Story Ideas - Story Starters

Here are some story ideas to inspire you. At the bottom of the page, you’ll find links to more story starters and ideas.

Story Beginnings

Start with one of these and see where your imagination takes you.

  1. He should have never let her into the apartment...
  2. It sounded like violin music, and it was coming from the basement...
  3. "It's not what you think," he said.
  4. I crouched behind the car, trying not to make a sound...
  5. There's only one thing in the world I'm afraid of...
  6. They sat next to each other on the train, still pretending to be strangers...
  7. I knew he'd been there because he'd stubbed out his cigarette in the sink...
  8. "Don't you dare come any closer..."
  9. She'd imagined this moment so many times, but she never expected...
  10. At first, I thought it was the cat, but it was...
  11. Inside the envelope was a four-leaf clover...
  12. There was only one way to keep her quiet, and it was going to cost us...

"What If..."

In our audio class on writing young adult fiction, author Emma Carlson Berne explains how she uses "what-if" questions to come up with ideas for novels. Below are some "what-if" questions that you can use for your own fiction writing.

  1. What if you discovered that your friend's husband was cheating... but you also knew that if you told her it would be the end of your friendship?
  2. What if you opened a fortune cookie and found a tiny map inside?
  3. What if the cab driver suddenly turned in the wrong direction and told you he had his own plans for you?
  4. What if your boss ordered you to do something illegal at work, and you knew if you didn't do it you'd be fired?
  5. What if someone who looked almost exactly like you suddenly became very famous?
  6. What if you and your brother or sister fell in love with the same person?
  7. What if, in the basement of your house, you discovered a secret passageway?
  8. What if a stranger on a bus told you he or she was dying and needed your kidney?
  9. What if you bought a new house or apartment and when you went to move in, you found someone already living there?
  10. What if you picked up the wrong suitcase at the airport, and inside it was the evidence from a crime?

Three Elements

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

  1. A bargain-hunter, a disguise, and something glimpsed from a window
  2. A car that breaks down, two ex-girlfriends, and a mysterious light in the sky
  3. A bird's nest, terrible cooking, and a family argument
  4. A fortuneteller, skin cream, and a song stuck in someone's head
  5. A phobia, GPS, and a page torn out of a book
  6. A first date, a library, and poisonous mushrooms
  7. A house for sale, a telescope, and footprints
  8. A camping trip, a missing necklace, and someone who talks in her sleep
  9. A blizzard, a surprise visit, and a hidden door
  10. Valentine's day, bad cell phone reception, and a lucky mistake
shadows on pavement

Story Ideas - Next Steps

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