Eight Short Story Starters

The short story starters I have included on this site from time to time have proved to be very popular. If you are looking for ideas to start you off with writing short stories, look no further. I have already written a number of lists of these short story starters – just click on the links at the bottom of this post.

Here is the latest list of ideas, all with an animal or bird theme:

  1. The moment I heard the old raven’s mournful cry, I knew my day was going to be a challenge.
  2. I looked around the room. It had been thoroughly trashed. A piercing screech from behind me made me jump. There was a large parrot sitting on the curtain rail.
  3. Barney bounded off after the rabbit, barking wildly. A sudden yelp came from behind the bush. Barney came slinking back to me, blood dripping from his nose.
  4. The first thing I noticed about the room was the dead goldfish.
  5. The beautiful eagle swooped quickly towards me. I could see its outstretched talons.
  6. I peered past the tent flap. The red fox was not aware of my stealthy stare.
  7. It was obvious at once that the pelican’s wings were entangled in fishing line.
  8. “Don’t sit there,” she commanded. “That’s the cat’s chair.”

Conditions of use:

  • Feel free to use any of the story starters listed above. Change anything to suit your needs.
  • Give it your best shot.
  • Edit your work carefully before sending it off to a publisher or posting it on your blog.
  • Let me know in the comments section how it went.
  • If you publish your story on your web site or on your blog let me know so I can make a link to it for others to read.

Related articles:

So there you go.

Good writing.


34 Responses to “Eight Short Story Starters”

  1. [...] Eight Short Story Starters [...]

  2. Jess says:

    Hi i just wanted to thank you for these story starters.
    I was asked to write a Sstory for my GCSEs and these came in very helpful thank you

  3. Trevor says:

    Hi there Jess,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    It is good to hear of people getting useful things from the ideas on my blog. All the best with your writing.

  4. Rebecca says:

    I want to thank you for these story starters. I was able to write my fiction story for one of my classes alot easier. Thank you for puting them up!!!! :)

  5. Trevor says:

    That’s great Rebecca. I love hearing reports like this – it makes this blog all worthwhile. All the best with your writing. Go for it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ok, uhmm, these kinda suck, a few of the ideas are in books I’ve read… I mean no offense, but these are kinda lacking, they also seem like things I’ve seen on state test prompts. I, once again, say no offense.

  7. Trevor says:

    Hi there “Anonymous”

    Thanks for stopping by, for leaving a comment and for expressing your opinion.

    Despite your criticism, these story starters (and other posts like this on my blog) are the most popular articles on this site. Combined they receive over three thousand hits every month – month after month and that figure is growing. Many writers must therefore find them interesting and useful. I also get many comments and emails thanking me for the suggestions which have proved to be helpful to many people. The comments above are just a few – most come via my contact email link so they are sent privately and don’t appear here.

    I am also curious as to why you hide behind a pseudonym.

  8. lexis says:

    actualy i agree with “Anonymous” there kind of old and over dunn

  9. Trevor says:

    Thanks for your comment lexis.

    These story starters are designed to help people who are struggling to come up with ideas for their stories. I do not post them here for people like yourself who seem to be struggling with the basics of the English language. Your 10 word sentence contains 10 errors. Before using any of my ideas, please make the effort to learn how to write a basic sentence.

    Your sentence should read:

    Actually, I agree with “Anonymous”. They’re kind of old and overdone.

    If you are looking at getting your writing published then you need to edit your work very carefully. Publishers and editors do not have the time, resources and patience to help writers learn the basic skills of sentence construction and punctuation.

    Please take this as friendly advice – not harsh criticism.

  10. shang says:

    Hi! I am trying to start a story with “The first thing I noticed about the room was the dead goldfish” but instead of the goldfish I want to replace it with “my wallet”.
    Is there any way you can help edit my short story after I am done?
    Thanks, these are very helpful!

  11. Trevor says:

    Hi there Shang,

    I am sorry but I do not offer editing services. Please contact your nearest writers’ centre for details of organisations who could help with this, or look in your phone book.

    Professional editing services are not cheap. Expect to pay at least $250 for a 5000 word story, probably more.

    A much cheaper option would be to join a writers’ critique group who could do it for free, but such groups are usually not made up of professional editors.

  12. Madysyn says:

    These were very helpful! I have been writing stories since I was three, but for the past few years, I haven’t been writing, because I couldn’t think of any ideas. This helped me very much! I am using the first idea! Thanks again!! :)

  13. Trevor says:

    Hi there Madysyn,

    Thanks for visiting my site about writing. It pleases me when people find my ideas useful for their own writing endeavours. It is also pleasing to hear that you appreciate my suggestions. All the best with your writing.

  14. Emily says:

    Hi, thank you very much for posting these story starters. I’m only a teenager, but unlike many of my music- and fashion-crazed friends, I turn to writing. I particularly like numbers 4. and 8. and I think that they provide an attention-grabbing start to a story.
    Thanks again, I am loving your blog!

  15. Rachael says:

    I used number three and although I am only 12, I have a few books that other writers I chat to have actually persuaded me to try to get them published! I’m not sure about it yet but anyone that doesn’t find this website useful is being spiteful, unfair and mean.

  16. Emily says:

    Although I’m an amateur (perhaps like you are) at writing, perhaps I could take a look at your work? I could give feedback etc? If you are interested email me at emily.mead3@live.com.au

  17. Tristan says:

    Although I have actually not chosen to use any of these particular starters, I find that they are indeed helpful. Also, a comment for “Anonymous”, why would you bother writing that out here? And “lexis”, the word you’re looking for is “overused”. Overdone is a term in cooking. Thank you. Oh, and Trevor, thank you for these. I drew several ideas from them to put content into an otherwise bleak story.

  18. Trevor says:

    Thanks Tristan.

    All the best with your writing – I am pleased that these suggestions helped you.

  19. Emi says:

    These starters are just simply amazing! I’ve been having the dreaded writers block for a while now and well, it hasn’t gotten me very far with my writing. But these starters have giving me so many ideas! Thank you very much!!

  20. Sophia says:

    These all sound good, but I’m only 12 and I’m a keen writer, but I’m trying to write something for my Great-Grandmother’s 89th Birthday. I’m not sure at all what to write about. Any suggestions?

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Sophia,
      I guess you don’t want to write her a story, or you could have started with one of the above suggestions. How about writing her a poem of thanks for being a wonderful great-grand-mother? Or if you are not into poetry, write about a funny incident from when you were younger, or a letter of appreciation about what she means to you? Is she a good cook? Perhaps a few paragraphs about how wonderful her cooking is, or thanks for something she made you, gave you or did for you? Hope this helps.

  21. Zaniyah says:

    I managed to get this out of option number 3:

    I was walking my dog Barney in the park, my mum on a bench 20 feet away, when a rabbit jumped out from it’s burrow in the ground. I was about to go and stroke it when it hopped away, Barney bounded off after the rabbit, barking wildly. A sudden yelp came from behind the bush. Barney came slinking back to me, blood dripping from his nose. “What happened boy?” I asked, Barney just looked at me. I headed off toward the bush, I got a shiver down my spine but ignored it. I was 5 feet away from the bush when Barney pulled the back of my coat, I turned around and told him to stop. I heard a noise. I was my mum shouting for me “Estelle! Estelle, come on, we’re going home now!” I looked at the bush and ran, Barney close behind. When I reached my mother, I was panting, she saw the blood on Barney’s nose. She looked at me,“He…he was run…running…because…because a rabbit…a rabbit came out of it’s…burrow…Barn…Barney followed it into…a bush…and he…yelped then came out..like…like that.” I said through panting. Barney looked guilty. “What happened next! Tell me, NOW!” My mother demanded
    “That’s all that happened I was going to go and see what was behind the bush but you started to shout for me.”
    My mother grabbed me by the arm and dragged me home.
    I snuck out through my bedroom window. I ran to the park and towards the ‘evil’ bush. I gulped. “Don’t do it.” Came a voice “I tried and look at me now.” I turned around and a little boy standing there said “Don’t do it. I tried and look at me now.” Estelle closed her eyes counted to ten and opened them. The boy was still there this time a broken arm, in a wheelchair, bandages and plasters all over his body. “Don’t do it.” He repeated “I tried and look at me now.”
    “But what is behind the bush?!” Estelle shouted “I need to know!” “Estelle!” came a male voice “Estelle dinner is ready!”
    There was a bark, I jumped. I was in my room on the floor. I’d fallen asleep. My father was home from work. I got up off the floor and made my way downstairs. The dream made me more curious.
    At the dinner table I thought I should maybe ask my father if I could do to the park tomorrow. I already knew I was in hot water with mother. “Of course you can!” He seemed enthusiastic
    “Why are you so happy?” I asked
    “Well guess, ‘I got ________?’”
    “Sacked? Fired?” I asked “Wait that would make you sad…”
    “Keep guessing!” He added a letter “I got p_______?”
    “PROMOTED!!!” I screamed sarcastically ”What to?”
    “MANAGER!!!” Dad screamed back, he thought I was serious
    “OH MY GOODNESS!!!” I shouted sarcastiacally“This causes for a party!”
    “YES!!!” Dad shouted
    “NO!!!” I shouted back.
    I ran upstairs and slammed my bedroom door. Dad looked at Mum…”Oh.” he said, mum shrugged her shoulders.
    All night I coudn’t sleep. It wasn’t because I’d slept earlier, it was the bush, the bush and the dream that were bugging me. I snuck downstairs to check on Barney and investigate his nose a bit more. “ Well nothing’s been sliced off,” I whispered “so it must have been the rabbit! To be honest, it never came back after the incident in the park…hmm…” I stroked Barney and ran back upstairs being careful not to wake my mum and older, mardier brother. I jumped into bed and instantly had the world’s most craziest, scariest thought. What if I investigated the bush and ended up like the boy in my dream? What if I never investigate and I end up fine? But it will bug me forever, I had questions whizzing through my head.
    I am standing, again, 5 feet away from the bush. “Don’t do it.” Came the same voice of the boy “I tried and look at me now.”
    “Will you just shut up?!” I shouted at him
    “Fine, don’t say you weren’t warned!” He said fading away.
    I walked toward the bush. I froze. There was a bloodcurdling cry. I screamed and covered my ears.
    I woke. My mother and father AND brother standing over me. “Are you OK?” My brother asked
    “Yeah I just need to wash my face.” I said
    “You can’t get up.” My dad said
    I looked around. I was in hospital.
    “We found you at the park paralyzed. Next to a bush.” My mother explained “That was the same bush that coursed Barney’s nose to bleed.”
    “Why can’t I move?” I asked
    “Your body is still paralyzed. You have to stay in hospital.” My brother said.
    “But…but why?” I asked
    “Because it’s the way it is.” My dad said.
    “So I really did go to the park? And I really did shout at the ghost boy? And I really did scream?” I was in tears
    “Yes it happened. Its’ 12:00am we must go.” My mother told me
    “No please!” I wished I could get up. I cried and cried and cried. I wished I’d never gone and all this had never happened and I wished I’d never shouted at that ghost boy. Suddenly all went quiet. All went black. I saw a blurry shape. Then it became more clear, it was me. “Am I dead.” I asked myself
    “No. This is paralysis. You will fall asleep and how you will wake nobody knows but you. Your dream will give you the chance to rethink the past day and change your ways in the park.” I answered
    I was back in the park. I stayed near my mother and threw Barney a stick, well away from the one mysterious bush. I saw the boy, the little ghost boy but this time he was real. He had a dog. There was the rabbit. And the bush. And I pictured the yelp and the blood and the ghost. I shouted to the boy and told him to grab his dog. I couldn’t let this happen to him a second time. His dog saw Barney and they became friends. I felt good. Saving some one’s life. The boy and I became friends. His name was Tommy. He was my age. He had an older, mardier sister. I was lucky to have the once in a lifetime chance to relive this event.
    The End.

    I’m only 10 by the way!

  22. Michelle says:

    thx for the help :D

  23. daniel says:

    thanks these are so cool its great for the short story i am working on 4 school thanks

  24. laura says:

    Good Short story openers, although I`m not sure they will really help me.Thankyou

  25. Chicko Roll says:

    Hi, these ideas are great thanks for the help bra

  26. What about something what will make the reader want to read more e.g As I stumbled Through the menacing woods I herd a Growl for behind the large tree what stood behind me,I wasn’t alone…

  27. jess says:

    hey, thanks for the story starters.
    most of them are pretty good, but a few seem a little…bland, almost? as in, they dont seem interesting to grab the reader’s attention straight away.
    haha sorry, i’m not judging or anything, i’m just expressing my personal opinion :)

  28. caleb says:

    thanks sir,these ideas really came in handy

  29. Anon says:

    Hey there… whoever wrote these is wrong :/ these arent story “starters…” they are story middles… no offense.

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Anon,

      No offence taken.

      In defence of these suggestions for story starters, it is all a matter of perspective as well as technique. Most short stories have to leap straight into the story, grabbing the reader’s attention from the first sentence. The writer of a short story does not have the luxury of 2000+ words to set the scene or develop plot or characters; it has to be straight into the action.

      Another approach to your comments would be to treat them as “middles” as you suggest. Write what comes before and after the sentence provided. That is quite an acceptable use of these suggestions. Goodness – several could almost be used as the last sentence of a story, especially the last one.

      BTW – why do you hide behind a pseudonym? Are you embarrassed by your own comments? Be brave.

  30. Katherine says:

    Hey there

    I’m just writing for a usage of time and in my opinion I really like them and they could go for and everything.

    In school my teacher uses these and everyone ein my class (30 odd people) have amazing stories.

    I’m only 10 Yeats old and I’m in the literacy/language/writing extension class at school so I always enjoy doing these things out of school time.

    Xx Katherine

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