Want to write a story but not sure how to start?
Have you been staring at a blank page for hours? Or are you tearing page after page of paper with jumbled words and throwing them in the waste basket? Or do you find yourself staring blankly at your computer screen, waiting for inspiration? Has writer’s block immobilized you from starting your story’s first lines?
If so, we’ve got you covered. You can use a story starter to get you out of a rut.
This article will find over 40 story starters and creative writing prompts to help your creative juices flow.
You don’t have to follow these starters and prompts exactly – use them for inspiration more than anything.
Of course, you can use a starter as precisely that – something to get you started – but remember that you have a unique voice and style and that, even though we can offer inspiration, whichever story you write will be uniquely yours.
Fun writing prompts
Below you will find 40 fun writing prompts and story starters.
You can combine several ideas or see one all the way through.
You’re the author, the creator, so how you use these prompts and ideas is entirely up to you.
One-line story starters
Sometimes all you need is a solid opening line to get you started. Check out the one-liners we’ve included as story starters and use any one of them as an opening sentence for your creative writing activity.
- I didn’t get on the bus that day.
- I met my father for the first time today.
- I finally plucked up the courage to say goodbye.
- I packed my last bag and walked out the front door.
- Actions speak louder than words.
- Before I went to college, I hadn’t realized how much fun I could have on my own.
- When I woke up, she was gone.
- ‘Bang!’ Everything went black…
- I’ve never been fired until today.
- Always be careful what you wish for.
- Three men stood outside the door, and boy, was I glad I locked it.
- Jenny never knew how strong she was until her strength was tested.
- A new teacher showed up today instead of Ms. Demonte. Mr. Cirque was a strangely familiar man, though I couldn’t place where I knew him from.
- A bet gone wrong, a dead body, and ten thousand dollars in cash. Today was not like the others…
- The lights went out; the silence was deafening.
- We are the only ones left.
- As soon as the phone rang, I knew I was in trouble.
Dialogue story starters
Stories that start with dialogue have an advantage over others.
Opening with a character’s voice naturally creates a sense of intrigue and engages a reader because we don’t know the character yet, but we hear their voice. As such, we want to read more to find out more about who they are or the kind of situation they’ve found themselves in.
- ‘Do you love me?’ I couldn’t answer.
- ‘I’m pregnant..’
- ‘Will you marry me?’
- ‘Where have you been? I’ve been waiting all night.’
- ‘I’ve been waiting for you. Welcome.’
- ‘Hello, is this Marie? I have good news and bad news.’
- ‘How many times do I have to tell you? I’m not your girlfriend!’
- ‘Just what do you think you’re doing? I asked you to leave.’
- ‘Do you remember me from middle school?’
- ‘Good morning Sasha. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.’
- ‘I thought you meant it.’
- ‘How did you know where to find me?’
- ‘Do you know the muffin man?’
Short story ideas
Everyone loves a good short story.
Being short, they don’t require much commitment from the reader. They’re also exciting because significant plot points, twists, and character arcs must happen in just a few pages. Something interesting or exciting is always happening or just around the corner.
Try these short story ideas and prompts to help craft a story that your friends or family will love reading!
- You’re a detective working on a big criminal case. You go beyond your duties, are dedicated to your investigations, and are keen to crack the case open. You decide to follow the accused around from a distance without permission. One day on your self-led reconnaissance mission, someone taps you on the shoulder…
- You and your family have just moved into a new house with a big garden. Somewhat of a green thumb, you decide to make the overgrown and unkempt garden your new project. One day, as you turn the soil, you notice something unusual under the ground.
- On a train, you meet someone who looks just like you. They have the same build, your eyes are similar, and their facial structure is similar to yours. They even dress like you. Dismissing the situation, you go about your day. Later that day, you see the same person in a café. Again, you don’t do anything about it. Finally, you bump into them while shopping for groceries on your way home—this time, you have to say something.
- You’ve ordered some clothes online. The delivery driver shows up at your house, sign, and take the package inside. Only the package looks much different from the ones in the shop where you ordered your clothes.
- As you wind down for the night and get ready for sleep, you brush your teeth, turn off the lights, and close your bedroom door. As you fall asleep, you notice the door is open. Realizing you must have forgotten to close it, you get up and ensure it’s closed. Once again, as you’re about to fall asleep, you notice that the door is open.
- James is a security guard and finishes work at 2 am every night. When walking home, he takes a shortcut through the park. On tonight’s walk home, James notices a small package sitting on a park bench. With no one around and his curiosity sparked, James investigates. Inside the package is a remote control, but nothing to control it with, and a note that reads ‘Press the red button.’
- ‘Is it safe?’ Paula asked. ‘Of course, it’s safe,’ I assured her. I didn’t know if it was safe, but I liked Paula and didn’t want her to think I wasn’t confident. Our lives might have been very different today if I had more humility.
Scary story prompts
Scary stories can be incredibly fun to write.
They start with a spooky, frightening premise, but that’s not where the fun comes from. The real fun when writing a scary story comes from giving yourself a fright by watching the story as it unfolds on your page, with plot twists and turns that even surprise you, the writer.
Check out some of the scary story prompts we’ve included below to give yourself chills from your own creation.
- You and your friends are happy now that it’s finally spring break. To make the best of it, you all decide to rent a house by the sea and stay for two weeks. The first few days are amazing. You party, check out the forest near the house, and light a blazing bonfire. However, after the first few days, the weather changes dramatically, and now you and your friends are stuck inside for days during a thunderstorm. All seems to be under control until you hear a loud crash and one of the people in your group is nowhere to be found.
- A young family moves into a new home in the countryside. All is well until one night; the daughter wakes up in a cold sweat after a nightmare. Soothed by her parents, she returns to sleep. The following morning, a strange old woman knocks on the door.
- You receive a call from an unknown number. You ignore it, but they call again. The third time they call, you answer. A deep voice says your name and hangs up.
- Your main character wakes up in a pool of blood, but they’re not bleeding.
- A team of astronomers notices an unusual stream of light. On closer investigation, they see tiny black dots in the stream. The black dots are approaching the earth at an alarming speed.
Writing stories is a great way to expand your mind, pass the time, or get your creative juices flowing.
However, many of us are hesitant to put pen to paper because we anticipate the dreaded writer’s block or don’t feel like we have an interesting enough story to tell.
One of the most incredible things about creative writing is that you don’t always have to know how a story will turn out before writing it.
Sure, novelists and long-form story writers often create an outline and several drafts for a story and have a fair idea about how the story will go.
However, if you just want to write for fun or as a creative exercise, you don’t need to plan so meticulously.
Choose from any writing prompts or story starters above and write that down on the blank page in front of you. See where it takes you.
You don’t have to commit to one either – if you don’t like how a story is going, feel free to start again with a different prompt or change some small detail about a given prompt to make it more exciting or easier for you to write about.