75 Best Story Ideas And Prompts For Creative Writing
Do you want to write but just need a point to jump off from? Or perhaps you have loads of ideas, but you just can’t find one that inspires you to write? Well, good news. I’ve got your back.
Below are 75 short story ideas, in all of your favorite genres. You can use them as the roots of a new compelling novel, as writing prompts for creative writing, or to get those creative juices flowing when you are planning out your next tabletop campaign, or just for fun!
Use these 75 story ideas to get your creative writing started today and overcome that writer’s block!
Editor’s note: This guide is regularly updated with new ideas, genres, and information.
Table of Contents
My 75 Best Short Story Ideas, Plot Ideas, and Creative Writing Prompts
I know how hard it is to find your feet when you are trying to start writing something new, but this comprehensive list of short story ideas will help you get ahead of the game!
I am also including a segment on creating your own story ideas so you can develop a story idea tailored to the themes of your short story.
Here are some simple steps to help you find inspiration to start writing!
1: Pick your genre (table of contents above)
2: Choose an idea that catches your eye, or combine multiple.
3: Get writing!
4 – BONUS STEP: You can use my upcoming character idea list to populate your stories with interesting characters!
And there you are! Go ahead and follow those easy steps to have the foundations of a great story in no time!
If you’re in a hurry, here are my 10 best overall story ideas, but alternatively you can scroll down for the full version with separate genres.
Top Ten Overall Story Ideas:
Tell the story of an orphan who can talk to dead people.
A young boy finds a hidden city in the sewers.
AI rules the world, and most people don’t care.
You exist only in your mind, and have complete control over everything, until….
A dictator instates mind implants that let him control everyone, except for one young woman.
A washed celebrity ends up in rehab and falls in love with the only person that showed real care for who they really were, away from the fame and their fortune – their rehabilitation worker.
A miner finds a new element and his life is destroyed by a government agency trying to cover it up.
An old actor is lying dead, murdered, in his bath, the same way his character in his mystery play did.
A teenage boy finds an exploit on a central online shopping platform and creates an esteemed crime organization that rules cyberspace.
Tell the story of an old man that lives alone in the mountains and is bereaved of his family, when he discovers the secret society that slew his family is hosting a meeting in a nearby town.
Hopefully, those gave you some ideas on potential plot points for your story! Here are some more genre-specific writing prompts to either inspire a new short story or spruce up your next chapter! Now go write an amazing story already!
More Ideas for Short Stories Based on Genre
10 Sci-Fi/Science Fiction Story Ideas:
Science fiction is the best – whether it’s time travelers or dinosaurs brought back from the dead, these 10 sci-fi writing prompts will help you set loose your inner geek.
The world is plagued by a swarm of genetically engineered insects that destroy the crop industry. They are secretly controlled by a so-called charity organization (a shell company) that wishes to sway the market in their favor.
A new drug is created that is harvested from the bone marrow of teens – the story follows their escape through the underworld while being hunted by ‘cleaners’ who gather teens for harvesting.
The story takes place in a possible future society where young girls and boys are screened and ranked based on social status, attractiveness, race, and intelligence. The story follows those who did not ‘qualify’ in any of those areas.
Each person has their own personal AI in their mind, customized to their needs and preferences, but one day they are corrupted and the backup restores some of them wrong, causing people to swap AIs irreversibly.
A man contracts a rare disease that grants him the ability to see into other dimensions by creating a wormhole in his brain. He slowly trails into madness after perceiving things no human was ever meant to see and is pursued by the government which wishes to use him for interdimensional travel.
An ancient society is found underneath a major city, and the beings that dwell there are malevolent – OR – the beings that dwell there merge with humanity and the plot follows the politics of property, cross-breeding, merging governments, and travel to the Underdark.
An entire small town is abducted by aliens and is shoved into an interstellar space station, having been chosen to represent humanity.
The government has wiped everyone’s minds except for children under 3, as they presume they couldn’t remember anything anyway. As those children grow older they recount things that are a danger to the new world order – and are labeled as mass hysteria. A group of independent scientists works to reveal the truth, whilst trying to remain unseen by the authorities.
Everyone in the world suddenly swaps genders, as the result of a failed clinical drug for transgender people being set loose in the air.
Suicide has been eradicated; whenever someone attempts it a chip in their brain fires and they go through a mental rehab program in their own mind, facing all their fears and discomforts involuntarily. The system fully kills the person, other than a select lobe in their brain, and freezes them, to save resources until they can rejoin society. One day this goes very wrong, as one young woman refuses to live out her past memories again….
11 Fantasy Story Ideas:
Graceful heroes and heroines fight brutal battles that rattle the heavens and split the realms in two – typical fantasy stuff we all know and love, but these fantasy story prompts will spice up those familiar tropes and have you writing best-in-class fantasy stories!
Heaven is full – and so is Hell. Suddenly the gates of Hell cant contain everyone inside – and they spill out onto the plain of Purgatory. Write from either the perspective of someone on earth witnessing the end of it all, or a bad guy making their way up from the last layer of hell.
A magical world is turned on its head when a mighty warlock casts a spell that strips everything of its magic – granting it all to himself.
Tell the story of a slave’s journey along the River Styx, and its tributaries, after she slew her master in a fit of rage and was executed because of it.
A graveyard where only the richest of people are buried has to be defended in the afterlife from angry commoner’s ghosts who despise the noble’s ghosts that reside there.
A new pantheon of gods rises and goes from pantheon to pantheon overthrowing them. Only the Norse gods remain in these new gods’ path.
A kingdom is in turmoil when their new god’s cohort of magical creatures settles in their lands and insists it is their birthright, as sons and daughters of this new god, to pillage and ransack the towns and trample their livestock and crops. A hero takes the journey to free their benevolent old god and reinstate him – but he must fight the more powerful new god, and his children, first.
An evil brotherhood of monks seeks to block out the sun with a spell so powerful it would catch the eye of the dark forces and grant the monks a conference with the interdimensional aberrations.
A rare coin is found which allows the user to fool anyone. It is stolen by a common street thief and she slowly takes over the kingdom.
The church is corrupt, and a monk leads a revolution to overthrow the king and the church after realizing the depth of the corruption.
A young boy takes his mother’s place as supreme leader and his uncontested poor judgment leads to the end of the empire.
There is supposedly a secret plot to kill the king, but it’s really a way for his magical advisor to control the kingdom while the king is preoccupied with his paranoia.
11 Mystery Story Ideas:
Everyone loves a good mystery; there is nothing better than the feeling when all the pieces finally come together. These mystery story ideas will give you the tools to make your own mind-boggling web of clues!
A serial killer is set loose upon a city – and the police are finding the case quite out of the ordinary. The killer completely erases a person’s identity after they murder them; they blank out their photos, go through their phone, and even go as far as to alter their records They never leave a trace of anyone being there(including themselves and the victim.) No bodies are found.
At a family gathering, a mysterious package containing children’s books shows up on the doorstep. A week later, members of the family start disappearing. They are presumed dead. An investigation ensues, leading to the discovery of multiple iconic items from nursery rhymes in some of their homes – e.g. a red hood no one had ever seen before, or an apple with a bite taken out of it.
During researching his background, a man finds out that once a year, every year, his ancestors met in a secluded spot in the Caribbean.
Someone moves into the apartment next door and starts playing loud music at night. You call the police, who find the guy dead holding a note with your name and address.
An esteemed detective is endowed with a great sum of money to find a stolen object that seemingly has no value.
On three different flights, three people died of a heart attack on each flight, within three minutes of each other. There are no apparent connections between these people other than they were flying on the same airline, alone.
Two private detectives are hired to solve a crime simultaneously, with their clients both suspecting each other.
The report of a celebrity’s death is false, but he dies soon after, seemingly due to heart failure
A woman learns she is adopted, and later that same day comes across her sister who warns her not to go digging into the family history.
A young woman is at her grandfather’s funeral and notices that the body in the casket is not him.
A story where the team of cops investigating a murder begin to be killed off one by one, whilst the supposed suspect seems to bend the court to his will, besides being clearly guilty in comparison to every other case – he has friends in high places.
11 Romance Story Ideas:
Romance stories are a love or hate thing, which is ironic considering their nature. It’s a fine line between cheesy rom-com and meaningful romances that tug at your heartstrings. These 11 romance writing prompts will help you spin a tale that leaves your readers touched, and maybe make them laugh a little too!
2 people meet in a bookshop, right before the end of the world. Amidst this apocalypse, everyone lives in bunkers. After 2 years they find each other again, only to see that one of them is dating the other’s sibling in their absence.
A woman has had hundreds of online dates, only to find the person they love is their therapist who is helping them through their relationship trouble.
They only have 6 months to live, and really want to have a fulfilling relationship for the first time before they die.
A person flings themselves in front of a bus to save their partner but survives – only they can’t remember anything. The person they saved meets someone else in the time before they wake up from their coma.
A young man is entranced by a love story he read, only to live it out with the book’s author.
The main character finds a letter addressed to them, with no indication as to who wrote it, and falls in love with the writer. They test every person they know for their handwriting to see if it matches.
A classic love story is retold – e.g. Romeo and Juliet but they survive and are on the run from the authorities, and their families. Maybe Romeo and Juliet grow to hate each other and continue the trend of the blood feud somewhere else after marrying other people. And this time there is a tragedy with Romeo and Juliet’s consecutive grandkids suffering the tragedy they never did. The only way to end that feud was death, it seems.
A person is tossed around by a bunch of people but ultimately has to learn to love themselves.
The story takes place during the industrial revolution. Two people can’t be in love due to class divides, one works in the factory and is slowly dying because of it, whilst the other’s father owns the factory and is a highly esteemed and respected governor. The child of the governor sees the injustice in the class system too late and loses his lover. They campaign to expose their father’s inhumane workplaces and outlaw class prejudices and any prejudice put into practice against workers in hopes of winning back their love.
They are forbidden to be in love as one is the boss of the other, and they wish to retain professional integrity. One leaves because they can’t bear it anymore and they have to rethink their priorities.
A lawyer has to choose their client or the person they love, who is being tried.
11 Horror Story Ideas:
To instill horror in a reader is an acquired skill, and something to be admired among writers. One thing that really helps with horror is to tell the story from a first-person perspective. These horror writing prompts will help you on the journey to terrifying your readers out of their skin!
As a joke, you use your cell phone to dial your own number. Someone else picks up.
A mental hospital houses a young girl that truly believes she is Red Riding Hood, after watching her grandmother be murdered. She claims she “skinned that wolf” and dyed her coat red with its blood.
A psychopathic killer leaves a tooth stolen from under a child’s pillow in the forehead of those he murders. He labels himself the “Tooth Fairy”
A fortune teller shows up at carnivals just before they close late at night and predicts the way the subject’s best friend will die, and proclaims it will happen in 3 days. It always does, just the way they described it.
In the forest, there is a family of inbred cannibals that ravage travelers.
You are driving in the middle of the desert when a hulking mass is illuminated in your headlights. It’s a coyote ripping at a mangled corpse. It proceeds to shake slightly, look straight at you, and turn into a tall, slender human. You steer around it and step on the gas. You look back to see it staring at you.
You are at your best friend’s boyfriend’s house with her. You trip in the bathroom and see tally marks scratched on the skirting boards, along with people’s initials. There are hundreds. Not just in the bathroom, but on every skirting board in the house, and faintly scratched on beams and walls.
Your doorbell rings 3 times during the night. When you open the door there is no one there. The next morning you wake to see on the news that 3 children are missing.
Every night at 3 am, a car drives past your house. The one night you stay up with the purpose of watching it, it slows to a stop in the middle of the road outside your house.
An expedition to a hidden corner of Antarctica ends with an entire sledding team going missing, with the only clue to their disappearance being the film they were recording. You have to lead a mission to retrieve it.
The window of your apartment leads to a fire escape, but twice you’ve come home to find it open. Nothing is missing. But someone keeps leaving a ring on your kitchen table.
I was developing film, as per my profession, when I heard a clatter. I just thought it was a ventilation thing at the time, or something like that, but when the film was done and I took it into the light, there were strange blotchy figures that had appeared on them.
10 Thriller Story Ideas
High stakes, intense action, foreboding villains. Thriller ranges as a genre from teetering on full-on psychological horror to international spies stopping a plot to overthrow the government, to the events of a court case, with the underdogs triumphing with well-deserved justice. These 10 thriller story ideas will ensure you keep your readers on their toes!
The world’s wealthiest person has recently been put in prison for life. They offer half their fortune to any person, organization, or country that frees them. An all-out war ensues, in which our character must save governments from internal collapses and foil assassination attempts, as everyone scrambles to find and free the trillionaire. Little does anyone know that this is their final blow to cripple humanity, and they are going out with a bang….
Two police detectives have been working together for over three decades, but the chief’s murder has left no one off the list of suspects. They turn against each other after an argument and both race to find evidence that the other is the murderer, and all the while the real killer is right behind them.
The morning after your best friend’s bachelor party, you wake up hungover to find only you and one other guest left the party alive. You don’t remember a thing. Upon further investigation, you find out the fancy hotel where the party was held was booked up after 3 hours, and instead of asking the party to leave, an armed bodyguard, under command by his boss (an influential oil giant) gunned the partygoers down. You only survived because you and the one other person went to the restroom outside of the hall before they arrived, and were barred from reentry, so went home. You are fuelled with rage and decide you will hunt the oil giant down, and plunge the industry at the same time.
Emotions are heightened when a detective finds the serial killer he had been searching for for over ten years is his own son.
An ex-cop must battle his PTSD to get to the bottom of his wife’s murder.
You’re beginning to believe the person writing the daily crossword puzzle in your newspaper is trying to send you an encoded message, so you investigate and are framed for the murder of your neighbor, as you were at the wrong place at the wrong time.
You are traveling when you are informed by an airport official that your passport isn’t valid, and the country you claim to be from doesn’t exist. You are deported and thrust into a warzone, but not in your home country, where your friends and family are. You were captured by a human trafficking scheme with connections in airports across the world. You have no choice but to fight your way up, and out.
You’re going through family photos when you start to notice the same person standing in the background of every single location. You realize you’re being monitored, but don’t know why so you go on the run.
The owner of a cruise ship manufacturer takes his wife on their honeymoon on one of their cruise ships. They are both murdered. The owner of the world’s largest airplane company takes a flight on one of his new planes on her honeymoon. She and her partner are murdered. The same story as the one day (the day after the other two) the CEO of the train company’s car conveniently breaks down and he’s forced to commute on the train. Boom. Dead. No sign of a killer, and no one ever notices anything until the CEO starts bleeding out their eyes. You are assigned to this case and discover a secret transport workers union seeking to start a new world order for the working class, one CEO at a time.
A man is pulled aside in the supermarket and a hooded figure shoves a knife in his gut and walks away. On the knife, engraved in the blade, the grooves full of blood, reads ‘Payment.’
My Favorite Story Idea:
I really enjoyed writing all of these! For sure romance was the hardest to write for, as you may be able to tell, but I still enjoyed it! I think Science Fiction was my fav, and out of those I liked no.10 the best! I think that is a super cool concept I may very well write about in the future!
How do I write a unique story?
Don’t fall into common plot clichés for your genre.
Combine familiar elements to make something new.
Vary a familiar plot with surprising subplots.
Use other unique novels as a guideline for what and what not to change.
Overthrow the readers’ expectations.
Don’t follow an overused basic plot, e.g. a damsel in distress.
What are 7 types of short stories?
Anecdotes – something that really happened.
Drabble – really short – under 100 words – usually descriptive.
Fable – Features anthropomorphic creatures.
Feghoot – A pun told as a short story.
Flash Fiction – literature between 300 – 1000 words.
Mini-Saga – Told in exactly 50 words.
Vignette – focuses on a single scene, character, etc.
How do I write a good story?
It’s all about persistence and making sure you love what you’re writing about. The readers will only ever be as invested as the writer is. Practice writing via sketching/describing your surroundings with your words. Practice makes perfect!
How do I get ideas for a story?
Reinvent your favorite movie scene or chapter from a book.
Use memes, junk mail, online posts, and scams for funny plotlines.
Reimagine a historical character – e.g. what did Hitler do on his days off?
Make up a history for someone you’ve only met once, or lost touch with.
Use a writing prompt… How convenient!
Why Are Story Writing Prompts Necessary?
I wrote these for people who love to write but just can’t quite find their way past that blank page. I feel that writing prompts allow for an opportunity in exercising and challenging your writing skills. Stepping out of your comfort zone or trying new perspectives can help you not only improve your work but also understand your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
The Secret to Writing Something Meaningful
Words, more than any other medium, have the power to make people care. Words have the ability to change people’s lives.
But to use those words to spin a tale that captivates people or instill a life-changing dialogue in your reader, don’t just write about what your characters do, say, and see. Ask yourself, “Where do I fit into this story? What is my personal connection to this story? Why does it matter to me?”
It’s all about making sure you love what you’re writing about. The readers will only ever be as invested in the story as the writer is.
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
If you can connect your individual story to the story you’re writing, you will not only have more motivation to finish your story, you just might be able to change the lives of your readers.
Let us know which genres you’d like to see more of! Thanks for reading!