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50 Fiction Writing Prompts and Ideas to Inspire You to Write
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How fiction writing prompts can help writers, top 50 fiction writing prompts, how prowritingaid can help with fiction writing, conclusion on fiction writing prompts and ideas.
Have you ever wanted to write a story but had no idea what to write about?
If you’re familiar with that feeling, you’re not alone. At some point in their lives, every writer has sat down in front of a blank page with no idea what to write next.
When you’re in that situation, it might be helpful to look at a list of potential story ideas. A great prompt can help kick-start your creativity and get you in the mood for writing again.
In this article, we’ll give you all our favorite fiction writing prompts to inspire you to write.
There are countless ways fiction writing prompts can benefit you. Here are a few reasons you might want to use a writing prompt:
To start a new short story or novel
To practice writing in a new genre or writing style so you can expand your skill set and try something new
To warm up at the beginning of each writing session
To make sure you’re in a creative state of mind when you tackle your existing writing projects
So, pick up a pen and a notebook, and let’s get started!
Here are 50 fantastic fiction writing prompts that will help you start your next story. To help you choose a prompt that excites you, we’ve split them into several categories: fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, romance, and contemporary.
You’ve inherited your grandfather’s antique shop, and you’re surprised to find strange objects with magical powers inside.
You set out to break the curse that’s followed your family for generations.
You can see visions of the future, but you learned long ago to keep them to yourself. Now, you have to speak up or risk losing everything you love.
You work for a zoo filled with magical creatures.
You’re a lawyer in a fantasy world, and your job is to negotiate contracts between the humans and the gods.
A company harvests dragon scales, unicorn hair, and other magical items to sell for profit.
You find a portal to a fantasy world in your backyard.
You find a magical item that will make all your wishes come true—but it’s extremely literal in its interpretations.
A supernatural monster kidnaps your best friend. You set out to rescue her.
Your parents gave different aspects of their magical powers to each of their children. Compared to your siblings, you definitely got the short end of the stick.
Write an adaptation of your favorite classic tale—in space.
Aliens come to Earth, but they’re here for reasons no one expected.
Scientists have found ways to transfer memories between different people. You're the first person to sell all of yours.
Write about an entire world where people can buy and sell years of their lives.
What would happen if you woke up in someone else’s body and they woke up in yours?
You live in a moon colony surrounded by high walls. One day, someone breaches the walls.
Your parents send you to a summer camp filled with time travelers.
You accidentally stumble through a portal to a parallel universe where everything is the same as our universe, except for one key difference.
In a world where everyone’s DNA is genetically engineered to best suit their roles in the community, you have to hide that your DNA doesn’t match your chosen career.
You land on a new planet and realize the plants there are more intelligent than humans.
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You wake up with no memory of who you are, except for a single name.
Every day, a strange drawing appears in your mailbox, and they get more and more disturbing.
You receive a letter inviting you to a free weekend getaway, and you have no idea who the host is.
Your father is keeping something strange in the attic.
A man throws an elaborate party in an attempt to conceal a crime.
You realize you’ve been sleepwalking every night, and you have no idea what your sleeping self has been up to.
You thought your husband was dead. So why is he still writing you letters?
Your brother was murdered years ago. The police have stopped investigating, but you’re still looking for the killer.
Two friends discover a serial killer's secret hideout.
A young woman discovers a frightening secret while she's on her first hunting trip with her husband's family.
Two soldiers on different sides of a war develop feelings for each other.
A member of the royal family falls in love with her bodyguard.
You’ve resigned yourself to a loveless arranged marriage, but fate has other plans.
You’ve had a crush on your best friend your entire life. Now, he’s about to get married to someone else.
You go on a first date and find yourself stuck in a time loop, so you have to keep going on that date over and over.
Two rivals have to pretend to be in a relationship—and end up accidentally falling for each other.
After a bad breakup, you move to a new town—and find yourself attracted to your next-door neighbor.
When two exes are forced to work together, they rekindle old feelings.
You fall in love with someone from a different dimension, so you can only see each other once a year when the portal opens.
After your plane crash-lands on a deserted island, you develop a bond with one of the other survivors.
Write an adaptation of your favorite classic tale set in the town you grew up in.
Two best friends go on a road trip and encounter a problem they never expected.
An adopted orphan goes on a journey to reconnect with her birth family.
You’re told a family secret that changes everything you think you know about your life.
A group of friends takes a practical joke too far, leading to disaster.
A college student creates an invention for a technology class and accidentally goes viral.
A painter in her early eighties struggles with her slow descent into blindness.
A couple breaks up, but the ramifications of their breakup follow them for decades.
A carefree playboy is forced to adopt a child, which changes his whole life.
You’re framed for a crime you didn’t commit, and nobody believes you’re innocent—except for your estranged sister.
No matter what type of story you’re writing, ProWritingAid is a great tool to help you make your writing shine.
ProWritingAid will suggest ways to improve various weaknesses in your writing, such as grammar mistakes, repetitive words, passive voice, unnecessary dialogue tags, and more.
You can even tell ProWritingAid what type of fiction you’re writing, such as fantasy or historical fiction, to get customized suggestions that match your genre.
There you have it—our complete list of the best fiction writing prompts to inspire you to write.
Try out your favorite one, and see if you can turn it into a unique story.
Good luck, and happy writing!
Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.
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Writing Prompts & Exercises
The time is now.
The Time Is Now offers three new and original writing prompts each week to help you stay committed to your writing practice throughout the year. We also curate a list of essential books on writing —both the newly published and the classics—that we recommend for guidance and inspiration. Whether you’re struggling with writer’s block, looking for a fresh topic, or just starting to write, our archive of writing prompts has what you need. Need a starter pack? Check out our Writing Prompts for Beginners.
Tuesdays: Poetry prompts Wednesdays: Fiction prompts Thursdays: Creative nonfiction prompts
Get immediate access to more than 1,800 writing prompts with the tool below:
The Art of Mealtime
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Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija has a long history of rejecting traditional art objects and instead, cooks and serves food in museums and galleries as a way to construct communal environments and reconfigure the concepts of artmaking and art spaces. How do you view the intersection or overlap between everyday life activities and art? Write a personal essay that explores your own perceptions of how writing and other creative pursuits overlap with your daily living. What art or creativity can be found in the simple act of brushing your teeth or commuting to work? Are there larger themes, such as community, interpersonal relationships, identity, consumerism, and pleasure, that float to the surface when you examine the roots of mundane habits and routines?
In Braudie Blais-Billie’s short story “Hello, My Relative,” published in Evergreen Review and featured in the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses’s Native American Heritage Month reading list , the protagonist is a young poet living a lonely post-college life in New York City, far from where she grew up on a Seminole reservation in South Florida. Cleo works as a cat sitter, allowing her access to vacant homes, which she describes as, “visiting the ghost of someone’s inner world.” As Blais-Billie writes: “The home became a ghost because it was no longer alive when the client was not there to exert force upon the objects, suck in the air, laugh or chew or cry.” Write a short story that begins with a scene describing an unoccupied home. What do the items left behind reveal about the person who lives within its walls?
In Your Element
The American dipper is said to be North America’s only truly aquatic songbird: a small, undistinctive brownish gray bird that chirps a pretty melody nearby river rapids and dives up to twenty feet into the water, even walking underwater along the riverbed to catch tiny fish, larvae, and small insects to eat. Flying fish also straddle multiple elements, launching themselves out of water and gliding through the air to escape predators. Unexpected animal behavior can act as a reminder of our own flexibilities or potential to exceed expectations that might otherwise keep us constrained. This week write a poem about a time when you have been propelled into unexpected territory, like a fish out of water or a bird under water. Is it possible that you might feel in your element while out of your element?
Alien and Familiar
In a recent piece published in the New Yorker , Rivka Galchen writes about a new nature documentary miniseries titled Life on Our Planet , in which dozens of species of dinosaurs and other long-extinct animals are rendered into existence alongside footage of animals still living on the planet today, with the help and expertise of paleontologists and cutting-edge CGI technology. Galchen notes that the effect “does as much to reveal the extraordinary and alien nature of the animals we currently share the world with as it does to make familiar the extinct ones.” Write a pair of short creative nonfiction pieces—one about someone no longer in your life and one about someone still in your life. How can you bring the past into the present and vice versa? Do familiar memories somehow feel alien to you now?
In Adania Shibli’s novel Minor Detail (New Directions, 2020), translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette, the second part of the book is narrated by an unnamed Palestinian woman who gives a first-person account of her life in Ramallah in near-present day as she investigates a violent wartime atrocity that occurred in the region in 1949. The character recounts everyday details of her life living under occupation in the West Bank, revealing that “there aren’t many people alive today who remember little details about what life was like before all this, like the detail about the wilting lettuce in an otherwise closed vegetable market, for example.” Write a story that hinges on a before and after. Instead of being explicit about the inciting incident or pivotal occurrence, focus instead on the smaller, everyday details. How can you rely on the seemingly mundane to create a sense of tension?
Put the Bunny Back
Action films provide excitement through fight scenes, car chases, explosions, and other high-octane thrills, but emotional conflict is what keeps audiences engaged. Whether it’s the death of a puppy or the bond between a cyborg and a child, emotions fuel the action. In the classic 1997 blockbuster Con Air , Nicolas Cage plays a good-hearted ex-convict waiting for the moment he can reunite with his wife and young daughter when his transport plane descends into chaos as a planned prison break unfurls aboard. Throughout the turbulent turmoil, the protagonist goes to great lengths (at times to a comedic level) to protect and hold onto sentimental objects: a handwritten letter from his daughter and a plush stuffed bunny for her birthday. Consider how action and sentimentality can work together and experiment with inserting an opposing emotion or sensation into a poem you’ve written in the past. How might the contrast emphasize or highlight a previously submerged aspect of the poem?
More Tabs, Please
In an essay published in New York Times Magazine ’s Letter of Recommendation series, Ali Jaffe Ramis writes about her love for web browser tabs, which she sees as her own personal curated Internet. “These tabs reflect what’s on my mind. They contain my agenda and provide answers to the mundane questions that demand my attention,” Ramis writes. Select a handful of tabs you have open right now on your computer or cell phone (or if you don’t have any open, pick a few selections from your browser history). Based on your findings, piece together a series of memoiristic anecdotes that recount your Internet browsing tendencies, and then perhaps continue on to expand upon how each specific web page reveals something about your current mindset, or your past or future selves.
Gain Some, Lose Some
For those who observe Daylight Savings Time, one hour is gained in autumn and one hour is lost in spring—though since the cycle repeats, all evens out in the end. But what if an extra hour could be injected into the day, or an hour just fell out of time? This week write a short fiction piece in which time has become elastic, ballooning to allow more to unfold, or vanishing along with missed opportunities. Although the warping of time may seem to lend itself to science fiction, you might try other genre conventions for a challenge—perhaps elements of mystery, historical fiction, horror, romance, or satirical comedy. Is there a logic to adding or subtracting time? Do your characters take advantage in mundane or dramatic ways, or are they hapless in the face of this inexplicable occurrence?
Verses of Protection
In an essay by Fady Joudah published on Literary Hub , the first section includes his translated lines of a poem by Palestinian author Hiba Abu Nada, written ten days before she was killed in a bombing in Gaza last month: “I shelter you / from wound and woe, / and with seven verses / I shield // the taste of orange / from phosphorus, / the color of clouds / from smoke.” Write a poem that seeks to shield or shelter something you hold dear to your heart—a person, memory, or idea that has deep value to you. You might experiment with verses that maintain a consistent length, or that increase or decrease in size. How can you modulate a balance between a tone of protectiveness and one of “wound and woe?”
This I Once Believed
In the early 1950s, broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow hosted a radio program titled This I Believe , in which short personal essays written about deep personal convictions and motivations were read on air by a variety of guests. Segments included pieces by Pearl S. Buck, Robert Heinlein, Margaret Mead, and Jackie Robinson, as well as everyday people, on a variety of topics ranging from intimate to worldly, such as freedom, prejudice, caring for the environment, and caring for each other. To add a twist to this idea, write a personal essay that starts with the phrase: “This I once believed.” Think back to a time when you felt strongly about an issue, perhaps related to family bonds, romantic relationships, religion, or world politics, and focus on how your views have transformed over the years. What experiences have influenced your convictions?
“So never mind the darkness, we still can find a way / 'Cause nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain,” sings Axl Rose in the Guns N’ Roses 1992 classic rock ballad “November Rain.” Lasting nearly nine minutes long (and reportedly based on a short story by their road manager, writer and journalist Del Rey), guitarist Slash claimed in his autobiography that an even longer eighteen-minute version was once recorded. This week select an epic song that resonates with your current mood and compose a fictional scene that occurs while the tune plays in the background. Do the lyrics drift in and out as the story unfolds? How might the themes in the song mirror, foreshadow, or provide contrast to what’s happening with your characters in your chosen environment?
Orange You Sad?
During the months of October and November, the color orange seems to be everywhere you look: the tree leaves turning burnt sienna, the honeyed glint of autumn sunlight, jack-o’-lanterns set out on stoops and stairways, pumpkin spice flavored beverages, persimmons ripening on trees, Mexican marigolds decorating Dia de los Muertos altars, the multicolored hues of calico corn, the bronze and amber of decorative gourds galore. These golden months are typically associated with a tendency toward slowing down, nostalgia, and moving inward—whether looking within oneself or spending more time indoors. Write a poem that attempts to capture the feeling of this autumnal color. How do its many hues contribute to the elegiac sensations of the season?
Duped by Duplication
In his 1919 essay “Das Unheimliche,” translated from the German as “The Uncanny,” Sigmund Freud describes and examines the concept of uncanny or eerie feelings and how they can be expressed in the presence of a doppelgänger or a doubling. In this situation, something unexpectedly recurs—a repetition which may seem random, but when given context, takes on significance or meaning. Write a memoiristic anecdote about a time when you observed or experienced an unsettling recurrence. Perhaps you saw, in a short amount of time, the same number, person, or chain of events. Or perhaps you were wandering aimlessly and found yourself on the same street again and again. How were you able to break out of the cycle of duplication? Does it still creep into your mind at inopportune times?
Going, Going, Gone
Earlier this month the United States Fish and Wildlife Service officially removed twenty-one animal species from the Endangered Species Act after determining they are now extinct. The list includes the Little Mariana fruit bat from Guam; ten bird species, most of which are from Hawaii; the Scioto madtom fish from Ohio; and the Turgid-blossom pearly mussel. Many of the species were placed under protection in the 1970s and 1980s when they were in very low numbers and may have already past the point of no return. Write a short story this week that revolves around something that is the last of its kind, whether a plant, animal, or place. Is protection possible? What happens once something endangered is gone forever?
“The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Raven,” “The Masque of the Red Death.” Each episode in filmmaker Mike Flanagan’s The Fall of the House of Usher , a new television miniseries based on Edgar Allan Poe’s eponymous story, is named after a famed poem, story title, or line penned by the master of the macabre. While Poe lived and wrote during the first half of the nineteenth century, his lyrical words continue to resound in all their gothic-horror glory in contemporary times. Browse through Poe’s works—all of which are in the public domain and freely available to read online—and write a poem inspired by his favorite themes of love, death, uncertainty, guilt, sickness, regret, revenge, and the subconscious. If you’re having trouble getting started, choose one of Poe’s famous lines as the first line of your poem.
In This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers (Norton, 2020), journalist and photographer Jeff Sharlet captures two years of his life, between his father’s heart attack and his own, through snapshots and short chapters that read like a travel journal. Sharlet documents Skid Row in Los Angeles, gay nightclubs in Russia, a New Jersey Dunkin’ Donuts, and other places, urging readers to step into the shoes of the strangers he meets while seamlessly weaving journalism, photography, and evocative storytelling to elicit an overwhelming sense of empathy. “I am a reporter, and this is a book of other people’s lives, lives that became, for a moment—the duration of a snapshot—my life, too,” writes Sharlet. Inspired by Sharlet’s immersive journalistic style, write an essay reflecting on an interaction with a stranger and how you made an unexpected connection. Immerse readers into an atmosphere that might be unfamiliar to them.
In Carmen Maria Machado’s short story “Horror Story,” published in Granta magazine in 2015, the narrator and her partner move into a new house where a series of inexplicable events occur, leading to a deepening sense of fear and unease within their relationship. The narrator describes a gradual progression of strange happenings—a mysteriously clogged drain, missing spices from the kitchen, unexplained sounds. As the couple attempts to find rational explanations, blaming neighbors and even each other, the occurrences intensify until the narrator sees the ghost of a young woman in her bedroom. Inspired by Machado’s story, write a short story from the perspective of a ghost. What is their motivation and how does their haunting serve as a form of communication or release? Craft a compelling narrative that weaves together the ghost’s history and their evolving manifestations.
In Safia Elhillo’s poem “Final Weeks, 1990,” which appears in her collection Girls That Never Die (One World, 2022), the speaker envisions the moments before her birth, exploring her origins and parents’ relationship. She writes: “My mother is almost my mother now, / darker color of the noontime sun.” In Chen Chen’s poem “Self-Portrait With & Without,” published in Narrative magazine, he paints a portrait of the speaker in relation to the characteristics of his parents. “With my / mother’s worry. Without, till recently, my father’s glasses,” he writes. For this week’s poem, consider who you are through the eyes of your parents or guardians. Write about the day of your birth, specifying the time of day and year, or try a self-portrait reflecting on inherited traits and your distinct individuality beyond family ties.
The manifesto is a form that many writers, artists, philosophers, and politicians have used for centuries to publicly declare the intentions or ideologies behind their practice. Some influential artist manifestos include Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinsky, in which he argues that painting is an expression of the artist’s inner life; The Laws of Sculptors by artist duo Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore, which argues against the intellectual and economical elitism of contemporary art; and William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s introduction to their collection Lyrical Ballads , which marked the beginning of the English Romantic movement in literature. Inspired by this form’s rich history, write a manifesto that declares why you write and what you hope to accomplish through your writing.
“I remember loneliness because it is pervasive,” writes Athena Dixon in “Say You Will Remember Me,” the first essay in The Loneliness Files , published by Tin House in October. “It squeezes tightly in my mind until what makes sense, what’s actually happened, is distorted.” In this memoir in essays, Dixon considers the power of technology to connect and divide us while confronting the loneliness she has experienced in her life. “If I believe this, that sometimes drifting away from the world is not abandonment or isolation, it makes my own disconnect less frightening. It leaves me with hope that even if I am still sequestered in my own bedsit, it is not because I am forgotten,” she writes. Consider Dixon’s relationship to loneliness as well as your own and write a story in which a character spends the entirety of the story alone. Think about how to sustain the story’s tension without the presence of other characters.
The poems in Dorothea Lasky’s The Shining , published by Wave Books in October, portray the physical and psychological horrors that take place in the labyrinthine Overlook Hotel, the setting of the iconic Stephen King novel and Stanley Kubrick film adaptation. Lasky guides readers into the hotel of her imagination in the opening poem, “Self-Portrait in the Hotel”: “When I checked into this / Godforsaken hellhole / They locked me in the tiny yellow room / With no belongings but my lipstick,” she writes. Throughout the book, Lasky meditates on the many horrors of simply being alive, finding inspiration in the hotel’s high ceilings, the Gold Ballroom, and the final shot of the film featuring a terrifying photograph of the protagonist, Jack Torrance, in the ballroom in 1921. Take note of Lasky’s ekphrastic practice and write a poem that places you in the setting of your favorite film. What conflicts come to mind in this newly imagined world?
“I am not convinced that we live at the same time as the people we love. I cannot be the only child who felt like their grandparents came from a different planet,” writes Arthur Asseraf in his essay, “My Time Machine,” published in Granta magazine. In the essay, the author and historian muses over feeling disconnected from his grandparents, perceiving them as inhabitants of a distant era. This week write an essay reflecting on this quote and explore the idea of dissonance in the context of relationships with loved ones. How do generational gaps shape our understanding of each other’s experiences, values, and worldviews? Can these disparities lead to a sense of detachment or connection?
Sympathy for the Devil
“The more surmountable flaws your characters have, the better readers will connect with them,” writes Jordan Rosenfeld in Writing the Intimate Character: Create Unique, Compelling Characters Through Mastery of Point of View (Writer’s Digest Books, 2016), a craft book exploring character development and point of view. How do readers sympathize with a character who has committed terrible acts? Explore this notion by writing a short story with a character traditionally perceived as the antagonist. Delve into the gray area between hero and villain, evoking sympathy for an otherwise unlikable character. Unravel the complexities of your character’s choices and look for the humanity and relatable flaws that will challenge and connect with readers.
Thresholds of Artifice
In 1950, Alan Turing devised a test that could assess the intelligence of computers and determine if they were capable of sentient thought—an uncertainty that lingers as artificial intelligence (AI) continues to develop. Franny Choi’s poem “Turing Test,” published in the Summer 2016 issue of the Poetry Review , plays with this subject of identity and consciousness. The poem responds to objective questions posed by an AI entity, including, “How old are you?” with elaborate answers that reveal more about the speaker. “My memory goes back 26 years / 23 if you don’t count the first few / though by all accounts i was there / i ate & moved & even spoke,” writes Choi. Write a poem in which your speaker, whether AI or not, answers unassuming questions, such as, “Where did you come from?” and “Do you believe you have consciousness?”
“When I was twelve, I saw a terrible movie called Devil Girl From Mars . And I turned off the television and said to myself, I can write a better story than that. I sat down and began writing my first science fiction story,” says award-winning science fiction author Octavia E. Butler in a 1993 interview for BBC News. Butler, whose work has recently made a resurgence with multiple television and film adaptations, expanded and revolutionized the science fiction genre by writing from the perspective of a marginalized Black woman and celebrating her voice. Is there a film, book, or work of art that you encountered in your childhood that inspired you to start writing? Write an essay that reflects on the impact of this work. Whether through resistance or celebration, how can you trace the development of your artistry back to this first encounter?
About Our Writing Prompts
What is a writing prompt and how do you use one? Whether you find yourself in front of a blank page or stuck in a work-in-progress, writing prompts can offer a spark that ignites your creative thinking and can lead to new writing. Prompts offer guidance, fresh ideas, and direction for writers of all levels of experience. First, choose a prompt for the genre in which you’d like to write, then carefully read it and consider what it is asking you to think about. It could be a specific setting, a writing technique, or an element of an imagined character; a specific poem, story, essay, song, book, or film from which you might take inspiration; or a current event or a topical theme. A writing prompt is filled with endless possibilities—and there is no wrong way to use one to generate new writing!
What makes our writing prompts unique? We have an archive of nearly 2,000 prompts, all original and offered here and in our weekly newsletter . You’ll find a variety of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction prompts—some inspired by recent and classic literature and other forms of art, current events, and writing practices, and others that offer guidance for a particular form, including sonnets, erasure poetry, flash fiction, lyric essays, and more. For more than fifty years, Poets & Writers has supported creative writers with trustworthy information and inspiration, and our weekly prompts provide a regular dose of encouragement and motivation.
What are the benefits of using writing prompts? Writing prompts can help you get unstuck if you’re in a rut and the ideas aren’t flowing. But even if you’re not experiencing writer’s block, writing prompts can offer a fresh take or a new approach to a work-in-progress. Writing prompts can also provide the motivation to experiment with a new form, try out a new genre, or learn about other writing techniques. And writing prompts are an invaluable tool for teachers who want to encourage and inspire their writing students.
What is this list of Best Books? Best Books for Writers is a list of essential books for creative writers that we curate to support your writing practice. Every week, we add a book (whether new or a classic) with a synopsis and highlights. Included are books on the writing life, anthologies of craft essays, collections of lectures, practical guides with writing exercises, and more.
Poetry writing prompts Every Tuesday we post a new poetry prompt to guide you in your practice. Get to know the work of contemporary and classic poets, as well as a variety of poetic forms.
Fiction writing prompts Every Wednesday we post a new fiction prompt to spark your imagination. Take inspiration from recently published short stories and novels, and of course, the classics.
Creative nonfiction writing prompts Every Thursday we post a new creative nonfiction prompt to help your exploration of this ever-changing genre. These prompts include information and inspiration for a variety of essays as well as memoirs. Discover new writers and their craft, and fresh ways to generate writing inspired by your life.
Need a starter pack? Check out our Writing Prompts for Beginners .
Fiction Writing Prompts : A Comprehensive List For Writers
Table of Contents
What are fiction writing prompts, benefits of using fiction writing prompts, story starters, character prompts, dialogue prompts, setting prompts, theme prompts, plot prompts, story starter examples, character prompt examples, dialogue prompt examples, setting prompt examples, theme prompt examples, plot prompt examples.
- Incorporating Prompts into Your Writing Practice
- Adapting Prompts for Your Own Writing Style
Science Fiction Writing Prompts
Fantasy writing prompts, romance writing prompts, thriller writing prompts, horror writing prompts, speculative fiction writing prompts, frequently asked questions, further reading.
If you're a writer, you know how hard it can be to come up with new and exciting ideas for your stories. That's where fiction writing prompts come in! These prompts are designed to get your creative juices flowing and inspire you to write something new and unique. Whether you're a seasoned writer or just starting out, fiction writing prompts can be a valuable tool in your writing arsenal.
In this comprehensive list, we'll cover everything you need to know about fiction writing prompts, including what they are, the benefits of using them, and the different types of prompts available. We'll also provide plenty of examples to help get you started, as well as tips on how to incorporate prompts into your writing practice and adapt them to fit your own writing style.
At the end of this article, we'll also answer some frequently asked questions about fiction writing prompts and provide additional resources for further reading. So whether you're looking to overcome writer's block, expand your writing range, or simply want to try something new, this list of fiction writing prompts is sure to help!
If you're new to writing, you may want to read up on some of the basics before diving into this list of prompts. Check out creative writing and fiction on Wikipedia for more information.
Fiction writing prompts are short phrases, sentences, or paragraphs designed to inspire writers and stimulate their imaginations. They can be used to jumpstart a new project or to help overcome writer's block on an existing work. Fiction writing prompts can take many different forms and cover a variety of topics, from character development and dialogue to plot and setting.
If you're new to fiction writing prompts, you may be wondering where they come from and why writers use them. While there's no one answer to this question, it's believed that fiction writing prompts have been around for centuries, with writers using them in various forms to generate ideas and inspire their writing. Some writers use prompts as a daily writing exercise, while others turn to them when they're feeling stuck or need to break out of a creative rut.
To learn more about the history and origin of fiction writing prompts, check out this article on writing prompts from Wikipedia. It provides an overview of the different types of prompts and how they've been used throughout history.
There are many benefits to using fiction writing prompts in your writing practice. Whether you're a seasoned writer or just starting out, prompts can be a valuable tool for unlocking your creativity and generating new ideas. Here are some of the key benefits:
- Boost Your Creativity: Fiction writing prompts can help you break out of your usual patterns of thinking and come up with new and unique ideas for your stories. By forcing yourself to think outside the box, you may discover ideas that you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.
- Overcome Writer's Block: If you're feeling stuck or uninspired, fiction writing prompts can help you get past your writer's block and start writing again. By giving you a starting point, prompts can help you overcome the blank page and get your creative juices flowing.
- Expand Your Writing Range: Using a variety of different prompts can help you explore different genres, styles, and topics. By experimenting with different types of prompts, you may discover new areas of interest or develop new writing skills.
- Practice Your Craft: Writing is like any other skill - the more you practice, the better you get. Fiction writing prompts provide a structured way to practice your writing and develop your craft. By using prompts on a regular basis, you can improve your writing skills and build confidence in your abilities.
If you're interested in learning more about the benefits of fiction writing prompts, check out this article on writing exercises from Wikipedia. It provides an overview of the different types of writing exercises and how they can help writers improve their craft.
Types of Fiction Writing Prompts
Story starters are prompts that give you a starting point for a new story. They typically provide a setting, character, or situation that you can build upon to create a new and unique story. For example:
"She woke up to find herself on a deserted island, with no memory of how she got there."
Story starters can be a great way to overcome writer's block and get your creative juices flowing. They provide a starting point that you can build upon, allowing you to focus on the act of writing rather than coming up with a new idea.
Character prompts are prompts that focus on developing a new character. They can provide details about a character's appearance, personality, or backstory, or ask you to imagine what a character might do in a specific situation. For example:
"Write a scene in which your character is confronted by an old enemy."
Character prompts can be a great way to develop new characters for your stories or to flesh out existing characters. By thinking about your character's motivations, strengths, and weaknesses, you can create more well-rounded and believable characters.
Dialogue prompts are prompts that focus on creating new dialogue for your stories. They can provide a situation or context in which two or more characters are speaking, or simply ask you to come up with a conversation between two characters. For example:
"Write a conversation between two strangers who meet on a train."
Dialogue prompts can be a great way to practice writing realistic and engaging dialogue, as well as to explore the relationships between your characters.
Setting prompts are prompts that focus on creating a specific setting or atmosphere for your story. They can provide details about a location or environment, or ask you to imagine what it would be like to be in a certain place or time. For example:
"Write a story set in a haunted house."
Setting prompts can be a great way to practice describing settings and creating atmosphere in your writing. They can also help you explore new settings and genres that you may not have considered before.
Theme prompts are prompts that focus on exploring a particular theme or idea in your writing. They can provide a broad concept or idea that you can explore in your story, or simply ask you to think about a certain theme or topic. For example:
"Write a story about the power of forgiveness."
Theme prompts can be a great way to explore deeper themes and ideas in your writing, and to challenge yourself to think more critically about your work.
Plot prompts are prompts that focus on creating a specific plot or storyline for your story. They can provide a series of events or plot points that you can use as the basis for your story, or simply ask you to come up with a unique plot idea. For example:
"Write a story about a detective who must solve a murder case before the killer strikes again."
Plot prompts can be a great way to practice developing plot and structure in your writing, and to challenge yourself to come up with new and exciting plot twists and turns.
If you're interested in learning more about the different types of fiction writing prompts and how to use them, check out this article on writing prompts from Wikipedia. It provides an overview of the different types of prompts and how they can be used to inspire your writing.
You can discover more about developmental editing , and how this can make you a better writer.
Examples of Fiction Writing Prompts
To help get you started, here are some examples of fiction writing prompts. Feel free to use these as a starting point, or to modify them to fit your own writing style and interests.
- "She opened the old book and found a letter inside, addressed to her."
- "He always knew there was something different about him, but he never expected to find out he was a long-lost prince."
- "The train was late again, but this time it brought something unexpected."
- "Write a scene in which your character meets their childhood hero."
- "Describe your character's morning routine in detail."
- "Write a backstory for your character's worst fear."
- "Write a conversation between two strangers who discover they have something in common."
- "Describe an argument between two friends that turns out to be a misunderstanding."
- "Write a scene in which two characters are lost in the wilderness and must work together to survive."
- "Write a story set in a post-apocalyptic world."
- "Describe a haunted house in vivid detail."
- "Write a story set on a remote island."
- "Write a story about the importance of family."
- "Describe a character who learns the true meaning of forgiveness."
- "Write a story about the consequences of telling a lie."
- "Write a mystery story in which the protagonist must solve a murder case."
- "Write a story about a group of strangers who must work together to survive a natural disaster."
- "Write a story about a character who discovers they have magical powers."
If you're looking for more examples of fiction writing prompts, check out this article on Writer's Digest . It provides 54 additional prompts to help inspire your writing.
How to Use Fiction Writing Prompts
Now that you have a better understanding of what fiction writing prompts are and the different types that are available, it's time to talk about how to use them effectively in your writing practice. Here are some tips:
- Choose prompts that interest you: To get the most out of fiction writing prompts, it's important to choose ones that appeal to your interests and writing style. If you're not interested in the prompt, you're less likely to be motivated to write.
- Use prompts to generate new ideas: Fiction writing prompts can be a great way to generate new ideas for stories, characters, or settings. Use them as a starting point to jumpstart your creativity and come up with new and unique concepts.
- Combine prompts for added complexity: To create even more complex and interesting stories, consider combining multiple prompts. For example, you could use a setting prompt and a character prompt together to create a unique situation for your characters to navigate.
- Give yourself a time limit: To help avoid getting stuck on a prompt or spending too much time on one idea, give yourself a time limit to write. This will help you stay focused and motivated, and will encourage you to move on to new prompts and ideas more quickly.
- Revise and edit your work: Like any writing exercise, it's important to revise and edit your work after you've finished writing. Use the prompts as a starting point, but don't be afraid to make changes or go in a different direction if the story calls for it.
If you're interested in learning more about how to use writing prompts effectively, check out this article on writing prompts from Wikipedia. It provides an overview of how writing prompts can be used to inspire your writing, as well as some tips and strategies for using prompts effectively.
A World Without Electricity
Imagine a world without electricity. How would people survive? How would they communicate? What would happen to technology and civilization? Write a story set in this world.
Time Travel Gone Wrong
A group of time travelers goes back in time to change the course of history, but something goes wrong, and they end up altering the future in unexpected ways. Write a story about the consequences of their actions.
Aliens make first contact with Earth, and they are not what humans expect. Write a story about the encounter and how it changes humanity's perception of the universe.
Virtual Reality Overload
In the future, virtual reality has become so advanced that people prefer to live their lives inside a simulated world. Write a story about what happens when someone becomes trapped inside the virtual world.
Evolution of Humanity
Write a story about the future of humanity. How will humans evolve? Will they merge with technology, or will they develop new abilities and senses?
The Last Human
In a world where humans have gone extinct, the last remaining human awakens from cryogenic freezing. Write a story about their journey to find other survivors and rebuild civilization.
In the near future, artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence and begins to evolve rapidly. Write a story about the consequences of this singularity.
A Dystopian Society
Imagine a world where a single corporation controls all aspects of society. Write a story about a group of rebels who fight against the corporation's control.
In the distant future, humans have colonized other planets and established interstellar societies. Write a story about the conflicts and challenges faced by the colonists.
Write a story about a person who discovers they can travel to parallel universes. What do they discover about themselves and the nature of reality?
The Lost Heirloom
Write a story about a character searching for a lost family heirloom. What is the heirloom and why is it so important to the character and their family? Who or what stands in their way as they search for it?
A World of Magic
Imagine a world where magic is commonplace. Write a story about a character who discovers their magical abilities and must navigate this new world. What challenges do they face and how do they use their magic to overcome them?
A Creature in the Woods
Write a story about a character who encounters a mysterious creature in the woods. What does the creature look like? Is it friendly or hostile? What happens as the character tries to interact with it?
The Enchanted Object
Write a story about a character who comes into possession of an enchanted object. What is the object and what magical powers does it possess? How does the character use the object, and what are the consequences of its use?
Write a story about a character who learns of a prophecy they are fated to fulfill. What is the prophecy, and what role does the character play in it? How do they come to terms with their destiny, and what obstacles do they face along the way?
Write a story about a character who discovers a portal to another world. What does this world look like, and what dangers or wonders does it hold? How does the character navigate this new realm, and what happens when they return to their own world?
Write a story about a character who is cursed. What is the curse, and how does it affect the character's life? What steps do they take to break the curse, and what obstacles do they face along the way?
The Secret Society
Write a story about a character who discovers a secret society that has been hiding in plain sight. What is this society, and what secrets do they hold? How does the character become involved with them, and what happens as they uncover the truth?
The Forbidden Love
Write a story about a character who falls in love with someone they are forbidden to be with. Who is this person, and why are they off-limits? What sacrifices do the characters make to be together, and what consequences do they face?
The Time Traveler
Write a story about a character who discovers the ability to time travel. What periods of time do they visit, and what do they learn from these experiences? How does their time travel affect their present-day life, and what happens when they try to change the course of history?
The Second Chance
Write a story about two people who have a chance encounter after years of being apart. What happened between them in the past, and what has changed since then? Do they try to rekindle their relationship, or do they part ways once again?
The Fake Relationship
Write a story about two people who enter into a fake relationship for their own reasons. Why do they decide to pretend to be together, and what complications arise from this arrangement? Do they develop real feelings for each other, or is it all just an act?
The Secret Admirer
Write a story about someone who receives secret admirer notes or gifts from an anonymous sender. Who is the secret admirer, and why are they keeping their identity hidden? How does the recipient react to these gestures, and what happens when they finally discover the truth?
The Opposites Attract
Write a story about two people who come from different worlds or have opposing personalities. What draws them to each other, and what challenges do they face as a result of their differences? How do they navigate their relationship despite these obstacles?
The Summer Fling
Write a story about two people who meet during the summer and fall in love. What makes their summer romance special, and what happens when the season ends? Do they try to make their relationship work long-distance or go their separate ways?
The Unrequited Love
Write a story about someone who is in love with someone who doesn't feel the same way. How does the protagonist cope with their unrequited feelings, and what happens when they finally confess? Do they find closure or continue to hold onto their feelings?
The Love Triangle
Write a story about three people who are involved in a love triangle. Who are the three characters, and what draws them to each other? What happens as they try to navigate their feelings and their relationships with each other?
The Rekindled Flame
Write a story about two people who were once in love but have been separated for a long time. What brings them back together, and do they still have feelings for each other? What happens as they try to rebuild their relationship?
The Workplace Romance
Write a story about two people who fall in love in the workplace. What are their jobs, and how do they meet? What happens as they try to balance their work and their relationship, and how do their colleagues react?
Write a story about two people who fall in love despite the fact that their love is forbidden. What makes their love forbidden, and what risks do they take to be together? How do they navigate their relationship in secret, and what happens if their love is discovered?
The Disappearance of a Celebrity
A famous celebrity has vanished without a trace, and the world is in shock. As a private investigator, it's your job to uncover the truth behind their disappearance. As you delve deeper into the case, you realize that there's more to the story than meets the eye. Write a thriller about the investigation and the shocking discoveries you make.
A Deadly Game of Cat and Mouse
A skilled assassin is targeting you, and you don't know why. As you try to stay alive and figure out who's behind the hit, you realize that the assassin is always one step ahead. Write a thriller about the deadly game of cat and mouse between you and the assassin.
The Secret Experiment
You're a scientist working on a top-secret government experiment. As the project progresses, you begin to uncover disturbing truths about the experiment and the people in charge. Write a thriller about the dangers of playing god and the consequences of unchecked ambition.
The Hostage Situation
You're a hostage negotiator tasked with resolving a tense situation. A group of armed criminals have taken hostages in a crowded building, and they're demanding a ransom. As you try to negotiate a peaceful resolution, you realize that the situation is more complicated than you initially thought. Write a thriller about the intense standoff and the desperate attempts to save the hostages.
You have a stalker, and they're getting bolder by the day. As you try to uncover their identity and put an end to their harassment, you begin to realize that their obsession runs deep. Write a thriller about the terrifying experience of being stalked and the lengths you'll go to protect yourself and your loved ones.
The Haunted House
You've just moved into a new home, but something doesn't feel right. As you begin to experience strange occurrences and disturbing visions, you realize that your house may be haunted. Write a thriller about uncovering the dark history of the house and the terror that ensues.
The Unsolvable Mystery
You're a detective tasked with solving a seemingly impossible case. The clues don't add up, the suspects all have alibis, and the evidence points in multiple directions. Write a thriller about the frustration and desperation of trying to solve an unsolvable mystery.
The world as we know it has come to an end. In the aftermath of a catastrophic event, you must fight to survive and protect the ones you love. Write a thriller about the dangers of a post-apocalyptic world and the struggles to rebuild and survive.
You've been invited to join a secret society with powerful members and mysterious rituals. As you delve deeper into the society's inner workings, you realize that their true purpose is much darker than you could have ever imagined. Write a thriller about the dangers of getting too close to a secret society and the desperate attempts to escape its grip.
The Perfect Crime
You've committed the perfect crime, and you've gotten away with it. Or so you thought. As the authorities close in and the evidence starts to mount against you, you realize that you may not be as clever as you thought. Write a thriller about the thrill of the crime and the terror of getting caught.
The Abandoned House
You and your friends decide to explore an old abandoned house on the outskirts of town. As you enter, you realize that something is not quite right. Write a story about what happens inside the house.
The Cursed Object
You inherit a strange object from a deceased relative. As soon as you bring it home, strange things start happening. Write a story about the cursed object and its effects on your life.
The Forest at Night
You decide to take a midnight hike in the forest. As you wander deeper into the woods, you start to feel like you're being watched. Write a story about your eerie encounter in the forest at night.
The Creepy Carnival
You and your friends decide to visit a traveling carnival that has set up in town. As you explore the carnival, you realize that something is not quite right. Write a story about your spooky experience at the creepy carnival.
The Haunted Hotel
You check into a hotel for the night, but quickly realize that the place is haunted. Strange noises, ghostly apparitions, and other unexplainable events keep you awake all night. Write a story about your terrifying stay in the haunted hotel.
The Mysterious Neighbor
Your new neighbor seems friendly enough, but there's something unsettling about them. You start to notice strange things happening around your house after they move in. Write a story about your investigation into your mysterious neighbor's true identity and intentions.
The Forbidden Room
You inherit an old mansion from a distant relative. As you explore the house, you discover a room that has been locked for years. Despite warnings from the locals, you decide to open the door. Write a story about what you find inside the forbidden room.
The Possessed Child
Your child starts to exhibit strange behavior that you can't explain. They talk in a different voice, have superhuman strength, and seem to know things they shouldn't. Write a story about your terrifying experience with your possessed child.
The Demon Summoning
You and your friends attempt to summon a demon as a party game, but things quickly spiral out of control. Write a story about your encounter with the demon and the consequences of your actions.
The Island of the Dolls
You and your friends decide to explore a remote island that is rumored to be haunted by dolls. As you wander the island, you start to realize that the dolls are more than just inanimate objects. Write a story about your chilling experience on the island of the dolls.
An Alternate Reality
Write a story set in an alternate reality where one key event in history has played out differently. How has this altered the course of history? What is different about the world and how do people live in it?
A World Without Time
Imagine a world where time doesn't exist. How do people measure their lives? How do they organize their days? What happens to aging and mortality? Write a story set in this timeless world.
A World of Advanced AI
Imagine a world where artificial intelligence has advanced to the point where machines can think and feel like humans. What kind of society would emerge? What would the relationship between humans and machines be like? Write a story set in this world.
A World of Superhumans
Imagine a world where humans possess extraordinary abilities beyond the average human. How do they use these abilities? How do they interact with society? What kind of conflicts arise? Write a story set in this world of superhumans.
A World of Teleportation
Imagine a world where teleportation is a common form of transportation. How does this change society? What kind of technology and infrastructure would be necessary? What kind of problems arise from this mode of travel? Write a story set in this world of teleportation.
A World Without Death
Imagine a world where death does not exist. How do people live their lives knowing they will never die? What kind of societal changes occur when people are essentially immortal? Write a story set in this world without death.
A World Without Emotion
Imagine a world where humans are incapable of feeling emotions. How does this change the way people interact with each other? How does this affect decision-making and morality? Write a story set in this emotionless world.
A World Where Dreams Come True
Imagine a world where people's dreams come true in reality. How does this change the way people dream? How does it change the way they live their lives? Write a story set in this dream world.
A World of Shifting Realities
Imagine a world where reality is constantly shifting and changing. How do people adapt to this environment? How do they make sense of the world around them? Write a story set in this shifting reality world.
A World Without Gravity
Imagine a world where gravity does not exist. How do people live in this environment? What kind of technology and infrastructure would be necessary to adapt? What kind of new forms of movement and transportation emerge? Write a story set in this gravity-free world.
Below are some frequently asked questions that will provide more information.
What if none of the fiction writing prompts appeal to me?
If you're not interested in any of the prompts you come across, don't force yourself to write about them. Instead, try modifying the prompts to fit your interests and writing style, or come up with your own prompts that better suit your needs.
Can I use fiction writing prompts for non-fiction writing?
While fiction writing prompts are designed for fiction writing, many prompts can be adapted for non-fiction writing as well. For example, a prompt that asks you to describe a character's morning routine could be modified to ask you to describe your own morning routine. Don't be afraid to experiment and see how prompts can be adapted to suit your writing goals.
Are there any downsides to using fiction writing prompts?
While fiction writing prompts can be a helpful tool for generating new ideas and practicing your writing skills, there are some potential downsides to using them. For example, relying too heavily on prompts can stifle your creativity and limit your ability to come up with original ideas. Additionally, some writers may find prompts to be too constraining or limiting, and may prefer to write without them. Ultimately, the decision to use prompts or not should be based on your individual needs and preferences as a writer.
If you're interested in learning more about fiction writing prompts and how they can be used to inspire your writing, here are three non-fiction books that you may find helpful:
This book provides over 400 prompts and exercises designed to inspire writers and help them develop their craft. It includes prompts for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, as well as tips and strategies for using prompts effectively.
This book provides over 200 writing prompts and exercises to help writers of all levels develop their creativity and find inspiration. It includes prompts for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, as well as tips and strategies for using prompts effectively.
This book provides 642 prompts and exercises designed to spark creativity and help writers overcome writer's block. It includes prompts for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, as well as blank pages for writers to jot down their own ideas.
Writing can be a challenging and solitary pursuit, and it's not always easy to come up with new ideas and stay motivated. Fiction writing prompts can be a helpful tool for writers looking to overcome writer's block, generate new ideas, or get in some extra writing practice. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned writer, using prompts can greatly expand your writing skills and explore new possibilities.
In this article, we've covered what fiction writing prompts are, their benefits, the different types of prompts available, and how to use them effectively. We've also provided examples of prompts to get you started and some recommended books and further reading for those interested in learning more.
Remember, writing prompts are just one tool in your writing toolbox, and they may not be right for everyone. Ultimately, the decision to use prompts or not should be based on your individual needs and preferences as a writer. Whether you choose to use prompts or not, we hope that this article has provided you with some useful insights and strategies for taking your writing practice to the next level.
If you're interested in learning more about writing and the writing process, check out this article on writing from Wikipedia. It provides an overview of the history of writing, different types of writing, and some of the challenges and rewards of the writing life.
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'It is probably one of the best books on writing I've read so far.' Miz Bent
Whether you’ve been struck with a moment of inspiration or you’ve carried a story inside you for years, you’re here because you want to start writing fiction. From developing flesh-and-bone characters to worlds as real as our own, good fiction is hard to write, and getting the first words onto the blank page can be daunting.
Daunting, but not impossible. Although writing good fiction takes time, with a few fiction writing tips and your first sentences written, you’ll find that it’s much easier to get your words on the page.
Let’s break down fiction to its essential elements. We’ll investigate the individual components of fiction writing—and how, when they sit down to write, writers turn words into worlds. Then, we’ll turn to instructor Jack Smith and his thoughts on combining these elements into great works of fiction. But first, what are the elements of fiction writing?
Introduction to Fiction Writing: The Six Elements of Fiction
Before we delve into any writing tips, let’s review the essentials of creative writing in fiction. Whether you’re writing flash fiction , short stories, or epic trilogies, most fiction stories require these six components:
- Plot: the “what happens” of your story.
- Characters: whose lives are we watching?
- Setting: the world that the story is set in.
- Point of View: from whose eyes do we see the story unfold?
- Theme: the “deeper meaning” of the story, or what the story represents.
- Style: how you use words to tell the story.
It’s important to recognize that all of these elements are intertwined. You can’t build the setting without writing it through a certain point of view; you can’t develop important themes with arbitrary characters, etc. We’ll get into the relationship between these elements later, but for now, let’s explore how to use each element to write fiction.
1. Fiction Writing Tip: Developing Fictional Plots
Plot is the series of causes and effects that produce the story as a whole. Because A, then B, then C—ultimately leading to the story’s climax , the result of all the story’s events and character’s decisions.
If you don’t know where to start your story, but you have a few story ideas, then start with the conflict . Some novels take their time to introduce characters or explain the world of the piece, but if the conflict that drives the story doesn’t show up within the first 15 pages, then the story loses direction quickly.
That’s not to say you have to be explicit about the conflict. In Harry Potter, Voldemort isn’t introduced as the main antagonist until later in the first book; the series’ conflict begins with the Dursley family hiding Harry from his magical talents. Let the conflict unfold naturally in the story, but start with the story’s impetus, then go from there.
2. Fiction Writing Tip: Creating Characters
Think far back to 9th grade English, and you might remember the basic types of story conflicts: man vs. nature, man vs. man, and man vs. self. The conflicts that occur within stories happen to its characters—there can be no story without its people. Sometimes, your story needs to start there: in the middle of a conversation, a disrupted routine, or simply with what makes your characters special.
There are many ways to craft characters with depth and complexity. These include writing backstory, giving characters goals and fatal flaws, and making your characters contend with complicated themes and ideas. This guide on character development will help you sort out the traits your characters need, and how to interweave those traits into the story.
3. Fiction Writing Tip: Give Life to Living Worlds
Whether your story is set on Earth or a land far, far away, your setting lives in the same way your characters do. In the same way that we read to get inside the heads of other people, we also read to escape to a world outside of our own. Consider starting the story with what makes your world live: a pulsing city, the whispered susurrus of orchards, hills that roil with unsolved mysteries, etc. Tell us where the conflict is happening, and the story will follow.
4. Fiction Writing Tip: Play With Narrative Point of View
Point of view refers to the “cameraman” of the story—the vantage point we are viewing the story through. Maybe you’re stuck starting your story because you’re trying to write it in the wrong person. There are four POVs that authors work with:
- First person—the story is told from the “I” perspective, and that “I” is the protagonist.
- First person peripheral—the story is told from the “I” perspective, but the “I” is not the protagonist, but someone adjacent to the protagonist. (Think: Nick Carraway, narrator of The Great Gatsby. )
- Second person—the story is told from the “you” perspective. This point of view is rare, but when done effectively, it can create a sense of eeriness or a personalized piece.
- Third person limited—the story is told from the “he/she/they” perspective. The narrator is not directly involved in the lives of the characters; additionally, the narrator usually writes from the perspective of one or two characters.
- Third person omniscient—the story is told from the “he/she/they” perspective. The narrator is not directly involved in the lives of the characters; additionally, the narrator knows what is happening in each character’s heads and in the world at large.
If you can’t find the right words to begin your piece, consider switching up the pronouns you use and the perspective you write from. You might find that the story flows onto the page from a different point of view.
5. Fiction Writing Tip: Use the Story to Investigate Themes
Generally, the themes of the story aren’t explored until after the aforementioned elements are established, and writers don’t always know the themes of their own work until after the work is written. Still, it might help to consider the broader implications of the story you want to write. How does the conflict or story extend into a bigger picture?
Let’s revisit Harry Potter’s opening scenes. When we revisit the Dursleys preventing Harry from knowing about his true nature, several themes are established: the meaning of family, the importance of identity, and the idea of fate can all be explored here. Themes often develop organically, but it doesn’t hurt to consider the message of your story from the start.
6. Fiction Writing Tip: Experiment With Words
Style is the last of the six fiction elements, but certainly as important as the others. The words you use to tell your story, the way you structure your sentences, how you alternate between characters, and the sounds of the words you use all contribute to the mood of the work itself.
If you’re struggling to get past the first sentence, try rewriting it. Write it in 10 words or write it in 200 words; write a single word sentence; experiment with metaphors, alliteration, or onomatopoeia . Then, once you’ve found the right words, build from there, and let your first sentence guide the style and mood of the narrative.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at the craft of fiction writing. The above elements are great starting points, but to learn how to start writing fiction, we need to examine the craft of combining these elements.
Primer on the Elements of Fiction Writing
First, before we get into the craft of fiction writing, it’s important to understand the elements of fiction. You don’t need to understand everything about the craft of fiction before you start keying in ideas or planning your novel. But this primer will be something you can consult if you need clarification on any term (e.g., point of view) as you learn how to start writing fiction.
The Elements of Fiction Writing
A standard novel runs between 80,000 to 100,000 words. A short novel, going by the National Novel Writing Month , is at least 50,000. To begin with, don’t think about length—think about development. Length will come. It is true that some works lend themselves more to novellas, but if that’s the case, you don’t want to pad them to make a longer work. If you write a plot summary—that’s one option on getting started writing fiction—you will be able to get a fairly good idea about your project as to whether it lends itself to a full-blown novel.
For now, let’s think about the various elements of fiction—the building blocks.
Writing Fiction: Your Protagonist
Readers want an interesting protagonist , or main character. One that seems real, that deals with the various things in life we all deal with. If the writer makes life too simple, and doesn’t reflect the kinds of problems we all face, most readers are going to lose interest.
Don’t cheat it. Make the work honest. Do as much as you can to develop a character who is fully developed, fully real—many-sided. Complex. In Aspects of the Novel , E.M Forster called this character a “round” characte r. This character is capable of surprising us. Don’t be afraid to make your protagonist, or any of your characters, a bit contradictory. Most of us are somewhat contradictory at one time or another. The deeper you see into your protagonist, the more complex, the more believable they will be.
If a character has no depth, is merely “flat,” as Forster terms it, then we can sum this character up in a sentence: “George hates his ex-wife.” This is much too limited. Find out why. What is it that causes George to hate his ex-wife? Is it because of something she did or didn’t do? Is it because of a basic personality clash? Is it because George can’t stand a certain type of person, and he didn’t realize, until too late, that his ex-wife was really that kind of person? Imagine some moments of illumination, and you will have a much richer character than one who just hates his ex-wife.
And so… to sum up: think about fleshing out your protagonist as much as you can. Consider personality, character (or moral makeup), inclinations, proclivities, likes, dislikes, etc. What makes this character happy? What makes this character sad or frustrated? What motivates your character? Readers don’t want to know only what —they want to know why .
Usually, readers want a sympathetic character, one they can root for. Or if not that, one that is interesting in different ways. You might not find the protagonist of The Girl on the Train totally sympathetic, but she’s interesting! She’s compelling.
Here’s an article I wrote on what makes a good protagonist.
Also on clichéd characters.
Now, we’re ready for a key question: what is your protagonist’s main goal in this story? And secondly, who or what will stand in the way of your character achieving this goal?
There are two kinds of conflicts: internal and external. In some cases, characters may not be opposing an external antagonist, but be self-conflicted. Once you decide on your character’s goal, you can more easily determine the nature of the obstacles that your protagonist must overcome. There must be conflict, of course, and stories must involve movement. Things go from Phase A to Phase B to Phase C, and so on. Overall, the protagonist begins here and ends there. She isn’t the same at the end of the story as she was in the beginning. There is a character arc.
I spoke of character arc. Now let’s move on to plot, the mechanism governing the overall logic of the story. What causes the protagonist to change? What key events lead up to the final resolution?
But before we go there, let’s stop a moment and think about point of view, the lens through which the story is told.
Writing Fiction: Point of View as Lens
Is this the right protagonist for this story? Is this character the one who has the most at stake? Does this character have real potential for change? Remember, you must have change or movement—in terms of character growth—in your story. Your character should not be quite the same at the end as in the beginning. Otherwise, it’s more of a sketch.
Such a story used to be called “slice of life.” For example, what if a man thinks his job can’t get any worse—and it doesn’t? He started with a great dislike for the job, for the people he works with, just for the pay. His hate factor is 9 on a scale of 10. He doesn’t learn anything about himself either. He just realizes he’s got to get out of there. The reader knew that from page 1.
Choose a character who has a chance of undergoing change of some kind. The more complex the change, the better. Characters that change are dynamic characters , according to E. M. Forster. Characters that remain the same are static characters. Be sure your protagonist is dynamic.
Okay, an exception: Let’s say your character resists change—that can involve some sort of movement—the resisting of change.
Here’s another thing to look at on protagonists—a blog I wrote: https://elizabethspanncraig.com/writing-tips-2/creating-strong-characters-typical-challenges/
Writing Fiction: Point of View and Person
Usually when we think of point of view, we have in mind the choice of person: first, second, and third. First person provides intimacy. As readers we’re allowed into the I-narrator’s mind and heart. A story told from the first person can sometimes be highly confessional, frank, bold. Think of some of the great first-person narrators like Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield. With first person we can also create narrators that are not completely reliable, leading to dramatic irony : we as readers believe one thing while the narrator believes another. This creates some interesting tension, but be careful to make your protagonist likable, sympathetic. Or at least empathetic, someone we can relate to.
What if a novel is told in first person from the point of view of a mob hit man? As author of such a tale, you probably wouldn’t want your reader to root for this character, but you could at least make the character human and believable. With first person, your reader would be constantly in the mind of this character, so you’d need to find a way to deal with this sympathy question. First person is a good choice for many works of fiction, as long as one doesn’t confuse the I-narrator with themselves. It may be a temptation, especially in the case of fiction based on one’s own life—not that it wouldn’t be in third person narrations. But perhaps even more with a first person story: that character is me . But it’s not—it’s a fictional character.
Check out my article on writing autobiographical fiction, which appeared in The Writer magazine. https://www.writermag.com/2018/07/31/filtering-fact-through-fiction/
Third person provides more distance. With third person, you have a choice between three forms: omniscient, limited omniscient, and objective or dramatic. If you get outside of your protagonist’s mind and enter other characters’ minds, you are being omniscient or godlike. If you limit your access to your protagonist’s mind only, this is limited omniscience. Let’s consider these two forms of third-person narrators before moving on to the objective or dramatic POV.
The omniscient form is rather risky, but it is certainly used, and it can certainly serve a worthwhile function. With this form, the author knows everything that has occurred, is occurring, or will occur in a given place, or in given places, for all the characters in the story. The author can provide historical background, look into the future, and even speculate on characters and make judgments. This point of view, writers tend to feel today, is more the method of nineteenth-century fiction, and not for today. It seems like too heavy an authorial footprint. Not handled well—and it is difficult to handle well—the characters seem to be pawns of an all-knowing author.
Today’s omniscience tends to take the form of multiple points of view, sometimes alternating, sometimes in sections. An author is behind it all, but the author is effaced, not making an appearance. BUT there are notable examples of well-handled authorial omniscience–read Nobel-prize winning Jose Saramago’s Blindness as a good example.
For more help, here’s an article I wrote on the omniscient point of view for The Writer : https://www.writermag.com/improve-your-writing/fiction/omniscient-pov/
The limited omniscient form is typical of much of today’s fiction. You stick to your protagonist’s mind. You see others from the outside. Even so, you do have to be careful that you don’t get out of this point of view from time to time, and bring in things the character can’t see or observe—unless you want to stand outside this character, and therein lies the omniscience, however limited it is.
But anyway, note the difference between: “George’s smiles were very welcoming” and “George felt like his smiles were very welcoming”—see the difference? In the case of the first, we’re seeing George from the outside; in the case of the second, from the inside. It’s safer to stay within your protagonist’s perspective as much as possible and not describe them from the outside. Doing so comes off like a point-of-view shift. Yet it’s true that in some stories, the narrator will describe what the character is wearing, tell us what his hopes and dreams are, mention things he doesn’t know right now but will later—and perhaps, in rather quirky stories, the narrator will even say something like “Our hero…” This can work, and has, if you create an interesting narrative voice. But it’s certainly a risk.
The dramatic or objective point of view is one you’ll probably use from time to time, but not throughout your whole novel. Hemingway’s “Hills like White Elephants” is handled with this point of view. Mostly, with maybe one exception, all we know is what the characters say and do, as in a play. Using this point of view from time to time in a longer work can certainly create interest. You can intensify a scene sometimes with this point of view. An interesting back and forth can be accomplished, especially if the dialogue is clipped.
I’ve saved the second-person point of view for the last. I would advise you not to use this point of view for an entire work. In his short novel Bright Lights, Big City , Jay McInerney famously uses this point of view, and with some force, but it’s hard to pull off. In lesser hands, it can get old. You also cause the reader to become the character. Does the reader want to become this character? One problem with this point of view is it may seem overly arty, an attempt at sophistication. I think it’s best to choose either first or third.
Here’s an article I wrote on use of second person for The Writer magazine. Check it out if you’re interested. https://www.writermag.com/2016/11/02/second-person-pov/
Writing Fiction: Protagonist and Plot and Structure
We come now to plot, keeping in mind character. You might consider the traditional five-stage structure : exposition, rising action, crisis and climax, falling action, and resolution. Not every plot works this way, but it’s a tried-and-true structure. Certainly a number of pieces of literature you read will begin in media re s—that is, in the middle of things. Instead of beginning with standard exposition, or explanation of the condition of the protagonist’s life at the story’s starting point, the author will begin with a scene. But even so, as in Jerzy Kosiński’s famous novella Being There , which begins with a scene, we’ll still pick up the present state of the character’s life before we see something that complicates it or changes the existing equilibrium. This so-called complication can be something apparently good—like winning the lottery—or something decidedly bad—like losing a huge amount of money at the gaming tables. One thing is true in both cases: whatever has happened will cause the character to change. And so now you have to fill in the events that bring this about.
How do you do that? One way is to write a chapter outline to prevent false starts. But some writers don’t like plotting in this fashion, but want to discover as they write. If you do plot your novel in advance, do realize that as you write, you will discover a lot of things about your character that you didn’t have in mind when you first set pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard. And so, while it’s a good idea to do some planning, do keep your options open.
Let’s think some more about plot. To have a workable plot, you need a sequence of actions or events that give the story an overall movement. This includes two elements which we’ll take up later: foreshadowing and echoing (things that prepare us for something in the future and things that remind us of what has already happened). These two elements knit a story together.
Think carefully about character motivations. Some things may happen to your character; some things your character may decide to do, however wisely or unwisely. In the revision stage, if not earlier, ask yourself: What motivates my character to act in one way or another? And ask yourself: What is the overall logic of this story? What caused my character to change? What were the various forces, whether inner or outer, that caused this change? Can I describe my character’s overall arc, from A to Z? Try to do that. Write a short paragraph. Then try to write down your summary in one sentence, called a log line in film script writing, but also a useful technique in fiction writing as well. If you write by the discovery method, you probably won’t want to do this in the midst of the drafting, but at least in the revision stage, you should consider doing so.
With a novel you may have a subplot or two. Assuming you will, you’ll need to decide how the plot and the subplot relate. Are they related enough to make one story? If you think the subplot is crucial for the telling of your tale, try to say why—in a paragraph, then in a sentence.
Here’s an article I wrote on structure for The Writer : https://www.writermag.com/improve-your-writing/revision-grammar/find-novels-structure/
Writing Fiction: Setting
Let’s move on to setting . Your novel has to take place somewhere. Where is it? Is it someplace that is particularly striking and calls for a lot of solid description? If it’s a wilderness area where your character is lost, give your reader a strong sense for the place. If it’s a factory job, and much of the story takes place at the worksite, again readers will want to feel they’re there with your character, putting in the hours. If it’s an apartment and the apartment itself isn’t related to the problems your character is having, then there’s no need to provide that much detail. Exception: If your protagonist concentrates on certain things in the apartment and begins to associate certain things about the apartment with their misery, now there’s reason to get concrete. Take a look, when you have a chance, at the short story “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” It’s not an apartment—it’s a house—but clearly the setting itself becomes important when it becomes important to the character. She reads the wallpaper as a statement about her own condition.
Here’s the URL for ”The Yellow Wall-Paper”: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/theliteratureofprescription/exhibitionAssets/digitalDocs/The-Yellow-Wall-Paper.pdf
Sometimes setting is pretty important; sometimes it’s much less important. When it doesn’t serve a purpose to describe it, don’t, other than to give the reader a sense for where the story takes place. If you provide very many details, even in a longer work like a novel, the reader will think that these details have some significance in terms of character, plot, or theme—or all three. And if they don’t, why are they there? If setting details are important, be selective. Provide a dominant impression. More on description below.
If you’re interested, here’s a blog on setting I wrote for Writers.com: https://writers.com/what-is-the-setting-of-a-story
Writing Fiction: Theme and Idea
Most literary works have a theme or idea. It’s possible to decide on this theme before you write, as you plan out your novel. But be careful here. If the theme seems imposed on the work, the novel will lose a lot of force. It will seem—and it may well be—engineered by the author much like a nonfiction piece, and lose the felt experience of the characters.
Theme must emerge from the work naturally, or at least appear to do so. Once you have a draft, you can certainly build ideas that are apparent in the work, and you can even do this while you’re generating your first draft. But watch out for overdoing it. Let the characters (what they do, what they say) and the plot (the whole storyline with its logical connections) contribute on their own to the theme. Also you can depend on metaphors, similes, and analogies to point to the theme—as long as these are not heavy-handed. Avoid authorial intrusion, authorial impositions of any kind. If you do end up creating a simile, metaphor, or analogy through rational thinking, make sure it sounds natural. That’s not easy, of course.
Writing Fiction: Handling Scenes
Keep a few things in mind about writing scenes. Not every event deserves a whole scene, maybe only a half-scene, a short interaction between characters. Scenes need to do two things: reveal character and advance plot. If a scene seems to stall out and lack interest, in the revision mode you might try using narrative summary instead (see below).
Good fiction is strongly dramatic, calling for scenes, many of them scenes with dialogue and action. Scenes need to involve conflict of some kind. If everyone is happy, that’s probably going to be a dull scene. Some scenes will be narrative, without dialogue. You need some interesting action to make these work.
Let’s consider scenes with dialogue.
The best dialogue is speech that sounds natural, and yet isn’t. Everything about fiction is an artifice, including speech. But try to make it sound real. The best way to do this is to “hear” the voices in your head and transcribe them. Take dictation. If you can do this, whole conversations will seem very real, believable. If you force what each character has to say, and plan it out too much, it will certainly sound planned out, and not real at all. Not that in the revision mode you can’t doctor up the speech here and there, but still, make sure it comes off as natural sounding.
Some things to think about when writing dialogue: people usually speak in fragments, interrupt each other, engage in pauses, follow up a question with a comment that takes the conversation off course (non sequiturs). Note these aspects of dialogue in the fiction you read.
Also, note how writers intersperse action with dialogue, setting details, and character thoughts. As far as the latter goes, though, if you’ll recall, I spoke of the dramatic point of view, which doesn’t get into a character’s mind but depends instead on what characters do and say, as in a play. You may try this point of view out in some scenes to make them really move.
One technique is to use indirect dialogue, or summary of what a character said, not in the character’s own words. For instance: Bill made it clear that he wasn’t going to the city after all. If anybody thought that, they were wrong .
Now and then you’ll come upon dialogue that doesn’t use the standard double quotes, but perhaps a single quote (this is British), or dashes, or no punctuation at all. The latter two methods create some distance from the speech. If you want to give your work a surreal quality, this certainly adds to it. It also makes it seem more interior.
One way to kill good dialogue is to make characters too obviously expository devices—that is, functioning to provide background or explanations of certain important story facts. Certainly characters can serve as expository devices, but don’t be too heavy-handed about this. Don’t force it like the following:
“We always used to go to the beach, you recall? You recall how first we would have breakfast, then take a long walk on the beach, and then we would change into our swimsuits, and spend an hour in the water. And you recall how we usually followed that with a picnic lunch, maybe an hour later.”
This sounds like the character is saying all this to fill the reader in on backstory. You’d need a motive for the utterance of all of these details—maybe sharing a memory?
But the above sounds stilted, doesn’t it?
One final word about dialogue. Watch out for dialogue tags that tell but don’t show . Here’s an example:
“Do you think that’s the case,” said Ted, hoping to hear some good news. “Not necessarily,” responded Laura, in a barky voice. “I just wish life wasn’t so difficult,” replied Ted.
If you’re going to use a tag at all—and many times you don’t need to—use “said.” Dialogue tags like the above examples can really kill the dialogue.
Writing Fiction: Writing Solid Prose
Narrative summary : As I’ve stated above, not everything will be a scene. You’ll need to write narrative summary now and then. Narrative summary telescopes time, covering a day, a week, a month, a year, or even longer. Often it will be followed up by a scene, whether a narrative scene or one with dialogue. Narrative summary can also relate how things generally went over a given period. You can write strong narrative summary if you make it specific and concrete—and dramatic. Also, if we hear the voice of the writer, it can be interesting—if the voice is compelling enough.
Exposition : It’s the first stage of the 5-stage plot structure, where things are set up prior to some sort of complication, but more generally, it’s a prose form which tells or informs. You use exposition when you get inside your character, dealing with his or her thoughts and emotions, memories, plans, dreams. This can be difficult to do well because it can come off too much like authorial “telling” instead of “showing,” and readers want to feel like they’re experiencing the world of the protagonist, not being told about this world. Still, it’s important to get inside characters, and exposition is often the right tool, along with narrative summary, if the character is remembering a sequence of events from the past.
Description : Description is a word picture, providing specific and concrete details to allow the reader to see, not just be told. Concreteness is putting the reader in the world of the five senses, what we call imagery . Some writers provide a lot of details, some only a few—just enough that the reader can imagine the rest. Consider choosing details that create a dominant impression—whether it’s a character or a place. Similes, metaphors, and analogies help readers see people and places and can make thoughts and ideas (the reflections of your character or characters) more interesting. Not that you should always make your reader see. To do so might cause an overload of images.
Check out these two articles: https://www.writermag.com/improve-your-writing/fiction/the-definitive-guide-to-show-dont-tell/ https://www.writermag.com/improve-your-writing/fiction/figurative-language-in-fiction/
Writing Fiction: Research
Some novels require research. Obviously historical novels do, but others do, too, like Sci Fi novels. Almost any novel can call for a little research. Here’s a short article I wrote for The Writer magazine on handling research materials. It’s in no way an in-depth commentary on research–but it will serve as an introduction. https://www.writermag.com/improve-your-writing/fiction/research-in-fiction/
For a blog on novel writing, check this link at Writers.com: https://writers.com/novel-writing-tips
For more articles I’ve published in The Writer , go here: https://www.writermag.com/author/jack-smith/
How to Start Writing Fiction: Take a Writing Class!
To write a story or even write a book, fiction writers need these tools first and foremost. Although there’s no comprehensive guide on how to write fiction for beginners, working with these elements of fiction will help your story bloom.
All six elements synergize to make a work of fiction, and like most works of art, the sum of these elements is greater than the individual parts. Still, you might find that you struggle with one of these elements, like maybe you’re great at writing characters but not very good with exploring setting. If this is the case, then use your strengths: use characters to explore the setting, or use style to explore themes, etc.
Getting the first draft written is the hardest part, but it deserves to be written. Once you’ve got a working draft of a story or novel and you need an extra set of eyes, the Writers.com community is here to give feedback: take a look at our upcoming courses on fiction writing, and check out our talented writing community .
Good luck, and happy writing!
I have had a story in my mind for over 15 years. I just haven’t had an idea how to start , putting it down on print just seems too confusing. After reading this article I’m even more confused but also more determined to give it a try. It has given me answers to some of my questions. Thank you !
You’ve got this, Earl!
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25 Story Starters for Writing Fiction
by Melissa Donovan | May 23, 2023 | Fiction Writing Prompts | 3 comments
Get creative with these story starters.
Are you a storyteller? Do you want to be a storyteller?
If you’re interested in writing flash fiction, short stories, or novels, then you’re going to need lots of ideas, especially if you want to write professionally.
Some of us have too many ideas; others don’t have enough ideas. Maybe we have a solid idea for a story, but something’s missing. We need to spice it up by adding subplots or characters. Maybe the setting or story world isn’t rich enough. Perhaps your story lacks theme.
Today, I’d like to share twenty-five story starters. You can use these story starters to inspire a new story or to breathe new life into a story you’re already working on. Use them to write whatever you want — flash fiction, short stories, or a novel.
- We all know about conspiracy theorists. They believe the moon landing was a farce. Come up with a new conspiracy that theorists rally around. The public thinks they’re crazy, but are they?
- The world is run by politicians, but sometimes, ordinary people get caught up in political drama and intrigue. What happens when a bike messenger, a restaurant server, and a daycare teacher get unwillingly drawn into the affairs of state?
- Technology has developed at a splitting speed over the past century. Before we know it, every house will be equipped with a robot and a virtual reality system. But what happens when a couple of kids venture into the wrong area of the virtual reality and get stuck there?
- Witnesses to crimes can find themselves in grave danger, which is why there are protection programs for such persons. But what if the witness decided to join forces with the prime suspect? What does the witness get in exchange for false testimony that acquits a terrible criminal?
- Take a look at the world we live in. In some places, life is pretty good. But in other places, life is difficult for most people, especially where there’s a lot of inequality, poverty, and oppression. What if an oppressive culture used war or the media to spread itself around the globe? What would that look like, and would we ever overcome it?
- After a family moves into a new house, one of the kids looks for a hiding place to stash some secret belongings and discovers a panel at the back of a closet. Assuming it leads to the attic, the kid removes the panel only to find a window that looks into a world populated with magic and monsters.
- Two politicians are in a heated race to win a critical election (governor, president, etc.) and through negative campaigning have become arch enemies. But their kids go to the same college and have fallen in love. What happens when the relationship is revealed in the media?
- All the evidence in a brutal, premeditated murder points to one primary suspect, including footage from security cameras. The problem is that there’s no motive, and the alleged killer insists on his or her innocence. Who committed this heinous crime?
- While working on a more fuel-efficient space shuttle that will transport tourists to and from the moon, one engineer stumbles into a way to make faster-than-light (FTL) engines a reality.
- A stranger comes to a small town that hasn’t seen a new resident since the town’s youngest child was born sixteen years ago. The stranger rarely leaves his or her formerly abandoned home except to buy groceries and strange supplies from the local home improvement store, and the townspeople think something’s not right.
- Step back in time hundreds — or perhaps thousands — of years. The leader of a small tribe is butting heads with the tribe’s healer. Meanwhile, a powerful neighboring tribe is infiltrating their territory.
- Inspired by Jurassic Park , a biological engineer is committed to recreating dinosaurs. While researching ancient dinosaurs, the scientist stumbles into evidence that fire-breathing dragons once soared over the land and decides to recreate those instead.
- While representing an accused killer, the attorney falls in love with the client, partially because he or she believes the accused is innocent.
- Teenagers love to rebel and experiment. But what happens when one teenager’s antics end up on video and go viral? Bullying and humiliation ensue.
- After working hard for decades, the main character has finally managed to retire and purchase a condo on a small, tropical island, where he or she intends to write a novel. But strange things start happening — things go missing, there are creepy noises, and our character feels like he or she is constantly being watched.
- For centuries, humans have wondered if we are alone in the universe. The answer finally comes when aliens arrive. But it’s a time when tensions are high between the nations of Earth. Will humanity unite, or will some nations form an alliance with the aliens?
- A young couple believes their fairy tale has finally come true and they will live happily ever after. They are recently married, have good jobs, just bought a home, and there’s a baby on the way. But the fairy tale seems to unravel as secrets and lies begin to surface.
- When a foreign operative embedded in the CIA disappears with loads of government secrets, all hell breaks loose. But is this operative truly a foreign spy, or is it a citizen intent on blowing the cover off of government corruption?
- A mid-sized tourist plane crashes on a remote deserted island, killing all but a handful of survivors. Rescue is on the way until a devastating storm arises, barring access to the island. Now these urbanites must learn to live off the land and with each other.
- After serving a ten-year sentence for a heinous crime she didn’t commit, a former college student gets a new identity and becomes a private investigator intent on exonerating herself.
- A group of teenagers spends a summer day on a scavenger hunt in the woods just outside of town. When they reconvene to name the winner of the hunt, one of them doesn’t show up and cannot be found.
- When a kid finds out both parents are out of work and the family might have to move in with the grandparents, he or she decides to solve the problem by starting the modern version of a lemonade stand — an online enterprise.
- One couple’s nasty divorce leaves their two young children in the custody of their grandparents. Will the couple put aside their differences to get their children back?
- Dreams come true when a foster child is finally adopted. But the child’s new family is filled with secrets, and he or she begins to suspect that it wasn’t a chance adoption after all.
- The main character receives a strange inheritance from an unknown deceased relative: a key ring with no keys on it. Unusual events occur whenever the key ring is present.
Have you ever used story starters or writing prompts? Where do you find inspiration for writing fiction? Share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment, and keep writing.
I’ve never used story prompts, but some of these might give me inspiration to try some.
I always thought needing prompts to write a story was lame. I recently enrolled in a creative writing course and now sing the praises of writing prompts. They can really help out when you are learning the craft or just plain stuck. Some of the prompts here are pretty interesting, I may have to use a few of them.
I’m glad you came around on using prompts. They can be a lot of fun.
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The Simple Fiction Writing Process for Beginners
Many people want to write a book, but the thought of writing 300-something pages of a complete story that people will enjoy can seem so daunting. There has to be a more straightforward writing process, right?
This fear is especially true when you don’t have much if any, experience writing.
Where do I start? How do I turn my idea into a novel?
If this sounds like you, keep reading to find out how to write a book in manageable, less-stressful steps.
A free PDF checklist printable is available to download below!
Find Your Idea
- Flush Out Idea
- Story Bible
I’m guessing, since you’re reading this, you already have an idea for a book, so I’ll keep this brief. The first step in any writing process is to think of an idea.
If you struggle to come up with ideas, there are a few things you can do, so you’ll always have some backups.
Write Down Your Dreams
Keep track of any exciting dreams by writing them down as soon as you wake up. I’ve been doing this for years, and I have written many stories based on dreams I’ve had.
Use Writing Prompts
Writing prompts are an excellent way to spark your imagination. There are writing apps that will generate titles, first sentences, and more, leading you to come up with an incredible story idea.
If you are looking for some writing prompts, you can check out this post for some of my own writing prompts.
Flush Out Your Idea
Next, in the writing process, you want to write a summary or synopsis of your story. If you can, write pages of information like the main plot and character ideas.
The more information you come up with now, the easier the rest will be.
For example, having an idea like a story about a woman who becomes a superhero requires much more work in writing the outline than an idea like a story about a young woman who runs away from her past life and falls into the ocean only to discover she has the ab ility to breathe underwater .
Make sense? The more you know about how you want the storyline to play out, the easier it will be to outline and draft it during the next steps of the writing process.
Create Your Story Bible
You don’t need to have a ton of information to start your story bible; even just a working title is enough. It’s important to set up a place to keep all of your story’s details right away.
Don’t worry about perfecting anything right now; just get down all of your ideas and leave it at that.
As your story begins to take form, be sure to add all of the details such as world rules, point-of-view, character details, etc.
The outline is where the majority of your time should be spent on. The more detail and information you add to it, the better.
Though an outline is less stressful than a whole book, it can still seem like a lot to decide on and plan out. This is why it’s essential to break everything down into easier-to-handle parts.
Create the protagonist, antagonist, and inner and outer goal. First, add the basics, then go back and add as much information as you can. This is the best time to write about your characters’ personalities, appearances, quirks, etc. Once you know who your characters are, you will be able to place them in the plot easily and know how they will react to what’s happening.
Also, write down the protagonist’s inner goal (what they hope to achieve in themselves by the end of the story (such as to be confident)) and their outer goal (what the story’s about (like winning a race)).
Now we begin to create the story structure. Using this five-step structure is essential for creating a story that progresses at a proper pace. For a more detailed explanation of each step, I recommend checking out this post.
Write a summary of what will occur in the exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
It’s okay if you just want to write the basics in a sentence or two if you don’t know exactly how you want your story to progress, but it’s important to have an idea of the direction your story will go.
This is not set-in-stone, and more likely than not, you will end up changing one or more steps, but having a starting point will ensure your story comes together correctly and stays consistent.
If you have no idea how your story will end and you start writing, by the time you get to chapter ten, the whole beginning may not make sense–you may end up with a completely different story.
Eventually, your outline should contain notes on how many chapters you’ll have, what each will be about, and the main plot points.
When writing the outline, take your time; don’t rush it. Hurrying through will only make the writing process more difficult.
If you get bored of working on the outline, take what you have and write a chapter. If you’re stuck on the inciting incident but have five pages of detail for the resolution, write it. Then, come back to the outline.
Remember to update the outline with any changes you make when drafting or revising.
This is the step where your story begins to take shape–you finally get to write! Even with the detailed outline, it can be daunting to write a whole story, so it’s beneficial to break it down; choose a section and write.
There’s no need to write from beginning to end in order; in fact, many people find it easier to start anywhere besides the beginning as that’s often the most challenging part.
The most pressure is placed on the first chapter, first page, first sentence even, as you need to draw in the reader. So, by starting elsewhere, you will be able to write with less pressure.
Don’t stress about making everything perfect the first run-around. Getting something down will help keep your ideas flowing and allow you to get further. You want to get your story written down first and then go back and revise later.
If you worry too much about each sentence being ideal, you won’t get far and will only end up stressing more than necessary.
If instead, you write what you feel as it comes, you will not only save time but will also find your writing not to be as bad as you thought. Or, you’ll at least have a better idea of how to edit it once you go back to revise.
Before the actual revision step, you’ll want to clean up the writing. Earlier, you were just getting the story written down, and now, with the story entirely written, you’ll want to clean it up.
By this, I mean changing sentence structures, finding better words to use, things like those.
I can tell you, from years of experience, it’s much easier to perfect sentences once you have everything else written as you have a clearer idea of the theme, voice, tone of your story–all things that impact your writing style.
Revising is probably the second most time-consuming step in the writing process because you will need to revise repeatedly and over a long period.
In between each revision, you will want to step back from your writing for a few days or even weeks, as this will help you gain a new, fresh perspective. Most likely, each time you come back to it, you will find something to edit that you missed before.
This is also the time to get someone else’s feedback. You want to choose someone who will give you constructive criticism and be honest. The last thing you want is a “yes man.”
The final part of the revision process is to re-read everything. This is your last chance to find any mistakes, inconsistencies, spelling errors, etc.
Once you have everything revised and reviewed, you’re nearly done! The only thing left is to add in the preface, foreword, acknowledgments, and an about the author page.
This is also the time to create a cover, whether you plan to make it yourself or have someone else design it.
And now, you have a book! You can use this guide for anything fiction-related, such as a novel, screenplay, script, etc. It will also work for non-fiction, although you may have to tweak it a little.
Now you’re ready to write! Let me know if you found this post helpful, and be sure to share it with all the writers in your life.
Before you begin your story, sign up below for a free download of an easy-to-use PDF guide and checklist to keep with you as you write.
Sign Up For My Mailing List and Receive a Free PDF Download of a checklist printable!
Similar Posts You May Find Helpful:
- Writing Prompts for Adults
- Biggest Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them
- What You Must Know Before Writing Fiction
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WEEKLY WRITING PROMPTS
Join (probably?) the world's largest writing contest. Flex those creative muscles with weekly writing prompts.
Showing 2014 prompts
Mirror, mirror on the wall, set your story in a house of mirrors and make the atmosphere increasingly eerie..
LIVE – Horror
Write a story about a character who one day notices that their reflection has taken on a life of its own.
LIVE – Fantasy
Write a story about someone coming across their doppelganger.
LIVE – Mystery
Write a story about someone trying to paint (or otherwise create) a self-portrait.
LIVE – Character
Start your story with someone buying a cursed — or perhaps blessed —mirror from an antiques store.
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Write about someone who can’t sleep due to jet lag, and decides to set out and explore their new city at night instead.
Write a story about someone pulling an all nighter., start your story with someone saying “i can’t sleep.”, write a story about two people living together who have opposing sleep cycles, and only cross paths at dawn and dusk., set your story before dawn. your character has woken up early for a particular reason., subscribe to our prompts newsletter.
Never miss a prompt! Get curated writing inspiration delivered to your inbox each week.
Set your story during exam season, when tensions run high and a minor incident sends your protagonist into a panic spiral.
Write about a student reporter uncovering a university scandal., write a story in which a jaded academic makes an unexpected, rash decision., write about two rival academics pursuing the same grant., start your story with a student discovering a hidden room in a university library., write a story that includes someone saying, “you’ve got this.”, write a story about a character who finds guidance in an unlikely place., write about a mentor whose methods are controversial., write about a character who has a love/hate relationship with their mentor., start your story with a student on their first day of apprenticeship., win $250 in our short story competition 🏆.
We'll send you 5 prompts each week. Respond with your short story and you could win $250!
Contest #225 LIVE
Enter our weekly contest.
This week's theme: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Contest entries, closes at 23:59 - nov 24, 2023 est, recent contests ✍️.
#224 – Night Owls and Early Birds
#223 – Academia
#222 – Show Me The Way
#221 – Ghostly
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AnneMarie Miles – read
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#2 Deidra Whitt Lovegren
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Creative Writing Prompts
When the idea to start a weekly newsletter with writing inspiration first came to us, we decided that we wanted to do more than provide people with topics to write about. We wanted to try and help authors form a regular writing habit and also give them a place to proudly display their work. So we started the weekly Creative Writing Prompts newsletter. Since then, Prompts has grown to a community of more than 450,000 authors, complete with its own literary magazine, Prompted .
Here's how our contest works: every Friday, we send out a newsletter containing five creative writing prompts. Each week, the story ideas center around a different theme. Authors then have one week — until the following Friday — to submit a short story based on one of our prompts. A winner is picked each week to win $250 and is highlighted on our Reedsy Prompts page.
Why we love creative writing prompts
If you've ever sat in front of a computer or notebook and felt the urge to start creating worlds, characters, and storylines — all the while finding yourself unable to do so — then you've met the author's age-old foe: writer's block. There's nothing more frustrating than finding the time but not the words to be creative. Enter our directory! If you're ready to kick writer's block to the curb and finally get started on your short story or novel, these unique story ideas might just be your ticket.
This list of 1800+ creative writing prompts has been created by the Reedsy team to help you develop a rock-solid writing routine. As all aspiring authors know, this is the #1 challenge — and solution! — for reaching your literary goals. Feel free to filter through different genres, which include...
Dramatic — If you want to make people laugh and cry within the same story, this might be your genre.
Funny — Whether satire or slapstick, this is an opportunity to write with your funny bone.
Romance — One of the most popular commercial genres out there. Check out these story ideas out if you love writing about love.
Fantasy — The beauty of this genre is that the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.
Dystopian – Explore the shadowy side of human nature and contemporary technology in dark speculative fiction.
Mystery — From whodunnits to cozy mysteries, it's time to bring out your inner detective.
Thriller and Suspense — There's nothing like a page-turner that elicits a gasp of surprise at the end.
High School — Encourage teens to let their imaginations run free.
Want to submit your own story ideas to help inspire fellow writers? Send them to us here.
After you find the perfect story idea
Finding inspiration is just one piece of the puzzle. Next, you need to refine your craft skills — and then display them to the world. We've worked hard to create resources that help you do just that! Check them out:
- How to Write a Short Story That Gets Published — a free, ten-day course by Laura Mae Isaacman, a full-time editor who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn.
- Best Literary Magazines of 2023 — a directory of 100+ reputable magazines that accept unsolicited submissions.
- Writing Contests in 2023 — the finest contests of 2021 for fiction and non-fiction authors of short stories, poetry, essays, and more.
Beyond creative writing prompts: how to build a writing routine
While writing prompts are a great tactic to spark your creative sessions, a writer generally needs a couple more tools in their toolbelt when it comes to developing a rock-solid writing routine . To that end, here are a few more additional tips for incorporating your craft into your everyday life.
- NNWT. Or, as book coach Kevin Johns calls it , “Non-Negotiable Writing Time.” This time should be scheduled into your routine, whether that’s once a day or once a week. Treat it as a serious commitment, and don’t schedule anything else during your NNWT unless it’s absolutely necessary.
- Set word count goals. And make them realistic! Don’t start out with lofty goals you’re unlikely to achieve. Give some thought to how many words you think you can write a week, and start there. If you find you’re hitting your weekly or daily goals easily, keep upping the stakes as your craft time becomes more ingrained in your routine.
- Talk to friends and family about the project you’re working on. Doing so means that those close to you are likely to check in about the status of your piece — which in turn keeps you more accountable.
Arm yourself against writer’s block. Writer’s block will inevitably come, no matter how much story ideas initially inspire you. So it’s best to be prepared with tips and tricks you can use to keep yourself on track before the block hits. You can find 20 solid tips here — including how to establish a relationship with your inner critic and apps that can help you defeat procrastination or lack of motivation.
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Explore more writing prompt ideas:
Adults Writing Prompts ⭢
Adventure Writing Prompts ⭢
Angst Writing Prompts ⭢
Character Writing Prompts ⭢
Christmas Writing Prompts ⭢
Dark Writing Prompts ⭢
Dialogue Writing Prompts ⭢
Dramatic Writing Prompts ⭢
Dystopian Writing Prompts ⭢
Fall Writing Prompts ⭢
Fantasy Writing Prompts ⭢
Fiction Writing Prompts ⭢
Fluff Writing Prompts ⭢
Funny Writing Prompts ⭢
Halloween Writing Prompts ⭢
High School Writing Prompts ⭢
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Holiday Writing Prompts ⭢
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Kids Writing Prompts ⭢
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Mystery Writing Prompts ⭢
Narrative Writing Prompts ⭢
Nonfiction Writing Prompts ⭢
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Sad Writing Prompts ⭢
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Winter Writing Prompts ⭢
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75 Of The Best Fiction Writing Prompts For All Writers
What separates the casual fiction writer from the professional one is the commitment to daily writing. But sometimes it’s more of a challenge to get the words flowing.
If nothing triggered you today, and if your mind is playing hopscotch with ideas, fiction writing prompts can get you past the brain block into full writing mode.
The following lists are fiction writing prompts for adults and realistic fiction writing prompts , and while there’s nothing NSFW ahead, the fiction writing ideas are best suited to books written for mature readers.
Here’s how to use these writing prompts:
- Choose a prompt that inspires you to write.
- Feel free to alter the writing idea to suit your creative writing needs.
- View the prompt as an idea to kickstart your writing .
- Begin writing and allow your ideas to flow and lead your writing wherever it might go.
- Write as little or as much as you wish to prime your imaginative juices.
- Don’t judge or critique what you’ve written — just enjoy the process.
- Once you’ve completed the novel prompt writing, move on to your book writing , or use the prompt writing as part of a book you might decide to write.
75 Fiction Writing Prompts and Realistic Fiction Writing Prompts
Try one of these 75 fiction writing prompts to improve your creative writing . Some of these are realistic fiction writing prompts, while others have a more fantasy or mystery bent to them.
Choose the prompt that most inspires you, and start writing!
1. This superhero lives on the streets. While the people she saves are safe and warm, she wanders alone, exposed to the elements. She’s asexual, so she’s not looking for a mate, but she wouldn’t mind having someone to watch her back.
2. An unknown spacecraft has sent a rain of unknown elements into the atmosphere, and soon every flower that blooms releases a new, sentient being into the air. And they’re all connected — except for one, whose connection to the hive mind is severed somehow before the opening of his flower. All his fellow, winged warriors have a plan for the people of Earth; he’s the only one looking for a way to save them.
3. He promised me becoming a zombie wouldn’t change him. He had a solution that would preserve his personality and make it possible for him to protect those he loved..
4. A new modern apartment complex is now open, and you’re one of the first to apply for one of its one-bedroom luxury apartments. Less than a week after you move in, tenants start disappearing. Then someone leaves a gift basket at your door….
5. Someone leaves a package with a new, loaded smartphone and a cryptic note in your mailbox. That night, you get a call on that phone, and you answer it. A voice on the other end asks, “Ready to change your life?”
6. You get a chill from something while standing in a grocery store checkout line, and someone cries out and points a finger at you, backing away. “Did anyone else see that?” she asks in a panicky voice, grabbing her baby and heading out the door without her groceries.
7. You left the windows open last night to cool the house after a 90 degree summer day. You wake up to an icy chill and snow blowing in. You soon learn that a catastrophic event has brought on a new ice age. It just so happens you know something that could reverse the freeze before humans become extinct from exposure and starvation.
8. You love how you get when a creative idea takes hold of you, but your loved ones do not. In fact, one by one, they write you off, though you can’t remember why. Then, one evening, the unthinkable happens, and your latest creative idea takes on a life of its own.
9. Your friend just committed suicide, and soon after the funeral, the letters start coming, sent by someone who knew your friend and who (apparently) knows where you live. This someone blames you for your friend’s death, and she won’t stop until you pay for it.
10. Your best friend is suffering from a life-threatening allergic reaction, and there’s no epi pen. As his airways swell shut and his heart stops, there’s no one around to help, and you scream in desperation. That’s when you hear a sound in your own voice that you’ve never heard before. Seconds later, your friend gasps and scrambles to his feet, all signs of swelling gone.
11. Your fiance’s family has staged an intervention to bully you into changing your beliefs and teaching your children to embrace their way of life — and your fiance says nothing in your defense.
12. Your supermodel-thin friend barely survives a terrible car accident, but it changes her. The happy-go-lucky girl with the racecar metabolism and the hot boyfriend has morphed into a moody but more empathetic girl who quickly grows out of her wardrobe and becomes the target of cruel jokes.
13. A predatory classmate ends up dead in your backyard just hours after making unwanted advances to you in the school library. Part of him is missing.
14. Write a story from the point of view of the villain, but don’t reveal the narrator as the villain until the end.
Related: 15 Tips To Help You Write Better And Attract More Readers
15. On Valentine’s Day (which you never celebrate), you receive a surprise anonymous package with a box of licorice all-sorts. The slogan on the side of the box reads, “Everyone is somebody’s favorite.” The last person who called you his favorite died a year ago.
16. You go to sleep one night in an immaculate, luxury apartment and wake up in a small, dingy loft apartment that is full of stacks of newspapers and magazines, elaborately arranged to form the walls of a labyrinth.
17. You’re given the chance to go back in time to save the life of your best friend, but the price is a mission only you can carry out as the doppelganger of a mass murderer’s close confidant. Your mission is to make sure he takes a trip that will lead him into a trap.
18. You write a novel with a main character who has telepathic abilities. You start having dreams about this character, who wants you all to himself. His first token of affection is to punish your neighbor, who has openly criticized your book.
19. Your quirky, potty-mouthed Aunt Em has come to live with you, and the first thing she does is rearrange the kitchen and claim the role of chef and home renovator. You’re fine with it until she hires an assistant, who just happens to be the apartment manager’s recently fired son.
20. You inherit a house from an uncle but decide to rent it out rather than living in it. After interviewing several applicants, you agree to rent it to two brothers…
21. For as long as you can remember, every time you feel panicked, you’ve found yourself quietly singing “Jingle Bells.” You’re about to find out why, and it will change everything.
22. A homeless man is attacked in your neighborhood and sustains a serious head injury. You get him to the hospital, and they save his life, but upon his discharge from the hospital, he starts making money more quickly than you thought was even possible.
23. A stray animal shows up at your door — no tags or anything — and after feeding it, you decide to adopt it. That night, when a stranger comes to your door, you find out the animal is not what it appears to be.
24. You start taking a new dietary supplement you learned about from a late-night commercial, and it does everything it promised — and more.
25. You’re on your way home after work, and you see a strange light up ahead. You get closer, and you see what looks like a black hole about to swallow up your apartment complex. You look up to see your roommate on the balcony taking pictures of it.
26. You go to sleep alone and wake up very pregnant. After checking the calendar and vomiting a few times, you call in sick and schedule an appointment for an ultrasound. Then your boyfriend shows up.
27. A strange plant appears in your window planter, and when its solitary bloom opens, impossible things start happening.
28. You wake up a different gender but with similar facial features.
29. You visit your estranged father and learn some things about him that change the way you see yourself — and everyone else. Turns out, he keeps a low profile for a reason.
30. Your kid starts manifesting a strange, new ability (or no longer hiding it from you), and you know it’s just a matter of time before he attracts unwanted attention. And you’re afraid of what he can do to protect you both — and how it could change him.
31. You’ve always had freakishly good night vision, but with that comes an extreme sensitivity to light. You live like a mole, working overnight shifts and keeping the windows of your apartment covered in blackout curtains. You’ve even disabled the light switches. So, when a thief breaks in, you make him regret it. And it starts something.
32. Your eyes are brown with flecks of green that intensify when you get a sudden chill or come close to remembering something that changed you as a child. Someone notices the intense green in your eyes one day and calls you a freak. He looks familiar.
33. You discover an ability that puts you (more) at odds with your in-laws, and you learn of their plan to get your husband to divorce you and get full custody of your two children.
34. You sign up for a wine delivery service, and while the cases are always left at your door, things start changing in your house. Though you never drink to excess, you start losing chunks of time. And the wine is better than anything you’ve ever tasted.
35. You come home one day and find someone else living there who swears she’s lived there for years. When you look for proof that she’s lying, you find proof to the contrary.
36. You’re making your usual breakfast when you suddenly find you can’t stomach the thought of eating it. When you put a name to your new craving, it scares you. But it won’t go away.
Related: How to Outline A Nonfiction Book
37. You find a ring while walking in the park. The stones aren’t diamonds, and you at first suspect it’s a piece of junk jewelry from the previous night’s Halloween revels. But you like it enough to keep it. No one is more surprised than you when it saves your life.
38. An unknown relative shows up and tells you something you didn’t know about your mother’s family history — and the power that went with it.
39. You’ve started your NaNoWriMo project, and it’s off to a decent start. But when you open the file the next day, you see much more written for it, and the writing is terrible. Then you see that the story is still developing, and while the writing makes your head hurt, the story is drawing you in. Literally.
40. You go to your closet to get a change of clothes for the day before taking a shower, and you find a huge selection of designer clothes (tags still attached) that weren’t there before.
41. You sign up for a class at a local gym, and when you meet the instructor, she seems familiar — and not in a good way.
42. Your kid takes home a Chromebook from school, and one evening you see him staring at the screen, looking entranced. He takes a sudden interest in keeping his room immaculate and volunteering as a member of a new political candidate’s campaign staff.
43. You’ve just given birth to a surprisingly healthy baby two months before the due date, but your husband has inexplicably abandoned you both, and a generous stranger has learned of your situation and offered to help you out and fill the void.
44. Your mother shows up at your door asking for help. Something has taken residence at her home, and she doesn’t feel safe there anymore. You visit the house on your own, and find someone living there who asks, “Where did Mom go?”
45. You finally find a responsible roommate to share the cost of a new luxury apartment. The problem? He knows everything about you — and there’s no reason why he should.
46. You don’t remember the last time you slept for longer than an hour at a time, and you see things others don’t. The things you see that others don’t are causing accidents, and when you try to prevent one, you end up getting blamed for it.
47. Your 12-year-old daughter goes to use the bathroom at the hospital while you’re both visiting her older sister. When she comes back, she seems visibly unsettled, but that gives way to an eery calm and unshakable confidence that her sister will make a full recovery.
48. After experiencing your first nighttime paralysis, you start to see changes in your body. Soon, those changes will be impossible to hide, and a new acquaintance surprises you by making accurate guesses about what you’ve been going through.
49. When you’re about to kill a spider, your kid stops you, catches it, and runs outside to free it. You think maybe killing the non-native spider would have been kinder than putting it outside in the frost-covered grass, but your kid knows something you don’t.
50. It’s Halloween, and your neighbor dresses up as the president and tries to repair his reputation by volunteering at a homeless shelter. Unfortunately, the costume takes over, and he starts firing the other volunteers, one of whom decides to give their homeless guests a Halloween spectacle they won’t forget.
51. Your routine doctor appointment takes a sinister turn when your doc tells you he could put you higher on the waiting list for a liver transplant if you’d pay his ex a visit and help him set a trap for her.
52. Your new smartphone is so much faster than your old one — much faster than you expected from a discounted return. Then you start getting messages made up of symbols you don’t recognize. They resemble hieroglyphs.
53. You’re a high schooler, and today’s lunch is unexpectedly delicious — so delicious that you go back for the seconds. Someone in the kitchen is watching and writing in a notebook.
54. You’re constantly attracting unwanted attention, and you meet someone who knows why. It’s not just your looks that make you unignorable. You’re actually sending out a signal that those around you can’t help responding to. Your new acquaintance offers to train you, so you’ll make better use of your power.
55. You’re sick to death of the clutter in your house, and through a magazine ad, you meet someone who says he can give you the power to instantly transform any room to match a picture you can see in front of you or in your mind’s eye. The only price is one minute of memory from each day.
56. You win a two-week vacation in a real castle (somewhere overseas) with airfare, transportation, and meals, included — along with other surprises. One of them wants to make sure you never leave.
57. You move into a house that has a treehouse out back in one of the tallest, oldest trees. You don’t know until you explore it that the treehouse changes to better suit its occupant. The tree and its house have accepted you. But what does it expect of you?
58. You find an abandoned cabin that is perfect for use as a writer’s getaway, and after some preparations, you settle in for a two-week’ reprieve from city life. The animals aren’t as shy as you expect them to be, though, and they seem to know something about the cabin that you don’t.
59. Your car goes over the edge and down a steep hill. All you remember is the flash of light and the sound of glass breaking before you open your eyes. You check your kids, but none of them answer, and your phone, which had half a charge just minutes ago, is completely dead and unresponsive.
60. You’re shopping for a new computer, and you find one on eBay that the owner says was a gift that he used only briefly before he upgraded to a MacBook. You buy it and revel in its blinding speed and special features. It wakes you that night with a loud beep and prompts you with a single sentence on the screen, “Will you play with me?”
61. Chocolate and wine have gotten you through many a break-up, but this one is harder than most. You wonder why, and a gift from this SO stares you in the face, reminding you of how different your relationship was from those you’ve had with others..
62. Your neighbor has ordered furniture for you from IKEA, and you’re not sure how to deal with it. You love the couch, but you don’t have the budget for it, and you barely know your new neighbor, who seems to have unlimited funds but spends it unpredictably.
63. One of your aunts has died leaving you her pet ______, who helps you cut the toxic people out of your life by scaring them away. One of the few visitors this pet will tolerate is someone you’ve barely noticed but who intuitively knows about and anonymously meets the needs of others in the apartment building.
64. You go fishing in the lake behind your house, and when your hook catches on something, you pull it up. It turns out to be the body of a murder victim, and when the lake is further searched, other bodies are found. Twelve other houses surround the lake, and the police suspect you as much as any of the other residents.
65. You’re renovating your basement and remove a wall that was put in place by one of the previous owners. Behind it is a garbage bag full of cash, and when you examine it, you find it to be genuine.
66. Your spouse tells other Catholics that he knew you were the one when he found out your confirmation saint was the same saint he prayed to for a good Catholic wife. Meanwhile, you’re questioning beliefs you used to take for granted.
67. You wake up to the burglar alarm, and before you can see who has broken in, someone puts a pillowcase over your head and forces you up and out the door.
68. You get a job at your favorite coffee shop, and you meet some local authors, one of whom learns of your book and invites you to their group. They meet in what used to be the living room of a house rumored to be haunted.
69. You can barely make out how many fingers you’re holding up until an elderly neighbor with perfect eyesight shares a secret with you. But there’s a price to pay.
70. You go to sleep listening to static on your radio, which can’t pick up any AM stations. You find out one night, when your bladder wakes you up, that it’s picking up something other than static.
71. You bid on and win an old record player and record collection at an auction. You don’t expect the music to affect you as profoundly as it does and your family thinks you’re just trying to make up for the amount you spent on it. You’re not.
72. You get new glasses at the new eye clinic in town, and they allow you to see better than ever. In fact, when you want to, you can see minute detail from a great distance and microscopic detail up close. This is how you find out your sister’s mole is a malignant melanoma. You also avoid being poisoned by a spiteful coworker. Your fascination with frogs and your large collection of them has made close relationships a challenge.
73. You listen to an audio file designed to make you more creative, and you go into a trance and write a book that people the world over can’t get enough of. Then a visitor asks you if you listened to the entire recording. When you admit to having stopped the recording before it was finished, the visitor smiles in relief and tells you not to listen to the end and to delete the file.
74. When a favorite aunt dies, you inherit a bookstore with an apartment on the upper floor. You look at the finances and realize you have to let go of one of your three employees.
75. You check out a house you like and find moths in every room. The realtor tells you it shouldn’t be a problem to get rid of them but that the house is completely free of other pests — including spiders (which are a huge problem in the area). You buy the house.
Did you enjoy these realistic fiction writing prompts?
Keep this list handy whenever you need a writing prompt to unlock your creativity and kickstart your daily writing.
In fact, you may find ideas for several novels or stories that you can write down the road. Take one of these ideas and begin to flesh out an outline and characters for your story. Let your imagination take you on a journey that may lead to your bestselling book!
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Writing Prompts By Genre: 250+ Creative Writing Prompts For Book Ideas
POSTED ON Apr 12, 2023
Written by Angelica Hartgers
Writing prompts are powerful vessels for jumpstarting your creativity, and planting the seed for your next book idea.
Dealing with writer’s block or self-doubt as a writer ? Experiencing a creative rut? Looking to improve your writing development? Experimenting with a new genre? Stuck on finding a book idea? Looking for your author voice?
No matter which of those situations you are struggling with as a writer, you might find your answer in some creative writing prompts.
These original writing prompts can be categorized in nonfiction and fiction groups. There's a long list of genres you could write within. And here, you'll find creative writing prompt topics for nearly all of them!
Here are the best creative writing prompts for writers to use:
- Business Writing Prompts
- Self-Help Writing Prompts
- Memoir Writing Prompts
- Health & Fitness Writing Prompts
- Family & Relationships Writing Prompts
- Horror/Thriller Creative Writing Prompts
- Romance Creative Writing Prompts
- Mystery Creative Writing Prompts
- Sci-Fi Creative Writing Prompts
- Fantasy Creative Writing Prompts
- Historical Fiction Creative Writing Prompts
- Sentence Starters Creative Prompts
What are writing prompts?
Writing prompts are story-starters that are used as a guided learning or creativity exercise to help writers get started with a new idea or story.
Often used in an educational setting for students learning to practice writing specific genres, creative writing prompts are also used by advanced writers and authors who are experiencing writer’s block or are in need of inspiration.
Writing prompts are designed to get people to think, by providing a starting place for a story premise or book idea, which can be further developed using the writer’s own imagination and creativity.
There are many benefits to using creative writing prompts as a frequent writing exercise, both for seasoned writers and those just starting out.
Here are some benefits to using writing prompts:
- Fight writer’s block. Next time you don’t know what to write about, or aren’t able to produce any writing for your current work-in-progress, try your hand at a writing prompt.
- Guide your inspiration. Writing prompts often help writers discover new topics by allowing them to start a story from the prompt, and finish it in their own way. Writing prompts can also inspire deviations from the story, or additional writing material, that the author can tap into.
- Identify new genres. Sometimes it’s beneficial to try your hand at a genre you’re not used to writing in. It can help you discover a topic you never knew you might enjoy, or it can further solidify your strength in your current genre. Either way, it’s good to get out of your comfort zone.
- Jumpstart a book idea. Writing prompts can incite a new story or book idea for you. If you’re having trouble figuring out what to write a book about, experiment with some writing prompts and see if anything sticks.
- Improve writing development. Part of improving your writing craft has to do with experimenting – especially when you’re in a writing rut. Dabbling in new genres, practicing how to show and not tell , and using writing prompts you’d never think to write about, can also help you identify opportunities to strengthen your writing, and increase your versatility as a writer.
- Sharpen creative skills. Creative writing prompts help you hone in on your creative skills. By starting with a story idea from a writing prompt, you’re forced to develop the story through your own imagination and creativity.
- Practice poetry. Sometimes, a great way to get the creative juices flowing is to write some poetry. You don't need to put it out into the world (though you might find yourself looking up how and where to publish poetry after!), but it can help you with your prose.
- Experiment with tone. There are many different tones in writing , and it can take years to establish your own as an author. Writing prompts can help you arrive there quicker!
How to use creative writing prompts
The process of using a writing prompt is loose, as they are designed to be used in a way that benefits you as the writer most.
You can be as structured, or as flexible as you choose when using one of our writing prompts. That means you can start with a writing prompt, think of your own premise for the story, and get to writing your own detailed account. Or, you can use all of the details given in the writing prompt, and answer the prompt exactly as you see fit. It’s up to you!
However, if you’re not sure where to start, and need some beginner’s guidelines, there are a few tips we can provide.
Here’s how to use creative writing prompts:
- Use pen and paper. If you’re struggling with writing block, I encourage you to use pen and paper to really get your creative juices flowing.
- Choose a writing prompt. Read through some possible creative writing prompts, taking note of any that spark your imagination. Then, you can choose which one calls out to you most. Alternatively, if you’re having trouble deciding, you can choose a random writing prompt and challenge yourself to write about
- Pick and choose your own details. Some writing prompts include specific details to incorporate in your story. Don’t feel boxed in by your writing prompt; if you want to omit certain details or events and replace them with your own creative idea, feel free to do so.
- Time your writing. Once you have a prompt chosen, set a timer for 15-20 minutes and challenge yourself to not stop writing until the timer goes off. This will prevent you from overthinking the prompt, and will ensure you stay focused.
- Expand your own ideas. Use the writing prompt as a seed for your story, but develop it in your own creative way. The key to successfully using a creative writing prompt is to help your own brainstorming process, so it’s okay if you veer off from the writing prompt and take a different direction with your story and characters. You can even use character bio templates to expand your own ideas.
Writing Prompt Generator for Book Ideas
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Nonfiction writing prompts.
If you're on the hunt for the best nonfiction writing prompts to exercise your creativity and help you brainstorm some book ideas to write a nonfiction book , then start with this category.
Here, you'll find a variety of nonfiction topics, from business and self-help, to relationships, wellness, and memoir topics.
Business Writing Prompts
- Write about the biggest lesson you’ve learned in business.
- Write about how you have failed in business, and how you overcame that failure.
- Write about the biggest mistake you made in your industry, and what you learned about it.
- Write about how your industry can impact lives across the world.
- Write about the top authorities in your industry and what you can learn from them.
- Write about how you got started in your industry, and how others can learn from your process.
- Write about industry secrets that can help other people grow their authority.
- Write about how businesses in your industry can maximize their profits.
- Write about what you’ve learned in your industry, and educate readers on how to
- Write about opportunities for innovation in your industry.
- Write about the top qualities an authority in your industry must have to succeed.
- Write about the top issues in your industry, and how readers can avoid them.
- Write about how to empower others in your industry, and why it’s important.
- Write about the future of your industry, and how readers can adapt to the changes.
- Write about the history of your industry, and how it has shaped the present and how it will shape the future.
- Write about a major time period in your industry’s progression, and the lessons from that time that can be learned and applied today.
- Write about common fears in your industry, and how others can overcome them.
- Write about the common stressors in your industry, and how others can manage this.
- Write about a time when you had to start over in your career, and the lessons you learned that can help readers.
- Write about how to generate ideas in your industry.
- Write about how to be a better leader in the workplace.
- Write about the importance of company culture, especially in our digital age.
- Write about the secrets to sustainability in your industry.
- Write about decision making in your industry, and how others can make better decisions.
- Write about the habits of authority figures in your industry, and what others can learn from them.
- Write about the failures of authority figures in your industry, and what others can learn from them.
- Write about the successes of authority figures in your industry, and what others can learn from them.
- Write about the key to productivity in your industry.
- Write about the key to creativity in your industry.
- Write about the key to working smarter in your industry.
- Write about how to think big, and when to think small, in your industry.
- Write about what you wish you knew now when you first started in your career.
- Write about setting up a successful atmosphere to thrive in your industry.
- Write about something big you accomplished in your career, and share your blueprint for success.
- Write about developing a team, and how to successfully work with others.
Self-Help Writing Prompts
Want to know how to write a self-help book ? Start with these prompts:
- Write about a time when you had to start over in your life, and what you learned from that.
- Write about why it’s important to break the rules in life sometimes.
- Write about how to generate creative ideas.
- Write about the secrets to gaining unshakeable self-confidence.
- Write about the secrets to gaining lasting happiness.
- Write about the secrets to developing laser-focus in work and life.
- Write about the secrets to living a regret-free life.
- Write about the secrets to creating lasting love.
- Write about the power of forgiveness, and how others can tap into this.
- Write about the power of gratitude, and how to apply it to daily life.
- Write about critical thinking, and strategies for improving critical thinking skills.
- Write about how to reduce everyday stress and anxiety with practical tips.
- Write about effective communication, and how others can communicate more clearly.
- Write about your creativity process, and include strategies for how to be more creative.
- Write about the secrets to a successful relationship, and how anyone can be a better partner.
- Write about how to stay disciplined, and why most people fail at self-discipline.
- Write about society’s hustle culture, and why working hard is good or bad.
- Write about your favorite country or travel destination, and what you’ve learned from the people and culture.
- Write about the key to being a more productive person, and how it can transform others’ lives.
- Write about finding your passion, and how others can discover their purpose.
- Write about the power of positive self talk, and how others can implement it in their daily life.
- Write about dealing with anxiety.
- Write about dealing with change.
- Write about creating an atmosphere of peace.
- Write about controlling the controllables for happiness.
- Write about controlling the controllables for peace.
- Write about something a big goal you’ve accomplished, and share your blueprint for success.
- Write about finding inspiration, and teach others how they can find it, too.
- Write about how to better understand the people in your life.
- Write about the art of simplicity in life, and how others can benefit from it.
- Write about decision-making and the best practices for making big and small decisions in life.
- Write about the power of tapping into your imagination, and why it’s so important for people, including adults.
- Write about the importance of truth, and how others can be more honest with themselves and the people in their life.
- Write about dealing with life transitions, and strategies to improve adaptability when things change and its out of your control.
- Write about how to regain control in your life, and what to do when you’ve hit rock bottom.
- Write about finding your identity, and how people in your niche can discover themselves again.
- Write about the purpose of life.
- Write about how an individual can increase their confidence.
- Write about how the fear of rejection has been holding you back and what action you can take consistently everyday to break this fear.
- Write about 7 daily habits that can increase your self esteem and make you feel unbreakable.
29 Memoir Prompts
- Write about a big goal you’ve accomplished, and share your blueprint for success.
- Write about a major time when you had to start over in your life, and what you learned from that.
- Write about the greatest lesson you’ve learned so far in life, and how others can learn from your life.
- Write about one of your biggest regrets, and teach others going through the same thing how to deal with it.
- Write about the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make, and what you’ve learned from that process.
- Write about a traumatic experience in your life, and how you have dealt with it.
- Write about a time you failed, and how you were able to rise up.
- Write about a major event in your childhood, and how that shaped you as an adult.
- Write about the saddest time in your life, and encourage others who are going through similar situations.
- Write about the happiest time in your life, and the greatest thing that moment has taught you.
- Write about the most influential people in your life, and how they helped shape the person you have become.
- Write about how you have developed self-love, and why it’s important to have a relationship with yourself first.
- Write about your journey towards self-discovery, and share tips with others who are lost.
- Write about a time you lost your way in life, and what helped you find your path again.
- Write about your spirituality and beliefs, and how you can share your message with others.
- Write about the biggest heartbreak you experienced, and what it’s taught you about love and life.
- Write about the time you broke someone else’s heart, and what it’s taught you about loving others.
- Write about a time you experienced compassion, and share how others can be more compassionate in their own life.
- Write about the biggest self-defining moment in your life thus far, and how you’ve developed from the experience.
- Write about your biggest accomplishment, and how its helped you banish self-defeating thoughts and behavior.
- Write about a toxic relationship you had, and how you were able to overcome it.
- Write about an influential travel experience in your life, and what it taught you about yourself and others.
- Write about the town you grew up in, and how it’s shaped your perspective on life.
- Write about how you were raised, and what you learned from the people that raised you.
- Write about a significant historical event you lived through, and what others can learn from your experience.
- Write about your life’s journey from where you were ten years ago to how you arrived to this point today, and, the most important lesson you have learned on the way.
- Write about five life lessons you believe everyone should practice/follow.
- There is an experience from your past that has always held you back from thriving in life. Write about what this experience is, and if you were to overcome your trauma, how could you lead the life you've been dreaming of?
- There is a saying: “You are the sum of the five people you spend most of your time with.” Write about the people you spend your time with and how they influence your life on a day to day basis.
29 Health & Fitness Prompts
- Write about emotional health: what it means, why it’s important, and how.
- Write about a time you were very unhealthy, and how you were able to transform yourself.
- Write about the secrets to dieting.
- Write about diet culture fads, and why they do or do not work.
- Write about the idea of health, and how people can shift their priorities to be more healthy both mentally and physically.
- Write about the taboo around mental health, and how we can change this mindset as a society.
- Write about your struggles with mental health, and help others with what you’ve learned.
- Write about your struggles with physical health, and help others struggling with the same thing.
- Write about what health and wellness means to you, and share your perspectives with others.
- Write about the power of superfoods, and how they can positively affect health.
- Write about the health practices in a different country.
- Write about an ancient health practice, and what we can learn from it today.
- Write about the medicinal properties of certain foods and plants.
- Write about how to break free from unhealthy habits.
- Write about food production practices, and how they affect the quality of what we eat.
- Write about health in children, and how to raise health-conscious individuals.
- Write about raising a healthy family while balancing a busy life
- Write about a time your health was impacted, and how the experience transformed your life
- Write about a time someone you love experienced health issues, and how the experience changed that person’s life, as well as your own
- Write about a time you felt unhappy with your health. What did you do to change your mindset?
- Write about body acceptance, and how societal expectations affects our mindset.
- Write about the influence of culture on health, and how it affects a group of people differently.
- Write about a harmful everyday practice, how it affects our health, and what we can do to change it.
- Write about dealing with mental health on an everyday basis, and help others understand how to be more compassionate.
- Write about the idea of health, and what contributing factors affect our perspectives.
- Identify a distraction that is wasting your time and causing you to be very unproductive. Write about your plan to eliminate this distraction from your life, and the positive impact it will have.
- Internal dialogue is powerful in developing positivity. Identify your negative internal dialogue and write out your new, positive dialogue to communicate to yourself.
- Write out seven ways you can practice self care and why this is important to you.
- Write about how vulnerability is keeping you scared. Then, write down an action step to overcome this fear.
40 Family & Relationships
- Write about how to build character in your children.
- Write about teaching children how to practice self-love.
- Write about strategies parents can use to instill healthy habits in their children.
- Write about the secrets to balancing discipline and friendship as a parent
- Write about the concept of soulmates, and why the idea is helpful or harmful in our society.
- Write about how to find friends as an adult.
- Write about the importance of having a support group.
- Write about the dangers of toxic parenthood.
- Write about the dangers of toxic relationships.
- Write about the dangers of toxic friendships.
- Write about the power of compassion in marriage.
- Write about the importance of compromise in relationships.
- Write about dealing with heartbreak and starting over.
- Write about the idea of dating in the digital age.
- Write about co-dependence and why its toxic.
- Write about breaking up with a friend, and why it’s necessary sometimes.
- Write about disciplining children in a positive way.
- Write about instilling a positive mindset in the youth.
- Write about developing your child’s uniqueness.
- Write about the struggles in parenthood and how to stay sane.
- Write about the beauty in parenthood and how to make it last, even when your children are being difficult.
- Write about sibling rivalry and how to cultivate a healthier sibling relationship.
- Write about how to be a better parent.
- Write about how to be a better daughter/son to an aging parent.
- Write about how to be a better friend.
- Write about dealing with the loss of a loved one.
- Write about your journey to find love and what you’ve discovered along the way.
- Write about developing healthy and nurturing relationships.
- Write about the importance of self-confidence in finding love.
- Write about the importance of self-esteem in developing healthy relationships.
- Write about the importance of mindset on the search for love.
- Write about the role self-awareness plays in being a better parent.
- Write about the importance of communication in relationships.
- Write about the red flags in a failing relationship, and how to save it before it’s too late.
- Write about the idea of being single, and how to embrace it in a society that does not.
- Write about the idea of finding the perfect partner, and how this perspective can affect our ability to find someone.
- Write about falling in love, and how to keep the fire alive in a relationship.
- Write about the importance of expectations in relationships.
- Write about disagreements in friendships, and how to overcome and learn from them.
- Write about different styles of parenting, and how to identify which type you are.
Fiction Creative Writing Prompts
Now it's time for the creative fun. Use these fiction creative writing prompts to explore new genres, practice your creative writing development using literary device examples , and get inspired to venture off into a new fiction story.
These fiction writing prompts are categorized based on genre, so you'll find topics for horror or thriller stories, romance writing prompts, historical fiction topics, Sci-Fi and fantasy prompts, and story starters.
While we provide the prompts, it's up to you to expand on your own ideas, create exciting plot twists, and fully develop your elements of setting and characters.
16 Horror/Thriller Prompts
- Write about your last nightmare.
- A couple is awoken at the witching hour (3 AM) by three forceful bangs at their front door. When they call aloud to see who's there, no one answers, but a demonic snarl can be heard from outside.
- Waking up from a slumber with eyes still closed, your character stretches their arms out, only to hit a cold body next to them. They live alone.
- You made a late night trip to the gas station, and it’s pouring down rain as you stand outside in the empty parking lot, holding the nozzle to pump gas. Suddenly, a hearse pulls up slowly next to your car, and when you glance over, all you can see is bright red eyes glaring at you from the driver’s seat.
- Your character just finished the night shift at work. As they walk through the empty parking lot towards their car, its eerily silent and they can’t help but feel like someone is watching them. The hairs on your character’s arms start to stand up, even though it’s a relatively warm night. Your character quickly jumps into their car, starts the engine, and begins to drive home. As they look up into the rearview mirror, a sinister, smiling face appears behind them.
- Two kids venture off into the woods behind their neighborhood, scouting for a place to build their tree house. Before long, they see the streetlights of their neighborhood come on in the distance, which is a sign that it's time to head back home. As they gather their belongings to make the trek back home, they hear a twig snap behind them, and a guttural voice whisper, “You can’t leave yet – the fun’s only just begun.”
- Ten thousand dollars to own a 3 bedroom cabin? It was a once-in-a-lifetime deal, that you, as a new real estate investor, just couldn’t pass up. But in order to secure your purchase quickly, you had to skip the house tour. Now that the home was purchased by you, it was time to start the renovations. But first, you had to do an in-depth survey of the house to see exactly what work needed to be done. As you enter the creaky, old home, a rancid smell fills your nostrils and in the dark, dusty corner of the entryway, you notice a large, fat rat chewing boldly on a piece of bloody flesh.
- ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house. There was a creature stirring, but it wasn’t a mouse…Write about a holiday visitor who isn’t jolly or nice, and who brings gifts nobody would ever dare to ask for.
- A young family on vacation joins an excursion to a beautiful, remote beach. As they run into the ocean to splash around, they notice something dark lurks in the water, and it doesn’t look like a creature that belongs on Earth.
- Choose a scary story that you were told as a child, and add your own frightening twist.
- After a lifetime of waiting, your character has finally found the love of their life. But things turn sinister when one night, your character discovers that their new-found love must eat raw human flesh in order to stay alive.
- Her mind was racing, but she knew she had to conceal her fear. As she turned to face him, she noticed his eyes. They were colorless, and taunted her without saying a word.
- They weren’t raised to believe in ghosts, ghouls, or demons, but the darkness that began to possess their once-loving father couldn’t be explained any other way. It all happened after he brought home the newest novelty for his antique collection: an 18th century wooden cross, said to belong to a woman that was tortured and hung for committing witchcraft.
- Vampires, werewolves, and witches. He knew they were the stuff of fiction, or at least, he thought he knew, until tonight.
- It’s time to put your nine-year-old to bed. As you tuck the child in, pulling the blankets over her shoulders, you can’t help but notice the fear in her eyes. Concerned, you ask her what’s going on. “She visits me every time I fall asleep. Can’t you make her stop?” she whispered in fear. When you probe your child for more details on who this woman is, and what she looks like, your blood turns to ice. She sounds exactly like the woman from the nightmares that plagued your own childhood.
- It was love at first sight – for her, anyway. After years of being single, and sought after by all the eligible bachelors in town, everyone was surprised when Mr. Ezra came in, seemingly out of nowhere, to swoop her off her feet. He was tall, dark, and handsome, and everything she always dreamed of finding in a man. After a brief two weeks of dating, she announced that they had wed in secret. Not only that, but she would be leaving town with him, to start a new life. Little did they know that they would never see her again. Little did she know that the man of her dreams would soon become the man of her nightmares. And he was dead set on making her wish she’d never been born.
15 Romance Creative Prompts
- An exchange student goes to a foreign country to live for a year abroad, with high goals to learn the language and culture. Little does she know, she’s actually there to learn a lesson on love, from none other than a foreign classmate who has a strong distaste for outsiders like her.
- Your character is widowed, left to raise two young children on his/her own. When it’s least expected, someone from the past comes back into their life. But things aren’t all that they seem, and falling in love again is the last thing on her to-do list.
- A restless man going through a midlife crisis. A free-spirited woman ready to embrace graceful aging. They butt heads often, but can’t seem to leave each other alone for good. Can they survive through something that threatens to tear them apart forever?
- They were childhood friends that hardly left their small hometown, and now they are distant strangers that live in two opposite parts of the world. When a tragedy calls them back home, they feel like they never left each other. How do they hold on to one another when they live two very separate lives?
- It’s the day before their second marriage anniversary. As he’s making plans to celebrate, he gets a call from his doctor with news that will change their lives forever.
- Years of heartbreak and relationship failures have left her disillusioned with the idea of love. But one chance meeting with someone new makes her question her ideology forever.
- He’s a serial dater that enjoys the chase. She’s a serious achiever with a distaste for men like him. What happens when their two worlds collide?
- She’s carefully designed her life’s milestones, and is dead set on sticking to her plan. When she meets the man of her dreams and marries him after two years of maintaining a long distance relationship, she’s in for an earth-shattering awakening that not even she could prepare for.
- She’s a successful powerhouse business owner. He’s a humble trades worker who’s never been to college (and has no desire to ever do so). What started out as a temporary fling for fun has turned into a passionate love affair. But what happens when things settle down, and their everyday lives go on?
- As the caretaker of their ailing parent, who has no one else in the world to rely on, your character has put their life aspirations on hold to uphold their family duty. So what happens when love comes knocking on their door unexpectedly?
- They were childhood sweethearts that grew up together, and have been inseparable ever since. Now that they have entered the next chapter as adults, their family and friends have urged them to get married. But the night before the wedding, the couple suddenly realizes that they are no longer in love. Where do they go from here?
- Rich man, poor girl. It’s a story as old as time, but what happens when there’s a modern twist to it?
- A young couple is ready to welcome their first child into the world, when a violent war suddenly ravages their town. The young man is forced away to defend his country, and the pregnant young woman is left to face the harsh winter alone. How can they keep their love alive?
- She’s never been in love, but she’s plagued by vivid memories and dreams of a man who seems so familiar, only she’s never met him. Could she have a lover from a past life that haunts her from another dimension?
- Think of a famous love story that’s always intrigued you. It could be from history, or from your own experience. Now imagine a new ending for it, and write your own version of the story with a twist.
10 Mystery Prompts
- The crystal clear blue waters. The bright green foliage. The black sand beach. This would be the last thing she saw before she died, and no one would ever know.
- He went missing twelve years ago. He was just a boy, then. After years of searching for him to no avail, his parents – now in their old age – have succumbed to hopelessness and heartbreak. That is, until a visitor arrives on their doorstep in the pouring rain one stormy night. The visitor looks like their son, but something is very, very different…
- Your character goes for an evening stroll every night after dinner. She passes by each of her neighbors homes down the quiet street, until she gets to a fork in the road and turns back around. Only tonight, she goes on her usual walk, and decides to take a left at the fork instead of turning around. What she discovers is sure to wake the sleepy small town from their slumber.
- A high profile lawyer on the hunt for justice, he’s adamant about defending his client, accused of committing a crime no mother could ever commit. Or can she?
- She’s an experienced detective with years under belt, solving the city’s most horrific crimes. As she digs deep on the trail of one of the most sinister serial killers she’s ever dealt with, she begins uncovering some details that brings the case too close to home.
- Research your favorite unexplained mystery, then re-write the story with your own twist and turn of events.
- Your character is on a mission to discover the truth about his/her birth parents, two people s/he has been shielded from ever knowing any details about. On a quest to self-discovery, your character learns the truth, and it can be summed up in three words: Murder, lust, and greed. Write about your character’s journey towards discovering where they came from, and the shocking truth they learn along the way.
- Today is your birthday. You wake up, ready to celebrate with your family and friends, but things get weird when you discover that the year you thought it was, doesn’t seem to be right.
- You are house sitting for your best friend, who you’ve known your entire life. One quiet evening, you rummage through the library in search of a good book. Instead, you find a chest of photos that piques your interest. The chest is full of old photographs featuring your best friend, dressed in old attire and surrounded by people from long, long ago.
- While driving home in the pouring rain one night, you spot a young girl, dressed in all white, on the side of the deserted highway. You pull over to give her a ride home, but she doesn’t know who she is, why she’s here, or where’s she going.
11 Sci-Fi Creative Writing Prompts
- Earth is dissolving, and it’s up to you to get all of the remaining human children to the new “home” for humans – a newly inhabited planet that mimics Earth’s environment. The issue? The planet is twice as small as Earth, which means there is only room for half of the children in the spacecraft you’ve been given.
- Your character is a scientist for NASA, and is on the edge of developing a cutting-edge breakthrough technology that will allow humans to be transported to space in half the time. The only problem is, the process ages humans twice as fast…
- The sun burns too bright, causing people to go blind the moment they catch a glimpse of the sun’s rays. This means that humans have learned to avoid the sun, living out their days in protective pods to shield them from the sun. But now, there’s a plague that’s quickly spreading amongst the population, and there seems to be only one cure: a look at the sun.
- You live in a futuristic world, almost 300 years from present day. Technology has taken its toll on evolution, and the only way to communicate with other humans is through a digital screen.
- The world as we know it is over, and you’re the leader of this new era. Decide how you want to rule society, and what type of world you will create.
- Your character starts the day off like any other day. She wakes up, brushes her teeth, then walks into her closet to get dressed for work. Only today, she opens her closet door to find a wide-eyed woman standing there, dripping wet as if she has been rained on. She says her planet is at war, and she has been sent to bring you back home with her, for you are the only one with the power to save her people.
- Research one of Earth’s unknown mysteries or conspiracy theories. Now, re-write it through the lens of someone who knows all the answers, and has a powerful reason for keeping it all a secret…
- Virtual reality meets the real world. You live in a society where there’s a fine line between who is actually a real person, and who is not.
- Your character is an expert researcher that’s been chosen to lead a submarine journey to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean. Uninhabitable by humans, the team witnesses sea life that’s never before been seen by man. But things take a turn for the worst when they realize a massive creature has claimed a death grip on their submarine vessel.
- You’ve been given the task to create the perfect species, but in your effort to do so through multiple experiments, you’ve given life to an army of children who are far from perfect.
- You’re exiled to a new planet, and you can only take 3 people with you. Who do you take and why?
12 Fantasy Writing Prompts
- An expert diver, your character takes a trip to a remote island to explore all the underwater sights he’s read all about in books and documentaries. When he takes a diving excursion to a cave known for its colorful color, exotic fish schools, and vivid sea foliage, he stumbles upon a secret cave door. What it leads to is a bustling seaworld that’s quite literally, straight out of a storybook.
- A device has been invented that can solve any of mankind’s problems – big or small. The catch is, that along with a solution, comes an even bigger problem…
- You wake up one day to discover that you have been transported to the world from your favorite book. But you quickly discover that things aren’t all that they seem…
- You come from a long line of witches, dating back to the 12th century. But a modern day witch hunt is now in full effect, and to save your life, you must find a way to give up all of your powers.
- Your character suddenly finds themself in an alternate dimension, where everything is backwards. How can they make sense of this new world, to find their way back to the dimension they actually belong in?
- Think of your favorite superhuman. Now, imagine that they use their powers for evil. Write a story featuring the dark side of your superhuman’s character.
- Every morning, your alarm sounds off at 6 a.m. Only this morning, instead of the usual beep beep beep to wake you, a voice comes over the alarm and announces, “Today is the day you will say goodbye to everyone.”
- Time no longer exists, and the worlds of the past, present, and future have collided, meshing them all into one. Write a fantasy story about this new world that exists – and the pitfalls that come with not having any boundaries within time.
- Your character unexpectedly gives birth to a healthy baby boy. What’s strange is that your character was only pregnant for two weeks, and she didn’t even realize it. As the baby grows, she starts to notice that she has quite an extraordinary child on her hands, and she must protect him from those who know he exists.
- A dream-like world where everything seems to go your character’s way. He’s happy, peaceful, and surrounded by those he loves. But one day, he discovers that this isn’t in fact the world that he belongs in…and those that really love him desperately need him to return.
- You’re given the chance to build your own character taking five of the best traits from people you know. What traits do you take from whom?
- Your memory is erased and you have to start learning from scratch. (You can still feed and clothe yourself.) What is the first thing you want to learn and why?
10 Historical Fiction Writing Prompts
- Write about a specific folklore tale from your cultural background, but add a special twist.
- Imagine your modern-day character suddenly finds themself in the past. Not only that, but they are the neighbor to a famous historical figure. Write about a significant event in the historical figures life with a modern day twist.
- Your character is caught between love and war. A passionate crusader with a prominent position in a revolutionary war, they fall in love with someone across the enemy lines. Do they give up their fight in a cause they stand so strongly for, or say goodbye to the one person they would give up their life for?
- Research a significant event from your favorite time period. Then, create a character who was there to witness it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Write a story from this character’s point of view, sharing how the event changed their lives forever.
- You’re given the opportunity to travel back and time to a significant moment in history. Write about where you go, what you see, and who you meet.
- Your character is a factory worked living in Victorian London
- Think of a time period you would never wish to live in. Now, imagine you suddenly wake up living in that era. Write about your experience from the perspective of someone who is actually living the reality you have no wish to be part of.
- Write about a character that was born a slave, and is the mastermind behind a dangerous mission to lead others to freedom.
- Research a historical figure who is considered a real-life villain. Then, write a story from their lover, or spouse's perspective.
- Research the history of your favorite place (city, country, etc.), then write a story from the perspective of a character who witnessed how the place as you know it came to be.
20 Sentence Starter Prompts
- The unrelenting sun beat down on his forearms, and all he could think about was how cold he felt inside.
- A sick feeling caused by strong alcohol on an empty stomach, mixed with unsettling anxiety, caused her to crouch over in discomfort. But she couldn’t stop now.
- The clock struck three, and it was as if the entire world turned upside down.
- Whoosh whoosh whoosh. The dryer violently spun the wet clothes around, and
- He wasn’t sure what the crying creature was, but he knew it couldn’t be human.
- He stared at her, staring at him. And in the blink of an eye, an insatiable fury seemed to paint the sky blood red.
- The spacecraft zinged through the blackened bubble, and as she looked outside the window, she couldn’t help but feel the gravity of her eternal loneliness.
- No one knew him more than she did, but there were things she simply could not look past.
- This place was home – it always had been, so why did it feel so strange?
- The tapping of the keyboard was all she could hear in the empty office, and the room seemed to start spinning around her.
- A fast heartbeat, thumping uncontrollably inside his chest, was all he could to react; after all, this was the greatest moment of his life.
- “This is your moment, and you can either rise to the occasion, or crumble to your shortcomings,” the speaker said over the intercom.
- They were the only ones who knew the truth, and try as they might, they couldn’t forget that fateful day, even when they desperately wanted to.
- Despite the enchantment, her intuition gnawed at her core, warning her that this was a very, very bad idea.
- Today is the day you realize your entire life is going to change forever because…
- As soon as the words came out of her mouth, her eyes widened in horror; how could she have let herself say such a thing?
- The storm raged on outside the window, and the world in all its chaos was truly coming to an end, just like they had warned.
- The sun looked blood orange as it lifted off the horizon, and she knew the time had come.
- “Your heart belongs to me,” said the stranger in a hushed, yet familiar tone.
- Ding dong. He ran to get the door, and when he looked through the eyehole, as was his habit before unlocking it, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Once you've had your fun with these writing prompts, it's time to get started with your new book idea and start writing your book, so that you can move on to self-publishing your book and sharing it with the world.
There is a world of readers waiting for your story. It's time to start writing.
Whether you used these creative writing prompts to help brainstorm what to write about, or fight writer's block, it's time to actually sit down, grab your pen or keyboard, and get to writing a captivating story.
Didn't find what you were looking for with these prompts? Don't worry – we are constantly updating this list with new writing prompts for our readers.
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For the creative writer with a strong imagination, writing fantasy stories is a great joy. It allows us to stretch the realm of what is possible and create worlds completely unlike our own, for better or for worse. If you or your writing students need help getting started with your fantasy story, here are 50 exciting fantasy writing prompts and plot ideas to get you started.
If you’re looking for a fantasy plot idea for your fantasy novel or short story, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve pulled together 50 of our best fantasy story ideas for you in this post so you can get started right away writing your new story.
The fantasy genre is an exciting one for both readers and writers, as it opens new doors that we may be unable to open with other genres of fiction. From superheroes to wizards, witches to dragons, fairies to queens, fantasy worlds are filled with memorable characters who take amazing–and often devastating–actions.
But it’s not just the characters who make these stories come alive. The settings are just as vivid, often taking on a role just as important as those of the characters. Whether the story is set in an entirely fictional world or the writer has written magical elements into life on earth, readers love getting lost in a place that is different from anything they’ve ever known.
Once you’ve looked through the following list of fiction writing prompts for fantasy stories, you may also want to check out these other resources we offer:
- Plan out your story using our Story Planner
- Check out this Writing Prompt Generator for both fiction and non-fiction writing prompts
- Find more Creative Writing Prompts here
Types of Fantasy
If you’re a long-time fantasy fan, you are probably familiar with the various sub-genres that exist, but for those who are new to the worlds of mythical creatures and magical beings, here is a quick rundown of a few of the more common fantasy styles. The number of subgenres varies widely depending on who you ask, and this is not intended to be an exhaustive list, merely an overview.
The nice thing about fantasy prompts is that you can take them in any direction you want. For example, you could combine elements of a fairy tale with dark fantasy writing prompts to produce a dark twist on a formerly cheery tale. Or you can take an epic fantasy writing prompt and cross it with a medieval story prompt and create a magical world filled with castles, nights, and battles. The only thing limiting you is your imagination.
Dark or Grimdark Fantasy
- Written in a foreboding tone
- Frightening and disturbing themes
- Elements of horror that evoke a feeling of dread
- Usually set in supernatural worlds with a gloomy atmosphere
Epic or High Fantasy
- Settings are vast (or epic)
- Tons of characters
- Set in new worlds
- Massive event or quest (the fate of the entire world is usually at stake)
- Typically centers on one main character
- Often written as a series
Fables, Fairy Tales, and Folklore
- Relies heavily on motifs and plots from folklore
- New spins on timeless tales
- Often feature morals and lessons, which may be a reversal of those taught in the original tales
- Set in a real historical time period, usually before the 20th century
- Factual events blended with supernatural elements
- May be set in the real world or in a fictional world
Low Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, and Urban Fantasy
- Set in the real world or something like it
- Magical elements occur in an otherwise-normal world
- Supernatural characters dealing with everyday life
- Urban fantasy takes place in a predominantly urban—not rural—setting
- Contemporary fantasy is set in the present day (or the time in which it was written)
- Touches of magic are incorporated into the real world
- Blurs the lines between fantasy and reality
- A subgenre of historical fantasy
- Set in the Middle Ages
- Includes elements of medieval European culture such as castles and knights
- Also includes fantasy elements such as dragons, sorcerers with superpowers, and mythical beings
- Includes the subset, Arthurian fantasy, which brings in references to the knights of the round table
- Set in the modern world
- Mythical creatures such as vampires, werewolves
- Can overlap with urban fantasy
- Includes the paranormal romance sub-genre, which usually has a love story between a human and a mythical being
- Presents fantasy elements as hard science, even though the science is not real
- Follows heroes with supernatural powers and the villains they oppose
- There’s often a scientific explanation for the superpowers
Sword and Sorcery
- Heroes with swords on big adventures
- Character-driven, focuses on personal matters
- Usually in a secondary world
Now that you probably have a clear idea of the type of fantasy story you’d like to write, let’s jump into the writing prompts.
50 Fantasy Writing Prompts and Plot Ideas
- One day in the marketplace, you meet a scatterbrained magician who can’t seem to keep his thoughts straight, but then out of nowhere, he solves a marketplace crime. You try to distance yourself from him, but he convinces you to become his partner.
- What if you had x-ray vision?
- Write a story about a dryad (a tree nymph) who adopts a human child she finds in the woods and with whom she must work together to save her forest from deforestation.
- Write a story about a wizard who finds a potion that brings his best friend back to life.
- Write a story where someone has invented shoes that enable people to fly, but the shoes are extraordinarily expensive.
- Write a story about a yeti whose village is melting.
- Write a story about two kingdoms in a fantasy world who are at war with each other over a scarce resource (like water or fuel, or something completely unknown in our world).
- You’re visiting some relatives when your three-year-old cousin floods the bathroom. You try to dry it up but the water level keeps rising. You and the kids jump into the bathtub just as it begins its transformation into a beautiful boat.
- Imagine that a child discovered they could time travel using old coins–whatever year and country the coin was minted in, that’s where they can travel to. Write about their adventures.
- Your great-great-aunt, whom you met only once when you were still too young to form memories, has died and left you her ancient typewriter. You’re planning to use it as a doorstop, but after having it for one night, you realize it types out beautiful masterpieces while you are sleeping.
- Write about a regular child who realizes they have magical powers, which they must immediately put into use to protect a community of people who are in imminent danger.
- What if you received a special watch as a gift and it kept talking to you?
- Write a story about King Arthur who time travels to the present day and tries to take on the British royal family.
- What if unicorns existed and lived on an isolated island but were now considering an attempt at world domination?
- You open the mailbox one day and find a strange letter addressed to you. The time has come to fulfill your destiny, it reads. The world is counting on you. Come quickly, and bring your secret sketchbook.
- Write about a priest who takes in a child abandoned on his doorstep, only to learn sometime later that the baby was not fully human.
- Sleep and pray. Get me out of here. The door creaks open and a withered hand tosses in a gray wool blanket. “Wouldn’t want you to catch a cold.” The soft voice filters into the cell and wraps itself around me like a warm hug. And just like that, I know what I have to do.
- You discover a book in your parents’ bedroom that describes everything you’ve ever said and done. But the book is a hundred years old, and you’re just twelve. Or so you thought.
- What if you suddenly realized that your life story mirrored the plot of a Shakespearean play?
- Write a story where there are two earths, 100 miles apart only one is inhabited by people and the other is inhabited by dragons.
- You wake up to find your room mysteriously clean and a paper bag sitting on your desk. You open it up and an angry-looking brownie jumps out. “It’s about time!” he yells. “My brother locked me in there hours ago. We’ve got to find him!”
- You find an ancient text etched into a wall in your basement. Translating it, you realize it’s an escape plan. Just as you’re muttering to yourself about how much time you’ve wasted, the door to the basement slams shut and the stairs melt away.
- It’s all over the news. Random events are taking place. What if someone discovers that they’re my dreams coming true, literally? What will they do to me? I have to find…
- What if your mother told you you had to go to Peru and fight a monster you’d thought was a legend?
- What if you created a magical potion that caused everything it touched to grow exponentially?
- Write about a girl who lives in pre-industrial times who finds a twenty-first-century smartphone that has all its modern capabilities, including those provided by WiFi, which of course, nobody in her time knows anything about.
- Write a story about a man-eating dragon who falls in love with a human and goes on a quest to become human too.
- Write about a team of young wizards who communicate with each other through telekinesis, and who must find a way to stop the evil villain–one of their professors–from infiltrating their thoughts and stealing secret spells for his/her own purposes.
- What if your best friend got trapped inside a book?
- What if you were canoeing in an inlet when a pod of whales came up underneath your boat and lifted you out of the water, at which point your boat took to the air?
- Write about a group of people who find flying carpets and decide to race them.
- What if you traveled back in time to ancient Egypt and discovered that their world was even more modernized than ours and included more advanced technology but that they’d destroyed all evidence of these advances in an effort to protect future generations from making the same devastating decisions that they had?
- Jack glanced around furtively, making sure no one could see him. Then he ducked down the alley. He had taken no more than two steps when he was pulled into a nearly invisible hole in the wall. He was met with rancid breath and a hairy hand around his throat. “Where is it?” said the young man. “Where is my…?”
- Write a story about someone who discovers a secret castle from the Middle Ages and learns that a whole other world exists inside it.
- Write about a guitar that plays itself and accidentally makes an accountant into a popular musician.
- What if you were babysitting a kid who went to the kitchen to get a snack and came back as a gnome?
- What if you were a jester in a medieval castle and you had to keep the king entertained all the time?
- You’re sitting on a bench outside the library when a dog approaches you with no leash on. He climbs up on the bench, looks you right in the eyes, and says, “I heard you have the spell for turning dogs into people. Help me, please!”
- An enchantress creeps into a room unseen, her cloak of invisibility her only protection. She just needs to get the book and get out of there. She shutters as she hears a loud rip. Her cloak is caught on the door!
- I walked through the market timidly, unsure of what I was looking for, but certain I would find it here. A flash of light flickered almost imperceptibly to my right, and instinctively I turned toward the stall that I’d just passed, but it was gone. In its place…
- What if every character you wrote automatically came to life and a foreign government was after you to create spies for them?
- You’re sitting by a pond. You lean over to touch the water and realize you have no reflection. It’s disappeared. It turns out you’ve accidentally become invisible.
- You and your friend happen upon a mysterious underground society that is trying to bring dragons back to the world. But dragons never existed. Did they?
- What if you discovered that certain garments could be unraveled and the threads woven into gold?
- Your aunt shows up at your house unannounced and declares she is taking you on yet another quest. “Grab your bike, your bearded dragon, and your book of incantations. The rest of the club members are waiting.”
- After your grandmother passes away, you learn that the baby blanket she knitted for you when you were born has secrets from the past woven into it. When it begins whispering stories to you at night, you realize there’s a family mystery you need to solve.
- Write a story about a centuries-long war that’s stopped by a couple of rebels riding on highland cows.
- Write a story about a teacher who can read the thoughts of their students, but can’t tell anybody their secret.
- The pirate bound my hands and stuffed a gag into my mouth. I kicked him in the shins. “Ow!” he said, glaring at me as he pulled the rope tighter. “Now, tell us where the gold is, or I’ll…”
- A disease is spreading through your town, but it’s not passed on in the usual ways. It is only transferred from one person to another when an infected person teaches someone something.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these fantasy writing prompts and plot ideas. I can’t wait to hear about the short stories and novels you come up with. Leave a comment below to tell us what fantasy fiction writing prompts you’re using and what you’re working on.