Fiction Writing Prompts

Here are some fiction writing prompts that you can turn into stories. You can treat them simply as inspiration for your fiction, or use them in combination with the CWN creative writing lessons on character development.

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Fiction writing prompts - creative writing ideas with a focus on: character development.

1) Short story ideas - dating deception

Your character meets someone on an online dating site. Your character writes an e-mail to the person, describing him/herself. Write the e-mail. This e-mail contains two lies. What are they? Why did the character tell them? Also: your character has a very mistaken idea of the impression he/she makes on other people. What impression does your character think he/she makes? What impression does he/she really make? Figure all this stuff out. If you want, fill out a character profile. The character arranges an in-person meeting with the person he/she has met online. What happens at the meeting? Write the story.

2) Short story ideas - character contradictions

Invent a character who has two personality traits that are completely incompatible, that don't fit together at all. For example: this character is incredibly messy and is also a total perfectionist. Or: this character is a pacifist and also has a really explosive temper. Or: this character believes in strict, traditional family values but is promiscuous by nature. You decide. Then think of a situation in which these two sides of your character would be in direct conflict with each other. Write the story.

3) Short story ideas - self-realization

Your character things he/she is good at something, but he/she isn't. Something happens that makes your character realize this. What? What does your character do about it? Write the story.

4) Short story ideas - blast from the past

Years later, the character's first love shows up on his or her doorstep again. Both your character and his/her first love are surprised at how the other person has changed (How?) This encounter causes a disruption in your character's life (How? What does your character do about it?) Write the story.

5) Short story ideas - crisis of faith

Your character has a certain deep-held belief about life. This belief may be based on religion, on something he learned from his parents, or on his own experience. Decide what this belief is and where it came from. In your story, something happens to the character that seems incompatible with this belief. How does your character react? Write the story.

6) Short story ideas - reluctant confrontation

Invent a teenage character who is very shy and hates confrontations of any kind. Her friend Stacy gets into serious trouble at school, and your character knows that the situation is a teacher's fault, not Stacy's. Your character wants to help Stacy, but all of her options seem terrifying: confront the teacher directly, talk to the principal, or tell a parent who might not believe her. What does she do? Write the story.

7) Short story ideas - old dreams

Your character has a family and a stable job. Then something happens that reminds him of the plans he had when he was younger, to become an actor and live a creative life without ties of any kind. What happens to make him remember this? He starts to wonder if he's made the right choices. What does he do?

8) More fiction writing prompts:

Write about any of the following characters:

  • A woman who is constantly calling the police on her noisy neighbors, not because the noise bothers her but because she enjoys the fight.
  • A woman who wants to be a singer but has no talent.
  • A boy who teases girls because he likes them and doesn't want them to guess.
  • An aerobics instructor who develops an addiction to junk food that is making her fat and threatening her job.
  • A very handsome guy who is sick of being admired only for his looks.

Next steps

The creative writing ideas on this page are just the tip of the iceberg. Click here to see even more fiction writing prompts.

Click here to go to the CWN fiction-writing course. If you haven't signed up yet, what are you waiting for? It's free!

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