream home. They are watching the contractors break ground when they discover an underground room filled with toys. An old nursery. The toddler claps his hands and says “My toys!”  The semi-rotted bedding in the crib is embroidered with their child’s name.
  39. Your hero is suffering from blackouts. Before each one they remember seeing an old blue car. At the end of the first chapter that car passes by — the exact same one, she’s sure of it. But this time she doesn’t pass out. 
  40. Your hero comes home to an empty house. His family, furniture, and life as he knew it all gone without a trace. 
  41. It’s completely black. Your main character opens her eyes just as the trunk is opened. She has no idea why she’s in the back of an old car, how she got there, or what the hell will happen next. 
  42. Your hero walks to work as usual, but today the streets are empty. Same for the lobby of his building, the elevator, and the offices themselves. Where has everyone gone? 
  43. While babysitting, your hero encounters a padlocked door, and someone scratching at it from the other side. 
  44. Your hero wakes up covered in tattoos, with a shaved head, unfamiliar clothes, and zero memory of how it all happened. 
  45. Your hero’s sister is insisting on her innocence for a heinous crime he can’t believe she could ever commit. Except after a while, he finally can. 
  46. A woman shows up at the police station spinning a wild tale of being sold by her husband into a sex trafficking ring. Her husband is the head of a non-profit organization that fights sex trafficking.
  47. A serial killer’s MO is to copy other serial killers’ MO’s, making it difficult to profile the UNSUB.
  48. Someone’s developed a way to make scopolamine airborne and is distributing it through the AC systems in local banks. The cameras are then shut off and the vaults are emptied. The detectives have to solve the crimes with with no recordings, no alarms, and no eye-witness accounts.
  49. A roomful of teenagers is dead, except for one. He didn’t do it, but no one in the world believes him. Except for the mother of one of the murdered teens, and the only one who can save him from taking the fall. 
  50. A mentally unstable vet is framed for a string of murders he didn’t commit. Now he must kill to prove his innocence.

Horror Story Prompts

Horror isn’t for everyone. My wife, for example, doesn’t enjoy the genre at all. My writing partner, Dave, is a dark soul indeed, so much of our catalog is populated by dark settings, dark characters, and dark stories. Dave loves horror and can’t get enough of it. For him, it helps him deal with the fears he can’t otherwise shed. 

But as with mystery, adventure, supernatural, or any of the other adrenaline tickling genres, horror and thrillers let a reader or viewer have an experience that might even be worse than death, without any actual suffering. The story can end but the arousal lingers. Even positive emotions like laughter are amplified in the aftermath. That is, if you enjoy the genre. A negative experience can echo in the opposite way. 

People who love this genre, really love it, and are looking for a specific kind of thrill. If you’re that kind of storyteller, this is a genre where it’s easiest to tap into elemental emotions, second only to romance. 

  1. Nightmares plague you, so Grandma gives you a dream-catcher to hang on your window. You wake after your first restful night’s sleep to find a black rose in place of one of the feathers. There are only two feathers left.
  2. Your husband got a new job in a one-stoplight town, and he bought the only house on the market before you even saw it. When you finally get to town, you recognize your new home—from the recurring nightmare you’ve had about your death since you were a child.
  3. Your hero is home alone when the new neighbor comes to visit. He talks his way inside despite her hesitance. Things go bad fast, then even darker after that. 
  4. For ten weeks there has been a murder every Friday at noon. It’s Thursday night and the main character of your story has just been kidnapped.
  5. A charlatan who has made her living as a world-famous medium that speaks to the dead is kidnapped by a serial killer. The killer keeps his victims in a labyrinth beneath his home. He locks the medium down there in the dark with the dead and tells her there is only one way out. Only he and his victims know it. If she’s the real thing, she can ask them for help.
  6. A family is camping when they hear a frightening, unfamiliar, and perhaps even unholy sound coming from out in the woods. They go to explore it and find something more horrifying than they ever could have imagined. 
  7. Your hero inherits an heirloom that longs to destroy them. 
  8. Two hitchhiking best friends share the backseat of a car they can’t get out of while their driver details exactly how he is going to murder them.
  9. The family of a famous guitarist is kidnapped.  All 9 of them. If he wants them back, he has to cut off one finger per family member.
  10. A reporter visits a small town reported to have supernatural happenings. Now he’s trapped, and those happenings are more horrific than those reports suggested, or he could have ever imagined. 
  11. While glamping at a posh vacation spot in a foreign country, a group of privileged friends hear a rumor of a settlement a few miles away with dangerous indigenous people. The friends make a big mistake, thinking that sounds interesting instead of accepting it for the warning it is. 
  12. Your hero stumbles upon a murder game, where rich people are paying to watch him kill someone who has agreed to give up their life to save their family. 
  13. A therapist comes becomes terrified of her once-favorite patient.  
  14. Your hero is the only survivor of a plane crash, but the parts they’ve used to reconstruct her broken body have made her both more and less of herself. 
  15. Your main character has done everything possible to start over. New clothes, new name, new city, and a seemingly brand new life. But people are slaves to their patterns, and he just can’t seem to keep himself from killing all those pretty little blondes. 
  16. A family finds out all the tenants of the apartment building they just moved into are locked inside, and escape can only happen at night – when the surface of reality thins, and they are attacked by disturbing creatures created from their own fears.
  17. Oil rig workers unleash an ancient sea monster when they drill into its den.
  18. During an unexpected storm, a mountain climbing expedition is attacked by wild animals that leave only a pool of blood, a tuft of white fur, and deep footprints.
  19. Years after a girl went through a successful exorcism of a long and brutal possession, the demon comes back, and this time, her mother isn’t sure if she’ll go through it again.
  20. A man’s wife and daughter lie comatose after a bad car accident. He’s told his insurance can only cover one of them, and he must decide which one to unplug. He makes the torturous decision, but the hospital makes a mistake and unplugs the wrong one. His second choice discovers she wasn’t his first and goes crazy with anger and a sudden thirst for revenge. 
  21. A man is obsessed with his hot co-worker. They have a one night stand, then she loses interest. She’s constantly showing him pics of her tinder dates. He begins to recognize them as missing persons and goes to the police. The police find no evidence that the woman worked at the man’s company. In fact, they find no evidence she ever existed. They arrest him under suspicion of murder of the missing victims.
  22. Your hero hates relationships, it’s one night stands or nothing. He always gets what he needs from the exchange and that’s more than enough. But this last encounter is going to be a killer. 
  23. A game of truth or dare goes too far and one of the players accidentally kills themselves. The rest of the friends try and cover it up and make it look like a suicide, but dammit someone knows the truth and now people keep dying. 
  24. Your hero has been wandering through a wasteland for a while. The earth is mostly empty, and he’s grateful to stumble into this small village. The people are nice, and he has no idea that he’ll eventually be dinner, after they put him to work and have some fun with him. 
  25. Your hero loves her new theater group. She just never expected to see what they turn into at night, or what they made her do. 
  26. A man who cheats on his wife is cursed with a blistering rash that covers his body. It won’t go away until he tells her the truth. 
  27. Your hero’s wife talks in her sleep. Nothing new, she’s done that since they met. But only now has she started to cackle, while growling about how much she can’t wait to kill him. 
  28. A torture porn director is locked inside a theater and forced to watch a movie of his family being murdered (they’re not, it’s all staged, the dude just needed to be taught a lesson). 
  29. A perfectly ordinary suburban neighborhood begins to hear a strange whistling just after the sun sets for six days straight, each of them louder than the day before. Then on the seventh day, the nightmares attack. 
  30. Your hero keeps bumping into the same person over and over and over. It must be kismet or fate, unless that person is planning to kill them. 
  31. Your hero opens her mailbox to find a head in it. The head is in a snorkeling mask with a note tied to the goggles that reads Remember me? 
  32. Your hero is watching their favorite scary movie when the main character breaks something harder than the fourth wall and starts begging for help. She’s seen this movie a lot, so even scared shitless, she steps into the screen. 
  33. Two friends think it would be hilarious to hide overnight in an aviation museum. Too bad a serial killer who works there and uses an empty hangar as his kill floor is working that night. 
  34. Cheers for your antagonist getting clean, but jeers for him trading one addiction for another. Murder is not a victimless crime. 
  35. It’s Christmas morning, and your main character’s baby is dead. The latest in a slew of Christmas morning murders, now several years in a row. The news has taken to calling the killer “King Herod.” But this time, he’s made a mistake …
  36. A family must move across the country, but they can’t afford to take the cat, so they leave it behind. A year later, it shows up in the middle of the night and begins terrorizing them.
  37. Every morning, a woman wakes up with a new yet impossible memory. 
  38. A woman agrees to a date with a charming man she just met, only to find out he’s a serial rapist back from the dead trying to extend his spree.
  39. A mortician begins receiving teeth in the mail.
  40. A man is kidnapped and forced to swallow an explosive charge. If he doesn’t do what the kidnappers say, they will detonate it.
  41. A professor encourages her students to write a candid “who I am” paper in class. She says they can be anonymous, but they’ll be cathartic if the students write honestly and freely. One of the papers is a meticulous recounting of how she spent the previous day, including many moments when she was totally alone. 
  42. A single parent barely making ends meet is told by her boss to do something unethical and illegal or she’ll be fired.
  43. The family’s black sheep returns to care for the ailing mom who never loved her.
  44. The only child (spoiled adult) of a business mogul learns upon her father’s death that she has one year to learn altruism or will inherit nothing.
  45. Two brothers fight in opposite sides in a civil war. The one on the losing side is gravely injured. He returns home to recuperate to find his parents have been killed, his brother inherited the house, and he’s married someone from the winning side. 
  46. A boy is told never to EVER go near the house down the street. The one with the boarded windows and doors. And the one where there’s a broken window on the top floor where he sees his dead mother.
  47. A girl decides to stay overnight in a department store to steal something. The store doesn’t have monitors. It has something far worse.
  48. A man wakes up to find that everybody on his street is ripped to shreds outside, and dogs prowling, searching for his scent.
  49. A woman goes to fortune teller to learn her fortune. The fortune teller tells her that her husband is cheating. And that she’s got 12 hours to live.
  50. A blind single entrepreneur with a VERY cultivated life and routine wakes up to find that nothing is where it should be. This isn’t his house. And someone else is there.

Romance Story Prompts

Romance is the most universal form of story. All genres have romance. Everyone knows about romantic comedy, but there can also be action romance (Romancing the Stone), sci-fi romance (The Time Traveler’s Wife), romantic thrillers (Basic Instinct). The genres go on and it doesn’t stop there. Romance can be an element in any story, but a true Romance puts the relationship front and center in the story. 

Romance is the most read genre for a reason. It’s comfort food. Pure entertainment designed to curl the toes of its ideal readers. This isn’t a genre to overthink, it’s one to execute with precision. A well-written romance offers the kind of experience a reader will crave and want to repeat, assuming they’re a fan of the genre. The emotional hooks make the pages sticker. Readers are less likely to put the book down, and keep the high once they’ve finished. Hopefully with another one of your books. 

Romances do more than give their readers comfort, they help them to work things out in their every day lives. Relationships, bosses, parents, husbands, children — from red tape to red dresses, romance relates directly to its readers lives. 

This is also the most malleable genre in that plots can go anywhere, as long as there is a relationship at the core of the story, and (unless it’s a clean romance) there is enough sex to satisfy the reader.

But when it comes right down to it, romances succeed because people want to believe in love. 

  1. A man making his birthday wish wishes to find a wife. The birthday fairy appears and starts setting him up with one woman after another, but he doesn’t want them. He wants her. But human/fairy relationships are forbidden.
  2. Boy/girl best friends in high school make a pact to marry each other when they turn 30 if neither is in a relationship. After graduation, she goes to culinary school in France, and they lose touch. When she’s nearing her thirtieth birthday, she decides to track him down. Before she finds him, she’s hired to bake the cake for a socialite’s wedding. He’s the groom.
  3. A photo journalist is sent to a war zone. Her managing editor arranges for a military escort while she’s there. It’s her ex.
  4. They’re friends with benefits, but she secretly wants more. Then he meets and falls for her identical twin.
  5. In the future, elite candidates are trained to colonize other planets before the Earth is uninhabitable. They must have no emotional attachments in order to qualify. Two candidates fall in love but hide their forbidden relationship so they don’t get expelled from the program. They are both selected for the mission, but they are assigned to different ships going to different planets.
  6. An explosive argument while in line for groceries, two strangers embark on the most unforgettable night of their lives.
  7. Maybe she would believe in arranged marriages, if she had been promised to her fiancé’s sister instead. 
  8. An old friend returns after a long time away, only to find that she no longer wants the life she’s returning to. 
  9. When a successful globe trotting entrepreneur finds their soul mate, a person with a 9-5 they love and are unwilling to leave, she must decide if its worth losing what she’s spent a lifetime building to gain what she thought she’d never have. 
  10. An Oscar winning actress who once snagged all the juicy roles has aged out of the game. Now she’s been cast in her comeback, with a co-star playing her son, who might also be the love of her life, and completely off-limits thanks to a paparazzi that’s dying to crucify her. If only he wasn’t half-his age, or pretending to be her daughter’s boyfriend. 
  11. Your hero hires an escort while trying to get her over yet another awful guy who didn’t know how to treat her in or out of bed. She should have met the escort in person before booking him for her friend, with it being love at first sight and all. 
  12. A couple falls in love on the day of their divorce. 
  13. A man-child has spent the last year living in his parent’s basement after getting gutted by a girlfriend who slept with his best friend on their wedding day. He’s finally stepping back out into the world to meet someone he’s fallen in love with online. The ex who jilted him, and desperately wants him back. 
  14. She’s poured everything she has into the job and deserves the promotion. He’s only been working there for six months and definitely doesn’t deserve it. They disagree about everything and should hate each other, instead of feeling like pasta and sauce. 
  15. They’ve been friends since childhood and have seen each other through everything. Now they’re seeing each other through their separate divorces. Are they really falling in love, or is it the comfort that’s keeping them together? 
  16. Your main character gets a letter in the mail. It’s not for her, but she falls in love with the author and sets out to find him. 
  17. Arranged marriages are the standard, but your main character isn’t going down without a fight. They’ll argue, manipulate, or do whatever she must to get arranged to the man she wants to marry. 
  18. In a society where adultery is punishable by anything from 20 years in prison to death, and marriages are always arranged, two lovers sacrifice everything to share themselves. 
  19. A blind person falls in love with someone who is deaf. Each of them helps the other to understand the world in a different way, and develop a deeper understanding about themselves. 
  20. A contractor who loves his job in a thriving McMansion style building company does everything he can to ignore the boss’s daughter. No good could ever possibly come from that, no matter how great they might look to each other. Some things are worth the risk, and the boss’s daughter is one of them. 
  21. A man and woman apply for the same job and fall in love in the week it takes to find out who got it. They both get hired, but she’s hired for a different position. Can their new relationship survive her being his boss?
  22. A woman keeps hiring the same handyman for small jobs because she’s too afraid to just ask him out.
  23. Two masked cosplayers fall for each other at a convention, and both of them are unwilling to reveal themselves for fear of rejection.
  24. A man, smitten by a waitress, goes to the same diner for lunch for weeks, too afraid to make his move. When he comes in one day, and she’s gone, he learns the only reason she stayed so long was the chance he was going to ask her out. Now he has to go to every restaurant in town in the hopes of finding her again.
  25. Lovers meet when each of them is using a quiet space they think belongs only to them, a place where they go to be alone after something upsetting has happened.
  26. A musician who lost the love of his life in a car accident that he survived can only sing sad songs since her death, when he can even sing. Drinking is easier. The bars are getting sadder and lonelier, until he finally plays at a dive with a waitress who changes his life. 
  27. Your main character got knocked up in high school, then her boyfriend left town. But the baby wasn’t his, even though everyone thinks it is and she let them think that because the truth was more embarrassing, with her son’s real daddy being the one-time only never should have done it in the first place couldn’t be sorrier town asshole. Ten years later her old boyfriend is back in town, and in a way it’s both exactly what they’ve been waiting for. 
  28. He’s a know-it-all chef with a successful restaurant, she’s a scathing critic who can kill a trend with a few vicious sentences. At first she’s intrigued by him while being unimpressed with his food, then it’s the other way around. By the end, their recipe is just right. 
  29. In the future AI arranges marriages with a 95% success rate. One couple has been married for nearly a year. Their anniversary is in a month and they both expect to take the no-fault exit option. Rare, but in this case necessary. That’s when to their mutual, immediate, and total surprise, the AI’s predictions began to click. 
  30. A model poses exclusively for her husband photographer, and an anonymous client increasingly willing to pay more as the couple increases the cost of her shoots. He provides the costumes and the cash and is always fine with the escalation in price. But then he requests a one-on-one. After agreeing to a ridiculous price, she meets someone she never expects, and does things she never imagined herself doing before. 
  31. A couple is seconds from exchanging I dos, and the words have already left the preacher’s mouth: Speak now or forever hold your peace. A stranger bursts into the room and loudly objects. The bride-to-be has never seen him, but she knows in her soul that the two of them are meant for each other. 
  32. A woman goes for a run on the same stretch of beach every morning. One day a bottle washes up with a message inside it, unlikely as that is. She reads the letter and begins a journey that eventually leads to the man who loves her and left the bottle for her in a place where he knew she would find it. 
  33. He’s hired as a consultant, but she falls in love with more than his advice. 
  34. While trying to win over his girlfriend’s judgmental best friend, he falls in love with her instead. 
  35. Your main character gets the proposal she’s been waiting forever to get, and that everyone has been telling her is long overdue. She should be overwhelmed, and she is, but only with how much she wants to say no. So she does, then realizes how much she’s in love with her former boyfriend’s brother. 
  36. A big time influencer is sick of the online life and looking to get out of the game. They’ve found the perfect person to disappear into anonymity with, until she gets a taste of the fame herself and wants it too. 
  37. In 36 hours, there will be a catastrophic event that floods the earth with radiation, killing all life forms. To continue the human race, the global community has gathered together and agreed to send 20 couples of child bearing age to a space station that can sustain life for the next 500 years, while the earth rejuvenates.  They’ve set up an international panel to choose the couples. The only rules: 1) They must prove they are healthy, 2) They must prove they are fertile, 3) They must prove they are in love.
  38. The tutor of a wealthy man’s ward falls in love with the mysterious, mercurial man. But he has a secret that no one can ever know …
  39. A talented artist has just been through a brutal divorce and decides to paint her perfect man since real men are crap. She finishes the painting late one night and falls asleep wishing he could be real. When she wakes up, the man is missing from the painting.
  40. A lonely woman finds a lost dog in the park. When she checks the dog’s tag, she recognizes the name. She had a crush on him for years and never told him. 0Her husband immigrates to the New World, promising to send money for her and their baby daughter to join him as soon as he’s settled. Shortly after he leaves, a revolution happens. The borders are closed. Communication channels are monitored. But she’s determined to find him again, even if two armies and an ocean stand between them. 
  41. Their parents signed the engagement contract when they were only babies. They grow up knowing they’re destined to be married. All that changes the day his father is murdered. He runs away amid rumors he’s the murderer. She decides marriage — arranged or otherwise —isn’t her thing until she meets a mysterious stranger.
  42. When nobody shows up for a speaker’s lecture about the importance for civility in modern culture, he gives it anyway, finally noticing she had a listener after all — a young woman he remembers being rude to that very morning.
  43. They’ve been best friends all their lives. Is this happily ever after, or a terrible idea? 
  44. After the worst fight of their year long relationship, one couple needs some space and time to realize they should never be apart again. 
  45. Two political rivals form a romantic entanglement during their campaign. 
  46. A tourist abroad doesn’t speak the local language, but love is universal. 
  47. A major lie has brought your couple together. But the time has come for the truth. Rebirth or disaster, you tell the story. 
  48. He broke her heart three times when she swore never again. What makes him think he deserves a second chance, besides the fact that he just saved her life?
  49. He’s everything she hates, and she’s everything he loathes. God must really hate them to keep getting the two of them in bed like this.
  50. He’s a prime suspect in a major crime. She’s the lead investigator who knows for a fact that he did it. Yet for some reason, that doesn’t stop her from falling in love with him.

Comedy Story Prompts

Truth is, you could take any of the prompts above and turn it into something comedic, but designing something to be funny first (like romance first, science first, fantasy first etc.) is its own special skill. 

Comedy is also all in the execution. Something might not sound funny, but be brilliant in execution, while some of the most hilarious sounding pitches fall flat once you see them play out. Comedy is a powerful tool in your writing box, and I try to have comedic moments in almost everything I write, even if they aren’t comedies. But the following prompts can all be used to develop a full-length story where humor comes first. 

  1. After giving false testimony in a court case to gain a lot of money, a man wakes up to find he can only tell lies.
  2. A socialite woman will inherit millions from her uncle if she takes care of his zoo for a year. [Insert preschool, mother-in-law, chimp, etc. for “zoo”)
  3. An aging rock star finds out he fathered 5 kids with 5 different groupies and now has to agree to make them into a pop band or lose his fortune to child-support payments.
  4. A New York City bus driver wins the lottery and travels cross-country to live in California, losing money to unfortunate mishaps along the way.
  5. An American tourist in Spain is mistaken for a famous gangster who was thought to be dead and has to play along or risk being either killed as an imposter or jailed.
  6. The fuck-up son of a mortician is down to this last chance but the body he just picked up is still alive. 
  7. An artist grabs the wrong sketchbook before pitching her work to a gallery. It’s the book she gave her preschooler to play with. And the gallery owner loves it.
  8. A fashion designer spills something on her clothes and has to wear second hand clothes to her show.
  9. A gourmet chef with a tv show tanks her career by sleeping with the network head, the only job she can get is working as a fry cook in a diner.
  10. A psychiatrist to the mob realizes that one of his patients is an undercover cop, and the cop tries to blackmail him into becoming an informant
  11. An über driver discovers that one of his customers is a spy who’s left crucial information in his car, and he has to get it to the CIA office before other spies take it from him.
  12. Mormon missionary siblings discover that their parents were porn stars in the 80s.
  13. A pizza delivery driver delivers an order to hell, where he meets his personal hero.
  14. A desperate twenty-something applies for a job as a personal assistant and her new boss turns out to be the Antichrist.
  15. A group of women in a retirement community have a contest to see who can sleep with the most people. 
  16. A man in Florida starts a beauty contests for alligators after he’s rejected from the local dog show.
  1. A group of teenagers get totally trashed and have a reckless night of abandon, only to realize at the end of the night that their drunken orgy of a rollicking time was fueled by non-alcoholic beer. 
  2. After two babies are mixed up at the hospital on a nurse’s first day on the job, she has to correct the problem that keeps getting worse. 
  3. An intergalactic bar plays hosts to a group of regular roughnecks who band together to outrank the rival bar one spaceport over. 
  4. A grim reaper trying to optimize his schedule into something resembling a four-hour work week goes too far at one retirement community. 
  5. A cheap transport plane goes down in the ocean, and the pilots find the only thing in the cargo they can use to survive is a ton of rubber dicks and edible boxers.
  6. A writer uses a psychedelic for inspiration and hallucinates Hemingway is in his office, only he’s drunk, abusive, and won’t leave, even after the drugs wear off. 
  7. An anonymous Deep Pocket hires a big public relations firm to run a “Debunk the Bigfoot Myth” campaign, with all kinds of fake sightings and doctored pictures. Turns out, the deep pocket is Bigfoot.
  8. A woman wakes up after head trauma, and hears everybody speak with an extreme potty mouth, but when she speaks without profanity, everybody gasps in shock.
  9. A Navy Seal suddenly develops a series of overwhelming phobias just before it’s his turn to train some new recruits. 
  10. Two First Class passengers get to talking (and big time drinking) on a flight to NYC. They learn they have two things in common. One, they both have occupations that require a secret identity. Two, they’re both bored to tears with their jobs. So the world’s greatest clown and a secret agent agree to swap cell phones – and lives – for three days. But on the third day, one of them refuses to swap back.
  11. A man believes his dog is the second coming of Christ and sets out to prove it.
  12. A group in a retirement home who hold Death hostage until the Devil/God sends the fifth member of the group (who died a month ago) back to Earth and no one else in the retirement home can die until he’s released?
  13. Bigfoot and his family are tired of being outcasts and decide to move into a small rural community. All they have to do is shave off all that hair and they’ll fit right in. Then Junior wants to play football. And he’s GOOD. The little town is going to the state finals for the first time ever. But there’s all that hair … and all that shaving. Or maybe the town finds out and doesn’t care, colludes with the family to keep Junior on the team to win the ballgame — so the Bigfoot family is there in the stands with the crowd, cheering. (But there’s all that hair … and all that shaving.)
  14. A demon possesses a young man. His family, desperate to convince the church to perform an exorcism, post the young man’s wild, horrific, demonic antics on the internet. The church finally agrees. But the videos have made the kid so popular on the internet, he refuses the ceremony. Now the demon is begging for the exorcism but the kid won’t let him go.
  15. Nursing Home wars. It starts out as a couple of old men in two different nursing home playing practical jokes on each other. It escalates, until the nursing homes are in all out war mode. Whoopie cushions and fake vomit and exploding cigars spiral out of control, with each nursing home coming up with a bigger-better mousetrap battle strategy. The staff is powerless to control the mayhem … and the state inspectors are due any minute now.
  16. The undertaker realizes the guy he’s embalming isn’t dead. He’s being paid a fortune to “make him look like he’s asleep.” So he gives him some kind of drug to knock him out. But he keeps waking up during the service,  the undertaker keeps zapping him and the kids don’t believe Ma when she tells them, “I swear Pa is winking at me.”
  17. The Westminster Dog Show from the dogs’ point of view. The St. Bernard stages a rebellion, gathers the other dogs to sabotage the show, doing whatever they have to do to keep that prissy black poodle from winning the grand prize.
  18. A pickup artist/ Men’s Rights Dude makes a deal with the Devil to become a huge star and get ALL the women. However, after he winds up in a coma, an angel and demon make a bet — wagering if the man can achieve similar success as a female. Not just success, but he has to win over the minds of his former clientele and most fervent followers. If he can do it, he gets his life back. If not, he dies and goes to Hell. 
  19. A shoplifter college kid has to do time as a Walmart greeter. 
  20. A Gordon Ramsay type reality star is brought on to a failing fast food chain to make it over.
  21. An Trump-like braggart political figure is sent to Hell where he tries to out-Satan Satan, “even HUGER evil.”
  22. A womanizing playboy actor wakes up to find that his penis has gone. He looks like a Ken Doll down there. 
  23. A woman’s best friend not only steals her husband, but also her position as head of the PTA. Now she’s going to make them both pay.
  24. A down-on-his-luck actor in desperate need of cash for a sister’s operation, gets a role to die for — he has to play a mobster convincingly enough to infiltrate the mob. 
  25. A failed sci-fi writer starts his own religion. Just one problem — the weird alien invasion shit he is talking about starts to REALLY happen.
  26. A dying man forces his 20-year-old son and daughter twins to live together for a year if they want a fortune. Just one problem — one of them is an out-of-control party animal hoarder and the other is an introverted, anxious neat freak. 
  27. A man wakes up suddenly able to understand animals. And they’re plotting the end of humanity unless he can get people to listen to their message. 
  28. A struggling stand-up-comic who is known for her family-friendly show goes off on a dark, very raunchy rant one night and is suddenly finding fame. Just one problem — she hates her persona, so she’s forced to choose money or being true to herself.
  29. A group of extremists unleashes a zombie virus in a Walmart-like store, on Black Friday. The military quarantines the place and will destroy the city unless a crew of stockroom employees led by Virgil to kill every damned zombie in the place. They’ve got 12 hours.
  30. An anti-lobbyist group decides to create the most ridiculous lobby ever to expose just how broken government really is. Just one problem — their plan works a bit too well.
  31. A group of tired elementary school teachers suddenly swap lives with their students during a freak storm.
  32. Comedy (although I feel like any topic can be made into a comedy): An uptight, successful businessman gets a pair of fluffy bunny slippers for his birthday but tosses them into the garbage. He wakes up the next morning with the slippers on his feet. They won’t come off. And they’re alive.
  33. An anti-immigration, homophobic politician dies and begs God for one last chance to redeem himself rather than be sent to hell. So God makes him the guardian angel of an accident-prone, Mexican immigrant who’s a transvestite.
  34. A woman updates her computer’s operating system, only to find that nothing works the way it used to. Fed up with technology, she offers her soul in exchange for all her devices to work the way they are supposed to, dangnabit. Everything suddenly starts working perfectly. The next morning, the Devil arrives to collect on the contract.

Literary Story Prompts

Anything can be literary. Unlike romance, which is an element within a story, literary refers to how that story is told. Sometimes this is simply marketing. A lot of times it’s a categorization issue because literary is a catch-all for any well-told story that doesn’t fit neatly into a pre-determined genre. 

When I first wanted to write something else that wasn’t about robots or aliens or anything especially commercial, I told my writing partner, Johnny, that we should write something “literary as fuck.” So we wrote a story about a man slowly losing his mind with loss and regret on an island he used to visit as an adolescent for a few weeks each summer. The entire book takes place in a few days, and barely anything happens. It’s around 150,000 words. I also love it. 

Literary books can be about anything, because to their core (like any great story), they’re really all about life. 

  1. A man gently takes care of his aging father, (a horribly abusive man who can no longer function alone), while trying to mend the relationship with his son ruined by his own abusive tendencies.
  2. A woman spends her life making baby clothes from the cloth taken from the death shrouds of homeless men and women that die without family.
  3. A young mechanic is inspired by an elderly lady who is taking classes to learn how to fix the family car so she can take the cross-country trip she and her dead husband had planned for years.
  4. A librarian finds in the return bin a book 50 years overdue. He sets out on a journey to discover who checked out the book and why it has been returned only now.
  5. An art critic reflects on her failed marriages as if they were each a misunderstood work of art, while dating a man who is doing the same thing. 
  6. A man dying from a rare disease decides to learn a new skill every day while he still can, each day imagining himself as a master of that craft. 
  7. Our emotionally-unstable teenaged protagonist struggles to find just one thing in this world to believe in. Everyone has failed her. Why should her biological mother be any different? 
  8. Your hero misses her stop on a commuter train and ends up having to take the long way back. She has a series of conversations during her return trip that change the course of her life. 
  9. A super star football player wakes from a 5 year coma caused by a particularly brutal blow to the skull. But as he is reunited with family members, they insist that he was never famous. Never even played football. He was a D student who barely graduated high school and drove a truck for a living. But his memories of being a super star athlete married to a super model wife are entirely real to him.
  10. A beautiful, rich, spoiled young woman has always known what was right for other people — and never let anyone around her forget it. So how can she be so wrong about the people she knows best, and especially herself?
  11. A strange woman walks into an uptight, traditional small town then changes it forever. Ands there’s a reason everyone thinks they’ve seen her before. 
  12. The top-rated hunter-jumper champion in the world suffers a catastrophic fall and is paralyzed from the neck down. Together with a broken-down racetrack Thoroughbred, she must learn to cope with and love her new life.
  13. A trouble teen girl runs away to join the circus and finds everything she’s ever wanted in this new found-family — but at what cost?
  14. The timid son of a clan warrior must take up his father’s mantle and avenge his father when he’s murdered by the enemy clan. Can he find a way to stop the cycle of violence, or will he grow hardened and only perpetuate it?
  15. A child who has been conceived and raised by a fanatical apocalyptic religious group to be the Antichrist must make the decision to either cut the flawless calf’s throat and kick off the apocalypse or refuse to and turn his back on his destiny. Either way, shit is about to get real.
  16. The child long believed by both Heaven and Hell to be the Antichrist turns out to be just a normal human child. Now the real Antichrist is coming into his power, and it’s up to fake Antichrist to find him and save the world.
  17. A little girl worships her older brother. When he is struck and killed by a drunk driver, she decides to walk all over America to tell every driver they should be more careful. Twenty years later, and she’s still walking.
  18. Every single day, an author writes and throws away a new opening line of the novel he’s been working on for twenty years.
  19. A woman grows up believing she is Italian, but after a DNA website result tells her she’s really Mexican, she embarks on an amazing journey of discovery.
  20. At the end of WWII, a Dutch war bride thinks about the youth she’s leaving behind as she sits next to her American husband on a boat that will take her to her new life in a foreign country.
  21. After a popular social media platform becomes the go-to method of cyber-bullying, the inventor donates his billions and moves into isolation to develop a process of online communication that can provide true meaning to mankind only to sit and watch the water.
  22. When a pampered teenager claims to be sick of the world, he gathers his friends on a private island to celebrate with a Suicide Invitational, only to have a heavy dose of reality when his staff rebels, and holds him there (politely but firmly) to teach him a lesson.
  23. A postal worker reflects on the lives of all the people he delivers mail to.
  24. Video game developers get together for a good drunken cry when they find out the server has been defunded on the evening before their next online game’s launch.
  25. When a soldier discovers he is the only one left alive after a big battle, instead of seeking help, he decides to stay and listen to the nature coming back to fill in the sudden silence.
  26. A world-famous Hollywood cosmetic surgeon starts losing his eye sight, but can’t afford to lose any of the exclusive cliental that are paying all of his bills. So he becomes the frontman for another rival surgeon and starts doing everything in his power to keep his secret.
  27. During the remodel of an inherited family home, a man and his wife find his grandmother’s hidden journal, and it’s filled with a life she had been living in secret.
  28. A boy goes on a hunting trip with his uncles only to find out they never kill anything, instead sitting around the fire and talking about the universe.
  29. An ex-convict in the the 1920’s rides on freight trains across America with nothing more than the clothes on his back and the bible in his pocket, knowing in his heart that the Lord will provide.
  30. Your main character has done everything they’ve been told for their entire life, until they leave for college. Now they’re finally away from their parents and truly living for the very first time. 
  31. Your hero opens the door to find an envelope on his front porch. Inside the envelope is an invitation to a secret society he’s never even heard about, but that is going to change his life forever. 
  32. A successful artist’s workshop burns to the ground. Now they must start over from nothing, but do they have it in them? 
  33. Your character just found out he has one month to live. How does he spend it? 
  34. Your main character has unresolved issues with his parents in the family business they run together. She is trapped in an old life and needs to make her escape. 
  35. Anything less than straight As for your main character is completely unacceptable. Is there anything your hero won’t do to bring home that perfect report card? 
  36. Your main character is walking home a way they’ve never gone, later than they’ve ever walked home before. The world is dark, except that one building in the distance beckoning with its glowing neon light. He steps inside the small building, and everything changes. 
  37. Your character works in a bank. The work is mind-numbing, until the day a mysterious stranger comes in and convinces your hero to help her rob the place.
  38. The local small-town theater is closing, and the elderly projectionist compares his life in the booth with the lives of the characters he’s watched for over 50 years.
  39. A man in search of spiritual healing takes a trip into the jungle to visit a shaman who claims he can cure him with a sacred plant.
  40. A girl who collects bugs meets a kindred spirit in the woods behind her house – the reclusive old lady from next door – and they forge a friendship she’ll never forget.
  41. An agoraphobe creates an elaborate life out of detailed dolls, made to look like the people she sees passing by her window.
  42. A man copes with the grief of losing his family by engaging in increasingly risky behavior.
  43. A traveling salesman decides to try to reconnect with his daughter by taking her on a drive across the country.
  44. A dying man goes through a box of his prized possessions on the final day of his life.
  45. A woman in a hospital near the airport watches the planes take off and land, and imagines the life she would have if she was on one of the flights instead of dying alone, also reflecting on the life that brought her to that lonely point.
  46. A minister wrestles with his faith for decades as he watches his inner-city parish gradually erode over time
  47. A famous and beloved actor struggles to regain his relevance and career after a disfiguring accident.
  48. A poor mural artist is commissioned by the KKK to paint their history, and after he accepts the job, he tries to rationalize his decision by watching his family slowly rise out of poverty for the first time in their lives.
  49. A family restaurant changes through four generations, weathering the extremes of time and turmoil through the decades.
  50. The head pastor at a conversion camp must deal with the fallout of his son coming out as gay.

Short Story Prompts

Shorts are a great way to experiment and learn. Ray Bradbury famously suggested that budding writers work on one short story every week for a year because “no one will write fifty-two bad short stories in a row.” That’s great advice. Even if you only follow it a quarter of the way, a dozen plus stories will help you figure out who you are as a writer, putting you in touch with your strengths, weaknesses, and sharpest instincts as a writer. Not all of these prompts will yield narrative stories, some might just lead you to noodling around on the page. That’s not just okay, it’s part of the point. 

These stories can run from a few hundred words to well over ten-thousand of them if that’s where the narrative takes you. Don’t overthink the form. Instead, use these simple prompts to write a handful of shorts that will help you to understand your storytelling self that much better. Many of these prompts start out with you as the character, but you should handle the story in the way that’s most comfortable. Turning the story into third person and creating a character will make it so you’re working on two elements of craft in unison. 

  1. You are sitting in a quiet café, minding your own business, when a man rushes in, throws you a flash drive, and rushes out, leaping into a passing bus and disappearing from view.
  2. You are a servant invited to meet the Queen of England. How did this happen and how does your day go?
  3. You are a bride who has been having an affair with the groomsman. Now he is threatening to tell your betrothed! Write the dialogue and tell your reader how you stopped him.
  4. Write about the most unlikely knight in shining armor.
  5. You’re placing the last of the Christmas presents under the tree when you hear a noise from the chimney. Next thing you know, Santa is in the room. What happens next?
  6. There you are, just minding your own business at the beach when a beach ball lands in your drink. But as you look up to give the culprit a piece of your mind, your words evaporate. Write the story.
  7. You are on the way to your girlfriend’s house to break the relationship off when you receive a text saying she is on her way to the hospital. What happens?
  8. Write about Robin Hood as if you were the Sheriff of Nottingham.
  9. You are at work and mistype a search term into the search engine. What happens?
  10. Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you, but before I do, promise me that you won’t go mad. What is so dreadful and how do you handle it.
  11. Write a story based on the phrase The buck stops here. 
  12. You walk around the corner of a building and find yourself on the same street you just left. Each time you walk around a corner, you end up in the same street. How did you get here and what happens next? 
  13. You are removing your child’s tooth from its container and replacing it with a folded bill when your son walks in and sees you. 
  14. You have a new neighbor but you’ve never met him. The curtains are always drawn, and there is never any sound from his house except for the occasional thump of a music beat. Last night you heard a scream from inside the house. What do you do?
  15. The sun and moon are deep in discussion. Write the dialogue.
  16. You are walking down the street when the woman in front of you trips and falls. You stop to help, gasping when you realize she’s a popular singer. Continue the story.
  17. Describe the perfect way to spend 24 hours.
  18. You are sitting in the park, nonchalantly watching a group of people in a rowboat on the lake, when you realize the background noise you are hearing is not coming from people, but from the birds in the trees. What’s more, they are plotting against the people on the lake. What are the birds plotting and how do you save the people?
  19. You are about to kiss the girl when you see something fall from the sky. Curious, you look and see a small person with wings and a bow and arrow, but one of the arrows is poking from his heart — could this be Cupid? If so, who killed him? 
  20. You are out hiking when a helicopter suddenly THWAPS overhead and lands on the ridge opposite yours. You watch as four people get out, all of them armed. What happens next?
  21. A baby turtle is trying to make his way back to the ocean from the nest on the beach. What trials prevent you from reaching deep water?
  22. The Crown Jewels have disappeared from the magic castle during a secret ceremony involving the Disney Princesses initiating the newest princess into the Magic Kingdom. Who is the new princess? What is her story? Who stole the jewels and why?
  23. You are a snail trying to cross a busy road. Write about how you made it safely to the other side, and all the obstacles you encountered along the way. 
  24. It’s your turn to provide the oranges for the fruit stall at school. You have plundered all the oranges from the bottom of your tree, but now it is time to get serious and attack the ones dotting the top. How do you go about it, and what adventures will you have along the way? 
  25. You are having a few drinks after work with your friends when, unexpectedly, a stranger walks up and takes a swing at someone in your party. Why did they do it and what happens next?
  26. After falling asleep in your own bed, in your own room, you wake to find yourself in a house that isn’t yours! Where are you and how did you get there?
  27. You are a wolf. It has been a long, cold winter. You are weak from malnutrition, and your new pups are starving. Write about your next hunt.
  28. You are walking down the street when you spy a new antique store, except this one has some extremely unusual items. You walk through the door only to find yourself back in the Middle Ages! Describe what you see, what happens next, and how you finally get back to the 21st century.
  29. What family traditions do you have? Start a new one.
  30. Look outside your window. Describe what it looks like, then imagine that a tornado has torn through the world. What does it look like now?
  31. You are a special agent, undercover. You are under orders to retrieve a file from your boss’s computer but only have 10 minutes to do so. The problem is, your boss is in the middle of a meeting in his office with all the members of the board. How do you successfully achieve your mission?
  32. You are onboard a spaceship when members of the planet Xebotia board it. The aliens have X-ray vision, but they also have a fatal flaw allowing your crew to reclaim their ship. Tell the story.
  33. What happens when two enchanted frogs kiss?
  34. In a world run by artificial intelligence, you are having trouble getting your kitchen robot to make you a decent cup of coffee. How do you teach it?
  35. You are casually looking skyward when a small aircraft lands on your shoulder. A being steps out, then climbs up your neck and whispers in your ear. What does he say and what happens next?
  36. You are driving down the road when you notice you are the only one driving in your direction, and that there seems to be an endless stream of cars going the other way. You look up and notice that there is nothing but pitch black ahead, and it is too late to turn around. The blackness swallows you.
    What happens next?
  37. It is the middle of the 17th century and you are about to watch a man get hung who you know is innocent. How do you save him?
  38. You are an evil wizard who is placing a curse on the hero threatening to collapse your empire. What is the curse?
  39. The heir to the galaxy is trapped in a box protected by a force field, suspended over an abyss, and surrounded by armed robots. All you have is your trusty stun gun and 10 liters of water. How do you rescue the child and save the universe? 
  40. Earth is in the hands of a president who has raped and pillaged most of its resources to suit his own needs. You have just intercepted a transmission between intergalactic travelers and discovered that one of them is on a mission to kill Earth’s evil president. What do you do?
  41. You are in the park when an elderly couple get up and begin to dance. Describe the scene. 
  42. You are a fairy who has lost her wings. How did you lose them and how do you get them back?
  43. Out hiking in the woods, you fall down a hole. It is a long way down and the wall to the hole is smooth and unassailable. You slowly realize with a creeping horror that you have fallen into a troll’s cave. What happens next?
  44. You are taking your sparrow on a morning flight through the woods when you fly through a spider web. Your sparrow keeps flying, but you are stuck! How do you get out?
  45. You have a teddy bear with magical powers, but an evil goblin has stolen it and taken it back to its lair. How do you retrieve it?  
  46. You live under the sea and see something that threatens your entire community. But you were in the forbidden waters outside the town boundaries when you saw it. What is threatening your people and how do you save them?
  47. Made famous by the 2005 movie March of the Penguins, the Emperor Penguin battles for days over icy terrain, braving sub-zero temperatures and Antarctic storms to reach a suitable breeding ground. Once there, they find a partner and mate. The female lays an egg, which the male sits on for over 100 days while the female returns to the sea. She returns around the same time as the egg hatches, and the family heads back to the sea. You are an Emperor Penguin starting on your journey to find a mate. Tell your tale of the long walk and return journey.
  48. The dwarves come home from their day at the mine to find a note saying that Happy has been captured and that he would be released only after certain conditions are met. What are those conditions and who is the culprit?
  49. You are in your old tree house when you spy something lodged in the corner of one of the wooden beams. It is a note, one that will change the course of your life. What does the note say?
  50. You bring your empty trash can in at the end of the day, but when you look inside you see something stuck to the bottom. It looks familiar, but surely not. With shaking hands you reach down and pull the offending trash off. Write the rest of the story.
  51. You have signed on to your new social media account and are looking up some old friends. You see a picture of someone who looks like a good friend of yours, but the name doesn’t match. Curious, you delve deeper and find that it is your friend, but that he has a whole other life that you didn’t know about. Describe how he is living his double life according to what he has written on social media.
  52. People have always said that you and your best friend look alike, but you weren’t expecting to find out just how much DNA you share. Write about how you discovered that your best friend was really your sibling, as well as the repercussions for your family and friendship.
  53. You have bought a trampoline for your family, but when you unpack it you find that the cover is ripped and four of the springs are broken. When you phone the store to tell them you are returning it, they apologize and explain that there are no refunds. What do you do?
  54. You have just finished dinner with a good friend at a pricy restaurant and excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. When you return you see your friend leaving the premises. You call them back, but they ignore you, leaving you with the hefty bill. What do you do?
  55. It’s your birthday and you want to celebrate with a party, but you want someone else to organize it for you. How do you go about getting a party thrown for you without actually asking for one?
  56. You find an intact scallop shell on the beach. A small mermaid offers you one wish in return for her safe return to the sea when you open it. What do you wish for and what happens after that?
  57. You are scuba diving off the coast of Hawaii when a large shadow is seen swimming between you and the shore. What do you do?
  58. You have just climbed to the top of a mountain when it starts to rumble. What happens next?
  59. You are on a ski slope when you hear an ominous rumbling from — an avalanche! What happens next?
  60. You are snorkeling and feeding fish when one of them bites your finger, grins at you, flips you a flipper, and swims away. You swear it’s your imagination until the second small fish pokes you in the eye. What happens next?
  61. You are kayaking down a large, slow-moving river when you notice that you seem to be picking up speed. The birds have stopped tweeting, and you can hear a rumbling from up ahead. What happens next?
  62. It is the 16th century and your ship has just been boarded by pirates. How do you escape?
  63. You are a very capable wizard but a warlock has stolen your powers and is intent on taking over the world. How do you defeat him?
  64. You wake up to find a goblin sitting on your bed. He says he has a very important message for you. What is it, and what happens next?
  65. You are out hiking in unfamiliar territory when you see a decrepit cabin, located just off the track. Entering it, you find a word that chills you to your core written on the wall in blood. The blood is still dripping. What is the word, and what happens next?
  66. One minute you are standing in line at the supermarket. The next you are holding a gun surrounded by three dead bodies. What happened?
  67. A pack of angry dogs is getting closer and about to attack when you are swooped into the air. Who (or what) is carrying you and where are you going?
  68. You wake up to find a poisonous snake wrapped around your leg. How do you get out of this one?
  69. You open the coffee jar and see several dead ants. It is the first coffee of the morning and the only coffee in the house. Do you still drink it? What happens?
  70. You have just finished a workout and sit down for a well-earned drink. You take a few big gulps from your water bottle and are about to grab a couple more when you start to feel a bit weird. Your head feels like it is about to explode. Your hands and feet start to swell, and, as you are processing all that, you feel a lump building on your bum — almost as if a tail were growing! What is happening?
  71. You are having fun on the dance floor at a nightclub when you notice everyone smiling and pointing at you. What has made you the center of attention? What happens during the remainder of the night?
  72. You have won $150 million in the lottery, but a bad call has meant you lost $149 million of it. How did this happen and what would you do with the remaining million dollars?
  73. You have to pay back a loan by 1 p.m. tomorrow, and the only way that you can do it is by winning a bet that has the odds stacked against it. You have placed your entire savings on a game of Roulette. What is the outcome?
  74. You are in the middle of robbing a bank when you realize that one of your team is about to sound an alarm and spark an ambush. How do you get away?
  75. You have found out someone close to you has stolen your winning lottery ticket and claimed it as his own, but only once the claims process is over. He has moved on with his new life and left you in the cold. Write about your revenge.
  76. As you are walking down the street with your spouse, a stranger confronts you, making accusations that you had an affair with his partner and ruined his relationship. Whether you are guilty or not is irrelevant. The suggestion has placed a strain on your spouse. How do you save your own marriage and convince the stranger you are innocent?
  77. You are a secret agent who is deep undercover in the middle of a supermarket. The deal you have been waiting for is about to happen and all units are on standby when your mom walks into the store to buy milk. She sees you but doesn’t know that you are an undercover agent. What happens next? 
  78. You come home after a particularly grueling day only to find that your family is even more demanding than your workday. You secretly wish that they would all just go away and leave you in peace. You wake up the next morning and you are alone. How do you get your family back?
  79. It is your turn at the cauldron for the weekly witches and warlocks team-building exercise. To your horror, you see that you have left out the Dragon’s Breath. You look around at the gathered group. Describe what you see. 
  80. You are on a blind date with the partner of your dreams, but as the person starts talking, you realize that you have sat down at the wrong table. You look around and see your arranged blind date partner waiting at a table across the room, but you are entranced by the person before you. How does it end? 
  81. You see your best friend intimately kissing a major celebrity, and you know that they are not on the couple’s free pass list! What do you do?
  82. You spy a dress in a store window that would be perfect for your daughter’s wedding. You rush in to try it on, but as you reach for it, so does Lady Gaga. It is the last dress in a designer store and you have to have it; so does she. Write the story. 
  83. There is a bouquet of flowers on the windowsill, and as you are admiring them, a small fairy steps from one of the flowers, waves, and says “hello.” Write the dialogue for your conversation with the fairy.
  84. You promised your son the cool racing car (the one with the programmable keypad on its roof), but when you go to get it, the store has sold out, except the one in the window. To your horror, you see another person ask the shop assistant for it. How do you get the potential buyer to hand you the car without any hard feelings?
  85. Pick up a dictionary; let it fall open to a page. Choose 10 words from this page and make up a story. 
  86. Your mother-in-law has caught you in a compromising position with someone who isn’t your partner. Write the dialogue for this scene and the scene immediately following it.
  87. You can read minds. As you sit in the park, imagine the conversation going on between the other occupants.
  88. You are a member of Starfleet returning from a mission, but instead of being beamed back to the USS Enterprise, you have been sent to the Klingon ship tailing them! How do you survive and get back to the Enterprise?
  89. You are on your surfboard and about to finish a good morning’s worth of surfing when you see the mother of all waves brewing. You are an experienced surfer, but this could be one for the record books — if you survive. What do you do?
  90. A witch holds out her hand, offering you two pills. One means certain death, the other a life beyond your dreams. How did you end up in this predicament? Which do you choose?
  91. You have been shipwrecked on an island with 12 beauty queen contestants, a life raft with a hole in it, chewing gum, a flare gun (with one flare), and a children’s party pack which includes balloons, crayons, and paper. The main island is only a couple of miles away. How do you get off the island? Do you want to?
  92. After a night on the town, you wake in the morning with a sore head, a bruised face, and your wife standing over you with a hotel receipt and drink tab. She is screaming for answers that you don’t have. Retrace your steps and find out what really happened.
  93. All year you and your friends have been talking about the remote control monster truck and all the cool things you would do with it once you got it. Christmas day comes and your brother gets the truck. You get a tank instead. (And it’s not even remote-controlled!) Describe your reaction and the reaction of your friends.
  94. You have to give the Incredible Hulk a message that you know will make him angry. Describe the scene and the consequences.
  95. Having been on a diet for an entire month, you allow yourself a little treat from a local fast food restaurant. You have been looking forward to this moment for so long. You take the first bite of your burger and scarf it down, enjoying the taste of the forbidden food. You open your eyes to take your next bite and immediately start to gag when you see. What happens next?
  96. What if evil Lord Voldemort had convinced Harry Potter to join him?
  97. Stopping at the local takeout to get dinner for your family on your way home, you place your order through the drive-through. You get your order from the counter only to find that it isn’t yours. You assume it belongs to the car behind you. You get out and approach the car but realize too late that it is full of thugs, and they have already started opening the packets of food. They see you approaching the car and start to get out. What happens next?
  98. You wake up in the morning to find that you have shrunk to the size of a mouse. Describe your day from that point forward.
  99. You are in the times of Henry VIII and a part of his court during one of the great feasts. Describe the occasion.
  100. You are asked to collect the eggs from the chicken coop for breakfast, and while this wouldn’t normally bother you, there is one chicken that seems intent on pecking you to death. How do you collect the eggs and make it out alive?
  101. Uh-oh, you didn’t take out the trash — again! This time you’ll be grounded for sure. You’ll miss the big party and your first official public appearance with your new girlfriend! Find a convincing argument that stops you from getting grounded.
  102. You are a Barbie or G.I. Joe doll. Write about a day in your life.
  103. You have just discovered that your lifelong friend is actually an enemy agent who is using you as a source of information for a terrorist organization. Now that your current work assignment has finished, you are surplus to requirements and must be eliminated! Finish the story.
  104. Your friend and his partner have just split up and are having a heated argument. Both of them suddenly turn to you, each expecting support. Write the dialogue for this scene. 
  105. Your father has been dead for a decade and your mom has decided it’s finally time to give his old clothes away. As you are helping her pack, you discover a trinket in the pocket of one of his old coats. You show it to your mother and she gasps, then bursts into tears. What is it, and what is the story behind it?
  106. Create a story around the phrase, “Life goes on.”
  107. You have been given backstage meet-and-greet passes to your favorite band and are over the moon at the prospect. Just before the concert, you see the lead singer bullying one of his roadies and being rude to onlookers. Write a story about the meet-and-greet with this new understanding of your idol.
  108. In the birdcage before a big race, the jockeys, owners, and trainers are having a lively conversation. So are the racehorses. Write the dialogue. 
  109. You are deep into a game of chess with your dad when you hear a thump from upstairs. You are the only two people in the house, and the dog is outside. What happens next?
  110. You are at a wedding when the bride suddenly picks her bowl of raspberry sorbet and dumps it on the best man’s head. What happens then?
  111. Caught up in a protest that you had nothing to do with, you end up in a cell with some extremely shady characters. Describe your time inside. 
  112. You send the wrong text to the wrong person. Describe the fallout.
  113. You answer the doorbell to see Abraham Lincoln standing at the door. 
  114. What if it wasn’t an iceberg that sunk the Titanic? Write an alternative version of events.
  115. Elvis is alive! He came and spoke to you. Tell the story and make a convincing argument.
  116. You are in the garden when you discover a large egg. As you watch, it cracks open and a baby Tyrannosaurus rex struggles out!. What happens next? 
  117. You have just signed the loan docs and picked up your new car. It is brand new and you have been waiting for it for months. As you drive it out of the show room, you hear a sickening crunch. Write about the experience.
  118. It is parent-teacher conference time at school and you’ve been relaxed about your child’s progress throughout the year. But, what the teacher says comes as a complete shock!
  119. You find a four-leaf clover. How did the rest of your day go?
  120. What if, instead of being sweet and innocent, Snow White was an evil, vindictive, vain, and jealous stepdaughter. Write her story.
  121. Your friend loses her job after posting to her Facebook page while drunk and tearing down her boss in the process. Write how you would get her job back for her.
  122. Turn the words of your favorite song into a story using the last word from each line as the starting point for each new sentence.
  123. You hit a bump in the car on your way to a cocktail party, and it is only when you go to the bathroom halfway through the night when you finally realize you have smeared lipstick on your cheek. How do you get through the remainder of the evening with your dignity intact?
  124. You live by a river and there has been heavy rain for days, causing the flood banks to break. The floodwaters are rising and your house is next in line. Your family is safe and you have time to save one more item. What do you take and why?
  125. Your brother has gone to the hospital and has asked you to care for his pet dragon while he is gone. How does your first day go? Write about the experience.
  126. You have just bought a piece of diamond jewelry but have discovered too late that it is fake. How did you make the discovery and what did you do next? 
  127. Watch the news, pick a story, and write as if you were a part of it.
  128. It is the local Easter egg hunt and everyone is excited. This year’s prize is a giant chocolate Easter bunny. The eggs are all in their hiding places, but the big prize has almost vanished. Almost, because all that remains are the bunny’s feet, still wrapped in their foil. Who ate the Easter bunny and why?
  129. Write about the day you saved someone’s life. It could be real or imagined.
  130. You are about to get married, but have just realized that you don’t want to. Go through the discussion you are having with yourself in your head and name all the excuses you can come up with for not getting married.
  131. You are a spider in a busy department store. Write about your day.
  132. You are the key witness in a murder and have to point the murderer out in a lineup. Write about your experience.
  133. You have to leave the country via a one-way plane ticket to a destination of your choosing. Where would you go and why?
  134. You see a complete stranger and know they are ‘the one’. You walk up and propose to them right then and there. Write about this experience and the rest of the evening. 
  135. You wake up in the morning to find that you are now 12 feet tall. Write about your first day as a giant.
  136. Who are your two favorite cartoon characters? What would happen if they teamed up for the day?
  137. Waking up in someone else’s bed after a one-night stand, you realize your mistake and try to sneak away. The figure in the bed wakes and asks where you are going. What happens next?
  138. How did Itsy Bitsy spider finally make it up the waterspout?
  139. You go into the bank to make a withdrawal and find that someone else has assumed your identity. Everywhere you look you see their face instead of yours. How did it happen and what do you do?
  140. As you are cutting steak for dinner, you accidentally drop the knife. It lands deep in your foot but you feel no pain. When you remove the knife, you discover that the wound closes immediately. Overnight you have become invincible — with one catch. Describe the catch and how your life is about to change.
  141. You are a real estate agent looking through a home for the first time. Write about the house. 
  142. You are in the final stages of planning a party for your parents’ 40th wedding anniversary, only to find out from your aunt that they have been separated for 20 years and have only been keeping up appearances for your sake. What do you do?
  143. You know the story of William Tell shooting the apple off his son’s head. Now write the story from the son’s perspective.
  144. You are a fly on the wall. What do you see and hear?
  145. You are about to shut your computer down when an instant message appears that makes you slam the lid shut and run out of the room. What did it say and what are you doing next?
  146. It is time to update the picture frames in your home, but when you go to swap the one of your partner fishing on a holiday several years ago, you find another photo hiding behind it. You suddenly feel sick. Write the story. 
  147. You wake up one morning with aching shoulders and discover that you have grown wings overnight. Write about your first week and explain how you came to have them. 
  148. Your new baby belches and flames shoot from his mouth. Write the story.
  149. Write a story about the foggy Christmas Eve when Rudolph the Reindeer’s nose finally stopped working.
  150. Write a story based on the advice to, Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
  151. “Hi, sorry I’m late!” You rush into your job interview with your jacket sleeve torn, olive oil on your shirt, dried cereal on your trousers, barefoot, and with chicken shit in your hair. Explain how your day went so horribly wrong, then how you not only made the interview, but landed the job as well!
  152. What are the best and worst things about the different hair colors and their stereotypes?
  153. You wake up to find that you are five years old again but trapped in your adult body. Write about your first day.
  154. You enter the restaurant to meet your blind date and you see your ex-partner waiting. What happens? Write the story.
  155. Gremlins have taken over your computer. What effect has this had and how do you get rid of them?
  156. You have just posted a Facebook status that is open to interpretation in many ways. A friend has commented with the word ‘whatever’. Give your status update, three different scenarios for interpretation of this update, three different interpretations of the word ‘whatever’, and the outcomes of each.
  157. A banker, a postal worker, and a cheerleader are on a tourist bus. They discover they have something in common that could change all their lives. What is it and how do they find out?
  158. It is the 21st century. You enter a shop, and when you walk out 20 minutes later you find that 400 years have passed and it is now the 25th century! Write the story.
  159. You are looking after a friend’s place while they are on holiday, but disaster has struck! Write the story.
  160. Write a story based on the phrase, There but for the grace of God.
  161. Write the David and Goliath story arc from Goliath’s perspective.
  162. Your best friend is about to audition for America’s Got Talent, but there is one problem; she is terrible. She has asked you to accompany her to the audition. Write about the day.
  163. You are a goldfish. He is a cat. Your owners are out. He is inside. Describe the next three minutes.
  164. What lies on the dark side of the moon?
  165. You see your boyfriend chatting up Taylor Swift. How do you turn his spotlight back onto you?
  166. Create the dialogue between the wedding rings during the wedding day.
  167. You just washed your mom’s $500 scarf and now it is ruined. How do you get out of this one?
  168. You are in a cave and your wallet is missing. What’s more, you have nothing but a match, a stone, and a gold coin in your pocket. How did you get here and how do you get home?
  169. Your best friend is in hospital, badly injured. Describe your first visit.
  170. What if Frodo had kept the ring instead of throwing it into Mount Doom?
  171. You are the HR manager for Santa Claus Inc. It’s three weeks before Christmas and the elves have delivered a list of (unreasonable) demands that must be met before they start working again. List the demands and explain how you got the elves back to work without giving in to their demands.
  172. You head out to your car and see a centaur standing there. He carries an important message. What is the message and who is it from? What happens next?
  173. You downloaded the wrong app to your smart phone and haven’t had time to delete it when your significant other sees it and goes bananas. Write the story.
  174. You have been going out with a person for a couple of months when you realize that the person you slept with the night before was their identical twin. What happens next?
  175. Your partner comes home saying that they have just placed your life savings on a long shot. Write the story.
  176. You have been working at your firm for over a year without any hassles, but for the second week in a row your pay hasn’t gone through as expected. No one else is affected. What is happening?
  177. What if every appliance you use today breaks down? Write about how it affects your day.
  178. Write about a day living in the Stone Age.
  179. You are watching your favorite TV show and close your eyes for a minute. When you open them again you are a part of the show and looking back at yourself on the couch! Write the story.
  180. You see an ornate stick. Picking it up you give it a jiggle. Sparks fly from the end and you realize you have found a magic wand! What do you do with it and how does it find its true owner? 
  181. You and a friend work for the same company and have the same boss. Your friend is officially taking a sick day, but you know he is really playing golf and bragging about how he has his boss wrapped around his finger. Meanwhile, your boss tells you that your friend is skating on thin ice and you are next in line for his job. It is a big promotion. What do you do? Write the story.
  182. Write a short story based on the phrase, “Still waters run deep.” 
  183. George and John are still alive and The Beatles have reformed. In 2020 they put out their first album in many decades. Write a review of the show.
  184. What celebrity would you bring back to life and why?
  185. It is the 2020 Olympic Games. You are just about to light the Olympic flame to open the games when the torch blows out! What happens next?
  186. Write a story depicting why diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
  187. You are a beauty therapist and the Yeti walks in and requests a makeover. Describe the next 24 hours.
  188. What lies behind door 16? Write the story.
  189. You have been asked to write a reference for someone you had to fire for gross misconduct. They need the reference to help them get the job, and a good reference will stop their lawsuit against you, but you don’t want to misrepresent the employee to the prospective employer either. Write it so that it looks good to the employee, but that an employer would be able to read between the lines and see the warning.
  190. Your friend’s daughter is lying drunk in a pool of vomit in your house. This is not the first time it has happened and you know you should tell her parents, but you also know that it will mean that the daughter will be punished in a way you don’t agree with. How do you handle it?
  191. You have just found out your partner’s father is not their biological parent, but that they are the result of an affair that their mother had. Who is the real father? What are the repercussions? How does your partner find out? What happens?
  192. You have just discovered you have an identical twin. How did you find out? How were you separated? What has their life been like? Write the story.
  193. You are an heir to a large fortune and have many suitors because of it. How do you vet potential partners? What tests do you make them pass to weed out the gold diggers?
  194. You are at a formal event in an exclusive resort when one of the guests picks up another and throws them in the pool. This starts a chain reaction of pool fights. How did it start and where does it end?
  195. You are on the beach having a picnic with your family when an arm washes onto the sand. Write the story.
  196. You have the house to yourself for the first time in years, and on the radio you hear one of your favorite songs. You throw inhibition to the wind, take a step back into your past, and pretend you are the lead singer, lead guitarist, and drummer all at the same time. When you look up you see that your neighbor’s son has been videotaping the entire thing with his phone and is intent on uploading it to YouTube. What happens next?
  197. You are walking down a street in 2020, when you notice the world around you changing. When it stops, you realize that it is the same street, but the year is 1812.
  198. You are the hero and the damsel is in distress, but there is one problem. You don’t want to rescue her! Write the story.
  199. 100. You are at your boss’s house for your first official dinner and are incredibly nervous. All is going well until you visit the bathroom, and instead of the water swirling and disappearing, it starts to rise! What happens next?
  200. Write a story based on the phrase, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
  201. Write about the difference between love and hate. Create a story depicting the similarities and differences.
  202. Look out your window and choose two people at random. Write about their lives.
  203. You awaken from a deep sleep to find yourself floating in the air and bumping on the ceiling. Write the story.
  204. You have to shift a pile of rocks to retrieve something hidden under it that will save the world. But for every rock you take away, another replaces it. How do you clear the pile, and what lies beneath? Write the story.
  205. Finish a story with, and that’s why you should never look a gift horse in the mouth.
  206. A friend meets you outside a shop and complains about an experience they had inside. You reply with, ”Funny, I had a similar experience last week.” Write the story.
  207. Look at a child and write about their life in 20 years’ time. 
  208. Write two stories. The first is about a family who has a comfortable living but suffers from the stress of living slightly beyond their means. The second family has less income, but less stress. What are the pros and cons to each? Now change the circumstances of each family.
  209. What is the difference between beautiful and ugly? Write a story using your definitions. 
  210. You are checking your emails on your partner’s computer when you see a new file on the desktop called TSFMEO. Curious, you try to look inside but it is password-protected. At the third attempt resulting in failure, a red warning sign appears. Write the story.
  211. Write a story based on the phrase, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”
  212. Your neighbor asks you to kill her husband. She are serious and you are considering it. Write the story.
  213. Take one of Aesop’s Fables and modernize it with both setting and characters.
  214. Take a book, television show, or movie you love, and retell the story in a way where an ancient civilization could easily understand it. 
  215. A woman wakes up to find her cat’s muzzle covered in blood, and the cops are knocking at the door.
  216. A man comes home from work to find everything he owns has been replaced with a better version.
  217. A prisoner is released after ten years in prison to a world that hasn’t changed a day since his conviction.
  218. A woman tries to purge herself of all technology when every person on every media platform starts talking just to her.
  219. A man trying to lose weight wishes food tasted like nothing, but he gains even more weight in a frantic attempt to taste something again.
  220. A boy in the park during a snowfall attempts to escape the pain when each snowflake begins to burn through his clothes.
  221. A cursed mummy finally wakes up to find out the world has long since been destroyed.
  222. A superhero loses his powers every time he’s near the woman he loves.
  223. The creepy voices a young mother hears from the baby monitor turn out to belong to her newborn twins.
  224. A party clown develops a crippling fear of children.
  225. A family gets trapped in a carnival overnight and discovers it’s a front for something evil. 
  226. Your hero is sure that the father across the street is abusing his family, so he breaks in while the man is at work to look around and finds something even worse.
  227. A person stuck in an argument is sure that this is more than a case of deja vu. Surely he’s had this argument again and again and again and again …
  228. A vampire has a conversation with his great, great, great granddaughter, while thinking about his long life and how lucky and unlucky he’s been to see so many generations. She just thinks he’s a “very nice man” she met on Halloween night. 
  229. A one-night stand goes horribly, darkly awry. 
  230. A tiny meteor lands in the center of a small town and the story starts with everyone staring at it.  
  231. What terrifies you? Write a story where you must deal with your phobia head-on.
  232. A mom turned vampire talks her children into joining her in the eternal darkness. 
  233. A bitten man can feel himself slowly turning into a zombie, but from food to sex he wants to experience as much pleasure as he possibly can, before blowing his brains out. 
  234. A gentle-hearted person is offered an incredible sum of money to kill an evil man. 
  235. You wake up and the world is subtly different. Nothing is drastically different, but there are innumerable things that feel slightly off, as though someone has made an imperfect copy. 
  236. A beloved dog has had such an impact on a family’s lives, when it’s time to put her down, they have a party where they share memories of her throughout the years, and pamper her as the guest of honor.
  237. We follow a rat as it crawls around a New York City deli, observing the people who work and shop there.
  238. A heartbroken woman watches from the back of a cop car as Animal Control removes her more than 100 cats. She knows each one by name.
  239. A lonely telemarketer gets into a late-night conversation with a lonely businessman when he discovers they have a recent tragedy in common.
  240. An agoraphobic man must finally conquer his fears and venture outside.
  241. A window washer on a high-rise apartment wishes he could have the lives of those inside.
  242. Write the story of a warlock going to therapy. 
  243. An alien mothership is hovering above the White House. Four friends are on their way to see it. 
  244. This hotel services a very special client, and is word of mouth only. Describe what happens when you go to this hotel. 
  245. A womanizer is assaulted by his technology ganging up against him. 
  246. A mysterious library has books about everyone who will ever walk into it, and the librarian has a knack for pointing visitors to just the book that will change everything.
  247. A person wakes up from a particularly vivid dream of a forest to find they’re holding a fresh green leaf.
  248. Tell the story of the circumstances that drove a wealthy man to trade it all away for a glass of water.
  249. A fourteen-year-old girl confronts her mother about the gun she found in the bedside table.
  250. An elderly man’s walk around the block brings both tears and heartwarming moments.

Story Starters

While story ideas are plentiful, sometimes all you need is a starting point. Choose any one of the following sentences and see where the story takes you. 

  1. “Mauve Lewis – come on up!” Shocked, Mauve struggled to her feet and …
  2. The man set the briefcase on the floor and fled the airport …
  3. After hearing the news, Jake ran to the phone and dialed …
  4. In that instant she realized …
  5. The woman looked as if she … 
  6. The dog barred its teeth and …
  7. She hurried out of the ballroom and turned toward …
  8. He parted the curtains and …
  9. He gave three taps on the stone wall and …
  10. Shaking the feeling of … he headed down the passage. From his left came …
  11. Her face lit up as she …
  12. The old teddy bear felt oddly out of shape. Turning it over, he saw …
  13. You are just flying along, minding your own business when out of the blue …
  14. The phone rings, but it’s not the usual tune, or the usual caller …
  15. She turned out the light and was nearly asleep when …
  16. Suddenly the guitarist stopped cold and …
  17. “Shots fired! Shots fired.” The sergeant ducked, dragging the …
  18. She looked at the dog, and to her surprise it …
  19. They dug until …
  20. The soft sounds of Pan playing his flute lulled Sophie into …
  21. They stared open-mouthed at …
  22. As the wind whipped around her, she felt herself losing control, “Go Bella! Now, before it’s too late!” cried …
  23. “I told you so,” Sam said as …
  24. George and his friends ran toward the house. George is sobbing, with blood streaming from his nose. “What happened?” Ronald asked, open-mouthed. “It was …
  25. You are on a camping trip with friends. After a night of campfires, beer, and horror stories it is time for bed. You are nearly asleep when …
  26. She was hysterical by the time they … 
  27. With the building collapsing around them, Sarah turned to Joseph and screamed, “Wait!” He turned and …
  28. “I know who the culprit is,” the detective grinned, “the only person who …
  29. As the craft came in for landing, the pilot started his landing procedure when suddenly …
  30. As she stared out the window, she grew suddenly aware that …
  31. They kissed passionately and began fumbling for the bed when …
  32. He hung his head, if only …
  33. Hearing the news, his mother stared at him with an expression of …
  34. The group listened intently; the tapping seemed to be coming from inside the wall. They looked at one another and …
  35. She stared at the test results and …
  36. “Take a look down there.” The old man pointed to the …
  37. “Oh God, I am so sorry,” he stuttered, then …
  38. Sarah swiveled her chair, then looked in the mirror. She let out a …
  39. The hills are alive with …
  40. “Talking to you is like …!” she screamed, storming from the room. Jim let her go before picking up the knife and …
  41. She could feel the heat against her legs. Bracing herself she …
  42. Everything went fine at the swim meet until …
  43. The crack of gunfire signaled the start of the race. The runners took off and the crowd stared in disbelief as …
  44. On the other side of the street, the girl turned and gave a quick wave before …
  45. I was walking down the road when suddenly …
  46. The sun was setting when it told me …
  47. Breathless, Kelly made it up the stairs. As she reached for the door …
  48. Looking down, he saw …
  49. Karen reached up on tiptoes, stretched as high as she could, and …
  50. The child ran into …
  51. In a flash the …
  52. The truck was swinging wildly in the wind when suddenly a …
  53. “Looks like the fish are biting today! Hey what’s that floating up there? It looks like …
  54. Filled with berries and streaming with maple syrup, the pancake stack looked delicious. But that was before …
  55. Clearing away the steam, he looked in the mirror and let out a blood-curdling scream, crying …
  56. Typical, it is your first blind date and it is already turning into a disaster, starting with …
  57. Reaching into his pockets, he felt the carved stone. Hopefully it would do its job and they would all get out of this alive. He took a step forward and …
  58. James gasped at the note that slipped from the fortune cookie. Shaking, he showed it to Rebecca …
  59. “Last call for Flight 502. All passengers should now be at the gate ready to board,” came the announcement. Sandy wanted to get on the plane, but …
  60. “Uh-oh, you probably shouldn’t have done that,” said …
  61. The long-jumper was just starting his run when the crowd’s eruption made him stop. He turned to see what was happening and …
  62. You are following a truck and trailer unit when you suddenly have to slam on the brakes because …
  63. You watch as the tiger approaches its prey. Without warning …
  64. The dragon laughed. “You fool, thinking you could …
  65. I never meant for it to get so out of control. It was only supposed to be …
  66. She would never again …
  67. It wasn’t just a …
  68. The stag leaned forward and whispered…
  69. If he closed his eyes, maybe it would…
  70. Once upon a time, there was an orc who…
  71. The person standing before me was …
  72. She hated it when …
  73. The shelves before him were covered in …
  74. Six shots, seven bullets left …
  75. Black and white, red all over, and both about to die …
  76. There were only two of them now, and maybe a hundred on the other side of a crumbling rampart. Reinforcements weren’t coming …
  77. “You don’t get to talk to me like that,” she said, clenching her fists …
  78. Abraham had been here before. But this time he wasn’t going to die … 
  79. Dammit son, I told you not to rouse the velociraptor again …
  80. The tree grew over two feet that first day, and that was far from the worst of it …
  81. All the lights turned on at once. Emily wished that they hadn’t … 
  82. She opened the car door and got inside, even knowing she’d probably never get out again … 
  83. “Is that all you’ve got?” He clenched his fists, ready for more …
  84. Jake reloaded, drew a breath, then stepped into the fray … 
  85. Bella closed her eyes in Missouri and opened them in Oklahoma without a clue how she ended up there …
  86. There are only two things you really need to know in life: …
  87. I knew it was going to be the last time I saw her when …
  88. It’s been twenty years since I thought about …
  89. I’ve never been much of a fighter, but that Tuesday afternoon …
  90. I’d always sworn to myself that I’d never go back there, but …
  91. There was something different about the bus ride that morning … 
  92. The only problem with Kristina is …
  93. Me and my twin sister have pulled some pranks in our day, but none of them …
  94. “This was supposed to be a couples’ getaway. Why are there three …”
  95. “I’m sorry, this is a closed club …”
  96. She turned around, saw the impossible, and her groceries fell to the floor … 
  97. There was an ear splitting silence, followed by an explosion …
  98. The butter knife would have to do …
  99. Everyone died, but not everyone came back …
  100. Lucy was the last person to leave her planet …

Creative Writing Prompts

General writing prompts are different from story prompts in that their purpose isn’t to have a beginning, middle, and end to a story so much as getting your mind moving. The purpose of a creative writing prompt is simply to write. 

From story starters to opinions and rants, the purpose of the following prompts is to get your brain moving fast. They’re like little stories for yourself, designed to help you build the writing habit and learn who you are as a writer, without adhering to the beginning, middle, and end of a more narrative short.

  1. You have a conversation with a ghost from your past. What do they say?
  2. You are a real estate agent and have the opportunity to sell the home of your dreams, except for one small detail: It is haunted. Write the listing for this house!
  3. You have three more hours in the day. What do you do with them?
  4. If you could interview one person (alive or dead), who would it be and what would you ask?
  5. Write 15 reasons why you don’t like Mondays. Now write 15 reasons why you do like Mondays.
  6. Choose something you can never have too many of. List 20 reasons why you can’t have too many of them.
  7. Write a schedule of events for a witch on Friday the 13th.
  8. Design a pair of Jimmy Choo style shoes for a tinker fairy.
  9. Take the first two letters of the name of your favorite TV show (or if it is CSI, NCIS or SVU, just use those letters). Choose a word that begins with each letter and use these words as your prompt.
  10. If you had the chance to have two cosmetic surgery operations at no charge, what two things would you change and why? 
  11. A person who never seemed to have a serious side suddenly died. Write their epitaph.
  12. You have 10 minutes to write about how you would build a billion dollar business. 
  13. What is the worst invention ever, and why?
  14. Choose words that start with the letters of your name to use as writing prompts. Write a story incorporating those words.
  15. Have a look around your home and choose a product to review.
  16. What have been the best April Fools pranks that you have seen or heard? Create a new one.
  17. Write a newspaper report on the death of Humpty Dumpty. Include the headline and interviews with key witnesses.
  18. Describe the monster hiding in your closet.
  19. Your power and phone are down indefinitely. What do you do? How would you cope?
  20. Choose seven insects and describe them as if they were people in your life. 
  21. It is 20 years into the future and you are receiving a very special award. What is it and how did you earn it?
  22. Describe your version of the phrase back in the day.
  23. Create a personality for your favorite kind of car. 
  24. Describe your ideal box of chocolates.
  25. Compare each flavor of jellybean to a part of life.
  26. Find the newest item in your room and describe it as if you were putting it up for sale. Make sure you show its versatility by describing five other uses for your item.
  27. In your opinion, what is the biggest problem in the world right now? What is your understanding of it? How does it affect the population and how can it be solved?
  28. Choose an item from the room you’re in right now, then alter it to make it work better or differently. Describe both the item and its alteration. 
  29. Your best idea is going to get adapted for television and will be coming to a streaming service near you. What is that idea? 
  30. You and your best friend or significant other are toasting to the best year of your life, exactly 365 days from today. What has happened in that time?
  31. Write about the best day of your life. 
  32. Write about the worst day of your life. 
  33. You are on the final night of your perfect vacation. This is what you write in your journal. 
  34. Write a thank you letter to someone who changed your life. 
  35. Describe a new food you just invented. 
  36. Who is your hero and why? 
  37. What is the worst mistake you’ve ever made? 
  38. Describe one of the three most pivotal moments in your life. 
  39. Write about a day that you wish had never happened. 
  40. Write two separate arguments, one arguing for and the other against electricity.
  41. Where would you go into the future or past, and what would do when you got there? 
  42. Would you rather fly, or would you rather be invisible? Is your answer different if everyone knows what it is? 
  43. Write about five items on your bucket list. If you don’t have five, make them up now. 
  44. What do you think your life would have been like if you were born a century earlier? 
  45. What would you do with a million dollars? 
  46. You won a contest to anywhere in the world. Where are you going? 
  47. What does contentment meant to you? 
  48. Describe the best meal of your life. This can be a wish or a memory. 
  49. Write about your first sexual experience. 
  50. Write about your last sexual experience. 
  51. Set aside an hour and use it to list things that make you happy. Write as many as you can in the hour. 
  52. If you could interview one celebrity, past or present, who would it be and why? 
  53. Make a list of ten words that you love and explain why you love them. 
  54. What is your favorite movie? 
  55. What is the movie you’ve seen most often? 
  56. What is your spirit animal? 
  57. Write a letter to yourself from every decade, past and future, from ten years old to your 100th birthday, starting from the year you are now. What does each year say? 
  58. What is something that makes you immediately angry? 
  59. Is there anything that always disarms you? 
  60. What is the monster in your closet? 
  61. Who is your favorite character from a book, movie, or television show? What makes you love them? 
  62. Grossly exaggerate something that’s happened to you.  
  63. What are three things you would do as ruler of the world?
  64. What is a commercial you hate, and why do you hate it? 
  65. How do you feel about the state of music, literature, television, film, or any other artistic medium? 
  66. Why is technology important? 
  67. Describe the history of humanity to an alien in 1000 words or less. 
  68. Take a satirical look at your previous day.
  69. Write an exchange between you and an imaginary friend.
  70. Write a series of texts planning dinner with a friend.
  71. Write an imaginary Facebook thread that includes four friends. 
  72. Define failure.
  73. What has been your biggest drama?
  74. Write a review of your favorite movie.
  75. Write a review of your favorite book.
  76. Write a review of your favorite concert or stage show.
  77. Write a scathing review of your least favorite movie. 
  78. Describe your worst enemy.
  79. Imagine if you find out you are pregnant after being told you couldn’t have kids.
  80. You find out your daughter is in her first sexual relationship. How do you feel? 
  81. What has been your biggest achievement in life?
  82. Your mother-in-law is coming around for the first time since you had a dreadful fight with her. Write what you would like to say to her.
  83. Imagine finding out that your best friend is addicted to painkillers.
  84. You suspect your friend’s child has a learning or intellectual difficulty. How do you bring it up with your friend?
  85. What is the biggest sacrifice your parents made to give you something you wanted? What is the biggest sacrifice you have made to give someone else what they wanted?
  86. Describe your hardest relationship now. What can you do to make it easier on everyone?
  87. What has been your biggest point of conflict in the last three years. How did it happen? What was the outcome?
  88. What could you have done better in your life? Write your story as if you had done things differently.
  89. What is your deepest regret? What did you learn from it? How has it affected your current life?
  90. Write a scathing review for a book that doesn’t exist.
  91. What was the last thing that you longed for from the other side of a shop window? Write a story about the day you got it.
  92. Describe your life as if it were a book available on Amazon (in 200 words or less).
  93. Describe your ultimate Halloween costume.
  94. Write an Amazon description for your best friend. You like your neighbors and get along fine with them except for one small, itty-bitty thing — they keep throwing their garden trash into your section which drives you mad. How do you deal with it?
  95. You and your family go on a holiday with friends and their kids. You are appalled at the way they let their kids behave. Describe a scene from the holiday.
  96. Describe your most envious moment.
  97. What was the first thing that you said to your kids that made you realize you were turning into your parents?
  98. Rant about whatever you want to. 
  99. Write your own eulogy.
  100. Write a Dear John letter to your teenage years.
  101. What if you were offered the choice; the job of your dreams or the income of your dreams? Describe both jobs and the income from each.
  102. Write a letter of resignation from a job you hate.
  103. Write an application letter for a job you need but don’t want .
  104. Write about your first day of school, as a child or an adult.
  105. Write about the first time you said the words, I love you.
  106. Write about a time when you have needed help. What did you do? Who gave it to you? How did it make you feel?
  107. Describe your perfect getaway place.
  108. You have just found out you only have three days to live. What do you do with your time? What scares you the most?
  109. What is your definition of normal?
  110. What makes you special?
  111. What makes your partner special?
  112. Write a letter to go in a time capsule that won’t be opened for 100 years.
  113. What are your top 10 wants (not needs)?
  114. What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?
  115. You have just gotten an ultrasound and have seen your first child. Write about it.
  116. Write about the top 10 best and worst things that would come with being a member of the opposite sex.
  117. What was your worst injury (emotional or physical)? How did you get it?
  118. Are you living your dream? If not, why not? What would you need to do to live it?
  119. Be still for one minute. Take in the world around you. Write about what you experienced in that moment.
  120. What is your favorite memory of your grandparents?
  121. What do you deserve? Why do you deserve it?
  122. Write about your ultimate sick day.
  123. Write an inspirational letter to yourself. 
  124. Imagine your day in reverse. 
  125. Write about a straw that broke your camel’s back.
  126. What is your favorite memory about your mother?
  127. What is your favorite story that your dad used to tell you?
  128. Write about the time when you were at your worst during adolescence. 
  129. Have you paid it forward recently? If so, how?
  130. What is something that always churns your stomach? 
  131. Make arguments for and against secrets. 
  132. What was your worst lie and was it worth it?
  133. What was your worst health scare or medical experience?
  134. What song (or songs) would you have at your funeral and why?
  135. How many personality changes do you go through in a day? 
  136. If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?
  137. What was the worst piece of advice you ever received?
  138. What was the worst piece of advice you ever gave?
  139. If you could replace your house, what would you build in its place?
  140. How often do you follow your gut? When was the last time you should have listened to it but didn’t? What happened?
  141. What are your super strengths? Write about how you discovered them.
  142. What is your kryptonite? Write about how you discovered it.
  143. What does death mean to you?
  144. What was the most extravagant thing you ever bought and why?
  145. What was the best piece of gossip you have ever heard?
  146. What caused your last paradigm shift?
  147. What is your greatest fear?
  148. Describe your faith. What do you believe in? How do you honor that belief?
  149. What is your idea of a perfect marriage proposal?
  150. What colors describe your life? Why did you choose them?

Get Opinionated

Having an opinion about something and arguing for or against a statement can be one of the best release valves for your creativity.

When you feel passion for a topic, it is easier to write about. Here are writing prompts to get your creative blood pumping. Some are questions; some are statements that require a yes or no answer, as well as a justification for that answer.

  1. What is the biggest problem in your community? How would you change it?
  2. What is the biggest problem facing humanity?
  3. Television is great for growing minds.
  4. Non-immunized children should be banned from schools.
  5. The ability to forgive and forget is the key to happiness.
  6. Formula and bottle-feeding should be banned.
  7. Exercise is bad for you.
  8. True love does not exist.
  9. There is no evidence to support global warming.
  10. Does ”He who has the last laugh” always laugh longest?
  11. Which is better, being the oldest child or the youngest child in the family? Why?
  12. Mothers should be paid to stay at home with their children instead of working.
  13. Vampires should have to give blood.
  14. Smile, the world smiles with you. Cry, and you cry alone. True or false?
  15. Helicopter parents should be grounded. 
  16. Is the waiting really the hardest part?
  17. Technology has made the world go backwards.
  18. The whole world should speak one language.
  19. Unions make a work environment worse.
  20. There is nothing wrong with being selfish.
  21. Children should be seen, not heard.
  22. Laughter is the best medicine.
  23. Violent video games should only be played by people 18 or over.
  24. It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
  25. Sugary, fatty foods should be banned.
  26. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
  27. Cell phones should be banned.
  28. Re-gifting should be compulsory.
  29. Alcohol should be illegal. 
  30. Manners are over-rated.
  31. Parents shouldn’t read their children’s texts or social media pages.
  32. With the Internet providing free information and tools, copyright is obsolete. 
  33. You do not need physical interaction for anything other than procreation.
  34. You cannot have a life and a career. 
  35. Nothing stays the same.
  36. Sex is something to be ashamed of. 
  37. Everyone should go to college if they can. 
  38. Money is for spending, not saving. 
  39. English is the best language.
  40. Everyone should be taxed equally. 
  41. Steven Spielberg is the greatest filmmaker of all time. 
  42. All males should be circumcised at birth. 
  43. Freedom of speech can be taken to far. 
  44. Climate change has been grossly exaggerated. 
  45. Children shouldn’t have smart phones until their brains are done developing. 
  46. The Death Penalty is a terrible idea. 
  47. All drugs should be legalized. 
  48. Art and music don’t belong as part of a school’s core curriculum. 
  49. Printing books is a waste of paper. 
  50. Adulthood starts on a person’s 18th birthday. 
  51. There is life on other planets. 
  52. Reality TV is a positive force in entertainment. 
  53. Professional athletes are overpaid. 
  54. Education is a bubble that needs to pop. 
  55. Sex Education in America should start much earlier than it does. 
  56. The entire world should consider moving to a plant based diet. 
  57. Data gathering is wrong. 
  58. Only religious people have a strong moral center. 
  59. Teenagers should be drug tested at school. 
  60. All firearms should be abolished. 
  61. Monogamy is ridiculous. 
  62. Technology makes us more alone. 
  63. Violent movies make people more violent in real life. 
  64. Daylight Savings Time is silly and we should all stop doing it. 
  65. Privacy is more important than national security. 
  66. Teachers should be graded, same as their students. 
  67. Video games are a legitimate sport. 
  68. Offensive material should be removed from classic literature. 
  69. Children should be chipped at birth to keep them safe. 
  70. Pornography should be illegal. 
  71. Torture is always wrong. 
  72. Student loans are exploitative. 
  73. Social media is a positive force in the world. 
  74. College should be free. 
  75. The government is trustworthy. 
  76. Fatty foods should be taxed, same as cigarettes.
  77. Texting behind the wheel is the new drunk driving. 
  78. Anonymity online is dangerous. 
  79. It’s wrong to kill any living creature, including snakes and spiders. 
  80. Young children should never play football. 
  81. Leaders should be held to a higher moral standard. 
  82. Sexuality is a spectrum. 
  83. Quentin Tarantino is overrated. 
  84. Hard work is more important than talent. 
  85. Money can buy happiness. 
  86. Artificial intelligence will eventually destroy our world. 
  87. PhotoShop is bad for society. 
  88. The legal drinking age should be 18. 
  89. Music is better than it’s ever been. 
  90. Pre-marital sex is wrong. 
  91. Men and women are equal in every way. 
  92. Capitalism is good. 
  93. What a child learns at home is more important than what they learn at school.
  94. Celebrities deserve to have their lives in the news — that’s what they signed up for. 
  95. Graffiti is art. 
  96. Voting in a presidential election should be mandatory for every citizen. 
  97. Zoos should be illegal. 
  98. LeBron James is better than Kobe Bryant.  
  99. Human cloning is a good idea. 
  100. Internet should be free for everyone. 


How to prompts are a great way to get your left side of your brain working while allowing you to look at the world around you with a slightly different perspective. See if you can teach your reader how to do the following.

  1. How to make a bed while someone is in it.
  2. How to wash a cat.
  3. You are to receive a knighthood, but you are totally inebriated. Write a guide for how to get yourself through the ceremony unscathed. 
  4. How to eat breakfast in bed without getting crumbs on the sheets.
  5. How do you make friends with the deaf student sitting across from you in class?
  6. How to dance like a robot.
  7. How to create peace between warring siblings.
  8. How to cast a perfect spell.
  9. How to groom Chewbacca.
  10. How the Muppets would build a chicken coop.
  11. How to get a child to tidy his room and keep it clean.
  12. How to buy an engagement ring when you don’t know the finger size!
  13. How do you manage a dragon with a cold?
  14. Explain to a layperson how to do something using metaphors to explain it. (e.g. building a website is like building a home ….)
  15. How to explain digital writing to your grandmother.
  16. How to survive a fight between a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Stegosaurus.
  17. How to do the salute to the sun in public and make it seem perfectly natural.
  18. How to teach the next generation the difference between a want and a need.
  19. How do you stop the neighbor’s cat eating your cat’s food? Think of 20 novel ways that do not involve killing the neighbor’s cat.
  20. How to convince a child that sucking his thumb is a terrible idea. Give six different options. 
  21. How to farm unicorns.
  22. How to roll the perfect joint.
  23. How to protect yourself against a stream of marauding insects. 
  24. How to describe a scene to a blind person so they can see what you see and feel what you feel. 
  25. How to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road.
  26. How to win a marriage. 
  27. Write the ultimate guide to terrible pickup lines. 
  28. How to pick your nose. 
  29. How to load the dishwasher. 
  30. How to drive like an asshole. 
  31. How to survive a zombie apocalypse. 
  32. How to order food at a restaurant.
  33. How to dress for success.
  34. How to tell a joke.
  35. How to care for a car.
  36. How to be smart.
  37. How to be straight.
  38. How to write a book.
  39. How to have great ideas.
  40. How to have stupid ideas.
  41. How to travel around the world in 80 days.
  42. How to order fast food. 
  43. How to sext. 
  44. Write the ultimate guide to making a dad joke. 
  45. How to drink the perfect amount of alcohol. 
  46. How to play the perfect game of hide and seek. 
  47. How to make a marriage proposal. 
  48. How to get away with murder. 
  49. How to fart and have no one know it was you. 
  50. Write the ultimate guide to dressing like a dork. 

There is a staggering number of prompts on this page, but you can also create your own, and doing so is easy. There are several exercises you can do to inspire you to create original content that taps directly into who you are as a storyteller. 

Listen to podcasts, choose a topic, then write an argument for or against it.

Look to the sky and see the shapes that the clouds make. Use these shapes as inspiration for your story. Watch people and try to guess the details of their story. Look through old photos and put together a story from the pictures. Investigate magazines and gain inspiration from the pictures. National Geographic magazines are terrific for this. Using a timer, choose a random word and write a passage including that word as many times as you can in one minute. Read other people’s work. Free write. Daydream. Find interactive writing sites.

Whether you want inspiration for a story arc, a character, a journal entry, a poem, a blog post, or whether you just want to write and need somewhere to start, your options are endless. These prompts are teasers for your imagination, a starting point for you to use to launch your ideas. 

By using different types of writing prompts you can teach your mind to open when you need it to, allowing your creative side to fly and allow you to create truly unique content anytime, anywhere. Train your mind, inspire your soul, and say goodbye to wasted hours staring at a blank screen.

Now get out there and start changing the world with your stories. 

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