The best angst writing prompts
Many a tortured artist has turned their pain and suffering into great works of art. If you want to try your hand at writing a story that taps into the darker side of the emotional spectrum, you're in the right place! Our angst writing prompts will provide inspiration for stories that channel those feelings. Prepare for tears!
A heads up: just because your story is angsty doesn't mean they have to be an exercise in despair, or exclusively about hurt and misery. There can be brighter moments woven in, and perhaps your characters can find meaning in all the sadness. Perhaps your story explores overcoming and making peace with grief, or a battle with anxiety or depression that features a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. Hopelessness isn't compulsory!
- To help get you started, here are our top ten angst writing prompts:
- Write a story about a character who’s trying to fill an empty space, literally or metaphorically.
- Write about a character seeking forgiveness for something that happened in the past.
- Write about a character who yearns for something they lost, or never had.
- Write a story about a problem with no good solutions.
- Write about someone trying to atone for a mistake they’ll never be able to fix.
- Write a story about a white lie which spirals out of control.
- Write a story about a person longing for family.
- Write about a character pretending to be someone they’re not.
- Start your story with the line “We have plenty of time,” and/or end it with the line “We were never going to make it.”
If you'd like to learn more about writing angsty stories, here are some more resources which might help:
- Character profile template (free resource) — Angst stories are especially character driven. If you want to get into your protagonist's head and see through their eyes, you’re going to need to know them inside and out. That’s where character development tools like our character profile can help.
- How to Write Believable Dialogue that Develops Plot and Character (free course) — Your story may require some difficult conversations, whther they be about shame, loneliness, or guilt. To make those conversations believable, you'll want to brush up on your dialogue writing skills. That's where our free course comes in.
- Story Structure: 7 Narrative Structures All Writers Should Know (blog post) — Whether your story is a traditional tragedy, or has a (somewhat) happy ending, you'll want to make sure the narrative is structured in a way that facilitates this emotional arc. To nail this aspect of writing, you can use our guide to brush up on the most popular structures.
Want more help learning how to write a short angst story? Check out How to Write a Short Story That Gets Published — a free, ten day course guiding you through the process of short story writing by Laura Mae Isaacman, a full-time editor who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn.
Ready to start writing? Check out Reedsy’s weekly short story contest, for the chance of winning $250! You can also check out our list of writing contests or our directory of literary magazines for more opportunities to submit your story.