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Creative writing story starters for adults

Forty-Four Short Story Ideas

Here are lots of short story ideas that you can use as writing prompts. Use these story starters on their own or to get ideas for the CWN online writing courses. You’ll also find links to more creative writing prompts at the bottom of the page.

Any of these ideas can be used either humorously or dramatically. or you can try both. Have fun!

Story ideas – three elements

Choose a set of three elements and write a story that contains all three of them!

  1. A stolen ring, fear of spiders, and a sinister stranger.
  2. A taxi, an old enemy, and Valentine’s Day.
  3. Identical twins, a party invitation, and a locked closet.
  4. A broken wristwatch, peppermints, and a hug that goes too far.
  5. Aerobics, a secret diary, and something unpleasant under the bed.
  6. An ex-boyfriend, a pair of binoculars, and a good-luck charm.
  7. An annoying boss, a bikini, and a fake illness.
  8. The first day of school, a love note, and a recipe with a significant mistake.
  9. A horoscope, makeup, and a missing tooth.
  10. 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?

  1. A babysitter is snooping around her employer’s house and finds a disturbing photograph.
  2. 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.”.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Your character suspects her husband is having an affair and decides to spy on him. What she discovers is not what she was expecting.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Even more short story ideas

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Your character is caught shoplifting. The shop owner says that she won’t call the police in exchange for a personal favor.
  4. 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.
  5. Your character picks up a hitch-hiker on her way home from work. The hitch-hiker tries to persuade your character to leave everything and drive her across the country.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Your character changes jobs in order to have more time with his family. But his family doesn’t seem interested in having him around.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

  1. Your character thinks her boss is looking for an excuse to fire her. She decides to fight back.
  2. Your character goes out for dinner on a date and becomes attracted to the waiter or waitress.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Your elderly character escapes from the retirement home where his or her children have placed him or her.
  6. 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.
  7. Your character is a writer. But his new neighbors are so noisy that he can neither work nor sleep. He decides to take action.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

  1. 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..
  2. 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..
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Photo credit: Pascal van de Vendel

Keep the short story ideas flowing

  • Looking for more detailed short story ideas? Find them here.
  • Use our free worksheet to develop your story plot. for a list of CWN pages with creative writing prompts and short story ideas.

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51 Story Starter Sentences

Story Starter Sentences to Ignite Your Mind— We’ve made it easy for you to start your next story. You see, we put together a wonderfully fun and creative list of 51 story starter sentences. Hopefully, these ideas will give you the inspiration you need to get started on your next creative writing project.

Why Use Story Prompts?

One of the most challenging parts of creative writing can be actually getting a new piece started.

I mean, it’s not always easy to come up with fresh ideas to hone your story writing skills and before you know it, you can waste 30 minutes looking at a blank piece of paper.

Even if you have an idea, coming up with that opening line to get you started can be a challenge. The great news is once you get started the writing usually begins to flow. But, if you need some assistance getting your creative juices flowing…

Then you may find that our story starter sentences will ignite your mind with great ideas. Plus, they may also give you an opening line to get you going so you don’t spend all your time trying to come up with an idea on your own.

So get to it and use the writing prompts in your classroom today.

51 Story Starter Sentences

  1. Suddenly, icy fingers grabbed my arm as I inched through the darkness.
  2. I suddenly found out that I was heir to a throne…
  3. She opened the letter and it said she’d won $100,000.
  4. When I flipped on the radio that night, I couldn’t believe the voice I heard coming through the speakers.
  5. I still remember the day I was born.
  6. There was a secret meeting in the morning and she absolutely had to be there.
  7. There was something about a music box that always made me think of home…
  8. I opened my eyes and had no idea where I was…
  9. He was heading back to the one place he hoped he’d never have to see again.
  10. Today she would find out if her entire life was a lie.
  11. Shaking, I grabbed his hand and said my goodbyes.
  12. A road trip was just the thing for me and my friends.
  13. I turned on the 10:00 pm news only to see one of the biggest secrets of my life playing out before my eyes.
  14. The roller coaster had stopped and we were left upside down…
  15. For months I’d been crying myself to sleep every night.
  16. We were supposed to meet each other on the Bay Bridge at midnight, but he never showed up.
  17. When I walked into the living room, huge bouquets of flowers were everywhere, but I had no idea how they got there.
  18. I’d been planning the perfect vacation for months, but then…
  19. There are only three of us left – the only three left alive in the world.
  20. The little girl turned to me and said, “The future of the world is up to you now”.
  21. At first, I thought it was only the dog making noise, but it was…
  22. It sounded like piano music and it was coming from my living room…
  23. She’d thought about this moment, imagined it, for years, but she’d never expected what happened…
  24. It all started when I accidentally picked up the wrong suitcase at the airport.
  25. The cab driver suddenly turned left instead of right and I had no idea where he was taking me.
  26. My boss had given his orders, but I knew what he was asking was illegal.
  27. She broke open the fortune cookie, but there was a map on the tiny slip of paper.
  28. The waitress walked over and whispered in my ear, “You have to leave because your life is in danger”.
  29. He decided to spy on his wife, but what he discovered wasn’t what he was expecting at all.
  30. She thought her boss was going to fire her, so she decided she’d fight back.
  31. He was tired of living in the retirement home, so he was planning an escape.
  32. There was a time years ago when I was happy, but those days were over.
  33. While I could see hundreds of stars in the sky, there was no moon that night.
  34. From the moment he walked into the casino, Lady Luck was on his side.
  35. The twins had a secret and they knew that no one could ever find out about it.
  36. Every time I heard the ice cream truck go by, I got scared.
  37. I was reading on the subway when all of a sudden, we stopped in the middle of a tunnel.
  38. I hadn’t planned on becoming a hostage at the bank when I got up that morning.
  39. My brother was in Afghanistan and I hadn’t heard anything from him for over a month.
  40. Walking down the long hallway to my boss’s office, I had no idea what he could want from me.
  41. The note said to go to hotel room #33 and I was hesitant to knock on the door.
  42. Every Tuesday at 3 pm, flowers were delivered to my house.
  43. As I flipped through the photo album, I couldn’t stop the memories from flooding back and the tears from filling my eyes.
  44. I had to go on stage in 15 minutes and my clothes were ripped and muddy.
  45. Time was running out and he had 11 more blocks to run.
  46. I had the same dream every night and it was scaring me.
  47. Every time the clock struck midnight, the entire house would go dark for 10 minutes.
  48. When she looked at her cellphone, she was shocked to see she had 33 voicemails.
  49. It was my first game to pitch in the majors and I could barely contain my excitement.
  50. The music was slowing, the song was almost over, but we couldn’t stop dancing.
  51. She’d been in labor for 48 hours and still no baby.

Discover More Ways You can Write Your Very Own Stories

If you want to create and write your own stories, then it’s essential you learn how to develop the plot of a story. This is why we’d like to encourage you to a look at our article:

There’s a treasure trove of excellent writing information for you in that article.

So get to it and check it out today. I think you’ll be glad you did!

More Links & Resources for You

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