100 Compelling Short Story Ideas
If you’re here, you probably love writing! It’s all fun and games, until it isn’t, right? Sometimes your brain just stops being creative, and you’re left with a dry well of ideas.
If you want to write something but can’t seem to actually think of something to write, you aren’t alone.
Even the best writers are idealess sometimes! I’ve been there, you’ve been there – it’s normal. While it always does eventually pass, you’re likely looking for something else in the meantime.
Well, if you need some short story ideas, we’ve got you! Now, bear in mind these won’t be too detailed, because you still need to make these ideas your own!
However, these are a great start for any story, and it will help you get back into your own creative mindset.
Why Creative Writing Prompts Can Be Useful To You
Before we jump in, let’s cover this. Many of you probably haven’t used writing prompts before, and that’s okay! Whether this is your first or fiftieth time, you should remember why writing prompts can be so great.
1. They Are Fun
This goes without saying. I love a writing prompt, even if it’s just to take a break from a big project and look at something new for a little while. Short story prompts are even better, since you can start and finish them in a day if you want to!
2. They Can Get You Unstuck
Writer’s block is a b-word, and prompts can help you get past it. Simple as that!
3. They Help You Develop Your Own Ideas
Sure, they are prompts, but these prompts can be incorporated into bigger stories if you want. They could end up being linked to missions and side characters at any point. Because of this, they could actually end up being a lot more helpful than you think.
4. They Help You Practice The Language
Any kind of practice is great, and you become more and more skilled at your craft. Learning how to write effectively and in a captivating manner takes time and – you guessed it – practice.
So, take the time to get some practice in and master your craft and unique way of storytelling.
Tips For Writing A Story
- Read lots of stories! – you’re going to struggle to write a good story if you’ve never read one. Although no story idea is unique now, you can learn more about the craft in so many ways by reading more!
- Try to get your short story down in one sitting – interruption is a killer, especially with storytelling. Try and get your first draft down in a single sitting for a short story. If you’re working on a longer one, then just get it down as soon as possible.
- Read your draft once without editing it – the first time you go through your draft, DON’T EDIT IT. Just read it to really take in what you’ve written so that you can better edit it later on.
- Get your premise down – get a good understanding of what your main story is about and create a pre-sentence summary! This should have four particular things – the character, the goal, the situation, and something that makes it unique.
- Let the editing process begin – you’ll do a lot of rewriting here, but keep at it! There will be lots of reading, editing, rewriting, and more editing to get it to a high enough standard. Make sure there aren’t any plot holes, and polish it up!
- Do something with it! – now that your piece of art is polished to perfection, do something with it! Submit it to a writing competition, a magazine, or just share it with your friends and family. And don’t worry if it gets rejected – almost every writer’s work gets rejected a few hundred times before it finds its forever home.
100 Compelling Short Story Ideas
I’ve divided these short stories into genres to make navigation easier for you. If you love a particular genre, why not skip down to it and try a short story?
Or, if you really want to challenge yourself, pick a genre that’s the opposite of what you would usually go for! Love horror? Try a romance!
10 General Story Ideas
- A long journey somehow gets interrupted by a disaster or incident
- Fear is holding your talented protagonist back from truly living
- A shy woman bumps into her soulmate in the most unexpected place
- A young couple go camping only to encounter their worst nightmare
- A poor young child suddenly receives an unexpected and life-changing fortune
- A child prodigy finds themselves alone and orphaned
- A young and deeply in-love woman’s fiancé unexpectedly dies in a tragic accident
- Tell the story of a scar that you have
- A middle-aged woman discovers that a ghost is living in her apartment
- A dead body is discovered by a group of young children on a school camping trip, and the bus has broken down
10 Thriller Short Story Ideas
- A group of college friends are camping in a field when they notice a tall pair of eyes watching them from the treeline. Will it just stare at them from the darkness, or will it make a move on the stranded group?
- A young woman awakes, tied up and with a blindfold. Although she can’t see her surroundings, the familiar smell of her father’s bourbon candles gives away her location, and she knows that the family curse has been triggered.
- The year is 79 AD, and Mount Vesuvius is on the brink of eruption. As a man of science, you are trying to convince everyone in Pompeii to evacuate before it’s too late.
- A young child suddenly has an imaginary friend they like to have tea parties with. Her parents quickly start to notice that their sweet daughter will talk to shadows on the wall, and refuses to speak to her family.
- A middle-aged hacker discovers that he’s being followed, and suspects that he is being watched from his cameras. Has one of his deals on the dark web finally come back to haunt him as he fears for his life?
- A pair of friends decide to fulfill their dreams and go parachuting in the summer. Strong winds blow them off course and into the middle of Death Valley, where they land injured. How will they survive the trek to safety in the scorching heat and without supplies?
- Torrential rains in Portugal result in a flash flood on November 25th, 1967, and a father rushes to save his family of five before it’s too late in the worst-hit area.
- Nightmares plague you, and you can no longer distinguish between real life and fantasy. When your nightmares follow you to the waking world and haunt your every moment, how will you react? Are they only your imagination, or is there something more sinister hiding in the shadows?
- A young woman finds an ancient talisman buried in the ground. Without thinking, she touches it, and her life begins to unravel in the most horrific ways imaginable.
- A married couple of fifty years order pizza for a quiet night in celebration of their anniversary. However, when their pizza deliverer arrives, it becomes apparent that their quiet night will be spent fighting for their lives.
20 Mystery Short Story Ideas
- The high school cheerleading squad goes on their annual camping trip with their school in 1965, but after the cheer captain is found murdered in her room, camp is shut down and no one is allowed to leave. Is the murderer a cheerleader, a teacher, or someone, or something else entirely?
- A retired police officer is forced to work his final case when he finds out that his 7-year-old grandson has been kidnapped by a member of the family.
- Write a short story about 3 years of lost time.
- Strange symbols are appearing around the neighborhood, and a cloaked figure seems to be involved. What are they plotting?
- A sleepwalker is accused of murdering his old school nemesis. Did he do it, or is he being used as a scapegoat?
- Men of all ages are disappearing around the town late at night while on their journeys to fuel their appetites. Thinking that the city’s sex workers are tired of being the victims of violent crimes, a detective tries to get to the bottom of it.
- A train full of the world’s richest people goes missing for seven years and miraculously reappears in the same spot with everyone alive.
- A reporter finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery after tailing someone who suspects to be a serial killer.
- The owner of a secluded cabin finds a family of five dead and in perfect condition. The family has been dead for 30 years.
- A little girl is the only witness to her mother’s kidnapping and has to lead detectives to the suspect.
- Animal sacrifices have been taking place on the nearby farms in Kansas, and Detective Hill has been assigned the task to figure out what is going on.
- A young boy finds out he can talk to animals shortly after his parents are found dead. He slowly learns the truth of his parent’s death by talking to all the animals in the neighborhood.
- Twin sisters have the ability to see the past and the future and are roped into helping the Jackson police find a heinous serial killer.
- A 103-year-old grandfather is found dead in his single apartment with a note of his bank details. The bank has seven million dollars in it, but how did he come by this money?
- Two young boys are accused of scaring their elderly neighbor to death, but the death isn’t as simple as it first appears.
- A retired detective is haunted by the cases she could never solve and promises to find the killer of her young daughter if it’s the last thing she does.
- A lawyer father suspects that his oldest son is running a drug syndicate below the streets of Manhattan.
- A middle-aged wife is determined to find out if her husband is cheating on her after he starts to behave suspiciously.
- The Mafia’s youngest son gets kidnapped by his rivals, and he embarks on a mission to track him down and save him.
- A maid turns up dead in a full hotel, and any guest could be the culprit.
20 Romance Short Story Ideas
- A 68-year-old woman who lost her husband is determined to find love again and decides to take to the city’s sights to find it.
- Two teens long to be with each other, but are kept apart because of their family’s religious differences.
- A heartless woman suddenly meets her soulmate in a library. Their relationship slowly softens her until she is almost unrecognizable to the people she once despised for no reason.
- It’s 1888 in California, and a young man collapses in the nearest saloon after a five-day ride. There, the saloon owner’s daughter is immediately curious about him, and the two carry out a secret romance.
- A story that follows a young gay man navigating the waters of online dating as he searches for his soulmate.
- Two gamers on opposite sides of the country meet at a mutual friend’s Xbox Live party and instantly feel a connection. How will they meet in-person for the first time?
- A middle-aged woman has just finalized a three-year-long divorce and is ready to try something new when she meets a handsome dentist at her appointment.
- Two college friends have to pretend to be in a relationship to get the other students to stop flirting with them.
- After seeing her in a photo he took, a young man embarks on a journey to find the woman who he knows will be his soulmate.
- Two college sweethearts reunite at a family event in Boston after years apart. Although they look different, their feelings haven’t changed.
- A young woman had dreamed of her soulmate every night for five years. When the dreams suddenly stop, she decides to take matters into her own hands and find him.
- A young Persian princess finds herself falling madly in love with one of her servants. If her father found out, he would have the young man’s head and imprison her.
- A man finds out that his wife has been bitten by a vampire and is determined to not let that change their relationship.
- Two artists find love after entering the same art competition and creating pieces of work with the same themes.
- Young lovers try to find a way to make their relationship work when they are forced to move to opposite ends of the country.
- After being single for 14 years, a middle-aged man sets out to find a woman who loves Dungeons and Dragons as much as he does.
- A couple have to come together to face the demon of their violent past while on a holiday in Bali.
- The to-be prom king and queen break up just days before the big event, but have to keep it under wraps to win the title.
- Unrecognizable to her bullies now, a college student joins the world of online dating to get back at one of her school bullies. However, she soon discovers that he is a changed man, and struggles not to let her feelings get in the way of her big payback plan.
- After six years of marriage, a husband and wife discover that they were wrong about their sexual orientation, and the pair vow to help each other find the perfect partners.
20 Sci-Fi Short Story Ideas
- Aliens from Mars suddenly land on Earth to settle after their planet got destroyed by a noxious gas.
- Overnight, all humans suddenly wake up with the ability to be anti-gravitational. They have to try and survive while also looking for the cure.
- Humans are forced to relocate to another planet after Earth gets destroyed by nuclear radiation from World War Three.
- An astronaut gets separated from his crew and floats into space, only to be rescued by an invisible force.
- Artificial Intelligence begins to cipher money out of the bank accounts of the richest people in the world to share it between the poor families.
- The government is honing in on time travel but makes a catastrophic mistake, resulting in the entire White House being transported back to 1608.
- A scientist working at Area 51 decides to make the knowledge of aliens public.
- Underground genetic splicing leads to a new race of humanoids. They start out being friendly, but as soon as they grow up, the humanoids plot to take over the world.
- A high school PE teacher is convinced that his class has been infiltrated by aliens and robots that seek to destroy the school.
- A force field surrounding Earth is suddenly weakening due to alien intervention.
- All technology shuts down overnight thanks to aliens, and people are forced to revert to medieval life.
- Criminals who are given a life sentence are sent to the moon to create a new settlement known as New Australia.
- Men in black are after a college professor who accidentally decodes alien communication after hacking the government.
- In the year 3333, a fire sweeps across Earth and destroys all technology while a rocket is at the ISS.
- Humans are hearing music for the first time in 700 years after raiding Mars to get their favorite David Bowie albums back.
- A middle-aged widower meets a female alien on his trip to the moon, and the pair fall in love. He decides to stay on the moon and the pair have a human-alien family.
- Signals being emitted from the earth’s core are finally decoded by a mad and outcast seismologist. He tries to warn the world of the imminent danger, but no one will listen to him.
- Astronauts visit Earth for the first time in two thousand years, only to find that there is already a population of human-alien hybrids who have populated the world.
- A space crew discovers a growing black hole that is slowly sucking everything, including Earth, towards it. Now they must work to find a solution before the whole of humanity is sucked into nothingness.
- Half of the human population is sent into space to help with the overpopulation issue and quickly discover that they are able to survive in space with the help of children, who are able to communicate with aliens.
20 Fantasy Short Story Ideas
- A young orphan child finds a magical stream where the frogs can grant wishes. The child makes a wish to be in a world where they are loved, and a fantastical adventure begins.
- You keep dreaming of a flying ship, and one night you see it! The ship takes you to a world where you never sleep, and you can never return.
- Loki decides to play a prank on the prince of Norway’s father, Harald, giving him the head of a wolf. It’s up to the prince to reverse the prank before his royal engagement party in two weeks time.
- The last-born of a 7th century noble French family is selected to become the next sorcerer for the King.
- After a comet flies across the skies, all animals suddenly have the ability to talk.
- A young warrior of ancient Greece seeks to prove himself worthy and challenges Ares, the god of war, to a fight in the arena.
- A young historian is suddenly transported to England in the year 1066 and finds himself in the Battle of Hastings.
- A farm girl finds a small dragon egg hidden among her laying hens.
- A doctor finds out that he has the incredible ability to heal any disease, but he only learns of the repercussions too late.
- A powerful witch gives trees the ability to speak just by walking past them, but she doesn’t realize it. Soon, talking trees begin to torment New York.
- At a solar eclipse, a little girl wishes for all children to have their wish. Now, Los Angeles is being run by giant living teddy bears while parents are stuck at tea parties.
- A dark wizard discovers the cure for mortality.
- A stranded sailor is approached by a horrifying mermaid who is determined to eat his liver.
- Two high school wizards are tasked with planning and preparing their senior prom. The problem? They are complete opposites of each other, and refuse to give in, resulting in their magic almost destroying the ensure school.
- All men wake up at midnight with the sudden ability to hear the voices of inanimate objects.
- The entire human population gets body-swapped and has to set out on a quest to find their bodies. They could be in the house next door, or halfway across the world.
- A sorceress from a fairy tale kingdom is set on taking over Earth and uses her army of mythical beasts to gain control of the world.
- A baby girl is born with the ability to turn any inanimate object into milk.
- All modes of modern transport get magically transformed into a horse and carriage. No one knows how to work anything, but they are determined for life to continue.
- The cast of the reality TV show Love Island find themselves cursed to stay in the mansion with the cameras rolling 24/7. While things can enter the house, nothing can leave, and the cast are forced to live with each other for a full year. The cherry on top? They can all hear each other’s thoughts.
How To Pick Your Short Story Idea
The story you pick should always resonate with you in some way. It can make you feel something – anything! Excitement, fear, suspense, love – everything matters. If you read a story idea, and you feel nothing, then it isn’t the right one for you.
Of course, you can always play around with and alter story ideas to mean then resonate with you. You can create a piece of work that is multi-genre to better tie in with your preferences and skills.
However, you can also challenge yourself to stick to a single genre. This will really put your skills and creativity to the test because you will give yourself limits and boundaries. It’s a fun way to learn new tips and tricks!
What To Do Next
Now, you just keep on writing. Look for more story ideas that you like, and have fun with them. Find some writing competitions or places to submit your work to get your name out there and get more practice.
There is so much to learn and enjoy, so once one story is done, move onto the next one! Be inspired, and enjoy every moment of it. You’re creating something new and exciting – something that many people don’t have the courage to do.
- About the Author
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Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!