The best short story writing prompts
Short stories are deceptive. They're only supposed to be 2,000 words — but if you're a short story writer staring at a blank page, even that length seems too intimidating.
Don't worry: we get it. That's why we created this directory of creative writing prompts for short stories, designed to give you ideas so that you can concentrate on what you do best: writing them. Our prompts span genres, from romance to general fiction to mystery, so make sure to use the filters to narrow them down to what you need in order to get over your writer's block! Above all, remember to have fun with the inspiration. Use these short story prompts as another way to interact with the world around us.
If you're looking to cut to the chase, here's a top ten list of our favorite story writing prompts:
- Write a short story about someone in the self-help aisle of a bookstore. What book do they pick up?
- Write a short story where the main "character" is the setting: a house.
- Write a story based on a cartoon trope (an anvil or piano falls on someone's head, someone's eyes turn to hearts when they fall in love, etc.).
- Write a story based on your favorite song.
- Write a story inspired by the last sentence of any book you own.
- Write a story that starts someone announcing big news.
- Write a story told from second person point of view (uses "you" language).
- Write a story with seven characters — one for each of the seven sins.
- Write about a character's secret area of expertise, something most acquaintances would be surprised to learn they know tons about.
- Your protagonist opens a purse or a desk drawer and finds three objects. By the end of your story, there's only one item left. What happens to the other two?
If you're interested in learning how to write short stories, check out our free resources on the topic:
How to Write a Short Story That Gets Published (free course) — Laura Mae Isaacman, a full-time editor who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn, teaches this comprehensive 10-day course that’s all about short stories. She’ll cover the entire process, from writing the story to actually getting it published.
Character Profile Template (free resource) — Your characters will make or break your short story. This is especially true since short stories are so, well, short that you need to make every word count. That’s why we recommend downloading this free character profile template, so that you can make sure that you understand your character from inside-out before you start writing your short story.
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.