How To Come Up With FANTASTIC Short Story Ideas


There are many reasons you might not be able to come up with good short story ideas on your own right now.

You could be stressed.
You could be tired.
Or maybe you’re just unmotivated and feeling a bit… blergh.

But you really want to write a short story.

You want it to be different yet interesting. Yet you can’t for the life of you, figure out how to start something that others seem to be doing so easily.

That’s why this post exists. If you read all the way through, you’ll find at least three ways to come up with fantastic short story ideas, that work for you.

Short stories come in different lengths cos they come in different types. But some would describe a short story as any work of fiction below 7500 words.

Unlike writing a novel where it’s best to begin with a character, a short story often starts with an idea.

But what to do when you’ve run out of short story ideas.

Or you feel like you’ve never had any decent short story ideas in the first place.

Or if it feels like your mind is cluttered with too much for you to pick the right one.

I felt some type of way when I first realised I had to write this collection of short stories.

And below are the things I’ve found, work – not just for me, but some other writers, too.

1) Be mindful of you.
Sometimes, the reason you can’t come up with any short story ideas is you.

You think you’re going to suck or stink before you even try.

So, you procrastinate and inflict a case of writer’s block on yourself.

Ergo blank page or screen. Followed by a frustrated you wondering “Why can’t I come up with any story ideas?”

Such suffering is truly unnecessary.
So, download our guide below to help you stop procrastinating and banish writer’s block for good.

2) Pay attention to your surroundings.
Do you have any idea how many short story ideas exist in your personal environment?

Watch people. How they act, what they say, the little things that set them off, it’s all there.

I’m not asking you to stalk anyone; seriously, please don’t stalk anyone. It’s totally weird, unnecessary and not to mention, a crime.

But people tend to be more authentic and less likely to fake anything when they don’t realise they’re being observed.

So, pay attention to your surroundings and observe people.

You’d be surprised at the list of short story ideas you’d have if you just happened to overhear snippets of some conversations.

Whether it’s in a pub, park, gym, hospital, supermarket or even in traffic. Just saying…

3) Check out social media.
Yes, seriously.

You don’t have to get involved in anyone’s shenanigans or start beef.

But with the types of conversations and the different kinds of characters on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? The kinds of things that trend for reasons good, bad, ugly, or outright ridiculous? Things you see and you wonder if you’re really on Earth?

What do you mean, you don’t know how to get short story ideas?

You don’t need to lift a whole story from there cos a) possible legal issues, b) if it’s not your story, you don’t actually know what happened no matter what anybody says.

Some people whose story it is, don’t have or even know all the details…

But one tweet, one Instagram caption, one Pinterest board or one Facebook update is enough to keep you rolling in fantastic short story ideas for a week.

And the thing about getting ideas from social media is that if it was an issue people were interested in, you’re bound to find people interested in reading a story based on it.

Click here if you want to get this blog post as a PDF straight to your inbox.

4) News media/fake news.
Works on the same premise as #3.

Look at just one newspaper, magazine, blog post or TV news update released this morning. I guarantee one headline and you won’t lack weird, wonderful, witty or wacky stories to inspire some short story ideas.

5) Your own life experiences.
Is there something that means a lot to you for whatever reason?

My husband doesn’t know this (well, he will when he reads this) but our very first hug was what sparked this book

So, pick something from your life. A person, an event, a piece of property.

  • Did you fail an exam, lose an election or get fired? More than once?
  • Have you ever gotten a promotion or position that you could have sworn you’d never get?
  • Have you ever had a negative news story written about you? Or a rumour that wasn’t necessarily negative but was false?
  • Have you ever planted a false story about yourself or someone else?
  • Did your wedding planner frustrate you to the point where you thought you were going crazy and you nearly committed murder?
  • Have you been kidnapped?
  • Had food poisoning?
  • Given anyone food poisoning cos you cooked something that turned out to be terrible?
  • Have you stood for someone who looked like the victim in a situation, then realised they were lying?
  • Did you have an unforgettable experience on a holiday?
  • Do you have a hobby that’s bankrupted you?
  • Has an Instagram vendor showed you nwii?
  • Ever entered a one chance vehicle?
  • Had a nightmare boss?
  • Have you ever been on the receiving or giving end of what I ordered vs what I got?
  • What was renting/buying/building your first house/apartment/place like?
  • What about being on a plane or travelling out of the state where you live, for the first time?
  • You ever seen a ghost?
  • Lost touch with someone?

Pick one thing from your life and ask “what if…?” The what if can be about anything.

But you’ll have at least a couple of short story ideas from that.

6) Rework something you didn’t like from your favourite book, movie or TV show.
Just one scene.

My first attempt at writing a story was when I was 9 – after I read Naughty Amelia Jane by Enid Blyton. Cos I couldn’t get over how mean and irredeemably evil Amelia Jane was…

You don’t have to try to rewrite an entire book, movie or TV show.

Pick one scene you didn’t like – for whatever reason, it’s up to you. And go with it, see where that leads…

7) Visit your Spam folder.
I actually came across this tip here.

But apparently those emails – we’ve all received – about how you have an inheritance to (help someone) claim, can inspire some short story ideas.

8) Titles or emotions of songs from your playlist.
Yeah, I thought it was interesting when I read it, too.

But it does make sense.

Can you imagine a short story idea from Adele’s Hello mixed with Davido’s See Gobe?

9) Steal, swipe, borrow our list.
Yeah, I know, I know – you’re afraid it won’t be original.

But a) how many truly original ideas are there in this world? And b) even if people are given the same idea, they’ll come up with different products – unless someone copies.

So, go on.
Download your list of short story ideas to get a head start now. Just don’t plagiarise anyone’s work.

10) Register for a class.

So, you might already have figured out how to come up with fantastic short story ideas.

Or you think you need a bit more help figuring it out.

Either way, pop in your details below and we’ll have you sorted in no time.

So, do you feel like you now have at least three ways that work for you, to come up with short story ideas? Leave a comment below and let us know.

And don’t forget to order your Banish to Finish guide, list of Short Story Ideas, and a place on the Writing Short Stories webinar. You can also get this blog post as a PDF guide delivered straight to your inbox. They’re all free!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *