30 Creative Fiction Writing Prompts to Inspire Your Next Novel

writing on a wooden board

Inspiration can be a tricky beast. We writers are always looking for the next brilliant idea and another genius plot twist to use. We dig through the overgrown tumbleweeds and dusty corners of our minds for a storyline that will take a reader’s breath away.

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We want inspiration to appear organically – like that remembered snippet of a dream or that startlingly crisp thought you had while walking in an autumn forest. We want ideas to blossom in wondrous and magical ways so that, when asked, we can say,

“Oh this idea just CAME to me! I was inspired!”

But you know what’s more common? Inspiration slamming the door in your face and leaving you out in the cold. In the rain. With wet socks.

It’s perfectly natural to get stuck with your writing. It happens to us all. And while there are dozen of ways to punch through writer’s block, sometimes what you need is to kick start your creative juices.

As the famous Jack London quote says,

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Here is a list of 30 Creative Fiction writing prompts that might inspire your next short story or novel.

How To Stay Inspired As A Writer

Before we dive into the prompts, I just want to take a moment to talk about the concept of a “creative well”. Basically imagine your creativity as a well. It is a deep well. There is a bucket tied at the top.

You dip that bucket into the well daily and use up that delicious creativity. But this well is not infinite, because you’re a human and you get to run down and tired – your creativity can grow thin and run out.

Empty

So what do you do? Keep filling the well!

Writers need to be absorbing creativity! You can’t output if you don’t input. Make sure your life as a writer includes: reading other books, allowing yourself time to daydream, listening to music, looking at pictures or paintings, listening to conversations, watching movies or films and studying the storytelling, reading articles and blog posts by other authors on how to improve your craft, talking to people about your books, just eating a whole cheesecake. (That last one is for work! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!)

Half the time when I talk to a writer who is run down and despondent about their stories, they’ve also not been reading good books or had anyone to talk about writing with. Don’t underestimate the importance of these things!

Keep learning about writing! It is ridiculously good for your creativity levels to hone your craft, improve your style, and strengthen your weaknesses. Hooked To Books recommends The Great Courses video-on-demand service that can epically boost your storytelling with good tips and techniques.

If you just keep falling from one plot hole into another and you’re getting quite muddy over there, ankle-deep in plot problems, you might find the trick is to learn more about writing.

writing on a notebook

30 Creative Fiction Writing Prompts To Try

If you don’t know where to start your story, try some of these ideas to inspire your next writing project!

Shake Up a Cliché

  1. Instead of the nerdy quiet girl in class falling for the brooding bad boy, flip their rolls. Rebellious girl in a leather jacket finds herself falling for the anxious boy who is a dancer.
  2. Instead of the girl who doesn’t know she’s secretly the long lost princess, try having a heroine who knows she’s in hiding from the throne and is trying to live a normal life while fending off assassin attacks. This just made getting coffee with a girl she’s trying to impress much more wild when she’s covertly avoiding masked villains.
  3. The Chosen One is a tired cliché, so change it to be the hero who was meant to save the world is shockingly killed in the epic battle and the villain has no idea how to cope with the loss of his nemesis, so he embarks on a journey to bring back the hero from the dead…and discovers maybe he’s doing it for love, not hate.
  4. Instead of the teen discovering they have superpowers in high school, shake it up so that the teen loses their superpowers suddenly and has to learn how to cope with normal strength or not being able to teleport now. Can they get their powers back?
  5. The infamous love triangle is a popular cliché, but what if it ends with all three realizing they’re in love with each other?

Reimagine A Fairy Tale

  1. Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs: a modern retelling where a girl with a hidden identity is hired to babysit for a huge family with seven boys but falls in love with one of the oldest teen brothers and risks her secrets.
  2. Pinocchio: An evil sorcerer turns children into puppets and they must find the cure to turn back to humans between performing complicated plays for audiences who don’t even know they’re alive.
  3. Cinderella: Put a gender-bent twist on this classic tale! In a magical kingdom, a poor servant boy hatches a plot to win the princess’ heart and rise from poverty, but first, he must catch a fairy godmother and convince her to turn his rags to riches…except maybe it’s the fairy he falls for instead.
  4. Beauty & the Beast: Tell it from the perspective of the beast as he is cursed into a monster and must keep his rose alive or else he dies. The only way to achieve this is to learn how to garden himself or seduce the beautiful town gardener so she’ll help him.
  5. Rumpelstiltskin: Everything a girl touches turns to gold unless she discovers the name of the man who cursed her.
a collage of opened books

Fantasy Inspiration

  1. A university student discovers the fountain of youth and launches a pyramid-scheme to sell the magical elixir…but is it real or not?
  2. Two hunters are lost in the woods trying to take down a mythical dragon, only to find its eggs. They’re unable to kill the babies and end up trying to hatch and raise unwieldy rambunctious baby dragons, aka the worst house pets ever.
  3. The moon goddess falls from the sky and must find a way to be restored amongst the stars, but the only one who can help her is the sun, and they’ve been snobbishly ignoring each other for years.
  4. The princess arrives in a neighboring country to wed the crown prince only to fall in love with his guard who knows a secret: the “prince” is an impostor and magician, who has murdered the true prince, and they must reveal his dark plans before she’s forced to marry.
  5. A girl with an affinity for fire falls in love with a boy with an affinity for ice, and the star-crossed lovers must find a way to stay together throughout the calamities that happen when their powers collide.
  6. A real estate agent is trying to sell an old “haunted house” and they get so frustrated with the creepy things happening every time they show people through. They decide to hire a ghost hunter and set up camp in the house to fix the problem.
  7. A fierce warrior queen has fought until her queendom rests at peace, but she’s a warmonger at heart and doesn’t know how to lay down her sword. She sets impossible quests for suitors to compete to keep her amused but ends up having to continually rescue them. And there’s this one damsel trying to prove her mettle who needs rescuing every time ugh…
opened notebook on a wooden table

Little Bit Of Romance

  1. The meet-cute of the century happens in a coffee shop and their life is as adorable as it can get…until they realize the clichés won’t stop and they’re cursed to awkwardly go through every romance cliché there is, while being self-aware of the absurdity. Will it ever stop?!
  2. Two detectives in rival departments hate each other so much, but they’re forced to work together on a case, only to discover one of them is being framed.
  3. She’s been pining after the boy next door since they were kids, climbing trees and getting scraped knees together, but when he finally asks her out to the dance, she realizes she possibly was in love with his brother the whole time.
  4. Two assassins have been paid to eliminate each other, but they’re so impressed by the other’s ability to avoid traps and death, that they start going out on clandestine dates in the day, and back to hunting each other at night.
  5. Two teens broke up when high school ended and moved far away, but when they start dating online, they find each other again and start talking deeply – but they don’t know they knew each other in real life.

All About The Setting

  1. Write about a fantasy world inspired by the sun. The culture is built on gold and fire, the sun is worshipped as a deity, food is all levels of heat and spice.
  2. There’s a village that lives in fear of a monster deep in the woods and the only thing that stops it ravaging the villagers is if they sacrifice their firstborn to it each equinox. Then twins are born and no one is sure who’s the eldest.
  3. An underwater kingdom suffers as the coral reefs die so they journey to the surface to find the source of the problems and discover: humans. They must be stopped.
  4. There’s a world where music is currency and trains to sing or play an instrument. Those who can’t hold a tune go missing.   
  5. Night-time falls over a thriving metropolis, but then dawn never comes. The city struggles to live constantly in the dark and crime rates rise, but what kind of hero do you need to fix a city with no light?

Dialogue prompts

  1. “I thought you said you’d kill me after we kissed. Did I change your mind, hm?”
  2. “I once knew a king who sat on that throne all arrogant and smug, just like you. Do you want to know what I did to him?”
  3. “Look, I am enjoying this little chat. But can it happen later? When we’re not clinging to the edge of a waterfall by our fingertips waiting for the demons to come back?!”

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About the Author

CG Drews is a YA book blogger with the goal to read every book in existence. She’s aiming for immortality for this. When not reading, she writes novels and blogs at paperfury.com.

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