Short Story Ideas + 20 Writing Prompts and 3 Tips— Writing is a craft, not a stroke of beginner’s luck. It takes practice to hone your skills, and few people sit down and write a one-hit-wonder with no practice or skills. If you want to have a career as a writer, you’ll have to work for it.
Many writers find themselves wondering: What should I write?
One of the best tools for writers working to improve their craft is the short story. Short stories are fun, flexible and offer a great way to practice and refine your skills as a writer.
While short stories have the elements of fiction you love from larger pieces of literature, they come with swift, short delivery, still offering the elements of fiction — character, point of view, style, plot, theme, and setting.
Have you wanted to improve your short story writing game? Here’s a look at some short story ideas, prompts, and tips that can help.
5 Easy Short Story Ideas
Writing short stories actually offers some great advantages. When you’re writing short, it’s often easy to fit this practice into your day. Some easy ways to write more short stories include:
- Write a quick story in the morning before breakfast.
- Write a short story before bed at night.
- Write a short story on your lunch break.
- Write a short story when you’re in a waiting room.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes and write a short story.
If you need more writing inspirations and ideas, check out our prompt lists below.
10 All-New Short Story Ideas and Starter Prompts
- Tell the story of how the character ended up getting a scar.
- A young man’s biggest fear is holding him back.
- The short walk gets interrupted by a disaster.
- Your character was left a strange object in his/her grandmother’s will.
- Two families go to the moon to start a new colony.
- A struggling writer is visited by someone from the 1800s.
- A dragon family raises orphaned twins.
- Your character discovers her mother is a millionaire.
- You open your fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant, and it only says, “Your life is in danger. Get out.”
- Your character just moved into town, only to discover the local kids believe the home is haunted.
Short Story Ideas for Kids
These prompts only need a child’s imagination to grow into a well-written and interesting short story.
- The richest person in the world takes a trip to outer space
- A religious artifact gets stolen
- An angel meets the person who cut his wings
- The first day of university ends with a wild surprise
- A human child gets adopted by aliens
- Drinking water runs out
- A young boy struggles with his eyesight
- Prisoners get locked up in a haunted house
- There is no free WiFi
- Everybody discovers the superhero’s identity
The Benefits of Writing “Short”
The more you write, the better. According to the author of Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury — who just happened to write over 600 short stories — “Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”
That’s some great advice from a successful author who practices writing short stories.
Short stories also have the potential to carry as much impact as a novel but in fewer words. But it takes skill to write short stories. Only practice and perseverance will help you cultivate the skill of writing short.
A shorter word count offers an advantage, but it also is a challenge. How much can you convey to your reader in a short time? You still want your reader to finish your story with a feeling of satisfaction and completion. That’s not always easy.
So how do you write good short stories?
Top Tips for Writing Short Stories
There’s no one way to write a short story, but we’ve put together some tips and advice that can help you as you craft your own short stories.
Tip #1 – Begin at the End
For a short story, imagine that it’s the last chapter of a great novel. The resolution of a story always is the most exciting part of a book. When you’re writing short, you get to skip all the time introducing people and the setting, going right for consequences, payoffs, and action.
Start the story right in the middle of the action, and make sure you keep your reader interested. Get your reader interested with the action, then introduce the who, what, when, why, and how.
Tip #2 – Show, Don’t Tell!
While the advice to “Show, don’t tell” always proves valuable when writing, it’s even more essential when you’re writing short stories. While you need to keep your story structured and descriptive, keep your voice active, so you’re showing the world to your readers instead of just telling them about it. Be ready to drop extra words and phrases that don’t move your story along.
Remember, when you show instead of telling, you immerse your reader into the story, giving them a more interesting adventure.
A couple more tips for showing instead of telling:
- Add character traits into their dialogue.
- Describe the setting as you go along
Tip #3 – Don’t Forget the Basics
While short stories need to get to the action immediately, don’t forget the basics of storytelling. You still need those pillars of fiction: character, point of view, style, plot, theme, and setting. You’ll just have to get more creative at working them in with a short word count.
Short Story Example (It might surprise you!)
Look at this short story example:
“For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.”
According to Quora this short is often attributed to Ernest Hemingway. It one of the most famous pieces of microfiction of all time. And get this: In six words, there is already context and emotion.
“Baby shoes” implies that a baby was being expected by a couple, but the fact the shoes were never worn implies that the baby never made it.
What can you write with six words? How about with five hundred? Or a thousand? (Think of the short story ideas you can write about with a range of words from six to thousands.)
Even More Short Story Ideas
Try these additional short story ideas for even more practice.
- 11 Short Story Ideas for Students
- Kids Short Story Ideas
- Short Story Writing Prompts
- Short Story Ideas with a Twist
- Story Starters: Creative Writing Prompts for Kids
Until next time, write on…
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