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105 Creative Writing Exercises To Get You Writing Again

You know that feeling when you just don’t feel like writing? Sometimes you can’t even get a word down on paper. It’s the most frustrating thing ever to a writer, especially when you’re working towards a deadline. The good news is that we have a list of 105 creative writing exercises to help you get motivated and start writing again!

What are creative writing exercises?

Creative writing exercises are short writing activities (normally around 10 minutes) designed to get you writing. The goal of these exercises is to give you the motivation to put words onto a blank paper. These words don’t need to be logical or meaningful, neither do they need to be grammatically correct or spelt correctly. The whole idea is to just get you writing something, anything. The end result of these quick creative writing exercises is normally a series of notes, bullet points or ramblings that you can, later on, use as inspiration for a bigger piece of writing such as a story or a poem. 

Good creative writing exercises are short, quick and easy to complete. You shouldn’t need to think too much about your style of writing or how imaginative your notes are. Just write anything that comes to mind, and you’ll be on the road to improving your creative writing skills and beating writer’s block . 

Use the generator below to get a random creative writing exercise idea:

List of 105+ Creative Writing Exercises

Here are over 105 creative writing exercises to give your brain a workout and help those creative juices flow again:

  • Set a timer for 60 seconds. Now write down as many words or phrases that come to mind at that moment.
  • Pick any colour you like. Now start your sentence with this colour. For example, Orange, the colour of my favourite top. 
  • Open a book or dictionary on a random page. Pick a random word. You can close your eyes and slowly move your finger across the page. Now, write a paragraph with this random word in it. You can even use an online dictionary to get random words:

dictionary-random-word-imagine-forest

  • Create your own alphabet picture book or list. It can be A to Z of animals, food, monsters or anything else you like!
  • Using only the sense of smell, describe where you are right now.
  • Take a snack break. While eating your snack write down the exact taste of that food. The goal of this creative writing exercise is to make your readers savour this food as well.
  • Pick a random object in your room and write a short paragraph from its point of view. For example, how does your pencil feel? What if your lamp had feelings?
  • Describe your dream house. Where would you live one day? Is it huge or tiny? 
  • Pick two different TV shows, movies or books that you like. Now swap the main character. What if Supergirl was in Twilight? What if SpongeBob SquarePants was in The Flash? Write a short scene using this character swap as inspiration.
  • What’s your favourite video game? Write at least 10 tips for playing this game.
  • Pick your favourite hobby or sport. Now pretend an alien has just landed on Earth and you need to teach it this hobby or sport. Write at least ten tips on how you would teach this alien.
  • Use a random image generator and write a paragraph about the first picture you see.

random image generator

  • Write a letter to your favourite celebrity or character. What inspires you most about them? Can you think of a memorable moment where this person’s life affected yours? We have this helpful guide on writing a letter to your best friend for extra inspiration.
  • Write down at least 10 benefits of writing. This can help motivate you and beat writer’s block.
  • Complete this sentence in 10 different ways: Patrick waited for the school bus and…
  • Pick up a random book from your bookshelf and go to page 9. Find the ninth sentence on that page. Use this sentence as a story starter.
  • Create a character profile based on all the traits that you hate. It might help to list down all the traits first and then work on describing the character.
  • What is the scariest or most dangerous situation you have ever been in? Why was this situation scary? How did you cope at that moment?
  • Pretend that you’re a chat show host and you’re interviewing your favourite celebrity. Write down the script for this conversation.
  • Using extreme detail, write down what you have been doing for the past one hour today. Think about your thoughts, feelings and actions during this time.
  • Make a list of potential character names for your next story. You can use a fantasy name generator to help you.
  • Describe a futuristic setting. What do you think the world would look like in 100 years time?
  • Think about a recent argument you had with someone. Would you change anything about it? How would you resolve an argument in the future?
  • Describe a fantasy world. What kind of creatures live in this world? What is the climate like? What everyday challenges would a typical citizen of this world face? You can use this fantasy world name generator for inspiration.
  • At the flip of a switch, you turn into a dragon. What kind of dragon would you be? Describe your appearance, special abilities, likes and dislikes. You can use a dragon name generator to give yourself a cool dragon name.
  • Pick your favourite book or a famous story. Now change the point of view. For example, you could rewrite the fairytale , Cinderella. This time around, Prince Charming could be the main character. What do you think Prince Charming was doing, while Cinderella was cleaning the floors and getting ready for the ball?
  • Pick a random writing prompt and use it to write a short story. Check out this collection of over 300 writing prompts for kids to inspire you. 
  • Write a shopping list for a famous character in history. Imagine if you were Albert Einstein’s assistant, what kind of things would he shop for on a weekly basis?
  • Create a fake advertisement poster for a random object that is near you right now. Your goal is to convince the reader to buy this object from you.
  • What is the worst (or most annoying) sound that you can imagine? Describe this sound in great detail, so your reader can understand the pain you feel when hearing this sound.
  • What is your favourite song at the moment? Pick one line from this song and describe a moment in your life that relates to this line.
  •  You’re hosting an imaginary dinner party at your house. Create a list of people you would invite, and some party invites. Think about the theme of the dinner party, the food you will serve and entertainment for the evening. 
  • You are waiting to see your dentist in the waiting room. Write down every thought you are having at this moment in time. 
  • Make a list of your greatest fears. Try to think of at least three fears. Now write a short story about a character who is forced to confront one of these fears. 
  • Create a ‘Wanted’ poster for a famous villain of your choice. Think about the crimes they have committed, and the reward you will give for having them caught. 
  • Imagine you are a journalist for the ‘Imagine Forest Times’ newspaper. Your task is to get an exclusive interview with the most famous villain of all time. Pick a villain of your choice and interview them for your newspaper article. What questions would you ask them, and what would their responses be?
  •  In a school playground, you see the school bully hurting a new kid. Write three short stories, one from each perspective in this scenario (The bully, the witness and the kid getting bullied).
  • You just won $10 million dollars. What would you spend this money on?
  • Pick a random animal, and research at least five interesting facts about this animal. Write a short story centred around one of these interesting facts. 
  • Pick a global issue that you are passionate about. This could be climate change, black lives matters, women’s rights etc. Now create a campaign poster for this global issue. 
  • Write an acrostic poem about an object near you right now (or even your own name). You could use a poetry idea generator to inspire you.
  • Imagine you are the head chef of a 5-star restaurant. Recently the business has slowed down. Your task is to come up with a brand-new menu to excite customers. Watch this video prompt on YouTube to inspire you.
  • What is your favourite food of all time? Imagine if this piece of food was alive, what would it say to you?
  • If life was one big musical, what would you be singing about right now? Write the lyrics of your song. 
  • Create and describe the most ultimate villain of all time. What would their traits be? What would their past look like? Will they have any positive traits?
  • Complete this sentence in at least 10 different ways: Every time I look out of the window, I…
  • You have just made it into the local newspaper, but what for? Write down at least five potential newspaper headlines . Here’s an example, Local Boy Survives a Deadly Illness.
  • If you were a witch or a wizard, what would your specialist area be and why? You might want to use a Harry Potter name generator or a witch name generator for inspiration.
  • What is your favourite thing to do on a Saturday night? Write a short story centred around this activity. 
  • Your main character has just received the following items: A highlighter, a red cap, a teddy bear and a fork. What would your character do with these items? Can you write a story using these items? 
  • Create a timeline of your own life, from birth to this current moment. Think about the key events in your life, such as birthdays, graduations, weddings and so on. After you have done this, you can pick one key event from your life to write a story about. 
  • Think of a famous book or movie you like. Rewrite a scene from this book or movie, where the main character is an outsider. They watch the key events play out, but have no role in the story. What would their actions be? How would they react?
  • Three very different characters have just won the lottery. Write a script for each character, as they reveal the big news to their best friend.  
  • Write a day in the life story of three different characters. How does each character start their day? What do they do throughout the day? And how does their day end?
  •  Write about the worst experience in your life so far. Think about a time when you were most upset or angry and describe it. 
  • Imagine you’ve found a time machine in your house. What year would you travel to and why?
  • Describe your own superhero. Think about their appearance, special abilities and their superhero name. Will they have a secret identity? Who is their number one enemy?
  • What is your favourite country in the world? Research five fun facts about this country and use one to write a short story. 
  • Set yourself at least three writing goals. This could be a good way to motivate yourself to write every day. For example, one goal might be to write at least 150 words a day. 
  • Create a character description based on the one fact, three fiction rule. Think about one fact or truth about yourself. And then add in three fictional or fantasy elements. For example, your character could be the same age as you in real life, this is your one fact. And the three fictional elements could be they have the ability to fly, talk in over 100 different languages and have green skin. 
  • Describe the perfect person. What traits would they have? Think about their appearance, their interests and their dislikes. 
  • Keep a daily journal or diary. This is a great way to keep writing every day. There are lots of things you can write about in your journal, such as you can write about the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of your day. Think about anything that inspired you or anything that upset you, or just write anything that comes to mind at the moment. 
  • Write a book review or a movie review. If you’re lost for inspiration, just watch a random movie or read any book that you can find. Then write a critical review on it. Think about the best parts of the book/movie and the worst parts. How would you improve the book or movie?
  • Write down a conversation between yourself. You can imagine talking to your younger self or future self (i.e. in 10 years’ time). What would you tell them? Are there any lessons you learned or warnings you need to give? Maybe you could talk about what your life is like now and compare it to their life?
  • Try writing some quick flash fiction stories . Flash fiction is normally around 500 words long, so try to stay within this limit.
  • Write a six-word story about something that happened to you today or yesterday. A six-word story is basically an entire story told in just six words. Take for example: “Another football game ruined by me.” or “A dog’s painting sold for millions.” – Six-word stories are similar to writing newspaper headlines. The goal is to summarise your story in just six words. 
  • The most common monsters or creatures used in stories include vampires, werewolves , dragons, the bigfoot, sirens and the loch-ness monster. In a battle of intelligence, who do you think will win and why?
  • Think about an important event in your life that has happened so far, such as a birthday or the birth of a new sibling. Now using the 5 W’s and 1 H technique describe this event in great detail. The 5 W’s include: What, Who, Where, Why, When and the 1 H is: How. Ask yourself questions about the event, such as what exactly happened on that day? Who was there? Why was this event important? When and where did it happen? And finally, how did it make you feel?
  • Pretend to be someone else. Think about someone important in your life. Now put yourself into their shoes, and write a day in the life story about being them. What do you think they do on a daily basis? What situations would they encounter? How would they feel?
  • Complete this sentence in at least 10 different ways: I remember…
  • Write about your dream holiday. Where would you go? Who would you go with? And what kind of activities would you do?
  • Which one item in your house do you use the most? Is it the television, computer, mobile phone, the sofa or the microwave? Now write a story of how this item was invented. You might want to do some research online and use these ideas to build up your story. 
  • In exactly 100 words, describe your bedroom. Try not to go over or under this word limit.
  • Make a top ten list of your favourite animals. Based on this list create your own animal fact file, where you provide fun facts about each animal in your list.
  • What is your favourite scene from a book or a movie? Write down this scene. Now rewrite the scene in a different genre, such as horror, comedy, drama etc.
  •  Change the main character of a story you recently read into a villain. For example, you could take a popular fairytale such as Jack and the Beanstalk, but this time re-write the story to make Jack the villain of the tale.
  • Complete the following sentence in at least 10 different ways: Do you ever wonder…
  • What does your name mean? Research the meaning of your own name, or a name that interests you. Then use this as inspiration for your next story. For example, the name ‘Marty’ means “Servant Of Mars, God Of War”. This could make a good concept for a sci-fi story.
  • Make a list of three different types of heroes (or main characters) for potential future stories.
  • If someone gave you $10 dollars, what would you spend it on and why?
  • Describe the world’s most boring character in at least 100 words. 
  • What is the biggest problem in the world today, and how can you help fix this issue?
  • Create your own travel brochure for your hometown. Think about why tourists might want to visit your hometown. What is your town’s history? What kind of activities can you do? You could even research some interesting facts. 
  • Make a list of all your favourite moments or memories in your life. Now pick one to write a short story about.
  • Describe the scariest and ugliest monster you can imagine. You could even draw a picture of this monster with your description.
  • Write seven haikus, one for each colour of the rainbow. That’s red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. 
  • Imagine you are at the supermarket. Write down at least three funny scenarios that could happen to you at the supermarket. Use one for your next short story. 
  • Imagine your main character is at home staring at a photograph. Write the saddest scene possible. Your goal is to make your reader cry when reading this scene. 
  • What is happiness? In at least 150 words describe the feeling of happiness. You could use examples from your own life of when you felt happy.
  • Think of a recent nightmare you had and write down everything you can remember. Use this nightmare as inspiration for your next story.
  • Keep a dream journal. Every time you wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning you can quickly jot down things that you remember from your dreams. These notes can then be used as inspiration for a short story. 
  • Your main character is having a really bad day. Describe this bad day and the series of events they experience. What’s the worst thing that could happen to your character?
  • You find a box on your doorstep. You open this box and see the most amazing thing ever. Describe this amazing thing to your readers.
  • Make a list of at least five possible settings or locations for future stories. Remember to describe each setting in detail.
  • Think of something new you recently learned. Write this down. Now write a short story where your main character also learns the same thing.
  • Describe the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your whole life. Your goal is to amaze your readers with its beauty. 
  • Make a list of things that make you happy or cheer you up. Try to think of at least five ideas. Now imagine living in a world where all these things were banned or against the law. Use this as inspiration for your next story.
  • Would you rather be rich and alone or poor and very popular? Write a story based on the lives of these two characters. 
  • Imagine your main character is a Librarian. Write down at least three dark secrets they might have. Remember, the best secrets are always unexpected.
  • There’s a history behind everything. Describe the history of your house. How and when was your house built? Think about the land it was built on and the people that may have lived here long before you.
  • Imagine that you are the king or queen of a beautiful kingdom. Describe your kingdom in great detail. What kind of rules would you have? Would you be a kind ruler or an evil ruler of the kingdom?
  • Make a wish list of at least three objects you wish you owned right now. Now use these three items in your next story. At least one of them must be the main prop in the story.
  • Using nothing but the sense of taste, describe a nice Sunday afternoon at your house. Remember you can’t use your other senses (i.e see, hear, smell or touch) in this description. 
  • What’s the worst pain you felt in your life? Describe this pain in great detail, so your readers can also feel it.
  • If you were lost on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere, what three must-have things would you pack and why?
  • Particpate in online writing challenges or contests. Here at Imagine Forest, we offer daily writing challenges with a new prompt added every day to inspire you. Check out our challenges section in the menu.

Do you have any more fun creative writing exercises to share? Let us know in the comments below!

creative writing exercises

Marty the wizard is the master of Imagine Forest. When he's not reading a ton of books or writing some of his own tales, he loves to be surrounded by the magical creatures that live in Imagine Forest. While living in his tree house he has devoted his time to helping children around the world with their writing skills and creativity.

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Writers.com

The short story is a fiction writer’s laboratory: here is where you can experiment with characters, plots, and ideas without the heavy lifting of writing a novel. Learning how to write a short story is essential to mastering the art of storytelling . With far fewer words to worry about, storytellers can make many more mistakes—and strokes of genius!—through experimentation and the fun of fiction writing.

Nonetheless, the art of writing short stories is not easy to master. How do you tell a complete story in so few words? What does a story need to have in order to be successful? Whether you’re struggling with how to write a short story outline, or how to fully develop a character in so few words, this guide is your starting point.

Famous authors like Virginia Woolf, Haruki Murakami, and Agatha Christie have used the short story form to play with ideas before turning those stories into novels. Whether you want to master the elements of fiction, experiment with novel ideas, or simply have fun with storytelling, here’s everything you need on how to write a short story step by step.

The Core Elements of a Short Story

There’s no secret formula to writing a short story. However, a good short story will have most or all of the following elements:

  • A protagonist with a certain desire or need. It is essential for the protagonist to want something they don’t have, otherwise they will not drive the story forward.
  • A clear dilemma. We don’t need much backstory to see how the dilemma started; we’re primarily concerned with how the protagonist resolves it.
  • A decision. What does the protagonist do to resolve their dilemma?
  • A climax. In Freytag’s Pyramid , the climax of a story is when the tension reaches its peak, and the reader discovers the outcome of the protagonist’s decision(s).
  • An outcome. How does the climax change the protagonist? Are they a different person? Do they have a different philosophy or outlook on life?

Of course, short stories also utilize the elements of fiction , such as a setting , plot , and point of view . It helps to study these elements and to understand their intricacies. But, when it comes to laying down the skeleton of a short story, the above elements are what you need to get started.

Note: a short story rarely, if ever, has subplots. The focus should be entirely on a single, central storyline. Subplots will either pull focus away from the main story, or else push the story into the territory of novellas and novels.

The shorter the story is, the fewer of these elements are essentials. If you’re interested in writing short-short stories, check out our guide on how to write flash fiction .

How to Write a Short Story Outline

Some writers are “pantsers”—they “write by the seat of their pants,” making things up on the go with little more than an idea for a story. Other writers are “plotters,” meaning they decide the story’s structure in advance of writing it.

You don’t need a short story outline to write a good short story. But, if you’d like to give yourself some scaffolding before putting words on the page, this article answers the question of how to write a short story outline:

https://writers.com/how-to-write-a-story-outline

How to Write a Short Story Step by Step

There are many ways to approach the short story craft, but this method is tried-and-tested for writers of all levels. Here’s how to write a short story step by step.

1. Start With an Idea

Often, generating an idea is the hardest part. You want to write, but what will you write about?

What’s more, it’s easy to start coming up with ideas and then dismissing them. You want to tell an authentic, original story, but everything you come up with has already been written, it seems.

Here are a few tips:

  • Originality presents itself in your storytelling, not in your ideas. For example, the premise of both Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Ostrovsky’s The Snow Maiden are very similar: two men and two women, in intertwining love triangles, sort out their feelings for each other amidst mischievous forest spirits, love potions, and friendship drama. The way each story is written makes them very distinct from one another, to the point where, unless it’s pointed out to you, you might not even notice the similarities.
  • An idea is not a final draft. You will find that exploring the possibilities of your story will generate something far different than the idea you started out with. This is a good thing—it means you made the story your own!
  • Experiment with genres and tropes. Even if you want to write literary fiction , pay attention to the narrative structures that drive genre stories, and practice your storytelling using those structures. Again, you will naturally make the story your own simply by playing with ideas.

If you’re struggling simply to find ideas, try out this prompt generator , or pull prompts from this Twitter .

2. Outline, OR Conceive Your Characters

If you plan to outline, do so once you’ve generated an idea. You can learn about how to write a short story outline earlier in this article.

If you don’t plan to outline, you should at least start with a character or characters. Certainly, you need a protagonist, but you should also think about any characters that aid or inhibit your protagonist’s journey.

When thinking about character development, ask the following questions:

  • What is my character’s background? Where do they come from, how did they get here, where do they want to be?
  • What does your character desire the most? This can be both material or conceptual, like “fitting in” or “being loved.”
  • What is your character’s fatal flaw? In other words, what limitation prevents the protagonist from achieving their desire? Often, this flaw is a blind spot that directly counters their desire. For example, self hatred stands in the way of a protagonist searching for love.
  • How does your character think and speak? Think of examples, both fictional and in the real world, who might resemble your character.

In short stories, there are rarely more characters than a protagonist, an antagonist (if relevant), and a small group of supporting characters. The more characters you include, the longer your story will be. Focus on making only one or two characters complex: it is absolutely okay to have the rest of the cast be flat characters that move the story along.

Learn more about character development here:

https://writers.com/character-development-definition

3. Write Scenes Around Conflict

Once you have an outline or some characters, start building scenes around conflict. Every part of your story, including the opening sentence, should in some way relate to the protagonist’s conflict.

Conflict is the lifeblood of storytelling: without it, the reader doesn’t have a clear reason to keep reading. Loveable characters are not enough, as the story has to give the reader something to root for.

Take, for example, Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story The Cask of Amontillado . We start at the conflict: the narrator has been slighted by Fortunato, and plans to exact revenge. Every scene in the story builds tension and follows the protagonist as he exacts this revenge.

In your story, start writing scenes around conflict, and make sure each paragraph and piece of dialogue relates, in some way, to your protagonist’s unmet desires.

4. Write Your First Draft

The scenes you build around conflict will eventually be stitched into a complete story. Make sure as the story progresses that each scene heightens the story’s tension, and that this tension remains unbroken until the climax resolves whether or not your protagonist meets their desires.

Don’t stress too hard on writing a perfect story. Rather, take Anne Lamott’s advice, and “write a shitty first draft.” The goal is not to pen a complete story at first draft; rather, it’s to set ideas down on paper. You are simply, as Shannon Hale suggests, “shoveling sand into a box so that later [you] can build castles.”

5. Step Away, Breathe, Revise

Whenever Stephen King finishes a novel, he puts it in a drawer and doesn’t think about it for 6 weeks. With short stories, you probably don’t need to take as long of a break. But, the idea itself is true: when you’ve finished your first draft, set it aside for a while. Let yourself come back to the story with fresh eyes, so that you can confidently revise, revise, revise .

In revision, you want to make sure each word has an essential place in the story, that each scene ramps up tension, and that each character is clearly defined. The culmination of these elements allows a story to explore complex themes and ideas, giving the reader something to think about after the story has ended.

6. Compare Against Our Short Story Checklist

Does your story have everything it needs to succeed? Compare it against this short story checklist, as written by our instructor Rosemary Tantra Bensko.

Below is a collection of practical short story writing tips by Writers.com instructor Rosemary Tantra Bensko . Each paragraph is its own checklist item: a core element of short story writing advice to follow unless you have clear reasons to the contrary. We hope it’s a helpful resource in your own writing.

Update 9/1/2020: We’ve now made a summary of Rosemary’s short story checklist available as a PDF download . Enjoy!

short story assignment creative writing

Click to download

How to Write a Short Story: Length and Setting

Your short story is 1000 to 7500 words in length.

The story takes place in one time period, not spread out or with gaps other than to drive someplace, sleep, etc. If there are those gaps, there is a space between the paragraphs, the new paragraph beginning flush left, to indicate a new scene.

Each scene takes place in one location, or in continual transit, such as driving a truck or flying in a plane.

How to Write a Short Story: Point of View

Unless it’s a very lengthy Romance story, in which there may be two Point of View (POV) characters, there is one POV character. If we are told what any character secretly thinks, it will only be the POV character. The degree to which we are privy to the unexpressed thoughts, memories and hopes of the POV character remains consistent throughout the story.

You avoid head-hopping by only having one POV character per scene, even in a Romance. You avoid straying into even brief moments of telling us what other characters think other than the POV character. You use words like “apparently,” “obviously,” or “supposedly” to suggest how non-POV-characters think rather than stating it.

How to Write a Short Story: Protagonist, Antagonist, Motivation

Your short story has one clear protagonist who is usually the character changing most.

Your story has a clear antagonist, who generally makes the protagonist change by thwarting his goals.

(Possible exception to the two short story writing tips above: In some types of Mystery and Action stories, particularly in a series, etc., the protagonist doesn’t necessarily grow personally, but instead his change relates to understanding the antagonist enough to arrest or kill him.)

The protagonist changes with an Arc arising out of how he is stuck in his Flaw at the beginning of the story, which makes the reader bond with him as a human, and feel the pain of his problems he causes himself. (Or if it’s the non-personal growth type plot: he’s presented at the beginning of the story with a high-stakes problem that requires him to prevent or punish a crime.)

The protagonist usually is shown to Want something, because that’s what people normally do, defining their personalities and behavior patterns, pushing them onward from day to day. This may be obvious from the beginning of the story, though it may not become heightened until the Inciting Incident , which happens near the beginning of Act 1. The Want is usually something the reader sort of wants the character to succeed in, while at the same time, knows the Want is not in his authentic best interests. This mixed feeling in the reader creates tension.

The protagonist is usually shown to Need something valid and beneficial, but at first, he doesn’t recognize it, admit it, honor it, integrate it with his Want, or let the Want go so he can achieve the Need instead. Ideally, the Want and Need can be combined in a satisfying way toward the end for the sake of continuity of forward momentum of victoriously achieving the goals set out from the beginning. It’s the encounters with the antagonist that forcibly teach the protagonist to prioritize his Needs correctly and overcome his Flaw so he can defeat the obstacles put in his path.

The protagonist in a personal growth plot needs to change his Flaw/Want but like most people, doesn’t automatically do that when faced with the problem. He tries the easy way, which doesn’t work. Only when the Crisis takes him to a low point does he boldly change enough to become victorious over himself and the external situation. What he learns becomes the Theme.

Each scene shows its main character’s goal at its beginning, which aligns in a significant way with the protagonist’s overall goal for the story. The scene has a “charge,” showing either progress toward the goal or regression away from the goal by the ending. Most scenes end with a negative charge, because a story is about not obtaining one’s goals easily, until the end, in which the scene/s end with a positive charge.

The protagonist’s goal of the story becomes triggered until the Inciting Incident near the beginning, when something happens to shake up his life. This is the only major thing in the story that is allowed to be a random event that occurs to him.

How to Write a Short Story: Characters

Your characters speak differently from one another, and their dialogue suggests subtext, what they are really thinking but not saying: subtle passive-aggressive jibes, their underlying emotions, etc.

Your characters are not illustrative of ideas and beliefs you are pushing for, but come across as real people.

How to Write a Short Story: Prose

Your language is succinct, fresh and exciting, specific, colorful, avoiding clichés and platitudes. Sentence structures vary. In Genre stories, the language is simple, the symbolism is direct, and words are well-known, and sentences are relatively short. In Literary stories, you are freer to use more sophisticated ideas, words, sentence structures and underlying metaphors and implied motifs.

How to Write a Short Story: Story Structure

Your plot elements occur in the proper places according to classical Act Structure so the reader feels he has vicariously gone through a harrowing trial with the protagonist and won, raising his sense of hope and possibility. Literary short stories may be more subtle, with lower stakes, experimenting beyond classical structures like the Hero’s Journey. They can be more like vignettes sometimes, or even slice-of-life, though these types are hard to place in publications.

In Genre stories, all the questions are answered, threads are tied up, problems are solved, though the results of carnage may be spread over the landscape. In Literary short stories, you are free to explore uncertainty, ambiguity, and inchoate, realistic endings that suggest multiple interpretations, and unresolved issues.

Some Literary stories may be nonrealistic, such as with Surrealism, Absurdism, New Wave Fabulism, Weird and Magical Realism . If this is what you write, they still need their own internal logic and they should not be bewildering as to the what the reader is meant to experience, whether it’s a nuanced, unnameable mood or a trip into the subconscious.

Literary stories may also go beyond any label other than Experimental. For example, a story could be a list of To Do items on a paper held by a magnet to a refrigerator for the housemate to read. The person writing the list may grow more passive-aggressive and manipulative as the list grows, and we learn about the relationship between the housemates through the implied threats and cajoling.

How to Write a Short Story: Capturing Reader Interest

Your short story is suspenseful, meaning readers hope the protagonist will achieve his best goal, his Need, by the Climax battle against the antagonist.

Your story entertains. This is especially necessary for Genre short stories.

The story captivates readers at the very beginning with a Hook, which can be a puzzling mystery to solve, an amazing character’s or narrator’s Voice, an astounding location, humor, a startling image, or a world the reader wants to become immersed in.

Expository prose (telling, like an essay) takes up very, very little space in your short story, and it does not appear near the beginning. The story is in Narrative format instead, in which one action follows the next. You’ve removed every unnecessary instance of Expository prose and replaced it with showing Narrative. Distancing words like “used to,” “he would often,” “over the years, he,” “each morning, he” indicate that you are reporting on a lengthy time period, summing it up, rather than sticking to Narrative format, in which immediacy makes the story engaging.

You’ve earned the right to include Expository Backstory by making the reader yearn for knowing what happened in the past to solve a mystery. This can’t possibly happen at the beginning, obviously. Expository Backstory does not take place in the first pages of your story.

Your reader cares what happens and there are high stakes (especially important in Genre stories). Your reader worries until the end, when the protagonist survives, succeeds in his quest to help the community, gets the girl, solves or prevents the crime, achieves new scientific developments, takes over rule of his realm, etc.

Every sentence is compelling enough to urge the reader to read the next one—because he really, really wants to—instead of doing something else he could be doing. Your story is not going to be assigned to people to analyze in school like the ones you studied, so you have found a way from the beginning to intrigue strangers to want to spend their time with your words.

Where to Read and Submit Short Stories

Whether you’re looking for inspiration or want to publish your own stories, you’ll find great literary journals for writers of all backgrounds at this article:

https://writers.com/short-story-submissions

Learn How to Write a Short Story at Writers.com

The short story takes an hour to learn and a lifetime to master. Learn how to write a short story with Writers.com. Our upcoming fiction courses will give you the ropes to tell authentic, original short stories that captivate and entrance your readers.

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Rosemary – Is there any chance you could add a little something to your checklist? I’d love to know the best places to submit our short stories for publication. Thanks so much.

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Hi, Kim Hanson,

Some good places to find publications specific to your story are NewPages, Poets and Writers, Duotrope, and The Submission Grinder.

' src=

“ In Genre stories, all the questions are answered, threads are tied up, problems are solved, though the results of carnage may be spread over the landscape.”

Not just no but NO.

See for example the work of MacArthur Fellow Kelly Link.

[…] How to Write a Short Story: The Short Story Checklist […]

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Thank you for these directions and tips. It’s very encouraging to someone like me, just NOW taking up writing.

[…] Writers.com. A great intro to writing. https://writers.com/how-to-write-a-short-story […]

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180 Impressive Short Story Ideas for Creative Writing

Table of Contents

Would you have to write a short story but are unsure where to begin? Don’t worry! To help you, here, in this blog post, we have suggested a list of unique short story ideas in various genres. Without any hesitation, you can very well break your writer’s block by using them as short story writing prompts for your creative writing assignments or competitions. Also, for your better understanding, we have explained how to write a gripping short story and the tips for generating your own short story ideas.

Short Story Ideas

Continue reading this blog post to know more about short story writing.

What is a Short Story?

A shorter form of prose fiction than a novel or novella is referred to as a short story. It is frequently written with the intention of expressing a moral, evoking a state of mind, or capturing a moment. The plot, characters, setting, conflict, and themes of the short stories are the majority of the stories’ primary focal points.

Short stories generally come in a variety of sizes and shapes. However, a typical traditional short story typically has a word count of between 1000 and 5000 words, but it can also be longer than 10,000 words. There are, however, a few exceptions to the word count. Flash fiction and microfiction are two other forms of creative short stories. Between 500 and 1000 words are allowed in flash fiction stories. Stories with fewer than 500 words are called microfiction.

How to Write an Engaging Short Story?

Writing a short story is a difficult task that calls for more originality. If you are unsure of how to write a great short story, follow the steps listed below in order.

  • Firstly, create an intriguing concept for a short story.
  • Secondly, determine the purpose and structure of your short story.
  • Thirdly, find the five common elements of your short story—plot, characters, setting, conflict, and themes—through brainstorming.
  • Fourthly, choose a feeling or emotion you want to evoke.
  • Fifthly, create a brief story outline and arrange the concepts from the brainstorming session.
  • Sixthly, with the assistance of the prepared outline, get started writing the short story’s first draft.
  • Following that, with a catchy opening try to grab readers’ attention.
  • Next, include interesting dialogue and scenes to advance the narrative.
  • After that, prudently close the story.
  • Finally, edit and revise the draft.

How to Generate a Short Story Idea on Your Own?

Generating ideas for a short story is the first and foremost step that every writer finds hard to cross. Many people know how to write a story but may not be aware of how to develop a story idea. Basically, there is no particular definition of a ‘great story idea’. Your story idea will look good only in the way you write it.

Short Story Ideas

In general, your story idea should answer the below-mentioned questions.

  • Who is the main character in your story?
  • What is the goal of your main character?
  • What prevents the main character from achieving the goal?

Here are some interesting ways that would help you to generate short story ideas on your own.

Short Story Ideas

Consider the elements of fiction

If your mind is blocked and you don’t know where to begin a story, then try to come up with a short story idea by considering the following elements of fiction.

Plot: What happens in the story?

Characters: Who is living in the story?

Setting: Where the story happens?

Theme: What the story represents?

Point of View: From whose eyes the story unfolds?

Style: How the words are framed to narrate a story.

By using any of the above-mentioned fiction elements you can generate an exciting story idea. Wondering how? For example, first, identify the main character with the physical traits of your desire. Then, craft a plot around that character in a particular setting. Usually, a story is said to be good when it follows a proper structure that includes an engaging introduction, a serious conflict, and a convincing climax. So, with the character you have identified, you should think about a conflict that prevents your character from achieving success and then find out how your character handles that conflict. In this way, you can spot a good short idea.

Similarly, you can also identify a setting first, and then in that premises, you can build the characters, plot, and conflict of your short story.

Write a short story that you want to read

If you have no story idea, then think about the story you have always desired to read. It doesn’t mean that you have to come up with something revolutionary, a simple and unique story that you would love to read is enough.

Say, for example, if you like reading mystery, or science fiction, and then you can blend these two genres to generate your own story idea if you haven’t read anything of that type.

Just take your time, think, and find out what kind of story you want this world to listen to. You can narrate a story that you expected to listen to when you were young or a story you always wanted others to hear. By thinking in this aspect, you can find out a creative short story idea for your assignment.

Modify an already existing story

You can’t publish an already-written story with the same plot and the same set of characters. But viewing the already written story from a different perspective would help you to generate a unique short story idea.

Say, for instance, you can take a less important scene from your favorite book and put it as an opening scene for your short story. Then, you can modify the characters in it and introduce any unique elements to that scene to make it look fresh. Once you have identified the starting point, you can drive your imagination and give a new life to the story.

Inspiration can be in any form. You can write a new version of an old story by changing the characters and plot. Whenever you suffer from writer’s block, you can try this way to find out your short story idea smartly.

Look for ideas from real life

Another effective way to generate a short story idea is by considering your personal experience. It doesn’t mean that you need to write your personal story. You can pull an idea from news, real-life events, situations you have seen, or interesting events that have happened in your close one’s life.

Say, for example, you can write historical fiction based on any historical event.

If you spend some time and think hard, you can derive great ideas from your imagination. Every time when you run short of ideas, jot down any real-life story that inspired you and paint a new color to that story by including a twist to make them your own.

Use a creative writing prompt

One of the best solutions for writer’s block issues is letting someone begin your story for you. In general, there is plenty of creative writing prompts available on online websites. In case, you find it hard to come up with a great story idea, you can check the list of short story ideas mentioned below, and find a prompt that is impressive for you. Basically, a creative writing prompt is a brief story starter that will describe a scenario in one or two sentences and will let you develop a story on your own.

Remember, the ideas you receive from the writing prompts through web search are just an inspiration. You need to use your strong creative writing skills and imagination to transform a prompt into an engaging short story.

List of Innovative Short Story Ideas

Currently, are you looking for gripping short story ideas? Cool! Especially to help you out, here we have suggested some great short story ideas in various genres.

Short Story Ideas

If you find it difficult to come up with an excellent short story idea, feel free to go through the below-mentioned list and pick a creative writing prompt from any genre of your choice.

3 Elements- Short Story Ideas

  • An ice storm, a bicycle, and a treasure map.
  • A stolen ring, fear of spiders, and a sinister stranger.
  • A horoscope, makeup, and a missing tooth.
  • An ex-boyfriend, a pair of binoculars, and a good-luck charm.
  • A magic trick, a shadow, and a missing friend.
  • A taxi, an old enemy, and Valentine’s Day.
  • Aerobics, a secret diary, and something unpleasant under the bed.
  • A sports car, a rope, and an obnoxious ex-girlfriend.
  • An antique, a torn letter, and a familiar-looking stranger.
  • A family secret, a string of pearls, and the desire for revenge.

Simple Short Story Ideas for Kids

  • Write a brief tale devoted to your mother.
  • The story of Hansel and Gretel, compose according to the viewpoint of the witch that lives in the Gingerbread house.
  • A computer hacker accidentally releases a deadly computer virus making all machines assault people.
  • While cleaning up your basement you find out a puzzling key that can open up entryways to new universes.
  • Write a story dedicated to your best friend.
  • You find a golden pen in a magic shop. Every time you write something with that pen it turns true.
  • Mysterious symbols are appearing all over the village. It is up to your primary character to decrypt the code and identify the meaning of these symbols.
  • Write a short story inspired by a recent argument you had.
  • The spaceship of an Astronaut, who is studying life on the moon, breaks down, leaving him stranded on the moon.
  • After reading a cursed book, all your nightmares start becoming real.
  • Write a brief tale according to the point of view of an alien living on Mars.
  • Write a short story from the perspective of a young stray cat looking for her mother who is a house cat.
  • You look in the mirror and see nothing – not even a reflection of yourself.
  • You return home from school to find scattered papers all over your living room floor and your family is missing.
  • Your long, lost sister who you believed was dead thumps at your entryway.

Impressive Short Story Ideas for Middle School Students

  • Your main character finds out how to travel through time. He decides to go.
  • Write a short story about a mad scientist who has found a way to combine human DNA with animal DNA to create a superhuman.
  • Your character wakes up with the ability to talk to the family pet.
  • Your main character has to face the greatest fear in life.
  • An expedition in the Amazon rainforest gets deadly when you and your team encounter a group of warriors protecting the rainforest from outsiders.
  • Your character has an amazing chance to take a ride on a spaceship to another planet in the galaxy.
  • Write a brief tale about a group of garden fairies being at war with the garden gnomes.
  • Your character awakens to find that they have turned into a character in their favorite book.
  • After visiting a magic shop and purchasing nothing, the shop owner curses you. Now, wherever you go, people keep laughing at you and you are unaware of the reason.
  • Your character creates an invention that changes the way that the world works.
  • Your character is walking along the beach when they find a hidden pathway.
  • One by one, students from your class are going missing. It’s up to you to find out the reason.
  • Your character gets trapped in a mysterious house.
  • Your main character follows a street cat and ends up in a world where cats rule the planet and humans are their pets.
  • Write a short story about a modern-day sleeping beauty.

Creative Short Story Ideas for High School Students

  • Write a story according to the viewpoint of an animal at the local shelter.
  • You are babysitting two kids after school and it’s a spooky, stormy night. You hear a loud crash.
  • An adopted child starts to receive tens of letters from people who claim they’re her parents.
  • A retired couple explores life in a new country abroad without family.
  • Your character changes jobs to have more time with his family. But his family doesn’t appear to be keen on having him around…
  • Write a short story about a character who is the complete opposite of you.
  • Three strangers win a getaway vacation together.
  • Write a story about your favorite childhood fairytale that has come to life.
  • A war hero returns home and attempts to make connections with old friends.
  • Your character is caught shoplifting. The shop owner says that she won’t call the police but instead demands a personal favor.

Interesting Short Story Ideas

  • Your character is content with her life but suddenly inherits a large sum of money and a palatial estate on the east coast.
  • A young prodigy becomes orphaned.
  • Your orphaned character acquires a house and moves in to find that it’s already occupied by the spirits of the character’s long-deceased parents, who aren’t at all like the people other relatives have described.
  • Your character wakes up alone in an unfamiliar place.
  • A group of children discovers a dead body.
  • Your character starts receiving messages from someone who knows his/her deepest fears and intends to exploit them.
  • A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost.
  • Your character has just lost a child by miscarriage, and when she comes home, her married life has changed.
  • A young couple runs into the path of a psychopath.
  • Tell the tale of a scar.

Excellent Creative Writing Prompts

  • Write a short story about an orphan who can hear whispers.
  • Write an anecdote about one man and the lost scarf.
  • Narrate a story involving a rare book and two people fighting over it.
  • Write about a lost bracelet.
  • Write a story about a guitar with a unique signature on the inside.
  • Compose a story from the perspective of a plant.
  • Write a tale about a lie told over breakfast.
  • Write a story involving a song your character knows but doesn’t remember.
  • Prepare a story involving a camera and a pack of ice.
  • Write about a card game that turns out badly.

Amazing Short Story Ideas

  • A character tries to convince their friend to become vegan.
  • Write a story based on a salesperson who struggles to meet their quota for the day.
  • A character who collects dolls notices one is missing from the shelf.
  • Write a story involving three women and a stolen cane.
  • A hacker competes with another hacker to hack into a website.
  • A character attempts to keep cool in a conversation with the police.
  • Craft a story based on a dog that witnesses a murder and struggles to alert the proper authorities.
  • A man on a business trip rents a child to be his son for the day.
  • Write a story from the perspective of a mouse.
  • Write about two birds and their role in a heist.

Science Fiction Short Story Ideas

  • Every day, you visit the same moment from your past.
  • Your main character is given a suit that protects them from danger-unfortunately it has a different threshold for safety than seems ideal.
  • Write about another planet that has life just like Earth.
  • A scientist uncovers a secret portal that leads to a life-changing future.
  • The police chief of a small town is murdered by someone who claims to be an alien.
  • A neurologist invents a device that allows people to record and re-watch their dreams.
  • A new chemical weapon makes your whole Special Forces team invisible. The only person who can see you is your controller.
  • Your future child pays you a visit and begs you, “Don’t go on the business trip,” without explaining why.
  • A hacker with the ability to create holograms anywhere soon leaves police unable to tell real crimes from illusions.
  • Your protagonist can see the future and doesn’t want to leave his/her home.

Romance and Drama Short Story Ideas

  • Write a love story that starts and ends in 24 hours.
  • A romance told through a series of texts.
  • Your main character and their best friend find themselves in a love triangle with your antagonist.
  • “Do you have a minute?” asks the stranger who was reading beside you on a park bench.
  • Rewrite a popular romantic scene from the perspective of a bystander who has no idea what is going on.
  • Write a story that ends with a Happily Ever After.
  • Your antagonist wins over your main character’s best friend, convincing that friend of their good intentions.
  • Narrate a story-Your character who gets matched up with a famous person on Tinder. What happens on their date?
  • Your main character gets a new job, working at the evil corporation run by your antagonist—but the work they would be doing could really help people.
  • Write a romance story that opens with a woman rapidly throwing apples at the bread aisle in a grocery store.
  • Your character is at a friend’s house for a dinner party. Suddenly, someone they absolutely despise walks in. What do they do now?
  • Write a romance about two old friends after they’ve been married, divorced, and moved back home.
  • A young boy working up the courage to ask his long-time crush to dance with him at the school dance.
  • Write an unrequited love story using situational irony.

Mystery and Horror Short Story Ideas

  • Your character wakes up covered with strange tattoos and can’t remember how he/she got them.
  • The doorbell rings. No one is there, but a secretive bundle was left behind. Your character opens it up and finds something inside that’s much unexpected.
  • Your main character finds a black mahogany door in their basement, shut tight with chains.
  • Write a story about how one detective solved a mystery by using Instagram.
  • Your main character is trapped in a dream that is quickly becoming a nightmare.
  • An escaped convict leaves behind evidence of his innocence for the search party to find.
  • Your main character has a conversation with a ghost from their past.
  • Write a mystery short story about what happened with a lamp and a missing tooth.
  • Your main character wakes up wearing a strange ring that glows with sparks of blue electricity.
  • A character buys a new coat, only to find a mysterious message sewn into the lining of it.

Miscellaneous Short Story Ideas

  • Write a story where your character faces a deep fear.
  • You are granted one wish. But you have to use the wish for someone else.
  • Write a story where your character is at odds with a family tradition.
  • You got on the wrong bus and ended up in a remote town where things seemed a little odd.
  • Write a story where your character finds out a rumor is circulating about them.
  • You were waiting at a crosswalk when someone you didn’t recognize started waving from across the street.
  • Once upon a time, on a night with no stars and no moon, there was a shadow in the darkness.
  • Your main character has been knocked unconscious, and another character from your story needs to step up and take their place.
  • Your antagonist and protagonists are placed in the same dorm room at the university.
  • As the floor trembles and the walls shake, you know there is only one way to survive.

Captivating Short Story Starters

  • “Are you sure you need to do this?” the man asked as he positioned the needle over her heart.
  • “I don’t think you’re capable of love.”
  • “What’s that smell?”
  • “What are we going to do once the remainder of this food is gone?” he asked.
  • “Why is all of Daddy’s stuff in the front yard?”
  • It’s impossible to tell really, just how many times I’ve come back.
  • All four tires were on the ground, but I had begun floating toward the surface.
  • “Do you have experience with demons?” she whispered from under the table.
  • He opened the letter and sank to his knees in the middle of the driveway.
  • “Don’t lie to me. I already know the truth.”
  • “We’re sending you to live with another family. It’s for your own safety.”
  • “Is this your handwriting?” the policeman asked with a scowl.
  • The doctor emerged from the double doors and said, “There were some unexpected complications.”
  • “Are you sure you want to do this?” the man asked as he positioned the needle over her heart.
  • Tears filled her eyes as she scanned the list a second time. She didn’t make the team.

“What if…” Story Writing Prompts

  • What if the sun began to die?
  • What if vampires are real?
  • What if a young boy could hear everyone’s inner thoughts?
  • What if your dream world is the actual world?
  • What if dinosaurs are still alive somewhere?
  • What if time travel was real?
  • What if dogs and humans switched bodies?
  • What if hackers erased everyone’s debt?
  • What if humans began to age backward?
  • What if angels lived among us?

Great Short Story Ideas

  • Narrate a story from the perspective of a ghost at a funeral.
  • Write about someone who’s afraid to feel the wind.
  • Write about the lives of two hamsters as they squeeze out of their cage.
  • Craft a story about a character that can’t stop lying to those closest to them.
  • Write about a mystery room underneath an open field.
  • Compose a story about what it’s like to interview people for a living.
  • Write a story that starts with the sound of raindrops on a metal can.
  • Write about a dog that lost its eyesight.
  • Create an anecdote about a box of photos and the secrets they contain.
  • Write about a blogger who unintentionally reveals something major in their exploration.

Engaging Short Story Prompts

  • List the top five things you are most scared will happen to you. Afterward, create a narrative in which one of these occurs to your character.
  • Consider a significant issue that one of your friends had to deal with. Then compose a narrative in which your protagonist struggles with that issue.
  • What is a terrible habit you have? Create a character with a far worse instance of the bad habit than you do. Create a narrative where your character gets into problems because of this behavior.
  • One more thing to accomplish after what felt to be the longest night of his life, write a narrative that begins with this line.
  • Write about the early sun finding your cheek after passing through numerous leaves.
  • Write a tale about the worst churro ever and a very strong cup of coffee.
  • Write a tale that takes place in a 56-story hotel’s middle suite on the middle floor.
  • Tell the tale of the worn baseball cap that is now fading on a tombstone.
  • Write a tale that starts with a seasoned character drumming his toes.
  • Create a tale about a cactus that was accidentally left on the doorstep of the new home of your character.

Outstanding Short Story Ideas

  • Write a story about what happens when one mystical being reads every book that’s ever been published.
  • Create a story that starts with, “He crinkled the paper and shoved it aside.”
  • Write about the long summer’s impact on an already overheated world.
  • Compose a story that opens with the sound of clanking boots on metal grates.
  • Write a story featuring a sprinkler, a trampoline, and a toothpick.
  • Compose a story that begins with a tree flickering in the inconsistent breeze.
  • Write about a foreign visitor and a runaway hat.
  • Write a story centering around a playground with a hidden entrance
  • Craft a love story about two trees in your neighbor’s backyard.
  • Write a story about the struggles of being born with purple hair in a world where color is frowned upon.

Final Words

From the list of short story ideas suggested above, choose any prompt of your choice and write an engaging and unique short story. In case, you need any other short story ideas or if you need creative assignment writing help, then contact us immediately. From short story topic selection to writing and editing, the skilled creative writers on our platform will provide high-quality assistance at the lowest price. Moreover, by utilizing our creative assignment writing service , you can complete all kinds of creative writing exercises on time and achieve the grades you desire.

Just submit the order form and get a quick fix for all the writing issues you experience.

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Short story tips: 10 hacks to improve your creative writing.

Jerz > Writing > General Creative Writing Tips [  Poetry  | Fiction ]

Writing short stories  means beginning as close to the climax as possible — everything else is a distraction. A novel can take a more meandering path, but should still start with a scene that sets the tone for the whole book.

A short story conserves characters and scenes, typically by focusing on just one conflict , and drives towards a sudden, unexpected revelation. Go easy on the exposition and talky backstory — your reader doesn’t need to know everything that you know about your characters.

  • Get Started : Emergency Tips
  • Write a Catchy First Paragraph
  • Develop Your Characters
  • Choose a Point of View
  • Write Meaningful Dialogue
  • Use Setting and Context
  • Set up the Plot
  • Create Conflict and Tension
  • Build to a Crisis or a Climax
  • Deliver a Resolution

1. Get Started: Emergency Tips

Do you have a short story assignment due tomorrow morning ? The rest of this document covers longer-term strategies, but if you are in a pinch, these emergency tips should help. Good luck!

It Was Naptime: Show Don't (Just) Tell

  • When the story begins , what morally significant action  has your protagonist taken towards that goal ? (Your protagonist should already have made a conscious choice, good or bad, that drives the rest of the story.)
  • What obstacles must the protagonist overcome in order to reach the goal? (Simply having a rival is not that interesting. Yes, Harry Potter defeats Voldemort, but first he has to mature into a leader with the moral clarity and teamwork skills necessary to defeat Voldemort. A short story can’t possibly tackle that kind of character development, but a character who faces internal obstacles and must negotiate messy moral trade-offs is more dramatically interesting than the hero in the white hat who has to use the right weapon to defeat the villain in the black hat.)
  • What unexpected consequences — directly related to the protagonist’s goal-oriented actions — ramp up the emotional energy of the story? (Will the unexpected consequences force your protagonist to make yet another choice, leading to still more consequences? How does your protagonist change over the course of the story?)

short story assignment creative writing

  • Omit travel scenes. (Save words. “Later, at the office…”)
  • Omit scenes where character A tells character B exactly what we just saw happening to character A. (Omit redundancy. Focus on advancing your story. “As I filled Slim in on what I had just seen in the saloon, he dropped his show of apathy and his fingers clutched at his revolver.”)
  • Facial expressions of a first-person narrator. (Narrators in stories aren’t looking at video being live-streamed from a floating drone that follows them around everywhere, so they can’t report “A smile lit my face” or “My eyes darkened.” See Writing Dialogue .)
  • At the climax , what morally significant choice does your protagonist make? (Your reader should care about the protagonist’s decision, and ideally shouldn’t see it coming.)

An effective short story (or poem ) does not simply record or express the author’s feelings; rather, it generates feelings in the reader. (See “ Show, Don’t (Just) Tell .”)

Drawing on your own real-life experiences, such as winning the big game, bouncing back after an illness or injury, or dealing with the death of a loved one, are attractive choices for students who are looking for a “personal essay” topic. But simply listing the emotions you experienced (“It was exciting,” “I’ll never forget how heart-broken I felt,” “I miss her so much I’ll never the same without her”) is not the same thing as generating emotions for your readers to experience.

For those of you who are looking for more long-term writing strategies , here are some additional ideas.

  • Keep a notebook. To R. V. Cassill, notebooks are “incubators,” a place to begin with overheard conversation, expressive phrases, images, ideas, and interpretations on the world around you.
  • Write on a regular, daily basis. Sit down and compose sentences for a couple of hours every day — even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Collect stories from everyone you meet. Keep the amazing, the unusual, the strange, the irrational stories you hear and use them for your own purposes. Study them for the underlying meaning and apply them to your understanding of the human condition.

Read, Read, Read

Read a LOT of Chekhov. Then re-read it. Read Raymond Carver, Earnest Hemingway, Alice Munro, and Tobias Wolff. If you don’t have time to read all of these authors, stick to Chekhov. He will teach you more than any writing teacher or workshop ever could. -Allyson Goldin, UWEC Asst. Professor of Creative Writing

2. Write a Catchy First Paragraph

In today’s fast-moving world, the first sentence of your narrative should catch your reader’s attention with the unusual, the unexpected, an action, or a conflict . Begin with tension and immediacy. Remember that short stories need to start close to their end.

“It is important to understand the basic elements of fiction writing before you consider how to put everything together. This process is comparable to producing something delectable in the kitchen–any ingredient that you put into your bowl of dough impacts your finished loaf of bread. To create a perfect loaf, you must balance ingredients baked for the correct amount of time and enhanced with the right polishing glaze.” -Laurel Yourke

3. Developing Characters

Your job, as a writer of short fiction–whatever your beliefs–is to put complex personalities on stage and let them strut and fret their brief hour. Perhaps the sound and fury they make will signify something that has more than passing value–that will, in Chekhov’s words, “make [man] see what he is like.” – Rick Demarnus

In order to develop a living, breathing, multi-faceted character, it is important to know way more about the character than you will ever use in the story . Here is a partial list of character details to help you get started.

Name Age Job Ethnicity Appearance Residence Pets Religion Hobbies Single or married? Children? Temperament Favorite color Friends Favorite foods Drinking patterns Phobias Faults Something hated? Secrets? Strong memories? Any illnesses? Nervous gestures? Sleep patterns

Imagining all these details will help you get to know your character, but your reader probably won’t need to know much more than the most important things in four areas :

  • Appearance. Gives your reader a visual understanding of the character.
  • Action. Show the reader what kind of person your character is, by describing actions rather than simply listing adjectives.
  • Speech. Develop the character as a person — don’t merely have your character announce important plot details.
  • Thought. Bring the reader into your character’s mind, to show them your character’s unexpressed memories, fears, and hopes.

For example, let’s say I want to develop a college student persona for a short story that I am writing. What do I know about her?

Her name is Jen, short for Jennifer Mary Johnson . She is 21 years old . She is a fair-skinned Norwegian with blue eyes , long, curly red hair , and is 5 feet 6 inches tall . Contrary to the stereotype about redheads, she is actually easygoing and rather shy . She loves cats and has two of them named Bailey and Allie. She is a technical writing major with a minor in biology. Jen plays the piano and is an amateur photographer . She lives in the dorms at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She eats pizza every day for lunch and loves Red Rose tea . She cracks her knuckles when she is nervous. Her mother just committed suicide.

4. Choose a Point of View

Point of view is the narration of the story from the perspective of first, second, or third person . As a writer, you need to determine who is going to tell the story and how much information is available for the narrator to reveal in the short story. The narrator can be directly involved in the action subjectively, or the narrator might only report the action  objectively.

Yourke on point of view:

  • First Person. “Unites narrator and reader through a series of secrets” when they enter one character’s perceptions. However, it can “lead to telling ” and limits readers connections to other characters in the short story.
  • Second Person. “Puts readers within the actual scene so that readers confront possibilities directly.” However, it is important to place your characters “in a tangible environment” so you don’t “omit the details readers need for clarity.”
  • Third Person Omniscient. Allows you to explore all of the characters’ thoughts and motivations. Transitions are extremely important as you move from character to character.
  • Third Person Limited. “Offers the intimacy of one character’s perceptions.” However, the writer must “deal with character absence from particular scenes.”

5. Write Meaningful Dialogue

Make your readers hear the pauses between the sentences. Let them see characters lean forward, fidget with their cuticles, avert their eyes, uncross their legs . – Jerome Stern

Dialogue is what your characters say to each other (or to themselves).

Each speaker gets his/her own paragraph , and the paragraph includes whatever you wish to say about what the character is doing when speaking. (See: “ Quotation Marks: Using Them in Dialogue “.)

Write Meaningful Dialogue Labels

“John asked nervously” is an example of “telling.” The author could write “John asked very nervously” or “John asked so nervously that his voice was shaking,” and it still wouldn’t make the story any more effective.

How can the author convey John’s state of mind, without coming right out and telling the reader about it? By inference. That is, mention a detail that conjures up in the reader’s mind the image of a nervous person.

6. Use Setting and Context

Setting moves readers most when it contributes to an organic whole. So close your eyes and picture your characters within desert, jungle, or suburb–whichever setting shaped them. Imagining this helps balance location and characterization. Right from the start, view your characters inhabiting a distinct place. – – Laurel Yourke

Setting includes the time, location, context, and atmosphere where the plot takes place.

  • Remember to combine setting with characterization and plot .
  • Include enough detail to let your readers picture the scene but only details that actually add something to the story. (For example, do not describe Mary locking the front door, walking across the yard, opening the garage door, putting air in her bicycle tires, getting on her bicycle–none of these details matter except that she rode out of the driveway without looking down the street.)
  • Use two or more senses in your descriptions of setting.

7. Set Up the Plot

Plot is what happens, the storyline, the action. Jerome Stern says it is how you set up the situation, where the turning points of the story are, and what the characters do at the end of the story.

A plot is a series of events deliberately arranged so as to reveal their dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance. – Janet Burroway

Understanding these story elements for developing actions and their end results will help you plot your next short story.

  • Explosion or “Hook.” A thrilling, gripping, stirring event or problem that grabs the reader’s attention right away.
  • Conflict. A character versus the internal self or an external something or someone.
  • Exposition. Background information required for seeing the characters in context.
  • Complication. One or more problems that keep a character from their intended goal.
  • Transition. Image, symbol, dialogue, that joins paragraphs and scenes together.
  • Flashback. Remembering something that happened before the short story takes place.
  • Climax. When the rising action of the story reaches the peak.
  • Falling Action. Releasing the action of the story after the climax.
  • Resolution. When the internal or external conflict is resolved.

Brainstorming. If you are having trouble deciding on a plot, try brainstorming. Suppose you have a protagonist whose husband comes home one day and says he doesn’t love her any more and he is leaving. What are actions that can result from this situation?

  • She becomes a workaholic.
  • Their children are unhappy.
  • Their children want to live with their dad.
  • She moves to another city.
  • She gets a new job.
  • They sell the house.
  • She meets a psychiatrist and falls in love.
  • He comes back and she accepts him.
  • He comes back and she doesn’t accept him.
  • She commits suicide.
  • He commits suicide.
  • She moves in with her parents.

The next step is to select one action from the list and brainstorm another list from that particular action.

8. Create Conflict and Tension

Conflict is the fundamental element of fiction, fundamental because in literature only trouble is interesting. It takes trouble to turn the great themes of life into a story: birth, love, sex, work, and death. – Janet Burroway

Conflict produces tension that makes the story begin. Tension is created by opposition between the character or characters and internal or external forces or conditions. By balancing the opposing forces of the conflict, you keep readers glued to the pages wondering how the story will end.

Possible Conflicts Include:

  • The protagonist against another individual
  • The protagonist against nature (or technology)
  • The protagonist against society
  • The protagonist against God
  • The protagonist against himself or herself.

Yourke’s Conflict Checklist

  • Mystery. Explain just enough to tease readers. Never give everything away.
  • Empowerment. Give both sides options.
  • Progression. Keep intensifying the number and type of obstacles the protagonist faces.
  • Causality. Hold fictional characters more accountable than real people. Characters who make mistakes frequently pay, and, at least in fiction, commendable folks often reap rewards.
  • Surprise. Provide sufficient complexity to prevent readers predicting events too far in advance.
  • Empathy. Encourage reader identification with characters and scenarios that pleasantly or (unpleasantly) resonate with their own sweet dreams (or night sweats).
  • Insight. Reveal something about human nature.
  • Universality. Present a struggle that most readers find meaningful, even if the details of that struggle reflect a unique place and time.
  • High Stakes. Convince readers that the outcome matters because someone they care about could lose something precious. Trivial clashes often produce trivial fiction.

9. Build to a Crisis or Climax

This is the turning point of the story –the most exciting or dramatic moment.

The crisis may be a recognition, a decision, or a resolution. The character understands what hasn’t been seen before, or realizes what must be done, or finally decides to do it. It’s when the worm turns. Timing is crucial. If the crisis occurs too early, readers will expect still another turning point. If it occurs too late, readers will get impatient–the character will seem rather thick.- Jerome Stern

Jane Burroway says that the crisis “must always be presented as a scene. It is “the moment” the reader has been waiting for. In Cinderella’s case, “the payoff is when the slipper fits.”

While a good story needs a crisis, a random event such as a car crash or a sudden illness is simply an emergency –unless it somehow involves a conflict that makes the reader care about the characters (see: “ Crisis vs. Conflict “).

10. Find a Resolution

The solution to the conflict . In short fiction, it is difficult to provide a complete resolution and you often need to just show that characters are beginning to change in some way or starting to see things differently.

Yourke examines some of the options for ending a story.

  • Open. Readers determine the meaning. Brendan’s eyes looked away from the priest and up to the mountains.
  • Resolved. Clear-cut outcome. While John watched in despair, Helen loaded up the car with her belongings and drove away.
  • They were driving their 1964 Chevrolet Impala down the highway while the wind blew through their hair.
  • Her father drove up in a new 1964 Chevrolet Impala, a replacement for the one that burned up.
  • Monologue. Character comments. I wish Tom could have known Sister Dalbec’s prickly guidance before the dust devils of Sin City battered his soul.
  • Dialogue. Characters converse.
  • Literal Image. Setting or aspect of setting resolves the plot. The aqueducts were empty now and the sun was shining once more.
  • Symbolic Image. Details represent a meaning beyond the literal one. Looking up at the sky, I saw a cloud cross the shimmering blue sky above us as we stood in the morning heat of Sin City.

Got Writer’s Block?

The Writer’s Block Comprehensive Web site that offers solutions to beating writer’s block such as various exercises (not necessarily physical), advice from prolific writers, and how to know if you really have writer’s block.

Overcoming Writer’s Block Precise, short list of ways to start writing again.

Learn through Schooling Some online colleges and universities offer creative writing courses. Look for ones that offer creative writing courses that cover the plot and structure of short stories.

  • Regular access to an instructor who is a published author, and a peer group that is motivated to read your drafts, might just be the extra motivation you need to develop your own skills.
  • If you are counting on the credits transferring to help you complete an academic program, check with your university registrar.

Dec. 2002 — submitted by Kathy Kennedy, UWEC Senior (for Jerz’s Advanced Technical Writing class) Jan 2003 — edited by Jamie Dalbesio, UWEC Senior (for an independent study project with Jerz) May 2003 — edited by Jerz and posted at Seton Hill University Jan 2007 — ongoing edits by Jerz May 2008 — reformatted Sep 2010 — tweaked Writer’s Block section Mar 2011 — reformatted and further tweaked Jun 2017 — minor editing. Are “Keds” still a recognizable brand of kids shoes? Feb 2019 — Removed “Keds” reference, beefed up the “bad” shoes example; tweaked formatting.

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Archived discussion of “Short Stories: 10 Tips for Creative Writers”

850 thoughts on “ Short Story Tips: 10 Hacks to Improve Your Creative Writing ”

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gorgeous gorgeous girls struggle to write short stories

bro what LMAOOOO

Wow. This was super helpful. I’m a writer myself and this was all very fun to read for me.

This really helped, Thank you

Thanks so much for this very informative article! It was exactly what I looking for today. These hacks will definitely help me to become a more creative writer online. Thanks for sharing :)

This is really helpful

i want to make an story

Could someone answer what was they made them a memorable?

Great job on theses tips. These will be with me for generations.

wow i love this

fishman is here to go fishing yeah yeah

Yes this is pretty cool, cool

Such helpful tips. Thank you.

ok yall, I need help with a school assignment.I have to write a story abouth anything and I don’t know how to start, can someone tell me how to start a story.

IDK, right here on this page I’ve put my “emergency tips,” which is the best advice I have to offer.

You have to come up yourself with what it is your protagonist wants and all the other details. One theory is “write what you know,” so that if you are a cancer survivor or grew up in a military family or you spend time around horses or at steel mills or playing basketball, then it makes sense to write a story that includes the details you already know.

Great writers steal. Find a story that you like, and mix it up to make it your own.

Pls help me I’m about to write a book the title “school day “help me with some content an stories. Thanks

i can tell you how to

Daniel thanks for insightful tips

hey anybody interested? to make a movie on me

Professional have to do that, plus you aren’t famous and nobody can reallly make a documentary on someone who hasn’t even shown their face on here

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So amazed by the info and help of this site. Well done to you all and thank you for furthering my knowledge of writing! Thank you again and great work!

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Some great tips and advice here. I’ve been reading several websites about advancing ones creative writing career. Some blogs, websites and forum’s offer very different views on self-publishing. I’ve noticed websites and publishers with authority in the industry, strongly argue that a serious writer should not enter into self-publishing. This can be damaging and seen as vanity. What are your views on this? Thanks!!

Thank you so much! These tips are awesome. I’m planning on writing a short book and this cleared up a lot of what I needed.

I am happy. It’s Give me good information and tips about how to write a short stories.

Based on how many times I had to say, “OMG, that’s so truuuue!”, this one’s a really great article. Worth the read!

I am a compassionate interested person wanting to engage in writing i have always had this itch if you like to write stories from the early twenties in my life this itch to write has always been there about stories that the average person can relate to and therefore become an interested reader , however , i am now at a point in my life that i am in a position to put more time into learning the craft of writing stories that have a mixture of fiction and fact and that i may also write a memoir because that is the one thing i know will be interesting . Kind regards Mark

Quite helpful ideas. The site is shown on html though, is it right? Creative writing techniques are helpful ways to write, but more important thing is to acquire a writing habit.

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Very educative Thanks

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this is ssoo cool le epic le epic

hey, hope everyone is copacetic. have been trying to improve my writing but still don’t see any improvement in my struggle, is there anyone who help me to overcome my this issue, hope you people will help me because most of you have experience. keen to write as good story writter and also interested in writing novels but suffering from writing. help me

I am elated that I have come across this.

way of navegating around. The concept of a short story is that something goes wrong and the character must fix it, even if it is a Utopian world. There has to be something that goes wrong or has been wrong the entire time. Examples of this is that the authority that everyone trustic began putting random people in prison. Another would be that everyone relies on th main character for protection becuase he or she has a special ability but the main character doesnt know how to use this ability.

oh great. it’s NAVIGATING, by the way.

I make typographical errors, too.

I am mark thank you

Gave me a really good help …… thanks a lot

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thanks so much! its verry help full.

I have a love story which is inspired every people like any age in human life but skill is concurrence and disburse with sparrow and peacock animals situation and also crow life…… I just want to know the right concern person email ID to send the story details and further I suggest a song like tital song & stage show song, said song.

Thanks & regards Dhananjay bathe

now this is epic

Thank you Kanye very cool

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hey who are u cool?

this is so very cool i cannot believe it

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Mary became a workaholic which made her.children unhappy.so they went to live with their dad. Then Mary moves to another city and got a new job. Her ex-husband and Mary agreed to sell their old house. Mary then met a psychiatrist and fell in love with him. But then her ex-husband came back to her and she accepted him back- at first – but then rejected him.

So she committed suicide. Then her ex-husband commited suicide. Her parents buried her corpse in the basement.

I dont think this form of the making a character really helps. First off, people dont like characters who are strong and can do anything, they like characters that have weaknesses that slow them down such as being blind or not being able to walk. They idea must be something that uses this weakness. The character must also be or become more capable of doing things towards the end. Such as if they couldnt see, they would develop a way of navegating around. The concept of a short story is that something goes wrong and the character must fix it, even if it is a Utopian world. There has to be something that goes wrong or has been wrong the entire time. Examples of this is that the authority that everyone trustic began putting random people in prison. Another would be that everyone relies on th main character for protection becuase he or she has a special ability but the main character doesnt know how to use this ability.

Hope this helps anyone that is still confused!

Re #7: 1. Your quote by Burroway should be Janet Burroway not Jane. Fact-checking us vital. 2. Story elemrnts for developing actions and their end results should be Exposition, not explosion. As it stands this is false and misleading information that will trip many unsuspecting/new writers up.

Thanks for noting the typo — I fixed it. I am not sure that exposition is, by its nature, very hooking, so I’m leaving that as is.

I really like and value this page, I my self a middle school-er found it helpful w/ saying that i already new all the tips, but alas it was still a great reminder. Also remember to keep you sentence, punctuation and dialog varied. This will help keep the reader interested

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Just about to create a short story and it has been a while, great advice to get me back in the mood.

Would love to write short stories but just can’t get myself started. Needing an affordable directed course with assignments and deadlines and tutorial comment feedback. OU looks good but WAY beyond my means. Have plenty of ideas and have read copiously (and still am). This site particularly helpful, thank you. Ray

It is all quite informative.

Filled with error Syed.

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With creative writing, as with any kind of writing, your reader is your most important consideration. You need to know and understand whom you’re writing for if you’re to do a good job of keeping them interested. Thanks for sharing a great post.

I think you should think about what your characters very well and not try to change things about them.

I have my english term exam tmrw and these tips have givn me a good idea of short story writing~though I m good at writing but short story was not my speciality… So, thanx for these excellent tips… You r jst gr8!!!

A good writeup. Love it.

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Great! Thanks so much! This will help me in my Creative Writing class I am taking this summer!

Terrible advice

To what, exactly, are you referring Tyler?

Dennis you’re the writer now?

I did assign the topic and format to a student in my technical writing class, I served as the student’s client, and I have been updating and maintaining this document since 2002.

Noice? Ohhh Marilyn

Really helpful

Elated??? Look at # 7 haha shd commits duicide but moves back with parents lol Also re resolution lol. Conflict is resolve not resolved lol. These are jyst drongos copying and plagiarising other peoples’ work and not getting it right.

It was informative and educating.

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RT @Chris_Oldham: Need a hand polishing up your short story? Try these emergency tips! https://t.co/5XrFzKU5rH #amwriting https://t.co/Dgfb…

Need a hand polishing up your short story? Try these emergency tips! https://t.co/5XrFzKU5rH #amwriting https://t.co/DgfbrqAotX

10 ways to improve your short stories. https://t.co/UJMpkku02Y #writing #amwriting #shortstory

cannot read so much but i think its good for the ones who have so much time to read.

The blank page is not taunting me any more, thank you. PS have you ever read Amanda McKittrick Ros – the greatest worst writer who ever lived? I think she should be added to every creative writing curriculum.

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You spelt a couple of words wrong mate

It’s possible. If you spotted any errors, I’d welcome specific notes. Which words?

Ur dumb Rohan

lien delicieux >> Short Story Tips: 10 Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing https://t.co/YAOYCeD4xJ

RT @carolinezoids: Looking for #shortStory tips, I found this great article by @DennisJerz: 10 ways to improve your #creativeWriting: https…

Looking for #shortStory tips, I found this great article by @DennisJerz: 10 ways to improve your #creativeWriting: https://t.co/uzNG1NrfVC

RT @Dream_Craziness: Short Story Tips: 10 Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing | Jerz’s Literacy Weblog https://t.co/QgVX3gUEZL #writingtip

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Writing Forward

25 Creative Writing Prompts

by Melissa Donovan | Oct 23, 2018 | Creative Writing Prompts | 236 comments

creative writing prompts

Twenty-five creative writing prompts to inspire and motivate you.

Don’t you just hate writer’s block? Some say it’s a disease that only creative workers succumb to. Some say it’s a curse. Others argue that it doesn’t exist at all. But just about everyone has been there–sitting in front of a blank screen, fingers itching to create a masterpiece. And nothing happens.

For me, the most bizarre thing about writer’s block is that it strikes randomly. Most of the time, I’m overwhelmed with more ideas than I can possibly write about. But then I’ll sit down to write and my mind goes blank. Sure, I flip through my notebooks and review all the ideas I’ve stockpiled, but nothing feels right. I want something fresh. I need a new angle.

To help break through this block, I started turning to creative writing prompts. And then I started making up my own prompts. The result:  1200 Creative Writing Prompts ,  a book designed to spark ideas for writers.

Creative Writing Prompts

Today I’d like to share a mash-up of creative writing prompts, all of which come from  1200 Creative Writing Prompts . There are no rules. Write a poem. Write a short story. Write an essay. Aim for a hundred words or aim for a hundred thousand. Just start writing, and have fun.

  • The protagonist is digging in the garden and finds a fist-sized nugget of gold. There’s more where that came from in this hilarious story of sudden wealth.
  • Write a poem about something ugly—war, fear, hate, or cruelty—but try to find the beauty (silver lining) in it or something good that comes out of it.
  • An asteroid and a meteoroid collide near Earth, and fragments rain down onto the planet’s surface, wreaking havoc. Some of those fragments contain surprising elements: fossils that prove life exists elsewhere in the galaxy, for example.
  • The story starts when a kid comes out of the school bathroom with toilet paper dangling from his or her waistband. Does someone step forward and whisper a polite word, or do the other kids make fun? What happens in this pivotal moment will drive the story and have a deep impact on the main character.
  • Revisit your earliest memories of learning about faith, religion, or spirituality.
  • Use all of the following words in a poem: bit, draw, flex, perilous, bubble, corner, rancid, pound, high, open.
  • Write a poem about a first romantic (dare I say sexual?) experience or encounter.
  • Write a personal essay describing an exotic animal you’d like to have as a pet.
  • Silvery flakes drifted downward, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird soared.
  • Write a tongue-in-cheek, satirical tribute. Tell bad drivers, rude customers, and evil dictators how grateful you are for what they’ve done. Do it with a wink and a smile.
  • Write a story about a detective solving a crime that was committed against his or her partner or a crime that his or her partner committed.
  • Three children are sitting on a log near a stream. One of them looks up at the sky and says…
  • There is a magic talisman that allows its keeper to read minds. It falls into the hands of a young politician.
  • We’ve seen cute and cuddly dragons, mean and vicious dragons, and noble dragons. Write a story about a different kind of dragon.
  • Use all of the following words in a poem: dash, hard, staple, billboard, part, circle, flattened.
  • Write a story set in the distant future when humanity is at a fork in the evolutionary road. Some humans are evolving; others are not.
  • The kids were raised on the mantra “Family is everything.” What happens when they find out their parents aren’t who they pretended to be? Will the family fall apart?
  • Write a poem about one (or both) of your parents. It could be a tribute poem, but it doesn’t have to be.
  • Turn ordinary animals into monsters that prey on humans: dog-sized rats, killer rabbits, or a pack of rabid mountain lions. Give the animals intelligence and set them loose.
  • A twinkling eye can mean many things. Write a poem about a twinkle in someone’s eye.
  • What determines an action or person as good or evil? Who gets to decide what or who is good or evil? Write a personal essay about it.
  • Write a poem about your body.
  • The protagonist is about to drift off to sleep only to be roused by the spontaneous memory of an embarrassing moment from his or her past.
  • Write about the happiest day of your life.
  • Use all of the following words in a poem: feast, fire, modify, squash, robbed, forgotten, understated.

Now It’s Your Turn

Did any of these prompts inspire you? Do you ever use creative writing prompts to ignite a writing session? Tell us what gets your pen moving by leaving a comment, and keep writing!

To get more prompts like these, pick up a copy of  1200 Creative Writing Prompts   today.

Creative Writing Prompts

236 Comments

Lance

Melissa, Wow, there’s something about this list that feels like a lightbulb went off! There are times when I feel stuck, like ideas aren’t there. And this list really shines what can be…limitless possibilities!

26. If my life were a cartoon… 27. Pick two crayons at random. What thoughts/feelings do two color stir up in you?

Melissa Donovan

Ah, I love the feeling of a light bulb illuminating my mind! Thanks for adding to the list!

Tiara

what about… That spark which seemed like a star, when it approached closer, my lips went white and body shivering despite the fact I knew I was placed in a desert – by them- and the sun shone directly above my head. Then at a distance of 1m probably, I got the sight of…

Steve Davis

Thanks for sharing these.

If you have children, visualize one of them running the house for a day.

That’s a good one. Kids running the house…how very Dr. Seuss! Cat in the Hat without the cat, hehee.

Positively Present

Ooh, great prompts! Thanks for sharing these!

Thanks! Glad you like them!

Fouzia

A day in the life of a doormat

The adventures of a shooting star

Making friends with my enemy

Ooh, interesting! Thanks, Fouzia.

Kevin Van Buerle

Hi Melissa,

Bought 3 of your books. 1. 101 Creative Writing Excercises 2.10 Core Practices For Better Writing and 3. 1,200 Creative Writing Prompts.

I decided to start with 1,200 Creative Writing Prompts.

So far, I have written 4 stories from the prompts. I guess I want to enquire as to whether I need to go through each prompt. Thank you

Wow, Kevin, thanks for getting three of my books. I truly appreciate that. You can use the prompts in any way that is comfortable for you. No, you do not have to go through each and every prompt. I encourage you to skip around, flip through book, and find prompts that inspire. I hope you have fun with it! Thanks again.

Jenny

When I took my creative writing class in college the instructor gave us a really good one to use if we couldn’t think of what to write. She said to write the word Remember 3 times and that would prompt something. The entire class tried it and it worked and I have used it several times since then!

I like the use of remember . There are a lot of words that help people when they can’t think of anything to write about. Maybe I should do a list of single-word prompts. Hmm…

Camille

Wow. I was COMPLETELY stuck and this brought back a great story for me to write about, though only faintly attached to any memory of mine. Thanks!

That’s great, Camille! Good luck with your story!

Meredith

I like to use the question “what would happen if …. ”

What would happen if your husband retired and your kid left home and you’re getting older? -> ” Always Faithful”

What would happen if a person moved back home to care for a relative after decades of living far away? -> “The Way Home”

What would happen if a person who has been divorced and alone for a long time suddenly met the most perfect mate imaginable … but it turns out the person may not be what she appears to be? -> “Baiting and Fishing”

In a way, I think “What Would Happen If…” is my novelist version of my favorite childhood game, “Let’s pretend that…..”

“What if” is the best creative writing prompt ever! You can apply it to just about any situation. Just look at any movie, book, or even real life and start asking, “What if things happened a little differently?” or “What if this person made a different decision?” Asking these questions can take your writing in all kinds of new and interesting directions! It’s great fun.

Marelisa

I love these. Here’s one:

“She was drifting off to sleep when there was a sharp knock at the door . . . “

Ooh, I like that one.

Melanie

Fabulous list. I’ve been brainstorming all morning with no luck, and so I came online and VOILA, here you are. Loved the list, especially 22.

I’ve created several interesting works using my personal favourite “things to do on a rainy day”. I usually write from the perspective of a child, but rarely myself as a child. This one just opens up so many possibilities for make beleive!

Thanks, Melanie! Glad this list helped you in a time of need. My favorite “things to do on a rainy day” story is The Cat in the Hat . Of course, it’s a “day when mom’s away” rather than a “rainy day,” but it’s pretty much the same idea. Keep writing!

Josh

these are very great… i got this one off of True Jackson VP.. spin around and the first thing you see will give you an idea..

i just did this and i saw flowers…

i’m writing about “you are walking through a field with your best friend.. you spot a flower and pick it up.. it gives you super powers…

Ah, a flower that gives one super powers. I love that idea! You should definitely run with it!

McKie

I love True Jackson VP! Cool that you got an idea from it! 🙂

Grace

You’re suggestion really helped! Im doing imaginative writing for homework and I was so stuck but I’ve found the right one now!!

That’s awesome, Grace! Keep writing.

catherine

ooh those are cool… how about: He cradled her, taking in all of her burdens as he swept her hair back from her face and stroked her cheek in a gentle calming motion.

I do creative writing as an A level so it would be cool to know if this starter is ok! ty xoxo

Catherine, I think that’s a great starter line, especially for a romantic story or poem! My only suggestion would be the part “gentle calming motion.” There might be one too many adjectives there. If you keep both adjectives, be sure to add a comma after the first one: “gentle, calming motion.” Nice job!

Wendi

A young man attempts to pull a robbery of some kind on an older man. Things go drastically wrong for the young man. Either viewpoint!

Either viewpoint, or both, could work!

Maria

what if the old man was a retired super spy and the young robber is homeless and broke. he tells this to the old man and the man trains him to be a good spy and lets the young robber live with him. then the old man gets the young robber a job as a spy and then they both find out that the retired spy is the young robbers father and the mother ran away while she was pregnant to go be with some rich guy but the rich guy killed the mother and the young robber has been living on the streets since he was 10.

Buttercup Smith

Heres a gorgeous one! Write a story in the POV of a flower being given from person 2 person.

Interesting!

Katie

Wow! These are great, thanks for putting these up. I’m 12 and I really want to be a novelist when I grow up. One of my favourites is: the empty glass. It’s a bit over-used but I think that it’s so versatile, it doesn’t matter if it’s popular because you can take it in so many different directions!

That’s great, Katie! You’re off to an early start. Just stay focused and passionate, and you’ll become a novelist if that’s what you truly want. Good luck to you!

AJ

Katie, It is never too young to start living your dreams. Don’t ever let anyone get you down. Keep on writing and believe in yourself that one day you will make it! Best of luck!

I couldn’t agree more, AJ!

I’m 11 and everyone thinks I am a good writer and I love to write so much!

That’s wonderful, Maria. Keep writing!

Kristi

I’m 16 and i wrote a great alternate ending for an assignment in english, and i wrote a short christmas story on christmas eve, but now i just don’t know what to write about. i have ideas and i have been reading prompts that are good but i just don’t know.

Kristi, give the prompts a try. There are also lots of writing exercises that you can use to spark writing sessions when you’re feeling uninspired. The trick is to write something (anything) rather than sit around waiting for something to write about.

Annie

Hi! I am 14 and just wanted to do some creative writing, but could not think of anything to write about. Thank you so much for the ideas! I will definitely be using some.

You’re so welcome! Good luck with your writing!

dI

I’m 14 and writing is my whole life. I recently started a blog with my friend, but she’s not a writer. She just inspires me with ideas and stuff. I love your site, Melissa. I check it almost every day. Your prompts and tips are so completely helpful! Thanks so much!

Thank you! I appreciate your kind words.

Emily Mead

I’m fourteen, too, and writing is hard to juggle with school and everything else that’s going on. I know – such a teenager-y thing to say…but true nonetheless. I just wanted to say thank you for posting these prompts because they make for quick, satisfying writing that doesn’t end in frustration (at least, mostly). Thanks again!

Writing is hard to juggle at any age. It takes a lot of perseverance, but if you stick with it, you’ll succeed. Good luck to you, and keep on writing!

RayeAnne

Im also fourteen and i love to write! i have won a national competition 2 years in a row and i never dreamed i would have won or anything but that just goes to show that youre never too young to write! Just keep believing in yourself and who knows where you might go!

I am thrilled when young people are so passionate about writing (or any craft, really). Congratulations on your success!

Ann Zimmerman

One good place to find good story prompts are the obituaries of a large newspaper. One true example: from the Arizona Republic years ago, an elderly gentleman got hit by a motorist one a late, rainy afternoon as he was crossing the street. He had been an immigrant from Norway, and had been a professor at ASU, and was retired and in his 80’s when he died. I have always imagined what his life had been, what he had experienced, etc.

Yes, newspapers are packed with story ideas!

Andrea

Write a story from the perspective of a sock being separated from its twin in the laundry.

That would make a great children’s story.

salman hanif

a person went to the football stadium and was wearing manu shirt and came out with a barcalona shirt.why???

Well, I have no idea, but this certainly makes a good writing prompt!

Lovarsnari

I love these!! 😀 Here are a few I made: *Make up your own recipes for your favorite foods *Create your own list of idioms *Write stories of idioms literally happening *Write about something blue *What’s your idea of a perfect vacation? *List what you fear. pick a few and write how they came, why, and when you got the fear first *What would you say to an univited guest at your party *Draw a picture of the setting around you. Now look into your inner being. What do you truly feel? *Write from the point of view of a stack of paper waiting a few inches from the shredder *Her laugh broke the silence…

These are great! Thank you for adding them to the list.

By the way, I’m 11, love writing, and hope to publish fiction teen/children books one day

I wish you the best of luck! You have a head start, being such a young writer. Stick with it!

LovemeHateme

Lovarsnari,that’s kinda funny because l think the same thing! 🙂 My prob is that l start writing with great ideas,get stuck, and then start a new story/play….

Anonymous

same except that I’m 13 and mix my writing with my guitar playing and music

Me

Well when i get stuck I like to think: What would I do if I were to die in a week? Once I picked everything and it turned quite an interesting story…

That’s a good one!

Violet

Hey I’m 14 years old and I love writing but I get writers block often and this really helped me. I love reading the ideas and other people’s ideas they are just very interesting. Number 19 seemed the most interesting to me and I’m almost done with my story. 🙂 thanks so much

Thanks, Violet. I often find that prompts and exercises can be used in different ways. You don’t always have to do the actual exercise. Sometimes, just reading through a book of exercises will generate ideas for a project I’m working on or help me understand a writing concept in a new way. Good luck with your story!

Bee

Hi Melissa 🙂 Last year i won junior writer of the year ( I’m 13) and I am entering this year as well and in the process of creating my first draft. I love your site and its wonderful, all-inclusive feel. So, here are my ideas for your list.

26. Post-War oppression & depression ( this was my winning topic last year – i wrote it from the perspective of a scarred war veterans’ emotionally abused child) I also commend you in your point concerning finding hope and light in darkness ( war, death, etc.) and i am going to write about that! Possibly with an Amish girl as the protagonist? thank you again for inspiring me. I also hope to be a great writer some day. Bee

Congratulations, Bee, and thanks for adding to these prompts. I wish you the best of luck in becoming a great writer. You are certainly well on your way!

crayonbillsbhb

POV of a toy sitting on a shelf in a toy store, hoping to be purchased.

your pet starts talking to you in perfect english and tells you what he/she really thinks of you…. what does he/she say?

Ha! That could be enlightening indeed!

I actually saw an animated short based on that premise (or something similar to it) and found it quite compelling. A great idea!

Nick Danger

My contribution:

“When I look in the mirror, I don’t see what everyone else sees. What I see is…”

Nice! Thanks for adding this prompt, Nick.

Jessy

My college English teacher gave my class this prompt. First Line: John closed his eyes. Last Line: It was a good day for the yellow crocuses. Anything in between. I easily made five pages with that prompt. Have fun guys.

Thanks for sharing that prompt, Jessy. It’s a good one.

Jalen Kinmon

Im a 17 year old living in the most secluded area of Kentucky, unfortunately. lol My dream is to pursue a career in filmmaking, my goal is to help people who are confused or unsure about life and what they want to do with their oppourtunity of life. I want people to think and find happiness in their lives by doing something they love. My idea of doing this came from being in a depressed state from the past few years as a teen and felt strong enough to overcome it without professional help which is progressing for the good. I found setting goals is a great strategy to stay focused and optimistic about life. I appreciate your time for reading this and if there is any advice you could influence me with id appreciate that as well. Thanks

It’s wonderful that you have set your sights on a clear career path at such a young age. Filmmaking is awesome! I sometimes wish I had taken up an interest in film or photography. The best advice I can offer is to never give up, stay focused, and pursue your goals with heart and soul. I would also advise studying film at college, if you can. The film industry is notoriously networked and you’ll benefit greatly by making friends and acquaintances who share your interest. Best of luck to you!

Thanks for taking the time to reply, it’s very much appreciated and yes im going to film school out in LA next year.

Hi! I am 13 and have been writing since I was 7 or younger, and I am in love with writing. I am a very dedicated author and I have finished books in the past (about 11 or 12) but now I can’t seem to get into any longer stories! I write more short stories now, but it’s not satisfying anymore…and then, when I come up with a new idea, it’s useless, and my brain gets all cluttered! Help!

It sounds like you’re having trouble staying focused. The first (and most important) thing that can help with that is to stay healthy: eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. You may also need to break up your writing with other activities. Make sure you read regularly! For the time being, maybe you need to write short stories. I’m not sure you need to fight it.

thank you for the advice! 🙂

You are most welcome!

Emily

Hello 🙂 I am 17 and doing my HSC this year. I am attempting (unsuccessfully) to write a creative writing piece as practice for my exams, and thank you so much for these, they’re really helpful 🙂 I am not a writer (and never will be), but these have given me some great ideas that I can hopefully use to increase my writing skills for my exams. So thank you very much 🙂

You are very welcome, Emily, and best of luck on your exams.

Nicole

I’ve found that this list, and peoples comments/ideas have been quite inspiring. I’m 21 and haven’t been in school for a few years and I have that desire to write, but never knew how to get started. I thank you all for these wonderful ideas and I’m hoping that writing will be a good outlet for me and my struggle with depression.

So really I’m just thanking you all 🙂

You’re welcome, Nicole, and thank you for joining in the discussion. Writing is a great way to work through emotions; I wish you the best of luck!

Summer

These are great!!!! My favourite starter would definetly have to be: “Sometimes a girl just has to run. Sometimes our feet take over. This was one of those times”

I think it holds a lot of suspense but it could also be happy and bright, like a sports day or carnival. Thanks for adding these, I am going to try to write a story for each one.

I’m not sure where that starter comes from, but it sounds good to me.

Yarrow Stronski

Hi! Thanks so much for these prompts. I especially like number two, because I feel like a little bit of positive thinking can go a long way. 🙂

I have a question, too, if you don’t mind.

What is your opinion on fanfictions? I know some creative writers don’t like them and feel they corrupt a series, while others think it’s a great creative exercise.

Thanks so much!

I think fan fiction is a great way for young and new writers to explore the craft. Some copyright holders are extremely strict about allowing fan fiction to be published. Others will actually develop and publish collections of fan fiction. There are also franchises in which fan fiction is encouraged. One of my all-time favorite writers, TV and film writer Damon Lindelof, said in a recent interview that he started out writing fan fiction. Now he’s writing for Ridley Scott and working on the Star Trek films as a fan-fic professional! It’s definitely an avenue worth pursuing if it interests you.

Art

I’m fifteen and I want to write a book before the end of highschool. The problem is I can’t finish what I’ve started. I always find a “better” idea and write about that and the cycle begins again. Please help me!!!

The only way to finish what you’ve started is to simply finish it. When “better” ideas present themselves, make a note and file those ideas away for a future project. Part of being a writer involves developing self-discipline. I recommend setting up a reward system. For example, you have to work on the novel for 20 minutes before you can call or text your friends after school. Or you have to finish a scene before you go out to see a movie. These are self-imposed rewards, so you have to discipline yourself. Nobody else can do it for you.

You might also look into participating in NaNoWriMo. The timing is great because it starts in just a few weeks. That means you’ll have some time to prepare and check it out. Then you can write your novel in November, leaving plenty of time afterwards for you to clean it up (edit, proof, polish).

Finally, if you’re truly committed to writing, start looking at schools with good creative writing programs and plan to study at college. University instructors are quite helpful in teaching students self-discipline and good writing habits and practices.

Best of luck to you, Art!

Alyssa

Hi! Your prompts and the comments have really helped me! I can’t wait to start some stories from them:) Here are a couple that I’ve come up with: The Bell sounded. Workers froze in their places… Kay frowned as she opened her school locker after school. Down the hall, Alexis and Christine exchanged grins…

That’s great, Alyssa. Keep up the good work!

Ashlee

These are fantastic! I’m also 21 and have been out of school for awhile. I used to write all the time when I was in school but not so much these days. These ideas are really going to help once I get started writing again. I’m attempting to set a goal for myself. An hour a day, just writing whatever I want. Just to get me back in the habit.

Thank you so much!!!

One prompt my creative writing teacher in high school gave the class was “It was a smile that darkness could kill…”

That’s wonderful! An hour a day is enough to produce quite a bit of writing. I wish you the best of luck, Ashlee!

Melanie Jones

Obviously it is now 2011 haha, but these are great!! I have wanted to write a novel for quite some time but I can’t seem to get the creative juices flowing. So I set out on a quest across the World Wide Web and I am finding some amazing ideas!! Thank you so much for this website I look forward to writing now instead of despairing of that dreaded cursor blinking me to oblivion!!

I hope your quest for inspiration is fruitful! And keep writing!

Emily

I’ve just been inspired to start a personal blog full of my own creative writing, with the assistance of some of these wonderful writing prompts (both yours, and the ones left in the comment section). Thank you, thank you, thank you.

That’s wonderful! Blogs have been a boon for writers, and I think more writers should take advantage of the technology. I wish you the best of luck with your blog, Emily.

Christi

Hi, I’m 17. I started creative writing when I was about 10 or 11. I found myself writing more and more when I was troubled a few years back, so it was good stress relief for me. But now that I’m busy with college, I realize that I haven’t been writing as much as I used to. I reread some of my old work and I thought “Hey, why not? I’ll give it a try for old times’ sake.”

I was a bit confused with where to start off, but these prompts really got my creative juices flowing. After I post this comment, I think I’ll try one or two of them and see how far it takes me. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

I’m so glad that these prompts inspired you, Christi. I think many writers go through phases when they drift away from the craft, but when you’re called back to it, that might be a sign. Follow it and keep writing!

Alli

In my junior year of high school, we were given a creative writing assignment to expand on this sentence:

“A person walked into the room, looked around, sat down, and ate.”

That’s a great prompt. It would certainly be interesting to see what a whole classroom of people come up with. I imagine each piece of writing would be quite different from the others, even though they are all based on the same premise. Thanks for sharing it, Alli.

Desmond

Here’s a prompt! Prop open the door. I can actually see my breathe tonight. But that doesnt mean im breathing.

Ooh, sounds like a zombie, robot, or vampire story.

Samantha

These writing ideas helped a lot thank you. I really want to go to a creative writing school when I get older. One idea which I just came up with is Write from the perspective of your fish.( does each fish have there own personality, how does each fish react to the different members of the house, what is it like to be a fish) 😛 I hope you like I write often mostly stories with a more poetic base, but once in a while i will feel in the mood to write some thing different. Oh also try continuing after this sentence. Its eyes gleamed pitch black death, creeping into imaginary, azure skies. now continue it :3

Thanks for sharing your prompt, Samantha, and good luck to you!

Hannah

For school, I have to enter a creative writing competition. I have two days and i was really panicking but then i found this website! It really helped! Thankyou Writing Forward!!

Hannah, I’m so glad you found help and inspiration here. Thank you!

KJS

Lately I’ve been trying to write a lot like Sarah Dessen! Were doing stories in class and I’m doin one about a girl who runs away, it starts out “I’m on the run! I don’t know where I’m going or where I’ll end up, but I’m not turning back!” 🙂 Do you like it?

I do like your opening line. It certainly grabs the reader’s attention and rouses curiosity. Nice job.

Maria

Thank you so much!!!! This got me over my terrible case of writer’s block. But now my muse is back!

Wow, thanks, Maria. That’s awesome!

Julz

I just want to say that this list of prompts has inspired me to take on a challenge of using one every day up until xmas on my blog… or at least until the end of the month!

Thanks for the great list 🙂

That’s awesome, Julz. Good luck with your December writing!

katie

I haven’t tried it yet, but I think a fun way to mix these up even more would be to choose one of these, then draw the name of an author out of a hat, then write that prompt in the style of that author. That would really stretch your creativity.

That’s an excellent exercise and would definitely be challenging. You’d have to be deeply familiar with the author’s voice.

Cass

I have found these prompts really helpful for the English lessons that I teach.

Many thanks.

That’s great, Cass. I love the idea of these prompts helping students with reading and writing.

sumaira jehanzeb

i have learnt English as a second language…writing is my passion…this page is REALLY inspiring!thanks for evoking our creative faculties… i want to suggest some topics and the list goes as: 1The beast in me 2Daily journal of a pair of shoes which is in the process of its making 3What the world be if gender roles get changed 4What if i were in the shoes of my English teacher 5How things at the high school are going to be if the concept of beauty gets altered altogether 6It is said that writing is all about pouring your mind on a piece of paper but what it your pen literally starts articulating your thoughts and you end up writing EVERRRRYTHING(What consequences are you going to face)

Thanks for adding your ideas to these prompts!

Rochelle

I haven’t tried the prompts yet but I have always wanted to be a writer since I was eight years old. However ever since graduating and entering the real world I find my muse being choked to death by the responsibility at home. I’ve had to give up my dream of writing for the past two years. I tried taking it up again and was drawing a huge blank, but just by reading a few of these prompts I’ve felt my muse start to breathe. Thank you!

Hi Rochelle. I remember graduating and entering the real world, and I had a similar experience. All of a sudden I just didn’t have the time or inspiration. It took a while, but I adjusted and my creativity returned. I’m so glad you found these prompts helpful!

Yazzy

I found like 5 great writing prompts thank u so much

You are so welcome!

ashlyn

you thought dragoons unicorns and monsters didnt exist? think again! write story of your pet unicorn

That’s a cute idea!

particia

Thank you for these, I am a writer waiting to hear if a publisher is going to publish my novel. Waiting is so hard and my mind has gone blank. These help to stir the jucies again. I’m hand writing them in a note book and taking them with me when I’m out, to write on the go. When I have to wait for a kid to get to the car I can write and not have to figure out how to start a story. So thank you. so much.

That’s awesome. What is it about being in a car or shower that makes us more creative? I always get ideas in those two locations!

Anna

thanks sooo much! those were super helfull! you have the most helpfull website ive found! and i’m a picky writer! THANKYOU!!!

Thanks, Anna.

Ebony

here are some more ideas: you inherit 1 million dollars your backpack grows wings on the way to school a zombie invasion stikes your small/big town a kidnapper captures you … hope these help 🙂

Thanks, Ebony!

Molly Sue

Hey! These prompts really helped and I can’t wait to use some 🙂 I have started with the one about twinklling eyes and turned it into a story about creatures similar to werewolves XD

Sounds interesting, Molly! Good luck with your story, and keep writing!

Maluly

My English teacher says she doesn’t believe in writer’s block. I on the other hand am not so sure. Sometimes I sit in the afternoon and stare out the window, unable to come up with anything good but I find that ideas flow like crazy at two in the morning with a cup of coffee in my left hand. That’s always my best remedy, though writing prompts like these always help me get going. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Some prompts:

10 things I hate about… What’s the recipe for those wonderful _______ muffins you baked last night? (Try filling that blank with ‘unicorn’.)

I believe in writer’s block, but I think that it’s presented as being unable to write whereas usually it’s just a case of needing to work a little harder at writing. Sometimes, we need to stop procrastinating, stop trying to force our ideas, or we just need to allow ourselves to write badly for a while. I believe there are ideas everywhere; the trick is to keep ourselves open to them and be willing to explore them. Having said all that, writer’s block still sucks. I’m like you, Maluly, the ideas flow like crazy at two in the morning (no coffee required!).

B.

i dont believe in writiers block.. i think its more like an exuse to hide what we really want to write or say. Like sometimes peoploe wonder if it will be good enough so they put it off or they dont want people who read it to know something.. its all about the way you look at it i guess. Write what you feel. Write whatever you want. I love writing but i find myself wondering will this be good enough? What would someone think if they read it? Maybe thats just me. no self esteem… but, low selfesteem is what keeps creativity hidden…. my advice.. to everyone is to just go for it. if its not good try again you’ll get better(:

I agree: just go for it.

CJM

Thanks for these! I definitely believe in writer’s block!! In fact, I am just emerging from what I like to call writer’s ‘droubt’, since it lasted at least a year. But I don’t think you need to be blocked to use prompts. They are great exercises and get you to try new ways of writing. And sometimes, when I get burned out with the story I’m currently writing, it helps to focus on something completely different for a while, and you can come back to it with fresh eyes. Here are some prompts that I came up with and they helped me out: 1) ‘It all started with the cat…’ 2) ‘Have you ever seen something out of the corner of your eye, but when you turned to look, found nothing there? You dismiss it as an illusion, a trick of the light. You’re wrong…’ 3) Write something from the perspective of a ghost. 4) Write something using the five senses EXCEPT sight (hearing, smell, touch, taste) 5) Instead of using first or third person, write with second person point-of-view (in other words, use ‘you’ instead of ‘he/she’ or ‘I’. Or try writing in present or even future tense, instead of past tense.

Oh yeah, and one more: 6) Write something from the perspective of the BAD guy, instead of the hero

I love when stories do this! Thanks for adding it, CJM.

These are excellent prompts, especially well suited for speculative fiction writers. My favorite is the prompt about seeing something out of the corner of your eye (that happens to me sometimes!). Thanks for adding these.

Lily Duval

Here’s one for those of you who have pets What do your pets do when you and other inhabitants of your house are not at home?

Ooh, that’s a good one, Lily. That could be great for a children’s story!

Arieda

Thank you SO much for these exciting writing prompts! They really inspire me. I have one idea for a prompt: Write about a conversation that you would have if were stuck in an elevator with a celebrity or famous book character.

You’re welcome, Arieda. I love your elevator prompt! You could also do it with characters from your novel as a test to see how each would behave in an elevator with a celebrity. That could tell you a lot about your characters. Good one!

Hannah

Lovely ideas, both of these! Arieda, that prompt gave me a short story idea, one that I’m pretty excited about, and I’m definitely going to have to do that with all my characters now, Melissa. 🙂 I thought up another twist on this prompt that intrigues me: Your characters get stuck in an elevator with you, their author. How do they react when they discover who you are and that you control their destinies? What sort of conversations would you have? Would you like interacting with your character? Would your character like you?

Hannah, I love your prompt idea. What a fun writing exercise: The Character Meets the Author. That’s quite brilliant!

alexis

Thank you so much for these, I’m trying to write a book…and I’ve been at a stand still lately, so this will help me more than ever.

You’re welcome, Alexis. I’m glad you found these prompts helpful.

Julia

Hi Ms. Donovan! thank you so much for the writing prompts! i’ve been using them for all my english creative writing assignments. it’s been my dream to be a writer since i was little. although i find it hard to write mysteries. ironically it’s my favorite genre to read though. any advice on how to get started on a good mystery?

I myself haven’t written mysteries, although I have read a few. My suggestion would be to read as many mysteries as you can, and watch mystery films and television shows, so you thoroughly know your genre (you should still read other stuff too!). Study the greats and ideas will come to you!

Patty

Wow i have writers block i have my charecter but i dont know what the problem is…… help any good title ideas?

When I’m stuck and can’t come up with a character or a title, I just skip it. The important thing is to keep writing. You can always come back later and add names and titles. Here’s how I do it:

GIRL said that there was no way out but OLD LADY knew otherwise…

I use all caps for characters who don’t have names yet. Many writers use a “working title” as they are developing their project. A working title can be anything. It’s just temporary.

You’ll find that as you work on your project (and if you work around these little setbacks), ideas will come to you. Good luck!

Jeff

Awesome post:) Thanks so much, really helped! have a great day! Peace-Jeff

Thanks, Jeff!

Melody

A prompt could be : She started to fall over and _________( fill in the blank) picked her up.

or : The alien gaze stared from above the fence , and I blushed in embarrassment.

100 words about your favorite animal

a short story about a difficult topic like : war , famine , bullying .etc

a poem about the weather

Hi Melody! Thanks for adding your prompts to this ever-growing list!

Shannon

Your prompts are definitely creative and helpful, but what I’m most impressed with is how you respond so positively and encouragingly to everyone who replied to this. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of encouragement or approval from even a complete stranger to shift a young writers thought from maybe being able to do something to just doing it. I haven’t written in months, and are still my having any real luck, but I know I will write again someday, and I just thought it should be mentioned that you are a good person for encouraging others to do what they love. Best of luck to you…

Thank you so much, Shannon. Your words mean a lot to me. I try to be an advocate for writers and encourage young and new writers to explore their ideas and find their voices. I believe the world would be a better place if we all followed our passions, and more importantly, encouraged others to do so as well.

Conner R.

“Conundrum”

The little girl cries with a lie on her lips The girl can’t remember her name The little boy’s laugh rings with hollow self-doubt The little girl feels just the same A little dog lost in the thick of the woods A little man sick with dismay A little boy born in the arms of the girl A little life born from a day A little death born from an ignorant choice A little boy crying away And a little God laughs at the sight of it all For this little herd has not a say

Thanks for sharing your poem with us, Conner. Keep writing!

Dido Lawrence

It’s the first time that i’m gonna be doing an inter-school creative writing competition, and i found these prompts really helpful! Thanks a billion!

You’re welcome!

Jenny Hutcherson

Really like the prompts! It was really helpful! My brother and I are always gonna use this website! I <3 it!

Thanks! I’m glad you like it here 🙂

Afshin

Thanks Melissa for the writing prompts. I asked my students to develop their writing skill through these useful prompts. By the way, I have published my first fiction ‘Faith No More’. I’d be extremely glad if you could manage to read any of it and provide me with feedback.

Hi Afshin. Thanks for sharing these prompts with your students. Requests for feedback should be sent via email (you can use the “Contact” link at the top of this site).

Caitlyn

i have been major struggling with writing my second book and when i found these i just opened up my mind more and i decided not to write a second book it was just fine without one and now i can be on a whole other spectrum thanks so much these has inspired me a lot i put a few of em together to get ideas 🙂 well done 🙂 highly appreciated

That’s awesome. Thanks for letting me know that these prompts helped you. Good luck with your writing projects!

Mack Jordan

I just got a typewriter at a great market the other day so I came looking for something to help me have fun and get inspired while I was using it. Thanks for the help! I ended up writing a thing about an embarrassing moment that helped me learn how to not sweat it when embarrassing moments happen. This particular one had to do with toilet paper… haha. Cheers!

Embarrassing moments always make for good storytelling. Enjoy your new typewriter!

Susanna

I’ve been really into playwriting lately, but I’ve been stuck with writers block for the longest time. A couple of these prompts really caught my attention and I’ve already got so many new ideas, I don’t know where to begin! 🙂

That’s awesome. I’m glad you found this piece so helpful.

Cass

I have had writers block for months now. This site has helped me so much!

I’m thrilled to hear that! Keep writing!

Luci

My favorite way to start up a story is to listen to a song and think about the story of it. Sometimes I use the first part of the song as the first sentence of my story. I hope this helps.

That’s an awesome idea! I love music-literature crossovers.

Taylor

Hi thank you so much for these ideas i have chosen an idea and i have a perfect picture of my idea . Thank you again and as you will see on all of your comments you have helped a lot of children or adults from this website . Thank you !

You’re welcome! Thanks for commenting.

Mera Sampson

Great prompts.

I shared #9 with my page for a fun writing exercise about an hour ago. Great response! 🙂

Thanks for sharing one of these prompts with your readers. I hope they have fun with it.

Liana C.

Thanks for the prompts! Reading other people’s ideas always makes me feel more hopeful about initiating my own. I have struggled to put my thoughts down on paper for as long as I can remember- there just seems to be a disconnect between the disorganized chaos of possibilities in my head and that little spot where the ink meets the paper. BUT- I wanted to offer an idea that has often provided many interesting and fun possibilities to me- Think of a time of day ( 7 pm, the sun setting, the day cooling off, night creatures beginning to stir), or a month ( August, the air laden with heat and damp, everything deep and green and vibrant), and then try to think of all the qualities that accompany that period of time ( do most people seem happy then? is it a relaxing time? a tense time? does the weather make life easier or harder?). Once you’ve collected as many descriptions and feelings about this time as you can, then begin to build a world where it is ALWAYS that time- how do people’s lives change? 🙂

Ooh, that’s a great exercise. I wasn’t expecting the twist at all! Love it.

roopy

This is awesme. i like these. i like writing prompts, and this is a very helpful website

Thanks! I’m glad you liked these prompts.

tom

omg wow, this helped me so much, thankyou so much!! i love my writing and this just helped me ten fold. xxx

You’re welcome. I’m glad you found it helpful.

Janus

I’ve been writing since i was eight, [approximately (obviously – i haven’t been counting!)] but I started to loose it… flame was REIGNITED by my best friend. but despite the burning, I have never actually completed a story. It knaws at me all the time! I’m currently writing a revolutionary/Sci-fi, which is odd for me, I’m more into writing realist novels… but your prompts gave me such a PERFECT plot twist that I had to comment on it! this will give me motivation for at least a few weeks… (meanwhile dancing up and down with sheer joy and attracting VERY weird looks.) Though it IS kind of weird, because non of the prompts have anything to do with it… My, how strangely the mind works…

Yes, the mind works in mysterious ways. I’m glad one of these prompts inspired you. Best of luck with your story (I love sci-fi).

Tierrney

This website is a life saver. My brain just froze and I was trying to do a creative writing story, and my life and my school / collage life depended on it. Thanks to one of your prompts, it won my school a pride. Thanks a lot. 🙂 bye!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whoops I meant prize

That’s awesome, Tierrney! Congrats on winning a prize. Keep writing!

Sarah

wow great writing promts, ive already decided on the start of my story but I cant think of anything that can happen. I want something to happen. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Try throwing some conflict at your main character. Good luck to you!

Kathleen

Wow!! I tried prompt number one just for fun one day, I have not exercised my creative mind in a long time, and I want to thank you for offering these prompts. I really surprised myself at the poem I wrote. It probably wouldnt go over to well with the grammar police because I used old english and standard english.. but the content just really surprised me. I was like, “where did that come from”? Thank you so much!!!! Blessings and Thanks to you for your website!

Thanks for your kind words, Kathleen. I’m so glad you found inspiration here!

kamra schultz

thank you so much i found 3 ideas for a school project i am working on this is going to be one of my most big acomplishments!

You’re welcome! Good luck with your project.

kristina bundhi booduz

i love this website because it helped me get an A on my project!!! i am soo thankfull to WRITING FORWARD!!! thank you sooo much and i am sooo confident that i will be sure to use this website again….thanX a million luv WRIGHTING FORWARD~~kbb

You’re welcome. Congratulations on getting such a good grade!

Khaled Syfullah

Writing comes from the mind and obviously the ideas comes from our real life….The story of mystery novels always comes from the fear we have in our minds and it can come from everything… I can remember the things…when I wrote my first poem ‘Rain’…it was raining in cats and dogs outside…..

I think writing comes from many places. I try not to over-analyze it, but it is interesting to examine our ideas and try to figure out where they came from.

Shreya Jain

I really like your ideas but I had some of my own that I think you could add to your list. You could add things like:

You’re outside cutting your grass when you come across a large hole in the ground. You’ve never noticed the hole before, but it looks to be some sort of tunnel to another world. You decide to peek through and see where it leads, only it leads you to a pivotal moment in your past—and it’s giving you an opportunity to change it. Write this scene.

A toy, stuffed animal, or game that once meant a lot to me

Why I deserve a larger allowance

The book that got me hooked on reading

This really bugs me.

One thing I want to do by the time I finish 8th grade

I would like to have lived during this time in history.

Thanks for adding these writing prompts, Shreya.

Kiara

Start your story with: Jessica had no choice. She closed her eyes and jumped.

You might be surprised.

Ah, that’s an interesting prompt.

Meeper

Here one possibly

What if you woke up one day with no memories in a strange world where nobody was who they said they were?

Meredith

Wow! I really like this list of prompts! I’ve been looking for inspiration to write a short story and I especially liked the one about dragons! “We’ve all seen cute and cuddly dragons, mean and vicious dragons, and noble dragons write about a different dragon”

Thanks, Meredith! I’m glad you liked these writing prompts.

Lindsey Russell

Anyone considered using visual (photos/paintings) prompts?

A scenic view, a city view, a beach, a hill, a house, a village, a car, a train, a plane, a boat, a castle, a body?

Yes, I’ve used visual prompts, and I’ve included them in my book, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts . The image prompts are described (rather than using images), but they’re a lot of fun.

Hallie

Hi I’m Hallie I’m 13 years old and I love writing. Just for some reason I can never think of things to write about. I really like fantasy. I look online for writing prompt ideas and I find a lot of good ones but none of them really click. I really want to write something but I don’t know what. What should I do?

Hi Hallie. Thanks for visiting Writing Forward. What you’re experiencing is fairly common among writers. I have experienced it many times — when I want to write but I don’t know what to write and nothing clicks, I will look through prompts and my old notes, and I just don’t get fired up about anything.

I’ve found that in moments like these, the best thing to do is just write anyway. We can’t feel inspired and fired up all the time. And often, when I force myself to just follow some prompt or writing exercise, even when I don’t really feel like it, I start to get into it and eventually, something clicks.

There will be many times when writing is fun or even thrilling. But I’ve found that the people who stick with writing are those who write even when they’re not especially inspired. Sometimes it’s work. Stick with it, and you’ll experience all these highs and lows. Every single one of them is worth it.

Edith

Wow! I really like the diversity of your prompts, Mellisa. I’ve been writing a collection of short stories of my childhood experience of the Biafran War in Nigeria and struggled with some troubling memories but you’ve reminded me that I could just write everything as it comes to me and revise later. Also, I love your children stories prompts.

Thank you, Edit. That makes my day. I’m always glad when people find the articles here at Writing Forward useful. Good luck with your stories. That sounds like an important project.

MEL

is it weird that when i saw the one on dragons the first thought to my mind is ‘ i counld do one on a gay dragon, right?’ and then when i saw number 4 ( for all the twilight fans, just a heads up), i thought of jasper hale- i’m not calling him ugly- but i saw the fear part and thought to myself how he fears hurting someone/ losing control.

Is it weird? I don’t think it’s weird. The point of the prompts is to engage your imagination, so it seems like they are working, which is great.

Panther

I absolutely love these! I have been writing since I was able to talk. I told my dad exactly what to write down on little pieces of paper. Now that I’m fourteen, I was sure I wrote every idea imaginable. But these really gave me a fresh perspective, and for that, I am so grateful! It also inspired me to come up with a prompt of my own: She sprinted through the trees, quickly twisting around thick trunks as she dodged the sheriff’s arrows. Her stomach ached from the laughs that shook her entire body. Foolish sheriff. He thought he could catch a pirate?

I’m glad you enjoyed these writing prompts. Your prompt is awesome. Keep writing! It will take you places that only you can imagine.

Nora Zakhar

I loved these prompts. I had my friends pick a number between 1 and 25 to chose which on to do. I think they improved my writing skills. Thank you!

I’m glad you enjoyed these prompts, Nora. Thanks for your comment.

Sam Hayes

I am a 13 year old and I love to write. I have a best friend and she always wants to see my writing, but I didn’t want her to see it because I didn’t think it was very good. She insisted on seeing it, and when I showed her the first chapter in a story I was writing just for myself, she thought it was brilliant. She then disguised it as an excerpt from an e-book app and showed it to our English teacher. My friend pretended that it was a real, published book by an actual author and asked for the teacher’s opinion. The teacher loved it and asked for the name of the book. When she discovered it was written by her own pupil, she was shocked and said i should send it to a publisher. Now I am confused. I didn’t think my writing was very good. What should I do now?

Hi Sam. I was your age when I started writing.

There are a few things you might want to do. First, continue working on your book until it’s finished. This will be hard. You will probably lose interest at some point. You’ll get stuck and feel unsure where to take the story. You’ll have other ideas that seem better, and you’ll be tempted to set this story aside. Don’t be deterred. Stick with it.

Do your parents know about your interest in writing? At 13, you would need their involvement in any publishing or submissions that you might want to do. You can also try talking to your teacher. Don’t be shy about this. It’s the job of teachers to guide their students. But keep in mind, not all English teachers are knowledgeable about the publishing industry. See if she can offer some guidance. You might be able to find literary magazine for kids your age and submit your writing so you can start getting some practice in the publishing world.

Beyond that, make sure you read a lot and write as much you can. If you love writing, it’s something that will always be with you. As you get older, you’ll be able to carve out the path you want, whether that’s to make writing a career or continue enjoying it as a hobby.

Best of luck to you!

Kaiya Lakhani

I am 10 and I have written a few short stories of my own, and I really enjoy creative writing. I was very pleased when I found this website, now I won’t be struggling to think about what to write.

That’s wonderful, Kaiya. We love having young writers around here. Thanks so much!

Naomi

I’m 12 and I also really like writing. I have always been trying to write short stories since I was six (I started with mostly seven page picture books). Finding how to start a story has always been pretty hard, but these prompts have really helped! I definitely have to explore some more of these prompts. There are so many! Thank you!!

Wow, Naomi, that’s wonderful. I was just a little older than you (13) when I started writing (poetry for me). You have a long and wonderful journey ahead of you, and I hope you enjoy all of it! You’re welcome for these prompts. I’m so glad you found them helpful.

Britany Garden

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful post with us.

maddie

the one that has the tailsman remids me of “Wings of Fire” because one of the dragons named darkstalker put is animus magic on a scroll and called it his tailsman and he can read minds so it really reminded me of that book

I haven’t read Wings of Fire but it sounds interesting!

oh and it fell into the wrong hands or really talons but ya i just wanted to share that information thank you for this i really got some good ideas like the detective one

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✍️ 100+ Creative Writing Exercises for Fiction Authors

This curated directory of creative writing exercises was conceived thanks to a collaboration between the top writing blogs of 2024. Use the filters to find and practice specific techniques — and show that blank page who’s boss!

We found 119 exercises that match your search 🔦

The Hammer and the Hatchet

A stranger walks into the general store and buys a hammer, a hatchet, some rope, and an apple. What does he do with them?

Writer's Block

Picket fence.

Describe your house - or the dream house you hope to get some day.

Telephone Directory

It is commonly known that a telephone directory might be the most boring text in the entire world. Here is your challenge: write a page of a telephone directory and figure out SOME way to make it interesting.

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Pick a fiction book from your shelf. Go to page eight and find the eighth sentence on the page. Start with that sentence and write an eight-line poem that connects in some way to your work-in-progress. For instance, write from the POV of a character, or set the poem in a story setting. Don't worry about poetry forms. Just write eight lines of any length that flow and explore some aspect of character, setting, or theme.

  • Why are you grumpy? I have a hangover.
  • Why do you have a hangover? My friend was in a bad accident and I thought he might die?
  • Why did you think he might die? His girlfriend lied to me about how serious the accident was.
  • Why did she lie about that? She's jealous of our relationship.
  • Why? I think she's insecure and has trust issues.

Character Development

The ellen degeneres show.

A talk show is scripted to promote the guest and discuss topics with which the guest is comfortable. Imagine your protagonist on the Ellen Degeneres Show (or The Late Show With Stephen Colbert - whichever show you're familiar with). What questions would be asked of your protagonist? What funny anecdotes would your protagonist share? Write down the reactions of both your protagonist and the host.

  • You could say it began with a phone call."
  • Michael had watched them both for weeks."
  • She remembered the way it was the first time she saw the prison."
  • Midsummer, no time to be in New Orleans."
  • With the dawn came the light."

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104 Of The Best Short Story Ideas And Prompts To Grab Your Readers

So, you want to write a short story — and not just a mildly entertaining short story but one your readers can’t put down until they’ve finished it.

You want a story that gets reactions like “Wow!” and “How did you do that?” and “Do you have more like this?”

What writer doesn’t want that kind of reaction, right?

And since short stories are short, you have less time to wait for your readers’ reactions — but you also have less time to grab their attention.

That’s why a great topic is worth its weight in gold when it comes to writing these little gems.

Even with the challenges inherent to short story writing, you’ll most likely finish a short story in far less time than you would a novel.

So, you’ll get to explore more story topics in less time than if you were writing longer works.

But how do you generate short story ideas that are worth the time you’ll invest in crafting a short story your readers will love?

If you’ve been writing for long enough, you already know good story ideas are everywhere, and you might even have some in mind as you read this.

But which of those ideas should be on your shortlist for story writing projects?

And if you don’t have any great ideas at the moment, where do you get some?

Short Story Idea Generator (how to generate story ideas)

Short story writing exercises, generating story ideas with the short story formula, timeless themes and emotional impact, 35 short story ideas, 69 short story writing prompts.

When it comes to generating new story ideas, you can take more than one approach. You might try these three:

man typing on laptop short story ideas

  • Writing exercises
  • Writing prompts
  • The Short Story Formula

Think of your school days when your English teacher assigned an essay or invited you to write a paragraph in answer to a question.

Maybe all you had to do was write one complete sentence. Or maybe your teacher wanted a haiku — or a rhyming couplet.

School isn’t the only place for writing exercises , though. If you’ve ever joined a creative writing group, your leader may have encouraged you to spend some time each day freewriting or writing a character sketch .

The purpose of writing exercises is to practice writing — or to practice a specific kind of writing (voice journaling, essays, persuasive ad copy, song lyrics, etc.).

So, whether it’s NaNoWriMo, Twitter’s #VSS (Very Short Story) challenge, or writing sprints, the more time you invest in these exercises, and the more you open yourself up to constructive criticism, the more quickly your writing will improve.

The most effective writing prompts and writing exercises make use of themes with a history of captivating and inspiring others. Because of this, either one might lead you to a story idea that you can hardly wait to explore.

Take one (or more) of those popular themes and combine them with a context that is both unique and relatable, and you have the formula for a compelling story idea.

Story writing ideas are generally more fully developed than writing prompts. It’s not unusual, for example, to begin with a writing prompt , develop it into a story idea, and then write the actual story.

And don’t beat yourself up if the first idea that comes to mind is a cliché. You’re human, and familiar ideas are the easiest to think of. Nothing wrong with that. The first idea is like a first draft , in that it gives you something to start with.

And don’t be afraid to mix it up — literally. Take one idea, mix it up with another, and play with it for a while. Who knows how you might juice up your story idea without even trying?

The best fiction story ideas make use of timeless themes. You’ll find one or more of the ten themes that follow in most stories that have been written, read, and shared over the centuries.

  • The End of a Relationship
  • Rags to Riches
  • Scars / Wounds
  • Ghosts / the Paranormal
  • Deepest Fears
  • A Soulmate Encounter
  • A Journey Interrupted
  • Monsters (human or otherwise)

The story idea itself — in its simplest form — doesn’t have to be original, and in fact, it shouldn’t be. But the way you embody and develop that idea should surprise your readers and evoke an emotional response in them.

It’s that emotional impact that makes your story not only worth finishing but memorable.

Short story ideas will look different from novel ideas, though — mainly because short stories have to make a big impact with fewer words. And because of this, the most powerful short stories have what James Scott Bell describes as the “one shattering moment.”

In his book, How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career, Bell describes that moment as “something that happens to a character, an emotional blast which they cannot ignore. It changes them, in a large or a subtle way — in a way that cannot be ignored.”

Any one of the popular themes listed above could you give your main character a shattering moment that would change that character’s life or perspective.

woman typing on laptop short story ideas

Take a look at the following creative story ideas, many of which combine two or more of the popular themes listed, and feel free to modify any of them to create your next unputdownable short story.

1. Your character’s loved one has died , and he learns while going through that loved one’s belongings that the latter had a terrible secret that unnervingly correlates to your character’s deepest fear.

The rest of the story explores your character’s reaction to this discovery and how it affects his/her relationships and decision-making.

2. Your character has married the man she saw as her “soulmate.” During their honeymoon, he shows her his list of goals for their first five years together, and they have their first real argument over one of those goals — which requires something of her that she never agreed to.

She has a sudden memory of their first date and of the moment when she first decided he was the one, but she sees it now from his perspective, and it changes everything.

3. Your orphaned character inherits a house and moves in to find that it’s already occupied — by the spirits of the character’s long-deceased parents, who aren’t at all like the people other relatives have described.

4. Your character is having trouble getting past his anger over the wounds inflicted by those who raised him and by those with whom he had one failed relationship after the next.

woman at laptop looking out window Short Story Ideas

After losing his job, he goes on a journey to change the direction of his life, but that journey is interrupted by the death of one of his parents — the one who hurt him the most.

5. Your character is widely regarded as a monster and doesn’t deny or hide from that designation.

When his closest confidante gets fed up with him, tells him off, and leaves the company they founded together, your character finds himself disoriented by grief and does something different.

6. Your character is content with her life but suddenly inherits a large sum of money and a palatial estate on the east coast.

She sees the inheritance as proof that the Law of Attraction works, and she invites family and a few close friends to move with her and share the wealth. On the first night of their stay, someone dies.

7. Your character’s snake-loving neighbor has just been found in the belly of her pet boa constrictor (who she swore was a better “snuggler” than her ex).

The ex shows up and is angry when he finds out that your neighbor left the house and everything in it to your character. He threatens to ruin her life if she doesn’t turn the house over to him.

8. Your character meets his/her soulmate on a flight that almost doesn’t make it to its destination; both of them respond to emergencies on the plane (one as a cop and the other as a doctor).

Once at the airport, your character learns that this soulmate is already in a relationship with a well-known philanthropist. But your character notices something odd and calls the philanthropist out.

9. Your character’s best friend just announced the end of a relationship, and your character is surprised to find this friend in a celebratory state of mind (rather than heartbroken).

Your character then finds out the disturbing reason for the friend’s manic behavior.

10. One of your character’s siblings is getting married, and during wedding preparations, your character learns something she was never meant to know. This discovery changes her relationships with everyone.

11. The happy couple living next door to your character has died in a horrific accident, and when the parents show up for the funeral, you find out why the couple always changed the subject whenever you asked them about their families.

12. Your character starts receiving messages from someone who knows his/her deepest fears and intends to exploit them. At the same time, your character is discovering a latent ability that relates to those fears but might also help him overcome them. Or they might change him into something the messenger never saw coming.

13. Your character meets a soulmate at a community grief counseling group meeting and learns that this soulmate also attends AA meetings (like your mc) — though with a different group and with a friend who doesn’t particularly like your main character.

The surprising reason comes out when your character goes on a first date with this soulmate. The soulmate’s friend swears he/she knows your mc from a different reality — which he/she visits in dreams.

14. Your character breaks free of a painful relationship and embarks on a journey to discover what she’s capable of. After volunteering at a nursing home — reading to vision-impaired residents and writing letters for them — she agrees to personally deliver one of those letters to the resident’s estranged son.

15. After avoiding close relationships because of deep scars from his childhood, your main character learns something about one of his parents that changes everything for him. He then has an opportunity to take a step off his accustomed path.

16. Your character has been married for 19 years before her spouse — after a weekend that reminds her of when they met and why she married him — hands her divorce papers.

17. Your character is making a list of reasons to break up with her boyfriend of two years when the latter comes home early and tells her he’s won the lottery jackpot.

18. Your character is a locally famous writer whose hero story ideas come from his freewheeling lifestyle and insatiable curiosity about others.

One day, out of boredom, he offers a homeless man $100 to propose to the first woman he takes a fancy to, while he watches from a safe distance. The proposal goes terrifyingly wrong.

19. Your character has just lost a child by miscarriage , and when she comes home, her married life has changed. Her husband, who was always the more talkative of the two, spends their time together quietly grieving in his own way.

Your character, on the other hand, becomes more outgoing and starts spending more time (and money) on her appearance.

20. Your young adult character finds himself suddenly orphaned when his parents die in a plane crash. The funeral is the beginning of a dramatic shift in his perspective and in the choices he makes.

He breaks off a relationship with a woman his parents adored, he quits the lucrative job that he hates, and he leaves the country.

21. Your character has just learned that his spouse has been cheating on him, and he confronts her when she gets home that night.

She reveals that what he saw as proof of her infidelity was something completely innocent — but that she’s already decided to make a permanent and dramatic end to their marriage.

22. The only child of your character is diagnosed with a fatal illness, and your character doesn’t know how to deal with the worry and dread that now consumes her.

Her doctor suggests one anti-anxiety med after another, and her husband and his family urge her to try one — for her husband’s and her son’s sakes. She goes into a fugue state with the experimental drug she tries, and she wakes up to the consequences.

23. Your character’s new glasses — created as a free gift from an old friend with unusual connections — reveal more than the physical objects in his field of vision.

After looking at a coworker and seeing the latter’s death just hours before it happens, he goes to replace the glasses with a plain pair from a local chain. Then he catches his full-length reflection in a window.

24. Your character wakes up alone in an unfamiliar place and is told by everyone he encounters that the life he thought he’d lived for the past six years — with a wife and three kids and with the job that barely paid the bills — must have been a dream.

He’s actually stunningly wealthy, treated with respect by everyone he meets, and desired by more than one woman. So, why is there a picture of him with his nonexistent family on his desk?

25. A year ago, your character met someone who offered her the power to transform the interior of her home to anything she wants — in exchange for a DNA sample from her only child, who is a gifted storyteller.

During the year after she accepted the offer, her home becomes everything she wants it to be, but her son stops telling stories, and one day she finds out why.

26. Your character makes drastic changes to his diet and adopts new habits that alienate him from his usual circle of friends but lead him to a new one.

He then wins a large sum of money from a scratch ticket that an estranged friend (a compulsive gambler) slipped under his door.

27. Your character has returned from a successful quest to find his home empty, with no sign of his loved ones other than a note left on the refrigerator.

Not only does he now have no one with whom to share his victory, but what he learns calls that very victory into question.

28. Your character has spent eleven years living with the consequences of a vow she has taken. When she forges a new friendship with a counselor, she learns something about herself that scares her and makes her avoid the counselor, for his own sake.

Keenly aware of her own vulnerability, she brands herself to ward off unwelcome attention.

29. Your character, after 15 years of living in a house chosen mainly to fit her spouse’s preferences, sees an ad for an apartment in town that represents the life she gave up to make her husband happy.

After hearing him complain about his life and their house for one too many times, she goes to look at this apartment and finds it has almost everything she wants. The apartment manager, a well-dressed woman close to her own age, hears your character’s last name and appears shaken by it.

30. Your character splurges on a new rug for her living room floor — the kind of rug she’s coveted for years — and her S.O. criticizes it and later “accidentally” spills his drink on it.

The final straw is his suggestion that she wait ‘til it dries and return it to the store for a refund or exchange it for something more practical.

31. Your character has recently broken free from a cult that had drawn him in when he was vulnerable from a family tragedy. His new support system — a group of other cult survivors — is having varying degrees of difficulty re-entering society and repairing damaged relationships.

Your character meets with them one evening at their accustomed café table and confronts a server whose off-handed comment provokes him. What begins as a calm request for respectful treatment escalates as other members of the group chime in and the server’s manager gets involved.

32. Your character has joined a church and finds herself under the tutelage of a church member who leans toward the traditionalist end of the spectrum and who regards her as the daughter he never had.

When he decides to renounce the church’s leadership and join an extreme traditionalist group, she backs away from him — after explaining to him why she won’t do the same. His behavior toward her changes and she makes a change of her own.

33. Your character is so desperate for money that he does something he never would have done otherwise. He doesn’t get caught, but he doesn’t get away with it, either. Consumed by guilt, he undergoes a penance of his choosing, which spirals out of control.

34. Your character walks into a tourist shop and buys a homemade “tonic” freshly mixed by the owner, after tasting and enjoying an innocuous sample in the same flavor. The tonic changes him in a way he can’t ignore or undo.

35. Your character inherits an old music shop with a secret back room where his uncle kept a few instruments that can make even someone like him — who has never played an instrument — a virtuoso in seconds. He takes the piano to his apartment and learns why his uncle (in a letter he’d written before his death) had warned him not to — and why his uncle kept the door to that secret room locked.

With writing prompts , you get a launching pad of sorts: a question, an idea, a provocative quote, or something that inspires a reaction — specifically a written one. Maybe that reaction is an argument, or maybe it’s an impassioned defense of an idea.

Whatever it is, the purpose here is to take that prompt and use it to generate a written response in one form or another. The aim of writing prompts for short stories is to get you started on a new short story .

The prompt could be as simple as a word or as detailed as a character sketch or an elevator pitch. It could even be a picture or a song. It could be an observation you make while (discreetly) people-watching.

We’ve create 69 short story writing prompts that flesh out an idea more thoroughly, giving you a good headstart for your story.

1. You get a new job, and your new boss approaches you on the first day with an invitation to the “After Hours Club.” He tells you it’s no big deal if you decline, but you get a strong impression that it would be.

2. One day, on the way home from work, your new car takes over and drives you to a remote area, stopping beside other cars in a clearing underneath a new moon. You wake up underneath a full moon and drive yourself home. But much has changed in your absence — and so have you.

3. You bake pies for a local bakery, and when a celebrity comes to town and tastes your locally famous turtle pie, he invites you to go on tour with him — to a movie set somewhere in Europe — to be his personal pie maker. You say yes.

4. You buy a single rose from a street vendor, and it lasts a week, then two weeks, then three, and then a full month. Only then does someone point out to you that previously healthy people in the neighborhood have been falling ill and dying at an abnormal rate.

5. It’s time for your 10-year-old daughter to make her First Confession, but when her turn comes to go into the confessional, she panics and won’t be persuaded to go in.

6. You’re stranded in a small village down a winding road from Burgos (Spain) on a Sunday. A stranger comes by on a motorcycle and goes to fetch a taxi for you. You’re waiting at the bus station when he tells you he knows you’re meant to replace his recently deceased wife.

7. The bartender brings you your first Irish coffee in what looks like a candy dish. Halfway through, you notice the whole cafe seems to be floating, and since you can’t put the rest into a to-go cup (alas), you pay your tab and head out. You think you’re doing fine until your key doesn’t work in the front door of your apartment building. Someone else kindly lets you in, and you recognize him as the bartender from that cafe.

8. You’re exploring an old Spanish town, and you realize someone is following you. You turn and find an old woman who asks if you’ll help her find her hotel. You help her, and she invites you in, telling you she has a son who shares your interest in all things Tolkien. You’re not in a hurry to get back to your hotel room, so you go up with her.

9. Your fingers don’t respond to you the way they used to, and you’ve been having other difficulties. You go see your doctor, and they run some tests to check for neurological diseases but don’t find anything. They think it’s probably stress-related. Your life has been stressful lately, and it doesn’t help that your new roommate has been acting strangely toward you.

10. You wake up with your heart racing, but you don’t remember why. You almost never remember your dreams but often wake up covered in sweat with your heart pounding. You’re tired of having to shower every morning and feeling sick for the rest of the day, so you decide to undergo hypnosis, hoping to find out what’s going on.

11. Your neighbors have been up to some strange shenanigans lately, and their lights are on well into the wee hours of the morning. You’d like to know why, but every neighbor you’ve talked to who have gone over there to ask about it has, later on, told you that nothing suspicious is going on and that those neighbors are “very spiritual, and so, so nice!”

12. The street lamps that light up your cul de sac have gone dark, and you’re outside waiting for your spouse to get home when something large and dark brushes past you, almost knocking you off balance. Then a man appears and asks, “Have you seen my cat?”

13. Someone has broken into your house while you were away and has taken all the religious articles out of it — every statue, every picture, and every holy water bottle. The thief left everything else alone.

14. You move into an apartment that used to be a hoarder’s paradise, and your manager gives you permission to paint the walls a different color and add some new flooring. You get to work removing the kitchen’s linoleum floor and find something you never expected.

15. You joined a wine delivery service, and the delivery person is every bit as charming as the labels on the posh wine he brings to you each week. When you lose your job and cancel the service, the wine keeps coming.

16. You buy a pound of gourmet coffee beans at a local food festival, and as you’re sipping the first cup from the first pot you’ve brewed, you have a vision, which feels as real as though it were actually happening to you. When the vision ends, you’re still in your kitchen, holding your cup. You take another sip.

17. You’re about ready to gather up all the ceramic village pieces that have been cluttering up your living room and toss them in the trash bin, but your spouse, who knows you hate them, insists you should try selling them on eBay, instead. That’s when the fight starts.

18. You buy a new pair of Bluetooth earbuds that are supposed to enhance your listening experience. You plug them in and use them while watching a movie, and suddenly, you’re there on the scene, about to get flattened (or eaten) by a dinosaur.

19. You need a new toilet, and someone shows up at the door (as though sent by heaven) to sell you a toilet that will flush down ANYTHING. Oddly enough, it doesn’t even need to be hooked up to your septic system. “All you have to do is remove and empty the dust tray at the base every evening, reinsert it for the next day’s flushes, and voila!”

20. You buy a new keyboard , and after typing a few sentences of a new story, it starts typing on its own, and you watch in surprise as it types out a new short story. You submit it to a contest you’ve never won and win first prize. You start thinking you’ll never have trouble paying the rent again! Then you accidentally spill wine on the keyboard, and even stranger things start happening.

Related:  55 Funny Writing Prompts To Inspire Your Inner Comedian

21. Your famous stew recipe has won an award. You go to collect it (a cash prize), and meet the next runner-up, who believes she should have won the first prize instead with her three-bean salad. She warns you not to spend the money, because she will prove you won unfairly. You go home and find a bowl of three-bean salad and a note.

22. You suggest at the breakfast table one morning that you might actually have too many books, and your SO seizes upon this and offers to help you thin out your collection. After breaking up with him, you cull a few volumes for donation and run into the author of one of them.

23. Your first issue of Real Simple magazine has finally arrived, but something has come with it — something you can’t see but that makes your life anything but simpler.

24. A girl scout comes to the door selling cookies, and you tell her you already bought some from her at the table outside your grocery store, and you’ve spent enough for the year. Suddenly, all the food in your house (including the canned food) becomes moldy or rotten. And every bit of food that passes your threshold becomes inedible.

25. You buy a new whiteboard to help you keep track of your writing assignments, but you wake up one morning, and new items have somehow been added to your list. And the new titles have a sinister edge to them. You live alone.

26. You buy a new poster that looks exactly like the TARDIS door, and you put it up on your bedroom wall. One night, right at midnight (you’re up working at your computer), the door opens and you walk through it.

27. You buy a CD with music that’s supposed to help you write more creatively and also lose weight more easily. You start playing it during your writing time, and sure enough, the words flow without effort, and you love what you’ve written. You also start losing ten pounds a week, and soon you can’t afford to lose another ten, but you’ve come to depend on that music CD.

28. You’re a carpenter who has joined a construction team to build a new development of 3,000+ square foot houses. All is going well until someone on the team discovers something buried in the lot for the third house. The foreman removes it and tells everyone to get back to work, but you have a bad feeling. And you’re right to have it.

29. Your boss announces they’re having a potluck and you’re all expected to show up and bring something. He also tells you it has to be homemade. You tell him you can’t cook, but he tells you, “Well, learn, then!” Strangely enough, you do, and you create an entree that has everyone’s mouth-watering when you open the lid at the potluck. But your boss is conspicuously absent.

30. You wake up in the middle of the night and rush to the bathroom, where you empty your stomach of everything you ate that day. Something else comes out, and it’s moving.

31. You stop at a coffee shop while making stops to apply for a new job, and the barista tells you the new bed and breakfast is looking for someone to handle their advertising. You apply, are accepted, and agree to start immediately. But the owner, who openly admires your bicycle, offers you a room at the B&B, so you’ll be more accessible.

32. You have way too much time on your hands since your latest project has earned you enough to more than double your previous year’s salary, and you’re taking a sabbatical. You see an ad for an opportunity to spend a month at a castle in Wales, with full room and board and a bicycle for exploring the countryside. You call the agent and book a flight.

33. One night, as you’re coming back from the bathroom, you see a bright light and follow it to see that your front window is wide open and bugs are swarming in and out. You rush to close it but then you see the view from it — which is not your usual view of the front yard. You see something you want to investigate.

34. Sometimes, people stare when you pull out an index card and start scribbling furiously onto it, but you don’t care. Then someone accuses you of writing something about him and, pulling out a gun, demands you hand the card over to him.

35. You’re starting a new job, and one of your co-workers tells you it’s up to the new guy to keep the coffee pot full for his first week. While you’re brewing the latest refill, muttering to yourself about how little you’re getting done that day, one of your co-workers starts choking and accuses you of trying to poison her.

36. Your home-brewed ale is the talk of the neighborhood, but your next-door neighbor frequently buys up your newest batch. You start imposing limits. He then starts telling other neighbors that your secret is adding pee from your pet guinea pigs, “But it’s cool, because urine is sterile. And that guinea pig pee really adds something!”

37. You inherit a lighthouse from your deceased uncle — along with the small living quarters attached to it. You move right in, looking forward to the solitude. But whenever you’re up at the top scanning the surface of the ocean, you see things that can’t possibly be there. And one of them sees you — and comes to visit.

38. You stop at the local nursery and pick up a new houseplant — a tiny, adorable succulent. The cashier looks nervous as she rings you up. “That plant isn’t normal. If you want to pick another one, I would totally understand.” She’s nodding with wide eyes as she says this, clearly hoping you’ll agree.

39. You live in a studio apartment. Your boss comes to bring you soup when you call in sick and sees the quilt on your bed, which you won at a raffle. “That’s the quilt my mom made!” she says. “She told me someone stole it.”

40. You take your kids trick-or-treating, and you go to your boss’s neighborhood (your boss suggested it). Most houses gave out full-sized candy bars, but one gave out treasure maps, and your kids want to find their treasures before you leave the neighborhood.

41. Someone offers you a chance to win a million dollars just by visiting his website and typing in your address. “I don’t need your checking account info. It’s not safe to give that to just anyone. I’ll just mail the check to you,”he writes.

42. You wonder what it would be like to be a famous actor, and someone, out of the blue, invites you to perform in his movie as an extra — “and, who knows, maybe something more… prominent.”

43. You get a call from the principal’s office that your daughter has been involved in a bullying incident. Someone was bullying her, and she punched him. There were witnesses, and the principal reminds you of their zero-tolerance policy for physical violence…

44. You get a call from the principal’s office that your son has been acting out toward his classmates (who, according to what he’s told you, have been behaving aggressively toward him) and had brought a weapon to school to protect himself. They’ve confiscated the weapon (a paring knife) and have called the police.

45. Your kid has an IEP, and the Special Ed staff at the school always sound so caring and professional at the meetings you attend with them. But your son tells you they behave very differently toward him. The principal assures you that she knows the staff would never do what your son has accused them of doing. She suggests your son may be lying.

46. Your young daughter notices that one of your trees is “sick,” and she goes to visit the tree, talks to it, leans against it, and tells it to please get better. It responds by growing stronger and larger, spreading its branches out and downward to create a sort of cave for your daughter to rest in when she wants to be alone. It becomes her haven.

47. You wake up one morning and start loading your excess possessions into boxes and bags and hauling it off to Goodwill to donate it. That’s when you find the tiny cameras hidden in the bathroom, and bugs hidden in every room.

48. Your favorite coffee mug has broken, and you’re in mourning. The mug you just bought as your “second” just doesn’t feel the same in your hand, but it surprises you by magically refilling your drink with every sip — and keeping it hot for you.

49. The moth on your ceiling doesn’t bother you — much. But every time you look, it’s there. And you wonder why it never leaves. When you finally get a step ladder to get a closer look at it, you can hardly believe what you’re seeing.

50. Your neighbors on the home office side of your house have never been friendly, but one day, the wife comes over with a pie and tells you she made it herself and that she’s tired of being cooped up in the house with no one but her husband to talk to. You look over and see the outline of her husband in an upstairs window.

51. Tired of getting hair in your face, you take an electric hair-trimmer and run it all over your head with the one-inch attachment. You look at the results with satisfaction.

52. Your spouse, who has never done or said a romantic thing since your honeymoon, suddenly comes home with an expensive bouquet and a travel brochure for a place you’ve always wanted to visit. Later on, someone delivers the car you’ve always wanted, and your husband unconvincingly feigns surprise. You ask him if he won the lottery, but he shakes his head and says, “This is way better. You’ll see.”

53. You’re out in your backyard and stumble over something, which turns out to be a small brick half-buried in the grass. You see initials etched into the brick, along with a crudely-shaped heart. You wonder what — or whom — might be buried beneath. Soon, you find other markers like it, and you wonder how you failed to notice them before.

54. Your neighbor invites you over to her house, and you see that every wall has a cross painted on it with crude, hurried strokes. You ask why, and she nervously clears her throat and says, “This place needs them.”

55. You watch an infomercial and order a new face cream, hoping it will restore a youthful look to your face. It does more than that.

56. Your teenage son gets a job and, on his first day, he encounters a rude customer. Unaccustomed to responding with calmness and diplomacy, he lashes out at the customer and gets himself fired. Instead of calling home for a ride, though, he takes a walk through town and runs into the same customer holding up a cardboard sign.

57. You put your headphones on when you start on your writing project, and, at some point, an unfamiliar voice interrupts your playlist to tell you he likes what you’ve written so far. And he thinks you’d get along great.

58. Your spouse starts trying different paint samples on walls all over the house, and you don’t like any of the colors; they’re either too bright or too dark. One day, you paint patches of a pale green-gray that you like next to his acid-bright or dark color patches, and he tells you it’s boring, and that he’s painting the house his way.

59. Someone keeps writing fortune-cookie phrases on your new whiteboard at work, and it’s irritating you. You ask around, and no one knows who keeps writing the messages. Then, one of the predictions comes true.

60. You look out the window while you’re working and you see one neighbor attacking his spouse, knocking her down and then kicking her. You call 9-1-1, but later on, the wife comes over and says, “I know it was you who called. And you’ve made everything worse!”

61. Every time you look outside and see the wind in the trees, you take a deep breath and feel calmer. When the air is still, you feel as though the whole world is holding its breath and that something bad is about to happen. So, when it’s calm outside, you picture wind in the trees and take a deep breath.

62. You see movement in the corner of your eye and whenever you look, you see a huge, black dog in the neighbor’s yard, running back and forth. This time, though, he runs into your yard and starts barking at your front door.

63. Your eight-year-old son gets up and immediately goes for his Kindle Fire to play Minecraft. You’ve found some educational apps you want him to try, so you’ve installed them on his Kindle. He comes to you a few minutes later and says, “This app is telling me to do things I’m not supposed to do.”

64. You try a new recipe for a potluck, hoping it will wow your boss and coworkers, but it turns out terrible, and you end up rushing to a restaurant for something to bring before arriving (late) to find out everyone has already eaten the entree you were most looking forward to trying. When the cops show up later to ask why everyone is violently ill except you, you tell them everything you know.

65. You take your teenage son to his orientation for a new job, and when you come back to pick him up an hour later, you find out no one has seen him — though you saw him walk in the door before you drove off.

66. You’re living in a world where everyone is born with a birthmark that matches that of their soulmate. But you are born without one.

67. You and your best friend are in a terrible car accident, and you both die. Your friend, however, has a very different account of what he saw on the other side.

68. You’re born with the ability to mentally manipulate DNA. You started with plants and moved on to your pets, who now have unique abilities. For the past few years, you’ve been hacking your own DNA.

69. You were raised in the deep South where manners and feigned politeness were a thin veneer covering your family’s questionable history and lingering dysfunction.

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107 Character Mannerisms For Writers

Did you find these short story ideas and prompts useful?

I hope your mind is buzzing with an idea you can’t wait to start playing with. Keep this article handy, so you can return to it when you’re looking for a new short story idea. You don’t have to follow any of them verbatim; take one and change the details however you like to make the idea your own.

Just don’t forget the “one shattering moment” for your character — and the importance of making an emotional impact on your reader. You make this impact as much with dialogue as with description and the structure of your story. Make it all count.

And when it comes time to edit, cut everything that dampens the impact of your story. Your readers will love you for it!

If you found value from this list of short story prompts, please share it and encourage others to pass it on to support and inspire as many fellow writers out there as possible. Why not even invite them to share their new short stories with you after they’ve written them?

And may your creative energy and goodwill infuse everything else you do today.

Story Writing Academy

How to Plan a Short Story: Free Story Planner Template

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Short stories have a lot of work to do. They have to convey vivid details about setting and characters while advancing a cohesive plot in a limited amount of space. Using a story planner template is an effective way to ensure a positive short story writing experience for both new writers and established ones alike. 

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The Benefits of a Story Planner Template

As a child, I was obsessed with writing. I carried notebooks everywhere I went and wrote short stories (and long ones!) in them whenever I could. 

The only problem was that my stories never really went anywhere. I mean, physically, they did. I traveled up and down the Pacific Northwest coast with my dad and my stories made some epic journeys.

But the plots always got stuck. I was really good at getting my characters into bad situations, but not so good at bringing them back out again.

Most of my stories just faded out somewhere in the middle. If they had an end, it was usually something like, “Suddenly, I woke up and realized it was all a dream.” Blech. It got to the point where I stopped writing for several years because I was afraid to tackle endings. 

That’s why, when my kids developed a passion for writing short stories, I worked on strategies to help them plan out their stories from the beginning. For every short story assignment or passion project they do, we sit down together and use a story planner template to develop a backbone for their work. 

The result is amazing: they are now adept at generating ideas, developing well-rounded characters, describing the setting, and planning out a plot with lots of twists and a satisfying resolution. I have to tell you, it’s quite hilarious when your child starts pointing out the emotional wounds of fictional characters and the universal life lessons that will help them overcome those wounds.

I write all my own stories this way too, from flash fiction to novels. I always need to know where they’re going. But whether you’re a go-with-the-flow kind of writer or a die-hard planner, there are things you need to know about your story before you start writing if you want to keep moving in the right direction.

In this post, we’ll look at how using a story planner template can lead to better short stories, and I’ll give you a free download you can use on your own or with students you teach. 

Why Writers Need a Story Planner

A story planner is an essential tool for helping writers organize their thoughts and ideas, create an outline for their story so they can avoid problems later on, and develop a visual roadmap for the writing journey that lays ahead of them.

It Helps Organize Thoughts and Ideas

When a new story idea strikes, a lot of information can come with it. This can be overwhelming if you don’t have a way to organize your racing thoughts. 

Conversely, a creative writing assignment might inspire no ideas whatsoever. You might stare at a blank page for an hour trying to come up with a single good idea.

Either way, a story plan helps establish a strong foundation for a good plot. For those with too many ideas, the story planner will help them narrow their ideas down and sort them into different buckets. It will also ensure they don’t lose any of their valuable story ideas. 

character development worksheet

For those who are struggling, the probing questions found in a story planner can effectively elicit new thoughts.

Not every story starts with the same elements. Sometimes, a short story might be born of a “What if’ question . For example, “What if you found a secret passage in your house that led to a different period in time?” These stories start with a premise and expand from there. 

Another story might start with a character idea. For example, my daughter wrote a story about a girl who was raised as a dragon slayer only to find out she was actually a dragon halfling. An interesting character provides many opportunities to craft a strong short story premise. 

Because the short story planner is flexible in its use, writers of all ages can start wherever they feel comfortable. You may have an idea for a character, or you may have a really neat setting in mind. Either way, story planners are useful tools for bringing these creative ideas together. 

Creating an Outline Helps Avoid Problems Later On

Even the most experienced writers can get bogged down in the details of their stories. It can be hard to keep track of information that you wrote or planned out several pages or chapters ago. 

Also, sometimes when you write by the seat of your pants without a plan, you can write yourself into a corner from which you can’t retreat. When that happens, you may have to rewrite large sections of the story or even start over from scratch. 

A basic planner helps you avoid this problem because you work out the major problems in advance.

For example, I was recently writing a story in which the main character’s husband needed to go away for a long time. It wasn’t so much that he needed to go away, but that I needed the main character to be left on her own. 

My initial plan was to send him off to take care of a sick relative but I couldn’t make it completely believable that his wife wouldn’t have gone with him. As I wrote this version of events in my planner, I came to see that I needed a different excuse to send him away, one that would prohibit his wife from joining him. I was able to come up with a plausible alternative before I ever put pen to paper. 

Figuring this out in the planning stage saved me from spending hours writing scenes that just wouldn’t have worked in a final draft, and helped put me on a better path from page one.

It Provides a Visual Roadmap of the Story

Writing a story is a journey in the truest sense of the word, and like every journey, it really helps to have a map. Knowing where you’re going and the path you’re planning to take to get there frees you up from having to figure out such things on the fly and allows your creative brain to just run wild with wonderful writing ideas . 

You want to equip kids to avoid the nitty-gritty work of trying to map out the story as they go. Once they have more experience as writers, they might be able to do this more readily but at the beginning, you really want to help them come up with a plan so that they don’t get stuck and frustrated. 

What Short Story Elements Should Your Story Planner Cover?

A story planner should cover all the important details a writer needs to consider when planning out their story. The amount of detail included will vary depending on a number of factors—how much of a plotter the writer is, how long and/or complex the story is, and how detailed the narrative needs to be.

In general, these are some of the elements a good story planner might cover.

Plot Development in a Story Planner

At a minimum, the story planner template should have an overview of the main plot points: What is going to happen in the story? This would include things like:

  • The exposition (or opening image) . How will we show what the character’s life is like at the beginning of the story?
  • Catalyst (or inciting incident) . What major event happens to the protagonist that sets things in motion? 
  • Rising action. How will we show the way tension and suspense build after the catalyst happens?
  • Climax . What will the height of the action be? How will the protagonist solve the problem?
  • Falling action . How will all the conflict that has arisen over the course of the story get resolved?
  • Resolution (or closing image) . What does the protagonist’s life look like after the events of the story take place? How has he or she grown as a person?

Not every short story will have all these elements in the same way that a novel would. For example, many short stories don’t start with exposition but with the catalyst. Likewise, resolutions are often much less, well, resolute in short stories than they are in novels. Nonetheless, even if a short story is going to truncate the plot outline, it’s still important to think about where is the best place to start and finish and what’s going to happen in between.

plot development worksheet

Character Development in the Story Planner

The next thing a story planner should look at is character development, which, in many cases, will be the heart of the story. As you plan your own story, you might create character profiles or character sketches by thinking about questions such as:

  • Who is this story about?
  • What kind of person are they? Is the protagonist a girl? a boy? a man or woman? a rabbit or a horse? an alien? 
  • How old are they?
  • What kind of job do they have or are they in school?
  • What do they look like and how do they dress? 
  • What are their personality traits?

But more importantly, of course, are the things going on inside of them.

  • What do they want?
  • What do they need? 
  • What are they afraid of?
  • What are their secrets?
  • Who are their friends?
  • Who are their enemies? 

And of course, we want to know what is standing in the way of them getting what they want, and the story planner template will help develop all of these aspects of the character.

A helpful writing process used by many successful writers is to map out character arcs showing who the character is at the beginning of the story and how they evolve or change as the story progresses.

Setting in the Story Planner

Another thing to consider before writing is the setting of the story. Where does it take place? On a farm? City? Another planet? The bottom of the sea? 

When does it take place? Does it take place in current times? Sometime in the past? Does it take place in the future or in a parallel universe? All of these details are going to have a huge impact on what the story looks like. 

Think about the details of those settings. What specific locales are going to come up in the story and how will you describe them? What do they look like? What do they sound like? What do they smell like?

The time period will also affect the setting. If it takes place in the past, how did they dress? How did they act? What kinds of laws or rules were they subjected to that differ from what we experience today? 

Again, many of these details apply more to older children or students than they do to emerging writers, but it’s never too early to start discussing the basics of story elements. 

How to Use a Story Planner

When you use a story planner template, such as the one at the bottom of this post, you decide how much detail you want to include for each of your writing projects.

In Your Own Projects

Maybe you want to go through all of it, or you may use specific pages or steps in the process. Consider your focus: what are you trying to get out of this assignment? Which elements of the story planner will best support you in that goal?

As a Teacher

If you’re teaching the elements of story to your students, you can also use the story planner as a companion tool. So, for example, you might create a long-term writing project wherein the students complete each page of the story planner after you’ve taught a specific topic. 

While younger students—those in grades 3 to 5, say—will likely need a lot of support as they work through a story planner, middle school and high school students who have received instruction on the story elements will need less. You may want to go through the story planner once together as an example and then let them give it a go on their own and see what they come up with. 

However you decide to use it, on your own or in the classroom, a story planner template will bring together all the pieces of the story so you can focus on unleashing creativity and developing the best stories possible.  

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Short Story Writing for Students and Teachers

short story writing guide

What Is a Short Story?

The clue is in the title!

Short stories are like novels only…well…shorter! They contain all the crucial elements of fully developed stories except on a smaller scale.

In short story writing, you’ll find the key story elements such as characterization, plot development, themes explored, etc., but all within a word count that can usually be comfortably read in one sitting.

Short stories are just one of many storytelling methods; like the others, they help us derive meaning from our world.

Visual Writing Prompts

How Do Short Stories Differ From Novels?

The reduced scale of a short story explains most of the differences the form has with longer forms such as novels.

Short stories usually have a tighter focus on a single main character and rarely shift between perspectives the way we often find in longer works of fiction.

Space is of the essence in this form, so long passages of exposition are usually avoided and the story starting at the last possible moment.

In purely numerical terms, short stories can be anywhere between about 1,000 to around 20,000 words or so, though many would consider even 10,000 too long.

A short novel clocks in at around 60,000 words, with word counts between 20-60,000 words being taken up by that red-headed stepchild of prose, the novella.

THE STORY TELLERS BUNDLE OF TEACHING RESOURCES

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A MASSIVE COLLECTION of resources for narratives and story writing in the classroom covering all elements of crafting amazing stories. MONTHS WORTH OF WRITING LESSONS AND RESOURCES, including:

How to Write a Short Story

Good storytelling is an art. But, luckily it’s a craft too and, like any craft, the skills and techniques can be learned by anyone.

In this article, we’ll first take a look at some ways to kickstart the short story writing process, before taking a look at some of the structural considerations essential for students to understand before they write their short stories.

We’ll also explore some simple practical activities that will help students to draw on their creative resources and personal experiences to help bring their stories to life.

Finally, we’ll look at some general tips to help students put a final polish on their masterpieces before they share them with the world.

How t o begin a story

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Create a Dramatic Question

The first thing a student needs to do when writing a short story is to create a dramatic question. Without a dramatic question, readers will have no motivation to read on as there will be no story .

This dramatic question can take many forms, but as it will be the driver of the plot, it will be the single most important element of the story.

Take the movie Rocky as an example. In it, an aging journeyman boxer, Rocky Balboa, answers two dramatic questions:

1. Will Rocky find love?

2. Can he become the Heavyweight Champion of the World?

Often the dramatic question is of this will she/won’t she type. But, whatever form it takes, there must be some obstacles put in the way of answering it.

These obstacles can come in the form of an external obstacle, such as an antagonist or a negative environment, or the form of an internal obstacle, such as heartbreak or grief.

This is the conflict that creates the crucial element of suspense necessary to engage the reader’s interest.

Whatever form a student’s dramatic question takes, it will provide the plot impetus and how the student will explore their story’s theme.

Practice Activity: Identify the Dramatic Question

It is good practice for students to attempt to identify the dramatic question any time they read a book or watch a movie. Ask the students to think of some classic or popular books and movies that they are already familiar with. Can they extract the major dramatic question from each?

Find Inspiration in the World Around

One of the most common complaints from students, when asked to write a short story, is that they don’t know what to write about. This is the age-old curse of writer’s block.

Figuring out what to write about is the first hurdle students will need to overcome. Luckily, the inspiration for stories lies everywhere. We just need to help students to know where to look.

As writers, students must learn to see the world around them with the freshness of the eyes of a young child. This requires them to pay close attention to the world around them; to slow things down enough to catch the endless possibilities for stories that exist all around.

Luckily, we have the perfect activity to help our students to do this.

Practice Activity: Breathe Life into the Story

We can find stories and the details for our stories everywhere.

Students need to tune their ear to the fragments of stories in snatches of overheard daily conversations. They need to pay enough attention to catch their own daydreaming what-ifs on the bus to school or to keep an eye out for all those little human interest stories in the local newspaper.

Once the living details of life are noticed, students need to capture them quickly by recording them in a journal. This journal will become a great resource for the student to dip into for inspiration while writing their stories.

Those half-heard conversations, those anecdotes of street life witnessed through a bus window, the half-remembered dreams scribbled down while gulping down a rushed breakfast. All these can provide jumping-off points and rich detail for a student’s short story.

Outline and Prepare

Preparation is important when writing a short story. Without a doubt. There is, however, a very real danger of preparation becoming procrastination for our student writers.

Students must learn to make their preparation time count. The writing process is much more productive if students invest some time in brainstorming and organizing their ideas at the start.

To organize their short story, students will need to understand the basic elements of structure described in the next section, but the following activity will first help them to access some of the creative gold in their imaginations. The discipline of structure can be applied afterward.

Practice Activity: Dig for Nuggets

For this activity, give each student a large piece of paper, such as a leaf from an artist’s sketchbook, to brainstorm their ideas. Employing a large canvas like this encourages more expansive thinking.

Instruct students to use colored pens to write sentences, phrases, and fragments, even doodles. Anything that helps them to dump the contents of their mind onto the paper. This is all about sifting through the rubble for those nuggets of gold. Students shouldn’t censor themselves, but instead, allow their mind’s free reign.

To help your students get started, you can provide them with some prompts or questions as jumping-off points. For example:

  • What is your basic premise?
  • What is the story about?
  • Who are your main characters?
  • Where is your story set?  

Encourage students to generate their own questions too by allowing their minds ample room to roam. Generating new questions in this way will help them gather momentum for the telling of their tale.

SHORT STORY WRITING STRUCTURE

Even getting off to a great start, students often find themselves in difficulties by the middle of their story, especially if they haven’t achieved a firm grasp of structure yet.

The main elements students will need to master are plot, theme, and character development.

In this section, we’ll take a look at each of these in turn.

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Plot refers to the events of the story. This is the what of the tale. It’s useful for students to understand the arc of the plot in five sections: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

Exposition: This is the introductory part of your story. It should introduce the reader to the central characters and orientate them to the setting.

Rising Action: Here the student begins by introducing the central dramatic question which will be the engine of the story. A series of obstacles must be placed in the way of the main character that will increase suspense and tension as the story moves forward toward the climax.

Climax: The climax is the dramatic high point of the story. This is where interest peaks and the emotions rise to their most intense.

Falling Action: Now the conflict is resolving and we are being led out to the story’s end.

Resolution: The central dramatic question has been answered, usually in either a happy or tragic manner, and many loose ends are tied up.

Practice Activity: Instruct students to use the five-part plot structure above to map an outline for their tale before writing .

If the plot consists of the series of events that constitute the story, then the theme refers to what those events mean.

The theme of a story is the underlying message of the story.

What is the ‘big idea’ behind all the action of the plot? This is open to a certain amount of interpretation on the part of the reader, but usually, a little reflection by the student writer will reveal what the events of the plot mean to them.

If, as described in the introduction, stories are how we derive meaning from the world, the theme will reveal the writer’s perspective on things.

Practice Activity: Organize students into groups and ask them to list their Top 5 movies or books of all time. Instruct them to briefly outline the main plot points using the plot structure above. When they’ve completed that, instruct the students to discuss what they think the main themes of each of the works of fiction were.

A COMPLETE UNIT ON TEACHING STORY ELEMENTS

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Character Development IN SHORT STORY WRITING

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No doubt about it, characterization is essential to the success of any short story. Just how important characterization is will depend on whether the story is plot-driven or action-driven.

In the best writing, regardless of genre or length, the characters will be at least plausible. There is a lot that students can do to ensure their stories are populated with more than just cardboard cutouts.

One effective way to do this is to reveal a character through their actions. This is the old show, don’t tell trick at work.

A good short story writer will allow the character to reveal their temperament and personality through their actions.

For example, instead of merely describing a character as putting a mug on the table, perhaps they bring it down with a thud that betrays their anger.

Another great way to reveal character is in the use of dialogue. How characters speak to each other in a story can reveal a lot about their status, mood, and intent, etc.

Our students must learn to draw complex characters. Archetypes may serve us well in some contexts, but archetypes are not real people. They are caricatures. If our students want to people their fictional world with real people, they need to create complex, even contradictory characters, just like you and I are.

If their characters are too consistent, they are too predictable. Predictability kills suspense, which in turn kills the reader’s interest.

Practice Activity: Reveal Mood through Action

For this simple activity, provide the students with a list of emotions. Now, challenge the students to concoct a short scene where a character performs an action or actions that reveal the chosen mood.

To start, you might allow the students a paragraph in which to reveal the emotion. You might reduce this to just a sentence or two as they get better at it. Remind students that they need to show the emotion, not tell it!

HOW TO POLISH AND REFINE A SHORT STORY

Now students have already had a look at how to begin and how to structure a story, we’ll take a look at a few quick tips on how they can polish their stories generally – especially during the editing process.

Write Convincing Dialogue:

For students, investing time in learning how to write great dialogue is time well spent.

Not only is well-written dialogue great for revealing character, but it will break up intimidating walls of text too.

Dialogue is a great way to move the story forward and to provide subtle exposition.

 As mentioned earlier, journals are the perfect place to dump interesting snatches of conversation that become a valuable resource for writing convincing dialogue – except, of course, if you are passing through North Korea or the like!

Vary Sentence Length:

 When finished with their first drafts, encourage students to read their work out loud when editing and rewriting.

Often, students will be surprised to realize just how regular the rhythm of their sentences has become.

Like musicians, writers have chops. It’s easy to fall back on the same few favored structures time and again. Students can do a lot to spice up their writing simply by varying sentence lengths.

Shorter sentences are pacier and punchier while longer sentences can slow things down, calming the reader, then, boom!

Varying sentence length throughout a story prevents the writing from becoming stale and monotonous.

Punctuation:

As with varying sentence length above, the rhythm of a story can be altered through the choice of punctuation.

Students can think of punctuation as musical notation marks. It’s designed to help the reader understand the composer’s intention for how it is to be read and interpreted.

Students should understand punctuation as an imperfect but effective tool. Its use affects not only the work’s rhythm but also the meaning.

It is well worth the student’s time to perfect their use of punctuation.

To Conclude                                                  

There are a lot of moving parts to short stories.

From the nuts and bolts of grammar and punctuation to crafting a plot and exploring big thematic ideas, mastering the art of short story writing takes time and lots of practice.

With so much ground to cover, it’s impossible to address every aspect in a single unit of work on short story writing.

Be sure to offer students opportunities to see the short story in action in the work of accomplished writers, as well as opportunities to practice the various aspects of short story writing mentioned above.

Draw attention to writing best practices when they appear even in work unrelated to the short story.

Lots of time and plenty of practice might just reveal a latter-day O. Henry or Edgar Allen Poe sat in one of the desks right in front of you.

SHORT STORY WRITING CHECKLIST BUNDLE

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SHORT STORY WRITING VIDEO TUTORIAL

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The content for this page has been written by Shane Mac Donnchaidh.  A former principal of an international school and English university lecturer with 15 years of teaching and administration experience. Shane’s latest Book, The Complete Guide to Nonfiction Writing , can be found here.  Editing and support for this article have been provided by the literacyideas team.

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200 Amazing Short Story Ideas for Creative Writing

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Writing a short story requires a lot of creativity and knowledge. At first, you should have a great short story idea to develop a plot. Usually, many people will find it difficult to come up with a unique idea for their short story. Right now, do you have to submit a short story for your creative writing assignment? Are you experiencing writer’s block and have no idea how to begin your short story? Cool! Especially to help you out, in this blog post, we have compiled a list of creative short story ideas in different genres.

If you want to break the block, then feel free to make use of the short story writing prompts listed below. The ideas suggested here would be useful for you to write short stories for creative writing assignments or competitions.

Additionally, for your better understanding, we have explained how to write an engaging short story. Also, we have shared some important tips for generating short story ideas or short essays on your own.

Continue reading this blog post and get excellent ideas for short story writing.

Short Story Ideas

What is a Short Story?

What is a short story? It is a brief form of prose fiction that is shorter than a novel. Often, short stories are written to communicate a moral, record a moment, or evoke a mood. In general, short stories majorly revolve around some common elements such as setting, characters, plot, themes, and conflict.

Basically, short stories come in different structures, styles, and sizes. But a traditional short story typically ranges between the word limit of 1000 words and 5000 words. It can also be longer than 10,000 words. However, some exceptions also exist for the word count.

As said earlier, short stories come in various styles or forms such as flash fiction and micro-fiction. The flash fiction stories will normally follow a word limit of between 500 and 1000 words. The micro-fiction stories are concise and will fall under 500 words.

Learn How to Write an Engaging Short Story

If you know how to write a short story, then you can effortlessly tune your mind and try to break the barriers that exist before you. As it is a shorter format of a story, many people think that it is easy to craft. But indeed it is not. Compressing your core idea into a shorter form and adding all the necessary elements needed for a long story into it is definitely not simple.

Remember, writing a short story is even more tedious than a novel or long story writing. However, having an idea of how to write a short story may help you to come up with great work. So, for your understanding, here, we have briefly shared the short story writing steps. While writing a short story, make sure to execute them in order.

  • Think and identify a fascinating short story idea.
  • Find out the structure and aim of your short story.
  • For your short story, analyze and find out 5 common elements such as plot, characters, setting, conflict, and themes.
  • Select a feeling or an emotion that you desire to evoke in your story.
  • Organize all the ideas that you have gathered through analysis and craft a short story outline.
  • With the help of the prepared short story outline, start writing the first draft of the short story.
  • Write a catchy opening to grab your readers’ attention.
  • Build the story with logical scenes and interesting dialogue.
  • Sensibly conclude the story with a good climax.
  • Revise and edit the draft multiple times until you get complete satisfaction.

Short Story Ideas

Tips for Generating Your Own Short Story Ideas

In the short story writing process, finding a short story idea is the first step. Basically, some writers will easily come up with an original short story idea on their own, while many people will find it difficult to generate a short story idea. In general, there is no standard definition for a ‘great story idea’. Your story idea will look great only in the way you present it because it’s like your research paper topic .

Most importantly, your short story idea should have valid answers to the following questions.

  • Who is the primary character in your story?
  • What is the ultimate aim of your main character?
  • What stops the main character from achieving the goal?

Discussed below are a few interesting ways that you can follow to develop your own short story ideas without depending on others.

Think about the elements of fiction

If you are unable to think of what to write and where to start your story, then try to bring up a short story idea by taking into account the following elements of fiction.

Plot: The main events in the story.

Setting: The location where the story happens.

Characters: The persons in the story.

Theme: The subject of the story.

Point of View: From whose eyes the story is narrated?

Style: A particular way of narrating a story by framing words differently.

The fictional elements listed above will help you to create an exciting idea. Are you wondering how? Cool, it is actually simple. For your understanding, below we have explained a few examples.

First, design your main character with certain physical traits of your desire. Next, develop a plot around your main character in any specific setting. Remember, a story is considered to be good only if it has a proper structure that contains a catchy introduction, a serious conflict, and a convincing climax. Therefore, with the character you have designed, think about a conflict that stops your character from reaching its goal. Also, find compelling ways to handle that conflict. So, by following this way, you can come up with a great short story idea.

Similarly, you can stick to the same way and generate an idea for your short story by finding a setting first instead of the main character. Say, for instance, at first, spot a location for your short story and then having that premise in mind build a plot, characters, and conflict of your story.

Craft a short story that you desire to read

If your mind box is empty without any story idea, then imagine the story that you have always wanted to read. It is not necessary to bring up a revolutionary short story idea. A simple storyline that you desire to read is enough.

For example, if you love reading science fiction and mystery, then you can very well blend both these genres and come up with your own idea if you haven’t experienced any story of that type.

Take your own time, think deeply, and identify the story that you want this world to listen to or the story that you wish to read. Note that, thinking in this aspect would help you to find out an engaging short story idea for your creative writing task.

Improvise an existing story

You will end up in plagiarism issues if you write a story similar to the one that is already published. So, instead, you can view the already written story from a different viewpoint and develop a new short story idea.

Say, for instance, you can pick a less significant scene from your favorite novel and use it as an opening scene for your short story with mild modifications. Whenever you use an idea from others’ work try to modify the characters in it and add new elements to make the scene look original. Once you have found the opening for your short story, you can drive your imagination and develop the whole story.

Plagiarism is wrong but inspiration is acceptable. Just by making minor changes, you can write a new version of an old story. Whenever you collapse because of writer’s block, you can smartly use this way to find a short story idea on your own.

Find ideas from real-life

To identify a short story idea, you can look for events in your personal life. It is not mandatory to write your personal story or experiences. Instead, you can pick an idea from real-life events in news articles, situations you have seen, or events that have happened to the person you know.

Say for example, based on any historical event you can create a historical fiction.

Your imagination will help you derive more fascinating short story ideas. So, every time your ideas go out of stock, note down any real-life event that inspired you and give a new shade to that story by adding a new twist to present it as your own.

Take help from creative writing prompts

One of the best ways to escape from writer’s block is to let others start the story for you. For creative writing assignments, a lot of creative writing prompts are available on many online websites. You can refer to them all and choose any idea that impresses you.

In order to make your creative writing task easier, we have also added 200 short story writing prompts below. Without any hesitation, you can make use of those ideas for writing your short story.

Note that the short story ideas that you get from the web search are only for your inspiration. You should use your imagination and creative writing skills to develop that prompt into a gripping short story without plagiarism.

Short Story Ideas

List of Short Story Ideas on Various Genres

Here are some interesting short story ideas on various genres such as science fiction, horror, mystery, romance, and so on.

If you struggle to generate your own short story idea, then feel free to access the below-suggested list. From the whole list, you can very well select any creative writing prompt under your favorite genre.

Short Story Ideas – Include 3 Elements in the Story

  • Aerobics, a secret diary, and something unpleasant under the bed.
  • An antique, a torn letter, and a familiar-looking stranger.
  • A taxi, an old enemy, and Valentine’s Day.
  • A family secret, a string of pearls, and the desire for revenge.
  • A sports car, a rope, and an obnoxious ex-girlfriend.
  • A stolen ring, fear of spiders, and a sinister stranger.
  • A magic trick, a shadow, and a missing friend.
  • An ice storm, a bicycle, and a treasure map.
  • An ex-girlfriend, binoculars, and a good-luck charm.
  • A horoscope, a makeup kit, and a missing tooth.

Short Story Ideas for Kids

  • Mysterious symbols are appearing all over the village. It is up to your main character to decrypt the code and find out the meaning of those symbols.
  • While cleaning up your basement you find out a puzzling key that takes you to a new universe.
  • You find a golden pen in a magic shop. Whatever you write with that pen turns true.
  • Write a short story dedicated to your best friend.
  • A computer hacker accidentally releases a deadly computer virus making all machines attack people.
  • Craft a short story from the point of view of a young stray cat looking for her mother who is a house cat.
  • You return home from school to find scattered papers all over your living room floor and your family is missing.
  • Write a short tale from the point of view of an alien living on Mars.
  • You look in the mirror and see nothing – not even a reflection of yourself.
  • Write the story of Hansel and Gretel from the viewpoint of the witch who lives in the Gingerbread house.
  • Your sister who you believed was dead thumps at your entryway.
  • The spaceship of an Astronaut, who is studying life on the moon, breaks down, leaving him helpless on the moon.
  • Write a short story devoted to your mother.
  • After reading a cursed book, all your nightmares start becoming real.
  • Write a brief tale inspired by a recent argument you had.

Also read: A Simple Guide on How to Write a Short Essay

Short Story Ideas for Middle School Students

  • Prepare a short story about a mad scientist who has found a way to combine human DNA with animal DNA to create a superhuman.
  • Your character has an amazing chance to take a ride on a spaceship to another planet in the galaxy.
  • The primary character finds out how to travel through time. He decides to go.
  • Craft a brief tale about a group of garden fairies being at war with the garden gnomes.
  • Your character wakes up with the ability to talk to the family pet.
  • One by one, students from your class are going missing. It’s up to you to find out the reason.
  • Your main character follows a street cat and ends up in a world where cats rule the planet and humans are their pets.
  • A girl is walking along the beach when she finds a hidden pathway.
  • Create a short story about modern-day sleeping beauty.
  • Your character gets trapped in a mysterious house.
  • After visiting a magic shop and buying nothing, the shop owner curses you. Now, wherever you go, people keep laughing at you and you are unaware of the reason.
  • The protagonist has to face the greatest fear in life.
  • Your character awakens to find that they have turned into a character in their favorite book.
  • A trip to the Amazon rainforest gets deadly when you and your team meet a group of warriors protecting the rainforest from outsiders.
  • Your character creates an invention that changes the way the world works.

Short Story Ideas for High School Students

  • Three strangers win a getaway vacation together.
  • A war hero returns home and tries to make connections with old friends.
  • Write a short story about a character who is the complete opposite of you.
  • Your character is caught shoplifting. The shop owner says that she won’t call the police but instead demands a personal favor.
  • Write a story about your favorite childhood fairytale that has come to life.
  • You are babysitting two kids after school and it’s a spooky, stormy night. You hear a loud crash.
  • A retired couple explores life in a foreign country without family.
  • Write a story from the viewpoint of an animal at the local shelter.
  • Your character changes jobs to have more time with his family. But his family doesn’t appear to be excited about having him around…
  • An adopted child starts receiving tens of letters from people who claim they’re her parents.

Also read: Human Resources Research Topics and Ideas To Consider

Captivating Short Story Writing Prompts

  • Write a story that starts with the sound of raindrops on a metal can.
  • Prepare a funny story about a box of photos and the secrets they contain.
  • Craft a story about what it’s like to interview people for a living.
  • Write about a blogger who unintentionally reveals something major in their exploration.
  • Narrate a story about a dog that lost its eyesight.
  • Write about someone who’s afraid to feel the wind.
  • Create a brief story about a character that can’t stop lying to those closest to them.
  • Write a story from the viewpoint of a ghost at a funeral.
  • Compose a story about a mystery room underneath an open field.
  • Write about the lives of two hamsters as they escape from their cage.

Amazing Short Story Topics

  • A middle-aged woman finds a ghost.
  • A young couple runs into the path of a serial killer.
  • Your character is content with her life but suddenly inherits a large sum of money and a beautiful estate on the east coast.
  • A girl starts receiving messages from someone who knows her deepest fears and intends to exploit them.
  • Tell the story of a scar.
  • Your character has just lost a child by miscarriage, and when she comes home, her married life has changed.
  • A young prodigy becomes orphaned.
  • Your main character wakes up alone in an unfamiliar place.
  • A group of children finds a dead body near their play area.
  • Your orphaned character buys a house and moves in to find that it’s already occupied by the spirits of the character’s long-dead parents, who aren’t at all like the people other relatives have described.

Also read: Economics Essay Topics For Students To Choose From

Unique Creative Writing Prompts

  • Write a story about a lie told over breakfast.
  • Prepare a brief tale involving a camera and a pack of ice.
  • Write a story from the viewpoint of a plant.
  • Create a short story about a card game that turns out badly.
  • Craft a story involving a song your character knows but doesn’t remember.
  • Write a funny story about a man and his lost scarf.
  • Narrate a story based on a lost bracelet.
  • Write a short story about an orphan who can hear whispers.
  • Develop a story about a guitar with a unique signature on the inside.
  • Write a short story involving a rare book and two people fighting over it.

Interesting Short Story Ideas

  • A dog witnesses a murder and struggles to alert the proper people in charge.
  • Write a story from the viewpoint of a mouse.
  • A character tries to stay cool in a conversation with the police.
  • Write about two birds and their role in bank theft.
  • A man on a business trip rents a child to be his son for the day.
  • In a marketing company, a salesman finds it hard to meet his quota for the day.
  • A hacker competes with another hacker to hack into a website.
  • Write a short story involving three women and a stolen cane.
  • Your main character tries to convince their friend to become vegan.
  • A character who collects dolls notices one is missing from the shelf.

Excellent Short Story Starters

  • “I don’t think you’re capable of love.”
  • It’s impossible to tell really, just how many times I’ve come back.
  • “Are you sure you need to do this?” the man asked as he positioned the needle over her heart.
  • All four tires were on the ground, but I had begun floating toward the surface.
  • “What’s that smell?”
  • “Is this your handwriting?” the policeman asked with a scowl.
  • “Are you sure you want to do this?” the man asked as he positioned the needle over her heart.
  • “We’re sending you to live with another family. It’s for your own safety.”
  • Tears filled her eyes as she scanned the list a second time. She didn’t make the team.
  • The doctor emerged from the double doors and said, “There were some unexpected complications.”
  • He opened the letter and sank to his knees in the middle of the driveway.
  • “What are we going to do once the remainder of this food is gone?” he asked.
  • “Do you have experience with demons?” she whispered from under the table.
  • “Why is all of Daddy’s stuff in the front yard?”
  • “Don’t lie to me. I already know the truth.”

Short Story Ideas on Science Fiction

  • A scientist uncovers a secret doorway that leads to a life-changing future.
  • A hacker with the ability to create holograms anywhere soon leaves police unable to tell real crimes from illusions.
  • A new chemical weapon makes your whole Special Forces team invisible. The only person who can see you is your controller.
  • Your primary character can see the future and doesn’t want to leave his/her home.
  • The police chief of a small town is murdered by someone who claims to be an alien.
  • Your future child pays you a visit and begs you, “Don’t go on the business trip,” without explaining why.
  • Every day, you visit the same moment from your past.
  • A neurologist invents a device that allows people to record and re-watch their dreams.
  • Your main character is given a suit that protects them from danger. Unfortunately, it has a different threshold for safety than seems ideal.
  • Write about a new planet that has life just like Earth.

Mystery and Horror Short Story Ideas

  • Your main character has a conversation with a ghost from the past.
  • The protagonist wakes up wearing a strange ring that glows with sparks of blue electricity.
  • An escaped convict leaves behind evidence of his innocence for the search party to find.
  • A character buys a new coat, only to find a mysterious message sewn into the lining of it.
  • Write a mystery short story about what happened with a lamp and a missing tooth.
  • The doorbell rings. No one is there, but a secretive bundle was left behind. Your character opens it up and finds something inside that’s much unexpected.
  • Write a story about how one detective solved a mystery by using Instagram.
  • A tennis player wakes up covered with strange tattoos and can’t remember how he got them.
  • A girl is trapped in a dream that is quickly becoming a nightmare.
  • Your primary character finds a black wooden door in the basement, shut tight with chains.
  • Two friends are playing chess. One of them can read minds, the other one can see the future
  • Amazon has invented time travel and introduced pre-emptive shipping. Today, you receive something completely unexpected from your future self
  • Pick a genre of your choice and then write about a long walk home after work
  • Your best friend from school is leaving town forever, and you haven’t told him your special feelings for him
  • The night before an important social function, your main character is tasked with saving the world

Romance and Drama Short Story Ideas

  • Express a romance told through a series of texts.
  • Write an unrequited love story using situational irony.
  • Narrate a love story that starts and ends in 24 hours.
  • Craft a story that ends with a Happily Ever After note.
  • Your main character and his best friend find themselves in a love triangle with the same girl.
  • Write a romance about two old friends after they’ve been married, divorced, and moved back home.
  • Your main character gets a new job, working at the evil corporation run by your antagonist the work they would be doing could really help people.
  • The protagonist is at a friend’s house for a dinner party. Suddenly, someone they totally hate walks in. What do they do now?
  • “Do you have a minute?” asks the stranger who was reading beside you on a park bench.
  • A young boy working up the courage to ask his long-time crush to dance with him at the school dance.
  • Your antagonist wins over your main character’s best friend, convincing that friend of their good intentions.
  • Rewrite a popular romantic scene from the viewpoint of a bystander who has no idea what is going on.
  • Your main character gets a new job, working at the evil corporation run by your antagonist—but the work they would be doing could really help people.
  • Write a romance story that opens with a woman quickly throwing apples at the bread aisle in a grocery store.
  • Your character gets matched up with a famous person on Tinder. What happens during their date?

Miscellaneous Short Story Topics

  • Once upon a time, on a night with no stars and no moon, there was a shadow in the darkness.
  • Your antagonist and protagonists are placed in the same dorm room at the university.
  • You were waiting at a crosswalk when someone you didn’t know started waving from across the street.
  • As the floor and the walls shake, you know there is only one way to survive.
  • Your main character has been knocked unconscious, and another character from your story needs to step up and take their place.
  • You are granted one wish. But you have to apply the wish for someone else.
  • Write a story where your character is fighting against a family tradition.
  • You got on the wrong bus and ended up in a remote town where things seemed a little odd.
  • Develop a story where your character faces a deep fear.
  • Write a story where your character finds out a rumor is circulating about them.
  • A girl attempting to uncover the lore of their village
  • A police officer confronts a mistake they made and hid while on the job
  • A brother and sister uncover an old letter from their parents that makes them question everything about their family history
  • A girl prepares for her first day of middle school with a new outfit and makeup her mom let her pick out for the first time
  • A coffee date with your childhood crush that has gone terribly wrong

Also read: Innovative Proposal Essay Topics for Students

Innovative Short Story Ideas for Teens

  • List the top five things you are most afraid will happen to you. Afterward, create a narrative in which one of these occurs to your character.
  • Consider a significant issue that one of your friends had to deal with. Then compose a narrative in which your protagonist struggles with that issue.
  • What is a terrible habit you have?
  • Create a character with a far worse instance of the bad habit than you do. Create a narrative where your character gets into problems because of this behavior.
  • Which of your strengths stands out the most?
  • Create a character who lacks this ability. Make up a scenario where possessing this ability is crucial for your character. Describe your character’s actions. Pen the narrative.
  • A party invitation, identical twins, and a locked closet.
  • Peppermints, a broken watch, and an excessive hug.
  • Exercise, a hidden journal, and an uncomfortable object under the bed.
  • Binoculars, a good luck charm, and an ex-boyfriend.
  • In the midst of a war, the women of a local town abandon their neighborhood only a week before their husbands and sons return
  • A character discovers they have the ability to visit the past and future, but at the risk that they’ll lose something valuable
  • In the midst of a plague-ridden Venice, an inspector begins a series of unethical experiments to find a cure
  • A character that confronts his/her illogical but deeply real fear of being sucked down by the bathtub drain
  • A character is told a deep family secret that they must protect until their death, no matter how much it torments them

Suspense Short Story Topics

  • The body of the person your main character hates the most is the one in which they awaken.
  • Strange, otherworldly guests arrive at an outdoor music festival and choose to perform on stage themselves.
  • When a guy awakens, he finds that while he can no longer hear, he can see things for the first time.
  • When a guy and his dog go to the dog park to play, the dog discovers an oddly carved bone that responds to its surroundings in surprising ways.
  • Your main character must work with a secondary character who turns out to be “The Chosen One” in order for them to accomplish their destiny.
  • A character in your story realizes that they are part of a narrative.
  • Our protagonist awakens deaf but with more color than they ever imagined imaginable.
  • Every time your main character walks into a room, their theme tune plays for 10 seconds.
  • A comic book character comes to see your protagonist and asks for their assistance.
  • Your character is unable to awaken from a string of consecutive nightmares that feel like they are happening right now.
  • A pair of best friends realize they’re two corners of a love triangle — they both have feelings for the same person
  • Instead of trying to get a man on the moon, every nation raced to be the first at the very bottom of the ocean
  • You are home alone watching TV. A character dials a number on their phone. Your phone rings
  • Write a story that draws from a moment in your life where you wish you’d made a different choice. Have your protagonist make that choice, and then see what happens
  • A wand-maker goes to the forest ready to work, only to find a group of environmentalists camped out in front of their favorite hemlock tree

Awesome Short Story Prompts

  • A flood swept away an entire town, leaving only the library and its strange secret.
  • The antagonist dies, but the story doesn’t end.
  • A parent and child encounter their ancestor, who has been dead for centuries, and they go on a walk through the city.
  • Your main character discovers a long-lost sibling who is down on their luck.
  • Your antagonist and protagonist swap places for a day.
  • She shut off the kitchen light and turned to go upstairs to bed, unaware that two sets of eyes were watching her every move.
  • “I’ve lost him,” she screamed, but none of us knew what she’d lost.
  • Looking into the fire was the wrong thing to do. He found he couldn’t drag his stare away.
  • “Mommy, there’s a ghost in my room!”
  • A character in your story becomes aware that they are in a story.

Wrapping Up

From the list of 200 creative short story topics suggested in this blog, without any hesitation, pick any idea or prompt that inspires you. In case, you still haven’t identified any idea for short story writing, quickly reach out to us for creative assignment writing help online. To provide original short story ideas for you, at greatassignmenthelp.com, we have numerous excellent creative writers. As per your requirements, the experts in our team will assist you with short story idea selection, short story writing, and editing. Most importantly, by utilizing our assignment writing service online, you can complete your creative writing exercises without missing the deadline. Note that, the solutions that you receive would be innovative enough to help you in achieving excellent grades.

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50 Fantastic Creative Writing Exercises

short story assignment creative writing

Good question.

Creative writing exercises are designed to teach a technique. They are highly specific, more specific than creative writing prompts, and much more specific than story generators.

Creative writing exercises for adults are not designed to lead the writer into crafting a full story, but are only designed to help them improve as a writer in a narrow, specific category of writing skills.

I’ve broken the exercises below into categories so you can choose what category of skill you’d like to practice. Can you guess which category in this list has the most prompts?

If you guessed characters, then you’re right. I think characters are the heart blood of every story, and that a majority of any writing prompts or writing exercises should focus on them.

But I also think any of these will help you create a narrative, and a plot, and help you generate all kinds of dialogue, whether for short stories or for novels. These writing exercises are pretty much guaranteed to improve your writing and eliminate writer’s block. 

Also, if you’re a fledgling writer who needs help writing their novel, check out my comprehensive guide to novel writing.

Enjoy the five categories of writing exercises below, and happy writing!

five senses

1. Think of the most deafening sound you can imagine. Describe it in great detail, and have your character hear it for the first time at the start of a story.

2. Have a man cooking for a woman on a third date, and have her describe the aromas in such loving and extended detail that she realizes that she’s in love with him.

3. Pick a line from one of your favorite songs, and identify the main emotion. Now write a character who is feeling that emotion and hears the song. Try to describe the type of music in such a beautiful way that you will make the reader yearn to hear the song as well.

4. Have a character dine at a blind restaurant, a restaurant in pitch blackness where all the servers are blind, and describe for a full paragraph how the tablecloth, their clothing, and the hand of their dining partner feels different in the darkness.

5. Select a dish representative of a national cuisine, and have a character describe it in such detail that the reader salivates and the personality of the character is revealed.

Dialogue exercises

7. Describe two characters having a wordless conversation, communicating only through gestures. Try to see how long you can keep the conversation going without any words spoken, but end it with one of them saying a single word, and the other one repeating the same word.

8. In a public place from the last vacation you took, have two characters arguing, but make it clear by the end of the argument that they’re not arguing about what they’re really upset about.

9. Write a scene composed mostly of dialogue with a child talking to a stranger. Your mission is to show the child as heartbreakingly cute. At the same time, avoid sentimentality. 

10. Have two character have a conversation with only a single word, creating emphasis and context so that the word communicates different things each time it is spoken. The prime example of this is in the television show “The Wire,” where Jimmy and Bunk investigate a crime scene repeating only a single expletive.

short story assignment creative writing

11. Pick an object that is ugly, and create a character who finds it very beautiful. Have the character describe the object in a way that convinces the reader of its beauty. Now write a second version where you convince the reader (through describing the object alone) that the character is mentally unstable.

12. Write down five emotions on slips of paper and slip them into a hat. Now go outside and find a tree. Draw one emotion from the hat, and try to describe that tree from the perspective of a character feeling that emotion. (Don’t mention the emotion in your writing — try to describe the tree so the reader could guess the emotion).

13. Describe a character’s bedroom in such a way that it tells us about a person’s greatest fears and hopes.

14. Root through your desk drawer until you find a strange object, an object that would probably not be in other people’s drawers. Have a character who is devastated to find this object, and tell the story of why this object devastates them.

15. Go to an art-based Pinterest page and find your favorite piece of art. Now imagine a living room inspired by that flavor of artwork, and show the room after a husband and wife have had the worst fight of their marriage.

16. Pick a simple object like a vase, a broom, or a light bulb, and write a scene that makes the reader cry when they see the object.

short story assignment creative writing

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short story assignment creative writing

17. Make a list of the top five fears in your life. Write a character who is forced to confront one of those fears.

18. Write an entire page describing the exact emotions when you learned of a happy or calamitous event in your life. Now try to condense that page into a single searing sentence.

19. Think about a time in your life when you felt shame. Now write a character in a similar situation, trying to make it even more shameful.

20. Write a paragraph with a character struggle with two conflicting emotions simultaneously. For example, a character who learns of his father’s death and feels both satisfaction and pain.

21. Write a paragraph where a character starts in one emotional register, and through a process of thought, completely evolves into a different emotion.

Characters:

short story assignment creative writing

22. Create a minor character based upon someone you dislike. Now have your main character encounter them and feel sympathy and empathy for them despite their faults.

23. Have a kooky character tell a story inside a pre-established form: an instruction manual, traffic update, email exchange, weather report, text message.

24. Write about a character who does something they swore they would never do.

25. Have a character who has memorized something (the names of positions in the Kama Sutra, the entire book of Revelations) recite it while doing something completely at odds with what they’re reciting. For instance, bench pressing while reciting the emperors in a Chinese dynasty.

26. Write a paragraph where a character does a simple action, like turning on a light switch, and make the reader marvel at how strange and odd it truly is.

27. Have a couple fight while playing a board game. Have the fight be about something related to the board game: fighting about money, have them play monopoly. Fighting about politics, let them play chess.

28. Write about two characters angry at each other, but have both of them pretend the problems don’t exist. Instead, have them fight passive-aggressively, through small, snide comments.

29. Describe a character walking across an expanse field or lot and describe how he walks. The reader should perfectly understand his personality simply by the way you describe his walk.

30. Write a first-person POV of a character under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and try to make the prose as woozy and tipsy as the character.

31. Describe the first time that a character realizes he is not as smart as he thought.

32. Describe an hour in the life of a character who has recently lost their ability to do what they love most (a pianist who has severe arthritis; a runner who became a quadriplegic).

33. Write an argument where a husband or wife complains of a physical ailment, but their spouse refuses to believe it’s real.

34. Write a scene where a stranger stops your main character, saying that they know them, and insisting your main character is someone they are not. Describe exactly how this case of mistaken identity makes your character feel.

35. Describe a small personality trait about a person you love, and make the reader love them, too.

36. Write a personality-revealing scene with a character inside a public restroom. Do they press a thumb against the mirror to leave a subtle mark? Do they write a plea for help on the inside of the stall door? Do they brag about the size of what they’ve just dumped off?

37. Give your character an extremely unusual response to a national tragedy like a terrorist attack or natural disaster. Maybe have them be aware their response is unusual, and try to cloak it from others, or have them be completely unaware and display it without any self-consciousness.

38. Have one of your main characters come up with an idea for a comic book, and tell a close friend about the idea. What about this idea would surprise the friend, upsetting what he thought he knew about your main character? Also, what would the main character learn about himself from the comic book idea?

39. Think of an illness someone you love has suffered from. How does your character respond when someone close to them has this illness?

40. Have your main character invent an extremely offensive idea for a book, and show their personality faults through discussing it with others.

41. Have your character write down a list considering how to respond to their stalker.

42. Write a scene where a man hits on a woman, and although the woman acts repulsed and begs her friends to get him away from her, it becomes apparent that she likes the attention.

43. Write about a 20-something confronting his parents over their disapproval of his lifestyle.

44. Have your character write a funny to-do list about the steps to get a boyfriend or girlfriend.

45. Have a risk-adverse character stuck in a hostage situation with a risk-happy character.

46. For the next week, watch strangers carefully and take notes in your phone about any peculiar gestures or body language. Combine the three most interesting ones to describe a character as she goes grocery shopping.

47. Buy a package of the pills that expand into foam animals, and put a random one in a glass of warm water. Whatever it turns out to be, have that animal surprise your main character in a scene.

48. Have your character faced with a decision witness a rare, awe-inspiring event, and describe how it helps them make their decision.

49. Imagine if your character met for the first time his or her long-lost identical twin. What personality traits would they share and which ones would have changed because of their unique experiences? 

50. If a character got burned by a hot pan, what type of strange reaction would they have that would reveal what they value most?

Once you’ve taken a stab at some of these exercises, I’d recommend you use them in your actual writing.

And for instruction on that, you need a guide to writing your novel . 

That link will change your life and your novel. Click it now.

Creative Writing Exercises

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32 comments

John Fox, you have some excellent resources, and I thank you. I read your comments, then scrolled down to glance at the list of 50 exercises. The FIRST one, “loud noise’ is already in my head. My Hero is going to be side swiped in my Cozy. I was side swiped on a state highway here in Virginia a couple of weeks ago and, although the damage was minor, the sound of that big SUV “glancing” off my little car was SCARY!!! I once heard a fast-moving car REAR-END is stand-still car; that sound was something I’ll never forget. So, your exercise is very timely. THANK YOU!!!

This is a great list! Thanks!

You know what would be motivating? If we could turn these in to someone and get like a grade lol

I’ve been thinking a lot about “how to master writing,” and this is the first time that I found an article that makes it clear the difference between prompts and exercises. I fully agree with you. These are bound to make you a better writer if you focus on doing a variation of them daily.

An excellent list – thank you very much. I run a small writing group and we’ll be trying some.

Yes, thank you. I too run a small writing group and you got me out of a slump for tomorrow’s group!

yes,thank you . It’s good for improve your writing skills.

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What a lovely list! I am working on the final draft of my very first novel, and am constantly working at improving the final product. Your exercises are just what I need to kickstart my writing day. Thank you so very much.

Thank you very much When I turned50 I received my diploma from Children’s Institute in West Redding Ct I got my inspiration from being near water however now that I am in Oregon I have had a writing block thanks to your list my creative juices are flowing

I suppose I better have good punctuation, seeing this is about Writing. Thank you for this great list. I am the Chair of our small Writing group in Otorohanga and we start again last week of Feb. I have sent out a homework email, to write a A4 page of something exciting that has happened over the holiday break and they must read it out to the group with passion and excitement in their voices. That will get them out of their comfort zone!

A formidable yet inspiring list. Thank you very much for this. This is really very helpful. I am from India, and very new to writing and have started my first project, which I want to make it into a Novel. This has been very helpful and is very challenging too. Prompts look sissy when compared to this, frankly speaking. Thank you very much again.

Where can I get the answers for these?

There aren’t “answers.” You create responses to these exercises.

Thank you so much for the detailed suggestions focusing on HOW to put the WHAT into practice; really helpful & inspiring.

Just started rough drafting a story I’ve always wanted to write. Do you have any advice for someone writing their first real story? I’m having trouble starting it; I just want it to be perfect.

I consider this very helpful. Just started my journey as a creative writer, and will be coming back to this page to aid my daily writing goal.

I have always loved writing exercises and these are perfect practice for my competition. I have tried lots of different things that other websites have told me to try, but this by far is the most descriptive and helpful site that i have seen so far.

This is really a creative blog. An expert writer is an amateur who didn’t stop. I trust myself that a decent writer doesn’t actually should be advised anything but to keep at it. Keep it up!

I’ve always enjoyed writing from a little girl. Since I’ve been taking it a bit more seriously as does everybody else it seems; I’ve lost the fun and sponteneity. Until now…..this is a marvelous blog to get back the basic joy and freedom in writing. Or should that be of?:) These exercises are perfect to get the creative juices flowing again…..thank you:)

These are interesting exercises for writing.

These are fantastic! I started reading a really awesome book on creative writing but it just didn’t get any good or easy to follow exercises. So I found your site and having been having a lot of fun with these. Exactly what I was looking for, thank you!

creative and inspiring, thank you

I always wanted to have an exercise where a friend and I each wrote a random sentence and sent it to each other to write a short story from that beginning sentence, then exchange the stories for reading and/or critique. Maybe both writers start with the same sentence and see how different the stories turn out.

Thanks for these exercises. Some are really challenging. To truly tackle them I’m having to spend as long beforehand thinking “how the HECK am I going to do this?” as I do with ink on paper. Would be a great resource if other authors submitted their replies and thoughts about how they went about each exercise.

Start the conversation: submit one of yours.

I think I can use these to inspire my students.

Hi there. Thank you for posting this list- it’s great! Can I ask you to consider removing number 42 or perhaps changing it somewhat? I teach sex ed and every year am shocked by how many young people don’t understand issues around consent. Stories about woman who ‘say no but really mean yes’ are deeply unhelpful. Really appreciate your post but felt I had to ask. Thanks.

What’s wrong with the number 42?

It promulgates the belief that when a woman says no, she doesn’t mean it, potentially resulting in sexual assault.

I just make this list a part of my teaching in Creative Writing Classes. Very good list of ideas!

Thank you so much for posting this! I have used it to create a creative playwriting activity for my high school creative writing class–so much good stuff here for me to pick through and select for my kiddos that will allow them to shine and improve their knowledge of writing as a craft!

short story assignment creative writing

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The Write Practice

The Only 10 Creative Writing Prompts You Need

by Joe Bunting | 54 comments

You get better at any skill through practice. Prompts are a great way to practice writing (as you might imagine, we're really into practice here), and in this post, I have ten of our best creative writing prompts.

Try a few out, and if you're ready to take the next step in your writing, check out our 100 Best Short Story Ideas .

10 Best Creative Writing Prompts

How To Use These Creative Writing Prompts

At the end of every article on The Write Practice , we include a writing prompt so you can put what you just learned to use immediately. And we invite you to share your writing with our community so you can get feedback on your work.

The Write Practice is more than just a writing blog. It's a writing  workbook , and we think it's the best one on the Internet (of course, we're a bit biased).

One of the most important parts of practice is getting feedback, and we want to help YOU get feedback on your writing. To do that, choose one of the prompts, write for 15 minutes, and then copy and paste your practice into the box at the bottom to post your practice in our forum for feedback. You'll be able to read others' practice and give feedback too.

And if you want even more prompts, you can download our workbook,  14 Prompts , for free here (it's normally, $5.99).

Our Most Popular Creative Writing Prompts

Why not try using two or three of these creative writing prompts in your writing today? Who knows, you might even begin something that becomes your next novel to write or short story. It's happened to Write Practicers before!

Enjoy the writing prompts!

My 3 Favorite Writing Prompts

Write about a time you felt out of place, awkward, and uncomfortable. Try not to focus on your feelings, but project your feelings onto the things around you.

Write about a ghost. How do they feel about the world? What do they see and hear? How did they become a ghost?

  • Your characters haven’t gotten any sleep. Write about why, and how they respond to being sleepless.

Now, let's look at the rest of our favorite prompts! 

1. Grandfathers

Write about a grandfather, maybe your grandfather or your character's grandfather. What memories do you/does your character associate with him?

See the prompt: Grandfathers

Creative Writing Prompts

2. Sleepless

Your characters haven’t gotten any sleep. Write about it.

See the prompt: Sleepless

Creative Writing Prompts

3. Out of Place

See the prompt: Out of Place

Creative Writing Prompts

Write about longing. How does it feel to go about a normal day when your character wants something else?

See the prompt: Longing

Creative Writing Prompts

5. Write About Yourself

Write about yourself.

See the writing prompt: Write About Yourself

Creative Writing Prompts

See the prompt: 3 Reasons to Write About Ghosts

Creative Writing Prompts

7. Road Trip

Write about a road trip. Is your character escaping something? Is your character looking for something? Hint at the thing without telling us while describing what the character sees.

See the writing prompt: Road Trip

Creative Writing Prompts

Write about the morning. What are your character's morning routines? What is special about this  morning?

See the prompt: Morning

Creative Writing Prompts

9. The Beach

Write about the beach. Is your character reflecting on something important that has happened to them? Describe the memory while overlaying the sights, sounds, and smells of the beach onto them.

See the prompt: The Beach

Creative Writing Prompts

Write about autumn. Natural surroundings can bring up old memories and odd feelings. Describe what your character sees, feels, and most of all does.

See the prompt: Autumn

Creative Writing Prompts

Do you use writing prompts in your writing? What is your favorite prompt for ideas? Share in the comments .

For today's practice, choose one of these prompts and write for fifteen minutes . When you're finished with your practice, share it in the Pro Practice Workshop . Don't forget to leave feedback for three other writers. Not a community member yet? Join us ! 

Happy writing!

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Joe Bunting

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

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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The 35 Best Short Story Prompts That Will Surely Inspire You To Write

  • March 16, 2022
“I love short stories because I believe they are the way we live. They are what our friends tell us, in their pain and joy, their passion and rage, their yearning and their cry against injustice.” Andre Dubus

Are you running out of short story prompts? Or, are you experiencing writer’s block? Want to write a short story, but you have no story idea where to even begin?

If so, this article is for you. We included a long list of creative writing prompts in this article, story ideas, and writing exercises to help you get your creative juices flowing.

What Makes a Good Short Story?

Any good short story has rich characters , an interesting plot, and an immersive setting.

Unlike a novel, short story writers have to traverse their character arcs in a short amount of time in a way that keeps the reader engaged.

The writing skills required to write a short story are:

  • An ability to be concise
  • The ability to engage the reader immediately
  • Natural and realistic use of dialogue
  • The power to paint a compelling image with words
  • Interesting plot developments and character arcs

If you have a short story that you would like to publish or are trying to get started with just writing it, consider the abovementioned points. If your story lacks any of the above, it is wise to revisit and add whatever is missing.

Kurt Vonnegut on Writing Short Stories

In Kurt Vonnegut’s  Bagombo Snuff Box , the renowned American 20th-century writer shares some important tips for anyone who wishes to write a compelling short story. According to Vonnegut’s advice, a short story should:

  • Use the time of a total stranger so that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  • Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  • Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  • Every sentence must do one of two things: reveal character or advance the action.
  • Start as close to the end as possible.
  • Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters are, make awful things happen to them so that the reader may see what they are made of.
  • Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  • Give your readers as much information as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such a complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

How Long Should My Short Story Be?

There is no exact word count for a short story . Some are merely a page or two, while others can be 10 or 20 pages. Typically, the word count of a good short story falls somewhere between 5000-10,000 words.

Short Story Prompts, writing prompts

The Importance of Feedback

It is always wise to get as much feedback as possible about your story or even your short story idea. Share your work with fellow writers, avid readers, and friends and family who do not write or read much at all.

Get all kinds of opinions, insights, and criticisms from all sorts of people to gain a clearer sense of your story’s impact.

Short Story Ideas and Writing Prompts to Help You Get Started

Feel free to use the following story prompts or in combination with your own story ideas.

  • A man wakes up in a new town with no idea how he got there.
  • A young woman receives a letter from a mysterious stranger.
  • Three strangers who look alike meet in a bar.
  • A man gets blamed for a crime he did not commit.
  • A child’s dog wanders through the forest, and he follows it.
  • A character notices that his neighbor is acting strange and suspicious.
  • The internet shuts down all over the world without warning.
  • Passengers on a train wake up one by one at an abandoned station.
  • A quiz show winner enjoys their prize until someone claims that the show was rigged.
  • A young woman loses her partner for years and sets out on a solo adventure worldwide.
  • A coming-of-age story in which high school students prepare for their final exams and the different journey the friend group will take when they move on to university.
  • A middle-aged man gets tired of his job and quits on a whim. Now jobless and in need of income, he joins a team of young professionals who create a dating app for middle-aged singles. He volunteers to provide greater information for the team and the app – in person, by going on as many dates as he can.

More Creative Writing Prompts

We have included some genre-specific short story ideas below, including fantasy, science fiction , and romance . Even if these are not your go-to genres, it is worth checking them out. In attempting to write one of the following, you may find inspiration for a different story altogether.

Short Story Prompts

Fantasy Short Story Prompts

  • A young man stumbles across an ancient gemstone. With the stone in his possession, the character finds himself the center of attention of strange people who seem to want to harm him and one new friend who has some unexpected answers.
  • A young girl who lives on a farm with her family finds a large unhatched egg. She takes care of the egg in her room without telling her parents. The egg begins to hatch, but the creature that emerges is far from what she expected.
  • The main character makes a living selling fake artifacts. One artifact in his collection is the real deal, but he has no idea until a strange customer shows up.
  • A prince is captured in a foreign land and is held at ransom. The hostage-taker is a mercenary hired by someone close to the prince.
  • A teenage farm boy is visited at night by a white horse. The horse stands outside his window, and the boy approaches. The horse walks on, stops, and waits for the boy. The boy follows and eventually mounts the horse. As the horse begins to gallop, the boy looks back at his house, only to find that the entire landscape has changed and his house is no longer there.

Science Fiction Short Story Ideas

  • An airplane flies through turbulence. The turbulence passes, the plane stabilizes, but half of the passengers are missing. The pilot tries to contact the ground but to no avail.
  • A man reports strange sights in the skies, but no one believes him. He pleads them to believe him because he is convinced that what he saw was not of this earth. As more and more people begin to see the strange lights in the sky, the man is nowhere to be found.
  • The main character wakes up with no memory of his past. He finds himself equipped with advanced weapons, strange technology, and a chip in his arm. War and conflict rage outside his room. As he begins to wake up, he notices a letter by his bed with an address and note that says ‘Urgent!’
  • AI has advanced exponentially since our current day, most of humanity has been wiped out, and the remaining humans now live in small tribes. A team of humans who take refuge deep in the desert must traverse, but the AIs occupied the lands for more resources for their survival.
  • A large unidentified object hurtles through space on a direct trajectory to earth. A team of scientists and astronauts are on a timer to divert the object before it gets too close. Time is ticking, people are panicking, and the team faces resistance when gathering support.

Short Story Prompts, writing prompts

  • The year is 3100. Humanity lives in bunkers underground due to an apocalyptic event 500 years earlier. As the dust settles, the surviving humans begin to emerge from their underground shelter only to find new inhabitants living and ruling on the surface.
  • A scientist discovers a means of traversing galaxies at light speed, but the cost of the technology is millions of lives. Authorities seek to understand and control his discovery. However, his moral compass drives him to keep his discovery out of the hands of those who would sacrifice millions without a second thought.
  • Humans on a mission to revive a dead planet are met by resistance from living creatures under the surface. On their escape back to earth, one of the planet’s inhabitants has made its way onto their ship and hides there until the team arrives home.
  • A microchip inserted into the brain allows authorities to influence and control the thoughts of chipped people. The unchipped are now few in numbers but are the only humans left who can think independently. Time is ticking as the last remaining free-thinkers are mercilessly hunted down. A ragtag group, a multi-disciplinary team of survivalists, scientists, and hackers, must fight the authority and free those who have been brainwashed into the authority’s oppressive regime.
  • In the near future, the elites will control the fate of the rest of us at the press of a button. Access to water, food, and even sunshine depend on a nation or community’s willingness to send a large proportion of their population into competition against each other for survival.

Scary Story Ideas

  • A young couple moves into a new house in the countryside. The house is empty except for an old-fashioned dress in a wardrobe. The young woman, packing her stuff away, tries on the dress. As soon as she wears it, she starts acting strange.
  • One night in an allegedly haunted house in the country, friends planned a trip. They partied, drank, and danced all through the night. Later, one of the friends pulls out an Ouija board. Most of the friends disagree and go to bed for the night. Five friends stayed up and played the game with ghostly consequences.
  • Kids visit their grandmother’s house and find a secret room in the basement. They enter the room, and the door vanishes.
  • Trick or treaters visit houses on Halloween night. One family offers lots of candy to the kids who show up and say trick or treat! A child shows up at the house and rings the bell. When the family answers, the child is alone and silent. The family invites him in to ask where his friends and parents are, the greatest mistake they ever made.

Romantic Short Story Ideas

Here are some romantic short story ideas to try out:

  • A correspondence of love letters between two now long separated and aged former lovers. They are no longer together, but the letters reveal the ups and downs of their relationships and how close yet far they were from becoming lasting lovers.
  • A young man about to take off on his travels stops by a café to grab a coffee before he goes. While sipping his coffee, he meets a high school crush he knew years earlier. She has a suitcase.
  • A woman plans an exotic holiday on her time off from work with her best friend. Her best friend decides to cancel at the last minute, so, on a whim, the woman asks her coworker to join. They set off on this unexpected journey, but the shared journey is not the only thing they had not expected.
  • A man’s sick and dying mother is being taken care of by an at-home nurse. The character finds out about his mother’s fading health and decides to rush home to be with her, worried and guilty for not having spent time with her in recent months. The nurse and the man’s mother have developed a close relationship, and even though the mother is dying, the nurse keeps her in good humor. After her passing, the nurse and the man do not want to say goodbye to each other.

Whether you are a student required to submit a good story for a writing class, a first-time short story writer looking for inspiration or a seasoned writer stumped with writer’s block, the prompts and story ideas above should help you get a story flowing.

Even if you do not decide to follow through with any of the short story prompts above, attempt writing at least one of them—the more you write, the more skilled you become, so write poorly, write slowly but make sure to keep writing.

“You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the best teacher of how to write.” Annie Proulx

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  • Our Mission

Illustration of person writing on a long jumbled piece of paper

Creative Ways to Jumpstart Student Writing

Helping students develop a better understanding of what they should do before, during, and after writing can make the actual process less intimidating.

Before pens and pencils even hit paper, students in Jamie Sears’ class would moan and groan with reluctance. “Ugh,” they’d mutter, “do we have to do writing today?”

Some simply don’t like to write “because their previous writing experiences haven’t been enjoyable,” the former elementary school teacher explains . Whether it’s lack of interest in the assigned topic, fear of being judged for their mistakes, or good old fashioned writer’s block, the act of putting your thoughts down on (virtual) paper can be daunting. By the time students reach middle and high school, the pressure has peaked, and the prospect of writing a flawless research paper or the perfect essay is enough to send shivers down their spines. 

But writing can be made easier for those who are reluctant or anxious, and “how we mediate student perception of writing is as important as teaching the skills” of writing, explains education consultant Jonathan McCarthy . Getting kids to write more often across a range of styles—supported by an equally rich range of strategies—ensures “that when a student struggles to write, a different approach is readily available.”

From film scripts and short stories to poetry, book reviews, and travel journals, providing myriad low-stakes opportunities to explore what writing looks like in all of its different forms can help put students on a path toward “refining one’s voice, organizing and reorganizing one’s thoughts, and learning how words spill out of one’s head and onto the page,” says English teacher Matthew M. Johnson .

For some students, getting started is often the hardest part, especially if they think of writing as purely “fixed and formal,” writes assistant headteacher Clare Jarmy recently for TES Magazine . She, like McCarthy, recommends demystifying the process with lots of “specific activities for students to do before and after writing,” which help them to “trial ideas, structures and arguments—while not losing their own views along the way.” 

BUILDING A STRONG FOUNDATION

Students can often be their own worst critics, tearing their work to shreds to get ahead of the negative critique they fear they’ll receive, writes eighth-grade English teacher Christina Torres Cawdery . Allotting time for students to “break through their own judgments” and practice low-stakes writing can help them move away from a “mindset of defeat” when it’s time to be graded. 

Build the Habit: According to writing researchers and teachers, students should spend “between 30 and 60 minutes every day” writing, Johnson says, but it’s fine to start a bit smaller. English teacher Meghan Rosa uses daily seven-minute writes while in Cawdery’s classroom, for the first five minutes of each period, students engage in daily journaling—responding to a range of prompts like “Tell me about your favorite place,” discussing assigned reading, or reflecting on a piece of media. But if they’d like, students can write about anything. 

When time is up, they record their word count with an aim of reaching 200 words daily. Every two weeks, journals are submitted and Cawdery reads them. “I will also occasionally make casual comments on what they write, like sharing that I also love watching reruns of The Office,” she says. “It’s a great way to get them writing and also build connections with them.”

Bolster Their Authority: Who am I to say what the author meant, a student might wonder. That’s a common problem, Jarmy says. “Students often feel they lack the authority to make their own contribution to the subject and question their ability to write something well-informed.”

To help them understand that their theories and analysis are important, Jarmy has classes evaluate and critique essays produced by generative AI like ChatGPT. Using assessment criteria discussed in advance, students study ChatGPT’s outputs and find places where they can strengthen or improve the work they’re reading. “They might find an essay that ChatGPT produces on Plato and Aristotle’s views on mind and body is largely accurate, but that it lacks judgment or evaluation,” she writes. 

Motivate With Mentor Texts: One of the best ways to inspire kids to write well is to get them reading great writing, Sears suggests. Provide examples of what success looks like across a variety of genres, and as different skills present themselves—from realistic dialogue and descriptive details to a strongly communicated argument—students can mark them, saving each passage as a resource for when they need to do the same themselves. 

“Pick fun, engaging stories that students will relate to,” she says. “When they see examples of good writing, they’ll be motivated to write better themselves.”

OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF GETTING STARTED

Filling a blank page can be intimidating, but much less so with a plan of action. Pre-planning activities allow students to carve a path forward for themselves in a “safe and well-resourced environment,” Jarmy writes. “It helps to build their confidence and allows them to break up the task of essay writing into manageable chunks.”

Share a Snowball: Writing can be a lonely pursuit, so allowing students to put their heads together and swap ideas can de-escalate any negative feelings. Try a snowball task, where each student begins an outline for what they’re writing—an essay, blog, or the beginnings of a debate argument—then passes it to a classmate, who builds on the ideas of their peers. The process continues, Jarmy says, until a fully fleshed out plan has been created. 

An alternative she uses is the three-minute planner, where students map out the main features of what they’re about to write: for example, “three key argumentative points they’d make, plus a conclusion,” in three minutes' time. 

Writing Your “Worst Draft” First: Students often misconstrue the writing process as linear and squeaky clean, but the etymology of the word “essay,“ Jarmy writes, stems from the French word essayer, meaning “to try.” Sharing this with students leads them to see writing as something malleable “they can play with, rethink and redraft.” 

But trying is much more difficult when you’re aiming for perfection, so Cawdery likes to encourage students to embrace the rough and even bad writing they may initially produce. In fact, she often tells them when they receive an initial assignment to “write the very worst version” of the paper or poem they can imagine. Everything from poor grammar and informal phrasing are fair game, because it can all be refined later. It’s even possible that in their pursuit of the worst first draft that a few pearls of wisdom rise to the surface. 

Sketch to Start: When writer’s block inevitably comes knocking on students’ doors, assistant professor of secondary education Jonathan T Bartels briefly takes writing off the table and replaces it with drawing . "If I asked you to draw a picture of your topic, do you think you could?,” he asks. It’s helpful to model for students what this looks like with an example—“when writing about a sequence of things, I have often had students draw it out as a comic strip,” Bartels says.

While the act of drawing itself can help students better visualize the topic they want to write about, it's the discussion afterwards that’s most important, Bartels says. Try asking questions like: 

  • Why did you decide to draw it this way?
  • What's happening here?
  • Why is this here? (in regards to spatial organization)
  • How are these specific items related?
  • What did you purposefully leave out?

“Discussing the students' drawing in this way gives me a very clear idea of what the student understands and thinks about the given topic,” he says. “For the student, it is an opportunity to articulate his or her thoughts about the topic in a non-threatening way.”

Talk First, Then Write: Similar to Bartels, educational consultant and former educator Alexandra Parrish Cheshire has also found taking writing out of the equation to be the best accelerant. When she observed that some of her students were able to speak at length about a topic but froze up when asked to translate their thoughts to paper, she had an idea. 

“Identify a way your students can record themselves speaking their essay rather than writing it,” she says. Students can “step out in the hall and recite their essay,” for example, then return and write down what they recorded. Anything from a computer with a microphone to an audio recording app on a phone will do. 

Alternatively, consider setting up one-on-one sitdown meetings to talk through a topic with students who are particularly struggling. Cheshire writes down students’ bright ideas while they’re talking, providing them not only with a starting point to work from but allowing them to “express their thoughts without the hesitation that makes some students’ minds go blank as they pick up that pen or pencil.”

GETTING THEM TO REFLECT AND REVISE

Revising is one of the “meatiest components of the writing process,” says educator Joanna Marsh . Her students often “resisted editing because they didn’t know how to make their work better.” Providing models of how to engage with critique, what revision looks like, and making the process collaborative can lower the stakes while laying out a clear road map for students. 

Feedback Foresight: Before students receive any sort of feedback on their work, high school English teacher Marcus Luther has his students try to forecast what critique they may have received . This not only “increases engagement in feedback conversation/reflections,” but infuses the revision and reflection process with purpose, he says. 

Luther creates a slide that he displays for the class to see, outlining six pieces of feedback he most widely identified as areas for growth. “Which do you think will be on your essay?,” he asks. Students can review their work through this lens, looking for places where “textual evidence is mishandled,” evaluating their “rushed finish,” or looking at paragraphs that need to “move beyond summary to analysis.” 

Read-Aloud to Revise: Many don’t like to read their work aloud, McCarthy explains, but it’s a beneficial post-writing practice that “helps them catch problems in mechanics, word choice, and sentence fluency.” 

First, students read their work aloud at low volume—just loud enough that only they can hear it. As they navigate their text, McCarthy suggests having students mark it up based on the focus problems suggested by the teacher like action verbs or passive voice. Lastly, writers circle back to the regions of the work they’ve indicated as areas for change, reflecting on what needs to be done to improve. 

Peer-Powered Review: Feedback doesn’t always need to come from you, explains high school English teacher Jamie Kobs. “Besides relieving me of some of the pressure,” she says , “creating a classroom culture where students give each other feedback has helped me increase engagement and build community.” 

In Mark Gardner’s high school English class, students edit each other often, though he admits few ninth graders have “mastered the conventions of writing well enough to function as reliable editors.” So he provides a bit of structure; students' feedback on each other’s work is always reflective, not corrective . 

“My students focus on idea development, clarity, and arrangement to make sense of the writer’s text,” he explains. Emphasize providing feedback that is targeted, actionable, respectful, and inspires growth. For example: “I am confused about who ‘they’ are in this sentence” or “I like how you repeated keywords from your hook here in your conclusion.”

Summarize and Strengthen: Having students write an abstract for their essay “helps them to hone their line of argument, while also developing a sense of focus and precision,” Jarmy writes. She asks the class to create 200-word abstracts summarizing the main idea of the stance they took and its supporting points. “If they don’t understand their essay, or they have forgotten what they wrote,” Jarmy says, “this is a great way to get them to invest in their work and take ownership of it - all of which will help them to improve next time.

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  1. Short Story Assignment (Creative Writing) by Mr Blair Creates

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  2. Short Story Creative Writing Packet- Assignment, Planning & Rubric

    short story assignment creative writing

  3. short story creative writing assignment 2015

    short story assignment creative writing

  4. Your Short Story

    short story assignment creative writing

  5. 😀 Short story writing assignment. 10 Best Writing Prompts for High

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  6. Short Story Creative Writing

    short story assignment creative writing

VIDEO

  1. How to Write a Short Story

  2. How to Write a Short Story

  3. How to Structure Your Short Story (Write Better Stories)

  4. How to Write a Short Story (for BEGINNERS)

  5. How to Write a Short Story in 6 Steps

  6. How to Write Great Short Stories: ReedsyLive Webinar

COMMENTS

  1. 105 Creative Writing Exercises: 10 Min Writing Exercises

    Creative writing exercises are short writing activities (normally around 10 minutes) designed to get you writing. The goal of these exercises is to give you the motivation to put words onto a blank paper. These words don't need to be logical or meaningful, neither do they need to be grammatically correct or spelt correctly.

  2. 1800+ Creative Writing Prompts To Inspire You Right Now

    Angst - 36 stories Write a story about someone who has been tasked to keep a flame burning, surrounded by total darkness. Character - 54 stories Write a story about someone witnessing — or trying to witness — a celestial phenomenon. Adventure - 24 stories Write a story set in a world with a dying sun, or where light is a scarce resource.

  3. Top 100 Short Story Ideas

    Creative writing prompts are easy, fun ways to practice. Use the prompts below to practice your storytelling and use of language. The more you practice, the better of a writer you'll become. 2. When you have no ideas and are stuck. Sometimes, you want to write, but you can't think up any ideas.

  4. How to Write a Short Story: The Short Story Checklist

    Of course, short stories also utilize the elements of fiction, such as a setting, plot, and point of view. It helps to study these elements and to understand their intricacies. But, when it comes to laying down the skeleton of a short story, the above elements are what you need to get started. Note: a short story rarely, if ever, has subplots.

  5. 180 Impressive Short Story Ideas for Creative Writing

    Table of Contents What is a Short Story? How to Write an Engaging Short Story? How to Generate a Short Story Idea on Your Own? Consider the elements of fiction Write a short story that you want to read Modify an already existing story Look for ideas from real life Use a creative writing prompt List of Innovative Short Story Ideas

  6. Short Story Tips: 10 Hacks to Improve Your Creative Writing

    2. Write a Catchy First Paragraph. In today's fast-moving world, the first sentence of your narrative should catch your reader's attention with the unusual, the unexpected, an action, or a conflict. Begin with tension and immediacy. Remember that short stories need to start close to their end.

  7. 25 Creative Writing Prompts

    Creative Writing Prompts. Today I'd like to share a mash-up of creative writing prompts, all of which come from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts. There are no rules. Write a poem. Write a short story. Write an essay. Aim for a hundred words or aim for a hundred thousand. Just start writing, and have fun.

  8. How to Write a Short Story in 9 Simple Steps

    How to write a short story: 1. Know what a short story is versus a novel 2. Pick a simple, central premise 3. Build a small but distinct cast of characters 4. Begin writing close to the end 5. Shut out your internal editor 6. Finish the first draft 7. Edit the short story 8. Share the story with beta readers 9.

  9. 40 Fun and Inspiring Writing Prompts for Short Stories

    These creative writing prompts and topics are sure to inspire all writers. Your character has a chance to go back to one specific day and make one change. Write about the choices the character makes and the impact that they have. Write a short story about the history of your family.

  10. ️ 100+ Creative Writing Exercises for Fiction Authors

    Eight. Pick a fiction book from your shelf. Go to page eight and find the eighth sentence on the page. Start with that sentence and write an eight-line poem that connects in some way to your work-in-progress. For instance, write from the POV of a character, or set the poem in a story setting. Don't worry about poetry forms.

  11. 104 Short Story Prompts (Genius Story Ideas For Writers)

    It could be an observation you make while (discreetly) people-watching. We've create 69 short story writing prompts that flesh out an idea more thoroughly, giving you a good headstart for your story. 1. You get a new job, and your new boss approaches you on the first day with an invitation to the "After Hours Club.".

  12. How to Plan a Short Story: Free Story Planner Template

    For every short story assignment or passion project they do, we sit down together and use a story planner template to develop a backbone for their work. The result is amazing: they are now adept at generating ideas, developing well-rounded characters, describing the setting, and planning out a plot with lots of twists and a satisfying resolution.

  13. Another rubric for creative assignments: short stories

    Write a short story (possibly using a character/characters you have developed in class assignments (week three discussion assignment). Think about all the elements of fiction which the fiction lessons and your textbook discuss. Try to write a unique story in your own writing style.

  14. Short Story Writing for Students and Teachers

    In purely numerical terms, short stories can be anywhere between about 1,000 to around 20,000 words or so, though many would consider even 10,000 too long. A short novel clocks in at around 60,000 words, with word counts between 20-60,000 words being taken up by that red-headed stepchild of prose, the novella.

  15. 200 Amazing Short Story Ideas for Creative Writing

    Right now, do you have to submit a short story for your creative writing assignment? Are you experiencing writer's block and have no idea how to begin your short story? Cool! Especially to help you out, in this blog post, we have compiled a list of creative short story ideas in different genres.

  16. 50 Fantastic Creative Writing Exercises

    2. Have a man cooking for a woman on a third date, and have her describe the aromas in such loving and extended detail that she realizes that she's in love with him. 3. Pick a line from one of your favorite songs, and identify the main emotion. Now write a character who is feeling that emotion and hears the song.

  17. How to Write a Short Story from Start to Finish

    That's a level of focus you can't have in a novel. Writing short stories forces you to focus on writing clearly and concisely while still making a scene entertaining. You're working with the basic level of structure here (a scene) and learning to perfect it. 2. Building contacts and readers.

  18. The Only 10 Creative Writing Prompts You Need

    See the prompt: Sleepless. 3. Out of Place. Write about a time you felt out of place, awkward, and uncomfortable. Try not to focus on your feelings, but project your feelings onto the things around you. See the prompt: Out of Place. 4. Longing. Write about longing.

  19. 30 Great Short Story Ideas for Middle School and Beyond

    30 Short Story Ideas for Middle School. It's the first day of school and your character finds a note on their locker door with a surprising message. Your character has been invited to a friend's house for a sleepover. Something feels eerie and mysterious about the home. Your character has the opportunity to go on the adventure of a lifetime.

  20. 100 Short Story (or Novel) Writing Prompts

    The How. The gist is simple: Get a piece of paper (or open up a fresh project in your word processor) and copy a prompt. After the ellipsis, keep writing whatever comes into your head. (Be sure to highlight the writing prompt in some way so you know you started with a prompt when you review the piece in the future.)

  21. How to Write a Short Story: Your Ultimate Step-by Step Guide

    1 - You learn the skill of showing. Short story writers have a challenge that requires some patience to overcome, but it's worth it. When you only have a few pages to hook readers, paint a clear picture of the main character, and tell a story, you end up mastering the skill of showing instead of telling.

  22. The 35 Best Short Story Prompts That Will Surely Inspire You To Write

    Short Story Ideas and Writing Prompts to Help You Get Started. ... More Creative Writing Prompts. We have included some genre-specific short story ideas below, including fantasy, science fiction, and romance. Even if these are not your go-to genres, it is worth checking them out. In attempting to write one of the following, you may find ...

  23. Introduction to Creative Writing

    Writing Assignment Focusing on Point of View Write a short, short story (flash fiction) for each of the following narrators: First-person unreliable narrator Third-person detached observer narrator First-person or third-person naive narrator Flash Fiction Flash fiction is a full story even though it's brief. Types of flash fiction include the following: Six-word story 140-character story,

  24. Creative Ways to Jumpstart Student Writing

    From film scripts and short stories to poetry, book reviews, and travel journals, providing myriad low-stakes opportunities to explore what writing looks like in all of its different forms can help put students on a path toward "refining one's voice, organizing and reorganizing one's thoughts, and learning how words spill out of one's head and onto the page," says English teacher ...