Flash fiction prompts can help you not only write great short stories but write your story quickly. As a sub-genre of fiction, these extremely short stories are usually 1,500 words or less. That’s not much time to start your story, rise to the climax, and resolve it.
This is where flash fiction prompts come to play. In this article, I discuss why flash fiction prompts are helpful and then provide you with a long list to help get you started. If you’re ready, let’s dive in!
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Why Flash Fiction Prompts Are Useful
Flash fiction prompts allow you to jump right into the action of your short story without the longer beginnings of most other short stories or novels. In flash fiction, stories are extremely concise and lack the written depth of other writing (although they can be extremely profound). Below are three reasons why these type of prompt can help your writing as a whole.
#1 – Flash Fiction Prompts Teach Tight Writing
Parables and fables are considered some of the earliest forms of flash fiction. Whether you grew up reading Aesop’s Fables or fell in love with America’s early flash fiction writers (Walt Whitman, Ambrose Bierce, and Kate Chopin), flash fiction prompts can help better your writing.
This type of short story writing is known for its brevity but also its deeper look at plot and character. You can use flash fiction prompts as a test to develop your abilities in both of these important literary aspects. How deep can you go with a character in less than two thousand words?
#2 – Flash Fiction Prompts Reveal The Power Of Starting In Medias Res
With less than 1,500 words for your entire story, flash fiction prompts show you how crucial it is to start in the midst of the story, or in medias res. New writers often feel they need to set the scene prior to launching into the story, but for today’s readers and their short attention spans, this doesn’t work like it used to.
Instead, use flash fiction prompts to start your story at the inciting incident. Resist the urge to set the scene and instead, dive right into the action.
Remember, if you’re browsing books at your local bookstore and sentence one doesn’t capture you, you’re unlikely to make a purchase. Use this mindset when employing flash fiction prompts to write your next short story. Start with a bang in order to make the most out of your limited writing real estate.
#3- Flash Fiction Prompts Guide Character Development
Flash fiction prompts are a guide for creating great character arcs. With only a few pages to take your character through their arc, it’s vital to use every sentence to reveal more about your protagonist.
At first, this may feel difficult. How can you write sentences in such a way to move the story forward and also reveal aspects of your hero? Consider the following example:
- The rain came in torrents, soaking him.
- The rain came in torrents, soaking him, but he pressed on.
The addition of four words reveals the tenacity of your protagonist. The more you practice, the easier it will be to develop your characters in a brief span of words. Great plots and well-rounded characters are essential to great storytelling.
With these three tips in mind, here is a list of over 25 flash fiction prompts.
List Of 25+ Original Prompts
Use these flash fiction prompts to write a short story, inspire your next flash fiction piece, or get your creative juices flowing as you come up with your own ideas.
#1 – A man awaking mid free-fall
#2 – A girl in a field, in winter
#3 – A candle with memories
#4 – Two friends who can’t remember how they met
#5 – Leaving your first day of high school
#6 – In the middle of a blind date, the real person you’re supposed to meet enters
#7 – A funeral from the deceased’s perspective
#8 – A boy who can only speak in song
#9 – You stumble upon a yard sale, but it’s your belongings being sold
#10 – Accidentally climbing into the wrong car and meeting your soulmate
#11 – A national holiday you never remember learning about
#12 – On the weekends you can no longer speak your native language
#13 – Every birthday since you turned 30, you decrease in age by one year
#14 – On a day hike you enter a thriller story you read that morning
#15 – You find profound meaning in life after visiting your childhood nursery
#16 – Your grandmother reveals she’s not related to you
#17 – An old family recipe is actually a coded map to find…
#18 – You live in the wilderness and meet…
#19 – After your morning coffee you realize it wasn’t coffee you were drinking, but…
#20 – Heading home for a holiday, you discover your family moved a decade ago
#21 – Your first pet can suddenly speak
#22 – Every morning is exactly the same until one day…
#23 – Over tea with your great-aunt you learn that…
#24 – Tearing up the old carpet in your new home you find…
#25 – Bookstore customers swarm you asking for an autograph, but you’ve never written a book
#26 – During your morning workout you discover you have superpowers
#27 – You sit down to read a book but discover it now tells your story
#28 – You’re gifted a magic pen that writes stories for you
Depending on your needs, you may want to start out using one of the longer prompts (such as #10, #15, or #25). These flash fiction prompts guide you through the beginning and middle of your story, but leave the ending up to you.
For instance, with number 15 you could start walking into your childhood home, then write to the climax of finding meaning in your old nursery.
If you have experience with flash fiction or want to challenge yourself with more concise flash fiction prompts, consider choosing prompt with less detail (such as #1, #2, or #21).
No matter your experience with this type of short story, flash fiction prompts can help you over the hurdle of getting started as well as inspire more difficult stories. You may want to consider combining two or three prompts for an even more unique flash fiction piece.
How Flash Fiction Prompts Can Aid For Your WIP
If you’re deep into writing your work-in-progress, you may wonder if these flash fiction prompts can help you. After all, you have a word count to hit and a deadline to meet.
You can actually use flash fiction prompts to consider different aspects of your characters by putting them in situations they may not otherwise enter. For example, if you’re struggling to get a full grasp on your villain, consider using one of the flash fiction prompts above to write a brief origin story.
Ultimately, the prompt does not need to relate to your specific plot or ever tie in to your character, but it can be helpful to play around with various ideas. The more ideas you try out, the closer you are to finding the one that best suits your specific story needs.
In addition, flash fiction prompts can provide a secondary angle to your current plot. The best books have some form of subplot, and using flash fiction prompts can get your mind going on various options. Enjoy using these prompts however best fits you and your story needs!