10 Short Story Ideas

Most writers have too many short story ideas, not too few. However, therein lies the problem, because the more ideas you have, the harder it can be to choose the best one.

10 Short Story Ideas

Here’s my advice: If you’re in the mood to begin a new short story, stop trying to find the best short story idea. In an interview with Rolling Stone, George R.R. Martin said, “Ideas are cheap. I have more ideas now than I could ever write up. To my mind, it’s the execution that is all-important.”

The best short story idea in the world won’t help you if you don’t write it, and a mediocre idea can be made into an award winning story if it’s written well. Stop worrying about finding the best idea and choose one that’s good enough (or even an idea you’ve already started). Your goal isn’t to have the best ideas, it’s to have the best short stories.

That’s why this list is so short. Some websites give 44 story ideas, 100 ideas, or even 1,000, and while that can be fun, it kind of defeats the purpose. More ideas won’t help you if you don’t write them, and they might just distract you from your true purpose.

Short Story Ideas

With that in mind, why not use these ten short story ideas to write your first ten stories, one per week, over the next ten weeks? I promise you, you’re life will look totally different if you do it.

Here are the short 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.”

Good writers don’t cover up their wounds, they glorify them. Think for a few moments about a moment in your life when you were wounded, whether physically or emotionally. Then, write a story, true or fictional, involving that wound.

2. Your character discovers a dead body OR witnesses a death.

In 2011, 20 short stories were published in Best American Short Stories. Half of them involved a character dying. That same year, all 13 of the novels shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize involved the theme of death.

Think about your favorite films or novels. How many of them either show a character die or have the character’s dealing with the death of another.

Good writers don’t turn away from death, which is, after all, the universal human experience. Instead, they look it directly into it’s dark face and describe what they see on the page.

3. Your character is orphaned.

Pop quiz: What do Harry Potter, Superman, Cosette from Les Miserables, Bambi, David Copperfield, Frodo Baggins, Tom Sawyer, Santiago from The Alchemist, Arya Stark, and Ram Mohammed Thomas from Slumdog Millionaire have in common? Beside the fact that they are characters in some of the bestselling stories of all time?

They’re all orphans.

Writers love orphans, and statistically they appear in stories far more often than in the world. Orphans are uniquely vulnerable, and as such, they have the most potential for growth. It’s time for you to write a story about one.

Read more about why you should be writing stories about orphans here.

4. Your character discovers a ghost.

One more pop quiz: What do Edgar Allen Poe, Ron Weasley, King Saul from the Bible, Odysseus, and Ebeneezer Scrooge have in common?

Each of these characters* from literary classics saw ghosts!

Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, they make great stories. Have your character find one.

Need more reasons to write about ghosts? Check out our article, 3 reasons to write about ghosts.

*Edgar Allen Poe was not exactly a character, but he was the narrator of “The Raven.”

5. Your character’s relationship ends.

Whether it’s a friendship or a romantic relationship or even the relationship between a parent and his or her child, write about the end of a character’s relationship.

As you write, be sure to keep this in mind:

“Every story has an end, but in life every ending is just a new beginning,” says Dakota Fanning’s character in Uptown Girls.

While it might feel like you’re writing an ending, remember that this end is the opportunity for a new beginning, both for your character and your story.

More Short Story Ideas

Ready to get writing? Get our workbook 15 Days to Write and Submit a Short Story for a step-by-step guide through the process.

6. Your character’s deepest fear is holding his or her relationship OR career back.

“Why bats, Master Wayne?” asks Alfred in Batman Begins.

“Bats frighten me,” Bruce answers. “It’s time my enemies shared my dread.”

We all have pieces of ourselves we’re trying to hide. You do, and so do the characters in your short stories. However, your characters’ secret fears and insecurities are actually the source of their power. Dive into them and you’ll unlock a captivating story.

For more, read our article When You Don’t Know What to Write, Write About Your Insecurities.

7. A character living in poverty comes into an unexpected fortune.

This storyline is one of the seven basic plots, and it describes the plot of some of our favorites stories, including Cinderella, AladdinGreat Expectations, several of the parables of Jesus, and even Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

However, not all fortunes are good. As Tolstoy’s short story How Much Land Does a Man Need? and John Steinbeck’s novella The Pearl illustrate, sometimes discovering a fortune will destroy your life.

8. A character unexpectedly bumps into his or her soulmate, literally.

In film, it’s called the meet cute, when the hero bumps into the heroine in the hallway, knocking her books to the floor, and forcing them into conversation. In another story, they meet on a bus and her broach gets stuck on his coat. In another, they both reach for the last pair of gloves at the department store.

What happens next is an awkward, endearing conversation between the future lovers.

First, setup the collision. Then, let us see how they handle it.

9. Your character is on a journey. However, they are interrupted by a natural disaster OR an accident.

This is the plot of Gravity, The Odyssey, and Lord of the Rings. It’s fun because who hasn’t been longing to get to a destination only to be delayed by something unexpected.

10. Your character runs into the path of a monster.

In Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” a family is on a road trip to Florida when they get into an accident beside the hideout of a murderer who had just escaped from prison. What happens next is one of the most famous encounters with a monstrous criminal in short fiction.

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.

Want more story ideas? Want to learn how to execute those ideas better, and get your short stories published? Check out this book Let’s Write a Short Story, a guide that will get you started writing and publishing short stories. Get it here.

Testing Your Short Story Ideas

Spend a few minutes today thinking about these 10 story ideas and coming up with a few of your own.

But before you start writing, try testing out your idea by sharing it with a friend, your writer’s group, or even our online community Becoming Writer.

If the people you share it with aren’t very excited about your idea, consider reworking it or even starting over. If they start getting visibly excited about the story, on the other hand, then you know you’re onto something.

I recently combined idea #7, the unexpected fortune, along with idea #5, end of a relationship, to create this idea:

A writer who is inexperienced with women suddenly gets the courage to date not one but two women—the old friend who had twice rejected him and a barista he’s long been attracted to—but after several months of balancing them, both relationships end leaving him alone.

I then posted the idea for feedback in Becoming Writer. And the feedback I got not only helped me see I had a promising idea, I got more ideas from members of the community about how to make the story even better.

As I wrote the story, I was more confident because of the feedback I had gotten, and when I finished, the story turned great.

Once you have your idea, join Becoming Writer to test them out. Oh, and if you join, here’s the link to mine if you want to share your feedback! I’ll be there ready to check it out.

How about you? Do you have any short story ideas?  Share them with us in the comments section!

About Joe Bunting

Joe is a ghostwriter, editor, and author. He writes and edits books that change lives. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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125 Replies

  1. Bookmarked this. Some good ideas. Thanks

    1. Liam

      I KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. These ideas really helped me write my fiction story for class. Thank you to whom made this website

        1. Joe Bunting

          You’re very welcome!

          1. matt k

            Helped me sooooo much with my english assignment! thank you thank you thank you (times ∞)

          2. Sticky bubblegum

            Can you put up more of these there sooo cool and really come in handy.

          3. Garrison

            Same this was a huge help

          4. Malak Sadoumy

            Thank you so much for this
            I have to write 4 short stories for my interview for a school a want to attend that has creative writing class and I am not prepared so this definitely helped

          5. westley

            your awesome i hope i get to become a writter

        2. Rasmus Lukman

          Same here, needed one for class and this really helps!

      2. Anonymous

        really i had no a idea!!!

      3. Shanaya-Grace

        I KNOW, RIGHT!!! :)!!

    2. Madalynn

      Greate ideas I am writing about the ghost one

      1. Isabelle Morris

        I’m trying to become an author, so I took three of the ideas and combined them together. I am almost finished with the book, which is called Final Frontier.

        P.S. Yeah, the ideas are great!!!

        1. Kawaii Oreo

          I’m 10 and I’m an actual published author my first book is called Melanie and Me

    3. Sania Meherin.

      Yea, right. I find this site better than the others out there.

    4. yur bui die

      I wrote a cool story can is said it to you whom to made this website

      1. Rizzo

        muco mmiso spello ings

        1. Rizzo

          i spelled wrong wht i meant to mispeled

    5. I know. I was so lost for ideas after getting a new notebook, but now I’ve got some good story ideas. Thank you to the person who made this page.

  2. Great ideas. I hope I’ll be able to submit something every week on the Writing Practice. Although not easy to do, it’s a great incentive. Talking about writing means nothing, if it’s not put down on pages, and shared with others.

    1. That is exactly what I do, can you tell me some ideas for stories?

      1. Curtis

        The one rule I use when writing a short story is the always entertaining ‘ordinary people in extraordinary situations’, Morgan.

    2. Send me ideas! I know you can

  3. A couple years back I “wrote” a letter from a mother to her son. The twist was that it was the mother of Evil Dead’s “Ash” 🙂 – https://crzydjm.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/dear-ash-its-your-mother/

    1. Dace

      Good thinkin’

      1. Already thought of all of these

  4. I really agree with your first statement. It’s not that I lack ideas, but it’s another thing to devote the precious time it’s going to take to develop them into stories. I feel like I have to envision a good end before I start.

    I believe there are lots of lumps of colorful clay out there but which one should I take into my hands today, work with, and mold into into pottery? It won’t just happen. However, as you say, maybe it really doesn’t matter as much as I think.

    1. I love your owl picture!!!

      1. Ashton Johnson

        Awesome

      2. You are the best writer in the world

    2. KARMELA

      This really helped me out

  5. Lynn Jarrett

    Great article!! Thank you for the ideas.

  6. Heidi

    All awesome ideas. I wanna write something magical and imginative and these are all great ideas for the story of my characters, but i need like a concept still????? But i guess i cant get that from anyone else except me.

    1. Maggie

      How about a group of people divided into different faction based on the type of magic they can do.
      Eg. Like different climates or components of nature
      And there is one girl or boy who stands out from the others like have to do more than just one like??

      1. Babygenious

        I love that idea!!!I hope you don’t mind if i use it!
        (I write code for an animated story thing called episode)

  7. billy bob joe

    i love ideas yum

    1. Can you tell me what “I love I ideas yum” means? Thanx

  8. Ohita Afeisume

    For long many years now,I’ve been working on my novel. I’m fully convinced to tread the short story route as many successful writers did. That means I have to get my stories into the open for critique.
    I wish to join Becoming Writer. I have sent my e mail.Now I am on waiting list. What next?

    1. I love your passion, Ohita. If you can I always recommend people finish what they’ve started. If you think you can finish your novel, do it. But if your stuck, try writing a short story on the same topic as your novel, or with the same characters. It might be a great way to get unstuck. As far as Becoming Writer, we’ll send you an email soon with more info. Thank you!

  9. Maria Moore

    I definitely know what you mean by having more ideas than you can write about. For me, at least, I think it is a good idea to have all the ideas, for I am one of those people whom has trouble keeping my mind on one thing and jump around from one topic to the next. When I get writer’s block on one story, I go to another idea, and start composing that story, until an idea for the first story emerges. Also, if I need help trying to find an angle that my story needs to go in, I daydream about what my characters may or may not do.

    For example: Chris is a boy, who has a birthday the night of his senior prom. If I am stuck as to what he does, then I daydream…1st scenario, he goes to the birthday party thrown by his parents, and has a good time…In the 2nd scenario, he goes to the prom, and gets to dance with the girl of his dreams….The 3rd is where I try to combine the 1st two, so everyone is happy.
    (Anyone that wants to can use that idea.)

    But if you have tried to unsuccessfully to urge your writer’s block to disappear…The best thing you can do is not try to force it…Just simply do nothing, but go out and enjoy life…Inspiration will show itself when you least expect it.

    Also, dreams are good for story ideas, albeit a lot of mine are weird 😀

    The idea for the wounded character, is a great one and the one that really caught my eye. Everyone has their faults, pains, phobia’s and tragedies. I want other’s to know they need not have to make up some disease none have ever heard of. I use my own for the traits of my characters. Also, I believe if the author injects humor into the equation and can get the reader laughing with them about what they think of those wounds, then just maybe, the story will help to heal the wounds of all.

    1. Starstruck

      as far as ideas go for me, i get inspiration for story ideas from little things- like a sentence. I could build a story from a sentence; but big things, like somebody’s parent dying, I get inspiration for simple conversations etc. from things like that.
      also, about letting inspiration come- Jack London said ‘you can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club’ (not verbatim) – just playing the devil’s advocate:)

    2. Harambe

      your comment is a short story for me

  10. I love your passion, thank you .!

  11. Chantal Gaudiano

    I need weekly practice. I had the goal this year of writing one short story a month and submitting it. I have written four, as of June. It takes me so long to figure out the outline. If the real thing I need is more practice, then I need to get working at it.

    1. Curtis

      Every writer is different in their approach to a story. I find it easiest if I come up with the first and last line in a story in my head. Then I need to construct a road that leads from point A to point Z on paper and usually that road is a twisting, meandering stretch of blacktop on paper that I never saw coming, Chantal. Best of luck to you…

  12. waffles

    How long does it take to become a writer

  13. waffles

    i have an account on wattpad and i write many books

    1. Laura

      I also have a wattpad. It seems to be a very good way to get your work out there. This becomes a very handy place to put stories such as; short stories, novels, and fanfiction. This not only helps you develop your writing especially if your best work currently is just fanfiction, but to get an understanding of what you can work on and grow with to become a better writer.

      1. Anonymous

        I have a wattpad too. I agree totally, its a really good way to get books out there and get people reading them.

  14. Curtis

    Thank you for the information, Joe. I plan on writing 10 short stories in the next two months and I am going to use 1 of your points for each story. I have the ideas in my head, but your article gave me a blueprint to follow. Thanks again.

  15. I have an idea of a story but should we make up muthical creatures or is would it be more likely people would enjoy it with creatures already made. Even if it was just the name I was going to make up. What’s your opinion guys?

  16. awesome WEBSITE signed up

  17. Chelsea

    I love writing novels and have started quite a few in the past few years. The problem is, most are fan fiction and include characters from other stories, because I can’t seem to really make up my own story lines. I have a couple of novels that are my own ideas, but otherwise I just can seem to make anything up. I have a couple of short stories and did a short story workshop at my school, but I can’t figure out the story line I want to use for my next one. I like stories with a lot of drama, like kidnapping and all that sort of stuff, but I just can’t work out what to do! And I would love to send in chapters of my novels and my short stories if possible to. It would be great to get some professional feedback!

    1. DML

      U can do a throw back 90’s where an American teenage girl or boy gets kidnapped during a graduation party. Or maybe even walking home from school. Throughout time the characters family lies in grief and anger waiting for their loved one to be found. If they’ll ever be found

      1. Chelsea

        That actually sounds really cool. I never would have thought of the teenage girl getting kidnapped at a graduation party 🙂 Thanks!

  18. Alex

    Okay, I need someone’s opinion. I am thinking about writing a story about the mirror realms; Assia and Gehenna. Assia being the human world, and Gehenna being Hell/Demon world. What do u think?

    1. DML

      what is the purpose for having Gehenna being below the ground and Assia being earth? And what would be the outline of the story?

    2. Starstruck

      I think maybe it would be better if you had the human world Assia be slightly different than our world and Gehenna be different than the Hell that is generally known; when you say demon world that sounds more interesting to me because- I dunno- the thought of a place full of demons is creepy.

  19. DML

    I’m writing a story about a post apocalyptic war in the late 1970s

    1. Chelsea

      That sounds really cool

      1. you need to read “the last lecture” by randy pausch if you haven’t already. it was written by a professor who was terminally ill with cancer at the time, and is all about fulfilling your childhood dreams.

  20. reba

    I have so many good stories, but with no endings, can’t seem to get to that point. I know what the ending is going to be, but can’t get it on paper. My pen and computer literally fight me, anyone else with this problem??

  21. Jayce

    I am 14 years old and in the 9th grade. I needed something fun to write about for a creative writing report. I found this website and fell in love! I have now gotten a 100% on three of my reports!

    1. WOW! That’s amazing, Jayce. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing that with us!

      1. manjurul

        it’s really amazing. it will definite enhance the power of thinking in writing short story. congralulations.

      2. manjurul

        it’s really amazing. it will definitely enhance the power of thinking in writing short story. congralulations.

  22. Brandon Holte

    I have so much idea for stories. I begin to notice the similar in them. If you have great idea for start of story and end of story then you will have great story by connecting them up from begin of story toward the end. That is what i get so many good ideas.

  23. Adrian K

    Really good ideas, especially the injury/orphan one.
    Thanks- Adrian

    1. Adrian K

      I’m a writer and looking for some long term ideas, These look they could help even though they’re meant for short stories. I’m about 13 years old and and plan to finish my first book by 2020. If you have any tips or ideas, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks again, -Adrian
      🙂

  24. What! those ideas are not crap you should read them and go for it!.

  25. Bree

    I myself am a 12 year old girl and I love to write and I am writing a story about a heroic act and hope to someday get it published

  26. Karmya

    I myself am 11 and I love to read and write. When it comes to suspense in a story I get triggered to keep on reading to find out what happens next! 🙂 This helped me think of ways to brainstorm easily and I am currently doing a scary story which will be due by Monday (Halloween) Wish me luck! 😀

    1. Karmya

      It’s for ELA Class. I love Ela and Social Studies

  27. These aren’t just ideas. These are realizations.

  28. Lean on each other during this time of difficulty. Remember the good times you had with her. This will honor her. Don't try to make sense of the why. God has a time and a reason for everything and most of all turn to God and pray. He is there for you. (((HUGS)))

  29. I’m loving all of the prompts. Thank you.
    I just started writing. Well, not really, I have been writing my whole life but I just decided that this is going to be what I want to do for the rest of my life. I am going to go through them one at a time and use it as more of a challenge. Write a story for each one, once a week. I’m working on the first one. Tell the story of a scar, whether a physical or emotional one. We will see how it goes.

  30. Madli

    These are great at triggering lots of memories and ideas. Thanks!

  31. im just looking at this site cause my teacher said it was good
    it is true

  32. amelia

    this helped me so much with my english assignment thank you so much Mr Bunting!!

  33. Thank you so much for these wonderful ideas, they really helped me. I am trying to write a story on every idea. I’ve done a story on ‘your character is orphaned’ and it turned out really good, check it out on my blog mulzz.WordPress.com

    1. M

      which untitled story is it
      nvever mind

  34. Abby Hayes

    These ideas were really helpful
    Thanks

  35. Odessa

    This website is so useful. If i ever need story ideas i will go in this website 😀

    1. Mia

      Yes this website is really useful

  36. sara s'mores

    Im writing the story that the characters relationship ends

  37. odessa

    hi neha my BFF and yes those people are crazy and FAKING their name!!!!!!

  38. gemma stone

    hello joe i love this website. did you make others?

  39. neha

    thanks cookie i love your videos you are the best toy youtuber EVER!!!!!

  40. Mr. Henze

    I feel very much encouraged in this, honestly i am not a writer but through this kind of discuss i see myself writing such an interesting short story,, thank you.

  41. Rizzo

    thanks for the ideas

  42. Kimberley

    I love writing and when I’m older I want to be an author yet sometimes I get writers block and thanks to this website I can finally start writing with confidence again , with these amazing ideas to help me.

  43. Milla

    Wow! thanks, that really helped me with my essay, and my novel “Inside darkness”! it has a total of 1046 pages all because of no. 9 😀

  44. louis

    it was outstanding but you could also give idea for inspiraional story . go ahead

  45. louis

    it was outstanding

  46. You helped me out with a story that i was making and it helped a lot thanks you guys

  47. M

    I need an idea. I have writers block. please help

  48. Action and the short attention span are the hallmarks of the American zeitgeist, but history won’t necessarily be kind to this type of writing. Genre writing is entertaining, literature transforms you in some unspeakable, eery way.

  49. on Great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  50. T.C.B.

    I love this site. It is very helpful with trying to find a story idea. I hope there will be new ideas soon. I will have to show this site to my writing club.

  51. Romaisa

    This is really helpful ☺️

  52. brianne

    this didn’t help at all your ideas are boring

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