What Happens Next? 20 Story Ideas

On this page, you’ll find story ideas to keep your fiction from running out of steam in the middle. At the bottom of the page are links to more fiction writing help.

Not sure what should happen next in your story? Are things getting boring?

Raymond Carver offered this advice to writers: "When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand."

Depending on your story, that's certainly one option. Here are twenty others.

1. An ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend shows up in your character's town.

2. Your character gets lost on the way somewhere. And ends up someplace more interesting.

3. The phone rings. Heavy breathing on the other end. Then the connection is cut.

4. A relative your character doesn't get along with shows up on your character's doorstep.

5. Your character becomes physically attracted to someone inappropriate.

6. Someone cries for help.

7. The police suddenly show up and arrest your character.

8. Your character gets a job offer that would require him/her to make dramatic lifestyle changes.

9. Someone your character thought was a friend or ally suddenly turns against him or her.

10. A rock is thrown through a window.

11. Someone starts flirting with your character's romantic partner or potential romantic partner.

12. A dead body turns up.

13. Your character accidentally takes home the wrong purse/jacket/briefcase/phone and finds something interesting in the one s/he takes.

14. Someone suddenly proposes marriage.

15. Your character's home gets flooded and s/he has to find somewhere to stay. S/he ends up someplace interesting.

16. Someone gets drunk and says something s/he shouldn't.

17. Your character notices a stranger staring at him/her.

18. Your character discovers that his/her home/bedroom/desk/computer has been searched.

19. Someone discovers she's pregnant.

20. Someone tries to convince your character to do exactly the opposite of what she/he has been doing so far in the story. This person makes a very persuasive argument.


- Not every all of the options below will fit well into every story. Choose one that feels right for the type of story you're writing.

- Use these plot elements in ways that reveal something about your main character or the main problem s/he's facing in your story.

- If a plot element feels too "out of the blue," you can revise the earlier part of the story to prepare for it.

Remember -- if your story is slowing down, you should always check for two things:

- Does your character want something? Make sure your character always has a goal.

- Is your character facing a problem or conflict? If not, create one.

For more help with story middles, read this article on plot complications.

Happy writing!

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