Novel Ideas to Start Writing (And Why They Work)

Writing a novel is an exciting and fulfilling adventure – creating worlds and characters all your own and watching them come to life. You need to have some good novel ideas to start writing though – your concept and plot need to have enough depth to make it through the entire length of the novel.

Good novel ideas can come from several different places. You might come up with something on your own out of the blue.

An idea may be inspired by something you are reading or watching. Many novels are inspired by real events in an author’s life. Other times, it is helpful to simply look up some novel ideas to start writing.

If the inspiration is a little dry, sometimes a good old fashioned writing prompt can get things flowing again.

What Makes Good Novel Ideas to Start Writing?

You may have lots of great novel ideas to start writing, but you need to figure out if the ideas will last before you dive in.

There are some things you should consider and questions you should ask yourself about a possible idea as you decide if it is good enough to be your next novel.

  • Will the idea last for an entire novel? Some ideas are better suited to a novella or even a short story. Think ahead and make sure you can flesh the idea out into a novel-length story.
  • Do you love the idea? If you don’t love the idea, your readers won’t either. Don’t try to write something just because you think it will sell. Be in love with your idea.
  • Are you passionate about it? Your passion will show through in your writing. Writing a novel isn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows, but you should enjoy yourself for the most part. If you are not passionate about the story you are telling, it may be time to stop trying to tell it.

Novel Templates

Before you dive into these novel ideas, consider opening up a template. Once you have your idea, going forward with a template will take a lot of the pressure off.

general fiction template

It will help you take your idea and craft a fantastic story with all the makings of a best-selling novel. There are general templates available as well as ones specific to certain genres.

Fantasy Novel Ideas to Start Writing

Fantasy is so great because it is so vast and versatile. A fantasy world has no limits and everything is up to you!

Th Sacrifice

Your protagonist lives in a world where humans must make a yearly sacrifice to the “gods” in order to keep them happy. Over time, people have become less and less devoted to the gods as they don’t really see any evidence that they actually exist. As fewer and fewer people believe, there is a push to stop the practice of sacrificing altogether. Your protagonist joins the movement when someone very close to them is chosen for the next sacrifice. Society as a whole decides to go ahead and end the practice before the friend is killed. The relief is short-lived because it turns out the gods do exist and they can’t be kept happy without the chosen sacrifice. They are now very angry.


Your protagonist lives in a world where reincarnation exists, but with a twist. Reincarnation can happen in different timelines simultaneously, meaning there is a chance of someone meeting either a past or future incarnation of themselves.

Drunk on Power

Fantasy with a comedic twist: the protagonist has powers, but is only able to use them when they are under the influence of a substance. This causes some hilarious situations, but also some disastrous ones. They struggle with wanting to stay sober but also loving the power they can have. They must make a choice when it is determined that their powers are needed for something important – perhaps saving a group of people/a town/city/the world?

Try putting one of these fantasy plots into our fantasy template:

fantasy novel template

Mystery Novel Ideas to Start Writing

Mystery novels are great because the concept itself is so versatile. A mystery can accompany many other themes. Mysteries can be exciting, full of suspense, scary, funny, or even all of the above!


Someone is arrested for committing a crime, but they claim their identical twin did it. The twin is found and questioned, but there is not enough evidence to prove either one of them definitely guilty or definitely innocent. This sparks a huge ring of crime. These twins create a secret website, where other sets of identical twins come and conspire. Crimes are now being committed rampantly and no one is being found guilty because there is always a question as to which twin did it.

The Parks

There is an astronomical amount of people that go missing each year from national parks. The terrain is thick and rough, making for a great place to hide a body. It is also very difficult to find concrete statistics from the authorities on this, which has led to a lot of conspiracies. There are the typical extremists who claim it’s bigfoot or some other mythical explanation. A mystery surrounding this could go in any number of directions.

Dystopian Novel Ideas to Start Writing

A dystopian is another versatile genre to write in. While the basic theme is the same – a world/state of reality that has experienced great tragedy and suffering – anything can take place. There are dystopian romances, adventures, mysteries, thrillers, and many more.

The Party Guest

Your protagonist and her little sister live alone on the streets in a world with only two extreme classes – the abundantly wealthy and the tragically poor. One day, the younger sister falls quite ill. She needs a medicine that is common and widely available to those with money, but scarce among those on the streets. The main character sneaks into a fancy party being held for the rich and disguises herself as someone important. Her goal is simple: find the medicine cabinet and take what her sister needs. A certain young man soon becomes intrigued by her and is not shy about making advances. She must decide between getting in and out as planned or continuing the facade and potentially gaining much more from the relationship – at great risk, of course.

Locked In

In a world that has gone completely awry and everything is falling apart, one group decide to take off and start their own civilization. They choose a leader and completely seclude themselves from the outside world. The group creates a village in the middle of a forest, in the middle of nowhere. They build strong borders. The people reject technology and begin to populate. Generations go by, and this village remains old fashioned. The “chief elder” rules with an iron fist and takes many wives.

Children are married off young, true love is nowhere to be found. Outside of this “village”, the rest of the world has started to rebuild and they continue to advance in technology. Things are getting better. One day, a brother and sister are exploring the dense forest, and one comes up injured. They stumble upon the village and ask for help. After much deliberation, they are allowed in, and the injuries are tended to. Once recovered, however, they are informed that they are never allowed to leave. Their cell phones are confiscated and they borders are once again locked up.

Horror Novel Ideas to Start Writing

Horror is not for everyone, that is certain. There are many who avoid it entirely, while there are many others who embrace it in every way possible. True horror fans are some of the most passionate and dedicated people out there. So, if you have some guts and aren’t afraid of the dark, perhaps it’s time to try your hand at spooking your readers a little!

Haunted Doll

Your typical haunted doll scenario, with a twist. A young girl’s mother dies. Soon after, she finds a porcelain doll buried in the yard that looks kind of like her mother did, so she keeps it. She discovers that the doll is haunted by her mother. While unnerving, it makes the girl happy to be able to communicate with her mother. However, her mother only ever wants to tell her one thing – her father’s new girlfriend is the one who killed her. The daughter eventually feels pressured to avenge her mother by killing the girlfriend. The twist: the girlfriend didn’t kill the mother, but the mother is outraged at how quickly her husband moved on and she wants revenge on him.

The Nightmare

Your protagonist suffered from insomnia as a child, largely due to a horrifying, recurring nightmare. They go from having the dream almost every night, to once a week, once a month, etc – until it eventually goes away completely. They enter their early adult years having completely restored their ability to sleep well. One night, they wake up screaming again – the nightmare is back. Except this time, they’ve woken up inside the nightmare.

Grandfather Clock

Your protagonist has a large and close-knit family. There is a grandfather clock that has been in the family for as long as anyone can remember. No one even knows where it originated from. Some have come up with crazy stories and legends surrounding the clock, though none of them can be confirmed or denied indefinitely. It has never stopped working, even though no one can ever remember who changed the batteries last. One day, it suddenly starts running backward.

Dead Daughter

A girl goes missing. The police search and search. The investigation goes on for ages, with the teary-eyed parents appearing on television multiple times, begging for help or information. Eventually, the case goes cold and people move on. Fifteen years go by, and the parents receive a phone call from their daughter. They are frozen with terror because they killed their daughter all those years ago.

Romance Novel Ideas to Start Writing

Romance is a common side plot in novels of other genres. Love is an emotion that crosses borders, defies boundaries, and connects us all. Love interests, even if they are small, will often help a reader become emotionally invested in a character as romance makes them that much more relatable. However, it is possible for a novel to simply be a romance and nothing else. A straight romance novel is often light-hearted and fun to read, with just enough drama to keep things interesting.

Big City Twist

The usual small town ex/big city boyfriend love triangle with a small twist. Your protagonist had a relationship in her late teens with a childhood best friend. The guy is good at heart but has some issues with being possessive, jealous and angry. The main character moves away for college and breaks up with her small town boyfriend despite his protests. She falls in love with a man from the city, who she later brings home to meet her family. The family is apprehensive at first, and the ex does not even hide his attempts to win her back. These stories usually end with the main character going back to their original love from back home, but this time the girl chooses to stick with her boyfriend from her new life in the city.

Astronomical Love

A futuristic romance where the known universe has expanded considerably. Earth is still home, but humans have discovered several galaxies with Earth-like planets that they want to inhabit. Communication between galaxies can only happen through physical letters carried on spaceships traveling between the galaxies. Two aspiring astronauts meet and fall in love during the long and rigorous training process. They fantasize about starting an exciting new life on a brand new planet. Graduation day comes, and they are assigned to missions in entirely different galaxies. Upon signing up for the program, they agreed to the terms which were very strict about following orders and assignments without objection. They are both passionate about the project and have invested years into the training, not to mention made a huge commitment to seeing their missions through. What rules are they willing to break to be together?

Honey, I’m Home

This idea can either be dark and creepy, or light-hearted and a little hilarious. It’s up to you to choose the direction. Your main character is notoriously single. They lowkey want a relationship, but they are fiercely independent, with a strong and intimidating personality. They are nearing thirty and have settled into their single life quite nicely. Their singleness has become a bit of a running joke to them. Almost every day, upon returning home from work, they call out “honey, I’m home!” only to laugh and continue with some variation of “oh wait, I’m here alone, no one loves me!” Then one day, a voice replies, very casually “hey hun, dinner will be ready in ten minutes.”

Our romance novel template will help you flesh these ideas out in no time:

romance novel template

Take the Ideas and Run

The ideas here are meant to get your wheels turning for a new novel. The options and variables are plentiful and many can go in several directions. Don’t be afraid to fall in love with an idea and run with it! Make it your own, and turn your imaginative passion into an unforgettable novel.

Josh Fechter
Josh is the founder and CEO of Squibler.