Find a Theme for Your Short Story

Writer's block can be a real pain. Here are some easy steps to finding interesting ideas to write about.


  1. There is not a specific formula to finding ideas to write about, but there are ways to help you brainstorm.
  2. Think about topics that you have expertise in. The cliché "write what you know" is a decent place to start, so if you love baseball, write about a fictional baseball character.
  3. Think about topics that interest you. If you don't have a definite grasp on the subject, find a local library (or Google) and start researching.
  4. Another way to find ideas is to start noticing the world around you. Is there something about your life that has always struck you as odd?
  5. Take an interesting event in your life and change it around a little. Perhaps you got cut from your city's basketball team, but join the rival team and help them win the championships? You could take the basic idea and have a story if you change the setting and the characters.
  6. Create a Character. Try mixing traits from people you know. Work with the character and write down their interests, dislikes, desires, occupation, physical features, etc. Sometimes making a character sparks an idea to "write their story."
  7. If you can't make a character, choose a random person who you encounter during the day. Write their story.
  8. If none of these ideas work, Google the term "story ideas" or something along those lines. There are several websites that have lists of plot lines waiting for someone to develop.


  • Along this line, think about your audience, is this a story they would want to read?
  • Read, read, read. Lots of writers get ideas from reading the work of other people.
  • Write all your ideas down, even the ones that aren't winners. Sometimes a little brainstorming can spark a better idea.
  • When you have a good portion of the story, have a trusted friend read and edit it. S/he may give you details for a better direction, idea, etc. Plus, it is always good to get a second opinion about the work. After all, your story will eventually have an audience.
  • Be observant. You never know when an idea will suddenly formulate.
  • Take a few ideas and "free-write." What you come up with may not be publish-worthy, but it will get you started in the right direction for your eventual Pulitzer.


  • No one said that writing fiction is easy. These things take lots of time, energy, and reams of paper.
  • Absolutely avoid plagiarizing the work of someone else.
  • If you decide to write a non-fiction story, don't write about events that never happened. Research James Frey for details.
    • On the other hand, if you feel compelled to write about historical events that never happened, or that turned out differently (think "what-if" stories), you may be more interested in historical fiction, and may want to read up on authors like James Michener or Harry Turtledove.

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