✍️ 200+ Short Story Ideas (and How to Come Up With Your Own)

Are you ready to write but don’t know what to write about? Prepare to kick your writing into gear by browsing through our list of 200+ short story ideas. New prompts are added each week, and you can search by genre. But don’t let our categories stop you from putting your own spin on a writing prompt: if you find a short story idea tagged as sci-fi, but you think it would make a great romance plot, run with it! For tips on how to come up with your own story ideas, scroll to the bottom of the page.

We found 539 stories that match your search 🔦

A character who loves reading finds out that their library has just been forbidden from carrying banned books.

A character doesn't know how to break up with their partner, and keeps putting it off until the very moment that the partner bends down on one knee and proposes., subscribe to our prompts newsletter.

Curated writing inspriation delivered to your inbox each week.

One character wants a snake, but their roommate has a phobia. They adopt one anyway.

For years, four characters have met for a monthly card game. write a story in which one character realizes that another is cheating., you visited a psychic for romantic advice. instead, they tell you that your spouse has a secret., a character doesn't know how to ask their parent to stop calling them 2+ times a day., a pair of best friends realize they're two corners of a love triangle — they both have feelings for the same person., 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! 

Everyone who writes short stories 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, maybe even ideas for a book -length project. 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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a short creative writing story

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The short story is a fiction writer’s laboratory: here is where you can experiment with characters, plots, and ideas without the heavy lifting of writing a novel. Learning how to write a short story is essential to mastering the art of storytelling . With far fewer words to worry about, storytellers can make many more mistakes—and strokes of genius!—through experimentation and the fun of fiction writing.

Nonetheless, the art of writing short stories is not easy to master. How do you tell a complete story in so few words? What does a story need to have in order to be successful? Whether you’re struggling with how to write a short story outline, or how to fully develop a character in so few words, this guide is your starting point.

Famous authors like Virginia Woolf, Haruki Murakami, and Agatha Christie have used the short story form to play with ideas before turning those stories into novels. Whether you want to master the elements of fiction, experiment with novel ideas, or simply have fun with storytelling, here’s everything you need on how to write a short story step by step.

How to Write a Short Story: Contents

The Core Elements of a Short Story

How to write a short story outline, how to write a short story step by step, how to write a short story: length and setting, how to write a short story: point of view, how to write a short story: protagonist, antagonist, motivation, how to write a short story: characters, how to write a short story: prose, how to write a short story: story structure, how to write a short story: capturing reader interest, where to read and submit short stories.

There’s no secret formula to writing a short story. However, a good short story will have most or all of the following elements:

  • A protagonist with a certain desire or need. It is essential for the protagonist to want something they don’t have, otherwise they will not drive the story forward.
  • A clear dilemma. We don’t need much backstory to see how the dilemma started; we’re primarily concerned with how the protagonist resolves it.
  • A decision. What does the protagonist do to resolve their dilemma?
  • A climax. In Freytag’s Pyramid , the climax of a story is when the tension reaches its peak, and the reader discovers the outcome of the protagonist’s decision(s).
  • An outcome. How does the climax change the protagonist? Are they a different person? Do they have a different philosophy or outlook on life?

Of course, short stories also utilize the elements of fiction , such as a setting , plot , and point of view . It helps to study these elements and to understand their intricacies. But, when it comes to laying down the skeleton of a short story, the above elements are what you need to get started.

Note: a short story rarely, if ever, has subplots. The focus should be entirely on a single, central storyline. Subplots will either pull focus away from the main story, or else push the story into the territory of novellas and novels.

The shorter the story is, the fewer of these elements are essentials. If you’re interested in writing short-short stories, check out our guide on how to write flash fiction .

Some writers are “pantsers”—they “write by the seat of their pants,” making things up on the go with little more than an idea for a story. Other writers are “plotters,” meaning they decide the story’s structure in advance of writing it.

You don’t need a short story outline to write a good short story. But, if you’d like to give yourself some scaffolding before putting words on the page, this article answers the question of how to write a short story outline:


There are many ways to approach the short story craft, but this method is tried-and-tested for writers of all levels. Here’s how to write a short story step-by-step.

1. Start With an Idea

Often, generating an idea is the hardest part. You want to write, but what will you write about?

What’s more, it’s easy to start coming up with ideas and then dismissing them. You want to tell an authentic, original story, but everything you come up with has already been written, it seems.

Here are a few tips:

  • Originality presents itself in your storytelling, not in your ideas. For example, the premise of both Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Ostrovsky’s The Snow Maiden are very similar: two men and two women, in intertwining love triangles, sort out their feelings for each other amidst mischievous forest spirits, love potions, and friendship drama. The way each story is written makes them very distinct from one another, to the point where, unless it’s pointed out to you, you might not even notice the similarities.
  • An idea is not a final draft. You will find that exploring the possibilities of your story will generate something far different than the idea you started out with. This is a good thing—it means you made the story your own!
  • Experiment with genres and tropes. Even if you want to write literary fiction , pay attention to the narrative structures that drive genre stories, and practice your storytelling using those structures. Again, you will naturally make the story your own simply by playing with ideas.

If you’re struggling simply to find ideas, try out this prompt generator , or pull prompts from this Twitter .

2. Outline, OR Conceive Your Characters

If you plan to outline, do so once you’ve generated an idea. You can learn about how to write a short story outline earlier in this article.

If you don’t plan to outline, you should at least start with a character or characters. Certainly, you need a protagonist, but you should also think about any characters that aid or inhibit your protagonist’s journey.

When thinking about character development, ask the following questions:

  • What is my character’s background? Where do they come from, how did they get here, where do they want to be?
  • What does your character desire the most? This can be both material or conceptual, like “fitting in” or “being loved.”
  • What is your character’s fatal flaw? In other words, what limitation prevents the protagonist from achieving their desire? Often, this flaw is a blind spot that directly counters their desire. For example, self hatred stands in the way of a protagonist searching for love.
  • How does your character think and speak? Think of examples, both fictional and in the real world, who might resemble your character.

In short stories, there are rarely more characters than a protagonist, an antagonist (if relevant), and a small group of supporting characters. The more characters you include, the longer your story will be. Focus on making only one or two characters complex: it is absolutely okay to have the rest of the cast be flat characters that move the story along.

Learn more about character development here:


3. Write Scenes Around Conflict

Once you have an outline or some characters, start building scenes around conflict. Every part of your story, including the opening sentence, should in some way relate to the protagonist’s conflict.

Conflict is the lifeblood of storytelling: without it, the reader doesn’t have a clear reason to keep reading. Loveable characters are not enough, as the story has to give the reader something to root for.

Take, for example, Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story The Cask of Amontillado . We start at the conflict: the narrator has been slighted by Fortunato, and plans to exact revenge. Every scene in the story builds tension and follows the protagonist as he exacts this revenge.

In your story, start writing scenes around conflict, and make sure each paragraph and piece of dialogue relates, in some way, to your protagonist’s unmet desires.

Read more about writing effective conflict here:

What is Conflict in a Story? Definition and Examples

4. Write Your First Draft

The scenes you build around conflict will eventually be stitched into a complete story. Make sure as the story progresses that each scene heightens the story’s tension, and that this tension remains unbroken until the climax resolves whether or not your protagonist meets their desires.

Don’t stress too hard on writing a perfect story. Rather, take Anne Lamott’s advice, and “write a shitty first draft.” The goal is not to pen a complete story at first draft; rather, it’s to set ideas down on paper. You are simply, as Shannon Hale suggests, “shoveling sand into a box so that later [you] can build castles.”

5. Step Away, Breathe, Revise

Whenever Stephen King finishes a novel, he puts it in a drawer and doesn’t think about it for 6 weeks. With short stories, you probably don’t need to take as long of a break. But, the idea itself is true: when you’ve finished your first draft, set it aside for a while. Let yourself come back to the story with fresh eyes, so that you can confidently revise, revise, revise .

In revision, you want to make sure each word has an essential place in the story, that each scene ramps up tension, and that each character is clearly defined. The culmination of these elements allows a story to explore complex themes and ideas, giving the reader something to think about after the story has ended.

6. Compare Against Our Short Story Checklist

Does your story have everything it needs to succeed? Compare it against this short story checklist, as written by our instructor Rosemary Tantra Bensko.

Below is a collection of practical short story writing tips by Writers.com instructor Rosemary Tantra Bensko . Each paragraph is its own checklist item: a core element of short story writing advice to follow unless you have clear reasons to the contrary. We hope it’s a helpful resource in your own writing.

Update 9/1/2020: We’ve now made a summary of Rosemary’s short story checklist available as a PDF download . Enjoy!

a short creative writing story

Click to download

Your short story is 1000 to 7500 words in length.

The story takes place in one time period, not spread out or with gaps other than to drive someplace, sleep, etc. If there are those gaps, there is a space between the paragraphs, the new paragraph beginning flush left, to indicate a new scene.

Each scene takes place in one location, or in continual transit, such as driving a truck or flying in a plane.

Unless it’s a very lengthy Romance story, in which there may be two Point of View (POV) characters, there is one POV character. If we are told what any character secretly thinks, it will only be the POV character. The degree to which we are privy to the unexpressed thoughts, memories and hopes of the POV character remains consistent throughout the story.

You avoid head-hopping by only having one POV character per scene, even in a Romance. You avoid straying into even brief moments of telling us what other characters think other than the POV character. You use words like “apparently,” “obviously,” or “supposedly” to suggest how non-POV-characters think rather than stating it.

Your short story has one clear protagonist who is usually the character changing most.

Your story has a clear antagonist, who generally makes the protagonist change by thwarting his goals.

(Possible exception to the two short story writing tips above: In some types of Mystery and Action stories, particularly in a series, etc., the protagonist doesn’t necessarily grow personally, but instead his change relates to understanding the antagonist enough to arrest or kill him.)

The protagonist changes with an Arc arising out of how he is stuck in his Flaw at the beginning of the story, which makes the reader bond with him as a human, and feel the pain of his problems he causes himself. (Or if it’s the non-personal growth type plot: he’s presented at the beginning of the story with a high-stakes problem that requires him to prevent or punish a crime.)

The protagonist usually is shown to Want something, because that’s what people normally do, defining their personalities and behavior patterns, pushing them onward from day to day. This may be obvious from the beginning of the story, though it may not become heightened until the Inciting Incident , which happens near the beginning of Act 1. The Want is usually something the reader sort of wants the character to succeed in, while at the same time, knows the Want is not in his authentic best interests. This mixed feeling in the reader creates tension.

The protagonist is usually shown to Need something valid and beneficial, but at first, he doesn’t recognize it, admit it, honor it, integrate it with his Want, or let the Want go so he can achieve the Need instead. Ideally, the Want and Need can be combined in a satisfying way toward the end for the sake of continuity of forward momentum of victoriously achieving the goals set out from the beginning. It’s the encounters with the antagonist that forcibly teach the protagonist to prioritize his Needs correctly and overcome his Flaw so he can defeat the obstacles put in his path.

The protagonist in a personal growth plot needs to change his Flaw/Want but like most people, doesn’t automatically do that when faced with the problem. He tries the easy way, which doesn’t work. Only when the Crisis takes him to a low point does he boldly change enough to become victorious over himself and the external situation. What he learns becomes the Theme.

Each scene shows its main character’s goal at its beginning, which aligns in a significant way with the protagonist’s overall goal for the story. The scene has a “charge,” showing either progress toward the goal or regression away from the goal by the ending. Most scenes end with a negative charge, because a story is about not obtaining one’s goals easily, until the end, in which the scene/s end with a positive charge.

The protagonist’s goal of the story becomes triggered until the Inciting Incident near the beginning, when something happens to shake up his life. This is the only major thing in the story that is allowed to be a random event that occurs to him.

Your characters speak differently from one another, and their dialogue suggests subtext, what they are really thinking but not saying: subtle passive-aggressive jibes, their underlying emotions, etc.

Your characters are not illustrative of ideas and beliefs you are pushing for, but come across as real people.

Your language is succinct, fresh and exciting, specific, colorful, avoiding clichés and platitudes. Sentence structures vary. In Genre stories, the language is simple, the symbolism is direct, and words are well-known, and sentences are relatively short. In Literary stories , you are freer to use more sophisticated ideas, words, sentence structures, styles , and underlying metaphors and implied motifs.

Your plot elements occur in the proper places according to classical Three Act Structure (or Freytag’s Pyramid ) so the reader feels he has vicariously gone through a harrowing trial with the protagonist and won, raising his sense of hope and possibility. Literary short stories may be more subtle, with lower stakes, experimenting beyond classical structures like the Hero’s Journey. They can be more like vignettes sometimes, or even slice-of-life, though these types are hard to place in publications.

In Genre stories, all the questions are answered, threads are tied up, problems are solved, though the results of carnage may be spread over the landscape. In Literary short stories, you are free to explore uncertainty, ambiguity, and inchoate, realistic endings that suggest multiple interpretations, and unresolved issues.

Some Literary stories may be nonrealistic, such as with Surrealism, Absurdism, New Wave Fabulism, Weird and Magical Realism . If this is what you write, they still need their own internal logic and they should not be bewildering as to the what the reader is meant to experience, whether it’s a nuanced, unnameable mood or a trip into the subconscious.

Literary stories may also go beyond any label other than Experimental. For example, a story could be a list of To Do items on a paper held by a magnet to a refrigerator for the housemate to read. The person writing the list may grow more passive-aggressive and manipulative as the list grows, and we learn about the relationship between the housemates through the implied threats and cajoling.

Your short story is suspenseful, meaning readers hope the protagonist will achieve his best goal, his Need, by the Climax battle against the antagonist.

Your story entertains. This is especially necessary for Genre short stories.

The story captivates readers at the very beginning with a Hook, which can be a puzzling mystery to solve, an amazing character’s or narrator’s Voice, an astounding location, humor, a startling image, or a world the reader wants to become immersed in.

Expository prose (telling, like an essay) takes up very, very little space in your short story, and it does not appear near the beginning. The story is in Narrative format instead, in which one action follows the next. You’ve removed every unnecessary instance of Expository prose and replaced it with showing Narrative. Distancing words like “used to,” “he would often,” “over the years, he,” “each morning, he” indicate that you are reporting on a lengthy time period, summing it up, rather than sticking to Narrative format, in which immediacy makes the story engaging.

You’ve earned the right to include Expository Backstory by making the reader yearn for knowing what happened in the past to solve a mystery. This can’t possibly happen at the beginning, obviously. Expository Backstory does not take place in the first pages of your story.

Your reader cares what happens and there are high stakes (especially important in Genre stories). Your reader worries until the end, when the protagonist survives, succeeds in his quest to help the community, gets the girl, solves or prevents the crime, achieves new scientific developments, takes over rule of his realm, etc.

Every sentence is compelling enough to urge the reader to read the next one—because he really, really wants to—instead of doing something else he could be doing. Your story is not going to be assigned to people to analyze in school like the ones you studied, so you have found a way from the beginning to intrigue strangers to want to spend their time with your words.

Whether you’re looking for inspiration or want to publish your own stories, you’ll find great literary journals for writers of all backgrounds at this article:


Learn How to Write a Short Story at Writers.com

The short story takes an hour to learn and a lifetime to master. Learn how to write a short story with Writers.com. Our upcoming fiction courses will give you the ropes to tell authentic, original short stories that captivate and entrance your readers.

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Rosemary – Is there any chance you could add a little something to your checklist? I’d love to know the best places to submit our short stories for publication. Thanks so much.

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Hi, Kim Hanson,

Some good places to find publications specific to your story are NewPages, Poets and Writers, Duotrope, and The Submission Grinder.

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“ In Genre stories, all the questions are answered, threads are tied up, problems are solved, though the results of carnage may be spread over the landscape.”

Not just no but NO.

See for example the work of MacArthur Fellow Kelly Link.

[…] How to Write a Short Story: The Short Story Checklist […]

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Thank you for these directions and tips. It’s very encouraging to someone like me, just NOW taking up writing.

[…] Writers.com. A great intro to writing. https://writers.com/how-to-write-a-short-story […]

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Hello: I started to write seriously in the late 70’s. I loved to write in High School in the early 60’s but life got in the way. Around the 00’s many of the obstacles disappeared. Since then I have been writing more, and some of my work was vanilla transgender stories. Here in 2024 transgender stories have become tiresome because I really don’t have much in common with that mind set.

The glare of an editor that could potentially pay me is quite daunting, so I would like to start out unpaid to see where that goes. I am not sure if a writer’s agent would be a good fit for me. My work life was in the Trades, not as some sort of Academic. That alone causes timidity, but I did read about a fiction writer who had been a house painter.

This is my first effort to publish since the late 70’s. My pseudonym would perhaps include Ahabidah.

Gwen Boucher.

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Journal Buddies Jill | December 6, 2023 August 28, 2023 | Roundup

Fun-tastic! 330 Short Story Writing Prompts to Inspire

Creative Short Story Writing Prompts, Topics, and Tips For Kids and All Writers — Oh yeah! Writing a creative short story can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. One of the best ways to kick-start your creativity is by using writing prompts. Yes!

Short Story Writing Prompts

You see…

Short story writing prompts are prompts that give you an idea or concept to write about, helping you generate ideas and inspiration for your next piece. There are all sorts of different short story writing prompts out there – from simple concepts like “write a story about a lost key” to more complex themes like “write a story about the meaning of life”.

The key is finding the right prompt that inspires you and gets your creative juices pumping. Once you’ve found a prompt that resonates with you, you’ll be on your way!

Yeppers, whether you are a student or simply someone who wants to practice writing short stories with the help of prompt ideas, there is  something in this new collection of creative short story writing prompts for everyone. 

In fact, below…

You’ll see a brand new list of 70 brand-new list of creative short story writing prompts for writers.

Plus—> There are  more than 260 MORE Short Story Writing Prompt Ideas listed below for you .

Why I Love Sharing Short Story Writing Prompts with You

There are so many reasons I love sharing writing topics and writing prompts. But, I’ll keep this short. You see…

One of the top reasons I love to share so many good writing prompts with my fans is to provide an exciting, new, and inspirational starting point for writers of all skill levels and interests. That’s why…

There are 17,000+ writing ideas and prompts for you here on my blog. Yesssss!

Further, I believe that an effective prompt introduces — and sometimes limits — a topic thereby requiring the writer to navigate it creatively.

Most of all…

I love sharing creative short story writing prompts with you because they help you grow and improve your writing skills – and that is a great thing indeed.

8 Theme-Driven Prompts

Ok, now to that list of new creative writing ideas!

List of 70 Brand New Creative Short Story Writing Prompts by Theme/Genre

Enjoy these brand-new creative short story writing prompts for writers. Now have them grab their pencils and paper or pen and journal or computer, phone, or writing device of choice and get to writing time now.

5 Short Story Fiction Prompts

  • You wake up one morning and find that you have the power to fly. What do you do?
  • You find a magic lamp and rub it. A genie appears and grants you three wishes. What do you wish for?
  • You are trapped in a time loop and have to relive the same day over and over again. How do you break the loop?
  • You are given the opportunity to go back in time and change one event. What event do you choose and how does it change the course of history?
  • You are the only one who can see a monster that is terrorizing your town. How do you stop it?

10 Short Story Fantasy Topic Ideas

  • You are transported to a magical land full of talking animals, mythical creatures, and other wonders. What do you do there?
  • You are a knight on a quest to save the princess from a dragon. What challenges do you face along the way?
  • You are a wizard who is trying to learn how to control your powers. What happens when you lose control?
  • You are a fairy who is trying to find your place in the world. What do you discover about yourself?
  • You are a monster who is trying to live a normal life. What challenges do you face?
  • A young person discovers they have magical powers.
  • A group of friends go on a quest to save the world.
  • A person enters a magical world and has to find their way back home.
  • A very old person is transported to a different time period.
  • You meet a talking animal.

9 Mystery Prompts for Short Story Inspiration

  • You find a dead body in the woods. Who is the victim and how did they die?
  • You receive a mysterious letter that contains a threat. Who sent the letter? What do they want?
  • You witness a crime but no one believes you. How do you prove that you’re telling the truth?
  • You are framed for a crime you didn’t commit. How do you clear your name?
  • You are investigating a series of strange disappearances. What is the connection between the cases?
  • A young person solves a mystery.
  • A young person is framed for a crime.
  • A young person investigates a disappearance.
  • A young person finds a clue to a long-lost treasure.
  • A young (or old) person is haunted by a secret.

Short Story Writing Ideas

5 Sci-Fi Short Story Writing Prompts

  • You are the first person to travel to Mars. What do you find there?
  • You are the only survivor of a group of scientists involved in a spaceship crash on a hostile planet. How do you survive?
  • You are given a robot companion that is smarter than you. What do you do with it?
  • You are a time traveler who is trying to prevent a disaster from happening. Can you succeed?
  • You are a clone who is trying to find your place in the world. What do you discover about yourself?

5 More Science Fiction Short Story Starters

  • A young person travels to the future.
  • A young person meets an alien.
  • A young person is involved in a time travel adventure.
  • A young person is trapped in a virtual reality world.
  • A young person discovers a new planet.

10 Vampire Short Story Ideas

  • You pet travels to the future.
  • You meet a friendly alien.
  • Your parent is involved in a time travel adventure.
  • A friend is trapped in a virtual reality world.
  • A young woman is turned into a vampire against her will and must come to terms with her new identity.
  • A group of vampires are trying to survive in a world that’s slowly becoming uninhabitable for them.
  • A detective investigates a series of crimes that may have been committed by a vampire.
  • A vampire hunter is on a mission to kill the last remaining vampire in the world.
  • A vampire falls in love with a human and must choose between their two worlds.
  • A vampire is given the opportunity to become human again, but must first complete a dangerous task.
  • A vampire child is raised by humans and must learn to control their powers.
  • A vampire is cured of their vampirism and must adjust to life as a human again.
  • A vampire and a human team up to stop a common enemy.
  • Write a romance short story/love story about your character’s best friend and a group of werewolves.

5 Realistic Fiction Prompts that Make a Good Story Topic

  • A young person moves to a new town and has to make new friends.
  • A family goes on vacation and has a series of unexpected adventures.
  • A teenager falls in love for the first time.
  • A young person faces a difficult challenge and overcomes it.
  • A group of friends start a business together.

5 Horror Short Story Prompts

  • A person is haunted by a ghost.
  • A group of teens is being chased through their hometown by a monster.
  • The school mascot is trapped in a haunted house.
  • A young man witnesses their best friend vanish in thin air.
  • A teacher at school is possessed and acting strangely in one very odd way.

4 Character-Driven Short Story Writing Prompts

  • Write a short story about a character who is afraid of something.
  • Write a short story about a main character who is trying to find their place in the world.
  • Write a short story about a character who is trying to overcome a challenge.
  • Write a short story about a character who is trying to make a difference in the world.

4 Plot-Driven Prompts

  • Write a short story about a mystery that needs to be solved.
  • Write a short story about a disaster that happens.
  • Write a short story about a love triangle.
  • Write a short story about a journey that takes the characters on an adventure.
  • Write a story about the importance of friendship.
  • Write a story about the importance of family.
  • Write a story about the importance of courage.
  • Write a story about the importance of hope.

Whew. Those are some fantastic lists of short story prompts! Now, I have even more creative short story prompts, topics, ideas, and lists for you. Your next great story awaits you. So be sure to…

See 260 MORE Short Story Writing Prompts!

Short Story Prompts with a Twist for Middle School Writers

30 Short Story Ideas with a Twist

Short Story Writing Ideas for Kids

11 Awesome Short Story Ideas for High School

Short Story Topics for Middle School Writers

30 Great Short Story Ideas for Middle School and Beyond

Middle School Fiction Writing Topics

30 Inspiring Fiction Writing Prompts & Ideas

Story Setting Ideas and Bonus Prompts

11 Sweet Setting Prompts + 11 Bonus Ideas

Kids Short Story Prompts

30 Fun Short Story Ideas for Kids

Short Story Writing Ideas

Short Story Ideas & Advice

Short Story Writing Topics for Every Age

40 Fun and Inspiring Writing Prompts for Short Stories

Short Story Writing for Kids

26 Short Story Writing Prompts for Students

Elementary Short Story Ideas

32 Super Short Story Prompts for Students

Ok, I hope you enjoyed these lists of creative short story writing prompts. Clearly, there is no reason whatsoever to experience writer’s block.

Now check out these…

Quick Tips for Writing Short Stories

  • Start with a strong idea. The best short stories have a clear focus and a strong sense of purpose.
  • Keep it short. A short story should be no more than 10,000 words.
  • Introduce your characters and setting quickly. Readers should be able to get a sense of who your characters are and where they are within the first few paragraphs.
  • Create conflict. Conflict is what drives a story forward. Make sure your characters face challenges that they must overcome.
  • Build suspense. Suspense keeps readers engaged and wanting to read more. Use foreshadowing and cliffhangers to create suspense in your story.
  • End with a bang. The ending of your story should be satisfying and leave readers wanting more.

I hope these prompts and tips help you write your own creative short stories.

Improve Your Creative Writing Skills with Journal Buddies

If you looking to improve your creative writing skills, you are in luck! You see, my Journal Buddies blog has thousands of free creative writing prompts in a variety of categories, as well as loads of tips and ideas to help you become a better creative writer (or simply a better writer).

Now go for it and explore the ideas linked above. Then, check back for new prompts. I know you’ll be glad you did.

Until next time, write on…

If you enjoyed these Short Story Writing Prompts , please share them on social media Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest. I appreciate it!

Sincerely, Jill journalbuddies.com creator and curator

Inspiring Short Story Writing Prompts

PS Here you will discover How to Write a Short Story That Captivates Your Reader

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Tap to See Prompts Story Writing Topics for Grade 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 83 Super Story Ideas to Write About Wow! 98 Story Prompts & Creative Story Starters for Kids Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7-8 Grade 9-12 All Ages ------------End of Om Added --------- Tags short story , Short Story Ideas , short story ideas for young writers , short story prompts , short story writing , Short Story Writing Prompts , story , Story Ideas , story writing , Story Writing Ideas , story writing prompts , write a short story , writing prompts div#postbottom { margin-top: 12px; } Search Now Offering You 18,000+ Prompts!

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104 Of The Best Short Story Ideas And Prompts To Grab Your Readers

So, you want to write a short story — and not just a mildly entertaining short story but one your readers can’t put down until they’ve finished it.

You want a story that gets reactions like “Wow!” and “How did you do that?” and “Do you have more like this?”

What writer doesn’t want that kind of reaction, right?

And since short stories are short, you have less time to wait for your readers’ reactions — but you also have less time to grab their attention.

That’s why a great topic is worth its weight in gold when it comes to writing these little gems.

Even with the challenges inherent to short story writing, you’ll most likely finish a short story in far less time than you would a novel.

So, you’ll get to explore more story topics in less time than if you were writing longer works.

But how do you generate short story ideas that are worth the time you’ll invest in crafting a short story your readers will love?

If you’ve been writing for long enough, you already know good story ideas are everywhere, and you might even have some in mind as you read this.

But which of those ideas should be on your shortlist for story writing projects?

And if you don’t have any great ideas at the moment, where do you get some?

Short Story Idea Generator (how to generate story ideas)

Short story writing exercises, generating story ideas with the short story formula, timeless themes and emotional impact, 35 short story ideas, 69 short story writing prompts.

When it comes to generating new story ideas, you can take more than one approach. You might try these three:

man typing on laptop short story ideas

  • Writing exercises
  • Writing prompts
  • The Short Story Formula

Think of your school days when your English teacher assigned an essay or invited you to write a paragraph in answer to a question.

Maybe all you had to do was write one complete sentence. Or maybe your teacher wanted a haiku — or a rhyming couplet.

School isn’t the only place for writing exercises , though. If you’ve ever joined a creative writing group, your leader may have encouraged you to spend some time each day freewriting or writing a character sketch .

The purpose of writing exercises is to practice writing — or to practice a specific kind of writing (voice journaling, essays, persuasive ad copy, song lyrics, etc.).

So, whether it’s NaNoWriMo, Twitter’s #VSS (Very Short Story) challenge, or writing sprints, the more time you invest in these exercises, and the more you open yourself up to constructive criticism, the more quickly your writing will improve.

The most effective writing prompts and writing exercises make use of themes with a history of captivating and inspiring others. Because of this, either one might lead you to a story idea that you can hardly wait to explore.

Take one (or more) of those popular themes and combine them with a context that is both unique and relatable, and you have the formula for a compelling story idea.

Story writing ideas are generally more fully developed than writing prompts. It’s not unusual, for example, to begin with a writing prompt , develop it into a story idea, and then write the actual story.

And don’t beat yourself up if the first idea that comes to mind is a cliché. You’re human, and familiar ideas are the easiest to think of. Nothing wrong with that. The first idea is like a first draft , in that it gives you something to start with.

And don’t be afraid to mix it up — literally. Take one idea, mix it up with another, and play with it for a while. Who knows how you might juice up your story idea without even trying?

The best fiction story ideas make use of timeless themes. You’ll find one or more of the ten themes that follow in most stories that have been written, read, and shared over the centuries.

  • The End of a Relationship
  • Rags to Riches
  • Scars / Wounds
  • Ghosts / the Paranormal
  • Deepest Fears
  • A Soulmate Encounter
  • A Journey Interrupted
  • Monsters (human or otherwise)

The story idea itself — in its simplest form — doesn’t have to be original, and in fact, it shouldn’t be. But the way you embody and develop that idea should surprise your readers and evoke an emotional response in them.

It’s that emotional impact that makes your story not only worth finishing but memorable.

Short story ideas will look different from novel ideas, though — mainly because short stories have to make a big impact with fewer words. And because of this, the most powerful short stories have what James Scott Bell describes as the “one shattering moment.”

In his book, How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career, Bell describes that moment as “something that happens to a character, an emotional blast which they cannot ignore. It changes them, in a large or a subtle way — in a way that cannot be ignored.”

Any one of the popular themes listed above could you give your main character a shattering moment that would change that character’s life or perspective.

woman typing on laptop short story ideas

Take a look at the following creative story ideas, many of which combine two or more of the popular themes listed, and feel free to modify any of them to create your next unputdownable short story.

1. Your character’s loved one has died , and he learns while going through that loved one’s belongings that the latter had a terrible secret that unnervingly correlates to your character’s deepest fear.

The rest of the story explores your character’s reaction to this discovery and how it affects his/her relationships and decision-making.

2. Your character has married the man she saw as her “soulmate.” During their honeymoon, he shows her his list of goals for their first five years together, and they have their first real argument over one of those goals — which requires something of her that she never agreed to.

She has a sudden memory of their first date and of the moment when she first decided he was the one, but she sees it now from his perspective, and it changes everything.

3. Your orphaned character inherits a house and moves in to find that it’s already occupied — by the spirits of the character’s long-deceased parents, who aren’t at all like the people other relatives have described.

4. Your character is having trouble getting past his anger over the wounds inflicted by those who raised him and by those with whom he had one failed relationship after the next.

woman at laptop looking out window Short Story Ideas

After losing his job, he goes on a journey to change the direction of his life, but that journey is interrupted by the death of one of his parents — the one who hurt him the most.

5. Your character is widely regarded as a monster and doesn’t deny or hide from that designation.

When his closest confidante gets fed up with him, tells him off, and leaves the company they founded together, your character finds himself disoriented by grief and does something different.

6. Your character is content with her life but suddenly inherits a large sum of money and a palatial estate on the east coast.

She sees the inheritance as proof that the Law of Attraction works, and she invites family and a few close friends to move with her and share the wealth. On the first night of their stay, someone dies.

7. Your character’s snake-loving neighbor has just been found in the belly of her pet boa constrictor (who she swore was a better “snuggler” than her ex).

The ex shows up and is angry when he finds out that your neighbor left the house and everything in it to your character. He threatens to ruin her life if she doesn’t turn the house over to him.

8. Your character meets his/her soulmate on a flight that almost doesn’t make it to its destination; both of them respond to emergencies on the plane (one as a cop and the other as a doctor).

Once at the airport, your character learns that this soulmate is already in a relationship with a well-known philanthropist. But your character notices something odd and calls the philanthropist out.

9. Your character’s best friend just announced the end of a relationship, and your character is surprised to find this friend in a celebratory state of mind (rather than heartbroken).

Your character then finds out the disturbing reason for the friend’s manic behavior.

10. One of your character’s siblings is getting married, and during wedding preparations, your character learns something she was never meant to know. This discovery changes her relationships with everyone.

11. The happy couple living next door to your character has died in a horrific accident, and when the parents show up for the funeral, you find out why the couple always changed the subject whenever you asked them about their families.

12. Your character starts receiving messages from someone who knows his/her deepest fears and intends to exploit them. At the same time, your character is discovering a latent ability that relates to those fears but might also help him overcome them. Or they might change him into something the messenger never saw coming.

13. Your character meets a soulmate at a community grief counseling group meeting and learns that this soulmate also attends AA meetings (like your mc) — though with a different group and with a friend who doesn’t particularly like your main character.

The surprising reason comes out when your character goes on a first date with this soulmate. The soulmate’s friend swears he/she knows your mc from a different reality — which he/she visits in dreams.

14. Your character breaks free of a painful relationship and embarks on a journey to discover what she’s capable of. After volunteering at a nursing home — reading to vision-impaired residents and writing letters for them — she agrees to personally deliver one of those letters to the resident’s estranged son.

15. After avoiding close relationships because of deep scars from his childhood, your main character learns something about one of his parents that changes everything for him. He then has an opportunity to take a step off his accustomed path.

16. Your character has been married for 19 years before her spouse — after a weekend that reminds her of when they met and why she married him — hands her divorce papers.

17. Your character is making a list of reasons to break up with her boyfriend of two years when the latter comes home early and tells her he’s won the lottery jackpot.

18. Your character is a locally famous writer whose hero story ideas come from his freewheeling lifestyle and insatiable curiosity about others.

One day, out of boredom, he offers a homeless man $100 to propose to the first woman he takes a fancy to, while he watches from a safe distance. The proposal goes terrifyingly wrong.

19. Your character has just lost a child by miscarriage , and when she comes home, her married life has changed. Her husband, who was always the more talkative of the two, spends their time together quietly grieving in his own way.

Your character, on the other hand, becomes more outgoing and starts spending more time (and money) on her appearance.

20. Your young adult character finds himself suddenly orphaned when his parents die in a plane crash. The funeral is the beginning of a dramatic shift in his perspective and in the choices he makes.

He breaks off a relationship with a woman his parents adored, he quits the lucrative job that he hates, and he leaves the country.

21. Your character has just learned that his spouse has been cheating on him, and he confronts her when she gets home that night.

She reveals that what he saw as proof of her infidelity was something completely innocent — but that she’s already decided to make a permanent and dramatic end to their marriage.

22. The only child of your character is diagnosed with a fatal illness, and your character doesn’t know how to deal with the worry and dread that now consumes her.

Her doctor suggests one anti-anxiety med after another, and her husband and his family urge her to try one — for her husband’s and her son’s sakes. She goes into a fugue state with the experimental drug she tries, and she wakes up to the consequences.

23. Your character’s new glasses — created as a free gift from an old friend with unusual connections — reveal more than the physical objects in his field of vision.

After looking at a coworker and seeing the latter’s death just hours before it happens, he goes to replace the glasses with a plain pair from a local chain. Then he catches his full-length reflection in a window.

24. Your character wakes up alone in an unfamiliar place and is told by everyone he encounters that the life he thought he’d lived for the past six years — with a wife and three kids and with the job that barely paid the bills — must have been a dream.

He’s actually stunningly wealthy, treated with respect by everyone he meets, and desired by more than one woman. So, why is there a picture of him with his nonexistent family on his desk?

25. A year ago, your character met someone who offered her the power to transform the interior of her home to anything she wants — in exchange for a DNA sample from her only child, who is a gifted storyteller.

During the year after she accepted the offer, her home becomes everything she wants it to be, but her son stops telling stories, and one day she finds out why.

26. Your character makes drastic changes to his diet and adopts new habits that alienate him from his usual circle of friends but lead him to a new one.

He then wins a large sum of money from a scratch ticket that an estranged friend (a compulsive gambler) slipped under his door.

27. Your character has returned from a successful quest to find his home empty, with no sign of his loved ones other than a note left on the refrigerator.

Not only does he now have no one with whom to share his victory, but what he learns calls that very victory into question.

28. Your character has spent eleven years living with the consequences of a vow she has taken. When she forges a new friendship with a counselor, she learns something about herself that scares her and makes her avoid the counselor, for his own sake.

Keenly aware of her own vulnerability, she brands herself to ward off unwelcome attention.

29. Your character, after 15 years of living in a house chosen mainly to fit her spouse’s preferences, sees an ad for an apartment in town that represents the life she gave up to make her husband happy.

After hearing him complain about his life and their house for one too many times, she goes to look at this apartment and finds it has almost everything she wants. The apartment manager, a well-dressed woman close to her own age, hears your character’s last name and appears shaken by it.

30. Your character splurges on a new rug for her living room floor — the kind of rug she’s coveted for years — and her S.O. criticizes it and later “accidentally” spills his drink on it.

The final straw is his suggestion that she wait ‘til it dries and return it to the store for a refund or exchange it for something more practical.

31. Your character has recently broken free from a cult that had drawn him in when he was vulnerable from a family tragedy. His new support system — a group of other cult survivors — is having varying degrees of difficulty re-entering society and repairing damaged relationships.

Your character meets with them one evening at their accustomed café table and confronts a server whose off-handed comment provokes him. What begins as a calm request for respectful treatment escalates as other members of the group chime in and the server’s manager gets involved.

32. Your character has joined a church and finds herself under the tutelage of a church member who leans toward the traditionalist end of the spectrum and who regards her as the daughter he never had.

When he decides to renounce the church’s leadership and join an extreme traditionalist group, she backs away from him — after explaining to him why she won’t do the same. His behavior toward her changes and she makes a change of her own.

33. Your character is so desperate for money that he does something he never would have done otherwise. He doesn’t get caught, but he doesn’t get away with it, either. Consumed by guilt, he undergoes a penance of his choosing, which spirals out of control.

34. Your character walks into a tourist shop and buys a homemade “tonic” freshly mixed by the owner, after tasting and enjoying an innocuous sample in the same flavor. The tonic changes him in a way he can’t ignore or undo.

35. Your character inherits an old music shop with a secret back room where his uncle kept a few instruments that can make even someone like him — who has never played an instrument — a virtuoso in seconds. He takes the piano to his apartment and learns why his uncle (in a letter he’d written before his death) had warned him not to — and why his uncle kept the door to that secret room locked.

With writing prompts , you get a launching pad of sorts: a question, an idea, a provocative quote, or something that inspires a reaction — specifically a written one. Maybe that reaction is an argument, or maybe it’s an impassioned defense of an idea.

Whatever it is, the purpose here is to take that prompt and use it to generate a written response in one form or another. The aim of writing prompts for short stories is to get you started on a new short story .

The prompt could be as simple as a word or as detailed as a character sketch or an elevator pitch. It could even be a picture or a song. It could be an observation you make while (discreetly) people-watching.

We’ve create 69 short story writing prompts that flesh out an idea more thoroughly, giving you a good headstart for your story.

1. You get a new job, and your new boss approaches you on the first day with an invitation to the “After Hours Club.” He tells you it’s no big deal if you decline, but you get a strong impression that it would be.

2. One day, on the way home from work, your new car takes over and drives you to a remote area, stopping beside other cars in a clearing underneath a new moon. You wake up underneath a full moon and drive yourself home. But much has changed in your absence — and so have you.

3. You bake pies for a local bakery, and when a celebrity comes to town and tastes your locally famous turtle pie, he invites you to go on tour with him — to a movie set somewhere in Europe — to be his personal pie maker. You say yes.

4. You buy a single rose from a street vendor, and it lasts a week, then two weeks, then three, and then a full month. Only then does someone point out to you that previously healthy people in the neighborhood have been falling ill and dying at an abnormal rate.

5. It’s time for your 10-year-old daughter to make her First Confession, but when her turn comes to go into the confessional, she panics and won’t be persuaded to go in.

6. You’re stranded in a small village down a winding road from Burgos (Spain) on a Sunday. A stranger comes by on a motorcycle and goes to fetch a taxi for you. You’re waiting at the bus station when he tells you he knows you’re meant to replace his recently deceased wife.

7. The bartender brings you your first Irish coffee in what looks like a candy dish. Halfway through, you notice the whole cafe seems to be floating, and since you can’t put the rest into a to-go cup (alas), you pay your tab and head out. You think you’re doing fine until your key doesn’t work in the front door of your apartment building. Someone else kindly lets you in, and you recognize him as the bartender from that cafe.

8. You’re exploring an old Spanish town, and you realize someone is following you. You turn and find an old woman who asks if you’ll help her find her hotel. You help her, and she invites you in, telling you she has a son who shares your interest in all things Tolkien. You’re not in a hurry to get back to your hotel room, so you go up with her.

9. Your fingers don’t respond to you the way they used to, and you’ve been having other difficulties. You go see your doctor, and they run some tests to check for neurological diseases but don’t find anything. They think it’s probably stress-related. Your life has been stressful lately, and it doesn’t help that your new roommate has been acting strangely toward you.

10. You wake up with your heart racing, but you don’t remember why. You almost never remember your dreams but often wake up covered in sweat with your heart pounding. You’re tired of having to shower every morning and feeling sick for the rest of the day, so you decide to undergo hypnosis, hoping to find out what’s going on.

11. Your neighbors have been up to some strange shenanigans lately, and their lights are on well into the wee hours of the morning. You’d like to know why, but every neighbor you’ve talked to who have gone over there to ask about it has, later on, told you that nothing suspicious is going on and that those neighbors are “very spiritual, and so, so nice!”

12. The street lamps that light up your cul de sac have gone dark, and you’re outside waiting for your spouse to get home when something large and dark brushes past you, almost knocking you off balance. Then a man appears and asks, “Have you seen my cat?”

13. Someone has broken into your house while you were away and has taken all the religious articles out of it — every statue, every picture, and every holy water bottle. The thief left everything else alone.

14. You move into an apartment that used to be a hoarder’s paradise, and your manager gives you permission to paint the walls a different color and add some new flooring. You get to work removing the kitchen’s linoleum floor and find something you never expected.

15. You joined a wine delivery service, and the delivery person is every bit as charming as the labels on the posh wine he brings to you each week. When you lose your job and cancel the service, the wine keeps coming.

16. You buy a pound of gourmet coffee beans at a local food festival, and as you’re sipping the first cup from the first pot you’ve brewed, you have a vision, which feels as real as though it were actually happening to you. When the vision ends, you’re still in your kitchen, holding your cup. You take another sip.

17. You’re about ready to gather up all the ceramic village pieces that have been cluttering up your living room and toss them in the trash bin, but your spouse, who knows you hate them, insists you should try selling them on eBay, instead. That’s when the fight starts.

18. You buy a new pair of Bluetooth earbuds that are supposed to enhance your listening experience. You plug them in and use them while watching a movie, and suddenly, you’re there on the scene, about to get flattened (or eaten) by a dinosaur.

19. You need a new toilet, and someone shows up at the door (as though sent by heaven) to sell you a toilet that will flush down ANYTHING. Oddly enough, it doesn’t even need to be hooked up to your septic system. “All you have to do is remove and empty the dust tray at the base every evening, reinsert it for the next day’s flushes, and voila!”

20. You buy a new keyboard , and after typing a few sentences of a new story, it starts typing on its own, and you watch in surprise as it types out a new short story. You submit it to a contest you’ve never won and win first prize. You start thinking you’ll never have trouble paying the rent again! Then you accidentally spill wine on the keyboard, and even stranger things start happening.

Related:  55 Funny Writing Prompts To Inspire Your Inner Comedian

21. Your famous stew recipe has won an award. You go to collect it (a cash prize), and meet the next runner-up, who believes she should have won the first prize instead with her three-bean salad. She warns you not to spend the money, because she will prove you won unfairly. You go home and find a bowl of three-bean salad and a note.

22. You suggest at the breakfast table one morning that you might actually have too many books, and your SO seizes upon this and offers to help you thin out your collection. After breaking up with him, you cull a few volumes for donation and run into the author of one of them.

23. Your first issue of Real Simple magazine has finally arrived, but something has come with it — something you can’t see but that makes your life anything but simpler.

24. A girl scout comes to the door selling cookies, and you tell her you already bought some from her at the table outside your grocery store, and you’ve spent enough for the year. Suddenly, all the food in your house (including the canned food) becomes moldy or rotten. And every bit of food that passes your threshold becomes inedible.

25. You buy a new whiteboard to help you keep track of your writing assignments, but you wake up one morning, and new items have somehow been added to your list. And the new titles have a sinister edge to them. You live alone.

26. You buy a new poster that looks exactly like the TARDIS door, and you put it up on your bedroom wall. One night, right at midnight (you’re up working at your computer), the door opens and you walk through it.

27. You buy a CD with music that’s supposed to help you write more creatively and also lose weight more easily. You start playing it during your writing time, and sure enough, the words flow without effort, and you love what you’ve written. You also start losing ten pounds a week, and soon you can’t afford to lose another ten, but you’ve come to depend on that music CD.

28. You’re a carpenter who has joined a construction team to build a new development of 3,000+ square foot houses. All is going well until someone on the team discovers something buried in the lot for the third house. The foreman removes it and tells everyone to get back to work, but you have a bad feeling. And you’re right to have it.

29. Your boss announces they’re having a potluck and you’re all expected to show up and bring something. He also tells you it has to be homemade. You tell him you can’t cook, but he tells you, “Well, learn, then!” Strangely enough, you do, and you create an entree that has everyone’s mouth-watering when you open the lid at the potluck. But your boss is conspicuously absent.

30. You wake up in the middle of the night and rush to the bathroom, where you empty your stomach of everything you ate that day. Something else comes out, and it’s moving.

31. You stop at a coffee shop while making stops to apply for a new job, and the barista tells you the new bed and breakfast is looking for someone to handle their advertising. You apply, are accepted, and agree to start immediately. But the owner, who openly admires your bicycle, offers you a room at the B&B, so you’ll be more accessible.

32. You have way too much time on your hands since your latest project has earned you enough to more than double your previous year’s salary, and you’re taking a sabbatical. You see an ad for an opportunity to spend a month at a castle in Wales, with full room and board and a bicycle for exploring the countryside. You call the agent and book a flight.

33. One night, as you’re coming back from the bathroom, you see a bright light and follow it to see that your front window is wide open and bugs are swarming in and out. You rush to close it but then you see the view from it — which is not your usual view of the front yard. You see something you want to investigate.

34. Sometimes, people stare when you pull out an index card and start scribbling furiously onto it, but you don’t care. Then someone accuses you of writing something about him and, pulling out a gun, demands you hand the card over to him.

35. You’re starting a new job, and one of your co-workers tells you it’s up to the new guy to keep the coffee pot full for his first week. While you’re brewing the latest refill, muttering to yourself about how little you’re getting done that day, one of your co-workers starts choking and accuses you of trying to poison her.

36. Your home-brewed ale is the talk of the neighborhood, but your next-door neighbor frequently buys up your newest batch. You start imposing limits. He then starts telling other neighbors that your secret is adding pee from your pet guinea pigs, “But it’s cool, because urine is sterile. And that guinea pig pee really adds something!”

37. You inherit a lighthouse from your deceased uncle — along with the small living quarters attached to it. You move right in, looking forward to the solitude. But whenever you’re up at the top scanning the surface of the ocean, you see things that can’t possibly be there. And one of them sees you — and comes to visit.

38. You stop at the local nursery and pick up a new houseplant — a tiny, adorable succulent. The cashier looks nervous as she rings you up. “That plant isn’t normal. If you want to pick another one, I would totally understand.” She’s nodding with wide eyes as she says this, clearly hoping you’ll agree.

39. You live in a studio apartment. Your boss comes to bring you soup when you call in sick and sees the quilt on your bed, which you won at a raffle. “That’s the quilt my mom made!” she says. “She told me someone stole it.”

40. You take your kids trick-or-treating, and you go to your boss’s neighborhood (your boss suggested it). Most houses gave out full-sized candy bars, but one gave out treasure maps, and your kids want to find their treasures before you leave the neighborhood.

41. Someone offers you a chance to win a million dollars just by visiting his website and typing in your address. “I don’t need your checking account info. It’s not safe to give that to just anyone. I’ll just mail the check to you,”he writes.

42. You wonder what it would be like to be a famous actor, and someone, out of the blue, invites you to perform in his movie as an extra — “and, who knows, maybe something more… prominent.”

43. You get a call from the principal’s office that your daughter has been involved in a bullying incident. Someone was bullying her, and she punched him. There were witnesses, and the principal reminds you of their zero-tolerance policy for physical violence…

44. You get a call from the principal’s office that your son has been acting out toward his classmates (who, according to what he’s told you, have been behaving aggressively toward him) and had brought a weapon to school to protect himself. They’ve confiscated the weapon (a paring knife) and have called the police.

45. Your kid has an IEP, and the Special Ed staff at the school always sound so caring and professional at the meetings you attend with them. But your son tells you they behave very differently toward him. The principal assures you that she knows the staff would never do what your son has accused them of doing. She suggests your son may be lying.

46. Your young daughter notices that one of your trees is “sick,” and she goes to visit the tree, talks to it, leans against it, and tells it to please get better. It responds by growing stronger and larger, spreading its branches out and downward to create a sort of cave for your daughter to rest in when she wants to be alone. It becomes her haven.

47. You wake up one morning and start loading your excess possessions into boxes and bags and hauling it off to Goodwill to donate it. That’s when you find the tiny cameras hidden in the bathroom, and bugs hidden in every room.

48. Your favorite coffee mug has broken, and you’re in mourning. The mug you just bought as your “second” just doesn’t feel the same in your hand, but it surprises you by magically refilling your drink with every sip — and keeping it hot for you.

49. The moth on your ceiling doesn’t bother you — much. But every time you look, it’s there. And you wonder why it never leaves. When you finally get a step ladder to get a closer look at it, you can hardly believe what you’re seeing.

50. Your neighbors on the home office side of your house have never been friendly, but one day, the wife comes over with a pie and tells you she made it herself and that she’s tired of being cooped up in the house with no one but her husband to talk to. You look over and see the outline of her husband in an upstairs window.

51. Tired of getting hair in your face, you take an electric hair-trimmer and run it all over your head with the one-inch attachment. You look at the results with satisfaction.

52. Your spouse, who has never done or said a romantic thing since your honeymoon, suddenly comes home with an expensive bouquet and a travel brochure for a place you’ve always wanted to visit. Later on, someone delivers the car you’ve always wanted, and your husband unconvincingly feigns surprise. You ask him if he won the lottery, but he shakes his head and says, “This is way better. You’ll see.”

53. You’re out in your backyard and stumble over something, which turns out to be a small brick half-buried in the grass. You see initials etched into the brick, along with a crudely-shaped heart. You wonder what — or whom — might be buried beneath. Soon, you find other markers like it, and you wonder how you failed to notice them before.

54. Your neighbor invites you over to her house, and you see that every wall has a cross painted on it with crude, hurried strokes. You ask why, and she nervously clears her throat and says, “This place needs them.”

55. You watch an infomercial and order a new face cream, hoping it will restore a youthful look to your face. It does more than that.

56. Your teenage son gets a job and, on his first day, he encounters a rude customer. Unaccustomed to responding with calmness and diplomacy, he lashes out at the customer and gets himself fired. Instead of calling home for a ride, though, he takes a walk through town and runs into the same customer holding up a cardboard sign.

57. You put your headphones on when you start on your writing project, and, at some point, an unfamiliar voice interrupts your playlist to tell you he likes what you’ve written so far. And he thinks you’d get along great.

58. Your spouse starts trying different paint samples on walls all over the house, and you don’t like any of the colors; they’re either too bright or too dark. One day, you paint patches of a pale green-gray that you like next to his acid-bright or dark color patches, and he tells you it’s boring, and that he’s painting the house his way.

59. Someone keeps writing fortune-cookie phrases on your new whiteboard at work, and it’s irritating you. You ask around, and no one knows who keeps writing the messages. Then, one of the predictions comes true.

60. You look out the window while you’re working and you see one neighbor attacking his spouse, knocking her down and then kicking her. You call 9-1-1, but later on, the wife comes over and says, “I know it was you who called. And you’ve made everything worse!”

61. Every time you look outside and see the wind in the trees, you take a deep breath and feel calmer. When the air is still, you feel as though the whole world is holding its breath and that something bad is about to happen. So, when it’s calm outside, you picture wind in the trees and take a deep breath.

62. You see movement in the corner of your eye and whenever you look, you see a huge, black dog in the neighbor’s yard, running back and forth. This time, though, he runs into your yard and starts barking at your front door.

63. Your eight-year-old son gets up and immediately goes for his Kindle Fire to play Minecraft. You’ve found some educational apps you want him to try, so you’ve installed them on his Kindle. He comes to you a few minutes later and says, “This app is telling me to do things I’m not supposed to do.”

64. You try a new recipe for a potluck, hoping it will wow your boss and coworkers, but it turns out terrible, and you end up rushing to a restaurant for something to bring before arriving (late) to find out everyone has already eaten the entree you were most looking forward to trying. When the cops show up later to ask why everyone is violently ill except you, you tell them everything you know.

65. You take your teenage son to his orientation for a new job, and when you come back to pick him up an hour later, you find out no one has seen him — though you saw him walk in the door before you drove off.

66. You’re living in a world where everyone is born with a birthmark that matches that of their soulmate. But you are born without one.

67. You and your best friend are in a terrible car accident, and you both die. Your friend, however, has a very different account of what he saw on the other side.

68. You’re born with the ability to mentally manipulate DNA. You started with plants and moved on to your pets, who now have unique abilities. For the past few years, you’ve been hacking your own DNA.

69. You were raised in the deep South where manners and feigned politeness were a thin veneer covering your family’s questionable history and lingering dysfunction.

More Related Articles:

7 Of The Best Writing Prompts Apps You Need To Try

List of Tragic Hero Traits To Flesh Out Your Character

107 Character Mannerisms For Writers

Did you find these short story ideas and prompts useful?

I hope your mind is buzzing with an idea you can’t wait to start playing with. Keep this article handy, so you can return to it when you’re looking for a new short story idea. You don’t have to follow any of them verbatim; take one and change the details however you like to make the idea your own.

Just don’t forget the “one shattering moment” for your character — and the importance of making an emotional impact on your reader. You make this impact as much with dialogue as with description and the structure of your story. Make it all count.

And when it comes time to edit, cut everything that dampens the impact of your story. Your readers will love you for it!

If you found value from this list of short story prompts, please share it and encourage others to pass it on to support and inspire as many fellow writers out there as possible. Why not even invite them to share their new short stories with you after they’ve written them?

And may your creative energy and goodwill infuse everything else you do today.

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The Write Practice

How to Write a Short Story: 5 Major Steps from Start to Finish

by Sarah Gribble | 81 comments

Do you want to learn how to write a short story ? Maybe you'd like to try writing a short story instead of a novel-length work, or maybe you're hoping to get more writing practice without the lengthy time commitment that a novel requires.

The reality of writing stories? Not every short story writer wants to write a novel, but every novelist can benefit from writing short stories. However, short stories and novels are different—so naturally, how you write them has its differences, too.

how to write a short story

Short stories are often a fiction writer’s first introduction to writing, but they can be frustrating to write and difficult to master. How do you fit everything that makes a great story into something so short?

And then, once you do finish a short story you’re proud of, what do you do with it?

That's what we'll cover in this article, along with additional resources I'll link to that will help you get started step-by-step with shorts.

Short Stories Made Me a Better Writer

I fell into writing short stories when I first started writing.

I'd written a book , and it was terrible. But it opened up my mind and I kept having all these story ideas I just had to get out.

Before long, I had dozens of stories and within about two years, I had around three dozen of them published traditionally. That first book went nowhere, by the way. But my short stories surely did.

And I learned a whole lot about the writing craft because I spent so much time practicing writing with my short stories. This is why, whether you want to make money as a short story writer or experiment writing them, I think writing short stories is important for every writer who wants to become a novelist.

But how do you write a short story? And what do you do afterwards? I hope that by sharing my personal experiences and suggestions, I can help you write your own short stories with confidence.

Why Should You Write Short Stories?

I get a lot of pushback when I suggest new writers should write short stories.

Everyone wants to write a book. (Okay, maybe not everyone, but if you ask a hundred people if they’d like to write one, I’d bet seventy-something of them would say yes.) Anthologies and short story collections don’t make a ton of money because no one really wants to read them. So why waste time writing short stories when books are what people read ?

There are three main reasons you should be a short story writer:

1. Training

Short stories help you hone your writing skills .

Short stories are often only one scene and about one character. That’s a level of focus you can’t have in a novel. Writing short stories forces you to focus on writing clearly and concisely while still making a scene entertaining.

You’re working with the basic level of structure here (a scene) and learning to perfect it .

Short stories are a place to experiment with your creative process, to play with character development techniques, to dabble in different kinds of writing styles. 

And you're learning what a finished story feels like. So many aspiring novelists have only half-done drafts in drawers. A short is training yourself to finish.

2. Building contacts and readers

Most writers I know do not want to hear this, but this whole writing thing is the same as any other industry: if you want to make it, you better network.

When my first book, Surviving Death , was released, I had hundreds of people on my launch team. How? I’d had about three dozen short stories published traditionally by that time. I’d gathered a readership base, and not only that, I’d become acquainted with some fellow writers in my genre along the way. And those people were more than willing to help me get the word out about my book.

You want loyal readers and you want friends in the industry. And the way to get those is to continuously be writing.

Writing is like working out. If you take a ton of time off, you’re going to hurt when you get back into it.

It’s a little difficult to be working on a novel all the time. Most writers have one or two in them a year, and those aren’t written without a bit of a break in between.

Short story writing helps you keep up your writing habit , or develop one, and they make for a nice break in between larger projects.

I always write short stories between novels, and even between drafts of my novels. It keeps me going and puts use to all the random story ideas I had while working on the larger project. I've found over the years that keeping up the writing habit is the only way to actually keep yourself in “writer mode.”

All the cool kids are doing it. Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allan Poe, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood . . . Google your favorite writers and they probably have a short story collection or two out there. Most successful authors have cut their teeth on short stories.

What is a Short Story?

Now that you know why you should be writing short stories, let’s talk about what a short story is. This might seem obvious, but it’s a question I’ve gotten a lot. A short story is short, right? Essentially, yes. But how short is short?

You can Google how long a short story is and get a bunch of different answers. There are a lot of different editors out there running a lot of different anthologies, magazines, ezines, podcasts, you name it. They all have slightly different definitions of what a short story is because they all have slightly different needs when it comes to providing content on their platform and meeting the expectations of their audiences.

A podcast, for instance, often wants a story to take up about thirty minutes of airtime. They know how long it takes their producers to read a story, so that thirty minutes means they’re looking for a very specific word count. An ezine might aim for a certain estimated reading time. A magazine or anthology might have a certain number of pages they’re trying to fill.

Everyone has a different definition of how short a short story is, so for the purpose of this series, I’m going to be broad in my definition of a short story.

What qualifies as a short story?

A short story word count normally falls somewhere between 1,000 words and 10,000 words. If you’re over ten thousand, you’re running into novelette territory, though some publications consider up to 20,000 words to be a short story. If you’re under a thousand words, you’re looking at flash fiction.

The sweet spot is between 2,000 and 5,000 words. The majority of short stories I’ve had published were between 2,500 words and 3,500 words.

That’s not a lot of words, and you’ve got a lot to fit in—backstory, world-building, a character arc—in that tiny amount of space. (A book, by the way, is normally 60,000 to 90,000 words or longer. Big difference.)

A short story is one to three scenes. That’s it. Think of it as a “slice of life,” as in someone peeked into your life for maybe an hour or two and this is what they saw.

You’re not going to flesh out every detail about your characters. (I normally don’t even know the last names of my short story characters, and it doesn’t matter.) You’re not trying to build a Tolkien-level world. You don’t need to worry about subplots.

To focus your writing, think of a short story as a short series of events happening to a single character. The rest of the cast of characters should be small.

How to Write a Short Story: The Short Version

Throughout this blog series, I’ll take a deep dive into the process of writing short stories. If you’re looking for the fast answer, here it is:

  • Write the story in one sitting.
  • Take a break.
  • Edit with a mind for brevity.
  • Get feedback and do a final edit.

Write the story in one sitting

For the most part, short stories are meant to be read in one sitting, so it makes sense that you should write them in one sitting.

Obviously, if you’re in the 10K range, that’s probably going to take more than one writing session, but a 2,500-word short story can easily be written in one sitting. This might seem a little daunting, but you’ll find your enthusiasm will drive you to the ending and your story will flow better for it.

You’re not aiming for prize-winning writing during this stage. You’re aiming to get the basic story out of your head and on paper.

Forget about grammar . Forget about beautiful prose. Forget about even making a ton of sense.

You’re not worrying about word count at this stage, either. Don’t research and don’t pause over trying to find the exact right word. Don't agonize over the perfect story title.

Just get the basic story out. You can’t edit a blank page.

Take a break

Don’t immediately begin the editing process. After you’ve written anything, books included, you need to take a step back . Your brain needs to shift from “writer mode” to “reader mode.” With a short story, I normally recommend a three-day break.

If you have research to do, this is the time to do it, though I highly recommend not thinking about your story at all.

The further away you can get from it, the better you’ll edit.

Edit with a mind for brevity

Now that you’ve had a break, you’re ready to come back with a vengeance. This is the part where you “kill your darlings” and have absolutely no mercy for the story you produced less than a week ago. The second draft is where you get critical.

Remember we’re writing a short story here, not a novel. You don’t have time to go into each and every detail about your characters’ lives. You don’t have time for B-plots, a ton of characters, or Stephen King-level droning on.

Short stories should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, though. They’re short, but they’re still stories.

As you edit , ask yourself if each bit of backstory, world building, and anything else is something your reader needs to know. If they do, do they need to know it right at that moment? If they don’t, cut it.

Get feedback

If this is your first time letting other people see your writing, this can be a scary step. No one wants to be given criticism. But getting feedback is the most important step in the writing process next to writing.

The more eyes you can get on a piece of writing, the better.

I highly recommend getting feedback from someone who knows about writing, not your mother or your best friend. People we love are great, but they love you and won’t give you honest feedback. If you want praise, go to them. If you want to grow as a writer, join a writing community and get feedback from other writers.

When you’ve gotten some feedback from a handful of people, make any changes you deem necessary and do a final edit for smaller issues like grammar and punctuation.

Here at The Write Practice, we’re huge fans of publishing your work . In fact, we don’t quite consider a story finished until it’s published.

Whether you’re going the traditional route and submitting your short story to anthologies and magazines, or you’re more into self- publishing , don’t let your story languish on your computer. Get it out into the world so you can build your reader base.

And it’s pretty cool getting to say you’re a published author.

That’s the short version of how to go about writing short stories. Throughout this series, I’ll be taking a more in-depth look at different elements of these steps. Stick with me throughout the series, and you’ll have a short story of your own ready to publish by the end.

A Preview of My How to Write a Short Story Series

My goal in this blog series is to walk you through the process of writing a short story from start to finish and then point you in the right direction for getting that story published.

By the end of this series, you’ll have a story ready to submit to publishers and a plan for how to submit.

Below is a list of topics I’ll be covering during this blog series. Keep coming back as these topics are updated over the coming months.

How to Come up With Ideas For Short Stories

Creative writing is like a muscle: use it or lose it. Coming up with ideas is part of the development of that muscle. In this post , I’ll go over how to train your mind to put out ideas consistently.

How to Plan a Short Story (Without Really Planning It)

Short stories often don’t require extensive planning. They’re short, after all. But a little bit of outlining can help. Don’t worry, I’m mostly a pantser! I promise this won’t be an intense method of planning. It will, however, give you a start with the elements of story structure—and motivation to get you to finish (and publish) your story. Read this article to see how a little planning can go a long way toward writing a successful story.

What You Need in a Short Story/Elements of a Short Story

One of the biggest mistakes I see from new writers is their short stories aren’t actually stories. They're often missing a climax, don't have an ending, or just ramble on in a stream-of-consciousness way without any story structure. In this article , I’ll show you what you need to make sure your short is a complete story.

Writing Strategies for Short Stories

The writing process varies from person to person, and often from project to project. In this blog , I’ll talk about different writing strategies you can use to write short stories.

How to Edit a Short Story

Editing is my least favorite part of writing. It’s overwhelming and often tedious. I’ll talk about short story editing strategies to take the confusion out of the process, and ensure you can edit with confidence.Learn how to confidently edit your story here .

Writing a Better Short Story

Short stories are their own art form, mainly because of the small word count. In this post, I’ll discuss ways to write a better short, including fitting everything you want and need into that tiny word count.

Weaving backstory and worldbuilding into your story without overdoing it. Remember, you don't need every detail about the world or a character's life in a short story—but the setting shouldn't be ignored. How your protagonist interacts with it should be significant and interesting.

How to Submit a Short Story to Publications

There are plenty of literary magazines, ezines, anthologies, etc. out there that accept short stories for publication (and you can self-publish your stories, too). In this article, I’ll demystify the submission process so you can submit your own stories to publications and start getting your work out there. You'll see your work in a short story anthology soon after using the tips in this article !

Professionalism in the Writing Industry

Emotions can run high when you put your work out there for others to see. In this article, I’ll talk about what’s expected of you in this profession and how to maintain professionalism so that you don't shoot yourself in the foot when you approach publishers, editors, and agents.

Write, Write, Write!

As you follow this series, I challenge you to begin writing at least one short story a week. I'll be giving you in-depth tips on creating a compelling story as we go along, but for now, I want you to write. That habit is the hardest thing to start and the hardest thing to keep up.

You may not use all the stories you're going to write over the next months. You may hate them and never want them to see the light of day. But you can't get better if you don't practice. Start practicing now.

As Ray Bradbury says:

“Write a short story every week. It's not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

When it comes to writing short stories, what do you find most challenging? Let me know in the comments .

For today’s practice, let’s just take on Step #1 (and begin tackling the challenge I laid down a moment ago): Write the basic story idea, the gist of the premise, as you’d tell it to a friend. Don’t think about it too much, and don’t worry about going into detail. Just write.

Write for fifteen minutes .

When your time is up, share your practice in the Pro Practice Workshop. And after you post, please be sure to give feedback to your fellow writers.

Happy writing!

How to Write Like Louise Penny

Sarah Gribble

Sarah Gribble is the author of dozens of short stories that explore uncomfortable situations, basic fears, and the general awe and fascination of the unknown. She just released Surviving Death , her first novel, and is currently working on her next book.

Follow her on Instagram or join her email list for free scares.

a short creative writing story

Work with Sarah Gribble?

Bestselling author with over five years of coaching experience. Sarah Gribble specializes in working with Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Horror, Speculative Fiction, and Thriller books. Sound like a good fit for you?


Bob Ranck

! ! ! JACKPOT ! ! !

I mean it! Finally, after months and months of reading literally hundreds of blog posts and comments, I find that you have addressed the writing of short stories in a manner that is direct, practical, and clear.

It is not my intention to write TGAN. It never was.

I hope, rather, to entertain with short stories drawn from the experiences of my living. This post has illuminated a clear path through the (often valuable, genuinely valid, but – for me, anyway – not-directly-relevant) facts, experiences and anecdotes of other writers and would-be practitioners of the art that all seem focused on novel-length work.

I would encourage you to entertain the possibility of more posts on the art form and production of short stories.

Joe Bunting

Wow, Bob. That’s so good to hear.

Speaking of short story articles, have you read my book Let’s Write a Short Story? You might enjoy it! Check out letswriteashortstory.com.

Susan Barker

The picture on how to write a short story is pretty much how I wrote my first one and have started my second. I had my first one critiqued, then revised it to the critters suggestions (they made perfect sense) and my story has improved considerably. I thought I was being lame on how I came to write them, but I see now, I accidentally stumbled on the formula for writing. Thanks Joe. I’m writing easier now.

Love that, Susan. Like Neil said, there is no formula. You have to write the story the way it wants to be written. But I find that I need structure to keep myself motivated and moving, so this process usually helps me stay focused. Glad you’re finding the writing process easier!

Dana Schwartz

This is such a great post, Joe! I used to be primarily a short story writer but have been working on a novel for so long I feel as though I can’t remember how short stories work – but this brought it all back, and in a much better more clear cut manner than my old ways! I used to meander through a short story like a blind woman in the dark until I bumped into the ending – but I had a lot more time on my hands to do such meandering than I do now, so I’ll definitely give this technique a try!

I’ve done the same, Dana. However haltingly and messy my process has been, though, it usually follows this rough pattern I listed above. Has that been true for you as well?

I was always a “pantser” for stories, and would start with a concept or opening scene, and then feel my way through. It could take weeks to get a first draft. Then I’d edit. The first step of yours blew me away, the idea of writing a “story” without any pressure to make it great, to just get to the gist of it, is pretty brilliant. I often put so much pressure on myself to get it right on the page that it slows me down. I’m already at work (in my head) on part 1 of a story I’ve been meaning to rewrite, and I feel very confident about it thanks to your advice 🙂

Cynthia Franks

There is nothing wrong with pantsing it! I would be labeled a “pantser” but as I tell every one, it only looks that way. Outlines form around character so quickly in my head, it seems to be unplanned, but that is not true. I always have an outline, I just don’t spend a lot of time on it. The important thing is to write to end before doing any re-writing!

Carrie Lynn Lewis

I’ve never been a big fan of writing short stories. They’ve always seemed like “a good start on a novel-length story”.

But your outline for writing a short story has me rethinking that philosophy. I may just give it a try.

Thanks for a new idea on a Saturday morning!

DO IT! And let me know how it goes, Carrie. 🙂

Heidi Staseson

Agreed! ….on a Saturday afternoon! Fabulous tips to try. Thanks, Joe.

Short stories are an important marketing tool for all writers. And so is flash fiction. Lee Goldberg, creator/head writer for Monk and several other TV mystery series, writes short stories and novels using the Monk character. I hate the TV show Monk, but loved the short story Mr. Monk and The Seventeen Steps in the Dec 2010 Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. I plan to read some of novels. Lee Goldberg is an excellent writer. The stories and novels support the TV series and the TV series supports the short stories and novel.

If you plan to traditionally publish, published short stories can get you a better agent and open door that may otherwise stay shut.

If you plan to self-publish, free short stories using your characters can be a good way to turn non-fans in customers for your wears. Think on them as test for readers–but don’t think it while you are writing the story.

I play to use this strategy to publish my Old West book series.

Wow, this is a very creepy story, Tom! You should work on it!

Patrick WH Lee

Reading this post made me reflect on my own writing routine. I tend to do steps 1-5 in one sitting, pumping out ~2,500-3,500 words in an hour, which is usually all I have for a short story. It’s the editing that definitely takes up the most time. I give it a day before going back and seeing how I can optimize the plot and the finer details.

The number one motivating factor for me to finish writing is my initial interest and excitement of the original idea for the story itself. A wasted story is such a shame, after all.

Impressive Patrick. I could do Steps 1-3 in one sitting, but breaking it into scenes, and especially the research, take me a lot of time.

Scrivener is a great tool for breaking it into workable chances. My second most favorite thing about it!

Agreed Cynthia! Have you seen my review of it? https://thewritepractice.com/scrivener

I had the exact same experience! I need to learn about the word count goals. My favorite feature is the ability to move scenes around and then read it as one long document without actually moving anything.

I am new at it, but look forward to learning more! Great review!


How to write short story? For me he only way is to order it on custom essay writing services reviews pa . To write something you need to be creative person, and it’s not about me 🙁

Love this post! Your first point, write the entire story, is great piece of advice. I say this all this time, “Write the story from beginning to end before doing any re-writing!”

Research being the #5 is great! I don’t find many other writer’s agreeing with on this. They will insist on doing the research upfront. I will see them a year later and ask how the project is going and the answer will be, “I’m still doing research.” I call it The Blackhole of Research and many writers get sucked it. I fell into it once myself when working on a play based on Shakespeare’s Sonnets. I got caught up it wanting to know if Shakespeare wrote the sonnets or not. I never wrote the play. The research thoroughly obscured what I believe would have been an interesting musical. For my series of novel set in the old west, I’m using a time line of events with scant details. I found I need this for the storytelling. But that is it.

I agree with you 100% about Scrivener. It has a bit of learning curve, but is worth it. I started to using it on my last story and now am using it to edit my novel. You can rearrange your scenes any way you want and then read is if it was a continuous document, but without changing the original order of scenes. Valuable in the editing process. It made me happy!

The Only Story They’ll Ever Read. This is excellent advice. It is where many talented writer’s fail.

How I Write Short Stories It takes me about 30 hours to do a draft of a story and then three times that to edit. If I have a real deadline (Not the self imposed kind) I can write it in 8 hours or less and edit it in 12.

I have learned that all I have to do is start writing and a story will emerge. Every time I do a writing prompt, I end up with a story. Every time I write for practice or to take a break from another project, I end up with a story. They are not always good.

Something unusual about me. I hate writing first drafts and love, love, love re-writing them.


How is that “unusual?” I know lots of people who enjoy rewriting over first drafts…? (There’s always someone who believes their “strange” in their habits. You must be from a small town or something lol

Collis Harris

Once again, Joe, you cut through all the garbage that’s usually out there about writing to make the process simple. I especially like the idea of doing research after fleshing out the story. I was doing research before starting and I drove myself into a sticky mess. Thank you for pointing out the obvious – even though it wasn’t obvious to me.

eric miller

I was alone, sitting next to a window on a commercial flight paid for by another who I was convinced cared little for my well being while offering an all expense paid year in a foreign land, no strings attached accept the one holding the sword of Damocles.


One thing I would add, and it’s the best practice I’ve picked up over the years, is to start with the ending. So for number #3, I would suggest come up with both the open and close and fill in the rest.

Jill Upshaw

Thank you so much for this post. It finally got me started on a short story I have been wanting to write for more than a year. Writing down the basic story helped me see the story first.

Kakeu Flora

Thank You… the guide is helpful. Our Lecturer gave an assignment she obliged that we must write a short story in our Journal but i think with your guide i’m going to make it great in the procedure of writing my short story…Thank Alot.

Rachel Myers

Thank you for this guide! My son is in eighth grade and assigned to write a short story in his honors English class. He’s very analytical and excelling in science and math. He does well in English but this short story has him flummoxed. He keeps saying he doesn’t know how to write a story, which is perplexing because throughout elementary school he wrote long, imaginative stories well above his grade level.

He desperately wants to write this short story but It’s as if his analytical mind has blocked access to his imagination and creativity. What served him well as a child has been squashed by puberty and the inevitable march to maturity. Oh, the sadness.

I just have a feeling though your guide will provide the structure he’s seeking and reopen the pathway to his creativity. It’s still there. We see it all the time. Your guide is organized around the process with time frames to boot! What more could an analytical mind want.


Thank you so much for this post. Sometimes the story gets lost while spending time researching. I always believed the story benefited from a little brewing time before taking on a life outside of my mind. I see now that I’ve been missing out on the valuable steps that can take place once the story is down and the transformation that can take place to form a short story. Your advice is elegant in it’s simplicity.

Szymon K. Paczkowski

Great post, but I have one question though to the numer 5.

What am I supposed to research? Research for what? I just don’t understand this.


To me you research for different things. Location and setting of the storiy, maybe it in La Havana, Cuba you should know they speak Spanish, they were in a economy regression so the building are not painted. Maybe one character has some type of illness (PTSD, Lupus, etc.) You would have to know how would that influence how they act, are perceive or look in a story. If he has PTSD he may have flashback’s, or deprecion, ect.

Maybe is a historical fiction you need to know how people acted in that time, what they wore, what was happening, etc.

It give you a better understanding of what is happening. So what you write is believed or make senses.

Jacqueline Kwan

Thanks for breaking this process down into simple steps! I naturally tend to sit down and spill out the whole story but often don’t know where to go from there. Your post gives me guidelines on how to approach the editing process that I know my work needs.

The best part is your distinction between “the story” and “the short story”. Knowing that makes it so much easier to write that first draft – without agonizing over a sloppy beginning or the overly vague details that require more research.

What a great way to get into your writing with the confidence that you’ll know how to make it better later!

Mwai Gichimu

Wow! You make it sound soo easy. Got a load of stories at different stages and feel I should try your steps.

Thanks, Mwai Gichimu http://www.creativeheritage.org

pat m

I didn’t realize until fairly recently that short stories were . . . well, so short. I typically write fanfiction that would be consider more of a novella at least 40,000 words. I actually don’t like reading short stories less than 7 chapters and/or 10,000 words. I don’t know I just like more meat on my books than the typical 7 chapter deal.

The Cyan-sinity

A Day in the Life of the Samurai.

It was an ordinary day — in the life of the samurai, that is. Samurai and heir to the Hagi residential, Kento Kadesheke, was engaged in a duel with his well recognized, self esteemed master.

“Dodge,” commanded his brain as he curled into a ball and escaped a fatal blow by what marked his people, the sword. Then he leapt up and swished his sword here and there, in defence. Next, he went all-out in a sword batting contest with his master. This gave his time to regain his breath. Now, as many know, the more experienced mostly comes on top, so was the case here. Tired and impatient, Kento tried to disarm his master and opponent. His master expected it and dodged it, not so long before launching a barrage of sword hits, disarming Kento.

Per the rules, disarms end battles, so Kento bowed and fetched his sword. He asked “What did I do wrong, milord,” His master smiled and gently said ” Nothing but thou were a bit impatient,” he added “I can see quick and great improvement,” Now all of this was said in Japanese, but I daren’t mention in imagined sesquipedalophobia

Jolyon Sykes

The importance of step six cannot be overstated. I think a second pair of eyes is essential for editing. For example, this non-sentence is from Joe’s promo for his book: http://letswriteashortstory.com/why-short-stories/ “Even more importantly, to practice deliberately have to put your writing skills to the test.” See what I mean?


“Run Isola!”

Isola’s mother yelled over the wind. Isola’s heart was pounding, and she felt as if she might faint. Her brown hair whipped fast, stinging her face. Her mother was rushing her into the safe house. They prepared it a month before when they heard about the Vortex Storm. The name was fitting because there was a big whirl of dark, ravenous clouds. They seemed to eat the whole sky.

“Where is Will and Dad?” Isola asked. “I thought they were coming with us!”

“I am going to get them,” Isola’s mother answered. “Just go and get there before you get hurt!”

She turned and went back to the house while Gloria went toward the safe house.

The wind was so strong, Isola felt as if it would lift her and pick her off her feet. Debris flew everywhere. Other people in her neighborhood were gathering belongings, children, pets, and driving away to the community safe house. Isola was tempted to follow them.

Isola finally made it to the safe house. Its interior was located underground and the door were made of steel. Underground Isola knew there were also steel bars to support the roof the steel ceiling. The lock on the door was located inside. Her father was a construction worker so getting the materials to build it was easy. Isola’s mind flashed back to the time her father stayed up for weeks at a time making sure everything was secure. When she asked if she could help or see what he was working on, he simply told her that it wasn’t time yet. Whatever that meant.

Isola began to open the door, when she heard familiar voices behind her.

“Isola! Watch out!”

Relief comforted her heart for a moment. It was Will’s voice, and he was okay. He’s head popped out around the corner. His brown curly hair waving on his face in the harsh wind. But, that relief was replaced with panic when she saw a big massive tree branch about to fall. On her.

Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to build a safe house by a tree Isola thought. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to build a safe house, period.

That was all Isola had time to think about before the tree branch fell, and she was forced back by some invisible force. It felt like a hand grabbing her. She stumbled backwards and bumped into something.

Or someone.

“Isola, what are you crazy? You just stand there watching it fall on you, and do absolutely nothing while the branch almost crushes you!”

She turned around to the look to who was speaking to her. And a concerned, upset, face was peering down back at her. Her father. Despite her father scolding at her, she was relieved to see he was okay. Her mother came running in after them.

“Are you okay? What happened?” She turned to Isola’s father. “Mark.”

Mark put a hand on his wife’s arm. “Anna, she’s fine” He started toward the safe house again. “Let’s just hurry and all go inside-” Mark stopped.

“What? What is it?”

Isola followed to where he was staring. The tree branch was on top of the safe house. Blocking the only entrance inside.

Mark shook his head. Swore a few latin words. Anna shot daggers at him covering Will’s ears.

Will looked to me with eyes of confusion. I shrugged.

“Why are we going in here? Why don’t we go in with the other kids and adults?” Will asked.

Will spoke with an accent that his mom said came from his father. When he said ‘adults’ he pronounced it adoolts He pulled his mother’s hands off his ears.

“Will-” His father said will a warning tone in his voice.

“There is a branch on blocking the door. Besides, everybody else is going!” Will argued.

“They don’t want to go to the Community safe house, Will.” Isola told him.

“But, all my friends are there! I wanna go too!” Will whined.

“We have a safe house right here.” Anna said ignoring Will.

Isola made a motion to the safe house which was still stable, but had an impossible entrance. She opened her mouth to say something sarcastic but her mother must of saw the expression on her face because she held up her hand.

“That is enough Isola.” Her mother yelled over the wind. “You have been complaining about this the whole time, and show no appreciation for what your father is doing for you-”

“Dad what are you doing?” Will interrupted.

Gloria and her mom turned around to see what Will was talking about. Mark was pushing the branch-or at least trying to-off the entrance. Anna looked to Will and Isola.

“Come on, don’t just stand there, go help out your father!”

They didn’t need to be asked twice. They all went over and helped Mark push the branch. They pushed, pulled, lifted, but the branch didn’t move more than a couple of inches. But, even by then they were all tired and each second they stayed outside was each second to their death.

Mark reached through one of the openings of the branch and opened the door. “Will or Gloria, one of you can fit in here. Try to go through.”

Will crosses his arms. “No way! I want to go to the Community safe house. Besides you guys could lock us in there and go without us so you can go have fun.” Will stared at his mom and dad with accusing eyes. He had his jaw set in way that showed he wasn’t going to budge.

“Will” His father said angrily.

Isola started toward the entrance. “I’ll go, if you won’t go. Let’s just get in before we get hit by one of those meteorites.” She pointed to the sky. It was darker now blocking out so much sun, the light detectors triggered on the street lights for night time.

Isola started in, going feet first, having a little of a hard time getting in. When she felt her feet touch the ground she called up.

“Okay I’m in!”

There was no response. She looked up to see if anyone was looking in but she saw no one there.

“Mom? Dad?”

She heard something up there that sound like arguing, then panic, and then a moment of silence.

“Isola, are okay down there?” Her mom asked.

“Yeah, what are you guys waiting for?”

“We are going to the Community shelter.”

Isola didn’t know whether to laugh or scream.

“Isola, don’t worry you can wait down there-”

“Wait here? No!” Isola said shaking her head. “Bring me up with you guys.”

“The branch is stuck here, and plus we are running out of time, we are going to see if we can make it-”

Isola heard her father’s voice in the background. She only caught a few words and sentences like: ‘he said’ and ‘not good idea’ and ‘listen’

“I don’t care about what Jem thinks, we are leaving.” Isola heard her mom say.

And the door shut.

Isola heard screams outside. She heard some of Will’s screams, mixed with her mother’s, and other screams of children, frightened animals, and other people. She didn’t want to think about going out there. She knew she couldn’t. So, when the door shut Isola locked the door and went to the furthest corner of the room.

There were blankets, food, water, first aid items, and a radio there. The food and water was packed into four different black book bags. Looking at them made her feel anxious and worried. They’ll be okay. Everything is fine. She thought. When she still didn’t feel any better, she said out loud, “It’s okay. Everything is fine.” Even she knew the words sounded empty and unconvincing.

She wasn’t hungry at the moment. Fatigue washed over Isola so suddenly, that she felt dizzy. Grabbing her blanket from the corner she moved the rest of the items by the door. After, she walked to the corner, sat putting her knees up to her chin, and wrapped the blanket around herself, over her head and ears. She tried to huddle as far as she could into the corner. She wanted to be as far away from the screams as possible. Isola shivered. Though it wasn’t against the cold.

( For more or the rest of the story email me at [email protected] ) 🙂 Tell what you think.

B. Cole

This has been incrediably helpful! Making myself put off researching wasn’t something I would have thought would make a big difference but it really has.


I might be a bit late to the party…my 15 mins.

———- Hugh set the knife against his knee and started sawing through the skin.

As the pain coursed through his nerves, he lost his grip. “Damn bugs,” he hissed as his fingers failed to listen to his brain.

Laying his head against the cold metal of the bathtub, Hugh swore he could feel the lowjack implant in his spinal cord thrumming. A few moments later, the door opened on rusty hinges, allowing the light from the rest of the apartment in.

A falsetto voice spoke from the doorway. “Human, you have sustained an injury to your right knee. Medical personnel have been summoned.”

Hugh turned suddenly, knocking the knife to the floor. “Don’t you dare let those butchers in here!” Sitting up, he started to sob. “I’ve got nothing left for them to take.”

A six foot tall mechanical figure strode calmly into the room. “Human, I’m going to freeze you until the medical personnel arrive.” A green light started blinking in its eye socket. “Do not be alarmed, it is for your own safety.”

Hugh was half way out of the bathtub before the lowjack cut off any control he had over his body.

The android moved to the tub, and gingerly picked Hugh up, moving him through the spacious apartment to a chair by the front door.

“I will be in stasis until they arrive,” the android stated.

Hugh couldn’t detect any difference from a few moments ago. The android stood stone still, the only difference an irregular pattern to the blinking green light.

Waiting a full minute to ensure the thing wasn’t aware, Hugh tried moving his hand. The fingers twitched.

Kav M

i have a short story , would it be too late to post here , i need some opinion

Pamela Gregson

I opened my eyes to see a dark shadow in my bedroom, it looked like a figure of a man. I had been thinking a lot about my uncle Herbert who had died in the first world war ,l was stunned! Could he be the person on my bed? To stunned to talk to him l recalled speaking to a medium early on in the day about Herbert he came through and said he wondered what his life would have been like if he had lived he died aged 26 . I looked more closely at this figure on my bed then he said come on Pam get up!! We’re on holiday now!!! Pew!!!


Thanks for the great advice Joe Bunting. What I read, helps me know what’s ahead of me to be a writer. I love how you explained about it being hard to finish a story, when you are in the middle of the story. As to rowing a boat to an island. I’ve started stories, got to the middle and didn’t know where to go. Now I know that’s common to happen. I’ll close at this point and get started writing something that I wrote in High School that others loved. Thanks again for inspiring me with what you wrote.

Rick Olmsted


Nice blog here. I think this would be more helpful in my writing career. But if you really need a professional to write a children short story for you, I would recommend a gig I use on Fiverr https://www.fiverr.com/sophiebrown/write-kindle-children-bestseller-book-for-publishing


This is a great intro in short story writing! Usually the only writing I do is assignments and essays. I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a story for a while and this post provided great motivation. So here it is.. my first 15 minute attempt at putting ideas down in words.

The time had come to meet face to face with her biggest rival. She had never met her before but the stories were enough for her to realise the threat that she posed. The environment wasn’t one which forged the women together, to bond. It promoted rivalry. Only the fittest would survive the night and walk away with cash in the hand. Tonight was the same as every other night. It started out with the usual routine. She would meticulously apply her make up to accentuate her pale blue eyes. Her greatest asset, or at least that’s what they told her. The blackness of the eyeliner was unforgiving; no amount of it could cover up the turbulent storm brewing in her blue eyes. Her reflection showed no hint of the emotions she was trying to deny. Her hair was down around her shoulders, glistening from the heat in the room. The air was muggy despite it being a cool night. She looked around the room wondering how her life had brought her to be here in this moment. The walls were as red as bitten lips, that’s what they reminded her of. The other girls were getting impatient that she had taken so much time in the one mirror, which covered the wall above the alcove. There was barely enough room for all four of them to get ready in there. Bags of make up, shoes and dresses, if you could call them that, were scattered at their feet. The buzz of the dryer in the adjoining room reminded her that there was work to be done. Fresh sheets and towels needed to be put out in the rooms before the men arrived. This job gave her a reprieve from being in that suffocating red room. She left the girls to decide on the dresses they would wear tonight.


I was fine, good in fact, realizing that I was stuck in a rut of step 1, Telling my stories. I can do step two, even three. Now I’m lost at step four: I’m writing a short story, not a novel. I’m stopping here; lost my interest, for the moment.

Christina Thompson

Tara is unhappy with her life. She always has been. No one ever understood why. Tara comes from a great home, with a great family; yet she always seemed to be downtrodden and meloncholic. At 21 Tara isn’t even doing things that her peers enjoy. This should be the time in her life where fun, adventure and discovery are a must. Tara doesn’t follow crowds, has no real friends to speak of and is always quiet; except if called on in a class setting. John and lydia French, tara’s parents have sought help for her from many professionals, and none have been able to point out a diagnoses to fit tara’s personality flaws. There was a time once when tara was younger perhaps four or five when she was at summer camp. She showed light in her eye and a possibility of hope glimmered that maybe she had found her niche. The latter part of that camping trip showed the worst side of tara yet. It seemed she regressed even more than when she arrived. Fisher is a guy who grew up with tara and has know her and her family for many years. He has concocted this plan to attempt to court tara with these simple steps that he has been putting together to turn who he sees as the love of his life into a more loving and joyful human being. The first step was to be seen accidently by tara at more than one occation during her day. Of course it’s not accidental, he’s planned the whole thing, but in fisher’s mind maybe tara never got the attention she needed. On Saturdays tara frequents the same internet cafe near her University, then she goes running at a nearby park, following this she heads back to campus. Fisher was sure to be seen by tara in all but the last place her home, so as not to seem to creepy. He pb believes he may have saw tara grin or smirk once or maybe, he just wants to make her happy so badly that he imagined it. He did this for three saturdays, then finally askds tara to the movies. To his surprise tara says yes. Fisher is ecstatic. They schedule their date for the following week. Fisher picked tara up on time from her dorm and they stap for a street car meal before heading to the movies. He excorts her home and when he reaches in for a kiss tara scream can be heard throughout the city. Campus security arrives and tara is take


Sarah was shaking over the little table staring at her coffee. Her eyes looked as black s the liquid in the cup. She couldn’t speak, it was too much for her at the moment. Besides apart of maybe weak squick nothing else would come out from her mouth. She was so scared to go back home but she couldn’t stay in this coffee shop forever. Sarah didn’t have any idea what to do. She quit her job without finding the new one, all of her savings were gone already so she couldn’t really afford to move right now. But she also couldn’t face her landlord from hell and his crazy family. It was like the worst nightmare.

Sarah moved in to this house thinking it’s going to be a lovely place to live. She would share it with two friends and probably rent the third bedroom to another familiar face. At least that was the plan. The landlord was white with black hair and spoke good English. She assumed he was an English man. After seeing the place with her two mates they made the decision instantly. Paid cash for deposit to black haired man and received the keys. When asked for receipt he said he will provide it next time as he had no receipt book on him. Fair enough.

A few days later Sarah, Daniel and Becky lived together in the lovely semi-detached house with good sized garden. The trio opened some beers and decided to celebrate their new nest completely unaware of what is yet to come…


love your book! Keep on the good job

“Do you think Petraeus will like the red hood, or the blue hood?” Charlene aksed her brother, “or is the yellow one better? Hmm… the orange one is also very appealing. What do you think, Eustace?”

“I think you should just take one and go see him before it gets late, sister.” He sighed, annoyed.

The tall brunnette, turned around to face her brother. Why was she even asking him that kind of stuff anyway? He’s a boy, he wouldn’t care one bit. “If you are going to be such a ogre, why should I even ask?”

“I wish I could understand that too, you know.” he said, preparing himself for the trip. Lifting his simple dark brown hood from the floor, he sat down to fix his boots. “But I personally think I am not the best person to help you change the color of a piece of cloth, Charlene. It’s just a piece of cloth, you do not have to make such a big deal about it.”

She groaned angrily, while taking the red one.”I do not understand what is your probllem, really.”

“Guess what? Me neither.” he laughed as he ran through the door. Eustace could hear the angry blabbing of her sister, but decided to ignore.


Natalie Jenkins

Wanted Child (FULL VERSION)

The siren’s screaming to the neighbors, waking them from their peaceful slumber. The red and blue lights blinding everyone who looks in its way. A little girl, not later of the age of 9, being carried out of a home in the arms of a police officer. Her crying silencing everything else to the man’s ears. The child clutching onto his navy-blue shirt, begging for the awful image out of her head. He looks at the girl in pain, wishing for a miracle to break through. He sighs and looks forward, his face a mask of pain. He looks around and spots a woman with her back turned to her, talking to one of the girl’s neighbors. He approaches her and acknowledges her. “Corrine,” he started. The woman turns around and lightly nods. “Chief Jacob Ray.” She states, concern written in her strained voice. She is a lawyer working on a case where she is defending a man who was framed for the murder of his brother. She might have been yelling at a court trial. She spoke, “What do you need? Poor child. She didn’t deserve to witness that.” She is right. She never deserved to witness such a horrible thing. “I need a blanket for her. And, also, give her water.” He looks down at her to see her asleep. He sighs and looks back at the woman. “She will stay with me until we find her a home.” She slightly widened her eyes, looking at Jacob confusedly. She replied, “Are you sure you can take care of a child? Jacob, you don’t have anyone else to help take care of this girl.”

She stopped when she heard the girl sighing. She looked at her with both pain and hope for her. Jacob also had hope. Hope that her life was going to change for the better and not for the worse. “I’ll go get the blanket and water.” He heard Corrine say. He didn’t acknowledge her, to let her know that he heard her. She sighed in content and walked away, yelling for a blanket and water. He looked down at her. Her blue eyes fluttered open, looking around. She looked up at him and smiled. She let go of her shirt and hugged him. His eyes widened slightly as she hugged him. His eyes slowly went back down as she started crying. He started shushing her, whispering that it is all over. That she doesn’t have to worry anymore. He was going to make sure of it. He was going to be on a hiatus to take care of her. A few moments later he hears a distant voice saying, “Here we go dear.” Corrine’s voice makes the girl look up. She sniffs and wipes her eyes, muttering a quick thank you while doing so. Corrine looks at the poor girl in despair and calmly says, “Drink. You must be thirsty.” Corrine holds a glass up, showing her that she has something for her to drink. The little girl nods, agreeing with the woman. Corrine gives the glass to her, holding it to her lips. The little girl drinks happily, sighing in content with the refreshing feeling, soothing her parched throat. Jacob asks, “So, what’s your name?” The girl stops drinking and looks at the man. She replies, “Elly, but my real name is Elizabeth. My parents used to call me “Elly”, but after their.” She stops, closing her eyes

This is all I have and I am writing 2 different versions. One is for a short story contest and one is for publishing (which is this one)

George McNeese

I love writing short stories. I believe what turns me on to the format is the fact that it makes for quick reading. At the same time, you can get so much out of it like you would a novel.

I do think I’ve been writing short stories the wrong way. It takes me a couple of weeks to get a story down. Most of it is due to time constraints. But I have tools to lessen that time. And I’m so worried about getting it right the first time that I miss the point of the process. It takes diligence and patience to write a great story.

I will take these tips to heart and work as hard as I can to write the best stories possible.

Shauna Bolton

This story is about Rafa, a five-year-old boy born during the final years of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness. His father, Duriel, is a Levite who serves the tabernacle. His mother, Ronit, has just died. His older sister, Miriam, is ten years old.

Duriel is a bitter, heartbroken man. His wife is dead. His firstborn is a girl, and his only son will never be a man, have a family, or serve the tabernacle. There will be no one to continue his lineage. He feels that God has ruined his life, and it angers him. He is often critical, unkind, and angry at home, especially with his young daughter, who is desperately and imperfectly performing her dead mother’s duties: cooking food, caring for the household, and tending Rafa.

Rafa has Down’s Syndrome. He doesn’t understand death and believes his mother has abandoned him. He thinks she’s hiding somewhere in the camp. He keeps running off to find her, which causes stress and anger for his family and his Levite relatives.

Miriam cooks the meals, cares for the household, and tends Rafa while her father is at the tabernacle. Miriam is also learning to spin and weave. Her grandmother, a former slave in Egypt, is a master weaver. She is going blind and feels a desperate urgency to teach her granddaughter everything she can before she can no longer see. Miriam is caught between her grandmother’s insistence that she spend her time weaving and keeping track of Rafa. Her friends complain that she’s always working and never has time for fun.

One night, after Duriel has lost his temper and spanked Rafa, Miriam comforts him in bed. She tells him that their mother lives with Adonai. Rafa’s father has impressed both his children that Adonai lives in the tabernacle, the place where Moses speaks with Adonai. Miriam falls asleep, but Rafa doesn’t. He now knows where his mother is, and he leaves the house to find her.

Rafa wanders through the camp, unsure of where to go. When he sees torchlight, he follows it to the tabernacle. The guards are not at the door. Rafa parts the curtains and looks inside. A man’s voice tells him to come in. When he enters the Holy of Holies, he sees a shining man, Adonai, sitting on the ark. The man holds out his arms, and Rafa comes running to him. The man puts Rafa on his lap and asks what he wants. Rafa says he wants his mother.

The man calls Ronit. She appears in a pillar of light. Laughing and crying for joy, she gathers Rafa into her arms, carries back into the light, and they both disappear.

Adonai summons Moses and Duriel. They both come to the tabernacle. Moses enters; Duriel stands outside the door. Adonai tells Moses how to handle the situation. Duriel is not to be punished because Rafa entered the tabernacle. Instead, Duriel is to be relieved of his work for one year to spend the time mourning for his wife and son, caring for his mother, and comforting his daughter, Miriam. If he humbles himself sufficiently, Adonai will receive his service again, give him a woman to love, and more children, including sons to carry on his family line.

When Moses comes out of the tabernacle, he carries Rafa’s body wrapped in a new woolen blanket. Duriel recognizes the blanket as something his wife was making when she died. It had lain unfinished in their tent since her death. He examines it. The blanket is now completely finished. Taking his son’s body in his arms, Duriel falls to his knees sobbing. Moses lays his hands on Duriel’s head and begins blessing him.

Pippy Longstocking

Suddenly, there was a strange noise outside. Clare tiptoed across the creaky floor. She looked from behind the curtains. Strange shadows lurked from the misty town. They were unlike anything she’s ever seen before. As tall as a telephone booth but the limbs were strange… the legs were lean while the arms were strong. Clare lit a torch and went downstairs to investigate. The door slowly creaked open and into the ghostly streets she went.

There was suddenly a crack of lightning, and behind her, were the shadows. She ran as fast as her little legs could carry her but they were fast. She jumped into a nearby bush and waited. She saw the go into a tree. She decided to follow along. Pure curiosity powered her.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!….” She whispered screamed as she fell down a big hole.

She saw some vines in front of her. Her heart was racing. What was she going to see, a mystical land, an evil lair or the centre of the earth? She pushed aside the vines and thoughts and gaped at what she saw. Everything was unspeakable, she had to get out of this nightmare. Left was right, up was down, good was bad. She couldn’t breathe. Where was the exit? What is this place? Why did the men go here? Why? Why? Why?! She was trapped in her own thoughts and in the world.

She woke up. “It was too real..” She muttered.

Clare opened the curtains and screamed. Her heart was thumping hard and her brain was numb. Her eyes were frozen. Little did she know that this was just the beginning of mass terror and horror. Would she live or would she die? That is the question that remains unanswered…

Pippy Longstocking

Ignore this


The first time I noticed her was a rainy day. She was sitting in a chair and talked to herself. I was so curious about her who behaved strangely. I thought she was a weird person, but I wanna know her stories. I was sure she had a story, at least one. I said” Hi, you are beautiful.” She answered” My mom always says that, but she is gone.” “Where is she?” She said with a sweet smile” She is there. ” She pointed to her heart with small and thin hands.”In my heart and my dream.”

In a moment, I remembered that I was so jealous when I saw my friends and their mom hold hands. I understood this girl who missed her mom. But I thought her mom had a good reason to leave. We all have a reason when we make a choice. Sometimes we think only for ourselves. Sometimes we choose to sacrifice for love. Sometimes we are selfish. But no matter what decisions we have made, we still have hope and belief, and we have to.

I told the girl” Your mom lives happily. Your mom loves you.” She said” I always know that, but when will she be bak to see me ? I only wanna see her.” I said” She is already on her way to look for. She needs time.” The girl smiled like an angel.

But I lied to her, I have to.

Lusapho Nyangule

She sought refuge in all except what she knew she could possibly thrive at. The fears, the shaky voice, the anger in her eyes and the misery in her soul. Nothing could begin to explain to the world how tortured and jaded her spirit had become. She never asked for this and loathed those who felt she could learn to live life differently.

How does one learn to live life? Is it in the way we were raised? Is it the choices we make? Is it how we perceive things? She was not raised like this. No one would make choices to feel like this and perception is reality, no? If her scars were on the outside instead of on the inside, she would be immediately raced to a hospital. The room would fill with doctors and nurses scurrying to make her lively. But the scars remained on the inside so the world did not see the wounds. The pain remained unseen and the rush for help was nowhere to be found.

Dying was the answer. Of course! She’d read the bubbly bullshit quotes about death being a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Who is to say it’s temporary? Cancer may be temporary. A patient may go into remission but no one judges them for feeling like death may be a better way. Why would she be judged? Demons are revolting things to handle and some, like the girl, simply cannot handle them alone. Would one allow their child to be tormented by another person, or would they help them? Why didn’t they help her? Why were her bullies not confronted?


This was a short short story I wrote that was submitted for a contest. It had to be 150 or less….

She could not explain the feeling she got when she saw him, and he touched her. Every time she tried, the words would just fall out in random order.

One day as they were laying on a blanket watching the drifting clouds, she looked at him and whispered, “I love you.” As he smiled he said, “I know you do,” his hand gripping hers tighter. “No, I mean I really love you. Do you remember when you were a kid and you would swing? The feeling you got in your tummy the higher you went,if there were a million pterodactyl-sized butterflies in there?” He rolled to his side and said, “Yes, that was the best feeling as a kid.” She smiled and said, “That’s the way I feel about you.” He reached over and sighed as he placed his lips to her forehead and whispered, “I love you.”


Short stories, to me, are the perfect literary form. The most amazing way to get across complex and critical concepts without bogging stories down with unnecessary melodrama. I’m actually looking at putting together an anthology-type short story periodical in the next few months. Anyone who’d be interested in being printed, maybe, shoot me a message nmoo651 (at) aucklanduni (dot) ac (dot) nz


It’s a dark night, unknown figure runs across the cold wet streets, flooded by intense rain. There’s a curfew, and this character is breaking it. Running across the stone alleyways and switching corners so swiftly is easy to mistake them for a shadow. Look. An officer. The figure expertly knocks them out by hitting when they are not looking, then hides the body Faster now, the hooded figure is speeding in the darkness, remember why they’re here. They have to escort a parcel across the country in a relay manner, and the figure is an amateur, and want to succeed they’re first true test. Everything’s going fine currently Until they slip. Makes a clanky noise as they fall and attracts numerous guards to their location, but before they can reach, hides in a crate. That was close. But his leg is hurt after the fall, and he is know limping, still needing to deliver his package to the other side of this county. Behind them by a couple 100 meters, a man of somewhat authority walks past. in his hand, a revolver. He enters the area where the figure knocked out an officer and hid him, and easily finds where the figure hid him, as he has dealt with his kind before. The figure creeps into an empty restaurant, where the server greets him happily. The figure asks for a map of this county, something they should have probably had earlier, but hey! They’re an amateur. The server in exchange asks for the figure’s name, to which they respond ‘Max’ after glancing at a Maximum Voltage sign. Max escapes by climbing onto the roof via ladder inside. authority guy returns, and hears Max above, and shoots server (NOO), and climbs up. He shoots max, and max almost falls off the tall building, saved by grabbing onto a gutter flowing with water. AG (authority guy) points gun “give me the parcel” Max puts it slowly into the gutter he’s holding on, and it drifts off. AG makes a break for it, trying to get the parcel before it falls, while max jumps off, landing on another ladder outside an adjacent building. When Ag opens the Parcel, he finds nothing (Ha ha!). Max continues to Victory! –Just a draft, and I apologize for any grammar mistakes.–

Notion Press

I found your “How to Write a Short Story from Start to Finish”, very useful. I represent a self-publishing company, Notion press and this information means a lot to our network of writers, to whom we will be sharing it. We also have similar useful content on our academy page. Please feel free to check out and get in touch with us. https://notionpress.com/academy/definitive-guide-on-how-to-write-a-novel/


A fish fought so hard not to know me. I fought harder to know him. We spent hours at our contest. When exhaustion had taken us both, we acquiesced. As he boarded the boat it was apparent his bravery and powerful fight was over and all I had to do was claim victory.

It was a victory that was sour to me. Something inside of my old self changed with meeting this fish. I loved that fish and our fight, it was just what I wanted. What was unexpected was the emotion of caring that poured out afterwards. I lack the skill of caring, not having any experience in how to care or being cared for will do that to a man. Hard life living without those things.

I held him gently in the water for what seemed like eternity, he got his strength back, thrashed and swam away.

goodby and hello, I said.


You have a great idea here, I think you can extend this idea into a short story. I like your style of writing, easy to understand.

Alexandria Kellogg

This is rough idea I’ve been playing around with. Let me know what you think I can do to make it better. Thanks.

Ariala was led into the throne room of her own castle to face the man who had just taken over. He was a tall, broad-shouldered man in heavy metal armor. His long blonde hair was left to hang loosely around his body and his eyes were so dark that they seemed black to her.

“Hello Princess, we meet again.”

“I’d say it’s a pleasure to see you again Prince Demitri, but I was taught not to lie.”

“Charming as ever I see. Not to worry…I’ll change that little attitude of yours soon enough. For now…there’s something I want you to watch.”

Ariala watched as her father, the true King, was dragged into the room. He looked so battered and it broke her heart to see her father’s strength reduced to this. He had bruises covering his face and she was fairly certain one of his arms was broken.

“Why are you doing this? We have never done anything against your family or your kingdom…”

“You have not…true…but your father here has angered me greatly by denying me the one thing I wanted from him.”

“What might that be?”

“You, dear Ariala. I requested your hand in marriage…he refused.”

“So you decide that taking over my home is somehow going to make me want to marry you?”

“It doesn’t matter if you want it or not…I will marry you and you will do as you are told or suffer the consequences.”

“I will most certainly not be marrying you and nothing you can do to me will change my mind.”

“I was afraid you might be this way. Men…”

The soldiers holding her father up dropped him to the floor and pulled their swords, and she watched in horror as they ran their swords through her father’s body. As they pulled back she tried to go to his side but Demitri grabbed her by the waist and pulled her against his body causing her to lash out at him, kicking and hitting any part of him she could reach. He raised a hand to cradle the back of her neck and began squeezing gently, applying more and more pressure until she lost enough air to blackout. He handed her limp body to one of the castle’s royal guards.

“Take her to her chambers for now. Perhaps when she wakes she will be less unpleasent.”

The guard carried her to her bed and was soon joined by his Captain. “We need to get her out of here before it’s too late, Sir.”

“I know, and I have a plan for that. Do you remember John?”

“He’s the one that was always by her side when they were kids right?”

“Aye, that’s him.”

“What about him?”

“He’s the leader of a small band of mercenaries now…and they happen to be in the city below us right now.”

“You’re going to hire them to get her out of here?”

“No…I’m going to tell him that she’s in danger and I need him to help me get her away from this place as soon as possible. In the meantime…guard her door and let no one enter this room.”

“I will protect her, Sir…with my life is I must.”

“I’d rather it not come to that. I will be back as quickly as I can…hopefully with a plan.”

The Captain had faithfully served the Sky Kingdom’s royal family since he was a boy. His father had been the Captain of the Royal Guard at that time and he frequently followed the man to learn all he could from him…now his King was dead and his Princess was in danger. He kept the hood of his cloak up over his face as he slipped into the Queen’s Garden to meet with a man he never actually thought he’d see again.

“Why would the Captain of the Royal Guard want to meet with me in the middle of the night?”

He froze in mid-step as a soft baritone voice sounded out of the darkness, carefully lowering his hood to reveal his heavily greying hair. “Hello again, John. You seem to have done quite well for yourself, being the leader of a mercenary band now.”

“No thanks to you, of course…convincing the King to ship me off to be a squire to some low-level knight…that wasn’t very nice of you.” The man slid out of the shadows like he was a part of them. His jet black hair fell in a soft curtain to his shoulders while his bright blue eyes seemed to pierce the Captain like a spear.

“You were gettig too close to her. We couldn’t risk having her fall in love with someone of such low birth.”

“You mean because I was born a bastard right? What exactly do you want from me?”

“The Princess is in grave danger…and I am hoping you still care enough to help her.”

The man’s gaze sharpens at those words and his voice takes on a darker edge. “What kid of danger?”

“Sky Castle has been overtaken and the King has been killed…in front of her. The man responsible wants to force her to marry him to cement his new role here but she is defiant and I fear he will hurt herto get what he wants. I can get her out of the castle through one of the secret passages…but I cannot get her off the plateau without being caught. I am too well-known here.”

“If you can get her to the Royal Stable at midnight…my men and I can take care of her from that point.”

“Take her to Obsidian Castle in the North. Our allies there will help her.”

“I will take care of her, you have my word…whatever that’s worth to you.”

“When it comes to her…I know I can trust you to keep her safe. I will have her in the stable at midnight, her personal gryphon doesn’t have wings but it will follow her wherever she goes.”

“Wait…she still has that little guy? The blue panther with the bright little tail?”

“He’s not so little anymore…he’s quite large actually, and that tail is a thing of beauty. He’s one of the rare type that have no wings but he’s as loyal as they come…at least to her.”

“Good, she’ll need all the protection she can get. I will see you at midnight…stay safe Captain.”

“You as well, John.”

Later that night four men in dark cloaks were lurking in the shadows behind the Royal Stables, though one of them was clearly unable to remain still for long as the curly blonde begand shifting restlessly from one foot to the other. “Why are we hanging around here at this time of night anyway? This is boring.”

“I told you already. We’re here to help my childhood best friend escape from danger.”

“Right…but who is he?”

“You’ll see soon enough now stay still.”

“Gentlemen, good to see you made it here safely.”

“Same to you, Captain.”

“Wait…the Captain of the Royal Guard? HE’s your friend?”

“Of course not…don’t be ridiculous. The two of us can barely tolerate each other.”

“Wait…then who…?”


“Hello again, Princess. Miss me?”

“John!” Ariala ran into the waiting arms of her friend, wrapping her arms around him and crying softly. “Why did you leave me?”

The dark haired man glared at the Captain before responding to her. “I was sent away little one…they wouldn’t let me go say goodbye to you. I thought they would tell you but it seems I was mistaken.”

“Captain? Is that true?”

“Yes, Princess…I’m afraid so.”


“You were getting too close…you father worried that you two would fall in love.”

Ariala took in a deep breath as she turned to face the Captain, planning to give him a piece of her mind, but the darker man placed a hand over her mouth with an amused smirk. “As much as I’d love to watch you verbally berate the man…I’m afraid we haven’t got the time right now. We have to get you out of here before they realize you’re gone.”

“I assume you have a plan already?”

“Of course…but first…” He snapped his fingers and her bright blue gryphon came out of his hiding spot, his tail fanning out in his happiness at seeing his favorite human. The princess wrapped her arms around the it’s neck and then laughed happily as John lifted her up onto it’s back. “You do realize I can do that on my own right?”

“I know…but it gave me an excuse to hold you for a moment.”

“You’ve never needed an excuse for that before, John.”

“Uh…John, perhaps we should get moving now?”

“Right you are my friend. Everyone mount up so we can get down the side of this plateau and down into the forest.”

The four men mounted their own gryphons. John had a hawk and panther gryphon, the curly blonde had a cheetah based gryphon, the auburn haired man ahd a lion and eagle gryphon, while the last man had a massive tiger based gryphon to bear his muscular body. Once they were all mounted they urged their gryphons over the stone wall around the castle grounds and began searching for the least treacherous path down the side of the plateau without going near the main road that led away from the castle. They ended up by the edge of the upper part of Queen’s Lake near the top of the waterfall that fell into the lower lake. “We’ll have to make our way down from here.”

“Can’t we just fly down?” The antsy blonde was, well, still antsy. The princess watched the man fidget every few minutes and constantly shift position. He reminded her of some of the village children withhow they had too much energyu to remain still for very long…most adult grew out of that but this one clearly hadn’t done so.

“We could…if we want to risk our gryphons breaking a wing trying to maneuver the dense branches with us on their backs.”

“Which we don’t…so we have to let them climb down this way.”

“Correct. You alright little one?”

“I’m fine…not the first time we’ve come down this way…remember?”

“How could I forget? You shoved me over the edge of the falls.”

“You were being a jerk…you deserved it.”

“I did…but it was still cold that day.”

“You lived.”

The other men all seemed to be amused at hearing about their leader’s childhood with her so she decided that she would share more stories once they were out of the danger zone. “I’ll tell you boys some more embarassing stories later.”

“You will not.”

“I will too…and you can’t stop me…you never could.”

“I’m a lot stronger now little one.”

“I can see that.”

The way her eyes roamed his figure left him feeling like she could see right through him and he heard more than one of his men snort softly in amusement as his face turned red. The princess gave them all a saucy little grin before mounting her gryphon.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten on it so far. Let me know what you think.

Mari Hill

I have written short stories that I’ve worked on or kept in my keep file for up to 2 years. I didn’t know how to write a short story, but kept trying now I don’t think I could write another 300 page novel again if my life depended on it. However, I find my new love (Short Stories) thriller, horror difficult to sell to magazines or enter in competitions…I’m obsessed and won’t stop writing them!!!! Anyone know more about this Kindle Short Story Section?


I’ve been challenged (by a writing instructor) to write a short story of about 500 words or one full page. This seems a bit constraining to me, but I’d welcome any tips.

Morgan’s Fiasco

Our dinky rented room on the edge of Ohio U’s campus was really the basement level of an old frame house built into the side of a hill. Gabe, the rather eccentric old lady who owned the place lived above us in the rest of the house. We had our own entrance, so whatever went on in there was pretty much up to my roommate, Morgan, and me. One evening in the semi darkness of our room, I was trying to study by the dim light of a gooseneck lamp over our ancient second hand desk. George Shearing was issuing forth some soothing sounds on our 45 record player. Suddenly, Morgan, lying across the bottom bed of our double bunks, suddenly broke the silence by blurting out of nowhere, “We can fix that!” My muttered and obviously disinterested response was, “Hunh?” His convoluted answer increased in volume and conviction as he addressed the fact that our ceiling was made up of old, gray, tongue and grove wood slats. It was similar to many old porches built in the 1930’s, and was, indeed, rather ugly for a bedroom. His brilliant inspiration was that we could make up a huge batch of paper mache from strips of torn newspaper soaked in a mix of water and flour, and coat the ceiling it it. When it dried, we could roll on some of that fancy new Kem-Tone paint. “It’d lighten the place up – we’d have a great looking room at almost no cost,” he enthused. Dumb me. I went along with it, little guessing the horrific outcome of our folly. After a day’s hard work, and not getting too much paint or flour mix dripped around the room, it did look pretty good. At least it was brighter. The next night as I lay in my upper bunk trying to get to sleep, I could still smell the freshness of our beautiful new ceiling just a foot or so above my head. Suddenly I heard a funny noise close at hand. “Skritch, scratch, skritch . . .” My eyes popped wide open with the sudden realization of what I was hearing. Rats! There were rats attracted to the flour in our paper mache mix and they were between our ceiling and the floor above trying their best to get at it. I was off that bunk in a bound, pummeling and yelling incoherently at my hapless roommate who had no idea what it was all about. Needless to say, I spent a wakeful night trying to sleep on the floor, keeping one eye open in case of a “break through.” Some rat baits were set out next morning, and no further gnawing was heard for a couple days. But the worst was yet to come. Try to imagine the putrid aroma of one or more dead rats who met their demise in the confined space between the floors of our rooming house. It took weeks for the smell to dissipate, and just about that long for me to forgive Morgan’s creative genius.

Jackie Houchin

I just got an idea – a spin off from my Fall Contest Short Story. But I’m afraid to write it here. I might expel all the “juice” and then not write it all out.

Oh, gosh! You had me quaking and looking over my shoulder. What visuals! What imagination! What suspense and…. horror! Good job. Did you do that all in just 15 minutes??? If so, I have no hope.

Larry McCormack

I can’t seriously take writing advice from a man that hasn’t yet grasped the situational spelling of your.

‘You don’t have to follow your scene list exactly, but they definitely help you work through your story, especially if your writing over multiple sittings.’

Alice Sudlow

Those pesky grammar slip-ups happen to the best of us. It’s fixed now. Thanks for pointing it out!

Colbat Comet

“So they lived happily ever after,” finished Ms. Taslahm. Heather Giron yawned. The one thing that was worse than cleaning the poop of the old brown mare the school owned, a scrawny one that was called Marigold, was listening to Ms. Taslahm’s long, boring tales of this and that that were supposedly supposed to help them during life, like they had for A+ student from more than 100 years ago, Briar Rose, who later became Sleeping Beauty, or wishful Ella, who later became well-known Cinderella. Heather, really, didn’t see anything in her future that may lead her to a wonderful fortune and a story of her own. But that was okay. She didn’t exactly mind. It wasn’t as if she was expecting a wonderful fortune such as someone… Heather cast a side-glance at Savannah Rivers. Savannah Rivers was an annoying, pesky know-it-all of a girl. She had curly black hair and perfectly glossed lips. She had tanner, richer skin than most people in the village, and always wore beautiful, colorful gowns, a obvious contrast to Heather’s dull ones. Today, Savannah’s gown was a pale pink, and it matched her lip gloss and eyeshadow on her heavy lidded gray eyes. Noticing Heather watching her, Savannah smacked her lips and smiled the beautiful princess smile that all the boys fell for. She flashed it at Heather, who returned it with a big, exaggerated motion of someone flipping her hair, a.k.a. Savannah. Sincere Roque leaned over and laughed. Sincere Roque was one of Heather’s’ friends. He had a unique combination of eyes, 1 amber and 1 green. He loved acting. He had honey-colored hair and exactly 14 freckles…not that Heather noticed. Savannah shot them a frown then turned again, listening to Ms. Taslahm as she described the next task they were going to take. “After all, you never know when you’ll get your fortune, or your clue, that with the right knowledge can lead you write to your prince or your damsel in distress.” Kaden Kidd, Sincere’s best friend and ‘Prank Master in Training’ (as Sincere called it), raised his hand. Kaden’s family all had the same dark eyes and black, straight hair. Most of Kaden’s family, though, had pale, white skin, but Kaden had the opposite. He had bronze skin, which he was quite proud of. “Yes, Kaden.” Ms. Taslahm said with a hint of exhaustion in her voice. “Did you ever have a prince, or were you ever ad damsel in distress?” Ms. Taslahm narrowed her eyes. “Yes once…with another girl. The prince swooped in to save us, but he could only take one. He took the other girl, and Wizard Foaly’s henchman, Todd Fincher, had to save me. It was the worst day of my life.” Ms. Taslahm buried her face in her hands. Kaden snickered. “Isn’t that Old Todd from the Village Block. I thought he was Ms. Taslahm’s brother, not husband.” Now Heather had a question. Do you really have to be a damsel in distress to get a prince or a fortune? And do you hafta get a fortune? Can’t we just live like this? While she debated if she should ask the question or not, she stretched on her tree stump. Yes, tree stump. The villages’ school was so small and poor, that they couldn’t afford desks or chairs for everyone, proper lunch, or actual books so the students could read along with the teacher. All this was because of the School Overseer. He was a greedy old man, and whenever the payings came for the teachers and school, he often just took it himself. His office was a dream, and the only reason the teachers stayed teaching was because the loved and felt sorry for the kids. Heather just couldn’t see why. She felt sorry for herself now, and just thinking about it made the boring, fidgety ache come back. And a bit sorry for Ms. Taslahm. But she still tortured Heather everyday and night, and no matter what Ms. Taslahm did or feel was going to change that. Finally, Heather raised her hand, ignoring the snickers coming from Savannah’s side, and the fact that her ripped, tattered sleeve of one of her 5 dresses was growing short. “Yes?” Ms. Taslahm looked more than a bit annoyed. “Do you have to be a damsel in distress to get a prince and a fortune? And what’s so important about a fortune?” Silence settled around the class. Now Ms. Taslahm looked like she was going to go bonkers. “YES! YOU HAVE TO GET A PRINCE TO BE A PRINCESS AND TO GET A FORTUNE, AND YOU HAVE TO BE A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS TO BE A PRINCESS! WHERE HAS YOUR HEAD BEEN THESE LAST TWO YEARS HEATHER GIRON! AND YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T GET A FORTUNE, GIRON! YOU END UP A SLAVE OR A TIRELESS WORKER, GETTING NO MONEY, WITH A LUNATIC OF A HUSBAND. YOU FALL OF THE TREE OF LIFE. YOU BECOME GOD’S LAUGHINGSTOCK! AND THEN YOU DIE!” Ms. Taslahm’s face became red and splotchy. Then, her voice softened. “I really hope you guys learn and listen to everything that I teach…it’ll help, a lot. Now, excuse me for a sec…” After Ms. Taslahm got out of hearing range, Sincere whooped and Kaden patted my back. “Congrats, Heather, you won. You made her blow big-time!” Dimly, Heather remembered the contest the boys and Heather had made. Whoever made their teacher ‘blow’, won. But that was by far the last thing on her mind. Is life really like that. You get a prince, you win, if not, you lose and perish…wow. Heather rubbed her temples as the full force of life slammed into her, and as she did, her strawberry blond hair swooped around her, covering her in what seemed like a safe, copper, veil, away and away from reality and, well, life. Away and away. (Comments, Suggestions?)

Mary M

Life could be hard most of the times and it could be horrible. The worst thing about it though, is that people come and go. Living in the moment, we are all blissfully ignorant to the fact that maybe one day, the person in front of us could be a thousand miles away. We don’t usually think about it. What we usually think about is the future we could have with that one person together. We are hopeful that no matter what happens, we’ll always stay the same. We start building that perfect image of the future and how it would be with that one person beside us, but we always seem to forget that, in fact, people do come and go.

To me, it was great shock when that one person left me. I was very close to her: we were practically sisters. I had known her since we were kids. We grew up together; in fact, I can’t remember what my life was like before her. Both our parents believed that we are inseparable, and they made me believe it. What I didn’t know was the fact that they knew. They knew that one day she could leave me. They knew that in all honesty we weren’t inseparable. Most importantly, they knew that people come and go.

We were in the same middle school. We would go to school together and laugh along the way. She would pull me from my arm and drag to the school ground. Life was merrily moving on and we were mere kids living our lives. The last day of middle school – I remember it clearly- the sun was shining brightly in the sky. It was one of those hot, burning days. We were heading back from school, racing through the tree shades and laughing. Obviously, the excitement of the vacation hyped us up. If only I had paid attention at that time, I would’ve seen that my friend’s steps lacked their usual bounce and her smile lacked the usual sparkle. Thinking back to it again, I realized that her dreadlocks fell dead on her shoulders and gently swayed with the heat-filled wind. Her shoulders were slightly hunched with the weight of the news she had carried.

I was too excited to notice any of those little details, and I should’ve. We pranced all the way to our houses (we lived beside each other). As we were used to, we both ran through my front door as soon as it was opened. On the inside wasn’t what I expected. Mrs. and Mr. Sullivan were in the living room. It wasn’t something out of the ordinary though; they were always over at our house. Their faces, I will never forget the solemn look they had on their faces. Mom ushered me and Nancy into the house hurriedly. We both threw our bags next to the couch. There was tension in the air and I could feel it.

“What’s wrong?” I asked as I sat on an armchair. The adults present all looked at one another sharing worried glances. Nancy walked slowly to her parent’s side and clasped her hands together. She sat at the edge of the couch with her head hung low and feet bouncing fast. She was nervous, I could tell.

“There’s something we need to discuss…” Mom moved her gaze towards Mrs. Sullivan motioning for her to start.

Mrs. Sullivan swallowed nervously and cleared her throat. “We know you and Nancy are such great, close friends,”

“And we know we’ve always dreamt of you two growing together,” Mr. Sullivan continued.

“But there are some times when things don’t always go the way we wanted them to,” my father laid a gentle hand on my shoulder. I looked at him confused then turned to everyone.

“I don’t get where this is going.” My voice was shaky fearing what they could say.

“Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan have gotten a new job opportunity in France-”

“Well, that’s great! They’ve always wanted that!” I interrupted my mother and beamed at the Sullivans.

“Yeah, it is, honey, ” my mom smiled sadly, “but…”

“But what?”

“We’re going to France, Lee.” Nancy spoke for the first time. I was very proud of the Sullivan couple for finally reaching their goals. However, it took me a few seconds to actually comprehend what she had just said. Slowly, the smile was erased from my face.

“No…” One word. Only one word, but it was packed with emotions. Tears burned my eyes. I covered my mouth in shock as my gaze raced from person to another, searching for a sign that this isn’t true. This isn’t happening! But they all watched me with sad faces and guilt.

“No, this can’t be happening. This can’t be happening!” I got up to my feet with thoughts racing through my head. “What about our high school years together? We’ve always wanted to go to high school together! It is an experience that cannot be relived any time! What about the parties and sleepovers we were gonna have? Huh? How are we gonna do that now when we’re thousands of miles apart?”

“It wouldn’t be that bad, you know we can chat over the internet.” She tried saying weakly as the tears ran don her face.

“Chat over the internet? You and me both know that isn’t going to happen! Or have you forgotten about Cassandra?” She took in a sharp breath at Cassey’s mention. “You promised you won’t leave me the same way she has!”

“I don’t have a choice!” She was on her feet by now.

“Sure you do! You can stay here!”

“And leave my parents? Lee, you know I can’t live without them!”

“So that’s it? You’re actually going to leave me?” Both our eyes were bloodshot. The adults just sat there, barely holding their tears.

“I guess that’s it.” A second’s pause passed before we embraced each other. Our sobs were loud as we held onto each other. We slowly slid onto the ground; the adults soon joined us.

That moment I would never forget. The moment my best friend left me behind. It was the moment I realized how hard life could be. You truly never know someone’s value until they’re taken away from you. Even through the heartbreaks and break-ups I’ve went through in high school and college, nothing was worse or more painful than that one moment.

People come and go, that’s the way life is. They always leave an imprint of themselves behind, but their memories last long.

People will always come and will always go, but their memories will last long and strong.

Chase S.

The river was our life, yet it was our death. If it wasn’t for the current, and the water of the river, our crop fields would be nothing more than dry, dusty, useless plains. But the river was a deathtrap, after we would get a great harvest, the river would flood our small town, destroying houses, building, and lots of the crops. Livestock would die, and our villagers would be killed. As the main farmer, I tried to make a wall or a levee on the branch of the river that flows next to my lush crop field, but every time, the river would wash over, breaking the wall and destroying everything, I was determined not to let that happen. On July 2, just three months away from harvest, I got up at 5:00 AM, tired, and sleepy, being up 30 minutes earlier than usual. I’ve thought of moving to Italy or Israel, but even if I sold the crop field I wouldn’t make it, and the citizens here would die without me. I sighed, it was a hard life, but at least my wife and family was with me, well most of them. Last year My son moved to Greece, and my daughter, was killed by the flood. The grief follows me everywhere, my other kid is too young to remember them. I also fought with the guilt of my daughter’s death, if I just tried a little bit harder, got up a little bit earlier, I could have saved her, but I didn’t and now it’s too late. I sat there for a second and wiped a tear from my cheek, for her, I will stop the flood and make sure nobody else must suffer the pain and grief I have, NOBODY. I got up and got dressed. I looked in the mirror, and could barely recognize the man in it. I had calices, and wrinkles, and grey hair. My hair was messed up, my boots dirty, and my clothes ripped and torn, I don’t care how I look anymore, after her death, I quit caring about my looks, I just got up and left. Hygiene wasn’t a number one priority either, I barely brushed my teeth, and took a shower every one or two weeks. I didn’t care much for food either. Every morning I would get up, drink a cup of coffee, eat a slice of bread, and an egg. Then in the afternoon, I would retire to the house, my wife would cook something, then I’d drown my sorrows and burdens in whiskey. But to the current task, I was as determined as ever, and wasn’t going to waste any time. My servant would be tending to the farm all day, while I worked on the river. I grabbed a stale piece of bread, and shoved it in my mouth, barely noticing its terrible taste and its staleness. I skipped having a coffee or anything else. I went outside, the sun wasn’t up yet, but there was a faint red line the west, signaling that it was coming soon. I mounted my horse, and rode to the supply store. Once in town, I stopped at the store and bought tons of bricks, I paid for it, and left, determined to waste no time. By the time, I got back to the farm, the sun was up, and it was around 6:30. I had already wasted too much time. I went to the river and started putting the bricks together. I left a hole in the bottom, so the farm could still get water. I grew tired and tired, when eventually, after lugging a heavy brick, I fell, and I heard a crack. The pain was fierce, like I was getting stabbed with a million needles at once, and it kept going, the pain was sharp and searing, and it was in my back. I couldn’t move, I tried calling for help, but my mouth wouldn’t cooperate, I started seeing stars, and eventually, everything went black, and my head fell down hard, hurting more.


I asked the servant if he’d seen him, and he said, “I reckon I haven’t, seems a bit suspicious to me. Tell me if you have, he still owes me some money.” He started chuckling, but when he saw my solemn face, he quieted and got a somber look, “I hope you find him, good day ma’am.” He tipped his hat and kept milking a cow. I don’t know what to think, but eventually, I saw some bricks, then I saw a huge rock laying by it. When I realized, it wasn’t a rock, it was my husband! I nearly fainted, and choked back a sob, the pain of my daughter’s death became all too real again. I looked at him, he was breathing, but he wasn’t moving at all, his eyes were closed, he looked as if he was in another dimension and he looked like he was falling away, I gagged, and chocked back another sob. I ran up the hill and called for the servant to get the medic, and told him the situation, he complied, and I rushed back to my husband.

Everything was black, I was completely numb, and all feeling and heat went right out of my body, everything was cold, and I began to shiver inside my skin, then the memories came… I just exited the barn when I heard the screaming, it was oddly familiar, and I felt like I should know, the voice was tugging at me, when I remembered with a sickening nature, it was my daughter! I tried to run to her, at least my brain did, but my body wouldn’t comply. I was stuck there, helpless and my daughter screaming. What’s happening? I began to move when I heard the familiar gushing, the sound of the waves, and the river, it was flood season! Oh, no, my daughter, she must be there! I started sprinting, when I was stopped short. The gushing got louder, and louder, then BAM! The river exploded with an ear-cracking sound, like it did every year, except this year was different, the river noises were mixed with the screaming of my daughter, and I tried to run, but I was engulfed in water. I swam with all my might against the strong current to get to my daughter, but I couldn’t, I tried for a little bit, then, became tired, and couldn’t do anything, I had to use all my strength just to stay above water so I wouldn’t drown. I hoped that maybe the current would push my daughter to me, but I abandoned it when my daughter was pulled deep into the gushing, overflowing, imploding river, I then realized that this would be the end if I didn’t do something, so I swam as hard as I could, but after I moved a few feet, my arms burned, my legs roared with pain, and my body screamed for me to stop, but my brain told me to move forward, but I couldn’t, not one bit, my body shut down, and I couldn’t move, I sank to the bottom, and abdicated all hope of being able to rescue my daughter, Don’t worry, they’re going to find her, I just know it! The optimistic part of my brain said. But the rational part of my brain knew it wasn’t possible, and soon the rest of my mind agreed, and I felt defeated, like someone had come and took a huge chunk right out of my body and left it there. And I began to hope they wouldn’t save me either, so I could be with my daughter and live in eternal peace, then I could apologize that I wasn’t man enough to save her. I was at the bottom of the water, and I felt like paper, with no soul in me, and the water moved me, until I passed out.

The memories kept coming, one of my daughters funeral, one when my son left, one when me and my wife got married, and I let them come, until the second part of the daughter catastrophe came, then I began to fight, I didn’t want to see another atrocity, I wouldn’t let it happen, but the memory flood in anyways and I gave up.

I woke up, the water was gone, and the river was flowing like normal, I was accompanied by many medics, when one of them yelled, “He’s awake!” and they cheered, I would be cheering too, if I wasn’t the one about to die, almost nobody survived the flood, even if we recovered them, we could not get them to live, and some people would wake up, but die in the hospital. “We need to get him to the hospital immediately!” A medic with a white jacket and a red cross yelled, whom I assumed was the head medic. “No!” I yelled, and coughed up seawater, “My, daughter,” I got out and then the pain attacked me again. The doctor got a solemn look, and it looked like my wife choked back a sob, “I’m sorry to inform you of this, but we recovered your daughter and brought her back to life, but she was paralyzed, and soon died from a stroke.” I tried to be tough, but it wouldn’t happen, and began to sob, the doctor patted me on my back, and said, “I’m terribly sorry, but we are going to take you to the hospital, and our flood prevention donors are going to pay for her wedding and your medical bills.” I wanted to resist, I wanted to stop them from taking me to the hospital, I wanted to do something, anything, but it wouldn’t happen, and I let them take me, with the pain attacking me, fiercely, and I felt like I was imploding, I sighed, and fell asleep.

I woke up, finally away from the terrible memories, I attempted to sit up, but pain seared through me, and the pain engulfed me. I choked back a sob, the memories making the pain all too real again. I attempted to sit up again, when I realized I wasn’t where I was when I fell. I was in a hospital, the same one I was in when my daughter died, my first thought was that this was another memory, but I thought better of it when more pain seared through me. Then, I couldn’t move my right arm, or my left leg, and most of my body wasn’t responding, and it and the pain were threatening to engulf me. I tried to sit up, but all that happened was another searing pain, I cried out in agony. Then, the doctors came rushing to me. “I can’t move.” I managed to get out through gritted teeth, just with that little amount of talking, I felt tired, and more pain came. The doctor looked though some papers, then examined, me, and looked at a device, “Oh, dear.” He said, which made me feel a big scared. “What happened?” I managed again, the doctor looked at me, sighed, then talked, “When you were lugging that brick you fell, assuming because you were tired, and you landed on your arm wrong, which broke it, but when you fell, the brick fell on your back, breaking it, and,” he took a deep breath, then said, “making you paralyzed.” He left with a solemn look as I let that sink in, he had to be wrong, I tried to move, but couldn’t and tried to remain calm, but screamed inside my brain, fear, and pain attacked me, and me not being able to take it. I laid there, not knowing what to do or think, I was paralyzed, I’ll never be able to prevent the floods. I felt defeated, I surrendered, abdicating my chances of stopping the flood, and inside my mind, I was dying, I couldn’t take it, and pain seared through my body. Then, with a start, I awoke, and got ready to get to work.

Kathie Berry

Hi Everyone, Just getting started here and it looks like a wonderful spot to become a better writer. I like the forum setting also to exchange ideas and get input from others. Speaking of input, I have had a certain novel that I have wanted to write for a long time. I have a site and am starting to make a home for it and other works but it’s a sweeping storyline spanning years.I see my first lesson is to write a short story instead. I am not sure that I can pare this one down to a story in that amout of words and time.

So I would love some advice. Should I choose a subject from the list that was given to me or do a “partial ” story choosing a specific time frame, happening, or incident that could have a beginning and end derived from the book I want to write later? Thank you for any ideas and/or advice! Kathie

Elmer Homero Reyes Castillo

Gabriel García Marquez has a short story, “monologue of Isabel watching rain in Macondo”, which was originally part of a novel (like a chapter or something) but he decided he wasnt gonna use it, even tho he had already written it. So I’m guessing he wrote each chapter like a new short story, almost. His style is kinda difficult to copy, so maybe thats not a good example. Perhaps it doesnt really matter what you write, as long as you write it. Looking forward to reading some of your stuff, short or long 😀

Hannah Foust

This is my 15 minute writing practice. Usually, I do a lot more detail and something along the lines of romance, but for some reason I had a small idea of it having to do with a robotic girl and I just expanded onto it as I went along. I hope you like it! I’d like to know your thoughts on it too, what I did good and what I need to work on. If you have any interest in contacting me, just let me know. Thanks!

“When she was little, she never touched a Barbie doll like the other girls. She never thought about makeup. She was different. She read constantly. She learned to write stories at the age of 7. She could calculate the answers to basic Algebraic equations when she was 9. She didn’t just want to learn, it was as if she needed to learn. So that’s why I wasn’t surprised when the doctors told me she did.

Whenever I’d go over to her house and visit her, she’d be listening to music with her earbuds in while she did something like a puzzle on the floor. She’d never hear me walk in. But as soon as I asked her, say, maybe a mathematical question, all focus was on me and she’d be determined on getting the correct answer. She was strange. I never understood her ways or why she was the way she was, but I accepted it. I accepted her. I didn’t realize I’d be accepting an it.

I got the call on Wednesday morning around 3 A.M.. It was an officer from the police department. I was confused and scared. What could possibly be wrong? A million things. A million things could be wrong. I asked every question I could think of or manage to get out of my mouth, but all I could get for an answer from whoever it was on the other line was: “Come down here and see for yourself.” So I went down there to the police station. When I arrived I was wondering why we weren’t somewhere such as a hospital already. As I walked in, I knew why. For Lilith, we don’t need a hospital, we need a mechanic.

Lilith was sitting in a chair while uncertain medics, police officers, mechanics, and many others were surrounding her. At a distance her father was holding her mother in her arms as she cried, I’d expect him to, but he wasn’t. He was just staring at his daughter, a blank expression across his face. I ran over to them, only a few of the million questions I had, spilling out of my mouth. I couldn’t get a response from either.

I turned and barged into the crowd of people surrounding Lilith. “Lilith!” I screamed. No response from her, no movement, no words spoken, nothing. It’s as if there was a switch on her and it was turned off. I pushed through the crowds and they obliged, allowing me near her until I was on my knees crying as the wires that were strewn out of her knees lay twisted and coiled on the floor around me. What happened to her? What happened to my best friend?

To answer that question for you, the government persuaded her father that it was the right thing to do. That it’d be alright. That’d it’d be safe, for them to experiment on his daughter. They had a theory that if they somehow rearranged body parts and substituted wires and motors and such for things like organs and tissues, later in life the average human would be invincible. They’d be capable of learning anything. They’d be capable of learning everything. But Lilith, she learned everything already by the age of 19. What else was there for her to do? Her life goal was to do such and she’d done it. Her body was shutting down. She needed to know more, her robotic body needed it. Her mechanical mind needed stimulated by something.

Although she was mostly robotic, she was also partially human. She had one of the most humane things, emotion. And she was suffering as she grew weaker everyday. Literally dying to know more. As the robotic part of her began to give up, so did the human part. She gave up. She didn’t want to be just an experiment, and she definitely didn’t want to give any result to the scientists who thought this would be alright, that it was successful. So she let them know that it failed as she slashed through the wires and circuits inside her, turning off all parts of her, both motorized and mortal.”

Gordon Jeffery

I am currently working on a collection of short stories. It is in the beginning stages but the process is by far the most enjoyable part. I have about two thousand words completed so far. I roughly have spent about 5 hrs. The tips in this site have given me a clear path to creating a great story.I just want it to be able to relate to the reader grammatically. That’s my main concern but doing research is part of the journey.


Amazing tips. I have written a mystery novella with twist in the end. When I started it I intended it to be a short story but it got stretched to 46 pages of length. It’s available on my blog. You may check it and feedback will be highly appreciated http://neuriverse.blogspot.in/

Larry Bone

Sarah, The most challenging part of writing a short story is having an idea from personal experience. Having a general idea of it as a slice of life. But what is the theme? You get a sort of theme in what you want the story to communicate. You write bits and pieces but the biggest challenge is making all fit together. Particularly you want a series of actions and you want the reader to think of the theme naturally occurring out of accumulated flow of the story. Larry B.


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44 Short Story Ideas

Here are lots of short story ideas that you can use as writing prompts. Any of these ideas can be used either humorously or dramatically... or you can try both. Have fun!

Story ideas - 3 elements

Choose a set of three elements and write a story that contains all three of them! Extreme challenge: combine three of the elements with one of the other short story ideas on this page.

  • A stolen ring, fear of spiders, and a sinister stranger.
  • A taxi, an old enemy, and Valentine's Day.
  • Identical twins, a party invitation, and a locked closet.
  • A broken wristwatch, peppermints, and a hug that goes too far.
  • Aerobics, a secret diary, and something unpleasant under the bed.
  • An ex-boyfriend, a pair of binoculars, and a good-luck charm.
  • An annoying boss, a bikini, and a fake illness.
  • The first day of school, a love note, and a recipe with a significant mistake.
  • A horoscope, makeup, and a missing tooth.
  • A campfire, a scream, and a small lie that gets bigger and bigger.

More short story ideas

Challenge: 4 stories in 4 weeks using these short story ideas. Are you up to it? Extreme challenge: Why not write a book of short stories? Choose seven or eight short story ideas to get started.

11. A babysitter is snooping around her employer's house and finds a disturbing photograph...

12. At a Chinese restaurant, your character opens his fortune cookie and reads the following message: "Your life is in danger. Say nothing to anyone. You must leave the city immediately and never return. Repeat: say nothing."...

13. Your character's boss invites her and her husband to dinner. Your character wants to make a good impression, but her husband has a tendency to drink too much and say exactly what's on his mind...

14. It's your character's first day at a new school. He or she wants to get a fresh start, develop a new identity. But in his or her homeroom, your character encounters a kid he or she knows from summer camp...

15. Your character has to tell his parents that he's getting a divorce. He knows his parents will take his wife's side, and he is right...

16. At the airport, a stranger offers your character money to carry a mysterious package onto the plane. The stranger assures your character that it's nothing illegal and points out that it has already been through the security check. Your character has serious doubts, but needs the money, and therefore agrees...

17. Your character suspects her husband is having an affair and decides to spy on him. What she discovers is not what she was expecting...

18. A man elbows your character in a crowd. After he is gone, she discovers her cell phone is too. She calls her own number, and the man answers. She explains that the cell phone has personal information on it and asks the man to send it back to her. He hangs up. Instead of going to the police, your character decides to take matters into her own hands...

19. After your character loses his job, he is home during the day. That's how he discovers that his teenage son has a small marijuana plantation behind the garage. Your character confronts his son, who, instead of acting repentant, explains to your character exactly how much money he is making from the marijuana and tries to persuade your character to join in the business...

20. At a garage sale, your character buys an antique urn which she thinks will look nice decorating her bookcase. But when she gets home, she realizes there are someone's ashes in it...

Learn to make your story a page-turner with our online course Irresistible Fiction.

Even more short story ideas

21. Your character starts receiving flowers and anonymous gifts. She doesn't know who is sending them. Her husband is suspicious, and the gifts begin to get stranger....

22. A missionary visits your character's house and attempts to convert her to his religion. Your character is trying to get rid of him just as storm warning sirens go off. Your character feels she can't send the missionary out into the storm, so she lets him come down into her basement with her. This is going to be a long storm....

23. Your character is caught shoplifting. The shop owner says that she won't call the police in exchange for a personal favor....

24. Your character is visiting his parents over a holiday. He is returning some books to the library for his mother and is startled to notice that the librarian looks exactly like him, only about thirty years older. He immediately begins to suspect that his mother had an affair at one time and the librarian is his real father...

25. Your character picks up a hitchhiker on her way home from work. The hitchhiker tries to persuade your character to leave everything and drive her across the country...

26. Your character has to sell the house where she grew up. A potential buyer comes to look at it and begins to talk about all of the changes she would make to the place. This upsets your character, who decides she wants to find a buyer who will leave everything the way it has always been....

27. A bat gets in the house. Your character's husband becomes hysterical, frightened that it might be rabid. In his panic, he ends up shutting the bat in a room with your character while he calls an exterminator from a safe place in the house. His behavior makes your character see her husband in a new way....

28. Your character changes jobs in order to have more time with his family. But his family doesn't seem interested in having him around...

29. Your character develops the idea that she can hear the voices of the dead on a certain radio channel. She decides to take advantage of this channel to find answers to some questions that are bothering her about her dead parents....

30. Your character's dream is to be a professional dancer. At a party, she mentions this dream to a stranger, who says that he has contacts in the dance world and gets her an audition for a prestigious dance troupe. One problem: your character doesn't know how to dance. Your character decides to accept the audition anyway and look for a solution....

And still more short story ideas

31. Your character thinks her boss is looking for an excuse to fire her. She decides to fight back....

32. Your character goes out for dinner on a date and becomes attracted to the waiter or waitress....

32. Your character notices that a stranger is following her. She pretends not to notice. The stranger follows her home and watches her go inside. Then when he leaves, your character turns the tables and starts to follow him....

34. A child moves into a new house and finds out that the other kids in town think it's haunted. She begins to invent ghost stories to tell at school in order to get attention. But the more stories she tells, the more frightened she becomes of the house...

35. Your elderly character escapes from the retirement home where his or her children have placed him or her....

36. Your character gets cosmetic surgery in an attempt to make her boyfriend love her more. But then she worries he only loves her for her looks....

37. Your character is a writer. But his new neighbors are so noisy that he can neither work nor sleep. He decides to take action....

38. Your character's mother-in-law comes to visit for a week, and your character suspects she is trying to poison him. He shares his suspicion with his wife, who says he's always hated her mother but this accusation is going too far. Meanwhile, your character has stomach cramps, and his mother-in-law is downstairs making breakfast again....

39. It's a freezing cold night. Your character finds a homeless family on his doorstep and invites them into his home to sleep. But in the morning, the family doesn't leave....

40. Your character has recently married a man with two teenage children. The children resent her, and she tries to avoid them altogether. Then her new husband (their father) disappears suddenly, leaving only a short good-bye note....

Story ideas: personal creative writing challenges

41. Make a list of five things you're afraid of happening to you. Then write a story in which one of them happens to your character..

42. Think of a big problem that one of your friends had to face. Then write a story in which your character battles with that problem..

43. What is one of your bad habits? Invent a character who has the bad habit, but a much worse case of it than you have. Write a story where this habit gets your character into trouble.

44. What is one of your greatest strengths? Invent a character who doesn't have this strength. Create a situation in which having this strength is very important for your character. What does your character do? Write the story.

Keep the short story ideas flowing

  • If you're looking for more detailed story ideas , you'll find them here.
  • Our 8-week course will show you how to write an unputdownable story .
  • Browse more creative writing prompts .
  • Short Story Ideas

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Jerz's Literacy Weblog (est. 1999)

Short story tips: 10 hacks to improve your creative writing.

Jerz > Writing > General Creative Writing Tips [  Poetry  | Fiction ]

Writing short stories  means beginning as close to the climax as possible — everything else is a distraction. A novel can take a more meandering path, but should still start with a scene that sets the tone for the whole book.

A short story conserves characters and scenes, typically by focusing on just one conflict , and drives towards a sudden, unexpected revelation. Go easy on the exposition and talky backstory — your reader doesn’t need to know everything that you know about your characters.

  • Get Started : Emergency Tips
  • Write a Catchy First Paragraph
  • Develop Your Characters
  • Choose a Point of View
  • Write Meaningful Dialogue
  • Use Setting and Context
  • Set up the Plot
  • Create Conflict and Tension
  • Build to a Crisis or a Climax
  • Deliver a Resolution

1. Get Started: Emergency Tips

Do you have a short story assignment due tomorrow morning ? The rest of this document covers longer-term strategies, but if you are in a pinch, these emergency tips should help. Good luck!

It Was Naptime: Show Don't (Just) Tell

  • When the story begins , what morally significant action  has your protagonist taken towards that goal ? (Your protagonist should already have made a conscious choice, good or bad, that drives the rest of the story.)
  • What obstacles must the protagonist overcome in order to reach the goal? (Simply having a rival is not that interesting. Yes, Harry Potter defeats Voldemort, but first he has to mature into a leader with the moral clarity and teamwork skills necessary to defeat Voldemort. A short story can’t possibly tackle that kind of character development, but a character who faces internal obstacles and must negotiate messy moral trade-offs is more dramatically interesting than the hero in the white hat who has to use the right weapon to defeat the villain in the black hat.)
  • What unexpected consequences — directly related to the protagonist’s goal-oriented actions — ramp up the emotional energy of the story? (Will the unexpected consequences force your protagonist to make yet another choice, leading to still more consequences? How does your protagonist change over the course of the story?)

a short creative writing story

  • Omit travel scenes. (Save words. “Later, at the office…”)
  • Omit scenes where character A tells character B exactly what we just saw happening to character A. (Omit redundancy. Focus on advancing your story. “As I filled Slim in on what I had just seen in the saloon, he dropped his show of apathy and his fingers clutched at his revolver.”)
  • Facial expressions of a first-person narrator. (Narrators in stories aren’t looking at video being live-streamed from a floating drone that follows them around everywhere, so they can’t report “A smile lit my face” or “My eyes darkened.” See Writing Dialogue .)
  • At the climax , what morally significant choice does your protagonist make? (Your reader should care about the protagonist’s decision, and ideally shouldn’t see it coming.)

An effective short story (or poem ) does not simply record or express the author’s feelings; rather, it generates feelings in the reader. (See “ Show, Don’t (Just) Tell .”)

Drawing on your own real-life experiences, such as winning the big game, bouncing back after an illness or injury, or dealing with the death of a loved one, are attractive choices for students who are looking for a “personal essay” topic. But simply listing the emotions you experienced (“It was exciting,” “I’ll never forget how heart-broken I felt,” “I miss her so much I’ll never the same without her”) is not the same thing as generating emotions for your readers to experience.

For those of you who are looking for more long-term writing strategies , here are some additional ideas.

  • Keep a notebook. To R. V. Cassill, notebooks are “incubators,” a place to begin with overheard conversation, expressive phrases, images, ideas, and interpretations on the world around you.
  • Write on a regular, daily basis. Sit down and compose sentences for a couple of hours every day — even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Collect stories from everyone you meet. Keep the amazing, the unusual, the strange, the irrational stories you hear and use them for your own purposes. Study them for the underlying meaning and apply them to your understanding of the human condition.

Read, Read, Read

Read a LOT of Chekhov. Then re-read it. Read Raymond Carver, Earnest Hemingway, Alice Munro, and Tobias Wolff. If you don’t have time to read all of these authors, stick to Chekhov. He will teach you more than any writing teacher or workshop ever could. -Allyson Goldin, UWEC Asst. Professor of Creative Writing

2. Write a Catchy First Paragraph

In today’s fast-moving world, the first sentence of your narrative should catch your reader’s attention with the unusual, the unexpected, an action, or a conflict . Begin with tension and immediacy. Remember that short stories need to start close to their end.

I heard my neighbor through the wall.
Dry. Nothing sparks the reader’s imagination. 
The neighbor behind us practiced scream therapy in his shower almost every day.
Catches the reader’s attention. Who is this guy who goes in his shower every day and screams? Why does he do that? What, exactly, “scream therapy”? Let’s keep reading…
The first time I heard him, I stood in the bathroom listening at our shared wall for ten minutes, debating the wisdom of calling the police. It was very different from living in the duplex over middle-aged Mr. and Mrs. Brown and their two young sons in Duluth.
The rest of the paragraph introduces and an internal conflict as the protagonist debates a course of action and introduces an intriguing contrast of past and present setting.
“It is important to understand the basic elements of fiction writing before you consider how to put everything together. This process is comparable to producing something delectable in the kitchen–any ingredient that you put into your bowl of dough impacts your finished loaf of bread. To create a perfect loaf, you must balance ingredients baked for the correct amount of time and enhanced with the right polishing glaze.” -Laurel Yourke

3. Developing Characters

Your job, as a writer of short fiction–whatever your beliefs–is to put complex personalities on stage and let them strut and fret their brief hour. Perhaps the sound and fury they make will signify something that has more than passing value–that will, in Chekhov’s words, “make [man] see what he is like.” – Rick Demarnus

In order to develop a living, breathing, multi-faceted character, it is important to know way more about the character than you will ever use in the story . Here is a partial list of character details to help you get started.

Name Age Job Ethnicity Appearance Residence Pets Religion Hobbies Single or married? Children? Temperament Favorite color Friends Favorite foods Drinking patterns Phobias Faults Something hated? Secrets? Strong memories? Any illnesses? Nervous gestures? Sleep patterns

Imagining all these details will help you get to know your character, but your reader probably won’t need to know much more than the most important things in four areas :

  • Appearance. Gives your reader a visual understanding of the character.
  • Action. Show the reader what kind of person your character is, by describing actions rather than simply listing adjectives.
  • Speech. Develop the character as a person — don’t merely have your character announce important plot details.
  • Thought. Bring the reader into your character’s mind, to show them your character’s unexpressed memories, fears, and hopes.

For example, let’s say I want to develop a college student persona for a short story that I am writing. What do I know about her?

Her name is Jen, short for Jennifer Mary Johnson . She is 21 years old . She is a fair-skinned Norwegian with blue eyes , long, curly red hair , and is 5 feet 6 inches tall . Contrary to the stereotype about redheads, she is actually easygoing and rather shy . She loves cats and has two of them named Bailey and Allie. She is a technical writing major with a minor in biology. Jen plays the piano and is an amateur photographer . She lives in the dorms at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She eats pizza every day for lunch and loves Red Rose tea . She cracks her knuckles when she is nervous. Her mother just committed suicide.

4. Choose a Point of View

Point of view is the narration of the story from the perspective of first, second, or third person . As a writer, you need to determine who is going to tell the story and how much information is available for the narrator to reveal in the short story. The narrator can be directly involved in the action subjectively, or the narrator might only report the action  objectively.

I saw a tear roll down his cheek. I had never seen my father cry before. I looked away while he brushed the offending cheek with his hand.
This is a good choice for beginning writers because it is the easiest to write. (But if your viewpoint character is too much like you, a first-person story might end up being a too-transparent exercise in wish-fulfillment, or score-settling.)
You laughed loudly at the antics of the clown. You clapped your hands with joy.
(See also Jerz on .)
He ran to the big yellow loader sitting on the other side of the gravel pit shack.
Your narrator might take sides in the conflict you present, might be as transparent as possible, or might advocate a position that you want your reader to challenge (this is the “unreliable narrator” strategy).

Yourke on point of view:

  • First Person. “Unites narrator and reader through a series of secrets” when they enter one character’s perceptions. However, it can “lead to telling ” and limits readers connections to other characters in the short story.
  • Second Person. “Puts readers within the actual scene so that readers confront possibilities directly.” However, it is important to place your characters “in a tangible environment” so you don’t “omit the details readers need for clarity.”
  • Third Person Omniscient. Allows you to explore all of the characters’ thoughts and motivations. Transitions are extremely important as you move from character to character.
  • Third Person Limited. “Offers the intimacy of one character’s perceptions.” However, the writer must “deal with character absence from particular scenes.”

5. Write Meaningful Dialogue

Make your readers hear the pauses between the sentences. Let them see characters lean forward, fidget with their cuticles, avert their eyes, uncross their legs . – Jerome Stern

Dialogue is what your characters say to each other (or to themselves).

Each speaker gets his/her own paragraph , and the paragraph includes whatever you wish to say about what the character is doing when speaking. (See: “ Quotation Marks: Using Them in Dialogue “.)

Where are you going?” John cracked his knuckles while he looked at the floor. “To the racetrack.” Mary edged toward the door, keeping her eyes on John’s bent head. “Not again,” John stood up, flexing his fingers. “We are already maxed out on our credit cards.”
The above paragraph is confusing, because it is not clear when one speech stops and the other starts.
      “Where are you going?” John asked nervously.
      “To the racetrack,” Mary said, trying to figure out whether John was too upset to let her get away with it this time.
      “Not again,” said John, wondering how they would make that month’s rent. “We are already maxed out on our credit cards.”
The second example is mechanically correct, since it uses a separate paragraph to present each speaker’s turn advancing the conversation. But the narrative material between the direct quotes is mostly useless.

Write Meaningful Dialogue Labels

“John asked nervously” is an example of “telling.” The author could write “John asked very nervously” or “John asked so nervously that his voice was shaking,” and it still wouldn’t make the story any more effective.

How can the author convey John’s state of mind, without coming right out and telling the reader about it? By inference. That is, mention a detail that conjures up in the reader’s mind the image of a nervous person.

Any of the above would work.
John sat up and took a deep breath, knowing that his confrontation with Mary had to come now, or it would never come at all. “Wh– where are you going?” he stammered haltingly, staring vulnerably at the tattered Thomas the Tank Engine slippers Mary had given him so many years ago, in happier times.
Beware — a little detail goes a long way. Why would your reader bother to engage with the story, if the author carefully explains what each and every line means?

6. Use Setting and Context

Setting moves readers most when it contributes to an organic whole. So close your eyes and picture your characters within desert, jungle, or suburb–whichever setting shaped them. Imagining this helps balance location and characterization. Right from the start, view your characters inhabiting a distinct place. – – Laurel Yourke

Setting includes the time, location, context, and atmosphere where the plot takes place.

  • Remember to combine setting with characterization and plot .
  • Include enough detail to let your readers picture the scene but only details that actually add something to the story. (For example, do not describe Mary locking the front door, walking across the yard, opening the garage door, putting air in her bicycle tires, getting on her bicycle–none of these details matter except that she rode out of the driveway without looking down the street.)
  • Use two or more senses in your descriptions of setting.
Our sojourn in the desert was an educational contrast with its parched heat, dust storms, and cloudless blue sky filled with the blinding hot sun. The rare thunderstorm was a cause for celebration as the dry cement tunnels of the aqueducts filled rapidly with rushing water. Great rivers of sand flowed around and through the metropolitan inroads of man’s progress in the greater Phoenix area, forcefully moved aside for concrete and steel structures. Palm trees hovered over our heads and saguaro cactuses saluted us with their thorny arms.

7. Set Up the Plot

Plot is what happens, the storyline, the action. Jerome Stern says it is how you set up the situation, where the turning points of the story are, and what the characters do at the end of the story.

A plot is a series of events deliberately arranged so as to reveal their dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance. – Janet Burroway

Understanding these story elements for developing actions and their end results will help you plot your next short story.

  • Explosion or “Hook.” A thrilling, gripping, stirring event or problem that grabs the reader’s attention right away.
  • Conflict. A character versus the internal self or an external something or someone.
  • Exposition. Background information required for seeing the characters in context.
  • Complication. One or more problems that keep a character from their intended goal.
  • Transition. Image, symbol, dialogue, that joins paragraphs and scenes together.
  • Flashback. Remembering something that happened before the short story takes place.
  • Climax. When the rising action of the story reaches the peak.
  • Falling Action. Releasing the action of the story after the climax.
  • Resolution. When the internal or external conflict is resolved.

Brainstorming. If you are having trouble deciding on a plot, try brainstorming. Suppose you have a protagonist whose husband comes home one day and says he doesn’t love her any more and he is leaving. What are actions that can result from this situation?

  • She becomes a workaholic.
  • Their children are unhappy.
  • Their children want to live with their dad.
  • She moves to another city.
  • She gets a new job.
  • They sell the house.
  • She meets a psychiatrist and falls in love.
  • He comes back and she accepts him.
  • He comes back and she doesn’t accept him.
  • She commits suicide.
  • He commits suicide.
  • She moves in with her parents.

The next step is to select one action from the list and brainstorm another list from that particular action.

8. Create Conflict and Tension

Conflict is the fundamental element of fiction, fundamental because in literature only trouble is interesting. It takes trouble to turn the great themes of life into a story: birth, love, sex, work, and death. – Janet Burroway

Conflict produces tension that makes the story begin. Tension is created by opposition between the character or characters and internal or external forces or conditions. By balancing the opposing forces of the conflict, you keep readers glued to the pages wondering how the story will end.

Possible Conflicts Include:

  • The protagonist against another individual
  • The protagonist against nature (or technology)
  • The protagonist against society
  • The protagonist against God
  • The protagonist against himself or herself.

Yourke’s Conflict Checklist

  • Mystery. Explain just enough to tease readers. Never give everything away.
  • Empowerment. Give both sides options.
  • Progression. Keep intensifying the number and type of obstacles the protagonist faces.
  • Causality. Hold fictional characters more accountable than real people. Characters who make mistakes frequently pay, and, at least in fiction, commendable folks often reap rewards.
  • Surprise. Provide sufficient complexity to prevent readers predicting events too far in advance.
  • Empathy. Encourage reader identification with characters and scenarios that pleasantly or (unpleasantly) resonate with their own sweet dreams (or night sweats).
  • Insight. Reveal something about human nature.
  • Universality. Present a struggle that most readers find meaningful, even if the details of that struggle reflect a unique place and time.
  • High Stakes. Convince readers that the outcome matters because someone they care about could lose something precious. Trivial clashes often produce trivial fiction.

9. Build to a Crisis or Climax

This is the turning point of the story –the most exciting or dramatic moment.

The crisis may be a recognition, a decision, or a resolution. The character understands what hasn’t been seen before, or realizes what must be done, or finally decides to do it. It’s when the worm turns. Timing is crucial. If the crisis occurs too early, readers will expect still another turning point. If it occurs too late, readers will get impatient–the character will seem rather thick.- Jerome Stern

Jane Burroway says that the crisis “must always be presented as a scene. It is “the moment” the reader has been waiting for. In Cinderella’s case, “the payoff is when the slipper fits.”

While a good story needs a crisis, a random event such as a car crash or a sudden illness is simply an emergency –unless it somehow involves a conflict that makes the reader care about the characters (see: “ Crisis vs. Conflict “).

10. Find a Resolution

The solution to the conflict . In short fiction, it is difficult to provide a complete resolution and you often need to just show that characters are beginning to change in some way or starting to see things differently.

Yourke examines some of the options for ending a story.

  • Open. Readers determine the meaning. Brendan’s eyes looked away from the priest and up to the mountains.
  • Resolved. Clear-cut outcome. While John watched in despair, Helen loaded up the car with her belongings and drove away.
  • They were driving their 1964 Chevrolet Impala down the highway while the wind blew through their hair.
  • Her father drove up in a new 1964 Chevrolet Impala, a replacement for the one that burned up.
  • Monologue. Character comments. I wish Tom could have known Sister Dalbec’s prickly guidance before the dust devils of Sin City battered his soul.
  • Dialogue. Characters converse.
  • Literal Image. Setting or aspect of setting resolves the plot. The aqueducts were empty now and the sun was shining once more.
  • Symbolic Image. Details represent a meaning beyond the literal one. Looking up at the sky, I saw a cloud cross the shimmering blue sky above us as we stood in the morning heat of Sin City.

Got Writer’s Block?

The Writer’s Block Comprehensive Web site that offers solutions to beating writer’s block such as various exercises (not necessarily physical), advice from prolific writers, and how to know if you really have writer’s block.

Overcoming Writer’s Block Precise, short list of ways to start writing again.

Learn through Schooling Some online colleges and universities offer creative writing courses. Look for ones that offer creative writing courses that cover the plot and structure of short stories.

  • Regular access to an instructor who is a published author, and a peer group that is motivated to read your drafts, might just be the extra motivation you need to develop your own skills.
  • If you are counting on the credits transferring to help you complete an academic program, check with your university registrar.

Dec. 2002 — submitted by Kathy Kennedy, UWEC Senior (for Jerz’s Advanced Technical Writing class) Jan 2003 — edited by Jamie Dalbesio, UWEC Senior (for an independent study project with Jerz) May 2003 — edited by Jerz and posted at Seton Hill University Jan 2007 — ongoing edits by Jerz May 2008 — reformatted Sep 2010 — tweaked Writer’s Block section Mar 2011 — reformatted and further tweaked Jun 2017 — minor editing. Are “Keds” still a recognizable brand of kids shoes? Feb 2019 — Removed “Keds” reference, beefed up the “bad” shoes example; tweaked formatting.

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Archived discussion of “Short Stories: 10 Tips for Creative Writers”

852 thoughts on “ Short Story Tips: 10 Hacks to Improve Your Creative Writing ”

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gorgeous gorgeous girls struggle to write short stories

bro what LMAOOOO

Wow. This was super helpful. I’m a writer myself and this was all very fun to read for me.

This really helped, Thank you

Thanks so much for this very informative article! It was exactly what I looking for today. These hacks will definitely help me to become a more creative writer online. Thanks for sharing :)

This is really helpful

i want to make an story

Could someone answer what was they made them a memorable?

Great job on theses tips. These will be with me for generations.

wow i love this

fishman is here to go fishing yeah yeah

Yes this is pretty cool, cool

Such helpful tips. Thank you.

ok yall, I need help with a school assignment.I have to write a story abouth anything and I don’t know how to start, can someone tell me how to start a story.

IDK, right here on this page I’ve put my “emergency tips,” which is the best advice I have to offer.

You have to come up yourself with what it is your protagonist wants and all the other details. One theory is “write what you know,” so that if you are a cancer survivor or grew up in a military family or you spend time around horses or at steel mills or playing basketball, then it makes sense to write a story that includes the details you already know.

Great writers steal. Find a story that you like, and mix it up to make it your own.

Pls help me I’m about to write a book the title “school day “help me with some content an stories. Thanks

i can tell you how to

Daniel thanks for insightful tips

hey anybody interested? to make a movie on me

Professional have to do that, plus you aren’t famous and nobody can reallly make a documentary on someone who hasn’t even shown their face on here

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So amazed by the info and help of this site. Well done to you all and thank you for furthering my knowledge of writing! Thank you again and great work!

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Some great tips and advice here. I’ve been reading several websites about advancing ones creative writing career. Some blogs, websites and forum’s offer very different views on self-publishing. I’ve noticed websites and publishers with authority in the industry, strongly argue that a serious writer should not enter into self-publishing. This can be damaging and seen as vanity. What are your views on this? Thanks!!

Thank you so much! These tips are awesome. I’m planning on writing a short book and this cleared up a lot of what I needed.

I am happy. It’s Give me good information and tips about how to write a short stories.

Based on how many times I had to say, “OMG, that’s so truuuue!”, this one’s a really great article. Worth the read!

I am a compassionate interested person wanting to engage in writing i have always had this itch if you like to write stories from the early twenties in my life this itch to write has always been there about stories that the average person can relate to and therefore become an interested reader , however , i am now at a point in my life that i am in a position to put more time into learning the craft of writing stories that have a mixture of fiction and fact and that i may also write a memoir because that is the one thing i know will be interesting . Kind regards Mark

Quite helpful ideas. The site is shown on html though, is it right? Creative writing techniques are helpful ways to write, but more important thing is to acquire a writing habit.

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Very educative Thanks

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this is ssoo cool le epic le epic

hey, hope everyone is copacetic. have been trying to improve my writing but still don’t see any improvement in my struggle, is there anyone who help me to overcome my this issue, hope you people will help me because most of you have experience. keen to write as good story writter and also interested in writing novels but suffering from writing. help me

I am elated that I have come across this.

way of navegating around. The concept of a short story is that something goes wrong and the character must fix it, even if it is a Utopian world. There has to be something that goes wrong or has been wrong the entire time. Examples of this is that the authority that everyone trustic began putting random people in prison. Another would be that everyone relies on th main character for protection becuase he or she has a special ability but the main character doesnt know how to use this ability.

oh great. it’s NAVIGATING, by the way.

I make typographical errors, too.

I am mark thank you

Gave me a really good help …… thanks a lot

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thanks so much! its verry help full.

I have a love story which is inspired every people like any age in human life but skill is concurrence and disburse with sparrow and peacock animals situation and also crow life…… I just want to know the right concern person email ID to send the story details and further I suggest a song like tital song & stage show song, said song.

Thanks & regards Dhananjay bathe

now this is epic

Thank you Kanye very cool

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hey who are u cool?

this is so very cool i cannot believe it

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Mary became a workaholic which made her.children unhappy.so they went to live with their dad. Then Mary moves to another city and got a new job. Her ex-husband and Mary agreed to sell their old house. Mary then met a psychiatrist and fell in love with him. But then her ex-husband came back to her and she accepted him back- at first – but then rejected him.

So she committed suicide. Then her ex-husband commited suicide. Her parents buried her corpse in the basement.

I dont think this form of the making a character really helps. First off, people dont like characters who are strong and can do anything, they like characters that have weaknesses that slow them down such as being blind or not being able to walk. They idea must be something that uses this weakness. The character must also be or become more capable of doing things towards the end. Such as if they couldnt see, they would develop a way of navegating around. The concept of a short story is that something goes wrong and the character must fix it, even if it is a Utopian world. There has to be something that goes wrong or has been wrong the entire time. Examples of this is that the authority that everyone trustic began putting random people in prison. Another would be that everyone relies on th main character for protection becuase he or she has a special ability but the main character doesnt know how to use this ability.

Hope this helps anyone that is still confused!

Re #7: 1. Your quote by Burroway should be Janet Burroway not Jane. Fact-checking us vital. 2. Story elemrnts for developing actions and their end results should be Exposition, not explosion. As it stands this is false and misleading information that will trip many unsuspecting/new writers up.

Thanks for noting the typo — I fixed it. I am not sure that exposition is, by its nature, very hooking, so I’m leaving that as is.

I really like and value this page, I my self a middle school-er found it helpful w/ saying that i already new all the tips, but alas it was still a great reminder. Also remember to keep you sentence, punctuation and dialog varied. This will help keep the reader interested

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Just about to create a short story and it has been a while, great advice to get me back in the mood.

Would love to write short stories but just can’t get myself started. Needing an affordable directed course with assignments and deadlines and tutorial comment feedback. OU looks good but WAY beyond my means. Have plenty of ideas and have read copiously (and still am). This site particularly helpful, thank you. Ray

It is all quite informative.

Filled with error Syed.

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With creative writing, as with any kind of writing, your reader is your most important consideration. You need to know and understand whom you’re writing for if you’re to do a good job of keeping them interested. Thanks for sharing a great post.

I think you should think about what your characters very well and not try to change things about them.

I have my english term exam tmrw and these tips have givn me a good idea of short story writing~though I m good at writing but short story was not my speciality… So, thanx for these excellent tips… You r jst gr8!!!

A good writeup. Love it.

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Great! Thanks so much! This will help me in my Creative Writing class I am taking this summer!

Terrible advice

To what, exactly, are you referring Tyler?

Dennis you’re the writer now?

I did assign the topic and format to a student in my technical writing class, I served as the student’s client, and I have been updating and maintaining this document since 2002.

Noice? Ohhh Marilyn

Really helpful

Elated??? Look at # 7 haha shd commits duicide but moves back with parents lol Also re resolution lol. Conflict is resolve not resolved lol. These are jyst drongos copying and plagiarising other peoples’ work and not getting it right.

It was informative and educating.

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RT @Chris_Oldham: Need a hand polishing up your short story? Try these emergency tips! https://t.co/5XrFzKU5rH #amwriting https://t.co/Dgfb…

Need a hand polishing up your short story? Try these emergency tips! https://t.co/5XrFzKU5rH #amwriting https://t.co/DgfbrqAotX

10 ways to improve your short stories. https://t.co/UJMpkku02Y #writing #amwriting #shortstory

cannot read so much but i think its good for the ones who have so much time to read.

The blank page is not taunting me any more, thank you. PS have you ever read Amanda McKittrick Ros – the greatest worst writer who ever lived? I think she should be added to every creative writing curriculum.

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Short Story Tips: 10 Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing | Jerz’s Literacy Weblog https://t.co/qqJKdqlDG1

You spelt a couple of words wrong mate

It’s possible. If you spotted any errors, I’d welcome specific notes. Which words?

Ur dumb Rohan

lien delicieux >> Short Story Tips: 10 Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing https://t.co/YAOYCeD4xJ

RT @carolinezoids: Looking for #shortStory tips, I found this great article by @DennisJerz: 10 ways to improve your #creativeWriting: https…

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Short Story Tips: 10 Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing | Jerz’s Literacy Weblog https://t.co/QgVX3gUEZL #writingtip

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Short Stories

Welcome to the University of Gloucestershire Short Story website

Here, we showcase all the work of our talented UoG students, and we also offer sixth formers and college students the chance to submit their writing to us. We’ll look at every submission, offer helpful guidance, and choose the best ones to publish on our site. At UoG, our students are mentored by professionals across the creative writing fields to hone and expand their skills in poetry, playwriting, prose, and critical writing.

We’d love to read your stories if you’re a student here at the University of Gloucestershire, or a school or college student considering a future degree in Creative Writing. We’ll read every submission, and publish the best, and we’ll try to give helpful feedback where we can.  We have limited time and space so please don’t worry if you have to wait a while.

Visit the UoG Creative Writing pages for more information:

  • Creative Writing, BA Hons
  • Creative Writing, MA
  • Creative Writing, PhD

If you are interested in submitting your work for publication here then see our current submission status below:

  • Student Submissions: New UoG student submissions will be accepted from January 1st 2020.
  • 6th form submissions:  Submissions open.  New stories will be accepted throughout December 2019 and January 2020.

You can find further information on submitting your work at https://uniofglos.blog/creativewriting/short-stories-submission/


by Thomas Bennett of John Kyrle sixth form. This was one of two stories shortlisted from our schools’ competition, July 2020. Commander Jeffrey Noble collapsed to the ground. He’d manually prised open the enormous weight of the shuttle door, designed to be moved by powerful—now broken—motors. His hand instinctively came to hover over his eyes. So long had Noble stared into the emptiness of space that the explosion of colour and light that stretched before…

by Finlay John of Wyedean School. This was one of two shortlisted stories in our schools’ competition, July 2020. It was another day walking down the road for Mitsuki. The wind softly brushed her hair as she walked home alone. She was independent and self-reliant. Her eyes invited friendships, but she never allowed them. In her house, a group of people were making themselves at home. They were people she’d seen around the town: a…

The Deadly Song

by Iris Davies In a world with a famous and legendary song which no-one dares listen to and is known to cause the listener to commit suicide. Antonio, a pianist in New York City, is forced to contemplate the laws of reality. It is known throughout all cultures that the song is deadly. The Greeks called it the siren’s song; the Irish called it the Banshee’s Wail. It is a fact as far ingrained in our…

Sinking Stress

by Alexandra Vyvyan I am 16 years old and I do creative writing for fun, I have had small pieces of writing published and enter competitions irregularly, I write more poetry than anything else and enjoy losing myself in writing.  A teenage girl feels trapped and drowning in the mass of useless information forced upon her. I wondered if anyone else noticed how pretty the sky was today, how the darkness was bright and soft…

Deathlike Sleep

by Caitlin Hasson I’m sixteen years old and doing an English Literature and Language combined A-level at Cirencester college. Edward has lost his prince, his family, and his friends and now wants to take revenge in this reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty story. It was raining. It hadn’t stopped raining for three days. The battle had started three days ago, and it hadn’t stopped raining. The ground was slick with mud, dark with blood, and…

After ten years

by Amber Wright. Ten years after becoming a trusted mentor for a younger student and having to part ways when school ends.  The mentor gets a surprise knock at the door. Jack looked down at me. I could see his eyes watering as he frowned and straightened his oversized puffer jacket in a failed attempt to maintain his “I don’t give a fuck” attitude. The past five years had flown by and this date was…

by James Pearson. 1986. A new beginning for some but an end for others. Cassiel doesn’t know when he begins university (again) that he would be studying the greatest explosion in history- but he is. England is a vastly different place now in 1983, with more riots ruining workers’ rights and unemployment skyrocketing- not surprising based on the corruption that occurs behind the solid aged brick of parliament. Being only two years since the system…

The Team Talk

by Harry Moore. I am H.L. Moore and I am an sports fiction author. The Team Talk is one of my finest pieces of work and will no doubt be a huge box office hit once it hits the big screen. I am soon expected to become a New York Times best selling author. My inspiration is the legendary, creative mastermind Mr Jeff Kinney. The championship playoff final, the game where you end up 170 million pounds…

by Zelma Bowers. My name is Zelma Bowers and this is the first instalment of  a trilogy about mountains. This is a differing topic to my usual books because I usually stick to hills.  Multi-coloured flags fly in the harsh wind. Each thread being pulled in every direction, unravelling the hard work of the local women and dancing up to the highest point on earth. Each thread taken by the wind is a prayer to…

Unknown Abyss

by Lily-Mae Harrison. Being increasingly interested in the flow of order in society, observation of how people adapt to situations has always been a point of interest of mine. But what if you flip the world on it’s head? I’m a sixth form student at Christopher Whitehead with a fascination in the dystopia genre and a passion for creative writing, with an aim to make you question. In this dystopian world, all anyone could do…

Pasta the point of no return

by Rex Daniels. My name is Rex Daniels and this is the first instalment of my pasta themed trilogy. This book explores the dangers of spaghetti and its deeper meaning throughout life. This is my first time delving into the world of pasta because I’m used to more serious topics. Vomit. Disgusting rancid barf. It’s all I can smell. It’s all I can see. It’s all I can taste. It’s all I can feel. It’s…

Salah’s Revenge

by J.C.B. Digger. I am J.C.B Digger and this here is the first introduction to my trilogy of books called “Stories of the Egyptian God”. Speaking from the view of a professional writer I believe this story is truly fascinating. Breaking news! Here we are January 31st, 2019 the last day of the Premier League transfer window, live at the Tottenham Hotspur training ground waiting for a surprise guest to complete his medical assessment and…

When we were released

by Eleanor Diamond. I am a sixth form student who studies Drama (BTEC), Classical Civilisations and combined English Language/Literature. I have mostly been interested in acting for a large portion of my life, however, writing novels or doing the odd piece of creative writing has been a hobby of mine since I first learnt to form a sentence.  Four days. Those I had called friends, comrades, acquaintances, gone. For our whole lives, up until those…

by Eleanor Cottrill. ‘If only’ is a fictional dystopian piece about the possible close future and the ‘end of the world’, however it is based off both climate change and the seemingly insignificant problem of bees going into decline, a brief overview of what would happen if they were allowed to go extinct from the point of view of a teenager who loses the future that the adults around her promised her from a young…

Christmas in the Country

by Carole May. I am a very mature student returning to university after a gap of many decades and fifteen years after retirement. At the start of this course I was worried about working with people who were so much more in touch with education, but have found that working with such clever young people is both fun and stimulating. Their help and advice is invaluable, particularly when it comes to IT. Both my brain…

The Park Keeper

by Joy-Amy Wigman. Joy-Amy is a mature student who has just finished her first year of the Creative Writing Degree. She is an award winning slam poet and runs a monthly comedy night in Cheltenham called Lemon Rocket for which she often MCs. The Park Keeper I stared at the polar bear and the polar bear stared back at me. “You are not wrong Gerald,” I said to him. The mess had started three weeks…

The Devil That Taught Me I Couldn’t Be Loved

by Bethan Manley. Bethan is an English Language and Creative Writing student. She is also a poet with a background in slam poetry and prose. She is a singer-song-writer turned poet so her poems tend to flow and be heartfelt. If she’s not writing you can normally find Bethan anywhere with dogs! This is a prose piece adapted from one of her poems, and suitable for slam prose performance. There are nights when I still…

Out of Office

by Carol Hilton.  Carol is a mature student completing the third year of her BA in 2019.  She is a short story competition winner. Her poetry has been published in previous University Anthologies and magazines such as Snakeskin. Her short play The Waiting Game, has been selected by the Pirate Theatre in Gloucestershire for their showcase event, ‘Pint Sized Plays’. Out of Office From:                    Saffron Walsh <[email protected]> Sent:                     Thursday, 6 December, 2018 at 19:20…

My Name is Harry

by Asha Sutton. Asha is a second year Creative Writing student at the University of Gloucestershire.  Her stories show her passion for social issues and the treatment of the vulnerable in modern society. My name is Harry I swear that’s the man who worked at the local coffee shop. He spilled the sugar on the floor behind the counter, with an “Oh shit” expression. He rattled tall, skinny glasses, or turned on the coffee machine,…

The Simple Days of Chai and Plum Cake

by Oszey Calland. Oszey is a first year Creative Writing student at the University of Gloucestershire.  He has travelled extensively and writes about a wide variety of subjects. The Simple Days of Chai and Plum Cake Mr Ramesh stepped out of the little shop into the intense heat, looking up at the bright blue sky. “Fort Cochin is getting hotter every year,” he thought. “The monsoons will come soon bringing cooling rains. The Indian Monsoon…

The Fulfilment of a Promise

by Rita Bates. RJ Bates is currently working through the Creative and Critical Writing MA. She is a morning person, conscious about eating foods that will fuel her body and mind, but will never give up drinking red wine. She enjoys a challenge, mental or physical and loves people-watching, because sometimes if lucky enough, she witnesses random acts that would otherwise go unnoticed. The Fulfilment of a Promise I loved spending time with Ashanti. She…

Natural Order

 by Carlie Chabot. Carlie is a Canadian student spending a year in Cheltenham to study for an MA in Creative Writing at the University.  She is currently working on a novel about the murder of a young girl and the fallout it causes in small town. It fits within the theme of Northern Ontario Gothicism, and explores death, mental health, and justice. Natural Order ‘I am deeply appreciative of spiders, and everything they do.’            …

The Undertaker’s Coffin

by Ross Turner. I write short stories, novels and poetry. I study Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire, and am a member of the Royal Air Force Reserves. The Undertaker’s Coffin ‘Prepare to feed,’ I say. ‘Feed.’ The six Pallbearers are lined up in three pairs. The Uncle and the younger Brother – the two shortest, and therefore the front-most pair – reach into the yawning hearse. They grasp the two nearest handles, on…

by Michael Moore. Michael is a mature student from Canada. He is currently filling his weekends teaching Computer Aided Design and 3-D modelling.  he has been working at his writing for over twenty years. Bubbles She awoke to bubbles.           Tickles and giggles and bubbles and bursts of frenzied fizzy feelings. As if she was about to pop right out of her skin. The tingles touched her smile and drew it wider. She was breathless, flushed,…

In Memory of Casey Philips

by Andrew Lafleche. Andrew is a University of Gloucestershire MA student in Creative and Critical Writing, studying on the distance learning programme, from Canada.  He describes his work as a blend of social criticism, philosophical reflection, explicit prose, and black comedy. In 2016 he received the John Newlove Poetry Award. Please note that ‘In Memory of Casey Philips’ has adult themes including sexual assault. In Memory of Casey Philips “My uncle just moved in,” Casey…

a short creative writing story

Create Your Own Story Online

Create your own story online using our ultimate story creator. Our story creator comes with built-in story starters, artwork and more to inspire writers of all abilities!

Create a story

Useful Resources

a short creative writing story

Ultimate Story Generator

Generate thousands of unique stories using our ultimate story generator. Just enter some words about your story, and press the 'Generate Story' button. You can create a unique story within minutes to share with your friends. Writing stories has never been so easy! Try out our story generator and step-by-step story maker tool now!

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Daily Writing Challenges

Our daily writing challenges aim to inspire and encourage young writers to write daily. Each day the challenges will update to show a new inspirational prompt for you to write about. We have special seasonal writing challenges, as well as regular challenges, such as the word challenge, book title challenge, poetry challenge and more!

a short creative writing story

Use Story Starters to Inspire You

Story starters are a brilliant way to fix blank page syndrome (or writer's block). Did you know that 67% of authors say the most challenging part of writing is starting their story? We have thousands of story starters to get you writing in no time! And that's not all, if you're still stuck for inspiration we even have a ton of artwork to inspire you.

Generate Funny Story Ideas

With thousands of story combinations to keep you writing stories every day. Our simple-to-use story idea generator comes with tons of fun and wacky prompts to inspire you. Whether you're into pirates or princesses we got writing prompts to suit every child out there.

a short creative writing story

No Registration Required

Imagine Forest offers a seamless and user-friendly experience with the convenience of no registration required. We believe in breaking down barriers and making creative resources accessible to all. We provide a hassle-free environment for users to dive into the world of storytelling, writing challenges, and more.

Safe For Kids

Imagine Forest is proud to declare itself a safe space for kids. With no registration required to use tools, we ensure that no personal information is collected, providing a secure and privacy-conscious environment. Our resources are carefully curated to be age-appropriate, for younger to older children, fostering a positive and creative atmosphere.

a short creative writing story

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Imagine forest free?

Yes. Imagine Forest is 100% free. There are no additional costs or subscription fees. All features you see on the site are fully available for free.

How do you use Imagine forest?

To use Imagine Forest simply explore the site or click the 'Create a Story' button at the top of this page to access the story creator. Once inside the story creator, you can select the type of story you want to write and continue following the on-screen instructions. At the end, you can download a PDF of your book. You can also explore the rest of the site to find some interesting activities and writing resources to help you become a better story writer.

How do I register for Imagine Forest?

No registration is required. All resources from the story creator to the writing challenges and blog content are openly available to all site visitors. This also means that we don’t store any personal information, allowing users to explore Imagine Forest without the need for a formal registration process. The platform is designed to prioritize user privacy and accessibility, ensuring that creative individuals of all ages can freely engage with the diverse range of writing resources.

Is Imagine Forest safe for kids?

Yes of course. The absence of a registration requirement means that no personal information is collected, providing an added layer of privacy and security. Additionally, the content and activities on Imagine Forest are tailored to be child-friendly, fostering a positive and creative environment. The platform aims to inspire and nurture the imagination of young writers in a safe and age-appropriate manner. As with any online platform, it's advisable for parents to monitor their children's online activities and ensure that they are engaging with content suitable for their age group.

Can I view a list of Writing Prompts?

Yes. Imagine Forest has a huge list of writing prompts and story starters. You can view this collection of writing prompts on our blog, in the writing prompts category .

Is it possible to remove the ads?

Sorry, there is no option to remove ads yet. Ads help keep Imagine Forest running and providing free access to its creative resources for all users. While it may be inconvenient for some to see ads, they play a crucial role in sustaining the platform and ensuring that it remains freely accessible to a wide audience. Imagine Forest relies on revenue generated from advertisements to cover the costs of maintaining the website, developing new features, and expanding its offerings. By allowing ads, the platform can continue to provide a wealth of writing tools, challenges, and other resources without requiring users to pay for access. In the future, we may offer users a paid subscription option which allows them to remove ads from the site.

Is it possible to upload my own images?

At this moment in time, no it is not possible to upload your own images in the story creator tool. We may bring this feature in the future. The purpose of Imagine Forest is to guide you on how to write a good story. It is an educational tool for helping beginners write stories and poems. We do however provide a huge built-in library of photos, and illustrations to use. You can also request more specific images by contacting our team .

a short creative writing story

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10 Best Creative Writing Courses for 2024: Craft Authentic Stories

Learn how to tell your story and engage your readers with great storytelling.

a short creative writing story

As a lifelong literature enthusiast, I decided to challenge myself in 2010 by participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which tasks participants with writing a 50,000-word draft within a month. Although I’ve only achieved this goal twice since then, the experience has been invaluable. I’ve connected with a wonderful community of writers, both online and in person.

Through my experience, I can confidently say that creative writing is a skill that can be developed and honed, just like any other. While traditionally associated with literature, creative writing is increasingly being recognized as a powerful tool in various forms of writing, from copywriting and storytelling to novels and poetry. It has the ability to captivate readers and elevate the impact of written expression.

a short creative writing story

If you’re searching for the best online Creative Writing courses and resources, you’ve come to the right place. This Best Courses Guide (BCG) is built from Class Central’s catalog of over 300 Creative Writing courses and selected according to a methodology that you can check below.

Click on the shortcuts for more details:

What is Creative Writing?

Courses overview, why you should trust us, how we made our picks and tested them, here are our top picks.

Click on one to skip to the course details:

15 hours
5-6 hours
4-5 hours
12 hours
1-2 hours
2 hours
5-6 hours
1-2 hours
1 hour
18 hours

a short creative writing story

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Creative writing is a genre of writing that seeks to evoke emotions and feelings in its readers. It surpasses the limits of traditional forms of literature and emphasizes narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes and poetic traditions. Creative writing finds application in various forms of writing, including screenplays, plays, novels, poems, and other written works. In this guide, I will delve into some of its most popular facets.

Enhancing resilience and creativity through writing

Research shows that the brains of professional writers work differently from those of novice writers. Moreover, creative writing has been found to boost resilience in students . If you want to enjoy the benefits of writing, it’s important to develop the habit of jotting down your thoughts and words. Doing so can help you overcome writer’s block.

Creative writing is so powerful that it’s used in prisons to give inmates a chance to express themselves in programs like PEN America . “By providing resources, mentorship, and audiences outside the walls, we help these writers to join and enrich the broader literary community.”

Creative writing is a skill that can be learned and practiced like any other. Techniques such as ABDCE structure, 1st or 3rd person point of view, “show don’t tell”, dialogues, and tropes can be easily learned through the online courses in this guide.

  • Together, they account for over 1M enrollments
  • Skillshare, with 2 courses, is the most featured provider
  • The single most popular course has nearly 400k enrollments
  • Three courses are entirely free or free-to-audit.

Best Fantasy And Short-Stories Writing Lessons For Beginners (Brandon Sanderson)

Besides being an awesome writer, Sanderson is an instructor with a very unique talent for keeping us engaged. He has also made available a full course in creative writing on YouTube , originally presented at Brigham Young University, which includes the most crucial tools for any beginner or even experienced writers. The course is comprehensive and rich in content, with great sound and video quality.

Each video discusses a specific tool or technique, so you can easily select the theme you want to explore next or watch it all in sequence. It’s up to you. I recommend you take your time, watch one video at a time and experiment with each concept, or even better, find a writing buddy or form a group to practice writing together.

What you’ll learn:

  • Plot construction, character development, and engaging storytelling
  • Techniques for crafting immersive worlds and believable viewpoints
  • Insights into the publishing industry, tailored for emerging writers
  • Strategies for writing compelling short stories and leveraging them for larger projects.
“Very informative! I’m a beginner writer looking to study writing for video games, and this class gave me a lot of helpful tools to start understanding how stories work/how to organize my ideas! Will definitely be returning to some of these lectures in the future for guidance 👍” – Paige Webster
Brigham Young University
Brandon Sanderson
15 hours
5/5 (6 reviews)

Best University-level Creative Writing Course (Wesleyan University)

a short creative writing story

Creative Writing by Wesleyan University is a specialization for those looking for a way to improve their writing structure, scene and character creations and finding your style. Each course includes writing practice (for paying learners) and insightful interviews. It’s worth your time and effort if you are a disorganized writer like myself.

  • Techniques for crafting a bracing story with memorable characters and an interesting setting
  • How to employ a fresh descriptive style in your writing
  • Skills for analyzing and constructively evaluating peer writing
  • The ability to refine your writing, critique writing in general, and draw inspiration from existing literature
  • The process of drafting, rewriting, and completing an original story in the genre of your choosing.

It should be noted that the peer-grading system often lacks depth. However, the assignments are well-crafted and can be easily evaluated with minimal effort, providing some insights from other participants in the form of feedback or inspiration from their submissions.

“Great information about plot and scene structure. The information about revision was entirely new to me – thank you! The exercises were good and difficult in a good way that helped me hone my writing.” – Laura B, Coursera learner
Wesleyan University
Brando Skyhorse, Amity Gaige, Amy Bloom and Salvatore Scibona
40 hours
4.7 (5K)
Yes, paid

Best Course to Find Your Voice (Neil Gaiman)

Neil Gaiman is currently one the most prolific writers I know of: he’s written books , comics , movies and even TV shows . Even if you’re not a fan of his style, there is definitely something you can learn from him.

In Neil Gaiman Teaches The Art Of Storytelling you will discover Neil’s philosophy on what drives a story and learn to unlock new stories within yourself.

While MasterClass doesn’t sell single courses, a subscription provides access to their entire library, including other writing courses like Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing , Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers , Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing , and James Patterson Teaches Writing . If you are considering the purchase, you should definitely enjoy the rest of their catalog.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Discover and develop your unique writing voice
  • Generate and develop original ideas
  • Create dynamic, well-rounded characters that come to life on the page.

This course includes a 94-page workbook that includes assignments and supplemental material.

Neil Gaiman
4-5 hours worth of lectures
Paid Certificate Available

Best Practical Writing Course With Support (Trace Crawford)

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I love it when a passionate teacher like Trace Crawford puts the effort into creating a comprehensive curriculum. COMPLETE Creative Writing – All Genres is a 12-hour course with 145 downloadable resources. In this course, you will learn how to write engaging fiction, poetry, drama, and creative non-fiction, helping you become the successful writer you want to be.

  • The four genres of creative writing: fiction, poetry, drama, and creative non-fiction
  • How to discover, refine, and share your unique writing voice
  • A series of authentic writing assignments designed to target the skills you need to develop
  • Writing techniques, literary devices, and specialized skills to enhance your writing
  • Opportunities for publishing, podcasts, and how to create a professional creative writing portfolio
  • Discover multiple public outlets to share your writing with others as you gain confidence and experience success in your writing ability.

This is a practical creative writing course that includes assignments reviewed by the instructor, though response time may vary.

“The short snippets of theory in combination with the short assignments suits my learning style. I don’t remember the last time I’ve written anything creative, but this course gave me the incentive to set some foundation and its actually quite enjoyable if you stick to it.” – Nikolaos-Stylianos Z., Udemy learner
Trace Crawford
12 hours
37 quizzes and  writing practice
4.7 (3.9K)
Available, paid

Best Course to Overcome Writer’s Block: 10-Day Journaling Challenge (Emily Gould)

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I couldn’t resist adding Creative Writing for All: A 10-Day Journaling Challenge to this guide. Emily Gould is a delightful instructor, and her approach to inviting you to participate in the challenge is impossible to decline. It’s the perfect course to overcome writer’s block, which is exactly what she proposes. In this 10-day creative writing challenge, filled with inspiring examples, observation prompts, and clever revision tricks, writers and enthusiasts will be able to express their creativity in a personal and artful way.

This course is the shortest one on the list, and it’s more about the challenge of keeping a journal. If you decide to subscribe to Skillshare, you can also enjoy their entire library of courses. In addition to the other two recommended courses on this list, you can also check out these other Skillshare courses: Writing Suspense: How to Write Stories That Thrill in Any Genre and The Writer’s Toolkit: 6 Steps to a Successful Writing Habit .

Emily Gould
26 min
99% (1K)
Available, paid

Best Course to Create Fiction From Personal Experience (Shaun Levin)

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Shaun’s approach to writing in Short Story Writing: Create Fiction from Personal Experience is an unusual one. It draws from your personal experience to create a compelling fictional story. I can say from experience that this technique will help you write with more depth and authenticity. Every time we bring our own life to the story, it becomes alive, believable and relatable. In a way, all fictional stories are based on the author’s life.

This course will help you with techniques and a series of practical exercises to start writing your scenes from a more philosophical point of view, creating compelling stories. You’ll learn how to delve into your imagination to find everything you’ll need to become a prolific writer, no matter where you are.

By the end of the course, you will have a final project that will receive feedback from Shaun and other learners as well. Actually, if you want to check it out, in the course page on Domestika you can open the submitted projects and read the comments.

Shaun’s other courses: Creative Writing for Beginners: Bringing Your Story to Life .

“A practical course. Shaun Levin talks about theory but also demonstrates his process, which was invaluable. The exercises got my creative juices flowing. Thinking about doing his other course in the future.” – Maya Dicheva
Shaun Levin
2 hours
99% (764)
Available, paid

Best Course to Make Writing Less Stressful with Best Practices (Jennie Nash)

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If you struggle to start or get stuck in your writing, Write Your Book: Start Strong and Get It Done can help. With good advice and emotional support, you’ll learn techniques to make writing less stressful. The accompanying workbook guides you to think methodically by asking the right questions to keep you focused on your story and not chasing your own tail.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Design every element of your novel or memoir, including the protagonist, plot, story structure and a project success plan
  • Define your narrator’s voice
  • Determine where your story begins and where it ends
  • Decide what point you’re making about human nature
  • Make sure you’re giving your ideal reader exactly what they want
  • Gain the confidence you need to push past any doubts and finish your book.

This course is more of a masterclass, so there are no assignments included but it teaches good practices and provides a very useful workbook.

Jennie Nash
5-6 hours
100% (29)

Best Course to Create A Compelling Story (Lisa Cron)

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Writing: The Craft of Story is a series of well-produced lectures covering the basic building blocks of a story. Taught by author Lisa Cron, you will learn how to create compelling stories based on the way the brain responds to storytelling. This course emphasizes the importance of capturing the reader’s attention through techniques such as suspense, exploring the protagonist’s inner issues and dreams, specificity, and cause and effect. Upon completion of the quizzes, you will receive a certificate for your LinkedIn profile. Additionally, you can watch all the videos without subscribing to the course.

“Learning the fundamentals of crafting a story was and is a fascinating experience. And yes, I would highly recommend writing to anyone interested in learning how to express the communication of feeling.” – Nicole Gillard, LinkedIn learner.
LinkedIn Learning
Lisa Cron
1-2 hours worth of material
4.7 (649)
Available, paid

Best Course to Write Personal Essays with Impact (Roxane Gay)

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Discover the art of crafting powerful personal essays with best-selling author Roxane Gay in her course, Creative Writing: Crafting Personal Essays with Impact . Through her honest and thoughtful approach, Roxane will help you find your story, craft your truth, and write to make a difference.

This master class offers eight video lessons that are filled with practical guidance, actionable tactics, and example essays to guide you from the first idea to a final, publication-ready work.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Find a specific purpose for telling your story
  • Connect your work to larger conversations and timely themes
  • Conduct crucial research to support your work
  • Navigate personal memories to write your truth
  • Write and revise your final work, and submit your work for publication.

Additionally, the class provides a downloadable worksheet to support your ongoing creative nonfiction writing practice, as well as links to additional resources.

If you enjoy creative nonfiction writing, you might consider this course that’s also on Skillshare: Creative Nonfiction: Write Truth with Style (Skillshare Original) by Susan Orlean

Roxane Gay
1 hour
100% (1.2K)
Available, paid.

Best Course to Develop Your Ideas And Research for Characters (The Open University)

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Start Writing Fiction explores the writing process, from journaling and idea development to reflection and editing. It features insights from established writers such as Louis de Bernières, Patricia Duncker, Alex Garland, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Tim Pears, Michèle Roberts, and Monique Roffey,  who share their approaches to research and turning events into plot. Led by Derek Neale, a novelist and short story writer, this course provides a comprehensive understanding of the writing rituals and techniques used by successful writers.

You’ll get to critique the work of other writers and receive feedback. This course is designed for individuals interested in starting or improving their fiction writing and does not require prior experience in the subject.

You’ll learn:

  • Creation of characters in fiction
  • Different sources and ways of presenting characters in stories
  • Reading as a writer
  • Writing practice including creativity, research, observation and editing
  • Peer reviewing, workshops and the importance of feedback.
“This course takes learners through many aspects of writing such as developing characters, observing and describing details, finding inspiration, writing and editing. It includes some peer reviews which can be varying in quality. I was lucky enough to have some of my writing reviewed by a reviewer who gave very helpful and positive feedback.” – Pat Bowden
The Open University
Future Learn
Derek Neale
24 hours
389,780 learners
4.7 (923)
Available, paid

What’s Next

Scribophile is one of the largest online writing communities. You can get feedback on your writing and join writing groups. If you decide to join with a free plan, you need to collect points by reviewing other writers’ work before submitting your own work for review. They also developed some advanced tools for evaluating work and guidelines to make sure you give/receive feedback that is actually meaningful.

NaNoWriMo started out as a month-long challenge where you invite your friends and join other writers in your region, be it online in their forums or in person, to challenge yourself in writing your first draft. Nowadays, they run all-year round writing challenges (but November is still the biggest one in terms of participation). What is cool about it is you actually get to meet people in real life with various writing skills and backgrounds. I was able to make some great friends over the years and even met a few professional writers that decided to join our local group just to support us.

If you have any resources you would like to have added here, leave a comment below.

Class Central , a Tripadvisor for online education, has helped 60 million learners find their next course. We’ve been combing through online education for more than a decade to aggregate a catalog of 200,000 online courses and 200,000 reviews written by our users. And we’re online learners ourselves: combined, the Class Central team has completed over 400 online courses, including online degrees.

Trying to find “the best” can be daunting, even for those of us who live and breathe online courses. Here’s how I approached this task.

First, I combed through Class Central’s Catalog and the internet to find a variety of free and paid open courses, some with certificates. You don’t need to enroll in a university to learn about creative writing.

When choosing courses, I considered the following factors:

  • Renowned Institutions : I looked for recognized institutions in creative writing
  • Instructor experience : I sought instructors with extensive experience in creative writing and engaging presentation styles
  • Popularity : I checked numbers of enrollments and views to find popular courses
  • Course content : I examined courses that covered a range of topics and presentation styles, including the basics and more advanced topics. I watched some course videos to sample courses I hadn’t already taken
  • Learner reviews : I read learner reviews (when available) to get a sense of the quality of each course, leveraging the Class Central database with its thousands of course ratings and reviews written by our users as well as available course provider reviews.

Then, I defined the scope for these recommendations. A creative writing course can cover various topics, so I chose top courses from a range of sub-fields.

Ultimately, I used a combination of data and my own judgment to make these picks. I’m confident these recommendations will be a reliable way to learn about creative writing.

Best Courses Guides. Start Learning, Stop Procrastinating.

Fabio Dantas

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Science fiction author Ted Chiang wins PEN/Malamud Award for short story writing

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NEW YORK (AP) — Author Ted Chiang has won a lifetime achievement prize for short stories, the PEN/Malamud Award, marking only the second time a science fiction writer has been honored since the award was established in 1988.

Chiang, who has received numerous Nebula, Hugo and other science fiction prizes, is known for such collections as “Exhalation” and “Stories of Your Life and Others.” Ursula K. Le Guin is the only previous science fiction author to win the PEN/Malamud.

“Ted Chiang’s stories are an absolute wonder to behold,” award committee chair Jung Yun said in a statement Tuesday. “Not only do they demonstrate his exceptionally high standards for creativity and construction, they also invite readers to think, imagine, and explore unique worlds beyond their own.”

Chiang said in a statement that he was “surprised and delighted” by the award and that he feels “privileged to be a part of science fiction’s growing acceptance in the wider literary world.”

“As a writer I appreciate the way the short story allows me to focus on a single idea or moment, and it’s wonderful to receive an award that celebrates the form,” he said.

The award is named for the late fiction writer Bernard Malamud, and for his wife, Ann. Other winners include Alice Munro, Jhumpa Lahiri and Edwidge Danticat.

a short creative writing story


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