Short Story Ideas and Prompts to Jumpstart Your Writing!

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If you’re running low on short story ideas, no worries! We rolled up our sleeves, rubbed our hands together, took a swig of caffeinated inspiration and got to work! The result was a list of story prompts sure to have at least one idea that gets you fired up and ready to write.


Table of Contents


If you’re like most creatives, you tend to have more ideas than time. Have you experienced that noisy parade turn deafeningly quiet when you’re ready to get down to the business of creating?

When it’s time to write, if your mind becomes a reflection of that blank screen, don’t worry, it’s not unusual. Short story ideas and prompts can really help to jumpstart your creative juices.

Audio Article – Short Story Ideas

How to Grow Your Own List of Short Story Ideas

We have a very creative and ideating family and have learned to immediately write down or record new ideas as they come up.

Ideas come—and go—as fast as a spark, so we’ve learned from experience to write them down immediately. We use an Ideas Journal or document that we pull up and add to as new ideas flicker into mind.

Write down every idea that comes your way. The more ideas you bring to life, the more ideas will come your way, so keep track of them and then work on the best ones.

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”
~J.K. Rowling; author Harry Potter


How Long is a Short Story?

The length of short stories can be anywhere from 7,500 to 30k words and around 40-60 pages. But once you get your story written, where can you publish it?

Where to Publish Short Stories?

There are a number of ways and places to publish your stories online. We’re listing some of them in the order of which we think are most productive for your time.

If you’re serious about establishing your creative career as an author, we recommend a multi-faceted approach.

Publishing Ideas for Writers

Your following of fans, friends and those who like you and what you do, is invaluable to your creative aspirations. Building an audience takes time but it’s nearly impossible to successfully monetize as a writer without one.

Your fans will come from a variety of platforms and pursuits. We talk about that in depth in other articles such as this one.

For here, we’ll just list briefly, some of the mediums to consider as your primary assets for sharing your craft and attracting people who like it. Where should you publish your writing online?

HOW TO GROW YOUR BRAND – Summarized in Order of Priority:

  1. Website – publish to your own website
  2. Social – publish to your own social pages
  3. Others – publish to other platforms for writers
    • free story platforms
    • relevant publications as guest or contributing writer
    • podcasts, audio stories and other

Building an audience takes time but to succeed as a writer today requires it.
~Devani Alderson,

Building an audience takes time but to succeed as a writer today requires it. ~Devani Alderson, #storyPrompts #Challenges #Ideas #Characters #Creative #Inspiration #Fantasy #Drawing #Painting #Therapy #Artists #Tumblr #Daily #Journal #MixedMedia #Abstract #Watercolor #Visual #Illustrations #Sketchbooks #Aesthetic

1. Publish Stories on Your Website

There are a lot of places online to publish or submit your stories, but our first recommendation will always be your own website. If you’re working on building a fan base for your author career, having a website is essential.


2. Post Social Content that Links to Your Website

We elaborate on content distribution strategies in this article.


3. Platforms for Short Story Publishing:

Beyond your own website, you can set up a author profile and publish your short stories to other platforms.

  • Wattpad – 40+ million active readers, but generally geared towards a youth fiction crowd
  • Inkitt – You can write a story on their platform for free, and if readers on the platform love it, Inkitt will offer you a publishing deal. You can find more details here.
  • Medium – While Medium mostly features non-fiction articles, they also have a section dedicated to fiction, poetry, creative writing, and humor.
  • SwoonReads – if you’re a YA author, SwoonRead might be for you. SwoonReads is a site owned by McMillan Publishing company. If your story is popular on the free platform you might get selected for a publishing deal with McMillan.

The biggest benefit of publishing short stories to these platforms is that these websites already have avid readers looking for stories.  Think of these larger sites like a mall, and your author profile is a kiosk in that mall giving you a mini-site within a larger site.

While these platforms have built-in audiences, you still have to put in the work of consistently publishing. You’ll still need to drive readers to your stories from your social sites and your own website. No matter where you choose to hang your author shingle it’s still about you getting your work out there in some form and medium.

To gain traction and success on any platform requires consistently publishing your work.
~Devani Alderson,

4. Short Story Submissions

Another way to grow an audience as an author is to submit stories to established magazines. You can find more on that here.

The difference between platforms for short story publishing and those for short story submissions is that submitting your story to a publication means you need approval from editors.  Whereas with story platforms you can create your own profile and you’re completely in charge of your content. And again, in order to get found and seen you also need to drive traffic to your story.

Key benefits to publishing your writing on other sites:

  1. It results in links back to your website, which brings credibility and traffic
  2. Exposure to new audiences on other larger websites

Short Story Ideas to Spark Your Own

Here are some short story ideas along with a few possible plot ideas to get you fired up! We’ll be adding to this list continually over time as well.

1. A struggling musician unlocks a frequency that allows him/her to access other dimensions of reality.  Plot possibilities:

  • The main character is able to fix their financial situation.
  • He/she discovers an entity there that must be found in the “real world”.
  • They develop a new revolutionary music style the catapults their career.

2. Deep in the Amazon Rainforest, an archeologist discovers an ancient native tribe. Plot possibilities:

  • The native tribe helps the archeologist learn the cure to a disease spreading through the world.
  • The natives hold the archeologist captive for months.
    • The main character (MC) figures out a way to escape
    • They help the natives and becomes their friend/hero
    • Observes some of the highly advanced technologies the natives

3. Someone who is falsely accused of terrorist crimes against their country escapes a maximum security prison. Plot possibilities:

  • MC has to prove their innocence before getting recaptured.
  • S/he is really a deep-cover spy who needed to get into the prison as part of their cover.
  • Leads a revolution amongst prisoners against an oppressive regime

4. NASA discovers an advanced civilization on Pluto. Plot possibilities:

  • A few people from this advanced civilization help NASA move our Earth technology and energy forward.
  • NASA learns the civilization is Atlantis, the lost city from Earth.
  • The Plutonians know earth’s destiny because theirs is closely entwined.

5. An underwater alien civilization in a separate galaxy has discovered a portal in a cave on their planet that leads to Earth. Plot possibilities:

  • This alien is able to open a portal network between planets and galaxies in the universe
  • A government agency captures the alien
  • This story could also be told from the perspective of an earthing who discovers the alien

6. If Galileo were alive today and had all our 21st-century technology, who would he be? 

  • Would he still be an astronomer?
  • What would his life be like?
  • How would he change the world? Or would he?

7. Earth in the year 3029 is paradise. The long-awaited “Zombie Apocolypse” never happened.  

  • How has humanity evolved?
  • What are we focused on?
  • Are there new struggles humanity is dealing with?

8. Take your favorite planet, build a functioning world, civilization, and story around it.

  • What creatures populate this planet?
  • Is there a “Hero Journey” with a specific character?
  • Does the civilization on this planet meet with any humans on earth?

9. Premise: Aliens already walk amongst us and are a current species that we all know about (but not human).

  • Why are they on earth?
  • Will humans ever see them in their alien form?

10. Write a boy meets girl type of story but with a twist: 

  • They’re both telepathic empaths that are from two separate dimensions
  • Both are on different secret missions
  • They meet on earth

11. Pick your favorite time period in history: 

  • Use it for the backdrop of your story
  • Add historical people to your fiction tale!

12. An artist that paints events that come to life: 

  • S/he doesn’t know the visions are prophetic
  • They are painting the future, intentionally
  • Fighting internal struggles with their love of art but not wanting to cause global discourse through their work

13. Gnomes come to life at night: 

  • Do they cause mischief in the night?
  • Are there other creatures that come to life?
  • What do the Gnomes do?

Do You Have Ideas?

We’ll keep adding to these ideas over time and if you have any short story ideas or prompts feel free to send them to us!  You can email them to:

Also, if you would like other prompts, you can check out 23 Drawing Prompts article written by Lynda Suzanne Wright, and our 30 Intuitive Art Prompts article.  In fact, we also have iArtDaily Intuitive Art journals which some fiction writers have used as inspiration for their writing.  🙂


If you're running low on short story ideas, we have a few that might get you fired up and ready to write. #storyPrompts #Challenges #Ideas #Characters #Creative #Inspiration #Fantasy #Drawing #Painting #Therapy #Artists #Tumblr #Daily #Journal #MixedMedia #Abstract #Watercolor #Visual #Illustrations #Sketchbooks #Aesthetic


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