Not having enough time for all the things we want to do and write is probably the single feeling writers relate to most.
We all have those strewn around notes of new ideas and unfinished scenes that get tucked into a drawer for later. And they all go to live in the “unfinished” corner of your mind palace.
But sometimes, you’re feeling inspired to write but you want a final result that same day, with some closure.
If you want to be able to practice your craft and have something to show for it relatively quickly, why not write flash fiction. Maybe you can experiment, and write about an alternate universe or a post-apocalyptic future.
In this article, you’re going to familiarise yourself with the nature of flash fiction, and you’ll get more flash fiction writing prompts than you’ll know what to do with.
What Is Flash Fiction?
Flash fiction is a very short story with a word count of approximately 100 to 1000 words. (Unless, of course, you’re writing a story of just six words, like the one often attributed to Hemingway.)
These short stories usually start right in the thick of the action, at a dramatic moment, since there isn’t a lot of time to warm up. But the short nature of this sudden fiction form is also what makes it so exciting.
Flash fiction needs to feature some form of growth or development for the main character, as it’s still a complete story, which can be challenging given the constraints of its length.
You can also play with different perspectives, from that of your best friend, to an evil wizard, or the young boy next door.
To make things easy on you here are some prompts for your great flash fiction story, separated by genre:
Flash Fiction Prompts
- He stood outside the Chinese restaurant on 5th street a little too long to appear as someone contemplating the menu. But it was now or never. He had to tell her. The door swung open and he took his chance.
- “This is not what I had in mind,” she said to her sister, as she picked the lock to the local metaphysical store. A moment later it gave a satisfying click.
- She felt disappointment spread through her. “These experimental drugs don’t even work. What are they supposed to do again?”
- Pushing a pram through the mall made shoplifting easy. ‘The Christmas rush’, James observed, as he walked slowly through carol-filled Westfield, ‘only made it easier’.
- She took one look at her new roommate, and realised she had made the biggest mistake of her life.
- “Why are you wearing a wedding dress to the office?” she asked incredulously. I looked in the mirror, at the sea of diamantes and lace. “I have my reasons.”
- “You look exactly like someone I used to know,” she said to the barista. The woman was trying her to best to ignore her, but Liz pressed on. “Where do I know you from?”
- She opened her husband’s text messages, even though she knew she shouldn’t. He was in the shower and she only had ten minutes maximum to prove her wild theory right.
- I wasn’t supposed to speak at the wedding, and yet there I was, microphone in hand. 160 or so faces looking at me with concern.
- “Why are you wearing Mum’s boots? You know it’s forbidden.”
- She pointed at the cupboard and smiled, “The treasure is in there.”
- “The code is 2412, but hurry we are running out of time.”
- He had crashed his car and knew he would have to do the rest of the journey on foot.
- The green dress was waiting for her in her hotel room.
- “I can’t believe you brought me here,” she said to her husband. “You said that was the last time.”
- One thing I didn’t expect was for there to be goblins in the world. And I really didn’t expect them be chewing on my furniture in the middle of the night.
- She should never have cast a spell in the garden centre.
- “When I said elves are good creatures,” her father thundered through the living room, “I didn’t mean bring one as a date to Thanksgiving!”
- “Get the hell out of my way.” Suzy blinked in horror; not just because that was a rude way to start the day, but also because that was the first thing her cat had ever said to her.
- Eliza always thought that vampires were supposed to be sexy. The man currently gulfing down Greek yoghurt from her fridge, fangs barred and creamy white for everyone to see, was decidedly not sexy at all.
- As the beast soared into the sky, Kiera realised this was going to be the last time she would ever ride a dragon.
- “Here you go,” the yellow-eyed mermaid said as she returned my mother’s locket to me. “And next time you scuba dive, don’t be so sloppy.”
- She wasn’t like other girls… She could smell people’s emotions from miles away.
- He downed the sweet potion and felt the spell spread through him. This was going to be one Bowling State Championship no one was likely to forget.
- Eliza touched the flowers on the grave and they came back to life. “Being an elemental has its perks,” she said to her sister. “Now let’s get what we came for.”
- The werewolf was waiting for her in the alleyway, artefact in hand.
- She ran her hand against the merman’s scales, and smiled.
- The last person you want to run into when you’re buying Ben and Jerry’s in bulk in your hometown’s Costco is your ex-boyfriend. The second is his mother.
- “I’m pretty sure you are not supposed to find your divorce lawyer cute!” she whispered so he wouldn’t hear.
- He had walked me home. The entire 6 miles, through the city and in the rain. It was time to tell him the truth.
- “From the first time I saw you dancing on stage, I knew there would be no one else.”
- His lips were inches from mine, his breathing heavy. “Say that to my face,” he growled.
- He pointed up at the ceiling and grinned. “What about the mistletoe?”
- “If you walk out that door, don’t bother coming back.” She took a step back and closed it.
- 1333 roses were waiting in her living room that morning, just like he had promised. She kicked one of the vases in anger.
- “How dare you? After everything you’ve done, how dare you come back to this bakery?”
- “Just shut up and follow directions,” she said, guiding his hands through the pizza dough.
- He checked his pocket. There it was, a phone number with a little heart next to it.
- “Who is your date?” her boss asked. “I’m not sure. I just met him on the bus ride over here.”
- He kissed him beneath the cherry blossom tree. Just in time for the festival to begin.
- She looked down at the latest case file and took a bite of her cinnamon swirl. You would think looking at this kind of stuff would rob someone of their appetite, but double homicides only made Jennifer hungrier.
- Her dog whined and pawed at the door, just as the outside sensors went off and a stranger became drenched in light.
- “There’s something really wrong with this innkeeper,” I whispered to my wife as we took turns looking through the peep hole. The innkeeper knocked again as I shuddered. “Why is he holding a candelabra?”
- Lucas was the first patient to ever tell me they had killed someone. As I sat there, facing him across my fancy office furniture, I wasn’t sure what my next move should be.
- “Stop looking at me like I killed my husband,” Clara laughed that tinkling laugh of hers. “Here, try a cookie instead. Oatmeal raisin, my mother’s recipe.”
- It was a very strange party. For one, all the drinks were mocktails. And two, there was a body in the living room.
- He was standing right in the middle of the driveway, wet and angry. So, she pressed on the gas pedal.
- “Open the garage door,” she screeched, clawing at the metal. “Open it!”
- A shadow moved between the trees. Bruce tucked his camera away.
- The precinct was a lot smaller and a lot quainter than she had imagined.
- It was a good day to identify a body. She took a step forward.
- I held on to the stair railing for dear life, and looked down at the party. There was only one face I recognised, and it was the last one I wanted to see on Christmas day.
- Suddenly, there he was… Santa Claus in the flesh, hovering over my mince pies. I said the first thing that came to my mind. “You don’t look anything like the Coca Cola adverts…”
- Everyone at the party was staring at her Halloween costume in horror.
- She squeezed it tight. It was the weirdest Christmas present she had ever received.
- It was really hot inside the Easter Bunny outfit, but it was the only way to avoid him.
- He was the last person she ever expected to see at her Chanukah dinner table.
- ‘Thanksgiving was supposed to be fun. Not dangerous.’ He thought, as he tucked the knives away into the safe.
- The birthday clown had arrived 45 minutes late to the birthday party and smelling of rum.
- She looked outside at the blanket of white. Finally, her first snowy Christmas!
- She was the meanest carol singer in the province…
Science Fiction Prompts
- I frowned at the sales person. “You’re telling me you sold me an AI that is meant to clean my home but instead just makes a mess and I… can’t even return him?”
- The doctor smiled at me warmly. “Don’t be nervous, many people are interested in cloning themselves. Why don’t you take a seat and tell me your concerns?”
- Tears streamed down her face as she stared at her husband. “I don’t want a robot son. I want a real child. I told you that before and you just don’t listen to me.”
- This was her first time in a coffee shop on another planet and she hoped they did lattes the right way.
- The suit melted directly into her skin. She looked at her new reflection in the mirror.
- She turned to her 3D printer. It was time for some breakfast.
- He avoided eye contact with the machine next to him. She gave him the creeps.
- “I can’t leave the spaceship right now, I’m waiting for an important delivery.”
- “You’ve been to the edge of the galaxy,” she said, twirling her wine. “Describe it to me.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are The Best Prompts For Flash Fiction?
The best prompts are the ones that leave something to the imagination and make us want to put pen to paper straight away. They should instantly make you think ‘Who? What? Where?’ and fill you with a desire to fill in those blanks.
How Do Flash Fiction Stories End?
Flash fiction should end with a problem being resolved and with the main character transformed in some way (however small).
Writing Flash Fiction
All of us writers have to hone our craft, and as we well know nothing works better than practice. Flash fiction is a great way to strengthen your writing because it’s quick, makes you think, and it’s a way to get feedback regularly.
These prompts will challenge your imagination due to the nature of flash fiction, and lead you to new ideas. Who knows, one of your flash fictions could end up being the seed for your next novel.
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