Top Fiction Writing Prompts to Get Your Pen Moving

Posted on Mar 11, 2021

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Written by Gloria Russell

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Whether you’re a seasoned expert or a brand-new writer, using writing prompts is a great way to get your creative gears turning and start on a story. Feel free to use these prompts exactly as they are to write short exercises, or to modify them and use them as a jumping-off point for your own worlds and plot ideas! 

We’ve broken these prompts up into adult, high school, and middle school prompts, and there’s a few ways to look at them. You can stick to the prompts that much up with your age group, which might be especially helpful if you’re a new writer, to make sure you’ve got prompts with experiences relatable or relevant to you! 

You can also think of them as separate genre prompts. Maybe you’re a highschool student writing adult fiction, or you’re an adult writing middle grade. Feel free to try prompts across all age groups to see what sticks! Writing for a different age group can also be a fun exercise to flex your writing muscles, so even if you don’t typically write outside your age group, use one of these prompts to try it out. 

Without further ado, here are 51 writing prompts for adults, high schoolers, and middle schoolers! 

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Writing Prompts for Adults 

Here’s a list of 20 writing prompts for adults, or anyone writing adult fiction! 

  1. Two rival coworkers get assigned to the same hotel room during a company retreat. They think they can grin and bear it, but then they get snowed in for the weekend. Do they fall in love, or do they plot their revenge? 
  2. Fresh from college, a new graduate gets their dream job. But when they show up for their first day of work, things seem… strange. And no one will tell them what happened to the last intern. 
  3. A new renter’s upstairs neighbors won’t stop stomping around during the odd hours of the night. Fed up, the renter goes to confront them, but it turns out nobody’s living there. In fact, no one has ever rented that apartment since the building’s completion. 
  4. It’s a small town, and any scandal can ruin you forever, but that doesn’t stop a woman in an unhappy marriage from filing for divorce. To make things worse, her husband is the mayor. 
  5. Mary is a happily married woman with two kids and a dog. One night, a visitor comes to her door, claiming to be her partner’s former lover. What does the visitor want? 
  6. A recently retired lawyer receives a mysterious letter calling him to return to a beach he hasn’t visited since childhood. 
  7. Write from the perspective of an old house watching a family move in and, gradually, move out. 
  8. Two adult siblings prepare to head home for a tense holiday season–Mom’s remarried, and no one likes her new husband. 
  9. An estranged family decides to meet up for a family reunion at a ski resort deep in the mountains to reconnect. As soon as they get there, things start to go wrong. 
  10. Anthony’s never heard a sound from his next door neighbors, and when he knocks, no one is ever home. One day, all the lights are on, and the front door is wide open. What does he find? 
  11. A detective duo takes shelter from a snowstorm in a small town where there’s been a string of murders. They don’t plan to stay long, but there’s something strange about the people here. Something that makes them unfriendly and skittish. 
  12. It’s been a few hundred years since the war that ended civilization as we know it. One group of people travels from town to town playing old jazz music on scavenged instruments. Write about their journey across America. 
  13. At a company Christmas party, a worker decides to finally let her boss know everything that’s been bothering her about this job. 
  14. The new resident living in 111B has been acting strangely. Write from the perspective of the landlord inspecting the apartment when the resident’s out one weekend. 
  15. A woman gets a phone call from the same man every Friday night. Eventually, she falls in love and agrees to run away with him. When she meets him at the spot they chose, what happens? 
  16. A CEO goes on an island retreat in the hopes of brokering a deal with another company. Write the emails he sends home as he slowly goes insane. 
  17. Matt’s lived in his small town his whole life. One morning, he wakes up and realizes he’s the only person left on Earth. 
  18. Write from the perspective of a woman who decides to quit her job in the big city and work on a farm in the middle of nowhere. 
  19. Everyone thinks the king has gone mad and moves to remove him from the throne, but in truth, the king isn’t mad–his son has just convinced everyone that he is. Write from the perspective of the king as he seizes back control over his court. 
  20. One day, a man decides to move his entire family to a remote island far from the American Coast. Write from the perspective of his wife. 

Writing Prompts for High Schoolers 

Here’s a list of 16 writing prompts for high schoolers, or for anyone writing young adult fiction! 

  1. Two best friends get stood up on the night of homecoming. Instead of going home, they decide to make their own fun at the dance. 
  2. It’s the night of the big Varsity football game, and one student notices that the opposing football team has been infiltrated by vampires. 
  3. Two teenagers are head over heels and things are looking good, until one of them has to move across the country for their parents’ job. Write the letters they send each other as they try to make long-distance work. 
  4. A pair of high school sweethearts are planning to go to college together. One of them gets an acceptance letter, and the other one doesn’t. What happens next? 
  5. It’s the first day of school, and there’s a new kid in town. No one knows where he came from, and when people talk to him, something seems… strange. 
  6. There’s a new French teacher every year. A group of students decides to find out why they keep quitting, and why each new hire is stranger than the last. 
  7. A new student decides to join the Chess Club to make some friends, but finds that the students are cold and unwelcoming. They decide to stay anyway, determined to defeat them in the District Tournament. 
  8. The high school marching band has earned a perfect score at competition every year, until this year. What goes wrong? 
  9. A teenaged kid gets expelled from high school, and in the hopes of whipping them into shape, their parents send them to an old boarding school on the East Coast. There’s no cell service or Internet, and at night, the kid hears strange noises on the water. 
  10. Three friends decide to start a cryptid hunting club. They’re mostly in it for the jokes, but one night, they find something lurking in the woods near the school. 
  11. Write the diary of a teenager sent to live with her wealthy, eccentric aunt shortly after the death of her parents. 
  12. Write from the perspective of the cheerleading captain as she decides to leave the captain of the football team for the captain of the dance team. 
  13. Sadie’s best friend moved out of town when they were kids, but she’s come back for their senior year of high school. They decide to reconnect over the summer. What happens? 
  14. When a zombie outbreak strikes town, the high school students and staff are locked in the high school. What happens next? 
  15. Write the social media posts that one local teenager wrote in the leadup to their mysterious disappearance over the summer. 
  16. During a tornado drill, two students break into the principal’s office and find something neither of them could have prepared for. 

Writing Prompts for Middle Schoolers 

Here’s a list of 15 writing prompts for middle schoolers, or anyone writing children’s or middle grade fiction! 

  1. Mark’s parents take him to the pet store to get a new hamster. He picks out a cute one and brings him home, and everything seems normal. But at night, the hamster acts strange. 
  2. Write from the perspective of an alien disguised as a middle schooler, sent to pick up information from a public middle schooler and relay it to their home planet. 
  3. The middle school theater kids seize control of the entire school and issue a full lockdown.  Nobody enters, nobody leaves. What happens next? 
  4. A middle schooler wakes up one morning to discover that she’s completely invisible, even to her family. 
  5. Four childhood friends have always been told never to wander into the neighbor’s yard, and to especially stay away from the neighbor’s run-down shed. When they decide to break the rule and go searching, what do they find? 
  6. Julie’s the best volleyball player on her team until a new kid moves in and outperforms her. The new kid is better at volleyball–in fact, she’s too good. Is there something more to this kid than meets the eye? 
  7. A middle schooler makes friends with the boy across the street, but his parents won’t let him sleep over at their house. Finally, they agree to let him go for the boy’s birthday party. 
  8. Write about a middle school in a fantasy world where students are trained to ride dragons. 
  9. A kid’s dad goes missing on a work trip, and he’s pretty sure the neighbors are to blame. When none of the adults will listen to him, he takes matters into his own hands. 
  10. In this town, the citizens always elect a twelve-year-old mayor. When the mayor turns fourteen, they elect a new twelve-year-old. The newest mayor doesn’t want to give up his seat. What happens? 
  11. In this fantasy world, an immortal tree keeps the kingdom alive and strong. The princess in line to the throne notices that the tree is beginning to get sick. What’s causing the sickness, and how does she save her kingdom? 
  12. Every year, the Richards go to the same cabin for a week-long vacation, and Emily is sick of it. When they get there, Emily’s mom tells her this is the last time they’re coming to the cabin. Why? 
  13. A group of Girl Scouts discovers a secret society living in the campground mountains. The citizens of this society are kind, but they offer the Girl Scouts a choice–stay forever, or never come back. 
  14. The local middle school D&D club falls into their world, and has to survive the campaign with their friend still acting as Dungeon Master. 
  15. The principal is dragging his feet solving the series of locker thefts terrorizing the middle school. One group of kids decides to get to the bottom of things and catch the locker thief red-handed. 

If you’re looking for even more prompts for young writers, we have a dedicated list of hundreds!

With these prompts under your belt, you’re ready to get started. Happy writing! 

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