40 Short Story Starters for Everyone (Updated in 2024)

short story starters

Looking for short story starters to jumpstart your writing? Then, you’ve come to the right place!

Here’s a list of starters for middle-schoolers to high school students to NaNoWriMo warriors to any seasoned writers, from hearing your dog talking, to encountering a mythical creature, to witnessing the onset of a new virus that takes the world over.

You can easily tweak these starters to suit a teen or a middle schooler, or use them to jumpstart your own writing.

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Why Use Story Starters?

Starters can be valuable tools for writers of all levels and can help provide a foundation for a well-crafted narrative because they provide a starting point or a foundation for said narrative.

This can be especially helpful for new as well as experienced writers who may struggle to come up with fresh ideas from time to time or may not know where to start.

Story Starter Ideas

If you’re you amped up already, let’s dive in for some exciting starters!

Please note that the genders in these starters are just placeholders and are not meant to enforce any hurtful stereotypes nor offend anyone.

Start with a Dialogue

Opening a story with a dialogue has the potential to draw the readers into the story right away. Here are a few ideas:

1. “I really hate that it must come to this…” You said with a sigh as you emptied your bag to the ground and stared at the creature in front of you. Meanwhile, the creature stared back at you with its horned head tilted to the side.

2. “This is so good!” You exclaimed while eating from a bowl of food given to you by your best friend. “What is this?” But the answer was something you’ve never expected…

3. “I’m in,” your best buddy declared to you after you laid out your plan, and then they looked to you pointedly. “So all I need to do is to make sure the rain doesn’t stop for an hour, right?”

4. “Did you see that?” It was the usual morning routine with your carpooling buddy, when he suddenly hit the brake of the car and exclaimed sharply, his finger pointed towards the middle of the road. I took my eyes off of my cellphone to follow the direction of his pointed finger, only to see…

5. “Excuse me, what?” I stared at the speaker with an equal mix of dread and awe. It was still too early in the morning; everyone else was still in bed and the silence that filled the house was peaceful. Until I thought I heard my dog speaking.

6. “Are you sure about this?” The cashier asked while she stretched out a hand to accept the dollar bills from my hand. I nodded and…

7. “Are you for real?” I didn’t mean to gasp but it escaped my lips anyway. Then, my eyes traveled up to the stranger in front of me, who wasn’t really a stranger, technically, considering that…

8. “Duck, now!” I was walking home from the gym when someone who walked beside me told me to duck. And, boy, I was grateful to heed his warning because…

9. “Okay, this isn’t how it was supposed to go, right?” I asked my lab partner while I pushed up the safety goggles up to my forehead. We were supposed to make a baking soda and vinegar volcano. But instead, we have apparently made…

10. “Sir, you dropped something!” I shouted to the man who walked a few feet ahead of me while bending down to pick up the envelop that the man dropped. But before I could make a grab for it,…

Use Three Random Elements

Choosing a set of three random elements and then trying to make up a story using all three is a great exercise to spark the imagination and creativity. Here are 10 three-elements starters.

1. A diamond, a waterfall, and a dolphin.

2. A song that you keep hearing on repeat, a bizarre appointment, and a good luck charm.

3. A cookbook, an empty fridge, and a telescope.

4. A bottle of water, a secret tunnel, and a broken camera.

5. A rainbow, a jug of milk, and an empty parking lot.

6. A blanket, a pouch full of gold coins, and a pair of glasses.

7. An underwater tour, a faded receipt, and a wig.

8. A storm, a meerkat, and a circus tent.

9. A scarf, a bag of candy, and an alley full of cats.

10. A racing car, a piano, and a forklift.

Start with a Hypothetical Sentence

Starting a story with a hypothetical sentence automatically shifts the gear in our brain to think outside of the box. Here are a few starters that start with a hypothetical sentence.

1. If I had 25 hours a day instead of 24, I would use that extra hour to…

2. If my shoes could talk, then they would talk about…

3. If the Earth was flat, then I would…

4. If I could have a superpower, then I would choose the ability to…

5. If I had a twin, then I would…

6. (For twins) If I was born as one sibling in a set of triplet, then I would…

7. If I could teleport anywhere just once in my life, then I would teleport to…

8. If I could invent anything I wanted, then I would like to invent…

9. If I could write with the speed of lightning, then I would write about…

10. If I had a talking dog, then I would…

More Starters

Here are some brain-tickling starters to get the creative juice flowing!

1. It was the night of June solstice, an otherwise usual night in our household if not for…

2. When I thought of mystical creatures, ____ was the last place my mind went to. It all began one eventual morning, when the fog was still thick in the air and the bank around the corner had just opened its doors for business.

3. I blinked, first in disbelief, and then in confusion. The pair of eyes in front of me followed suit and blinked. And then the rest of the forest blinked.

4. It had been a week. Or was it a month? Time really started to blur together when…

5. It was a vicious storm, but nothing I had never encountered before. Until a pair of tentacles emerged from the sea, and a voice was heard. The voice said…

6. My sister had warned me not to shower today. And while I stood inside the bathroom preparing to turn the faucet on, I was already starting to regret my decision not to heed her warning…

7. All your life you thought you had normal color vision, until your three-years-old brother described to you a color you had never seen before.

8. Being a stowaway in a pirate ship is a choice that you have started to regret very deeply, especially now as you are preparing to walk the plank.

9. Ever since you bought that parrot from the pet shop, the bird had never talked even once. Until today, when it said…

10. The year is 2030, and a new virus has taken over the world. The virus is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, and it only affects…


Don’t want the hassle of printing out these story starters? Say no more!

Here’s a game that serve the purpose and offers hours of writing fun for you or your loved ones!

The Storymatic Classic is part of the award-winning Storymatic family of writing prompts and games. Combine character cards with complication cards and follow your imagination into a story! Includes a booklet with prompts, suggestions, and non-competitive storytelling games.

All in all, I hope this post has helped jumpstarting your inspiration to write! For more story ideas and prompts, please browse our Story Ideas & Writing Prompts category! Have any question or feedback? Then please feel free to contact me here. Until next time!

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