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Sad Writing Prompts: Over 50 Ideas That Are Complete Tearjerkers

Strong emotions make for great story-telling. 

Sadness is one of those emotions that pulls on the heartstrings and makes a story engaging and memorable. 

The saddest stories make us cry and even summon a tear when we remember them long after we first heard them.

Even though sadness is a complex emotion, it’s part of life. 

Each of us will face feelings of sadness at some point in our lives. 

When it comes to story-telling, exploring sadness offers some benefits.

It allows readers to connect with the characters on a deeply personal level and can be incredibly cathartic. Catharsis is the purging of emotions through storytelling.

We’ve got you covered if you’re a writer and want an idea for a sad short story. 

This article has over 50 sad writing prompts to help you get started. 

The prompts below include general sad story ideas, sad opening lines, and suggestions for sad dialogue. 

We’ve also included sad lines and quotes from world-famous novels to inspire you further.

50+ sad writing prompts

Check out the 50+ sad story prompts below to inspire you!

Ideas for sad short stories

The main character is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Write a story about their attempts to reconnect with distant family members during the short time they have left.

A couple who lost their child to an illness years ago adopted an orphan. Write a story from the parents’ perspective as they learn to love this adopted child.

Write a story about a teenager trying to get through high school while also battling her depression. Explore her background, trials, tribulations, and the main character’s rocky relationship with herself.

Write a story from the perspective of a dead person who watches over their loved ones from the afterlife.

One of the last remaining members of an animal species is caged in a zoo. Write a story about their memories of life before the zoo, how they got caught, and their thoughts and sentiments today.

A couple about to reunite after ten years has their plans thwarted by a global pandemic. Write a series of letters between the two lovers yearning for each other during this unprecedented pandemic. For extra drama, add a conflict to the correspondence. Does a letter go missing? Is there some vital information revealed in one of the letters, something that might change the relationship?

An older, overweight woman just wants some love and affection. Her size and the amount of time since she was held by someone make her believe she is unlovable. One day, an old friend from school shows up to ask how she is. They spend time together, have lots of fun, and make lasting memories. Our main character develops feelings for her old friend, but he won’t be around forever.

A young boy is destined to become a superhero and save the world. To fulfill his destiny, he must leave his friends and family behind without telling them and enter a strict training regime in a secret location. Write a story from the perspective of his friends and family members who believe their loved one has gone missing.

A young high school couple decides to try a long-distance relationship when high school ends, and both go to different states for college. Write a letter from one partner to another explaining why they think they should break up—include memories and sentiments from the relationship and important last things they say to each other.

Write a story about a young girl whose cat was run over on the road outside her house. Explore how her parents teach her about death and grief.

Sad writing prompts

An old man slowly dying in a hospital bed recounts the story of his life to his young grandson.

A father’s alcoholism tears a family apart. Write a story from the perspective of a daughter who needs her father, but his addiction makes him indisposed to help.

In high school, all the girls receive Valentine’s day cards from the boys in class. All but one. Write a story about the girl who doesn’t get a card.

Two young lovers are forbidden from seeing each other. Yearning for each other’s company, they sneak out of their respective homes. Knowing that their love is forbidden, they never return home.

A woman whose husband is killed in war dreams about him every night and wakes up alone every morning. Tired of the pain of waking up alone, she tries to go to sleep forever.

An old man and his dog are best friends and have only had each other for years. When the old man dies, the dog is left alone. The man’s relatives take the dog into their home. Every day, the dog runs away and sits on his former owner’s grave until his new owner comes to bring him home.

Sad short story opening line prompts

When I was a child I always wanted a dog, and I had one. The three months I spent with my dog was some of the most fun I’ve ever had.

Maria couldn’t cry. She was sad and angry but tired, and crying required far more energy than she could summon.

One morning, Brian woke up alone. He was surprised until he remembered that his dream life was a dream.

The best way to break a person’s heart is to pretend that you care about them.

I loved her, and she loved me. Now I’m a stranger, and she’s a memory.

One day I woke up, and she was gone. No text, no note, nothing. Just the smell of her hair on the pillow and my loneliness were all that was left.

You never know how much you love someone until they’re gone. That was one of the hardest lessons I ever had to learn.

Have you ever loved someone so much that it broke your heart?

When I was younger, I thought love was about butterflies, smiles, holding hands, and being happy forever after. Now that I’m older, I realize how much pain it causes. Still, that doesn’t mean we should stop loving.

The day the doctor told me I was sick was the first day of the rest of my life.

Looking back on my life before I died, I realize that there were so many things I could have done differently. All the worry, the procrastination, the pointless arguments, what a waste of time!

I’m done with love. Over. Never again.

Sad short story dialogue prompts

‘No, I won’t let you go!’

‘I love you.’

‘I’m sorry, but I have to leave.’

‘I was waiting for you.’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘I wish you told me how you felt before today.’

‘I understand if you never want to see me again.’

‘Can we just talk?’

‘I don’t love you anymore.’

‘I heard this song, which made me think of us.’

‘Loving you is the best and worst thing ever to me.’

‘Is there someone else?’

‘I have some bad news.’

‘How could you do this to me?’

‘I need to tell you something.’

‘I have to go, and I don’t know when I’ll be back.’

‘I really thought things would be different this time.’

‘I can’t help myself.’

‘I hope you never miss someone as much as I miss you.’

Emotional writing prompts

‘Words can’t describe the pain I feel right now.’

‘I’m worried about you; call me?’

‘All I want is one more moment with you; is that wrong?’

‘I know you don’t want to talk to me anymore, but I just want to thank you for making me a better person.’

‘I thought you would notice, but you didn’t.’

‘How can I possibly trust you anymore?’

‘I’m not mad at you, but I’m very disappointed.’

‘One time, I would have screamed and argued with you, but now I just don’t have the energy.’

‘I heard you’re happy now.’

‘All of this hurt, all of this pain, and still I love you.’

‘I never realized loving you would hurt this much. Still, I don’t regret a thing.’

‘I dreamed we were still together, you and me.’

Sad lines and quotes from literature

“Beautiful things grow to a certain height, and then they fall and fade off, breathing out memories as they decay.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned
“Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on. I hope you never have to think about anything as much as I think about you.” Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
“If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?” Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper
“There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.” Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
“I know so many last words. But I will never know hers.” John Green, Looking for Alaska
“I have scars on my hands from touching certain people.” J. D. Salinger,  Raise High the Roof Beam
“I hid my deepest feelings so well I forgot where I placed them.” Amy Tan, Saving Fish from Drowning
“You see I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad things that happened to me.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
“The heart dies a slow death, shedding each hope like leaves until one day there are none. No hopes. Nothing remains.” Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
‘I think everyone feels alone in their sadness, and there’s a certain value to hearing other people’s sad stories.’   Brandon Stanton, American Novelist

Sad stories evoke difficult emotions. 

All of us have some sadness in our lives somewhere. Such is the nature of human life. 

Many of us would rather avoid sadness altogether and only allow ourselves to feel positive emotions. 

However, integrating and accepting sadness is essential for living a life of emotional stability.

Sad stories, though emotionally heavy, can help us process our own sadness. 

American Novelist Brandon Stanton believes that hearing others’ stories is valuable. We experience catharsis, the purging of emotions through experiencing them vicariously through fictional characters . 

Sad stories also help us feel sympathy, empathy, and compassion for others.

For writers, sad stories pose a challenge. 

It’s essential to approach sad scenes and themes with authenticity and honesty. 

At the same time, one shouldn’t indulge in sadness. It should exist as a theme as a by-product of the natural unfolding of events in a story.

So, if you’re a writer and you want to write a heart-heavy, tear-jerker story, use any of the prompts and ideas outlined above. 

Feel free to chop and change elements of each prompt to suit you. 

Take inspiration from one or several of the prompts above and craft your unique story that will bring a tear of sadness to your reader’s eye.

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Journal Buddies Jill | September 16, 2022 September 3, 2022 | Journal Prompts & Writing Ideas

29 Sad Writing Prompts to Help You Process Sadness

An excellent list of Sad Writing Prompts to Help any Age Student, Journaler, or Writer— You see, journaling is a wonderful and highly accessible tool that can help anyone process their emotions. (The same is true for writing in various forms and genres.) Now, our new list of sad writing prompts can help you or your kids. Take a look and please use these writing ideas.

Sad Writing Prompts

Journaling or Writing with Our Sad Writing Prompts List of Ideas

It’s true that sadness can be a tough feeling for kids and adults alike.


Journaling is a really good tool and habit that can help anyone process their emotions. Plus — get this — fiction writing is yet another powerful means of processing and moving emotions. Yep. It’s true.

Getting Started Quick Guide

While you use these journal prompts…

It can be helpful to reflect on the meaning of catharsis and encourage your students to fully express themselves. Definition of Catharsis : the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.

Yes! Creative outlets are soooooo useful and important to teach to the younger generations in order to help them better process and move their feelings.

Although these prompts are mostly written for the emotional maturity of middle schoolers and up, you could adapt the list of sad writing prompts to be more accessible to younger students. Or… simply use whichever ones your know your students are ready for at this time.

Keep in mind that the list of sad writing prompts outlined below can be used in a variety of ways. Some ways to use these sad writing ideas include using them for your class’s journal entries, story writing, or writing practice, offering them as a therapeutic resource for your students, or using them within a personal journal (perhaps even in yours!).

After the list of sad writing prompts, I share with you a few more great ways you could use this list of sad writing prompts with students. Be sure to check it out.

Ok, without further ado, here is the list of good and helpful writing ideas and prompts for you.

29 Sad Writing Prompts to Process Emotion

Take a look at and please use this powerful, helpful, and (yes!) creative mix of sad writing prompts and ideas. They are excellent, and I hope you find them valuable.

Sad Writing Topics

I hope you found this list of sad writing prompts helpful.

A Few Closing Thoughts on Writing about Sadness

These creative writing prompts might make you and your students get out a box of tissues, but that can be a good thing! It’s amazing the power that a pen holds.

Plus… Your students will hopefully grow to understand why writing is such a good outlet for sadness (hence the theme for this blog post of sad writing prompts).

While many of these sad writing prompts are related to personal topics, you can ask if any of your students would like to:

Finally, you could talk to your kids about how creating out of our pain can bring beauty out of otherwise bad experiences, and how sharing can help us connect with one another.

No doubt your students will take any one of these lessons with them for the rest of their lives! So use them with your kids today. I hope they use these sad writing prompts and find great value in them. Take good care and be well.

Related Links & Useful Resources

If you enjoyed these Sad Writing Prompts, please share them on social media via Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and/or Pinterest. I appreciate it!

Sincerely, Jill creator and curator

Writing Prompts to Process Sadness

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Spring Writing Prompts

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Home / Book Writing / Sad Writing Prompts: 50+ Ideas to Get Your Started

Sad Writing Prompts: 50+ Ideas to Get Your Started

One of the reasons stories of all kinds are so popular — and have been for thousands of years — is that they help us process real-world emotions. We'll all have to deal with grief, sadness, heartache, depression, and negative thoughts at some point in our lives. And sometimes, one thing that can help us get through tough times is a story where fictional characters go through something similar.

That's why we've developed this list of sad writing prompts for your next journal entry, short story, or novel idea.

Table of contents

One of the things we talk about here at Kindlepreneur is writing to market. That is, writing something you want to write that also intersects with an existing marke t. Preferably one with hungry readers. And as you surely know, there's no such thing as a “Sad” book genre. But that doesn't mean that sad books don't fit nicely into some existing genres . They do. And here are a couple to keep in mind:

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If you can write a book or story that evokes strong emotions from your readers, then you'll likely have a good career as an author. Provided, of course, those strong emotions are the ones you intended to evoke. No matter the genre, a good story relies on character development , conflict, and rising stakes. For this reason, there’s really only a handful of story structures out there. And if you familiarize yourself with these story structures , you can write a compelling story that people will enjoy.

The big difference between most popular fiction genres and a sad book in a genre like literary fiction is the type of stakes. In a thriller, the stakes may be death. Maybe for the character. Maybe for the whole world.

In a dramatic book, the stakes will be mostly emotional. Often love or enlightenment . If your main character doesn't get what she seeks, she'll remain lost in her life. Or he'll break down and will no longer be able to function. Or the love of her life will slip away forever.

So as you write, keep the stakes in mind. And try to keep raising the stakes as you move toward the climax . This is what readers expect. And while there's a little bit of leeway in the literary fiction genre, the climactic story structure is so ingrained in our cultural psyche that you ignore it at your peril.

Now, on to the creative writing prompts!

The following writing ideas can be used as a jumping-off point or merely for inspiration. If you like a story starter as it is, start writing and see where it takes you. Or change the writing prompt however you see fit and let the inspiration take over!

1. Write about a mental health professional who is afraid one of her patients may hurt himself.

2. Write about the grief a young character experiences when he loses a close friend.

3. Explore how social media negatively affects one young person's view of the world. Write it from the young person's perspective using first person POV .

4. Write about a young woman reading a love letter and crying. What's in the letter that's making her cry?

5. Write about two characters who speak different languages coming into conflict with each other because of their language barrier.

6. Write about a character who receives a terminal diagnosis. What does he do with the time he has left?

7. There's something wrong with your main character's sister. She begins acting erratically and saying very strange things.

8. Write about an unlikely friendship that develops between a hospice worker and a patient.

9. One high school is thrown into turmoil after a terrible bus accident takes the lives of many students.

10. Start your story as a diary entry written by a character who's contemplating suicide.

11. Think about your happiest childhood memory. Identify a few things that helped you feel that happiness. Now write a story about a character who never had those things in her life.

12. Write a story from the perspective of someone battling depression and overcoming anxiety.

13. Start a story in which one character lets anger take control. He says or does things that he'll find hard to take back when he calms down.

14. Write a story in which a small town or village is destroyed by deforestation or another environmentally questionable practice.

15. Write a story in which a woman gets convicted of a crime she didn't commit.

16. Detail one family's struggle to survive during a catastrophic natural disaster.

17. Explore the feelings of a young character dealing with rejection.

18. Write about a character who is orphaned when he loses his only family member. Will he find a new family?

19. Explore the terrible things that can happen when a loved one is afflicted with a drug problem.

20. Have a character look back on something bad that happened to their younger self. Have them use that incident to overcome their biggest challenge as an adult.

21. Sometimes what seems like the worst thing in the world can actually be a good thing. Write about how good things come from unlikely places.

22. Write about a character who has a hard time dealing with emotion. When things are bottled up, they can often come out in other ways.

23. Write about an old married couple who thinks they can no longer stay together. What are their final days before the divorce like? Do they end up falling back in love?

24. Abuse comes in all shapes and sizes. Write a story about a character finally getting out of an abusive relationship.

25. Write about how the world always seems to take the good ones away first.

26. Explore a character who ventures to meet her biological mother for the first time. The meeting is nothing like what she expected.

27. Explore the struggles families go through when dealing with a family member with a mental health problem.

28. She always wanted a child. But now that she has one, she feels like something is missing.

29. The grass always seems greener on the other side. But when you get over there, it rarely is. Write about a character who seems to burn every bridge in search of greener grass.

30. Write about a character learning to live again after suffering a debilitating injury.

31. People express their feelings in different ways. Explore a character who expresses her feelings in a way that makes people think she's abrasive.

32. Hate is a strong emotion. But so is love. Explore two characters learning how to stop hating and start loving.

33. “All I want is to find something to fill that hole inside me. But I don't think it exists.”

34. She just left the bathroom for a minute to answer the phone. There were only a few inches of water in the tub…

35. He could still feel the painful wound in his hand. This time, he managed to look into the mirror without punching it.

36. She tried to see the beauty in everything. But after the funeral, it seemed impossible. She thought all the beauty had been sucked out of the world.

37. He watched the storm coming slowly closer. The sky looked exactly like this when his life was torn apart.

38. Explore how one seemingly insignificant choice can change a life for the worst.

39. He saw the homeless man every day on the way to work. One day, he decided to call in sick and help the man.

40. Write a story about a character who must deal with a narcissistic and extremely manipulative father.

41. It feels too good to be true. Has she finally found love, or is she being manipulated?

42. He's the most in-demand actor in Hollywood. So why does he feel so empty inside?

43. Write about a character who has a bad day and is rude to someone at a coffee shop. They feel bad, but soon find out the person they were rude to is out for revenge.

44. The new marriage is exciting, but something isn't quite right. Could it be that the perfect relationship is anything but?

45. She's poor until she receives a large inheritance. But with the money comes a whole new set of problems.

46. His brother has always been a lot to handle. But on this trip back home, the sibling does something truly terrible.

47. Her favorite thing in the world is her music. But a freak accident causes her to go deaf.

48. As a writer prepares to take his final breaths before his assisted suicide, he laments those things he didn't do in his life.

49. When a young man experiences some bullying at his new school, he's heartbroken. But he could never have guessed what would happen to his bully. Or why everyone would suspect him.

50. As a godmother to her best friend's child, she never thought she'd actually have to raise the kid. But a horrible accident makes her an adoptive mother. 

Whether you use one of these sad writing prompts as a story starter or a journal prompt doesn't matter much. What matters is you sharpen your story-writing skills with practice. Whether the story is novel-length or simply a short story, you'll still enjoy the practice that comes with executing a character-driven plot .

But what if you've written a sad book and you'd like to put it out in the world to make some money from it? If that's your goal, then it's good to have a plan. 

The most successful indie authors have a plan in place before publishing their books. And part of that plan means looking at the market to find readers who are interested in their books . There’s more than one way to go about this, but only one way that doesn’t take hours of mind-numbing research.

With Publisher Rocket , you can get data in seconds that would otherwise take you hours if you were to comb through Amazon yourself . The main PR tools allow you to:

Check out Publisher Rocket here to learn more.

Jason Hamilton

When I’m not sipping tea with princesses or lightsaber dueling with little Jedi, I’m a book marketing nut. Having consulted multiple publishing companies and NYT best-selling authors, I created Kindlepreneur to help authors sell more books. I’ve even been called “The Kindlepreneur” by Amazon publicly, and I’m here to help you with your author journey.

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Sad Writing Prompts

By: Author Valerie Forgeard

Posted on September 6, 2022

Categories Writing , Inspiration , Mind

Sad writing prompts are a great way to stimulate your creativity and get you in a reflective mood. Whether you’re writing down your feelings, telling a story, or working on song lyrics, sad writing prompts can help you get started with inspiration and feel confident!

How to Write a Unique Story

To write a unique story, you need to know what makes your story unique.

What’s the one thing you can’t find anywhere else? What’s the one thing that no one else has written about the way you want to write it? What’s the one thing that no one else has thought of?

Once You Figure That Out, Make Sure It’s the Focus of Your Story. Make Sure Everything in the Story Points Back to It

If your characters want something unique, you need to make sure they want that thing (your uniqueness). If someone says something, it must somehow relate to that uniqueness. If there’s conflict in the story, it’s related to your uniqueness – and if there’s no conflict, figure out how to create one!

If you’re having trouble making your uniqueness clear or linking everything to it, go over your notes repeatedly until they’re clear and seem obvious. Then you set the notes aside for a few days – or even weeks – and come back when you’ve completely forgotten about them! That way, they’ll feel fresh again when you return to them later.

12 Creative Writing Assignment Ideas

Don’t Overdo It

Writing the story starter can be the biggest challenge.

It’s probably one of the hardest things to do. But if you want to connect with people and impress them, it’s worth it!

So don’t overdo it. Be authentic. The most important thing to remember about writing is that you don’t have to be perfect. It’s better if you’re not. It’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s okay not to know the answer to everything.

And if you want to connect with your readers, you must write as you are. The best way to do that’s to use your voice – the best way to connect with other people is through their words!

Length of the Story You Want to Write

When you’re looking for a writing prompt, there are two important things to keep in mind:

The length of the sad story you want to write and the mood you want your prompt to create.

If you want to write a short text, you should use a writing prompt that’s only one sentence long. This way, you’ll be forced to be brief and write a compelling story in just a few words.

For example, if we want to write about “sadness,” our writing prompt could be, “It’s raining on my birthday.” This simple statement might inspire us to write an essay about how much we wish our family would remember our birthdays and send us cards or how sad we feel when they forget.

If you want to write something longer than a short story, such as a long compelling story in an essay or a book chapter, you should select writing ideas with three to five sentences. That way, you’ve more space to explore the story or argument in the prompt. For example, if we want to write about the theme of “love” in Romeo and Juliet (a well-known Shakespeare play), our writing prompt might be, “What does love mean?” On the other hand… maybe not!

How to Write a Tragic Ending

It’s not easy to write a tragic ending, but if you want to write a compelling story, you may need one. It’s especially important that your audience can relate to the tragedy – that it’s real and not just something that happened in a distant land or time. So how do you ensure your audience feels the emotional impact of what’s happening?

First, Think About What Constitutes a Tragedy: Loss, Failure, Grief, and Sorrow

All of these factors must be present for your audience to feel the emotional weight of what’s happening. And then you’ve to portray it authentically. That means you don’t beat around the bush – you want to hit them immediately with the full force of what’s happened and leave them emotionally devastated by what they’ve experienced.

You can also use dialog to get at these feelings. For example, “I’m sorry,” she said as she took his hand in hers and squeezed it gently before letting it go. This shows us what she’s feeling without having to say it explicitly – we know she’s sad because we see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice when she says those words.

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Showing 53 prompts reset

Remastered, retold, write about a character who keeps ending up in the same place., write a story that either starts or ends with someone (or something) saying, “please, don’t do it.”, write about an apartment building being demolished., write a story involving a noise complaint., write about two neighbors who cannot stand each other., start your story with two people sitting in a movie theater, waiting for the lights to come back on., write about someone who has been nominated for a prestigious award, but isn’t sure they deserve it., write a story that spans a month during which everything changes., write about someone who grew up in a bunker, and lockdown life is all they’ve ever known., write about someone who discovers the only family member they have left has just betrayed them., write about someone who decides it’s time to cut ties with a family member., write about two people who just can’t seem to understand each other, no matter how clearly they think they’re speaking., write about a character who’s so afraid of making the wrong choice that their indecision ruins the very thing they were hoping to keep safe., write about someone who’s so obsessed with a goal that it leads to the destruction of their closest relationship., write about someone telling their family they won’t be continuing the long-standing family business., start your story with the line, “this was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives,” and end it with, “by then it was too late.”, write a story that feels lonely, despite being set in a packed city., write a story inspired by this quote from ally condie: "growing apart doesn't change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. i'm glad for that.", write a story about someone who loses their cat., write about one character’s fundamental misunderstanding of another character’s job., win $250 in our short story competition 🏆.

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Marisa Donnelly - Writer, Editor, Coach & Creative Strategist

15 Emotion-Based Writing Prompts For Digging Deep

It’s one thing to write efficiently, it’s entirely different to write effectively , but neither of those would be possible (for creative work) without writing emotionally. These fifteen emotional writing prompts will help you to dive into your feelings, challenge you to think deeply about some of the more personal topics in your life, and bridge the gap between your experiences and the characters on the page.

Prepare to be pushed into a more vulnerable realm of thinking and creating. 🙌💡

2. Write as if you’re seeing someone in your life for the very first time.

What do you notice about them? What are you drawn to? Now write from your current perspective of knowing and seeing them all your life. What do you appreciate/notice that differs from your first impressions? Can you highlight their uniqueness, their attributes that identifying them as who they are?

3. Write to, or about the last person you kissed.

You can do this one of two ways:

1) Write to that person first as if you were to give them this paragraph/piece as a letter. 2) Write about this person as if he/she is a character in a story. You can add yourself as a character, too, if you want to keep some distance from the story. You can also write in total third person, where both characters are written about more objectively.

4. Listen to an old song and write the emotions that come forth.

This can be a breakup song, love song, favorite song, childhood favorite song, etc. Whatever you choose, pay attention to the emotions you’re experiencing. Can you describe them? Can you describe without any characters at first? Then add characters, can you show how you/the character is feeling in listening instead of telling the reader?

5. Consider what you would change in your life, write a letter to your younger self based on those things.

Then, to challenge yourself, incorporate this letter into a monologue between characters (first, second, or third person).

6. Write a stranger’s story.

Find a place where you can (inconspicuously) people watch. Pick a stranger and write his/her story. Where did he/she come from? What’s his/her background, fears, present thoughts, love life? Embellish into a short story.

7. Make a ‘happy moments’ list and write a scene from one of those times.

Sometimes to get inspired we simply need to create or remember a situation. On a blank sheet of paper, create a list of favorite memories (aka: your ‘happy moments’ list). From that list, select one at random and write either your story of being at that place, a loved one’s perspective, or create a story with characters in the third person. Really describe the scene so that the reader can engage and picture where you are.

8. Write to or about your fears.

If you wrote a letter to your fear, what would you say? Can you incorporate these thoughts into the inner monologue of a character in a story? Into a poem? Etc.

9. Write a third person scene in which you are apologizing to someone in your life indirectly.

Sometimes we fall into first person habits because they’re easier. Challenge yourself to write about something present in your life (a person you’ve hurt) but in a way that creates distance between you and the characters. Have one character apologize to the other through your use of third person pronouns and setting up a scene. (Tip: Challenge yourself by switching the sex of the person apologizing to the opposite of you for even more distance between your emotions and what you’re putting on the page.)

10. Write a letter to your body.

Do some self-reflection. What are things you love, change, working on. Can you craft these introspective thoughts into a character? (Tip: Challenge yourself to do the reverse, too. If you’re very insecure about your legs, can you build a character who is super confident? Can you create an insecurity in a character that you don’t possess.

11. Write about a character with a secret.

creative writing ideas sad

12. Write about a conversation you’re longing to have.

What is something you wish you could say to someone? Create a scene in which you (or a character) is having this conversation. Use both dialogue and nonverbal cues as well as build the scene around the characters to make the moment more believable.

13. Write a poem about sorrow.

Incorporate vivid language, detail, and figurative language to create a mood rather than outright saying words like “sad,” “pain,” or “hurting.”

14. Write a love story that starts with a very strange opening line of dialogue.

creative writing ideas sad

15. Pick sides on a controversial topic and write from a character who strongly believes that side, or the opposing side.

Challenge yourself to create a believable character from either end of the spectrum. Provide the scene, situation, and background to make that character dynamic and interesting, even if the reader may not agree.

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Sad essay topics about life: top 20 fresh examples.

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Any techniques to make the reader feel sad and very sorrowful?

Are there any techniques which writers can use to really touch the character, and make them feel really emotional because of your writing?

I'm trying to improve a dystopian piece of writing.

I stood there, in front of it. I could feel my emotions toppling outside of my mind as I began unleashing my hatred upon the ones that did this. I could not hold back my sorrow, and I shed a tear. The creature stretched its great neck forward and my tear fell onto its long cheek. It ran down the beast's face and dropped onto the floor.

During this paragraph I focused on a tear, is this a good idea?

Featherball's user avatar

3 Answers 3

In order to find ways to invoke sadness in others, it's best to try to understand what makes you sad.

Everyone has been sad at some point in their lives, so it's easy to know what sadness looks like and feels like. However a lot of people don't really think about why those things make them sad. This can be said about a lot of emotions, but sadness is one in particular that people don't care to dwell on (for obvious reasons).

This is why it is probably it is one of the most difficult things to portray in pieces of writing. A lot of the times people attempting to create sadness create sad people to try to get others to be sad through empathy. But unless you already massively empathize with the character, it is difficult to pull off.

It is similar in your excerpt. From that short bit of writing I understand that the creature is sad, but that doesn't make me sad. When I then read some of the comments you had written about the backstory of the character and reread the question, it affected me more, as it was now in more of a context. I understood the creature better and could empathize a little with where its heartache stemmed from.

My suggestion is to watch/ read/ experience things that make you sad, and try to think about and analyze why they make you sad. You need to dig deeper and find out the emotions and reasons for how this sadness has developed.

Many things can evoke sadness: fear, loss, longing, pain (physical or emotional), regret, anger, disappointment, frustration. Even some positive emotions can incite sadness in the correct context. Off the top of my head I can think of 4 things that never fail to set me off into floods of tears, and they couldn't be any more different from each other.

It is all about making the reader become invested in something first, and then changing the thing in which they have become invested in a way that can cause sadness. Ultimately, sadness is the destination, the journey to get there will be accessing other emotions within the reader.

Mike.C.Ford's user avatar

To make the reader sad I would focus more on what event is making the narrator sad rather than on describing their sadness. Not that there is anything wrong with describing emotion, and your excerpt seems pretty well written to me, but reading about how someone else feels sad is not what makes me sad. Describing their tears is certainly part of the story, but what is more likely to bring tears to my eyes is reading a vivid description of a good character dying, or suffering pain or bereavement, or being betrayed, or losing their chance of happiness.

Am I right in thinking that the "great creature" (I imagined it as a good dragon) mentioned in your quote has been wounded or harmed by the bad guys? That made me sad.

Lostinfrance's user avatar

I think the key to making the reader feel sad is to get them emotionally invested in the characters.

For example, I'm reminded of a book I read years ago where a character was introduced, and in the space of just a page or two the writer described some tragedy in her life and then described her crying and screaming. And I thought: That was way too fast. I haven't had time to get invested in this character.

That is, suppose that the person that you love the most in the world, your wife or your mother or the buddy that you went through hell in the war with or whatever, came to you with tears rolling down their face and said, "Oh, I just don't know what to do, please help me." It is likely that you would be instantly sympathetic and want to know what's wrong.

Now suppose you were walking down the street and some total stranger came up and did exactly the same thing. Your reaction would likely be to flippantly say, "Hey, I'm sorry, but I can't help you."

Likewise, if you want the reader to feel sorry for a character, you have to build up a connection between the character and the reader. You have to get the reader to like the character, to get him interested in what he or she is doing and what is happening to them. THEN we may care when they have problems.

Skillful wording of the description of their unhappiness is certainly a plus. But frankly I think it's the lesser element. I've read plenty of stories wherer the writer gets me involved with a character, and then throws in a totally stark description of a tragedy. Like, "And then George turned around and Sally was gone." If I care about George and Sally, and I understand that they are some place where being separated is a serious problem, this is enough to make me understand George's panic and fear. It doesn't need a lot of flowery words.

On the converse, though, if a story began, "George and Sally were travelling far from home. They were walking through the streets of a strange city when suddenly George realized that Sally was gone. He was filled with panic and fear. He could feel himself shaking. What, he wailed to himself, will I do?" The writer could go on and on and I probably still won't care, because I don't care about the character yet.

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72 Clever Creative Writing Prompts (+ 6 Brainy Bonus Tips)

by Mel Wicks

on Mar 7, 2023

I bet you just asked Google to search for creative writing prompts.

Or was it writing ideas? Short story ideas? Or maybe writer’s block?

Boy, are you stuck!

But don’t worry. It doesn’t matter if you’re halfway through writing a book, sweating over social media posts, or journaling about your own life, all writers get stuck for creative ideas sometimes.

So, it’s great to have you here.

This is your go-to source of story starters, writing prompts, and bonus writing tips guaranteed to improve your writing skills , power up your passion , and get your creative juices flowing in 2023.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

We’ll start with a few common questions and answers…

creative writing ideas sad

What are Writing Prompts?

A writing prompt can be a phrase, an image, or even a physical object that kick starts your imagination and motivates you to write . It provides a spark of an idea as a starting point to stimulate a natural flow of writing.

Writing prompts are ideal for any form of writing, like fiction or nonfiction, journaling, copywriting , blogging , or poetry . They usually contain two parts: an idea or a potential topic to write about, and the instructions on what you should do next.

For example, a creative writing prompt for fiction writers might be:

Your main character has a car accident and starts to hear voices while in the hospital. Write a short story about the conflict between the character and the voices and what really happened at the time of the car accident.

While journal prompts tend to focus on topics of self-awareness, such as:

Write about a turning point in your life. How different would things be now if you had made a different decision at the time?

How Do You Use Writing Prompts?

Like all muscle-building exercises, writing prompts are most effective when you make them a daily habit. Over time, with repetition, you’ll find your flow of writing becomes more natural, and your ability to write for longer strengthens.

But don’t feel you have to follow a prompt to the letter. If the prompt suggests you write about romance, but it sparks an idea for a poem, write a poem. Let your imagination guide you through the writing process.

Here are some other hot tips:

Now, let’s explore those creative writing prompts we promised you.

72 Writing Prompts to Help You Kickstart Your Imagination

Fiction writing prompts, fantasy writing prompts, romance writing prompts, comedy writing prompts.

Persuasive Copywriting Prompts

Poetry writing prompts, journal writing prompts, blog writing prompts, non-fiction writing prompts, random writing prompts.

Horror Writing Prompts?

Time heals all wounds It’s better to be safe than sorry Money is the root of all evil Ignorance is bliss

There they are. A compact list of 72 creative prompts. And when you’ve worked your way through these, you might want to move on to the motherlode of creative writing prompts over at Reddit.

Reddit  is part social media platform , part community, part media curator, with 520 million monthly visitors subscribing to message boards across 1.2 million sub-categories. Phew!

One of these subcategories is Writing Prompts , with over 14 million subscribers who have posted years’ worth of prompts, so you’ll never run out of inspiration again.

How Else Can I Improve My Creative Writing Skills?

Improving your skills takes lots of writing practice. And using creative writing ideas and prompts are the best ways to do just that. But it’s not the only way. Here are a few other creative writing exercises you might want to explore:


This is when you write about anything that pops into your head. Take a blank page, set a timer for 30 minutes, and start writing. Write whatever your brain tells you to, and don’t worry if it’s nonsensical.

This writing exercise is great for pushing through writer’s block  and allowing your mind to head off in spontaneous directions.

The Adjectives Game

List 5 things you like or dislike tasting, and then list 5 adjectives for each item. For example, you might like the taste of cake. The 5 adjectives might be: sweet, gooey, yummy, nutty, and scrumptious. Now do the same for your other senses.

This builds your sensory vocabulary and ability to write with flair and color.


Write about a recent incident you were involved in, from the point of view of someone else who was involved. Empathy is hugely important in writing and this exercise forces you to step into the shoes of another person and understand their point of view.

Writing authentic dialogue is notoriously hard to master, so this writing exercise will help.

Write about 300 words of a conversation between two people without using ‘he said/she said’ tags. Show the difference and relationship between the two speakers only through the words they use. It’s more challenging than it sounds.


Think of a color. Now go for a walk or a ride on the bus and note down everything you see of that color. When you get home, write up what you remember (take notes as you go to make it easier).

How many different hues of the color did you see? What did the things you saw make you feel? Was there any connection between them?

Think of an anecdote you like to recount. Write it up in less than 500 words. Now rewrite the same story in 100 words. Now in 50 words. And finally, in 25 words or less, if you can achieve it.

This exercise shows how filler words, background, and context can sometimes get in the way of a good story. It will help you choose your words carefully.

If you’ve got the time and energy, here  are a few more creative writing exercises to really help flex those writing muscles.

6 Bonus Writing Tips to Power Up Your Passion and Sharpen Your Skills

Before we let you go…

If you’re looking for creative writing prompts or story ideas, there’s an excellent chance you’re looking for other ways to hone your skills and improve your craft.

Here are 6 bonus writing tips to help you on your journey:

1. Make Time to Write

If you’re not setting aside time to write, you may as well ignore every other piece of advice in this post. Make your writing time sacred and block it off in your calendar. Turn off your phone. Disconnect the internet, close your door, and write.

This is the single best thing you can do if you want to be a writer.

2. Set Writing Goals

We set goals for everything in our life: losing weight, saving for a dream holiday, growing our business, and so on. So, do the same for your writing. Measure your progress.

Start with, say, a 300 or 500 word count in a daily session. Once you consistently reach this goal with ease, up the ante and shoot for more challenging targets. 1,000 words a session; 25,000 words a month, and so on. But make sure your goals are not overwhelming.

Writing goals will help you write faster and with more confidence. Over time you will recognize when you are most productive and can use this to your advantage.

3. Pack Your Writing with a Powerful Punch

Fill your writing with passion from an arsenal of power words . Or supercharge your reader’s imagination with a well-aimed metaphor .

Use these two writing devices to turbocharge your prose and watch the words burst off the page with intention.

4. Harness the Power of Grammar

Grammar reduces confusion and brings clarity and confidence to your writing. It’s a good thing and you need to learn the rules .

But grammar can sometimes get in the way of creativity and turn fluid prose into a turgid swamp of clunky awkwardness.

If you need to ignore your grammar checker and start a sentence with a conjunction that feels right, go for it. If you want to brazenly split an infinitive to avoid mangling a sentence, split away.

So, learn the grammar rules, but then learn how to break them . Effectively.

5. Copy Your Writing Heroes — Literally

Pick a writer you’ve always admired, whether it’s a New York Times best-selling author or an influencer in your blogging niche .

Now, put pen to paper and rewrite exactly what they wrote by hand. Don’t think too hard about it. Just go with it.

As you write out their words, you’ll absorb their writing style, their pace and rhythm, their grammar, their word choice, and their sentence structure.

This is one of the most effective ways to sharpen your writing skills and inspire your own writing voice.

6. Read Your Way to Writing Stardom

Every great writer is a great reader. There are no exceptions.

Read daily.

Read fiction and biographies, or read books, blogs and articles. But read in an active way. Stay alert to what grabs your attention and how the writer has crafted his words. Then consciously apply the best techniques to your own writing process.

A Final Word on Writing Prompts

The purpose of a writing prompt is to kickstart your creativity and spur you into writing something… anything.

Initially, the process may seem a little intimidating. But that’s OK. Most writers draw a blank when they first start with writing prompts.

Keep pushing through, because something thrilling will start to happen.

The more you practice using the prompts in this post, the more your creative juices will flow, and the more words and ideas will start pouring out of you.

So, let yourself go. Abandon yourself to the power of writing prompts and let the magic happen.

Happy writing!

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Written by Mel Wicks

10 thoughts on “72 clever creative writing prompts (+ 6 brainy bonus tips)”.

Hello, Thank you! What I needed to write prompts. I’m writing about mindfulness .

Thank you ,

Lori English , MA

You’re welcome, Lori. Glad they help Cheers, Mel

Thank you for your motivating words. I bookmarked this post so, I can read it daily and start writing. Thanks again.

Happy writing, Vijay

Thanks for posting such a useful information. Improving your English also helps in creative writing. Learning daily and reading newspaper helps a lot in this matter too.

Yes, good tip about reading newspapers, Jack.

Writing an open letter is surely an easy and effective strategy. You have shared the massive list of writing prompts for popular niches. Thanks!

Incredible piece of content. Smart Blogger has been my raw source of push to better my craft and take my writing to a whole new level. Thanks Mel for featuring with this powerful tips.

This is something I do daily: “Write about your plans for tomorrow and how you hope they’ll turn out.” It helps me focus and stay committed to my goals during the day. Highly recommend doing it.

Hi Mel Wicks! A very helpful list of Writing Prompts that you share. I really enjoy this post and start writing by reading these tips. Thanks for this blog, it is so beneficial for me.

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The Write Practice

Top 100 Short Story Ideas

by Joe Bunting | 128 comments

Do you want to write but just need a great story idea? Or perhaps you have too many ideas and can’t choose the best one? Well, good news. We’ve got you covered.

Below are one hundred short story ideas for all your favorite genres. You can use them as a book idea, as writing prompts for writing contests , for stories to publish in literary magazines , or just for fun!

Use these 100 story ideas to get your creative writing started now.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring guide, regularly updated with ideas and information.

100 Top Short Story Ideas

If you're in a hurry, here's my 10 best story ideas in brief, or scroll down for the full version.

Top 10 Story Ideas

Why Creative Writing Prompts Are Helpful

Below, you'll find our best creative writing prompts and plot ideas for every genre, but first, why do we use prompts? Is it just a waste of time, or can they actually help you? Here are three reasons we  love writing prompts at The Write Practice:

1. Practice the Language!

Even for those of us who are native English speakers, we're all on a language journey to go from beginners to skilled writers. To make progress on this language journey, you have to practice, and at The Write Practice, believe it or not, we're really into practice! Creative writing prompts are easy, fun ways to practice.

Use the prompts below to practice your storytelling and use of language. The more you practice, the better of a writer you'll become.

2. When you have no ideas and are stuck.

Sometimes, you want to write, but you can't think up any ideas. You could either just sit there, staring at a blank page, or you could find a few ideas to help you get started. Even better if the list of ideas is curated from our best plot ideas over the last decade that we've been publishing lessons, writing exercises, and prompts.

Use the story ideas below to get your writing started. Then when your creativity is warmed up, you'll start to come up with your own ideas!

3. To develop your own ideas.

Maybe you do have an idea already, but you're not sure it's good. Or maybe you feel like it's just missing some small piece to make it better. By reading other ideas, and incorporating your favorites into your   story, you can fill your plot holes and generate creative ideas of your own.

Use the story ideas below to develop your own ideas.

4. They're fun!

Thousands of writers use the prompts below every month, some at home, some in classrooms, and even a few pros at their writing “office.” Why? Because writing prompts can be fun. They get your creativity started, help you come up with new ideas of your own, and often take your writing in new, unexpected directions.

Use the plot ideas to have more fun with writing!

How to Write a Story

One last thing before we get to the 100 story ideas, let’s talk about how to write a great short story . (Already know how to write a great story? No problem. Just skip down to the ideas below.)

Want to know more? Learn more about how to write a great short story here .

Our 100 Best Short Story Ideas, Plot Ideas, and Creative Writing Prompts

Ready to get writing? Here are our 100 best short story ideas to kickstart your writing. Enjoy!

10 Best General Short Story Ideas

Our first batch of plot ideas are for any kind of story, whether a spy thriller or a memoir of your personal life story. Here are the best story ideas:

Now that you have an idea, learn exactly what to do with it.  Check out my new book The Write Structure which helps writers take their ideas and write books readers love. Click to check out  The Write Structure  here.

More Short Story Ideas Based on Genre

Need more ideas? Here are ideas based on whichever literary genre you write. Use them as character inspiration, to start your own story, or borrow pieces to generate your own ideas. The only rule is, have fun writing!

By the way,  for more story writing tips for each these plot types, check out our full guide to the 10 types of stories here .

10 Thriller Story Ideas

A thriller is any story that “thrills” the reader—i.e., gets adrenaline pumping, the heart racing, and the emotions piqued.

Thrillers come in all shapes and forms, dipping freely into other genres. In other words, expect the unexpected!

Here are a few of my favorite thriller story ideas :

Rosa Rivera-Ortiz is an up-and-coming lawyer in a San Diego firm. Held back by her ethnicity and her gender, she works twice as hard as her colleagues, and she’s as surprised as anyone when she’s requested specifically for a high-profile case. Bron Welty, an A-list actor and action star, has been arrested for the murder of his live-in housekeeper. The cop heading the case is older, ex-military, a veteran of more than one war, and an occasional sufferer of PTSD. Rosa’s hired to defend the movie star; and it seems like an easy win until she uncovers some secrets that not only make her believe her client is guilty, but may be one of the worst serial killers in the past two decades… and he knows she found out .

It’s the Cold War. Sergei, a double-agent for the CIA working in Berlin, is about to retire when he’s given one final mission: he’s been asked to “defect” to the USSR to help find and assassinate a suspected double-agent for the Kremlin. Sergei is highly trusted, and he’s given to understand that this mission is need-to-know only between him and very few superior officers. But as he falls deeper into the folds of the Iron Curtain, he begins to suspect that his superior officer might just be the mole, and the mark Sergei’s been sent to kill is on the cusp of exposing the leak.

It is 1800. A lighthouse on a barren cliff in Canada. Two lighthouse keepers, German immigrants, are alone for the winter and effectively cut off from the rest of the world until the ice thaws. Both Wilhelm and Matthias are settled in for the long haul with warm clothes, canned goods, and matches a-plenty. Then Wilhelm starts hearing voices. His personal belongings disappear from where he’d placed them, only to reappear in strange spots—like the catwalk, or dangling beneath the spiral stair knotted in brown twine. Matthias begs innocence. Little by little, Wilhelm grows convinced that Matthias is trying to convince him (Wilhelm) to kill himself. Is the insanity real, or is this really Matthias’ doing? And if it is real, what will he do to defend himself? There are so many months until the thaw. 

thriller story ideas

20 Mystery Story Ideas

Enjoy a good whodunit? Then you’ll love these mystery story ideas .

Here are a few of my favorites:

Ever hear the phrase, “It is not who fired the shot but who paid for the bullet?” This is a philosophy Tomoe Gozen lives by. Brave and clever, Tomoe follows clues until she learns who ordered the murder: Emperor Antoku himself. But why would the emperor of Japan want to kill a lowly soldier?

Mystery writer Dan Rodriguez takes the subway every day. Every day, nothing happens. He wears earbuds and a hoodie; he’s ignored, and he ignores. Then one evening, on his way home from a stressful meeting with his publisher, Dan is startled out of his funk when a frantic Middle-Eastern man knocks him over at a dead run, then races up the stairs—pursued by several other thugs. The Middle-Eastern man is shot; and Dan discovers a mysterious package in the front pocket of his hoodie. What’s inside, and what does he need to do to survive the answer?

A headless corpse is found in a freshly-dug grave in Arkansas. The local police chief, Arley Socket, has never had to deal with more than missing gas cans and treed cats. His exploration of this weird murder digs up a mystery older than the 100-year-old town of Jericho that harkens all the way back to a European blood-feud.

story ideas

20 Romance Story Ideas

Ready to write a love story? Or perhaps you want to create a subplot with a secondary character? We've got ideas for you!

Hint: When it comes to romance, a sense of humor is always a good idea. Have fun! Here are a few of my favorite love story ideas :

She’s a cop. He’s the owner of a jewelry store. A sudden rash of break-ins brings her to his store over and over and over again, until it becomes obvious that he might be tripping the alarm on purpose—just to see her. That’s illegal—but she’s kind of falling for him, too. Write the moment she realizes she has to do something about this crazy illicit courtship.

Colorado Animal Rescue has never been more challenging than after that zoo caught on fire. Sally Cougar (no jokes on the name, or she’ll kill you) tracks down three missing tiger cubs, only to find they’ve been adopted by millionaire Bryce Champion. Thanks to an antiquated law on the books, he legally has the right to keep them. It’s going to take everything Sally has to get those tiger cubs back.

He’s a museum curator with a fetish for perfection. No one’s ever gotten close to him; how could they? They’re never as perfect as the portraits, the sculptures, the art that never changes. Then one day, an intern is hired on—a young, messy, disorganized intern, whose hair and desk are in a constant state of disarray. The curator is going half-mad with this walking embodiment of chaos; so why can’t the he stand the thought of the intern leaving at the end of their assistantship?

20 romance story ideas

20 Sci-Fi Story Ideas

From the minimum-wage-earning, ancient-artifact-hunting time traveller to the space-exploring, sentient dinosaurs, these sci-fi writing prompts will get you set loose your inner nerd.

Here are a few of my favorite sci-fi ideas :

In a future society, neural implants translate music into physical pleasure, and earphones (“jacking in”) are now the drug of choice. Write either from the perspective of a music addict, OR the Sonforce agent (sonance + enforcer) who has the job of cracking down.

It’s the year 5000. Our planet was wrecked in the great Crisis of 3500, and remaining human civilization survives only in a half dozen giant domed cities. There are two unbreakable rules: strict adherence to Life Quality (recycling doesn’t even begin to cover these laws), and a complete ban on reproduction (only the “worthy” are permitted to create new humans). Write from the perspective of a young woman who just discovered she’s been chosen to reproduce—but she has no interest in being a mother.

So yeah, ancient Egypt really was “all that” after all, and the pyramids turn out to be fully functional spaceships (the limestone was to preserve the electronics hidden inside). Write from the perspective of the tourist exploring the ancient society who accidentally turns one on.

sci-fi story ideas

20 Fantasy Story Ideas

Need a dose of sword-in-the-stone, hero and/or heroine packed coming-of-age glory?  We love fantasy stories!

Here are a few of my favorite fantasy story ideas:

Bored teenaged wizards throwing a graduation celebration.

Uncomfortable wedding preparation between a magic wielding family tree and those more on the Muggle side of things.

A fairy prince who decides to abandon his responsibilities to become a street musician.

Just try to not have fun writing (or even just reading!) these fantasy writing prompts.

fantasy story ideas

The Secret to Choosing the Best Story Idea

Stories, more than any other artistic expression, have the power to make people care. Stories have the ability to change people’s lives.

But to write a great story, a life-changing story, don’t just write about what your characters did, said, and saw. Ask yourself, “Where do I fit in to this story? What is my personal connection to this story?”

Robert Frost said this:

If you can connect your personal story to the story you’re writing, you will not only be more motivated to finish your story, you might just be able to change the lives of your readers.

Next Step: Write Your Best Story

No matter how good your idea, writing a story or a book can be a long difficult process. How do you create an outline, come up with a great plot, and then actually  finish  it?

My new book  The Write Structure  will help. You'll learn how to take your idea and structure a strong plot around it. Then you'll be guided through the exact process I've used to write dozens of short stories and over fifteen books.

You can learn more about   The Write Structure  and get your copy here.

The Write Structure

Get The Write Structure here »

Have a great short story idea?  We'd love to hear it. Share it in the comments !

Choose one of these ideas and write a short story in one sitting (aim for 1,000 words or less!). When you're finished, share your story in the practice box below (or our latest writing contest ) for feedback from the community. And if you share, please be sure to comment on a few stories by other writers.

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Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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19,685 quotes, descriptions and writing prompts, 4,961 themes

sadness - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing

There are times that my emotions feel bruised, and the same way as with a physical bruise, they take time to come up and really show themselves. Yet in this time I have a chance to mitigate them, reduce them, render them more manageable. So... as hard as it is I drag my ass out the door for some endorphin raising exercise. I guess it's a form of self medication, but there are worse ones to chose. It's a healthy coping strategy I guess.
As the sadness comes you must love yourself as a good friend, treat yourself as a person you love, for then you will make it and the tough road will have been worth travelling with bare soles.
Anger is sadness in fight-mode.
Sadness comes as a painful cleanse. It is a chance to detox and reassess what is helping and what is hurting, a chance to make new choices and inform others that I have boundaries, needs and vulnerabilities.
One must remove a bullet from a wound and one must let sadness come out, it hurts like hell because it is.
Let the sadness out or it'll poison you; such open heart surgery without anaesthetic takes real bravery. Do it though. I'll be waiting for you at the finish with a glass of water.
The sadness drained through me rather than skating over my skin. It travelled through every cell to reach the ground. I filtered it yet strangely enough, I kept what was pure and it was the dirt that left.
Real love is a protector, a defender, a ride-or-die connection that stays with you for always and in all ways. It is raw and it will roar for you if required. It will stay with you in quietness and be your comfort. Real love will celebrate with you, and raise you up. Real love will be okay with your sadness and kiss the scars you hide from others. It is rare. Treasure it. Keep it as long as live. For real love is the greatest blessing heaven can give.

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27 Creative Writing Examples To Spark Your Imagination

With all the types of creative writing to choose from, it’s hard enough to focus on just one or two of your favorites. 

When it comes to writing your own examples, don’t be hard on yourself if you hit a wall.

We’ve all done it.

Sometimes, all you need is a generous supply of well-crafted and inspirational creative writing examples. 

Good thing you’re here!

For starters, let’s get clear on what creative writing is. 

What Is Creative Writing? 

How to start creative writing , 1. novels and novellas, 2. short stories and flash fiction, 3. twitter stories (140 char), 4. poetry or songs/lyrics, 5. scripts for plays, tv shows, and movies, 6. memoirs / autobiographical narratives, 7. speeches, 9. journalism / newspaper articles, 11. last wills and obituaries, 12. dating profiles and wanted ads, 13. greeting cards.

Knowing how to be a creative writer is impossible if you don’t know the purpose of creative writing and all the types of writing included. 

As you’ll see from the categories listed further on, the words “creative writing” contain multitudes: 

Read on to find some helpful examples of many of these types. Make a note of the ones that interest you most. 

Once you have some idea of what you want to write, how do you get started? 

creative writing examples

Allow us to suggest some ideas that have worked for many of our readers and us: 

Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to begin let’s move on to our list of examples.  

27 Creative Writing Examples 

Read through the following examples to get ideas for your own writing. Make a note of anything that stands out for you. 

Inspiring novel-writing examples can come from the first paragraph of a well-loved novel (or novella), from the description on the back cover, or from anywhere in the story. 

#1: From Circe by Madeline Miller

““Little by little I began to listen better: to the sap moving in the plants, to the blood in my veins. I learned to understand my own intention, to prune and to add, to feel where the power gathered and speak the right words to draw it to its height. That was the moment I lived for, when it all came clear at last and the spell could sing with its pure note, for me and me alone.”

#2: From The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin: 

“‘I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination…. ” 

The shorter your story, the more vital it is for each word to earn its place.  Each sentence or phrase should be be necessary to your story’s message and impact. 

#3: From “A Consumer’s Guide to Shopping with PTSD” by Katherine Robb

“‘“Do you know what she said to me at the condo meeting?” I say to the salesman. She said, “Listen, the political climate is so terrible right now I think we all have PTSD. You’re just the only one making such a big deal about it.”

“The salesman nods his jowly face and says, “That Brenda sounds like a real b***h.”’

#4: From Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (collection of short stories)

“Something happened when the house was dark. They were able to talk to each other again.” (From ‘A Temporary Matter’)

Use the hashtag #VSS to find a generous sampling of short Twitter stories in 140 or fewer characters. Here are a few examples to get you started: 

#5: From Chris Stocks on January 3rd, 2022 : 

“With the invention of efficient 3D-printable #solar panels & cheap storage batteries, the world was finally able to enjoy the benefits of limitless cheap green energy. Except in the UK. We’re still awaiting the invention of a device to harness the power of light drizzle.” #vss365 (Keyword: solar)

#6: From TinyTalesbyRedsaid1 on January 2nd, 2022 : 

“A solar lamp would safely light our shack. But Mom says it’ll lure thieves. I squint at my homework by candlelight, longing for electricity.” #vss #vss365 #solar

creative writing examples

If you’re looking for poetry or song-writing inspiration, you’ll find plenty of free examples online—including the two listed here: 

#7: From “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” by Emily Dickinson

“I’m Nobody! Who are you?

Are you – Nobody – too?

Then there’s a pair of us!

Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

“How dreary – to be – Somebody!

How public – like a Frog –

To tell one’s name – the livelong June –

To an admiring Bog!

#8: From “Enemy” by Imagine Dragons

“I wake up to the sounds

Of the silence that allows

For my mind to run around

With my ear up to the ground

I’m searching to behold

The stories that are told

When my back is to the world

That was smiling when I turned

Tell you you’re the greatest

But once you turn they hate us….” 

If you enjoy writing dialogue and setting a scene, check out the following excerpts from two very different screenplays. Then jot down some notes for a screenplay (or scene) of your own.

#9: From Mean Girls by Tina Fey (Based on the book, Queen Bees and Wannabes” by Rosalind Wiseman

“Karen: ‘So, if you’re from Africa, why are you white?’

“Gretchen: ‘Oh my god, Karen! You can’t just ask people why they’re white!’

“Regina: ‘Cady, could you give us some privacy for, like, one second?’

“Cady: ‘Sure.’

Cady makes eye contact with Janis and Damien as the Plastics confer.

“Regina (breaking huddle): ‘Okay, let me just say that we don’t do this a lot, so you should know that this is, like, a huge deal.’

“Gretchen: ‘We want to invite you to have lunch with us every day for the rest of the week.’ 

“Cady: ‘Oh, okay…’ 

“Gretchen: Great. So, we’ll see you tomorrow.’

“Karen: ‘On Tuesdays, we wear pink.’” 

#10: From The Matrix by Larry and Andy Wachowski

“NEO: ‘That was you on my computer?’

“NEO: ‘How did you do that?’

“TRINITY: ‘Right now, all I can tell you, is that you are in danger. I brought you here to warn you.’

“NEO: ‘Of what?’

“TRINITY: ‘They’re watching you, Neo.’

“NEO: ‘Who is?’

“TRINITY: ‘Please. Just listen. I know why you’re here, Neo. I know what you’ve been doing. I know why you hardly sleep, why you live alone and why, night after night, you sit at your computer. You’re looking for him.’

“Her body is against his; her lips very close to his ear.

“TRINITY: ‘I know because I was once looking for the same thing, but when he found me he told me I wasn’t really looking for him. I was looking for an answer.’

“There is a hypnotic quality to her voice and Neo feels the words, like a drug, seeping into him.

“TRINITY: ‘It’s the question that drives us, the question that brought you here. You know the question just as I did.’

“NEO: ‘What is the Matrix?’

Sharing stories from your life can be both cathartic for you and inspiring or instructive (or at least entertaining) for your readers. 

#11: From The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

“It was in fact the ordinary nature of everything preceding the event that prevented me from truly believing it had happened, absorbing it, incorporating it, getting past it. I recognize now that there was nothing unusual in this: confronted with sudden disaster, we all focus on how unremarkable the circumstances were in which the unthinkable occurred: the clear blue sky from which the plane fell, the routine errand that ended on the shoulder with the car in flames, the swings where the children were playing as usual when the rattlesnake struck from the ivy. ‘He was on his way home from work—happy, successful, healthy—and then, gone,’ I read in the account of the psychiatric nurse whose husband was killed in a highway accident… ” 

#12: From Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt: 

“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”

#13: From Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s by Jennifer Worth: 

“Nonnatus House was situated in the heart of the London Docklands… The area was densely-populated and most families had lived there for generations, often not moving more than a street or two away from their birthplace. Family life was lived at close-quarters and children were brought up by a widely-extended family of aunts, grandparents, cousins, and older siblings. 

The purpose of most speeches is to inform, inspire, or persuade. Think of the last time you gave a speech of your own. How did you hook your listeners? 

#14: From “Is Technology Making Us Smarter or Dumber?” by Rob Clowes (Persuasive)

“It is possible to imagine that human nature, the human intellect, emotions and feelings are completely independent of our technologies; that we are essentially ahistorical beings with one constant human nature that has remained the same throughout history or even pre-history? Sometimes evolutionary psychologists—those who believe human nature was fixed on the Pleistocene Savannah—talk this way. I think this is demonstrably wrong…. “

#15: From “Make Good Art” by Neil Gaiman (Keynote Address for the University of Fine Arts, 2012):

“…First of all: When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing.”

“This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and impossible. You do not. And you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can.”

creative writing examples

“If you don’t know it’s impossible it’s easier to do. And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing that again, yet.” 

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15 Fantastic Author Websites To Inspire You

#16: From “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (TEDGlobal)

“…I come from a conventional, middle-class Nigerian family. My father was a professor. My mother was an administrator. And so we had, as was the norm, live-in domestic help, who would often come from nearby rural villages. So, the year I turned eight, we got a new house boy. His name was Fide. The only thing my mother told us about him was that his family was very poor. My mother sent yams and rice, and our old clothes, to his family. And when I didn’t finish my dinner, my mother would say, “Finish your food! Don’t you know? People like Fide’s family have nothing.” So I felt enormous pity for Fide’s family.

“Then one Saturday, we went to his village to visit, and his mother showed us a beautifully patterned basket made of dyed raffia that his brother had made. I was startled. It had not occurred to me that anybody in his family could actually make something. All I had heard about them was how poor they were, so that it had become impossible for me to see them as anything else but poor. Their poverty was my single story of them.” 

Essays are about arguing a particular point of view and presenting credible support for it. Think about an issue that excites or angers you. What could you write to make your case for a specific argument? 

#17: From “On Rules of Writing,” by Ursula K. Le Guin:

“Thanks to ‘show don’t tell,’ I find writers in my workshops who think exposition is wicked. They’re afraid to describe the world they’ve invented. (I make them read the first chapter of The Return of the Native , a description of a landscape, in which absolutely nothing happens until in the last paragraph a man is seen, from far away, walking along a road. If that won’t cure them nothing will.)” 

#18: From “Fairy Tale is Form, Form is Fairy Tale ” by Kate Bernheimer (from The Writer’s Notebook) : 

“‘The pleasure of fairy tales,’ writes Swiss scholar Max Lüthi, ‘resides in their form.’ I find myself more and more devoted to the pleasure derived from form generally, and from the form of fairy tales specifically, and so I am eager to share what fairy-tale techniques have done for my writing and what they can do for yours. Fairy tales offer a path to rapture—the rapture of form—where the reader or writer finds a blissful and terrible home….  “

Picture yourself as a seasoned journalist brimming with ideas for your next piece. Or think of an article you’ve read that left you thinking, “Wow, they really went all out!” The following examples can inspire you to create front-page-worthy content of your own.

#19: From “The Deadliest Jobs in America” by Christopher Cannon, Alex McIntyre and Adam Pearce (Bloomberg: May 13, 2015):

“The U.S. Department of Labor tracks how many people die at work, and why. The latest numbers were released in April and cover the last seven years through 2013. Some of the results may surprise you…. “

#20: From “The Hunted” by Jeffrey Goldberg ( The Atlantic: March 29, 2010)

“… poachers continued to infiltrate the park, and to the Owenses they seemed more dangerous than ever. Word reached them that one band of commercial poachers had targeted them for assassination, blaming them for ruining their business. These threats—and the shooting of an elephant near their camp—provoked Mark to intensify his antipoaching activities. For some time, he had made regular night flights over the park, in search of meat-drying racks and the campfires of poachers; he would fly low, intentionally backfiring the plane and frightening away the hunters. Now he decided to escalate his efforts….. “

It doesn’t have to cost a thing to start a blog if you enjoy sharing your stories, ideas, and unique perspective with an online audience. What inspiration can you draw from the following examples?

#21: “How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise, and Get Paid to Change the World” by Jon Morrow of Smart Blogger (

“After all, that’s the dream, right?

“Forget the mansions and limousines and other trappings of Hollywood-style wealth. Sure, it would be nice, but for the most part, we bloggers are simpler souls with much kinder dreams.

“We want to quit our jobs, spend more time with our families, and finally have time to write. We want the freedom to work when we want, where we want. We want our writing to help people, to inspire them, to change them from the inside out.

“It’s a modest dream, a dream that deserves to come true, and yet a part of you might be wondering…

“Will it?…. “

#22: From “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” (blog post) by Mark Manson :

Headline: “Most of us struggle throughout our lives by giving too many f*cks in situations where f*cks do not deserve to be given.”

“In my life, I have given a f*ck about many people and many things. I have also not given a f*ck about many people and many things. And those f*cks I have not given have made all the difference…. “

Whether you’re writing a tribute for a deceased celebrity or loved one, or you’re writing your own last will and testament, the following examples can help get you started. 

#23: From an obituary for the actress Betty White (1922-2021) on 

“Betty White was a beloved American actress who starred in “The Golden Girls” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

“Died: Friday, December 31, 2021

“Details of death: Died at her home in Los Angeles at the age of 99.

“A television fixture once known as the First Lady of Game Shows, White was blessed with a career that just wouldn’t quit — indeed, her fame only seemed to grow as she entered her 80s and 90s. By the time of her death, she was considered a national treasure, one of the best-loved and most trusted celebrities in Hollywood…. “ 

#24: From a last will and testament using a template provided by : 

“I, Petra Schade, a resident of Minnesota in Sherburne County — being of sound mind and memory — do hereby make, publish, and declare this to be my last will and testament…

“At the time of executing this will, I am married to Kristopher Schade. The names of my (and Kristopher’s) four children are listed below…

“I hereby express my intent not to be buried in a cemetery. I ask that my remains be cremated and then scattered at the base of a tree.

“None will have any obligation to visit my remains or leave any kind of marker. I ask that my husband honor this request more than any supposed obligation to honor my corpse with a funeral or with any kind of religious ceremony.

“I ask, too, that my children honor me by taking advantage of opportunities to grow and nurture trees in their area and (if they like) beyond, without spending more than their household budgets can support…. “

Dating profiles and wanted ads are another fun way to flex your creative writing muscles. Imagine you or a friend is getting set up on a dating app. Or pretend you’re looking for a job, a roommate, or something else that could (potentially) make your life better. 

#25: Example of dating profile: 

Headline: “Female 49-year-old writer/coder looking for good company”

“Just moved to the Twin Cities metro area, and with my job keeping me busy most of the time, I haven’t gotten out much and would like to meet a friend (and possibly more) who knows their way around and is great to talk to. I don’t have pets (though I like animals) — or allergies. And with my work schedule, I need to be home by 10 pm at the latest. That said, I’d like to get better acquainted with the area — with someone who can make the time spent exploring it even more rewarding.”  

#26: Example of a wanted ad for a housekeeper: 

“Divorced mother of four (living with three of them half the time) is looking for a housekeeper who can tidy up my apartment (including the two bathrooms) once a week. Pay is $20 an hour, not including tips, for three hours a week on Friday mornings from 9 am to 12 pm. Please call or text me at ###-###-#### and let me know when we could meet to discuss the job.”

These come in so many different varieties, we won’t attempt to list them here, but we will provide one upbeat example. Use it as inspiration for a birthday message for someone you know—or to write yourself the kind of message you’d love to receive. 

#27: Happy 50th Birthday card:  

“Happy Birthday, and congratulations on turning 50! I remember you telling me your 40s were better than your 30s, which were better than your 20s. Here’s to the best decade yet! I have no doubt you’ll make it memorable and cross some things off your bucket list before your 51st.

“You inspire and challenge me to keep learning, to work on my relationships, and to try new things. There’s no one I’d rather call my best friend on earth.” 

Now that you’ve looked through all 27 creative writing examples, which ones most closely resemble the kind of writing you enjoy? 

By that, we mean, do you enjoy both reading and creating it? Or do you save some types of creative writing just for reading—and different types for your own writing? You’re allowed to mix and match. Some types of creative writing provide inspiration for others. 

What kind of writing will you make time for today? 

With all the types of creative writing to choose from, it’s hard enough to focus on just one. Discover our list of creative writing examples to inspire your next project.


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    Sad Writing Prompts: Over 50 Ideas That Are Complete Tearjerkers July 14, 2022 Strong emotions make for great story-telling. Sadness is one of those emotions that pulls on the heartstrings and makes a story engaging and memorable. The saddest stories make us cry and even summon a tear when we remember them long after we first heard them.

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    Or describe how the person seeing this feels about this or what they think: e.g. how they are surprised that while they are sad they still enjoy the feeling of the tears running down their cheeks and the taste of salt on their lips. Be creative with this. Share Improve this answer Follow answered Jul 13, 2015 at 6:55 user5645 1

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    This is why it is probably it is one of the most difficult things to portray in pieces of writing. A lot of the times people attempting to create sadness create sad people to try to get others to be sad through empathy. But unless you already massively empathize with the character, it is difficult to pull off. It is similar in your excerpt.

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    It will stay with you in quietness and be your comfort. Real love will celebrate with you, and raise you up. Real love will be okay with your sadness and kiss the scars you hide from others. It is rare. Treasure it. Keep it as long as live. For real love is the greatest blessing heaven can give.

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