Want to write flash fiction but not sure where to start? This article has got you covered. Below we’ve included over 70 flash fiction prompts to help you craft your own stories.
What is flash fiction?
Flash fiction stories are shorter than short stories. Typically known as a ‘very short story,’ this type of fiction typically includes fewer than 1000 words.
Flash fiction writing is categorized by word count. A story as short as 100 words and even less can be considered flash fiction.
Given its typically short nature, flash fiction stories don’t allow the author or reader to explore common story elements like a character’s background, complex world-building, or character development.
A complete story, even for flash fiction has a beginning, middle, and end unified into a concise and easy-to-read narrative.
Readers get to know the protagonist and events in their life in a matter of paragraphs.
A surprise ending is one of the most common elements of great flash fiction. Given that the author doesn’t have much room to build suspense or offer character and setting background, a final line or paragraph with a twist ending allows them to replace those elements.
What’s the point of flash fiction?
Writing flash fiction stories is a great way to exercise creative writing skills. Keeping your word count low presents a challenge – how do you tell a story in such few words?
A common mistake authors make is rambling about a character or setting description. It’s interesting to deep dive into a character or setting, and it’s normal to want to show off your writing skills, but long, drawn-out descriptions bore readers.
You don’t have space or time to ramble when you write flash fiction.
You need to get your entire story across in just a few paragraphs. Doing so forces you to eliminate fluff, something most writers can afford to practice in general.
Flash fiction also leads to longer stories. Many flash fiction writers write a short piece but enjoy the world and characters so much that they want to expand.
Flash fiction writing prompts help you start a story that you can later expand and turn into a short story, even a novel!
Finally, flash fiction makes the reader a delightful, quick, and easy-to-read story.
Most flash fiction stores offer the reader a message or theme to think about, leading to more profound insight into oneself or the world around them. Most stories serve that purpose, but none as efficiently as a flash fiction story.
70+ Flash fiction prompts
Below we’ve included over 70 flash fiction writing prompts and story ideas to help you get your creative juices flowing and make a good flash fiction happen. Feel free to add or change details about any of the flash fiction writing prompts below.
These prompts are here for you to use as you wish, so you don’t have to be rigid with them. Follow one prompt and write a story about it, or read through the list below for inspiration and come up with your prompts and ideas instead.
Flash fiction story ideas and prompts
Two best friends arrange to meet and discuss a great date they both had. They find out that both dates were with the same man.
A mother leaves her son in the supermarket and only realizes it when she gets home.
A man builds a home deep in the jungle to avoid a deadly pandemic. He goes off the grid, so he doesn’t know when the pandemic is over.
A young woman mistakes the suitcase near her as her own and takes it with her. The suitcase contains narcotics.
On his deathbed, a man is visited by a vampire. Both discuss potential plans for immortality.
The black sheep of the family makes a random appearance and picks a fight with his father.
A writer struggling with writer’s block decides to create some juicy drama in his own life.
A serial killer meets the ghost of one of his victims.
A traveler discovers a gemstone worth millions but doesn’t know its value.
Your protagonist bumps into the same stranger several times in one week. They decide to approach them.
In a post apocalyptic future, robots will be indistinguishable from humans.
Write a story about a first date gone wrong.
A young man wakes up with the power to read people’s minds including flashbacks and memories.
A cat and its owner swap places for a day.
An important secret and a friend that can’t be trusted.
A young man sees a message from his girlfriend’s ex on her phone. He deletes the message without telling her.
An old man wants to regain his youth.
A blind date turns out to not be so blind, as the two people are former lovers.
Your protagonist has to spend the day at home, sick, while their friends attend a festival.
A curious student annoys a teacher with all their questions.
An archaeologist makes a discovery that could rewrite history. Somebody doesn’t want him to share it.
A young man must decide what to pack and what to leave behind before he moves to a new country to start a new life.
A mother has something very important to tell her child about the whole town.
A dead man stands at the gates of Heaven. He must persuade God to give him another chance at life.
A scientist develops technology that allows animals to communicate in human languages.
A superhero with the ability to fly loses its power and now must get used to public transport.
The main character in a video game looks eerily like your protagonist.
Two best friends take a trip down memory lane, but new information rises to the surface that could jeopardize their friendship.
A writer meets people with uncanny similarities to his characters.
A bride-to-be starts to panic on the wedding day as her husband is nowhere to be seen.
A wedding invitation sent to an ex turns out to be a bad idea.
Your protagonist finds a random series of notes on their walk home, and all are addressed to them.
A child argues with an imaginary friend.
Write a story in which your protagonist can time travel.
Write a story in an alternate universe that begins with one character but ends with another.
Write a story about a child who doesn’t want to go to school.
A man finds an envelope on the side of the street on his way home.
A kid gets lost in the supermarket. Write a story about his adventure around the huge store and how he eventually finds his parents.
A conversation between a man and his reflection in the mirror.
Your protagonist believes they’ve finally learned how to lucid dream. They do whatever they want, all the things they feel they can’t do in their everyday lives. It’s not a dream.
A girl offers advice to her best friend before that friend has to give a public speech.
A young man loses his phone and must rediscover what life is like without one.
Random word flash fiction prompts
The following is a list of random words to use as one-word prompts to spark a story idea.
The words below are randomly compiled, so feel free to add your own words. It may help to make a list like the one below and consider using words based on an overall theme or concept.
What are the elements of great flash fiction?
Flash fiction incorporates all genres. You can write about anything from fantasy and sci-fi to mystery thrillers to satire.
There are no rules about what you can write, but there are some common elements among all flash fiction stories. These include:
1. Short length
The major rule when it comes to writing flash fiction is that you keep it short. Brevity presents a challenge for writers – you must tell an entire story with plot and characters in just a few hundred words.
2. Basic plot structure
Though short by nature, a flash fiction story must follow a basic plot structure from beginning to end. Unlike the typical novel or short story, you don’t have much room to ramble, so each section of your plot must be concise and also make an impact.
Good flash fiction stories offer the reader a message to contemplate after reading. This message usually makes its impact by the end of the story with a surprise ending or a thought-provoking final line.
Whether you’re a first-time writer or a published author, writing flash fiction is a great way to improve your writing skills and add to your collection of creative inspiration.
Use the prompts offered above but feel free to chop and change as you see fit.
Your first time writing flash fiction might pose a challenge, but you may soon come to love the process.