20 Thriller Story Ideas for Heart-Racing Fiction

by Ruthanne Reid | 65 comments

The thriller genre is wildly popular. Thrillers are like mysteries, but with a super dose of suspense, action, and anticipation for the reader. Here are some thriller story ideas (including ten all new prompts!) to help you start crafting your own fast-paced thriller today!

Thriller story ideas with picture of hand reaching through mail slot in door

Thrillers have been delighting readers for years. Thriller writers like Stephen King, John Grisham, Frieda McFadden, and Tana French dominate the category along with many other newcomers.

As we continue our series on the types of stories, today we're sharing prompts for inspiration to write a thriller. But first, let's look back at the value scales that create the ten types of stories. (See the full guide here.)

Remember that for thrillers, the value scale is life versus a fate worse than death. What's worse than death? Anything that creates the excitement and thrill of suspense a thriller delivers. 

It might be the fear of not recovering a kidnapped child. It might be the risk of not solving a case that you're heavily invested in. It might be losing critical intel that your country needs to face an enemy.

Whatever it is, the protagonist would almost rather face death than not meet their goal.

Just so you know, “thrillers” come in all shapes and forms, dipping freely into other genres. In other words, expect the unexpected! Some of the sub-genres in thriller include psychological thrillers, historical thrillers, spy thrillers, supernatural thrillers, crime thrillers, and technothrillers.

To study up on techniques that make thrillers and suspense work, check out Joslyn Chase's article here or her full guide on how to write a thriller.

10 Quick Thriller Story Ideas

We'll start with some short writing prompts to help you get writing fast. Try one of these in your writing time today.

  1. She just started a new job when a cryptic message comes across her desk that she can't ignore.
  2. An undercover agent is in a race against time to find out who is behind a pate of disappearances.
  3. A stuntman realizes the star is a target of a conspiracy theorist on set and their life is in danger.
  4. A government agent arrests the wrong man and he begs his wife to find evidence before he becomes the scapegoat for a coverup.
  5. Murder victims keep appearing at a popular tourist destination. She must find out who's behind it in this action thriller.
  6. A new neighbor seems friendly enough until a series of unsettling events rattles the neighborhood.
  7. A thriller writer's compelling characters begin showing up in real life crime scenes, and they become the prime suspect.
  8. Mysterious circumstances always surrounded the sudden retirement of a megastar, until a nosy investigative journalist uncovers a clue that would unravel everything.
  9. Artificial intelligence took his job after he created the very code that launched the company into eye-popping profitability. And now he's out for revenge.
  10. A criminal mastermind has shut down essential services in the city, and only a retired recluse of a hacker can stop him. If they can convince him to take the case.

Suspense Story Ideas

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

12. Zion Jones is a police interrogator in Miami's overburdened police department. He's up to his eyeballs in paperwork and really doesn't have time for another case, but when his best friend and fellow cop is shot in a burglary-gone-wrong, he's willing to take on a few extra cases. The next interrogation was supposed to be routine: a murder, a suspect, a suspicious amount of transferred cash. But the moment he gets in the room, he knows something is wrong. This suspect isn't scared. This suspect is laughing, and proceeds to tell Zion personal, too-intimate-to-be-hearsay details on cold case murders going back nearly a hundred years. It gets weirder: for reasons unknown, the digital recording came up blank, as if no conversation had taken place. Of course, everything Zion has to report is dismissed—it's nonsense, nothing that can be proven, and it was just an attempt to mess with his head. Right? If that's so, then why does Zion feel like someone's watching him everywhere he goes, as if just waiting for him to make a move on the terrible details he's been given?

13. Shah is the son of the Rajah, arguably the richest heir in the world, and dangerously bored. How does he fill his time? By thinking of himself as a detective and solving “mysteries” all around the palace. This means Shah gets into everybody's business and makes up completely absurd tales about his adventures, but who's going to argue? He's the son of the Rajah, and technically holds their lives in his hands. But don't think Shah has no friends; his most faithful servant, Nainsuk, has raised Shah from an infant, and while he loves the boy as his own, Nainsuk isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. He believes Shah's wild tales of night-escapes from demons and genius in solving unsolvable mysteries. So, when Nainsuk's younger sister goes missing, he begs the prince for help. Shah, convinced of his own near-immortality, takes the case… but when he leaves the palace for the first time in his life, following clues, he discovers life on the outside is nowhere near as idyllic as life within. Religious factions struggle for supremacy, political groups jostle for influence and the Rajah's ear, and the desperate poor and the greedy rich all fight, turning the city around the palace into a boiling mess of blood and sweat. In short order, Shah loses his money, his jeweled sword, and his beard—and without these things, the guards at the palace don't recognize him, refusing to let him back inside. Shah's only chance is to wait for Nainsuk to return in the morning, since surely his old caretaker will recognize him… but in order to do that, he has to survive the night in the crime-ridden streets. Roving gangs, packs of wild dogs, and desperate thugs who see him as an easy target are the least of his concerns. It turns out Nainsuk's sister was kidnapped as a sacrifice to the goddess Kali, and he has until dawn to save her… and himself. (P.S. No, I will not apologize for the Avatar reference.)

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

15. Fourteen years ago, Stan cheated on his brand-new bride of four months. It was just a one-afternoon fling, a reaction to a silly fight he can no longer remember, and he gave the girl in the club a fake name, anyway, so who cares? Now, he's general manager for a profitable beer company; his wife and four kids are well-provided-for, with college funds and all the amenities they could desire. Stan's in line for CEO, if he can keep up his business ethic until old Paul retires, and he intends to… until she comes in for a job interview. Stan recognizes Delilah Bond, oh hell yes, he does, but she doesn't seem to recognize him. Slightly shaken, he plays dumb, treats her with complete professional cool, and goes about his day. The next night, his youngest daughter waxes eloquent about her new music teacher, Ms. Bond… who matches the description of Stan's fourteen-year-old mistake. He tries to ignore this until he sees her outside his window, trimming the hedges, wearing an ordinary landscaper's uniform. And again, in his favorite bar, where she's slinging drinks like a pro and conspicuously avoiding his eyes. In fact, he starts to see her everywhere, impossibly everywhere—touching the life of each of his children, involved with his wife (her new tennis partner), and hired at his company, though not in his division. Is he going crazy? No; it's worse. Delilah Bond is one of four quadruplets, or she was. The girl Stan slept with fourteen years ago got pregnant, miscarried badly, and died. Her three sisters took a long time to figure out who'd taken their sister from them, and they have every intention of making him suffer the way they have… and they've had a really long time to plan.

5 More Thriller Story Ideas That Play with Time

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

17. It's sometime in the future in a dystopian society, run with an iron fist by its government. The pollution is so bad that citizens almost never step outside, traveling instead via tubes between residence and work, or the small, expensive shops and home. Even the domiciles are all underground, small two-room apartments run completely by nano-bot technology and voice-command. In this grey and airless life, Bo and Lifen's six-month-old son, Heng, is mysteriously kidnapped. Devastated, they survive a near-breakup of their marriage, Lifen's failed suicide attempt, and Bo's brief stint with alcoholism as they both tried to cope with their loss. Eventually, they manage to grieve together instead of apart, and rebuild their lives… but it all comes to a crashing halt when a stranger rings the doorbell. It is a young man who claims to be their son. Not only that, but he has a small thumb-drive hanging around his heck giving him legal claim to their tiny, one-door domicile and everything they own—which means that when he steps inside, his voice-command locks the door behind him… and it won't unlock until he tells it to. In fact, he controls food. He controls the air supply. Little by little, he takes over their lives, forcing them both to quit their jobs and huddle in their cold and frightening home as they struggle to survive to this invasion of a so-called son who acts nothing like a son should. Why is he doing this? Is he really their son? And can they possibly fight him when the nano-bot run home obeys his every command?

18. It's 3012 AD. The Earth has long been left behind as uninhabitable. Justice Jones, retired special forces (think MacGyver + Marines), enjoys his quiet new employment as art appraiser on Tethys, one of Saturn's lovely terraformed moons. He's a staunch agnostic, which makes him stand out; most of Tethys' population ascribe to one of two religions: the Cats, who believe that mankind should stop exploring and be content with the two dozen or so moons and planets occupied, and the Dogs, who hold to a sort of demented Manifest Destiny that humankind should populate the whole universe. Justice ignores all of this ninety percent of the time; unfortunately, when he walks into the museum late one night to inspect a possible forgery of 1000-year-old Martian sculpture, he finds two dead bodies: the leaders of the Cats and Dogs, respectively. Each side blames the other for their leader's death, and before long, the arguments erupt into violence. There are innocents on this small moon; there aren't any major forms of government, or military presence. As the tensions grow thicker and the body count grows higher, Justice finds himself coming out of retirement to save the innocents on this moon who are about to be caught in the crossfire. The Cats and Dogs may be out for blood, but they've never encountered anything like Justice Jones.

19. It's 1935. Germany's government has been persecuting the Sinti people since long before the Nazis came to power, but the Third Reich has taken a particularly dim view: they claim that the Sinti (also known as Romani) are of mixed blood, and consequently believed to be both degenerate and criminal. Many are being forcibly sterilized. Ten-year-old Mirela is an orphan, and knows they're looking for her—not just because her mother was Sinti, but also because of her dreams. Mirela has dreams of the future, and they always come true… and she's had one three nights in a row about scary soldiers coming to the orphanage, taking away any child they deem not Aryan enough, and doing horrible things to them. Finally, she can take it no longer: she gathers together her six closest friends, and they leave in the dead of night, trying to sneak out of Berlin and toward the distant border of Austria. But Austria is over 400 miles away, and these seven children have no money. They also don't have blond hair or typically Aryan features. They must avoid soldiers and anyone who still thinks Jewish blood and dark hair are responsible for Germany's struggle. Mirela's dreams help, but she has no powers of protection. What follows is a daring, heart-rending journey of many nights, of loss and tears and triumph, and in the end, none of them will really be children anymore.

20. It's 1952. A small town in the Midwest is rocked by the brutal murder of Mary, a Black eleven-year-old girl, who's been bludgeoned until nearly unrecognizable. The sheriff, Joe Everyguy, is an upstanding and well-respected man who is determined to get to the bottom of what might be the grisliest case of his career. But as the crime unfolds, revealing prejudice, covered up abuse, and sexual philandering in and around the school, he begins to realize two things: one, there's such a hotbed of crime and immorality in the heart of his small town that if he doesn't root it out, it could destroy them all. And two, all the evidence points toward one suspect: his own daughter, Linda, Mary's classmate and supposed friend. The town wants to hush this up. Sheriff Everyguy is terrified the truth will destroy his family if he keeps pushing for answers—he can't uncover the cabal without exposing his daughter. If he quits now, he abandons a lifetime of intentional integrity and the town he loves as home. But if he keeps going, he might just be sacrificing his little girl's life.

There you go! Twenty ideas to get your reader's heart-pumping and your protagonist knee-deep in trouble racing against the clock. Which one will you try first?  Let us know in the comments.


It's your turn! Take fifteen minutes and tackle any one of these prompts at any point in the story. Once you pick a prompt, you can continue the tale, or take it from the beginning, or jump into the middle, using any character you please.

When your time is up, post your scene in the Pro Practice Workshop. And when you're done, check out others who have shared their scenes. Let them know what you think!

Not a member yet? Come join us. We're a group of writers committed to practicing together.

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Best-Selling author Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and was keynote speaker for The Write Practice 2021 Spring Retreat.

Author of two series with five books and fifty short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom, using up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon.

When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away.

P.S. Red is still her favorite color.


  1. Joy Burke

    Oh my goodness! These are all so good! Can’t wait to get started. Thank you for all these ideas!!

    • Ruthanne Reid

      Thanks, Joy! I can wait to see what you do. 🙂

    • Esmee Jensen

      ( I tried writing a horror story and wanted to share it)

      A loud bang exploded the school, I thought I was going to die, I thought the police had finally caught me, I ran towards the emergency exit, my hands sweating with fear, “MUM!” I heard a young voice cry, I never meant to heart anyone, I didn’t even mean to murder Matilda, my whole life is a mess, if only I hadn’t walked in with my mum lying eyes shut on a table, Matilda deserved to die, why would she kill my mum? Did she even kill my mum? It was my mystery to solve, and I did not want the police chasing me the whole way. I remember the powerful feeling when I had stabbed Matilda, the cold red blood pouring out of her heart, stained on my small fingers. “MUM!” I hear again, what is that voice, it sounds familiar, suddenly I remember, its Mathilda’s voice, she’s alive? My legs stop running and I turn around just to see an empty hallway, no Matilda no anyone,
      I was alone.
      “BANG!” before I have a chance to think about where everyone went, I turn forwards and finally make it out alive, I quickly slither across the concrete and hide between two bins, my hair flutters in my face, the whispers I heard before fade into the thin air, “HELLO!” I yell, no answer, it’s as if nobody is here, as if I’m dead.
      “MUM” the voice follows the cold breath flowing into my mouth and over my body, I’m stiff, as if I cant feel a single thing, I hear the waves splashing nearby, I take my shoes off and my feet are burning, quickly, I run towards the grass with tiny flowers poking against my leg, I can feel the cold wet grass smooth across my feet, I finally feel at ease in my own presence.
      When I get home the first thing, I notice is the sprinkler, my dad usually turns it on for the whole day, it’s turned off, I can feel my heart beating faster than I’ve ever felt, I place my sneakers next to me and sit down, my head tucked into my firm chest, “Its going to be ok” I mutter, cold air flushing my throat.
      There is a suitcase sitting near the entrance as if it’s practically waiting for me, I walk towards it, I can tell the suitcase is mine because it has the New Jersey sticker I got from my mum after she had visited. Tears calm my eyes as I open the neat suitcase, WHAT? I think to myself as I close my eyes, tight and fierce.
      There is a note placed in the pocket, it has a bloody hand, printed smoothly onto the piece of paper, I pick it up, just to see that the blood isn’t dry yet, it reads “SIMON SAYS, JUMP OFF THE DEAD CLIFF”
      The dead cliff!! Me and Matilda named it that after a person died there last fall, he was the only person to try, we made a funeral for him at our school. The message on the note suddenly fades away like magic, it makes a reappearance, this time it reads “SIMON SAYS DO IT IN THE NEXT HOUR OR YOU LOSE THE GAME” is that where everyone went? Did they lose the game? If so, what happens if you lose the game, do you die? Scared, I throw the note away, I wish I hadn’t had done that, Simon got me, and placed me with everybody else in hell, now we’re the ones writing the notes, selling the destruction, pain and horror to kids that don’t deserve it, I wish I wasn’t scared, Simon’s free now, and he took everyone else with him, I’m alone like I was in the beginning, I’d warn you to be careful who you trust but nobody knows, maybe you’re in hell already.

      ( I am 11 turning 12 this year)

  2. Claudia

    They all speak to me. Good job, Ruthanne!

    • Ruthanne Reid

      Awesome, Claudia! I’m so glad. Thanks!

  3. Christine

    I’d probably opt for #5 in the “More” list. the idea of triplets out for revenge is an intriguing one with lots of possibility.

  4. dduggerbiocepts

    Devil’s advocate here: Story ideas are like “get rich quick scheme sales.” As such, they necessarily beg the same interrogative reality and skepticism – “If they are so great, why isn’t the purveyor getting rich with them, rather than giving them away?”

    Analytically, if your imagination isn’t sufficiently stimulated by the world, its problem’s, their solutions, the resulting intrigue and the other infinite possibilities around you – you probably lack the imagination to flesh out a borrowed idea into a successful book.

    • Ruthanne Reid

      Hiya, DDugger! You’re always welcome to play Devil’s advocate. 😀 I’m happy to provide an alternative point of view!

      The purpose of story prompts is exactly the same as the purpose of cookbooks. 🙂 It’s not intended for you to take and try to imitate word for word for your own book; instead, it provides combinations of ingredients that WORK, which not only give the young chef a template to learn how those foods taste together, but then gives him or her the foundation from which to branch off and create their own meals.

      It other words, it’s practice – you might even day the “write” practice! It’s a bit of fuel for the imagination, and a great way to get a taste for a new genre. 🙂

      I give these ideas away because (a) I AM a successful author, and I love to read, so I know what’s out there, and (b) I fully believe that as human beings, the best thing at can do is help one another.

      That, and it’s not like there are a limited number of ideas in the world! There will always be more. If sharing mine can help other writers find their voices, then I’ve done what I set out to do: help.

      Does that clarify it a little for you? If not, I’ll be more than happy to chat further. 🙂

    • dduggerbiocepts

      Typically I believe it’s the “devil’s advocate” that is perceived as the one who offers the “alternative point of view.” You are reiterating your point of view, not an alternative. I’m sorry I don’t know what to call the view that is an alternative to the alternative view generally offered by the Devil’s advocate. Does that mean it has come full circle, back to the starting point? In this case it seems to.

      I think your analogy to a cookbook is a good one, because if makes my point. Cookbooks in general are instructional guides for people who don’t know how to cook – or at least how to cook a specific recipe. There is little creativity or imagination involved, or you wouldn’t need the cook book. Clearly, the more adventurous may decide to venture from a recipe, but most likely only once they have succeed in producing a successful outcome.

      So, my comment wasn’t so much addressed to you, or your story ideas – which are fine. I do believe that you are full of ideas, clearly know how to implement them successfully and that you provide them to readers free and in good spirit. It’s your readers that I am concerned about. Readers who might think that they can flesh out your ideas with the same success that you would have with your ideas, yet really don’t have the imagination to come up with them alone. Having your own story idea is clearly a prerequisite to being an author.

      The best stories are said to have an experiential basis in the author’s life. Using some other person’s ideas for a story, feels too much like borrowing some other person’s life experiences. While few if any ideas are totally original, personally I would never be able to take possession of some other person’s story – even if freely given – and feel comfortable enough with it – to wear it as my own.

    • Allynda Casterton

      Thank you for sharing your idea with us! I’m at a stand still, writers block to max, and I think you may have pulled me out of it. We’ll see.
      Again thank you.

  5. Gary G Little

    Panic. Delilah Bond was dead! Had to be dead. He rifled through papers on his desk. Yes there. The Cv, the resume of the Delilah look alike he had interviewed. He pulled it out with the attached application, and looked and the signature block.
    He name, yes Yonnie Gabriela Desmond. He unfolded Delilah’s last letter and compared the signatures.

    “What,” he screamed. There was no signature. Instead there was a clear message, “Your going t’die.” In a hurry to get home Sheila just saw it was signed. Se didn’t read the message! “I’ll fire that incompetent bitch!”

    He pulled out his daughters teachers note. Trioxide had called her Ms. Bond. “Bond for god’s sake.” He looked at the note. His level of panic jumped again as he read, “You’re going to die Stan Simons.”

    “Oh God, Delilah is dead! I know she’s dead.”

    There, in his pocket was the note the bar tender passed him that started his panic. Two notes, not just one. Both say the same thing, “You’re going to die.”

    “No!” He screamed, ran down the street across the street against the light. There was the scream of breaks, a very sickening thud, and silence.

    Three figures continued their stroll down the street to that intersection. Traffic had stopper. The semi-trailer driver was sitting, weeping on the step up to the cab, “where did he come from? I tried to stop, I did I really did!!”

    The three figures gathered around the front of the truck, and each lifted a black veil.

    “I told him he was going to die,” Debbie Bond said.

    “So did I,” said Donna Bond.

    “As did I, said Doris Bond.

    All three looked down at the prostate form of Stan, laying in spreading pool of blood, in the middle of the street, the grill of the semi-truck and trailer looming over his now still form.

    • Ruthanne Reid

      Nicely done, Gary! This is very visual, and I love how you really made the reader feel the climax of his death.

  6. Cauê Moraes

    Thanks for this amazing source of ideas. I’m kind of too lazy now to read all the prompts and write, so I will just think in another “thrilling” prompt to help my fella writers. It will not be so good as the upper prompts, but I will feel guilty if I don’t accomplish any writing exercise after read a The Write Practice post. Thanks again and sorry for my laziness. Here we go.

    Shaggy Mommy is a guy Thanks for this amazing source of ideas. I’m kind of too lazy now to read all the prompts and write, so I will just think in another “thrilling” prompt to help my fella writers. It will not be so good as the upper prompts, but I will feel guilty if I don’t accomplish any writing exercise after read a The Write Practice post. Thanks again and sorry for my laziness. Here we go.

    Shaggy Mommy is a full-grown caveman who failed as a hunter of the Writhing Tribe (because they like to writhe and wiggle before hunts and war battles)

  7. Cauê Moraes

    Thanks for this amazing source of ideas. I’m kind of too lazy now to read all the prompts and write, so I will just think in another “thrilling” prompt to help my fella writers. It will not be so good as the upper prompts, but I will feel guilty if I don’t accomplish any writing exercise after read a The Write Practice post. Thanks again and sorry for my laziness. Here we go.

    Shaggy Mommy is a full-grown caveman who failed as a hunter of the Writhing Tribe (they like to writhe and wiggle before hunts and battles) because he is simply too slow. So, instead of just eat such useless individual (he stinks just like his mother), the tribal chiefs decided to make him a shaman apprentice.

    The tribal shamans begin to die at dead of darkness, one after another. The hearts are removed while the victims are still alive. No sentinel ever sees anything. No one ever hears anything. The corpses have indistinguishable marks of the huge prehistoric predators that terrorize the savanna. No one is safe. The gods of thunder, fire, stone, etc have abandoned their earthly representants to die at the claws of savage, invisible demon-beasts.

    But Shaggy Mommy notices something. He is not merely slow, he is a “deep gazer”, and enjoys to contemplate the worldly beauties for endless hours. He can see things nobody else can. Shaggy observes that the fang punctures and claw cuts were actually made by stone weapons.

    Amidst widespread paranoia, Shaggy must unveil a mystery of fanatical cultists and their inebriating elixir before everybody becomes sacrificial offers.

    • Ruthanne Reid

      Fantastic, Caue!I love the direction your brain went. It’s clear you’ve got stories in you to tell!

  8. LaCresha Lawson

    Those were so awesome! I would like to write a short about one some day!

    • Ruthanne Reid

      LaCresha, I hope you do – with my blessing!

    • LaCresha Lawson

      I meant to say “short story.” ☺ And, thank you. I definitely have an idea for one. I don’t post my work here because of a situation. I believe some took a real even in my life and wrote a story. We could say a “coincidence” but it was too close. I submitted it for an article that “empowers women.” I was looking for a writing job on Craigslist. And, I submitted it and didn’t hear anything. I was hoping it would be featured in the magazine. Then there was and article from “Huffington Post” which was on the “Yahoo!” Website. The title was interesting. So, I read it and I was really upset. I contacted the one who wrote the article said how much it sounded like what happened and told her that I will be “retelling” my story. I published a story shortly after to tell my story. I never heard from the writer again.

  9. Manojkrishna Eswaramurthy

    Thank you for the wonderful idea’s. Actually a new plot triggered within me as i finished reading it.

    • Ruthanne Reid

      Manojkrishna, that’s delightful! I hope you manage to write it all the way to the end!

  10. B.d. Knight

    This is awesome that you offer these. They get the juices flowing. I admit I’m kinda lazy so I bypassed the ones that would seem to require research but the last one offers plenty of options. Thank you for this. Have to check out your others and just bookmarked your site.

    • Ruthanne Reid

      That’s what they’re for, BD! I’m so glad they help you. 🙂

  11. Sondra

    Thank you so much for the story prompts Ruthanne. I am Interested in mystery and crime and these are wonderful.
    I am always pleased with every article that I read here with The Write Practice. I have saved your prompts to my home screen and plan on using these for some great story ideas.
    Thanks again Ruthanne!!
    Ideas 1, 2, 4 and 10 are excellent for what I like to write..

    • Ruthanne Reid

      You’re absolutely welcome, Sondra! I hope these prompts keep you going until you get to type THE END!

  12. Allynda Casterton

    Love all the prompts! However, 10 is screaming at me; “finish me, finish me” so I think I’m going to run with it. As soon as I finish the first “chapter” I will post it. Just curious, there are a few details I would like to change in the paragraph that you provided, is this okay?
    Can’t wait to get started!
    Thank you.

    • Ruthanne Reid

      That’s SO great! Go for it, Allynda!!! Change anything you like. The entire purpose is to get your own brain going. 😀

  13. Kristi Baker

    Yeah, I wou9have to agree. 10 is the story. I think ill work on that one as well

    • Ruthanne Reid

      That’s great, Kristi! I really hope it bears fruit for you!

  14. 709writer

    Shadow peered around one of the few oak trees in the front yard. He fixed his gaze on the house. Light glowed in the window to the far right. He checked his watch – it was nearing 8 ‘o’ clock.

    Stepping from behind the tree, he crossed the yard and climbed the porch steps. Time to get some answers. He lifted his hand and knocked.

    When he did, the front door eased open. A chill rushed through him. He frowned and stepped into the foyer

    The smell hit him first.

    He clamped a hand over his nose at the strong odor of blood – and something else. Forcing himself to lower his hand from his face, he grabbed his pistol from its holster at his side and crept forward. Golden light spilled into the hallway from the right.

    His pulse accelerated. Turning into the dining room, where the light was coming from, he stopped short.

    Two people lay on their backs, sprawled on overturned chairs at the dining room table. A man and a woman. Red trickled from a multiple holes in each of their foreheads and gathered in growing pools of dark blood.

    Shadow flicked off safety and darted into the room, kneeling beside them to check for pulses. Nothing. Their skin was already cold.

    Her foster parents had been murdered.

    Any feedback/comments are welcome. Thank you for the prompts, Ruthanne!

    • Ruthanne Reid

      Beautifully done! It’s creepy, and it invokes all the senses. I love what you did with it! About the only thing I’d like to see is a little more of how he felt, but his reaction could just as easily come in the next paragraph. 😀 Great job!

    • Angel Plant

      I love this

  15. Debra johnson

    Oh I love number 10…. It may be the perfect idea to work on while I’m in this season of my life….. would be fun to work on it… see where it leads/ takes me.

    • Ruthanne Reid

      That’s so great, Debra! I look forward to it! I hope it carries you all the way to THE END of the book!

  16. The Almighty

    Prompt #1
    “Rosa, tell me,” Bron purred as he gently traced the edge of his desk, “how many cases have you won?”

    The woman fidgeted under his steely gaze, fingers gliding over her keyboard. She began a word document, reminding herself that her client was NOT all that frightening. All that mattered was the housekeeper’s corpse retrieved from the sewers.
    Her black eyes darted to his face, before narrowing.

    “Mr. Welty, I am here to defend your innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.” At his raising brow, she continued her professional rant, “Any past cases, “win” or “lose” as you call them, are irrelevant as far as this is concerned. Now please, Mr. Welty, where were you on October 15, 2010?”

    “Are you related to the victim in any way, Miss Ortiz?” he inquired, gray depths piercing through her dispassionate air, “I mean, I wouldn’t be too shocked. You guys reproduce like cats or something.”

    He strolled over to a chair on her right, seating himself perfectly and attention directed. The lawyer felt her hair rise at his comment, before reminding herself that this punk was going to be out of her life soon enough.

    “Your family must be very proud,” he resumed, tone tinged with mock, “to see their little Rosa all dolled up in a clean suit and–”

    “Mr. Welty,” the Ortiz interrupted, body bristling at his sudden ramble, “I am here to make sure you don’t rot in prison. However, losing this case isn’t out of the question, either.”

    The latina’s threat was obvious and focused, Bron noted as an amused grin graced his chiseled face. He caught her delicate hand, grip firm and intention blatant.

    “Such a proud family you must have,” the actor prattled in a frigid hiss, before startled black skies collided with his storms, “it would be a tragedy if you were also found in the sewers, don’t you think?”

    Oxygen no longer entered her nostrils, the glaciar tension suffocating. Ice trickled down her stiff spine; but it burned.

    The prose of a sleep-deprived teen. 🙂

    • Ruthanne Reid

      Oh, WELL-done! This gave me absolute shivers. You did a great job with this! I wanted to read more!

    • Toy Chica

      Very intriguing

  17. lovely dream

    10 & 8 are the best !

    • Vaibhav Gupta

      yaa you are right

    • Cameron Parnell

      Hello lovely dream I am Cameron Parnell

    • Cameron Parnell

      I hope you reply back

  18. ♚Grand Vizier♚✓ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ ˢᵘᵖᵖᵒʳᵗᵉʳ

    A police detective investigating a friends death?? And Miami-Dade on top of that?

    You surely have no idea of how the police works. Detectives do not “take on” cases, they are assigned, and if there is a connection (relation, friendship , even acquaintances)a detective can under no circumstances work on such a case.

    In general, these “ideas” seems written by a 14-year old.

    • Peter Gonzalez

      In writing, the author can make his/her own universe with whatever scenario they want, regardless of policy in the real life. In real life, you’re an asshole.

    • ♚Grand Vizier♚✓ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ ˢᵘᵖᵖᵒʳᵗᵉʳ

      Surely, children and the feeble minded will buy anything.

      But grown ups not wasting their time on sci-fi and fantasy, they would like a world reminiscent of the real world, you know, that’s the world where you are regarded as a child, and a feeble minded child at that.

  19. Akash Bakshi

    number 9 is intresting …
    best story plot according to me

  20. Candace Armstrong

    number 10!! Was super excited when i read it… I’m a sucker for revenge stories >;) But the only problem is… i dont think I could just keep it at a short story… i might add chapters…how to keep it short…?

    • Toy Chica

      yeah ikr

  21. Anirudh Ramesh

    number 2 and 10 seems like a good enough start..! B-)

  22. Amore Azione

    Seems like you are using this page to push for pathetic and trivial political correctness type of themes, you social justice warrior.

  23. Evermre

    (4.) [His name is now James] James pulled his daughter along the rough sidewalk, herding her away from the small gang, the only gang, mind you, in the alleyway of their only street (The town of Mayfield was a rather geographical feat, with only one street, for only the richest could afford cars). He sighed, he’d gotten close to no sleep last night, as he was working on a rather puzzling case of a robbery in an old grandmother’s house. As they reached the school, he saw a huge crowd gathered around St. Marthy’s. What had been going on to merit this big of a crowd? “Stay here.” he said to his daughter, Lou Anne, as he turned towards the crowd. His hand on his gun, he advanced, pushing his way through the huddle of people. The sight he saw was the stuff of nightmares. A girl, most obviously colored, bludgeoned dead. Her hair red with dried crimson, her eyes smashed until all the was left was an eggy substance, her lips swollen and bruised, and her clothes in shreds. She looked absolutely gruesome, but he had not seen the worst. Semen was collected all over her body, her legs broken so that they faced out in an awkward way. He coughed, suddenly feeling sick at the sight. People were throwing up, other’s standing in shock at the body, but Mary’s parents were sobbing. “What’s wrong?” he asked them. Could it be that the girl… No, impossible. “Our daughter!” Mary’s mother cried out. He looked back at the body. That was Mary?! Unnoticed to him, a figure smiled in the shadow’s, short of stature. Lou Anne turned and walked away. She’d only been doing what Matt had wanted.

    • Drarry

      really good! but who’s matt?

    • Toy Chica

      That’s what I would like to know as well.

  24. Angel Plant

    The richest heir in the world, and so very bored, but Salvatore is the son of the King of The Emerald Forest. He has time that he needs to fill up. So he decides to act out his fantasy and be a detective so he can solve the “mysteries” in the palace. People will not like it because he will find out things that they will think is none of his business. But he will dig through secrets and lies to find out the truth. He will tell tales about his adventures which no one will believe. But they are true and someday everyone will know it. He thinks he has no friends but oh he does. So many are jealous of him. But they know for sure how much power he really has. He does not even know yet. To make matters worse his sister is missing and people are blaming him, yet he is summoned to find her. He takes the case after thinking about it and is sure he will win. The clues are many and he follows them all. But as he leaves the world outside is cruel and he wants to go back to the palace. People are fighting and killing for no reason at all. People knows he has influence and knows he can stop the blood shed. Things get worse when he loses the things he needs the most, If he can’t find them no one will recognize him and he will not be able to enter the palace again. The night will come and he will have to wait and see if he can get in. He is worried about gangs and the dogs that are wild, He knows he is a target. He finds his sister has been kidnapped and he does not have much time to save her and his self.

    So he does some thinking and makes some plans. He gets together a army of men, that he can trust and they will battle to get his sister back. They travel far and get weary. But yet they go on. After all the travel and the plans to get her back. He will be shocked at what she does.

    He finds her and she comes out surrounded by many men. She tells him she is not leaving. That she will be staying because she likes it where she is at. That she is treated well. Also she has everything she wants. They have made her their Princess.

    He finally leaves and is so hurt but he knows he will keep a watch on her and see if she is telling the truth.

  25. Angel Plant

    On a barren cliff in Canada lives two lighthouse keepers, they are German immigrants that do work that other people do not want. They are cut off from the rest of the world in the cold winter months until all the ice melts. They have enough supplies to last, so they don’t have that to worry about.

    But sometimes late at night Wilhelm hears voices in his head and thinks he is losing his mind. There are some strange things happening that he can’t explain. Like little things come up missing. Then later they turn up again. Many things are found on the stairs. So he thinks it could be Matthias wants him gone or to lose his mind. Then Matthias decides he is locked up with a real killer.

    Then again it could be Wilhelm is having nightmares and that is the problem. It could be he needs to get out more and meet new people. He also needs sleep and rest. The winter is getting to him and he is getting tired of it.

    He wants summer to come so it will be warmer and he can get out in the sun. Do different things then to be stuck with just one person.

    • Toy Chica

      Great job! This is really intriguing.

    • Angel Plant

      Thank you that means a lot to me.

  26. Marsha McCroden

    It was jpt in Miami — hotter than it should be. When ccapt. Lee asked for interrogation volunteers Lt. Jones said he’d be glad to help. She told him there was a suspecct in Interrrogation Room D. Should be easy — a straight-up homicide. Just tape the confession.
    Entering IR D, he saw an inconspicuous middle-aged man at the table. Inconspeciuous? Mayabe 1000 years ago.

    He introduced himself and sat down. He said he was there to gt the man’s side of the story. Then he turned the recorder on.



    • Toy Chica

      so many typos!!! lol!!!!!!

  27. Kaytelynn Thompson

    #10 is speaking to me. The prompt gave me shivers and it’s begging for a revamp and a jaw dropping twist. Definitely going to use it soon. perhaps for Nanowrimo.

  28. bethany

    wow these are really great prompts! i have to right a short suspense story for my language arts class and my first attempts were really bad. i was so happy when i stumbled across this site.

  29. Me

    When i’m running everything around me is quiet and peaceful. The birds are chirping and the grass is still wet with it’s morning dew. I’m in tune with the world but today was different I was running for a different reason today I was upset. I was running to my tree house the only place where no one could bother me where I was allowed to be who I wanted to be. The sky was a beautiful pink and blue color as the sun was starting to set. I knew I had to be home soon. I just wanted to feel something rather than the hurt I was feeling anything….. besides this

    13 year old who wants to try and write a story ( is it as bad as I think)

  30. Sandhya Morar

    I like the lat story because it came with an unexpected twist of quadruplet sisters who come into Stans life in an attempt to seek closure in a twisted way through revenge ….

  31. Drarry

    Help? I wrote a story but can’t think of a title… I chose number 7, but im saying that america became dystopian, not china. help?

  32. Evelyn Adebayo

    Hi Ruth, I’m a new writer and have been short of ideas recently. I came across your article and have been thinking of making a full story out of the first one. I hope you don’t mind

  33. Ronald

    The suspense and tension in your stories are palpable. You have a real gift for creating edge-of-the-seat moments.



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