In most cases writers have more short story ideas than they know what to do with.  While this may appear to be an ideal situation at first glance, having so many stories floating around in your head can sometimes be more paralyzing than motivating. This stagnation happens because oftentimes the more ideas you have, the harder it is to choose the best one.

15 Short Story Ideas Writers Can Use

On the other hand, there are those writers for whom short story ideas are not as forthcoming as they would like.  Like writers with too many ideas, these writers are also challenged with the inability to move forward. Nonetheless, whether your ideas flow like a river or bare more resemblance to desert drought, the most important thing is to start writing. ChatEbooks lists down some short story ideas that may help get you started:

Physical or Emotional Scars

The best authors understand the importance of glorifying their scars instead of covering them up. If you are at a loss for short story ideas, find a physical or emotional scar in your history and expand it into a story. As Stephen King puts it, “To be a writer, the only requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”


So many stories today choose to tackle death because the idea intrigues most readers. Good writers don’t turn away from death; after all, it’s the universal human experience. Imagine your character stumbling upon a dead body or witnessing the death of a friend or loved one. What would they do next? Start from there.


From Arya Stark and Tom Sawyer to Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins, it is clear that audiences love orphans, or at the very least they love rooting for them. This is because orphans are so vulnerable. Consider writing a story about an orphan. Give them an obstacle that will cause audiences to cheer them on as they try to overcome in spite of their vulnerability.


You don’t need experience with the supernatural genre to write about ghosts. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, they make great short story ideas. Create a character that discovers a ghost and proceed from there. Explore his or her reaction and how life changes as a result.


Breakups are very popular short story ideas. Find a relationship that intrigues you, whether it’s a romantic relationship, friendship, or even one between parent and child. Write about the breakup – the manner in which the relationship ends, the consequences, the potential new beginning and so on and so forth. There are so many concepts that you could explore here.


Create a character whose deepest fear is holding their life back – be it personal or professional. You can captivate readers by showing them how the character turns this fear into their strength and overcomes difficulties in the process. Don’t run from it, write about it.

Unexpected Fortune

The plot about a dirt poor character that suddenly comes into an unexpected fortune is popular among short story ideas. This is how stories like Harry Potter, Alladin and Cinderella were born. The fortune can either become a boon or a curse, depending on your approach.

The Meet Cute

In film, “The Meet Cute” is when the hero or heroine bumps into their soulmate in the most unexpected manner, such as running into them in the hallway or knocking her books to the floor. You can captivate readers by executing the “The Meet Cute” and then letting the readers experience the endearing conversation that follows between these future lovers.


A character on an important journey is suddenly waylaid by an accident or even a natural disaster. This is the plot of Gravity, The Odyssey and The Lord of the Rings.


Your hero and heroine run straight into the path of monsters, literal or nightmarish. Show your readers how the characters react and the manner in which they handle the situation. Use the frightening encounter to reveal what lies inside each of your characters in light of their dangerous situation

The Deal

Let your character stumble upon a great deal, be it a money making scheme or a new job offer. Let him (or her) brag to all his/her friends about it. Then let the readers watch as he/she peels the layers back and learns the dangers behind what he/she has gotten himself/herself into.


Your hero meets what seems to be the nicest roommate he has ever had. However, the roommate soon reveals that he or she is anything but nice, and your hero must find this out the hard way.

Secret Love

Show the interaction between two friends meeting after a long time, one of whom secretly loves the other. The key is to show these emotions rather than telling. Let your readers figure out the truth using your clues.


A stranger offers your hero money to take a mysterious package on the plane, assuring him that it is nothing illegal or dangerous. Your hero is desperate so he agrees to the request. Your character’s decision leads to a web of entrapment that ultimately ends in despair.

Garage Sale

Your character purchases something at a garage sale. He or she becomes captivated by a mystery connected to the item or realizes that it holds great value to some dangerous people.

As a writer, you are unlikely to lack for short story ideas. If you do, however, try not to get too caught up in finding the “best” short story idea. As George RR Martin once said, ideas are cheap – execution is all that matters.


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