Have you ever found yourself stuck while writing? Happens to us all, right?
Sometimes all you need is a sentence to get your creative juices flowing again.
Here's 99 sentences to get you thinking and get you writing.
- The summer breeze brushed past my sundress as I walked down the lane.
- The Professor always made me feel awkward with his crazy inventions, and this time is no different.
- Rosaline never knew what hit her.
- By the time I reached the train station, she was gone.
- There was a time when my family was extremely happy.
- Every morning I walked to the cafe' for my latte' and a glimpse at him.
- There was a secret meeting tonight and I had to be there.
- David had asked me to meet him at the corner bakery.
- The night sky was full of stars but no moon.
- Lately, Marlene felt that there was something missing from her life.
- Jessica and Caitlin had a secret that no person could ever find out.
- The gaming convention was full of people and there was a terroristic threat.
- Lady Luck was always on my side at the casinos.
- I had to stay with my aunts for a while because mom had a new suitor.
- The lights and sounds of the big city have always excited me.
- Every time I heard the ice cream truck it reminded me of home.
- The melody of the music box soothed me.
- The subway stopped suddenly inside the tunnel.
- Shopping is what I call my number 1 hobby.
- The internship was about to start, but I was far from excited.
- A hostage situation at a bank was not how I wanted to spend my morning.
- It has been weeks since I received communication from my brother in Iraq.
- The cemetary was rather quiet on my annual visit.
- Amy wasn't too adament to go to her uncle's Will reading.
- Walking down the long corridor John had no clue what his boss could want.
- Tara was hesitant to open the hotel room, scared of what she may find.
- Every time I pulled, the ropes seemed to get tighter around my wrists.
- The crash just happened and no one saw it coming.
- Shadows surrounded Clayton as he walked down the ally behind Alfonzo's Pizzeria.
- Tyler has been out all night and there was no sign of him arriving anytime soon.
- Flowers came to my house every other Monday around 1 o'clock.
- The nurse's station was buzzing as the bomb victims poured in.
- She had been watching her neighbor's house for weeks with no evidence of the abuse.
- Nathan had been the only man I had ever slept with.
- The rain got harder as Tina walked alone in tears.
- The memories flooded back as I looked through the photo album.
- My clothes were completely ripped up and I had to go onstage in twenty minutes.
- April will forever be our favorite month.
- Eleven blocks was a long way to run, but there was so much traffic and time was running out.
- It was all over the Internet before I got a chance to explain things.
- Ann hadn't been out with the opposite sex in over 5 years, so she agreed to go on the blind date.
- The caller said if I dropped the money off at 3 p.m. he would let my kids go.
- The heat of his breath lingered on my neck.
- Angel and her friends waited backstage for a chance to meet a famous rapper.
- My fear would be hard to conquer but I had to do it if I wanted peace.
- The dreams were recurring and frightening to say the least.
- The house shook as if some powerful wind had gone by.
- Elana had been waiting for this audition to show she had what it took to be a dancer.
- Stephanie dragged her luggage up the stairs of the Bed & Breakfast while Terrence talked business on his cellphone.
- The photographer yelled for me to get on the set of my first photo shoot.
- Every time the clock struck 11 the house got dark for five minutes.
- No matter who I was with I just couldn't stop cheating.
- Our 10 year class reunion was right around the corner.
- When Allan arrived home there were 42 messages on his answering machine.
- A road trip is exactly what me and the girls need.
- At 3 in the morning we were still on the phone.
- All the nuns at the orphanage were ruthless except for Sister Francis.
- My first pitch in the majors and I was ecstatic.
- The music slowed and we were left on the dance floor.
- Every time I turned around there was someone trying to stop my progress.
- Life has just seemed to pass me by but I really want to make a mark.
- Having desires was always Trent's downfall.
- One of the biggest secrets of my life was on the 10 o'clock news.
- No sooner did our romantic evening start, an urgent call came through.
- There was no real explanation for Anthony's new found 'talent'.
- Lights filled the sky atop the houses.
- Samantha left a note for Justin each morning bt he would never tell anyone what they said.
- Twenty-two hours of labor and the baby still hadn't come.
- Emily missed her best friend dearly but she knew they couldn't see each other.
- Could it be possible the she loved him more than her own husband?
- Each time Nora picked up her phone, she placed it right back down on the cradle.
- David couldn't think of anything but his missing little sister.
- I never believed in having a therapist for life's problems.
- Working in a novelty store had to be the coolest and most interesting job ever.
- My mother could never be happy for me.
- The surgery was already scheduled and all I had to do was show up.
- Vladimir hated showing his emotions for fear of backlash from his father.
- The roller coaster stopped upside down with dozens of passengers on board.
- A quiet evening on the beach would set the mood perfectly to break the news.
- Whenever Heather wanted to be alone she traveled to the observatory.
- There was an eerie smile on Cathy's face as she relinquished all her assets to her soon-to-be ex in court.
- Behind closed doors Aaron wasn't the hard ass everyone thought he was.
- For months Vivian cried herself to sleep.
- Nerds were not the only game testers at Finger Works Inc.
- I was amazed to see that my grandma had planted so many flowers.
- We were supposed to meet on the Brooklyn Bridge at 11 p.m.
- Discouraged and tired, they ended the search for Patricia.
- Onlookers watched in horror as the plane exploded as soon as it hit the runway.
- The pills seemed to call her as she stared at the medicine bottle on the night stand.
- France was a beautiful place this time of year.
- We shared our first kiss under the cherry blossom tree.
- This corruption case was the biggest one the city has ever seen.
- Donna promised revenge on everyone that was in the conference room this morning.
- Bouquets of flowers filled my living and dining rooms but how did they get in here.
- Ginger spent each Thursday evening taking Salsa lessons.
- Owen spent months planning the perfect vacation and now this happened.
- Mustafa was forced to live in exile.
- Lance looked everywhere for the files but they were nowhere to be found.
- Each morning I wake up with him on my mind and pain in my heart.
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.
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, your 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, Aladdin, Great 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.