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Top 10 story ideas... just for you!

Want a story idea right away? No problem! Here are our top ten favorite story ideas for you to use:

  • A group of villains go on a team-building retreat.
  • You are granted one wish. But you have to use the wish for someone else.
  • Instead of trying to get a man on the moon, every nation raced to be the first at the very bottom of the ocean.
  • Money really does grow on trees and is heavily regulated by governments.
  • A plane takes off with 81 passengers. It lands with 82.
  • You are home alone watching TV. A character dials a number on their phone. Your phone rings.
  • You open a fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant. Inside is a handwritten note.
  • A magician, a troll, and a college student walk into a bar.
  • It is the year 3000. The sun starts to flicker.
  • An optimist becomes a pessimist. Why?

Top 10 short story ideas... also for you! 

Every short story author out there knows that short stories are different — and not just because they’re, well, shorter. So if you’re seeking a short story idea, we’ve got you. Here are our favorite bite-sized short story ideas:

  • Turn one of your grandparent's old stories into fiction.
  • A romance told through a series of texts.
  • Two people are playing chess. One person can read minds, the other person can see the future.
  • Write a story that draws from a moment in your life where you wish you'd made a different choice. Have your protagonist make that choice, and then see what happens.
  • Amazon has invented time travel and introduced pre-emptive shipping. Today, you receive something completely unexpected from your future self.
  • Write about the way the sunset looks from the perspective of two characters. One is sad, the other is happy.
  • A wand-maker goes to the forest ready to work, only to find a group of environmentalists camped out in front of their favorite hemlock tree.
  • Pick a genre and then write about a long walk home after school.
  • The last person on earth celebrates their own birthday.
  • A team of scientists have successfully teleported an apple. It reappears with a bite taken out of it.

How to come up with short story ideas yourself

We get it: writing prompts are an excellent resource, but you want to know how to come up with your own story ideas. Here are four of our go-to tricks when thinking of interesting things to write about.

1) People-watch: Hands down, this our favourite way to come up with story ideas. All stories, even ones about robots or plants, have some element of humanity at its core. There are therefore a countless number of stories to be found by observing human nature. 90% of the prompts included in our writing prompts newsletter are inspired by simply staring out a window and watching people go by.

2) Forget what you already know: Have you ever become trapped in a “but why?” loop with a child? It’s enough to make your head spin or an existential crisis occur. But if you can return to this sense of curiosity and wondering you had as a child, you can find a treasure trove of short story ideas to be found. Take in your surroundings and ask yourself why things are the way they are. What if they were different? What would that look like and how would it work?

3) Use your day job: If you feel like you have the most interesting job on the planet, well, perfect! It shouldn’t be hard to use it as plot-fodder for a great short story. On the other hand, if you find yourself yawning a lot at work, ask yourself: What could happen to make this work day interesting? Let’s say you work as a receptionist but your real passion lies with art. Write a story about a receptionist who sees a colleague hang a new piece of art in their cubicle — one the receptionist recognizes as being famous for going missing a century ago.

4) Read: Imagine walking up to a piano and trying to make beautiful music without ever having heard it played before. You need to consume great short stories in order to know what you enjoy about them. Figure out what you like, and you’ll be on the path to great writing topics.

Ready to start submitting your short story to writing contests? Find the right one for you in our list of writing contests.

Looking for writing tips? Sign up for our free course: How to Craft a Killer Short Story.

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