When it comes to creating fantasy story ideas, the sky is the limit. Some fantasy writing prompts exist to help the writer who needs a little jump start. If you want to write a fantasy novel or a short story in the fantasy genre and need some help with plot ideas, this article may be perfect for you.
Fiction Writing Prompts
While there are such a thing as exclusive fantasy writing prompts, it is important to note that you can also get a story idea for fantasy writing by simply looking at a list of fiction writing prompts. Writing fantasy is still writing fiction, and as long as you add the elements needed to qualify your story as fantasy, you can use any prompt you find.
Whether you want to write high fantasy, low fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, dark fantasy, or some other subgenre of fantasy novels or short stories, there are loads of plot ideas to get you started. With some magical powers, world-building, and interesting characters, you can create an entire world and an incredible story with some simple prompts.
Fantasy Writing Prompts
When it comes to a fantasy story or fantasy novel, the plot ideas you can use are endless. Writing fantasy means plugging into your imagination and building a world to which the reader will feel drawn.
Writing Prompts for Writer’s Block
Do not worry if you are having trouble getting started with your fantasy writing. You are not the only person or the first person to struggle with the beginning stages of writing. Creative genres, such as fantasy and science fiction, can be overwhelming to the most seasoned writers, let alone new authors.
One of the best ways to create plot ideas or story ideas for any genre, but for this article, specifically fantasy writing, is to ask yourself the question, “What if?” This is how many writing prompts are born, and it is how many authors end up starting with nothing but a blank slate and growing into something genuinely extraordinary.
Try not to focus too soon on characters, plot twists, magical beings, or other details right away. Ask a simple “what if” question, and then add the basic elements of fantasy to the idea.
How to Build from Writing Prompts
Once you see a writing prompt that attracts your interest, the next step is to build upon it and make it truly yours. The way to do this is to create an outline, storyboard, index cards, or simply talk it out with yourself or a friend. Note the following example.
Example of How to Use a Writing Prompt
Prompt: Magical beings have replaced the teachers in a school and want the students to teach them to blend in with humans.
So, the plot is there for you, but a lot is missing. What can be done from here? First, use your imagination, and ask the important questions: who, what, when, where, and why. Think about what sort of story you would enjoy about this subject matter, or what sort of story you would most like to tell, based upon this subject matter. Note below how the idea was expanded slightly, but you can already see the story taking form.
Magical beings from an alternate universe have taken over a remote English boarding school. They were considered normal on the Earth-like planet where they were from, but they are not normal here and need to blend in with humans and society for their survival and preservation. The beings beg the students to teach them the best way to hide in plain sight among Earthlings. Can the children be trusted, or will they sabotage the alien beings by outing them to society?
In the above paragraph, we built off of the original one-sentence prompt. We did this simply by answering most of the important questions. It is as simple as filling in the blanks and then piecing it together sentence after sentence.
Who: Magical beings and boarding school children
Why: To blend in with society for their survival
How: By enlisting children’s help, the beings hope to co-exist with an unaware human race on Earth.
Where: An English boarding school, likely remote.
This is all it takes to take a simple prompt and flesh it out into something that could stand on its own and be a great piece of fantasy writing.
Simple Plots and Writing Prompts for Fantasy Writing
The following are some simple ideas for storylines so that you can start writing your own fantasy stories. Occasionally, notes will be added that can help further inspire creative direction that can be taken with some of the writing prompts.
- You go to bed one night and, upon waking up, realize that all the other people on the planet are gone. You are the only one left. Upon leaving your apartment building to find answers, you see a creature you thought only existed in stories and mythology.
- On his death bed, your grandfather shares with you what a real family business is. It is not running a small local butcher shop like you had believed your whole life. That was just a cover. Instead, your grandfather informs you that the family comprises monster hunters. Together with his best friend, your grandfather had dedicated his life to keeping the world safe from vampires, ghouls, demons, goblins, and a host of other things that go bump in the night. Hoping the legacy would continue, your grandfather begged your alcoholic father to fight alongside him. However, your father said no. Grandpa is now asking you to take up the family legacy.
- The main character is a princess-smiting dragon who feels misunderstood by society and the knights who hunt him.
- Luke is happy writing odd stories about strange things, dangerous monsters, and magically gifted people until he realizes that everything he writes in his father’s old journal comes true. Luke has inadvertently introduced characters into a world that should not exist.
- Margaret has a recurring dream about natural disasters that hit all major U.S. cities within 48 hours. When she sees a television report that some unusual weather activity is brewing for most countries, she starts to wonder if the dreams are dreams or premonitions.
What to Do When Fantasy Writing Prompts Fizzle Out
It doesn’t matter how well-written your setting is or whether your character feels like a new friend, sometimes the story just does not work out—what do you do when you take a prompt, work it, mold it, and it just fizzles out?
1. Tweak Your Story
If you were planning a story in which a troupe of unlikely characters is sent on a mission, scrap the supporting cast and send a single person. This will boost the story’s intensity and develop more character. Taking a great prompt and a good idea and bringing it to life in a new form can sometimes be all you need to write further on your story.
2. Introduce Magic or Super Powers
If your characters are facing an evil entity in the hope of saving the world, write a little magic into the story. Give the protagonist superpowers she did not know she had before the rising action and make her figure out how to control and master them just in time to face the antagonist. Sometimes introducing something unbelievable, especially in fantasy writing, is just what you need to give the story that extra push. There is hardly ever such a thing as too much magic in a fantasy novel or story.
3. Switch the Subgenre
In the same spirit of tweaking the story, sometimes it is best to change the entire subgenre of your idea. For example, if you were writing epic fantasy about a boy who must figure out where he came from and follow clues to discover his true identity, try on different genres to see where it will further steer the story.
Instead of epic fantasy, try dark fantasy. Maybe this boy is the son of a werewolf, and he does not realize that he is terrorizing the villages around his home and killing innocent people on the full moon once a month. His quest to find himself can lead him to a gruesome discovery full of horror.
Or perhaps turn it into fantasy romance. On his quest to find himself, the boy enlists the help of a young faerie, who is fascinated by humans and slowly falls for the boy. Make him find true love while on a search for self-discovery. The magic of love is never a boring read.
4. Put it on the Bucket List
Sometimes, no matter how many times you try to write the tale you formed from a prompt, you just cannot breathe life into it. At least, not right now. The world is full of amazing ideas and adventures just waiting to be written. Do not give up entirely on the idea—just store it. Put it on the back burner for later development. You may generate new concepts as you proceed with writing on another idea.
More Fantasy Writing Prompts
- An old person or relative leaves an old abandoned piece of property to two brothers. Going to check the place out, the pair find an old well. They decide to remove the cover and drop a rock to listen for a splash. This action leads them to discover a secret that was never meant to be revealed.
- A group of explorers is supposed to be guiding a wealthy financier through a new cave they have discovered in the hopes of securing funding to map it and study it. Post-navigation, the group is having lunch at the mouth of the cave when they hear the desperate and terrifying screams of what could only be children coming from the tunnels.
- Lives are at stake when, during a war scene of mass destruction, a giant hole is blown into the dunes of the Sahara desert, and dragons emerge. This secret race of winged lizards has thrived underground in hibernation and stirred from their slumber by warring nations. The lives of many armies and the lives of society are in jeopardy.
- Twenty years after the disappearance of her five-year-old, Molly gets a secret correspondence telling her that her son is alive and well and is living as the head of a brutal army that slaughters innocent people. The plot thickens when Molly decides to act and reconnect with her grown child. Not knowing what to expect, she risks losing more than just her head.
- A gathering of college students on Halloween is all in fun. Still, when Clay suggests the young adults see what lies in the abandoned mansion towards the outer part of the city, things go downhill quickly.
- Everyone thinks that Kaia has an imaginary friend. It is a very normal thing for a three-year-old. It is not until Kaia’s nanny notices things being moved around in the house and the yard that things get dicey. Kaia says her invisible acquaintance is a faerie and that she wants to take her to her world to live, where she can be a princess and learn magic. The nanny is caught between shrugging it off as make-believe with some odd things happening around the house or wholeheartedly believing the strange child who talks to mystical creatures.
- Frank is given a chance to start his life over but as a different immediate family member each time. Each time he is reborn, he is someone else. His mother, father, sister, wife, son, or daughter. After successfully bringing the dysfunctional family together, Frank move on to whatever the afterlife has in store for him. Will he be able to bring peace to a troubled family? Can he live other people’s lives better than they can?
More Tips for Writing
You may think that just because you have chosen a prompt or come up with something on your own, the rest will fall into place, and you will have no trouble and will not need any further advice or help. This usually is not the case. The following tips can help you out, even after selecting the fantasy writing prompts that most appeal to you.
Write What You Know
Stick to what you know. Most authors do. There is a reason that authors often write about protagonists who are writers or teachers because many of them are those things themselves. If you stick to what you know, your writing will seem far less forced, more genuine, and you will not have to spend a lot of time researching when you could be writing.
If you love vampire stories, write one yourself, but try to put a twist on it. Instead of creating a world in which humans must be cautious of vampires, change things up. Make vampires a subservient part of human society. Or write a vampire allergic to human blood for whatever reason or no reason at all.
Writing about things that interest you and that you know a lot about can make the difference between success and failure.
If you want to be a writer, be a reader. Never stop reading, and read the sort of books you wish you had written. You will grow your vocabulary, learn plot tricks, develop your style, and get ideas from your favorite authors. If you want to try a new genre than what you generally read, then at least borrow a book from the library to use as a reference or jumping-off point to your writing.