Picture this: your imagination is a match…and you need to light it.

There are a number of different methods of setting a match ablaze. You can swipe it on the ground, against a rough surface, use your own nail, or even light it with another match that’s already burning.

But the best (and easiest) way? Striking it against the matchbox it came in. That’s what it’s for, after all.

Creative Writing Prompts are Your Matchbox

All you need is one writing prompt to light your imaginative fire and you can burn through a book idea, formulating the plot and all with just a single prompt. You can even write a powerful short story with a small prompt!

And that’s exactly what we’re here to help you with. 

Because real writers know that you can easily come up with bits and fragments of a story but the overarching plot can be tricky to drum up.

You know what you want to write about: magic, advanced science, realistic contemporary stories, but you just can’t figure out how to go from the genre and an inkling of a character idea to a full-blown novel plot.

fiction writing prompts

200+ Creative Writing Prompts for the Best Fiction Book

If you’re ready to take the plunge and finally start writing a book like you’ve always talked about, we can help you get started.

Something to keep in mind that fiction writing is largely driven by voice, style, characters, and your plot.

These are 100% original, never-before-seen writing prompts you won’t find anywhere else.

But the ones listed in this article are just a small taste of what we really have to offer.

If you want to really let your imagination run wild, download our master list of over 200 original fiction ideas and writing prompts for a number of different genres!

But if you’re ready to start right now, here are a few to set the creative wheel of your imagination in motion.

Fantasy Writing Prompts

Fantasy is all about magic, creatures, and abilities. The possibilities with a fantasy world are nearly endless.

You can literally make up anything you want. This is why fantasy is my preferred genre to write in.

Here are some unique creative writing prompts for you fantasy-lovers out there.

#1 – A character finds an odd-looking egg in the forest. When they take it home, they never could have predicted what was inside it.

#2 – This character has always had the ability to change how they looked, and so they hid their true appearance behind attractive façades. Now, their abilities aren’t working, exposing what they truly look like.

#3 – The once peaceful water dwellers have suddenly declared war on a settlement that was its only true ally. Your character has no idea why and is thrust into the war against their will.

#4 – Magic is the norm. Some excel at it, some are only okay, and others are against it completely, despite being able to use it. Your main character is the latter.

#5 – Time has always been a constant in a world where reality can be warped and stretched. Then your character, through research and hard work, discovers you can even alter time.

#6 – Your character researches untouched societies as a living. While deep in the jungle on an assignment, they accidentally allow themselves to be seen by someone from the society, a big no-no. What that person is capable of is beyond the world your character knew existed.

#7 – Your character’s world is dying. The actual earth is sick and killing all the plants and probably life as they know it.

#8 – One of your characters has magic. The other wants nothing more than to have magic. How far is that one person willing to go to make that magic theirs?

Tips for Writing with Fantasy Book Ideas:

Fantasy is a wildly popular genre. There are countless fantasy worlds out there and that means you really have to focus on being unique within your world.

Here are a few ideas to do just that:

  • Create 100% unique cultures
  • Avoid these worldbuilding mistakes
  • Develop slang for your world based on what’s popular/trending/makes sense with the time it takes place
  • Do NOT use common phrases like “train of thought” if trains don’t exist in your world
  • Use unique names
  • Don’t forget about diversity!
  • Opt for an unexpected and different journey and outcome (many fantasy novels follow a similar formula)
  • Write what you want to read!
  • Schedule your writing time and follow those deadlines if you really want to finish

Sci-Fi Writing Prompts

Are you one who loves advanced technology, diseases, and even space travel? If so, science fiction writing is right up your alley.

When it comes to creating new technologies and advanced societies, you really have to think outside the box.

Here are some sci-fi writing prompts to help you do that.

creative writing prompts science fiction prompt

#1 – Your main character wakes up in a space pod alone…next to a ship so massive it’s actually carrying a planet beneath it. Your character has no memory from before they wake.

#2 – Your character lives in a world where every single person’s DNA is carefully genetically designed for something to help the community. Your main character despises what they were created for. This has never happened before.

#3 – Your character lives on a planet other than Earth. In fact, they don’t even know Earth exists. Well, they didn’t until some sort of advanced, technical probe crash-landed in their settlement, exposing the fact that they’re not alone. Now they have to decide what’s best for their settlement.

#4 – The world used to be plagued with war and famine and inhumanity. But after years and years of developing a technical system that is the center of and controls everything, it’s almost completely peaceful. Your character is the engineer keeping the system running and when they uncover how it works, they contemplate abandoning everything they know.

#5 – The newest advancement in virtual reality adds physical sense. Now your characters can even hook up with people through your phone, all while staying at home. But when a glitch alters the mechanisms, what was once pleasure becomes pain and the user gets trapped in a VR state.

#6 – They’ve been keeping your character alive for over 300 years because of a secret they know. When someone new finally learns the truth, reality becomes…confusing. Now, with only a short adulthood left to live, your character must ensure nobody else learns of this secret. But…well, news spreads fast.

#7 – They didn’t mean to, but in an attempt to build a time traveling machine, your character actually discovered alternate universes – and then accidentally trapped themselves there. Oh, and this alternate universe hasn’t discovered electricity yet.

#8 – Your character lives in an ancient society. When a shiny, unnatural looking contraption touches down and creatures emerge, everything they once knew changes.

Tips for Writing with Sci-Fi Book Ideas:

This genre is another very popular one, and for good reason. You can imagine a realistic, yet very different future than what we currently have.

But you also want to make sure to remember a few of these guidelines when creating your science fiction world:

  • Decide if the story will take place in this world or a completely unique one
  • Create realistic advanced technology that your characters would actually use
  • Avoid modern-day slang unless the story takes place here
  • Create your own slang. A great example of this is in Jenna Moreci’s sci-fi novel, EVE: The Awakening pictured below)

“Dynamic” is the slang the author created in this instance. It fits with the sci-fi world and further creates a sense of realism and it pulls the reader deeper into the world.

Dystopian Writing Prompts

As this genre gains more and more popularity, you may find yourself wondering what a certain post-apocalyptic world might look like.

Why not write about it?

Here are some creative writing prompts to help you form a dystopian society anyone will want to read about.

#1 – A character finds an odd-looking egg in the forest. When they take it home, they never could have predicted what was inside it.

#2 – Natural farming doesn’t exist anymore. Due to climate change, all food has to be manufactured in bulk and distributed. There is no flavor and is the same every day. Your character, who has spent their entire life in this world, takes a trip to the mountains far away from their home. There, they discover real plants, and on them, berries.

#3 –  Nature extremists take over the government, stopping at nothing to ensure all man-made harm on the planet is eradicated. Your character ends up in their clutches, forced to do their bidding.

#4 – Due to climate change, wildfires have engulfed the large majority of living land. Your character is one of many attempting to board a ship set for a new in-ocean settlement. The problem? That settlement doesn’t actually exist.

#5 – After a devastating illness that rocked only the wildlife population over 200 years ago, a scientist created a virus that strengthens animal’s immune systems with the purpose of creating balance and stabilizing the wildlife population once again. The problem is that it worked too well and the wildlife has exceeded (and reduced) the world’s population

#6 – After a devastating storm that encompassed the entire  world, the population has thinned significantly and your character, who lost all of their family but their youngest sibling, has to go up against the new “government” with a group of allies as they attempt to gain control over the living population of the world – in the worst way.

#7 – Over the course of a few hundred years, cases of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses caused the death and destruction of generations. Then an airborne substance was created to balance all levels of each person so they’re created 100% equal in every way. Turns out, your character is immune to the substance.

#8 – The third World War is done and over with for many years now. It was the downfall of the world’s economic system. Now your main character must navigate a world where governments no longer exist, money is useless, and survival is the only objective. Oh, and they have a debilitating medical condition to look after, too.

Tips for Writing with Dystopian Book Ideas:

Dystopian novels are one of the biggest trends sweeping the literary world. With books like The Handmaid’s Tale stirring more post-apocalyptic stories, it’s easy to get stuck in the same mindset as many other dystopian novelists.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to write dystopian:

  • Think way outside of the box
  • Use elements from your story’s past to form their present
  • Paint a very clear picture of everyday life for your character from the very first page
  • Get creative with the laws, culture, and customs
  • Don’t just “go with the flow”: The Handmaid’s Tale is so popular largely due to the fact that it’s unique. Not many people would have thought of a world that was overrun by a religion – and that’s what makes it so tantalizing; it’s unexpected.

creative writing prompts dystopian tips

Contemporary Writing Prompts

Some people don’t necessarily want to escape from this world. In fact, they just want to escape from their own life for a little bit but prefer to read something realistic, something they can relate to.

Contemporary writing is all about forming connections with readers.

Here’s who you can do just that with these creative writing prompts for your contemporary world.

#1 – Your character has done everything they’re told. They just graduated high school and are off to a very good college to get their degree in something reliable. But when they get there, they realize there’s a whole world of opportunity they never knew existed. Now they have to maintain the façade of going to college even though they decided to pursue a different endeavor.

#2 – Your character answers the door to nothing but an intricate envelope on the ground; an invitation. After attending the secret underground event, they become a part of the biggest activist group out there…and nobody even knows who they are.

#3 – While on a hike with friends, your main character discovers a small tower buried beneath the ground. After some digging, they realize it’s filled with scrolls they can hardly make out. What they contain will change your character’s view of life forever.

#4 – Your main character has been living a very sheltered, very dangerous life. After the death of their overbearing father, they’re thrust into the real world – only to realize just how different their life really is from those around them.

#5 – Your main character gets called out of school/work by someone they don’t know for something they are clueless about. But for some reason, the person addressing them thinks they already know everything about it.

creative writing prompts contemporary

#6 – As an artist, your main character has it well. But when everything they’ve worked for is burned in a tragic fire, they have to start all over with nothing to their name and a roommate determined to hold them back.

#7 – Life for your main character has never been easy. After venturing in and out of foster homes, they’re finally an adult and on their own. When their birth mother reaches out to reconnect, they never could’ve predicted what’s kept her away for so long. Now your character has to decide between getting involved with their real mother or cutting ties forever.

#8 – Death is a natural part of life. Your main character has been feared it or been affected by it. But when their best friend goes missing and their body shows up in front of their house, your character makes it their mission to find out who’s responsible – even if it means breaking the law…a lot of laws.

Tips for Writing with Contemporary Book Ideas:

I personally believe contemporary can be one of the hardest genres to write because you have the least wiggle room when it comes to creativity.

Everything has to be realistic in today’s society.

Here are a few tips to remember for writing contemporary from the very talented author of Little Birds and Writing Youtuber, Hannah Lee Kidder:

  • “Realistic dialogue is important. All the characters should sound different from one another, their vernacular should make sense for their background, and the writer should read it out loud.”
  • Tiny details are hella dope in descriptions. It should be so specific and vivid that when the reader finishes the story, they feel like they’ve lost a bit of reality.”
  • Imagining characters complexly is also important. Work on understanding real people. If you understand people and why they do what they do, you can understand characters and what they do”
  • Create a conflict many can relate to or sympathize with
  • Spend a lot of time on the character arc as many contemporary novels are primarily character-driven

Contemporary Writing Exercise From Hannah Lee Kidder: Sit in public and pick a random person, then write a completely made up story on them.

Romance Writing Prompts

Romance is the most popular book genre out there right now. People love reading about love!

But that doesn’t mean you can think of any love story and get to work.

We’ve got some strong writing prompts that can kickstart a love story worth spending hours reading.

creative writing prompts romance

#1 –Your character has gone through life believing that love is a choice. Their decision? To never get involved because love can only lead to pain and hardship. But after an argument with a stranger, their view of love, and life itself, is changed.

#2 – Marriage is just what happens when you’ve been with someone forever. For your main character, that seems obvious. But when they’re months away from their wedding and an old friend barges into their life unannounced, a wedding seems like the furthest thing from their desires.

#3 – Your main character is up for a big promotion within their company. They’ve put everything on hold for it – including their love life. But when an outsider is hired instead, they lose it, focusing all their energy on bringing this newcomer down. They just didn’t think about the fact that they might end up liking them.

#4 – Your main character and their significant other have been together since childhood. After a war between their people rips them away from each other, they’ll have to fight, manipulate, and fool in order to get each other back.

#5 – A package is mailed to your main character. It’s filled with what seems like hundreds of letters all to a single person. Memories and confessions of love are penned within those letters. Your main character feels drawn to the person on the other end and sets out to find them – and the letter’s true destination.

#6 – Arranged marriages are the standard. In fact, nobody marries for love. Love doesn’t even exist in your character’s world. But when they’re drawn to someone who’s already spoken for, they start to question everything they know about love.

#7 – Your main character lives in a society of slavery. If you’re not born in a certain family, you’re shipped off and sold. When your character is sold for the 8th time in their short 20 years, then end up at one of the top houses – and become a personal servant to the next leader of their settlement. Soon, they’re enthralled in a romance that could get them both killed…because he’s already promised to another…a very dangerous other.

#8 – Cheating is wrong. Your character’s society puts emphasis on loyalty above anything else. In fact, cheating and betrayal of any kind in any relationship are punishable by life in prison (and even death in extreme cases). So why does something that’s been illegal for as long as they can remember feel so right when your character meets someone new? Avoiding jail just became the most difficult part of your character’s life.

Tips for Writing with Romance Book Ideas:

Even though romance is an extremely popular genre doesn’t mean you can be lazy when it comes to the actual romance and creative writing prompts isn’t always enough to help you develop a full-blown romance.

People read romance to be invested, to feel something real.

That’s why you have to remember these tips when writing romance in your novels:

  • NEVER romanticize abuse as “love” (AKA, a jealous boyfriend should never be praised for “loving your character more” because this is harmful to readers)
  • Create real chemistry by giving your characters qualities that would actually foster a connection
  • Avoid “insta-love” by giving your characters time to bond and get to know each other
  • Look out for serious romance cliches and overused plot lines like love triangles, forbidden romances (these can be great if done uniquely!), and crazy exes
  • Continuously up the stakes whenever the reader gets comfortable with the relationship

Horror/Thriller Writing Prompts

Because being terrified is entertaining to some people, horror and thriller books exist and are quite popular!

The great thing about this genre is that you can get really creative and really dark.

If you gravitate toward writing terrifying, anxiety-inducing stories, here are some creative writing prompts to get the twisted part of your mind moving:

#1 – Your main character is home alone, just like most nights. This time, however, a new neighbor pays them a visit. And it wasn’t for the last time.

#2 – Eight murders have taken place in your character’s town in the past 8 weeks. Once a week, on the same day, at the same time. When your character gets abducted after being out past the town’s new curfew, they have only 48 hours to discover why this is happening and how to get free…all while being tortured by the murderer.

#3 – It’s a day of celebration in your character’s hometown! A 100-year-old time capsule is about to be opened, so of course they go, just like most of the town. When a deceased human hand with a sinister note attached to it is the only thing in the capsule, questions start to buzz. The first being, who is the person who wrote the note? Oddly enough, the note is written in your main character’s handwriting…with their signature…dated 82 years before they were even born.

#4 – Your main character suffers from a condition that gives them periodic blackouts for seemingly no reason. The only thing they can seem to remember from before each blackout is a bike. A red bike with a white basket and muddy tires. One day, they see that very bike leaning up against their house but this time, they don’t blackout.

#5 – Odd and unexplainable events are said to happen in a certain seaside town. Your main character takes it upon themselves to visit in an effort to see just how accurate the sightings are. What they find is beyond anything they imagined. But now they can’t seem to escape the town.

#6 – Your main character and a couple friends take a boat trip to a tiny, vacant, off-limits island for a night of celebration. When the sun goes down, they realize just how occupied the island actually is…and there’s a reason it’s off-limits.

#7 – Your main character is in therapy because whenever they close their eyes at night, they see (very vividly) someone’s tragic death. Some say it’s just their twisted imagination, their new therapist thinks it is something much, much different…and dangerous.

#8 – Your main character gets into an accident. While they make a seemingly full recovery, something has just been off inside their head since the crash. When they wake up next to a mutilated body in an unrecognizable place, they start to worry.

Tips for Writing with Horror and Thriller Book Ideas:

Scaring people so much so that they sweat while simply reading is a difficult task. You really have to focus on the structure of your writing in order to create that reaction.

Here are a few things to remember if you write horror and thriller:

  • Building anticipation will be your #1 focus
  • Readers need to feel surprised and scared so dig deep and get twisted
  • Plot twists are a must; never let your characters or readers see what’s coming
  • Continuously up the stakes
  • Focus on building deep sympathy for your character from the very beginning. This will make the stakes seem even higher and increase tension, just as Stephen King does in his infamous novel, IT, pictured below.

creative writing prompts thriller example

Mystery Writing Prompts

Human curiosity is what makes this genre so incredibly popular. We always want to figure out what happened. Mystery books are natural page-turners because we just aren’t satisfied until we find out what happened.

But that can be difficult to create from nothing.

Here are some great mystery creative writing prompts to get your mind spinning in unknown directions.

#1 – Your character is 16 and just learned they were the last person to see their crush the night they were murdered. But when they come forward with these details, they become the new main suspect. They’re determined to solve their crushes murder or risk going to jail for something they didn’t do.

#2 – Recently, there’s been a number of abandoned cars scattered throughout the city. Nobody knows where they’re coming from and there’s not a single personal item in them. That is, until one is discovered with a freshly removed human scalp on the dashboard.

#3 – For the past month, your character has received a number of disturbing and detailed drawings in their mailbox. After chalking it up to immature kid stunts, they try to forget about it. But when the drawings come to life in brutal, horrific ways, they’re the only person who knows of the drawings and therefore, knows what one will come next.

#4 – Your character gets a DNA test for fun – just to see where they really come from. After becoming obsessed with one little detail, they soon discover a number of their ancestors from all over the world were once located in a single, unpopulated place; a gathering of sorts.

#5 – Your character’s spouse nearly falls through the door, beaten nearly to requiring hospitalization. When an unknown but distinct brand marking is discovered between their shoulder blades, your character has to find out who they are and why they did it.

#6 –  A single member of each noble family has been murdered every week for the past two months. Your character is of a very noble household and can barely sleep each night. So they decide to find out who is responsible.

#7 – Your character’s religion has a talisman as old as the religion itself. After it goes missing, all fingers point to the chief’s oldest child of 19 years, engaged to the healer’s oldest child. But they never could’ve done it. They were (romantically involved) with your main character when the theft occurred.

#8 – Your main character wakes up every morning feeling as though they didn’t get more than a couple hours of sleep. After sleep studies, medications, and trying everything available, nothing seems to work. They decide to videotape a night of sleep to determine if maybe they’re sleepwalking. Turns out, they are. Except they seem completely conscious. In fact, in the video, they approach the camera, smirk, and walk away with a wave before disappearing for nearly the entire night.

Tips for Writing with Mystery Book Ideas:

Mystery is a very difficult genre to write. You have to ensure that you don’t give away too much information so the readers don’t figure it out.

These are some of our tips for writing mystery books:

  • Make readers think they know what will happen by planting false foreshadowing along with real hints
  • Make the antagonist very likable
  • Juxtapose tense scenes with mellow ones to increase tension
  • Keep the story moving forward always

WHAT TO DO NEXT IF YOU’RE SERIOUS

Having the book idea isn’t all it takes to write a great book. You need the ins and outs of the process, how to start your outline, and even what to do in order to take this idea to a finished, published product.

Here’s what you can do right now to get started!

#1 – Download your FREE master list of writing prompts

This is a list of over 200 unique, never-before-seen writing prompts. You’ll recognize a few on the list from this blog post but many more you have not seen.

No matter which genre you want to write in, these creative writing prompts can help you develop a book idea that can turn into a captivating, intriguing story.

Click here to download your list now!

#2 – Sign up for your FREE training

Now that you have the book ideas, you just need some training to take you a step further.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

SPOTS ARE LIMITED!

free training

You don’t want to miss out on all he has to offer because once you watch this, you’ll be able to put these creative writing prompts to use.

 

#3 – Get started on your mindmap!

You’re ready to get to work on your mindmap, also known as a rough outline of what your plot will look like.

We have a great fiction mindmap template right here for you to download – for free!

This will help you get started with the brainstorming process and before you know it, you’ll have a fully completed outline that’s ready for you to start writing!

 

Writing prompts can be very powerful ways to start a novel! How did you come up with your book idea and how much has it changed or grown from its conception?

Bella Rose Pope

Bella Rose Pope

Bella is the Content Creation Specialist here at Self-Publishing School where she tends to the blog, creates informative Youtube videos, and brings our Social Media channels to life. She's a Wisconsin native and lover of writing, reading, learning, and continuous self-improvement. Oh! And wine! Aside from tapping away at the keyboard, she loves writing on her own website, creating fiction writing videos, plants, eating anything with cheese, playing with her adorable pup, and trying new things.

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