You keep running into microfiction stories in your social media feeds. Some of them are really good, too.
And you’re thinking, “I bet I could write something like that.”
All you need are some inspiring flash fiction prompts to get you started.
Even if you just want to challenge yourself to write more and to share more of what you write, flash fiction is an excellent way to hone your storytelling skills.
And if you win some flash fiction writing challenges along the way, so much the better.
Understanding Flash Fiction
The trick with flash fiction is to cram a compelling story into 100, 500, or 1,000 words. And while it’s tempting to give your reader some backstory, they’ll thank you for starting in the middle of the action.
Good flash fiction gets right to the juicy stuff — i.e., something that will make it impossible for the reader to put the story down. It should also give them a reason to believe something in the story will leave the main character changed somehow.
This point is where his or her life irrevocably changed, for better or for worse.
That’s the magic of flash fiction: distilling the essence of a life into a story you can read in a few minutes — and that will stay with you long after.
99 Flash Fiction Writing Prompts
Keep in mind that your first draft doesn’t have to fit within your target flash fiction word count. That’s what editing is for.
For now, enjoy this list of flash fiction prompts, and get some writing in today when you can.
Who knows which flash fiction ideas will become the seeds for your best stories this year?
General Flash Fiction Prompts
1. A new mother gently lays her sleeping infant in the bassinet seconds before the phone rings. She closes her eyes, knowing exactly who it is — and who it isn’t.
2. “They have families, too. What do I have that they don’t?” he asked, glaring at me. “Nothing. Not a damn thing!”
3. When I woke up, he was gone. All that remained of him were the socks he lent me (still on my feet) and a note he left on my fridge: “You know why I need to do this.”
4. “Well, what I find very interesting is…” he began, and she sank into her chair, exhaling quietly and turning her attention to the empty fields outside.
5. “I’ve noticed you don’t hang out with girls your age,” he said. “I think it’s because you’re less… developed than they are.” I looked at him and felt nothing, at first.
6. My arm slipped on the wet tile, and I went under. When my hand found the rope, I pulled myself up and out of the pool, gasping for air. None of them had noticed.
7. She stood shivering knee-deep in the surf and laughed. “Come and get me,” she called out. The waves heard and came galloping to meet her.
8. “Don’t say that,” she said. “They can hear you.” He looked at the trees and then at her. “You okay?” And then, not a question, “You really think trees can hear us.”
9. “I nailed the last window shut,” she said. “Those cats are smart. Strong little buggers, too. But they’re not getting out, now!” I smiled and closed my door.
10. People make assumptions about women with short hair, comfortable clothing, and practical shoes. I knew that. I’ve even used it to my benefit. But the words stung.
11. He was responsible for all those kids, and their parents won’t let him forget. He stops at the memorial display to set a teddy bear in front of one of the pictures.
12. Measuring it out each night wasn’t helping. It was all too easy to splash in another few ounces when he was downstairs, and the girls were in the bathroom.
13. “What kind of mother lets her kids do things like that? Are you a Christian? Most libs aren’t. Are you?” I saw my mother’s face in my mind as I answered, “No.”
14. The yarn felt soft to the touch, and the dark green reminded her of the piece of polished kambaba jasper on her desk. Working with it would help distract her.
15. She let me hug her then when I asked. She shook, and I tightened my hold. “It’s normal, after what you went through, to feel disoriented… rattled… I think I’m still in shock.” I felt her nod. “Me, too… Please don’t tell Dad.”
16. In less than twenty minutes, she would come out of the room, and we’d spend the new few minutes in silent chaos preparing dinner.
17. The man called from Pennsylvania, pretending to be her 18-year-old grandson, calling her “Grandma.” He was “so embarrassed.” She kept him on the line a bit longer.
18. “You couldn’t have stopped me,” she said. “I’m so scared,… and so angry! I know what’s at stake, but I’m too young to vote. There’s nothing I can do!”
19. It was the last time he’d gotten away with making tasteless jokes about her size. Now, he sat alone in the closet that used to be her office while she enjoyed the view from her new one.
20. I have this freaky sense of how dangerous people are just by looking at them. My dad was an 8. My new lab partner at school has been giving me a strong 10 vibe.
21. He clicked on the arrow, and I watched a video recording of myself doing exactly what he’d described. Only I didn’t remember any of it.
Fantasy or Sci-Fi Flash Fiction Prompts
22. “I just want you to know how sorry I am,” he said. “We don’t know why your clone turned on you the way she did. We’re looking into it.”
23. Eating disorders are virtually unknown in this age, since everyone receives daily rations based on their nutritional needs. So, why the box of chocolates?
24. I woke up to the glare of a flashlight shining in my face and a hand clamped over my mouth. “Not a word. They’re close, now. And you’re just their type.”
25. I finally had my very own AI housekeeper. She learned quickly, anticipating every need. What I never expected was the look she gave me when I thanked her.
26. He’d found the ring during one of his digs and had never turned it over to his boss. “It’s perfect for you,” he said. So perfect that I could no longer remove it.
27. Though obviously in her 20’s, she was dressed in the same clothes I’d seen earlier on Mrs. Alder. She smiled at me nervously before reaching into her purse.
28. No one told me that the changes I would undergo would be this obvious. Had I known what to expect, I wouldn’t be on stage right now.
29. She knew how attached I was to this planet. That’s what this was about. And all because I refused to donate my child — my half-human child — to her service.
30. That was the deal. I do the job, and my BFF spends the rest of her life trapped in an alternate universe, while I step back into the life she stole from me.
31. This was the day to prepare her for the changes she would undergo. She’s trusted me for sixteen years. If I lose her now, we’re all dead.
32. “How could I possibly have been on the other side of the planet an hour ago?” I asked. She tilted her head and smirked. “I didn’t mean all of you.”
33. “So, in one of my past lives, I was a drag queen,” I asked her. She nodded. “A good one, too. Unfortunately, you were… ahead of your time.”
34. Just one capsule, and my mind and body would be upgraded to Human 2.0. I’d be brilliant and hot. The only drawback? My best friend doesn’t want me to take it.
35. He’d finally agreed to get the implant and was demonstrating how easy it was, now, to get into his smart home and pay for his coffee with just a wave.
36. The runt of the litter she might be, but sometimes, it paid to be small. These air vents would never accommodate her brothers.
37. Her neural link with the building’s security system was about to pay for itself.
38. The color scheme was gray in varying shades. She wore a gray sheath with a dark purple jacket and pumps, and, thanks to her implant, her eyes changed color to match. She opened the box in front of me. “It won’t hurt much,” she said.
39. The starship was damaged, and only one person could get it moving again and fix the shield. Unfortunately, he was in a cryogenic sleep to protect him from a virus that would kill him in three days if we woke him.
40. With their alien tech, they’d find her in a matter of minutes. She only needed one.
41. I chose to become part AI to cure my cancer. And I did it for her. So, why was she leaving me for a Luddite princess?
42. I’d designed this vehicle with everything I needed to live off the grid — out of harm’s way — with my alien partner. I wasn’t about to
43. She held the thread between her fingers and gave him a meaningful look. “One snip is all it takes,” she said. He sighed and threw up his hands. “You win.”
44. “The nanites appear to be rewriting your DNA — doing more than we programmed them to do. They’ve gone rogue.” I stared at my hand as my skin changed color.
45. They found her with a full bottle of Jameson and a carefully-wrapped pickle from the deli. “Poor lass,” he said, scowling at the bottle. “Cause of death?”
46. It was too good an opportunity to pass up: $1,000 just to deliver a letter to an old recluse who’d lost his daughter. How was I supposed to know I looked like her?
47. Other pregnant women craved pickles, fries, and Mexican food. Me? I craved my next door neighbor. He looked me up and down and smiled back, inviting me in.
48. After planning to murder her fiancé and almost murdering me, I didn’t expect her to call and tell me I was the one person she could trust.
49. He was the only customer who tipped me that day. The tip had his phone number. Now the phone rang in his pocket as he lay in the dumpster behind my shop.
50. She’d made a habit of challenging him. And for a while, we all thought he liked it, if only deep down. But as he sat across the table from me, I saw the familiar tic.
51. They found him badly bruised and wearing one of those strap-on pregnant bellies, stuffed with rocks. She’d kept her promise to him.
52. He’d died giving her time to run. Today, at the gym, she showed me the ring. When I asked if she knew the masked killer, she looked across the room — to her trainer.
53. He bought me a coffee and a scone, and we talked about his missing sister. They’d argued about her fiancé the day her dog had shown up without her.
54. She rolled down the driver’s side window and yelled, “Hey! What the hell are you doing in this neighborhood? Aliens and half-breeds aren’t welcome here.”
55. He was that sure rust was responsible for the color of the water. “Too much iron,” he said. Smelled more like copper.
56. She kept looking out the window, ignoring my feeble attempts at conversation. Then, with no warning, she turned to face me, the skin around her eyes puffy and red. “You broke your promise. You know what comes next.”
57. Maybe my aunt’s disappearance was proof the town wasn’t ready for a shop run by two women married to each other. Her wife was my first client, and I’d already walked outside to find my tires slashed.
58. He told me to stay in my room that night with the door locked. But those leftover dumplings were calling me. I quietly tested the door and found it wouldn’t open.
59. He spent his last moments crocheting an amigurumi lobster. The murder weapon was a Hot Pocket shoved in his mouth. It left second-degree burns. Messy.
60. One fateful conversation steers Jeffrey Dahmer in a different direction. Five years later, he’s running Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsey. They don’t get along.
61. “She was wearing the necklace you gave me,” I said. He opened his mouth to speak but closed it again before shrugging and looking away. I gripped the door handle.
62. On her desk was a haphazard collection of small gifts, some created and some found. But the folded note resting on her keyboard stood out.
63. The flat gray of the morning sky matched her mood. For now, she sat at her desk, her eyes often wandering to the wooden rune stave. Today, she would do it.
64. The corgi started scratching at the door, standing on his hind legs and peering through the glass. She turned the handle to let him in. “Where’s Colum?”
Historical or Revisionist Flash Fiction Prompts
65. A corrupt and predatory bishop is elected to the papacy. One child, named Petra, loudly prophesies: “With this rock, I will shatter what you’ve built in My Name.”
66. One by one, the women rushed to put out the fire out before it reached the girl’s feet. “Who are they?” one asked her, pointing a blade at the minister. “Name them.”
67. “I do not allow a woman to speak,” he said, quoting St. Paul. “And since when does any woman need your permission to speak?” she asked aloud, rising to her feet
68. King Tut’s tomb was on display for the first time. But as I looked, I saw that something was missing. The fools had taken it, after I’d warned them not to.
69. She held up their second child for the prince to see. “Not another girl,” he said. “And this one even has red hair.” Her face said everything, and she held her baby closer.
70. “We narrowly missed it,” the captain said, “and we owe our lives to this man.” He stood on the Titanic’s deck, his dark skin glistening, and gave a silent nod.
71. She stumbled into his arms, clutching the diary as though it contained the last bread on earth. “You’re safe, now, Anne,” he told her. “Let’s go home.”
72. “Thank God, Charles! They’ve found our baby alive,” she said, embracing and kissing the child as he clung to her, wrapped in a familiar coat.
73. Henry VIII catches his reflection in the mirror and sees another face looking back at him, wearing strange clothes but exuding the same dismissive arrogance.
74. No one knew what happened to Aaron Burr’s daughter when her ship went missing — until a younger version of the same showed up at his door. “I found something.”
75. The aliens have cloned a president and unleashed the horde on a dying planet to speed up its demise. One of them malfunctions and becomes self-aware.
76. Emperor Constantine has just decreed that all Christians must cut ties with the Jews in their communities. What about those who are married to one?
77. I can see the Viking ships approach, and after the conversation I just had with my parents, all I want is change. Yet I can’t help feeling terrified of what might happen.
78. They’re calling it a plague, and it’s already taken one of the elders in our village. My parents tell me it’ll pass and we’ll be all right. One of them turns away to cough.
79. They told me to expect great things from Michaelangelo, so there I was standing in a crowd to watch the unveiling of his newest statue — the one he called David.
80. These were heading straight for our beach in boats larger than any we’d seen before. Each one could hold an army. I held my spear at the ready. (Yucatán, 1517)
81. As a court member, I heard King Henry VIII loudly condemn what he called “buggery” and declare it punishable by death. What would I tell my brother? (1533)
82. A crowd burst through the front doors of the church. We hid and watched them tear down statues and deface paintings. I saw a familiar face among them.
83. My father has coerced me into going with him to condemn the “witch” at her trial. I stand facing Mrs. Olivet for a few long seconds before I blurt out, “She’s innocent!”
Romance Flash Fiction Prompts
84. “I need to know,” she said. “Where do you see us a year from now?”
85. “You know whatever you choose, I’ll be there, right?” he whispered. I exhaled, closing my eyes, and leaned into him. I knew. “I’ll have the Reuben. And a beer.”
86. The date started out well. He showed up with a rose and cartons of Indian takeout. After we ate, he withdrew a stone from his pocket, and asked, “You trust me?”
87. “So, you’re asexual,” he said. “Does that mean you can never…?” “No,” I said. “It means I’d rather not — most of the time.” He sighed, nodding. “All right, then.”
88. “Did you take notes today in class?” he asked, catching up with me. The dark circles stood out against his ashen face. “I did.” “Trade you a peek for some coffee?”
89. A couple sits at a table in the restaurant where they first met. One of them is acting nervous, fidgeting with a letter.
90. The first thing she said when I told her was, “You’re young. It’s too soon to tell something like that. And what have you been watching lately?”
91. No one expects an amateur sleuth not to be straight. There I was looking at the stereotypical hunky cop, and all I could think was, “Do you have a sister?”
92. “Don’t be ridiculous. Soulmates are for people who believe in a sadistic creator who watches from a distance and laughs when they make a mess of things.”
93. She lay there like a steampunk sleeping beauty. I took a step closer, and she rolled out of bed, grabbed something from underneath the pillow, and threw it toward me. It pierced my shoulder, and the tray in my hands fell, clattering to the floor.
94. I was sure the double date was a terrible idea. But I didn’t expect her to start flirting with my date. Her date and I left early and went for a walk.
95. He stood there waiting for us in the foyer, and his face lit up at the sight of my sister. I swallowed and put on a smile as I let her step ahead of me.
96. The ferris wheel froze with us at the top, and I regretted leaving my jacket with Nell and Jack down below. I glanced at the stranger next to me, and he smiled nervously, taking slow, deep breaths. “They’ll fix it soon,” I said.
97. The snow fell steadily, slowly burying her car as the wind blew clouds of tiny flakes against the window. “I’ll get you some blankets for the couch.”
98. I knocked on the door, sure he’d been spying on me, and determined to confront him. He saw me and smiled warmly, inviting me in.
99. I gave the taxi my address. So, why had he taken me here? A stranger opened the door then and said, “Good! You’re here. Let me show you around.”
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How will you use these fast fiction prompts?
Don’t forget to write down the flash fiction prompts you’ll want to explore first. And keep this post handy for when you run out.
Maybe flash fiction will be your first brave step into the world of self-publishing. Or perhaps it will be your next.
In any case, writing your first flash fiction story is something to be proud of.
We hope you share it and encourage others who do the same. As you practice this story form, your storytelling skills will improve. So will your confidence.
Save every story as a precious record of your progress.