120 Short Story Ideas and Prompts To Get Creativity Flowing


Some of my favorite teaching moments came from a unit that culminated with my students writing an original short story. When given the freedom to write fiction, so many of my students came alive. They wanted to write suspense, mystery, horror, or romance. They wanted their characters to feel like real people. Suddenly, after weeks of ignoring my helpfully provided feedback, they were crowding my desk to ask me to read their work. It was glorious. Narrative writing is a wonderful way to allow every student to use the skills they’ve practiced in class to create something new. Getting started, however, can often be tricky. This is where I’ve found short story prompts to be so helpful. Give your students the following list of intriguing short story prompts and ideas and watch what they create.

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Suspenseful Short Story Ideas

We Are Teachers
  • The tombstones in the town’s cemetery are going missing.
  • You discover the new student at school looks exactly like you.
  • There are muddy footprints leading up to the front door of the house … but it hasn’t rained for days.
  • An obscure relative passes away and leaves you $500,000 in their will under the condition that you move into their 100-year-old house immediately … alone.
  • A new app promises to help you get your life together, and it works! If you follow everything it tells you to do, you have an awesome day. If you don’t follow it exactly …
  • A teen discovers their house is being haunted by a student who went missing from their school decades earlier. The only thing the ghost wants is to bring their murderer to justice.
  • A student starts experiencing strange blackouts and wakes up in unfamiliar places with no memory of how they got there.
  • Your friend starts receiving anonymous threatening messages, and you must help unravel the mystery of who is behind them before it’s too late.
  • During a camping trip, a group of friends hears strange noises in the woods and discovers they’re not alone.
  • A girl begins experiencing déjà vu, realizing that the events she’s experiencing have already happened before.
  • After the recent solar eclipse, things just feel different. You try talking about it with your friends, but no one seems to believe you.
  • A teen starts seeing shadowy figures following other students around just before something bad happens to them.
  • A school field trip goes wrong when the group of students gets stranded in a museum during a blizzard. As the power goes out and it keeps getting colder, they’ll have to work together if they want to survive.
  • During first period, you receive an anonymous text that something terrible is going to happen at the end of the school day. The text tells you that you have until the end of the day to stop it from happening.
  • You’re not proud of it, but you and your friends used to pick on a kid at recess when you were in elementary school. He moved away before middle school, but now he’s back, and it seems like he wants revenge.
  • A teen has to clear their name when their teacher wrongly accuses them of cheating on the midterm exam.
  • When a teen discovers information that seems to prove he and his best friend were switched at birth, he starts to wonder if that’s why he’s always felt more comfortable hanging out at his friend’s house instead of his own.
  • You and your friends are loving the new “Truth or Dare” cell phone game, until the truths get a bit too personal and the dares a bit too dangerous. But when you try to stop, you discover the app isn’t as harmless as it first appeared.
  • A teen and their best friend decide to throw caution to the wind and pick up a hitchhiker for the first time ever. But things quickly go awry.
  • A girl starts receiving mysterious packages in the mail containing items that seem to be connected to her past.

Adventurous Short Story Ideas

An adventurous prompt on a school desk.
We Are Teachers
  • The school field trip was supposed to be fun. Then, the natural disaster hit.
  • You are obsessed with the ancient Aztecs. When a mysterious corporation that claims to have mastered time travel recruits you to travel back to the 15th century to learn more about what life was like for Aztec children, you agree almost immediately. Will you regret your decision?
  • You and your friends decide to hike the Appalachian Trail for the summer.
  • A group of friends embarks on a camping trip in the wilderness, only to stumble upon a hidden cave filled with treasure and traps.
  • You just found out that your mother/father is a spy for the CIA. In addition to that crazy realization, they tell you they need your help for one very important mission.
  • A teenager finds a mysterious message in a bottle washed up on the beach, sparking a thrilling adventure to uncover its sender.
  • You lose a bet with your most adventurous friend, and for one day you have to say yes to whatever crazy activities they choose.
  • Two rival teams compete in a scavenger hunt across the city, racing against time and each other to find hidden clues and treasures.
  • A group of teens joins a sailing expedition to explore uncharted islands, but they soon encounter dangerous storms and ancient curses.
  • You receive a mysterious package containing a key to a forgotten family estate, where you uncover a legacy of adventure and intrigue.
  • A group of friends forms a detective agency to solve mysteries in their neighborhood, uncovering hidden secrets and foiling villains.
  • A young explorer decides to climb the tallest mountain in the world, facing treacherous terrain and extreme weather conditions.
  • A teenager discovers a hidden treasure map in an old book, leading them on a quest to find a legendary pirate’s treasure.
  • A group of friends embarks on a cross-country road trip, encountering unexpected obstacles and forging lifelong memories along the way.
  • You and your friends set out on a kayaking expedition down a remote river but soon encounter dangerous rapids and wild animals.
  • A young explorer sets out to traverse a vast desert, facing sandstorms and mirages as they search for a lost oasis.
  • A group of teens forms a treasure-hunting club, exploring abandoned mines and forgotten ruins in search of hidden riches.
  • Two siblings discover a secret society of adventurers hidden beneath their town, where they must prove themselves worthy to join their ranks.
  • A teenager discovers a hidden cave on a remote island, where they find ancient artifacts and clues to a lost civilization.
  • You and your friends decide to explore an abandoned mine, where you uncover hidden tunnels and encounter supernatural phenomena.

Science Fiction Short Story Ideas

A science fiction prompt on a school desk.
We Are Teachers
  • In the future, students go to school virtually. You’ve done this since kindergarten, but a new law is passed stating that virtual school is unhealthy and, next year, all students will go to school in person. You will be meeting friends you’ve known since kindergarten for the first time in real life.
  • After several disastrous presidential elections, the country votes to choose the next president randomly from among every citizen in the country. You think it’s a sort of stupid idea … until your name is selected.
  • A girl discovers a portal to a parallel universe in her backyard shed, where she meets alternate versions of herself and must work together to solve a mystery.
  • Scientists have solved all the world’s problems, and we now live in a utopia … or do we?
  • Your family has been selected to join 24 other families colonizing Mars. At the first meeting, you realize that the kid who has bullied you since elementary school is also on the mission.
  • A young girl wakes up one day to find that she has developed telekinetic powers, and she must learn to control them while navigating the challenges of middle school.
  • Due to a computer virus, all social media disappears overnight. It might not ever come back. How does that change things?
  • Like every other kid in the year 2122, you were given your very own robot best friend when you were little, and it’s grown up with you. One day, your robot friend tells you that the robots are planning on taking over the world and imprisoning the humans.
  • A boy discovers a crashed spaceship in the forest behind his house and must protect the alien pilot from government agents while helping it repair its ship.
  • A group of kids stumbles upon a hidden laboratory in the mountains, where they uncover a plot to control the weather and must race against time to stop it.
  • A group of students discovers a time machine hidden in the school basement, leading to thrilling adventures throughout history.
  • During a class field trip to a space station, students accidentally get launched into orbit and must find a way to return to Earth.
  • You and your friends find a hidden alien spaceship buried beneath your backyard and discover you can fly it.
  • A student wakes up one morning and discovers they’re reliving the same day over and over again.
  • You receive a mysterious message from your future self, warning of a catastrophic event that must be prevented.
  • During a class project on robotics, you and your lab partner accidentally create an artificial intelligence that becomes self-aware.
  • Your best friend discovers they can teleport, leading to thrilling adventures as they explore the world and beyond.
  • A group of friends uncovers a hidden laboratory beneath the school, filled with advanced technology and secret experiments.
  • You and your friends find a mysterious ancient artifact hidden in the school library, unlocking its secrets, and triggering a global blackout.
  • On his 16th birthday, a teen learns that he and his family are actually aliens. His parents are alien scientists living on Earth to study humans and what it’s like to raise their child as a human.

Scary Short Story Ideas

A scary prompt on a school desk.
We Are Teachers
  • You’ve finally convinced your parents to let you stay home alone, but now it’s dark out, and your dog won’t stop growling at the back door, even though no one’s out there.
  • While camping on a school field trip, the chaperones all get sick/injured. You and your best friend are the two students chosen to hike back in the dark for help.
  • A sinister figure is spotted watching from the shadows of the school grounds.
  • As the power went out during a storm, strange whispers began echoing through the house.
  • You and your friends explore an abandoned amusement park, only to discover it’s not as deserted as it seems.
  • After receiving a new phone as a present, you start receiving mysterious text messages from an unknown number, foretelling ominous events.
  • You were born and raised in a house that’s over 100 years old and never found it a bit spooky. But when you return home after suffering a concussion during a soccer game, you start to notice shadows that seem to move on their own and the sounds of people walking in empty rooms.
  • A strange illness spreads among students, causing them to behave strangely and forget chunks of time.
  • A seemingly innocent game of hide-and-seek takes a dark turn when someone goes missing.
  • While on vacation, you bought an antique locket from a weird little store you found while sightseeing. Whenever you put it on, it makes you feel more confident and powerful … and angry.
  • The teens didn’t believe in Ouija boards until the things their Ouija board told them started coming true.
  • A new student joins the class, but there’s something unsettling about their appearance and behavior.
  • During a camping trip, someone discovers strange symbols carved into the trees, leading to a terrifying discovery.
  • After bringing a cursed object to school for show-and-tell, a series of bizarre occurrences unfolds.
  • Your best friend discovers a hidden room in the school basement, revealing a dark history that should have stayed buried.
  • The school yearbook contains a cursed photograph that causes those who look at it to experience horrifying visions.
  • You begin receiving threatening letters from an anonymous sender, which escalates into a terrifying game of cat and mouse.
  • You and your friends see a strange figure wandering the school at night, leaving behind cryptic messages written on the walls. But when you tell the principal, she assumes you’re pulling a prank.
  • A series of disturbing paintings appear overnight in the art classroom, each one depicting a horrifying scene.
  • You receive a cursed doll as a gift, unleashing a terrifying chain of events.

Funny Short Story Ideas

A funny prompt on a school desk.
We Are Teachers
  • The class realizes the substitute teacher has a phobia of school supplies.
  • One day we woke up and all of the animals could talk.
  • A class pet escapes, causing chaos as students scramble to capture it before the end of the day.
  • You’ve accidentally created a clone of yourself while working on a science project.
  • A student tries to impress their crush by concocting a love potion, but things don’t go as planned.
  • Your best friend’s attempt to create the ultimate school project using only duct tape leads to unexpected challenges and mishaps.
  • You were never the most popular kid in school, but when you realize the front office has confused you with the new foreign exchange student, you wonder how you could use this mix-up to your advantage.
  • The teacher had to leave class due to an emergency and left you in charge. That was two weeks ago. The teacher never returned, and the principal hasn’t come in to check on you. How are things going?
  • You’ve created a robot to help with your homework, but the robot’s interpretation of the assignments leads to chaos and you’ve got a lot of explaining to do.
  • A school dance takes a hilarious turn when the DJ accidentally plays embarrassing music.
  • Your best friend bets you $100 that you can’t make it an entire school day without telling a single lie.
  • A group of students forms a secret society dedicated to pulling off epic pranks with increasingly elaborate schemes.
  • A student’s attempt to impress their crush with a grand romantic gesture backfires spectacularly.
  • Your imaginary friend never went away and pops up at unexpected times to ask you to play, but you are still the only one who can see them.
  • You and your friends form a band to impress your crushes, despite having zero musical talent. But then your band goes viral.
  • A science experiment goes awry, resulting in a classroom filled with bouncing slime creatures.
  • Your best friend accidentally swaps bodies with their pet dog, leading to hilarious mix-ups and misunderstandings.
  • A class project to create a time machine results in comedic chaos as students accidentally travel to different historical periods.
  • Your best friend thought it would be a good idea to bring their pet to school. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t a good idea.
  • A student discovers a secret portal in the school cafeteria that leads to a world filled with talking food.

Fantasy Short Story Ideas

A fantasy prompt on a school desk.
We Are Teachers
  • After watching a video about it on YouTube, you teach yourself how to shape-shift.
  • Rewrite your favorite fairy tale, but make it take place today in your town.
  • A student discovers a hidden portal in the school library that leads to a magical realm filled with mythical creatures.
  • You and your friends stumble upon a mysterious amulet that grants you extraordinary powers, but at a cost.
  • During a field trip to an ancient castle, you uncover a long-lost treasure map that leads to a forgotten kingdom.
  • You wake up one morning to find that you’ve been transformed into a mythical creature. Now you must embark on a quest to reverse the spell.
  • A school talent show takes a magical turn when students showcase their abilities in elemental manipulation, telekinesis, and shape-shifting.
  • You discover a forbidden book in the school library. It holds the key to unlocking powerful spells and incantations, but using its magic comes with dire consequences.
  • During gym, students accidentally stumble upon a fairy kingdom hidden within the school grounds.
  • A magical creature enrolls in the school, posing as a human student while trying to conceal their true identity.
  • Your best friend finds a magical journal that allows them to rewrite reality, but each change comes with unforeseen consequences.
  • You discover a hidden chamber beneath the school filled with enchanted objects and mysterious relics.
  • Due to a magic spell gone wrong, the young wizard and the dragon have switched bodies. How well will the dragon do at pretending to be a human wizard? How will the wizard figure out how to be a dragon?
  • On your birthday, someone gives you a ring. It allows you to control the weather.
  • A game of Dungeons & Dragons takes on a life of its own when students find themselves transported into the fantasy world they were role-playing.
  • A student inherits a magical heirloom passed down through generations of their family, unlocking its hidden powers.
  • During a class project on mythology, students accidentally awaken ancient gods and goddesses who wreak havoc on the school.
  • A student discovers they are the long-lost heir to the throne of a magical kingdom. They must go on a quest to reclaim their rightful place.
  • An elf appears in your room one evening and informs you that your great-grandfather is the king of an elfin kingdom. He needs your help to defend the kingdom from evil invaders.
  • You forgot your backpack and run back to get it, only to witness your teacher using magic to tidy up the classroom. She tells you that all teachers can secretly do magic.
Short Story Prompts

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