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 is a list of story ideas as prompts to help get your creative juices flowing. You’re sure to find at least one idea that gets you fired up and ready to write as your mind spins it into your own creation.
If you’re like most creatives, you tend to have more ideas than time. But you’ve probably also experienced that noisy parade turn deafeningly quiet when you finally get to sit down to the business of creating, right?
So if your mind becomes a reflection of that blank screen when it’s time for you to write, don’t worry, that’s not unusual. For those times, short story ideas and prompts can really help invite the muse in to play.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Audio Article – Short Story Ideas
- How to Grow Your Own List of Short Story Ideas
- How Long is a Short Story?
- Where to Publish Short Stories?
- Short Story Ideas to Spark Your Own
- Do You Have Ideas?
AUDIO ARTICLE – SHORT STORY IDEAS:
How to Generate 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. It’s essential to have a reliable way to collect 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. We also use a voice recorder on our phones, especially for those times when ideas come and can’t be written down, such as when biking, walking or driving.
Now that you’re prepared with ideation tools, here are some ideas for generating your own short story ideas.
Reflection Leads to Ideation
- Even daydreaming and reflecting on mundane occurrences can lead to story ideas.
- Go to a coffee shop and people watch. Create stories around the people you see. Some of those may lead to a short story idea.
- Use conceptual prompts such as quotes to inspire ideas. Pick the quote theme or just a word from it and make that into something.
- Look up words in the dictionary. Discovering the root origins of words can spark ideas, including imagining a story of the word evolution itself. E.g., who came up with the word for ‘artichoke’?
- Look up synonyms. E.g., some synonyms for ‘hat’, include: fedora, stetson, bonnet and sombrero, each of which could bring to mind characters who might wear that and a story to grow around them.
Write it Down!
And again, most important, remember to write down every idea that comes your way. As you get into the habit of writing down your ideas, you will never lack for writing ideas. And 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.
How Long is a Short Story?
The length of short stories can be anywhere from 7,500 to 30,000 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 on content creators.
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:
- Website – publish to your own website
- Social – publish to your own social pages
- 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.
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—or at least a landing page—is essential.
2. Post Social Content that Links to Your Website
We elaborate on content distribution strategies here. The bottom line? From one article you can create many social posts and ways of sharing, from the one into the many.
3. Platforms for Short Story Publishing
Beyond your own website, you can set up an 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, Cofounder-iCreateDaily.com®
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 short story submissions 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. From there, in order to get found and seen you also need to drive traffic to your story, such as through your social posts and shares.
Key benefits to publishing your writing on other websites:
- It results in links back to your website, which brings credibility and traffic
- Exposure to new audiences on other larger websites
Short Story Ideas
Here are some short story ideas along with a few possible plot ideas to help generate possibilities that inspire you to create more of your own.
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 his/her financial situation.
- He/she discovers an entity there that must be found in the “real world”.
- S/he develop a new revolutionary music style the catapults his/her 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 of 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?
- A modern MC is Galileo reincarnated, with his memory of that lifetime intact. What/who will he be in this new life?
7. Earth in the year 3029 is paradise. The long-awaited “Zombie Apocalypse” never happened:
- How has humanity evolved?
- What are we focused on?
- Are there new struggles humanity is dealing with?
- Is this utopian society really as perfect as it seems?
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
- Perhaps they hear only each other’s thoughts and track each other down in that way, then, to discover why they are so connected.
- They could each be 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:
- paints visions s/he’s having
- does—or does not—yet know the paintings are prophetic
- S/he’s painting the future, intentionally
- Bad guys seek to kidnap and use the artist to their own end, while a fellow “prophet” tries to help and save him/her.
- S/he meets other creators who are manifesting reality through their art… as an “order of alchemists”
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?
14. A council of angels are in discussion about the fate of humanity:
- Create a realm of angels, devas and fairies that coexist beyond the veil of our known physical world
- What are their different roles in the angelic kingdom and who’s in charge? Could be councils of angels for each area of existence? E.g.
- Mineral Kingdom
- Plant kingdom
- Animal kingdom
- Human kingdom
- Spiritual kingdom
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 with your site or social link so we can link with tribute to you.
Also, for additional prompts, you can check out these Drawing Prompts, many of which can also be used for writing prompts. We also have iArtDaily Intuitive Art journals which some fiction writers have used as inspiration for their writing. You can see examples of that in this article on 30 Intuitive Art Prompts.
Pin to share to help people find us!
Gary Vaynerchuk’s Advice to a Fiction Writer
This video is cued to the segment where Gary shares ideas with a young fiction writer on ways to grow her audience.
The segment right after that one with a young son of an immigrant looking to figure out his career path. It’s a different message but also wonderfully inspiring, so you may wish to continue on viewing that as well.
Want to submit your photos, videos and/or article content for publication? We love to consider your contribution for publication! firstname.lastname@example.org