62 of the Best Flash Fiction Story Prompts

By Steph Fraser | Posted on April 18th, 2019

Flash fiction is a highly underrated branch of fictional writing. It is essentially just an extremely short story. Flash fiction usually falls under 1000 words, though some may stretch it to 1500. Flash fiction doesn’t usually become popular the way a novel or even certain short stories do, but it is a very valuable form of writing. Even if they aren’t highly read or recognized, writing good flash fiction is a true test of a writer’s abilities and creativity.

Flash fiction can be deceptively difficult. You don’t have very much time to reveal information or develop characters. For this reason, it is a challenge that every writer of fiction should take on at least occasionally. If you’ve never done it before, finding some flash fiction prompts is a good way to start.

The great thing about flash fiction prompts is that they don’t have to be complex ideas. The story doesn’t have to stretch very far. Short, simple, and catchy ideas will do just fine for some flash fiction prompts to help you get started.

A Quick Overview Before Getting Into Flash Fiction Prompts

Before diving into your flash fiction venture, take a moment to think about how you can make your flash fiction interesting and effective. Consider these tips:

  • Start in the middle of the action. You don’t have time for lengthy exposition or character backstory.
  • Don’t use a lot of characters. You won’t have time to describe any of them. Sometimes characters are not even named unless it is relevant or significant to the story in some way.
  • Make your title bold and strong.
  • Don’t actually end the story. Leave the resolution up in the air. End it on a cliffhanger that will never be realized. This will make it stick in the reader’s mind.
  • Make sure your last line leaves them wondering. In addition to the climax that will never resolve, don’t let the last line give off a “finished” feeling. Don’t bring your readers to the end, but take them somewhere new with the last line. A place where they will continue to question and wonder about the ideas and themes of the story.

General Flash Fiction Prompts

  • A character with chronic sleepwalking problems one day goes on an adventure as he does what his waking self was too afraid to do all these years.
  • The protagonist is painting an image of what he thought was fictional, but it suddenly triggers forgotten childhood memories.
  • The paranoid protagonist is convinced she is being spied on and breaks into her neighbors’ house to confront them. She is met with more than she expected.
  • The paranoid protagonist is convinced she is being spied on and breaks into her neighbors’ house to confront them. She is met with more than she expected.
  • Someone does something extreme to return a borrowed item from many years ago.
  • Write a story that contains ONLY dialogue.
  • Recount a personal experience but write it from the perspective of someone who was on the sidelines.
  • Your character is a young child’s imaginary friend. The child is growing up, and their friend is slowly fading away.
  • There is an urban legend floating around about a taxi that doesn’t take you where you want to go, but rather where you need to go. Write about a character that gets into this taxi. Where do they go and why? Alternately – who or what is the driver?
  • Write about a character whose house is burning down. Their family escapes out the front. They escape out the back and run into the forest in a panic and get lost. When they are unaccounted for by rescuers, they are pronounced dead. Rather than show up and correct everyone, they decide to roll with it for a while.
  • Write about someone who is observing their own funeral from out of sight
  • Your character is literally the devil himself, taking human form because he got bored in hell. He’s actually a pretty fun guy and a good, respectful roommate.

Action Flash Fiction Prompts

  • A school bus driver falls asleep and it is up to some 10-year-old students to steer the bus and their class to safety.
  • A young teenager is babysitting for the first time. The house is in the middle of a forest and despite being locked up really well, a robbery commences. She must fight to protect the children.
  • A patient’s heart has stopped and they embark on a supernatural journey that leaves with a new outlook on life.
  • Write about a character who is caught in the middle of a devastating natural disaster, but for some reason, he remains untouched and unharmed.
  • Write about a character who is the clone of a master criminal. They were created solely for science – to study the mind. But, they want a life of their own.
  • A teenager has the ability to see how dangerous a person is – on a scale of 1-10 – simply by looking at them. An angry man with an assault rifle and a list of enemies would be a 7 or 8. The new kid at school is measuring 10 every day.
  • Your character committed a murder decades ago. It was investigated but went cold after a couple of years. Suddenly, a detective shows up at their door asking some questions.
  • Your character slowly starts to realize that all her closest friends are actually secret agents who have been tasked with keeping her alive. At her 21st birthday party, with all her friends around her, the people who are after her finally arrive.
  • Write a scene that happens right after a tragedy. Don’t reveal what the tragedy was.

Thriller Story Prompts

  • A sailor returns home from the sea only to find that his wife somehow knows everything that happened with him while he was away.
  • Write about a character who is born into a family of highly respected superheroes. But, he never sees them as they are always out and about saving people and fighting crime. The only family time they ever get is Sunday night dinner where talk of their day jobs is not permitted. Your character realizes that the only way to see his family is to become a villain. Sunday night dinner just became much more interesting.

Romance Flash Fiction Prompts

  • A glimpse into a Victorian-era love story. Write about a single day or a single moment in their lives.
  • Winter is the only time two lovers can be together, for whatever reason.
  • A double date goes slightly awry when two girls begin to fall for each other’s boyfriends.
  • Two strangers are caught at the top of a broken roller coaster. A love story ensues.
  • Write about one character from two perspectives. One person is in love with them, the other hates them.
  • Write about a romance that had every chance to succeed but one person damaged the relationship beyond repair.
  • Whenever a heart breaks, so does a piece of the world. This is where cracks, fissures, and valley’s come from. Write about the story behind the grand canyon.
  • Everyone is born with two tattoos. One matches their soulmate and the other matches their biggest enemy. Write about a character who’s two tattoos are the same.
  • A women goes on a lot of dates and becomes frustrated that it never seems to work out. It’s not actually multiple guys, it’s a shapeshifter who has fallen in love with her. He vows to get it right one of these times.

Historical Flash Fiction Prompts

  • A king with six wives… and a secret boyfriend.
  • The Salem witch trials are well underway. Unfortunately, the witches are the only ones who can save the world from an impending alien attack.
  • Your character is burning old, historic family photos one by one. Why?

Horror Story Prompts

  • The building is burning and someone is trapped. The smoke is thick and they start seeing words written in it.
  • Someone finally learns the origin and meaning of their longtime recurring nightmare.
  • A world-renowned surgeon is curing patients of cancer. The technology he is using to do so is leading to shared hallucinations which cause his patients to do the bidding of a mysterious leader. He is secretly the leader, and he is controlling them. Write from a patient’s perspective.
  • An alien community has invaded earth and is biding their time before the takeover. They are staying under the radar by hiding in the lifesize character costumes at theme parks.
  • The protagonist receives a strange text message warning her NOT to look at the moon. Her phone is full of other messages, notifications and posts raving about how beautiful the moon is. Everyone is encouraging everyone else to look at it.
  • Write about a character who sold their soul to the devil years ago. The devil appears one day to return the soul because it is just too burdened for even the devil himself.
  • Your character is watching a video recording of themselves. What they are seeing is not what they remember.
  • Your protagonist finds a collection of “missing person’s” flyers and newspaper clippings. They all contain their photos, spanning their entire life.
  • Write about a world where dreams are the currency. In order to achieve yours, you must shatter someone else’s beyond repair.
  • Your character accidentally finds some old, buried home videos. The first few are nice, until they realize something – there is a sibling in the videos that they have no recollection of.
  • Once a year, dream catchers need to be emptied of all the nightmares they have collected. Where do the nightmares go?

Fantasy Flash Fiction Prompts

  • A young teen boy struggles with his newfound identity as a werewolf. It doesn’t help that he ends up going through his very first transition in front of the whole town.
  • A group of friends angers an evil wizard and he transforms them into board game pieces. They must complete the game in order to return to the real world.
  • Everyone is born knowing the day they are going to die. Write about a character whose day of death already passed, but they are not dead.
  • Write about a character who suddenly wakes up with the ability to detect any and all lies immediately. It turns out their best friend of 20 years has lied about everything, including their name.
  • Your character has always been able to read minds. They are used to it by now. Until one day, someone talks to them through thought.
  • Write about a character who is interrogated by authorities. A man comes in and presents them with multiple photographs, all from different points in history. Your character is in all of them, but they don’t know why nor do they remember any of the photos… except for one.
  • Your character wakes up with no memories. Everyone tells them that they were in a bad car crash and are suffering amnesia. They accept this and go about their lives. Ten years later, they find an old journal of theirs that tells a very different story.
  • When your protagonist asks someone a question, they can mentally see the real answer, no matter what the person says. It’s most entertaining, until one day they look in the mirror and ask a question they really shouldn’t have.
  • Astronauts are exploring more and more of mars. One day they come across a cave that contains a single human skeleton and a short note.

Dystopian Story Prompts

  • A new injection is being test run in a high school. It is a serum that instantly gives kids great knowledge – the idea is to replace formal education. Everyone’s set of information is a little different. Write about a character who has gained the knowledge to somehow stop the program in its tracks.
  • Evolution is starting to go backward. Humans are reverting back to instinct. Behavior is more closely resembling that of animals every day. What does this look like?
  • The entire world is at war. A small group of humans in one city have taken over and locked down a subway system. They are running out of supplies – what do they see when they are forced to venture out for the first time in several years?

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