Do you want to write but just need a great story idea? Or perhaps you have too many ideas and can’t choose the best one? Well, good news. We’ve got you covered.

Below are one hundred short story ideas for all your favorite genres. You can use them as a book idea, as writing prompts for writing contests, for stories to publish in literary magazines, or just for fun!

Use these 100 story ideas to get your creative writing started now.

100 Top Short Story Ideas

If you’re in a hurry, here’s my 10 best story ideas in brief, or scroll down for the full version.

Top 10 Story Ideas

  1. Tell the story of a scar.
  2. A group of children discover a dead body.
  3. A young prodigy becomes orphaned.
  4. A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost.
  5. A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her.
  6. A talented young man’s deepest fear is holding his life back. 
  7. A poor young boy or girl comes into an unexpected fortune.
  8. A shy, young woman unexpectedly bumps into her soulmate.
  9. A long journey is interrupted by a disaster.
  10. A young couple run into the path of a psychopath.

Why Creative Writing Prompts Are Helpful

Below, you’ll find our best creative writing prompts and plot ideas for every genre, but first, why do we use prompts? Is it just a waste of time, or can they actually help you? Here are three reasons we  love writing prompts at The Write Practice:

1. Practice the Language!

Even for those of us who are native English speakers, we’re all on a language journey to go from beginners to skilled writers. To make progress on this language journey, you have to practice, and at The Write Practice, believe it or not, we’re really into practice! 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. You could either just sit there, staring at a blank page, or you could find a few ideas to help you get started. Even better if the list of ideas is curated from our best plot ideas over the last decade that we’ve been publishing lessons, writing exercises, and prompts.

Use the story ideas below to get your writing started. Then when your creativity is warmed up, you’ll start to come up with your own ideas!

3. To develop your own ideas.

Maybe you do have an idea already, but you’re not sure it’s good. Or maybe you feel like it’s just missing some small piece to make it better. By reading other ideas, and incorporating your favorites into your story, you can fill your plot holes and make your own ideas better.

Use the story ideas below to develop your own ideas.

4. They’re fun!

Thousands of writers use the prompts below every month, some at home, some in classrooms, and even a few pros at their writing “office.” Why? Because writing prompts can be fun. They get your creativity started, help you come up with new ideas of your own, and often take your writing in new, unexpected directions.

Use the plot ideas to have more fun with writing!

How to Write a Short Story

One last thing before we get to the 100 story ideas, let’s talk about how to write a great short story. (Already know how to write a great story? No problem. Just skip down to the ideas below.)

  1. First, read short stories. If you’ve never read a short story, you’re going to have a hard time writing one. Where do you find great short stories? There are a lot of places, but check out our list of 46 Literary Magazines we’ve curated over here.
  2. Write your story in a single sitting. Write the first draft of your story in as short a time as possible, and if you’re writing a short story, try to write it in one sitting. Trust me, this works. Everyone hates being interrupted when they’re telling a story. Use that to your advantage and don’t stop writing until you’ve finished telling your story.
  3. Read your draft. Read your story through once, without changing anything. This will give you a sense of what work it needs going forward.
  4. Write a premise. After reading your first draft, get your head around the main idea behind your story by summarizing your story in a one sentence premise. Your premise should contain three things: a character, a goal, and a situation. Not sure how to actually do that? Here’s a full premise writing guide.
  5. Write, edit, write, and edit. Good writing is rewriting. Use your second draft to fill in the plot holes and cut out the extraneous scenes and characters you discovered when you read the first draft in step #2. Then, polish up your final draft on the next round of edits.
  6. Submit! Real writers don’t keep their writing all to themselves. They share it. Submit your story to a literary magazine, enter it into a writing contest, or even share it with a small group of friends. And if it gets rejected, don’t feel bad. You’ll be in good company.

Want to know more? Learn more about how to write a great short story here.

Our 100 Best Short Story Ideas, Plot Ideas, and Creative Writing Prompts

Ready to get writing? Here are our 100 best short story ideas to kickstart your writing. Enjoy!

10 Best General Short Story Ideas

Our first batch of plot ideas are for any kind of story, whether a spy thriller or a memoir of your personal life. Here are the best story ideas:

  1. Tell the story of a scar, whether a physical scar or emotional one. To be a writer, said Stephen King, “The only requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”
  2. A group of children discover a dead body. Good writers don’t turn away from death, which is, after all, the universal human experience. Instead, they look it directly into its dark face and describe what they see on the page.
  3. A young prodigy becomes orphaned. Orphans are uniquely vulnerable, and as such, they have the most potential for growth.
  4. A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost. What do Edgar Allen Poe, Ron Weasley, King Saul from the Bible, Odysseus, and Ebenezer Scrooge have in common? They all encountered ghosts!
  5. A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her. “In life every ending is just a new beginning,” says Dakota Fanning’s character in Uptown Girls.
  6. A talented young man’s deepest fear is holding his life back. Your character’s biggest fear is your story’s secret weapon. Don’t run from it, write about it.
  7. A poor young boy or girl comes into an unexpected fortune. Not all fortunes are good. Sometimes discovering a fortune will destroy your life.
  8. A shy, young woman unexpectedly bumps into her soulmate (literally bumps into him). In film, this is called the “meet cute,” when the hero bumps into the heroine in the coffee shop or the department store or the hallway, knocking her books to the floor, and forcing them into conversation.
  9. A long journey is interrupted by a disaster. Who hasn’t been longing to get to a destination only to be delayed by something unexpected? This is the plot of GravityThe Odyssey, and even Lord of the Rings.
  10. A young couple run into the path of a psychopath. Monsters, whether people who do monstrous things or scaly beasts or a monster of a natural disaster, reveal what’s really inside a person. Let your character fall into the path of a monster and see how they handle themselves.
Now that you have an idea, learn exactly what to do with it. Check out my new book The Write Structure which helps writers take their ideas and write books readers love. Click to check out The Write Structure here.

More Short Story Ideas Based on Genre

Need more ideas? Here are ideas based on whichever literary genre you write.

By the way, for more story writing tips for each these plot types, check out our full guide to the 10 types of stories here.

10 Thriller Story Ideas

A thriller is any story that “thrills” the reader—i.e., gets adrenaline pumping, the heart racing, and the emotions piqued.

Thrillers come in all shapes and forms, dipping freely into other genres. In other words, expect the unexpected!

Click for thriller short story ideas.

20 Mystery Story Ideas

Enjoy a good whodunit? Then you’ll love these.

My favorite: “Ever heard the phrase, ‘It is not who fired the shot but who paid for the bullet?’ This is a philosophy Tomoe Gozen lives by. Brave and clever, Tomoe follows clues until she learns who ordered the murder: Emperor Antoku himself. But why would the emperor of Japan want to kill a lowly soldier?”

Click for the mystery short story ideas.

20 Romance Story Ideas

Hint: When it comes to romance, a sense of humor is always a good idea. Have fun! Here’s one of my favorites from this list: “She’s a cop. He’s the owner of a jewelry store.

A sudden rash of break-ins brings her to his store over and over and over again, until it becomes obvious that he might be tripping the alarm on purpose—just to see her.

That’s illegal—but she’s kind of falling for him, too. Write the moment she realizes she has to do something about this crazy illicit courtship.”

Click for the romance short story ideas.

20 Sci-Fi Story Ideas

From the minimum-wage-earning, ancient-artifact-hunting time traveller to the space-exploring, sentient dinosaurs, these sci-fi writing prompts will get you set loose your inner nerd.

Click for the short story ideas.

20 Fantasy Story Ideas

Bored teenaged wizards throwing a graduation celebration.

Uncomfortable wedding preparation between magic wielding family members and those more on the Muggle side of things.

A fairy prince who decides to abandon his responsibilities to become a street musician.

Just try to not have fun writing (or even just reading!) these fantasy writing prompts.

Click for the fantasy short story ideas.

The Secret to Choosing the Best Story Idea

Stories, more than any other artistic expression, have the power to make people care. Stories have the ability to change people’s lives.

But to write a great story, a life-changing story, don’t just write about what your characters did, said, and saw. Ask yourself, “Where do I fit in to this story? What is my personal connection to this story?”

Robert Frost said this:

If you can connect your personal story to the story you’re writing, you will not only be more motivated to finish your story, you might just be able to change the lives of your readers.

Next Step: Write Your Best Story

No matter how good your idea, writing a story or a book can be a long difficult process. How do you create an outline, come up with a great plot, and then actually finish it?

My new book The Write Structure will help. You’ll learn how to take your idea and structure a strong plot around it. Then you’ll be guided through the exact process I’ve used to write dozens of short stories and over fifteen books.

You can learn more about The Write Structure and get your copy here.

The Write StructureReady to turn your idea into a finish story? Check out my new book The Write Structure which helps writers make their plot better and write books readers love.

Get The Write Structure here »

Have a great short story idea? We’d love to hear it. Share it in the comments!

PRACTICE

Choose one of these ideas and write a short story in one sitting (aim for 1,000 words or less!). When you’re finished, share your story in the comments section (or our latest writing contest) for feedback from the community. And if you share, please be sure to comment on a few stories by other writers.

Have fun!

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.