Dramatic Survival Story Ideas & Prompts (Updated in 2023)

14 Dramatic Survival Story Ideas

Looking for some page-turning survival story ideas and prompts? You’ve come to the right place! Here’s a list of dramatic survival writing prompts for middle-schoolers to high school students to NaNoWriMo participants to any seasoned writers!

A smart home turning against its inhabitants, a teen in comma who must attempt to escape the dream scape to return to his loved ones, and more!

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The Definition of Survival

Survival is the proclivity of anything to continue existing, especially doing so in the face of situations that may kill or destroy it. The notion applies to humans, other living things, physical objects, and abstract things such as thoughts or ideas.

Why are We Fascinated by Survival Stories?

Survival stories are fascinating because they reduce us to our basic human needs. It detaches us from our secondary needs, and what’s more, strips our attachment to impertinent things like social media and our constant need for acceptance and recognition.

And it perfectly makes sense. After all, our ancestors were survivalists who lived off the land by hunting and gathering. We’ve evolved a long way since from hunting mammoths to hunting jobs, but our innate survivalist instinct is still there, waiting to emerge in time of dire needs.

Why Write Survival Stories?

Why write survival stories? While living by instinct is not most people’s first choice in real life nowadays, the idea of it in an imagined world is something that appeals to a lot of people.

This is proven by the consistent popularity of the survivor narrative in books, TV shows, or movies. Some of the recent years’ biggest hits were survivor stories, both adapted from novels: The Revenant by Michael Punke told the story of Hugh Glass, a fur trapper mauled by a bear and left to die; The Martian by Andy Weir told the story of a lone astronaut who has to survive for over a year on Mars before rescue arrives.

In order to help get your wheels turning on writing some survivalist story, we’ve put together 14 dramatic survival writing prompts that will have you itching to get started.

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Survival Writing Prompts & Story Ideas

Read on for prompts like a smart home turning against its inhabitants. Or a teen in comma who must attempt to escape the dream scape to return to his loved ones!

I hope the ideas below are original. However, undoubtedly with the popularity of this trope, something similar could have existed out there already. But sometimes the smallest details matter, and make all the difference!

(Please note that all the genders in this prompts are just placeholders and are not meant to enforce any hurtful stereotypes nor to offend anyone.)

Story Prompts

1. While dealing with a devastating a storm, a group of surviving pirates must cope with dwindling supplies, each other, and delusion. (Originally appeared in my post Thrilling Pirate story Ideas)

2. When a group of college students desecrates an ancient artifact on their latest picnic, they are cursed with the inability to sleep. Then, as fatigue and delirium slowly gnaw at their sanity, they begin turning against each other. (Originally appeared in my post Deep Dark Fantasy Ideas)

3. When a family with young children moves into a smart home and causes various damages to the house, the intelligent home launches counterattacks by cutting all utilities and holding the family hostage. (Originally appeared in my post Futuristic Story Ideas)

4. On her way to an uncharted planet, a lone astronaut must outsmart a hijacking alien intent on killing her and then impersonating her to infiltrate Earth. (Originally appeared in my post Alien Writing Prompts)

5. When she suspects that her group of saviors might be a group of cannibalistic tribe, a shipwrecked businesswoman must attempt to flee the island. But the problem is, lately, she’s been having a serious craving for human flesh. (Originally appeared in my post Surreal Writing Prompts)

6. Inside of a magical forest, when fairies lost their wings they become bitter creatures responsible for creating confusions among any adventurers they cross paths with, which may spell demise for a group of lost hikers. (Originally appeared in my post Enchanted Forest Story Ideas)

7. An oblivious newcomer to a sleepy fishing village discovers the hard way that the mermaids are fond of walruses, which may spell trouble as he just brought home one from his most recent fishing trip. (Originally appeared in my post Mermaid Story Prompts and Ideas)

8. A famous influencer loses their wallet and cellphone when traveling to a remote area. Without money, and worse, without the internet (gasp!) they have to learn how to survive in the real world. (Originally appeared in my post Family Drama Story Ideas)


Picture Prompts

Here are some picture-based survival story prompts, because, a picture speaks a thousand words! Below are some image prompts as well as some prompt ideas to accompany each.

(Please click on the image for more information.)

1. What appears to be a serene forest hides a terrifying secret that everyone who dies there can never truly die. Write about an incident that happens there with a group of hikers.

2. Or write a modern story about a Minotaurlike creature, who due to his terrifying features, hides within this forest.


(Please click on the image for more information.)

1. After days of floating in the ocean, a pair of marooned survivors finds that they’ve been stranded on an island, and saved by a woman who’s been cursed to live on the island forever. And since she can’t leave, neither could her new friends.

2. Or write about a pair of adventurers who find a stairway that leads to Atlantis, but if they didn’t play their cards right, they might never leave that place.


(Please click on the image for more information.)

1. When a novelist gets sucked into a Virtual Reality game full of all the characters he had created and “done dirty” over the length of his careers, he finds out that they all want a piece of him.

2. Or, write about a teen, who after falling into comma following an accident, must attempt to crawl out of his dream scape and return to his loved ones in real life.


More Ideas?

There have been various reiteration of survival stories out there, but none of them are written by you YET! Now that you have some survival story ideas to get you going, go on and start writing!

Furthermore, here are some other posts that you might find interesting:

Mafia Romance Story Ideas
Inspiring Hero Story Ideas
– Or browse our Story Ideas & Writing Prompts category for more ideas!

Have any question or feedback? Feel free to contact me here.

Until next time!

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