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100 Writing Prompts and Story Starters for Middle School and High School

Looking for some inspiration for your next story? Look no further! I've compiled a list of 100 writing prompts and story starters to get your creative juices flowing. While these have been prepared with the middle school and high school writer in mind, many of them are also applicable to adult readers. 

You can grab a printable copy of this list at the end of the post. 

Writing prompts for stories that start out just like any other day

  1. I tiptoed into the bathroom. If anyone caught me doing this, I’d be in big trouble. I grabbed my mother’s lipstick and brought it back to my bedroom where my brother slept…

  2. I peeked through the curtains. There was a limo parked outside with two bodyguards. I heard a knock at the door…

  3. I went over to say hello to the cute little baby under the umbrella, but when I reached her, I saw that…

  4. The bell rang, and I sprinted towards my locker. I had to get out of there before…

  5. I opened the front door to find the UPS man standing on the front stoop, his arm around a cylindrical package that was almost as tall as him. Oh no. Not again, I thought…

  6. Irene gripped her mom’s hand harder as they walked through the doors of the imposing gray building. Her mom had promised her they’d never have to come here again, but…

  7. The lights dimmed and the curtains opened. I felt like I was going to throw up. Why had I ever thought this was a good idea?...

  8. As soon as I boarded the train, I began my letter to my sister. I did it. I sold everything and am on my way to…

  9. A kid’s birthday party seemed like an innocent enough place to blend in, relax for a moment. It’s been a while since I stopped moving. But when the balloon popped…

  10. I sat down at my desk and sifted through the mail that had been placed in front of my computer. All junk, of course. I was about to dump it all in the recycling bin when I saw my favourite magazine at the bottom of the pile. Tossing the rest aside, I snatched it up, but something unexpected fell out from between the pages…

  11. We were canoeing across the inlet when we noticed some unusual movement alongside the boat. A whale was surfacing next to us. Another one followed closely behind. Suddenly, our boat was being lifted out of the water and…

  12. The Instagram account I created for my hamster just went viral and he’s getting calls with job offers from around the world, only …

  13. At first we thought the box contained the water guns we ordered online, so we tore it open eagerly, ready to load them up. Instead, what we saw inside completely changed everything.

  14. I got off the boat furious and trembling. I was never getting back on there again, not with him at least. There was no way I was going to let him...

  15. The pancakes were perfect—round and golden, soft but a little crispy near the edges. I slathered them in maple syrup and fruit. But then mom went to the fridge and took out the whipped cream, giving me an apologetic look as she did so. It was a treat, a very special one, and she only ever brought it out if...

  16. We sat around the campfire in eerie silence, nobody wanting to bring up our predicament. Everything was going to have to come out anyway, we might as well get it over with. I was just about to clear my throat when I noticed Sam and Layla standing apart from the group, whispering. What were they plotting now?

  17. I’d always wanted to be brave like my brother Simon. He wasn’t afraid of anything. I remember once, when he was younger, he...

  18. We walked through the garden one last time, knowing we’d never return to this house again. I waved goodbye to each flower bed, to the apple tree that I’d climbed innumerable times as a child. I wanted to scream. Why were they making me...

  19. My dad used to tell me these crazy stories when I was a kid. His life seemed so bizarre to me, but his sense of humour was mysterious, like I could never tell when fact blended into fiction. I still don’t know which ones to believe, like that one about...

  20. Shivering, I tried to open the door of my car, but it was frozen shut. I looked up and scanned the parking lot to make sure nobody had seen me. Why did it have to be this freezing, today of all days? What if they...

Writing prompts for stories that start with dialogue

  1. “Drink it, quick!” I looked at the bottle. The contents were unlike any I’d ever seen. I closed my eyes and drank it in one gulp…
  2. “Five more minutes,” my dad grunted, as I tried to pull him out of bed. “Dad, they’re here--we have to go!”
  3. “Shh…” I said frantically, as Robin’s wheelchair squeaked again. “Don't you know how much trouble we'll be in if they find us…”
  4. “Put me down!” I yelled as I was hoisted into the air by a giant…
  5. “Stop it!” I cried as my little sister snatched my phone from the desk and tried to eat it. I couldn’t run the risk of anyone seeing the words I’d etched into the back of it, the ones that would save my life if anyone ever…
  6. “Have you ever driven one of these before?” I asked James, trying not to let him see how nervous I was. “Is it safe?”
  7. “Are you coming or not?” he demanded as he took a few steps further into the...
  8. “Is there anyone in there?” I wondered aloud, staring up at the gothic castle. “The letter said they’d meet us…”
  9. “We finally did it!” I exclaimed to my lab partner. “We’ve invented a cream that actually makes people more beautiful. We are going to be so rich!”
  10. You have just five dollars to your name, and you decide to spend it on lunch at your favourite fast food joint. Just as you’re about to pay, a boy not much older than you leans in and whispers to you, “Hold onto your money. I’ll show you how to turn that five dollars into five grand.”
  11. You’re standing in line at a coffee shop when you spot a shiny coin on the ground. You bend down to pick it up, but a big black boot stomps down on it just before your fingers grasp it. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” a deep voice warns.
  12. “I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news,” she began, her arms crossed nervously over her chest. “You didn’t get in.” When I raised my eyebrows at her, she added, “And there’s more…”
  13. He patted my hand reassuringly and said, “It’s okay, you can trust me,” in that voice of his that I’d learned meant I really couldn’t. “All you have to do is…”
  14. “It’s for you!” she called, after answering the phone. When I went to take it from her, she covered the mouthpiece and whispered menacingly, “This better not be about what I think it’s about, got it?”
  15. “I should have listened to you,” Greg acknowledged, as he lay curled up on the grass, his clothes caked in mud. “You were right about…”
  16. “How could you?” I asked in disbelief. “After everything we’ve been through, I thought you were the one person I could trust. I can’t believe you…”
  17. I kicked at the dust with my shoe. Her question had caught me off guard. I wasn’t prepared to answer it, not yet. I tried to stall. “Remember that time when…”
  18. “Okay, okay, I’m here,” I said, rolling my eyes for effect. “What was this important news that you had to drag me away from pizza night for?”
  19. “It’s okay, you can come out, you don’t have to be afraid. Here, take my hand.” The hand that reached out toward me was like any I’d ever seen before.
  20. “Let go!” I screamed at the man holding me in a headlock. I tried to kick his shins, but he just grunted and held tight. Think quick, I told myself. Time is running out. If only…

Writing prompts with an element of suspense

  1. Estella ran down the trail, her dog, Gerard, several feet ahead of her. A gust of wind ripped through the forest and a loud crack on her left caught her attention. She watched the tree fall, then turned back to the trail, but Gerard was gone…
  2. The light started to flicker, first blue, then white. I looked around for a way out, but I was trapped. I guess I’d have to resort to the back up plan…
  3. The footprints in the snow were fresh. They veered off the path and into the woods. I had to make a choice. It was now or never.
  4. I tiptoed down the stairs of the prison. I had to break her out of here before…
  5. It was really hot that day, so I went to my favourite lake. I was about to jump into the cool water, when a big splash in the middle of the lake sent ripples over the water. Something was in there. Something…
  6. My sister and I entered the fairgrounds suspiciously. The note we’d found had said that the mystery person would be here at five, and it was half past four. We weren’t taking any chances. We had to find him before…
  7. Ellen squeezed down the narrow aisle of the plane looking for row M. She stuffed her backpack under the seat in front of her with her feet and buckled up. As the plane lifted off the ground, the pilot welcome them aboard their flight to Iceland. Wait, what? This wasn’t the flight to…?
  8. I walked out of the interview, still holding my breath. This was my dream job and I was afraid that the smallest of breaths would cause me to wake up. I exited the building and a little girl approached me. “The job’s yours,” she said, somewhat prophetically. “All you have to do is…”
  9. Last night, I was taking a nap on the couch when the phone rang. When I answered it, the voice on the other end said, “Will you accept a collect call from Brazil?” I started to panic, was this the call John has warned me about? I answered it with trepidation…
  10. It was my seventeenth birthday, and I’d been planning the party for months. Everything was perfect: the decorations were over the top, the food catered by my favourite restaurant, every cool kid in school was there. The only problem? I was stuck in…
  11. The shelves in the used bookstore climbed higher than I could see, I’d never seen so many books before in my life. I climbed the rolling ladder to get a better look. Just then, a woman approached and held out a thick, red leather-bound tome. “This is one you seek,” she called out to me. “Look no further. This one will…
  12. I was sitting at a bus stop when a little girl came up to me and gave me a small box. It started trembling in my hands but when I looked up to ask her what it was, she’d disappeared.
  13. I tiptoed into the haunted house, looking both ways to see what was in it. As my eyes adjusted to the light, I saw…
  14. I was about to enter my house when I saw a little dog running down the street toward the busy intersection. There was nobody with him. Without thinking, I took off after him and…
  15. A loud crash sent me thundering down the stairs to the kitchen. Wolf, my rottweiler was greedily licking lasagna off the tiled floor. Not unusual in and of itself, but what caught my eye was the shiny silver thing glinting underneath the tomato sauce. Was that what I thought it was?...
  16.  It was well past dark and I was the last person in the library. It was eerily quiet, except for a faint tapping sound coming from the next aisle. I moved cautiously toward the end of the row and peeked my head around the corner...
  17. I was running out of time. They’d said they’d give me until sundown, and that was only a few hours away. I had to...
  18. That’s odd, I thought to myself as I reached the next landing and glanced up at the next set of stairs. I don’t remember there being another set of stairs here before. Is this what the old man was talking about when he said…
  19. The computer beeped again. It was now pinging six times per minute. Whoever was sending these messages was getting impatient, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to find out why.
  20. I woke up yesterday in a tree, without even a sweater to keep me dry. The weird thing is…

Writing prompts that ask "What if?"

  1. What if every character you wrote automatically came to life and a foreign government was after you to make spies for them?

  2. What if a great uncle you’d never met left you a parcel of land in Norway, but when you got there you realized it was an enchanted forest?

  3. What if your parents came home from work tonight and told you they were sending you to boarding school?

  4. What if you were eating breakfast alone at your kitchen table when a newscaster on TV broke the story of a missing person, and the missing person was you?

  5. What if you could live in Ikea for a month?

  6. What if a cruise ship full of celebrities got stuck at sea for two weeks?

  7. What if you were in a museum and discovered a stack of letters describing the location of a buried treasure in your hometown?

  8. What if you were cast as the lead in an opera but you’d faked your way into the role and didn’t actually know how to sing?

  9. What if a child saw her parents stealing, but chose to keep it a secret so that she wouldn’t be separated from them?

  10. What if someone offered you the gift of being the best painter in the world, but in return, you could never stop painting?

  11. What if your pet was elected mayor of your city?

  12. What if you were an Uber driver in a world where people travel by hot air balloon instead of by car?

  13. What if you travelled back in time to ancient Egypt and discovered that their world was even more modernized than ours and included more advanced technology but that they’d destroyed all evidence of these advances in an effort to protect future generations from making the same devastating decisions that they had?

  14. What if a screenwriter approached you about making a movie about your life, but every time she interviewed you, she completely ignored every answer you gave and made up her own?

  15. What if you could type 1000 words per minute and could write a new novel every hour?

  16. What if you woke up tomorrow morning speaking five new languages that you’d never heard before, only to discover that you’d been recruited by international spies and they’d filled your brain with secrets and information while you were sleeping?

  17. What if you could never leave high school, but instead had to keep coming back year after year to try and get perfect grades before you were allowed to move on?

  18. What if your parents were taking you on a dream vacation to Europe, but they got kidnapped in an airport and you had to navigate new countries on your own while trying to save them?

  19. What if you invented a new tool that could clean your whole house in fifteen minutes and you became a millionaire overnight?

  20. What if you were reading a list of writing prompts, and you realized that every sentence that came out of your mouth was, in fact, a writing prompt and that you were compelled to write a story for each one?

Story starters that will bend your readers' minds

  1. The answer is 49. I looked around the room. There was nobody else there except Quincey. Could it be?
  2. It’s all over the news. Random events are taking place. What if someone discovers that it’s my dreams coming true, literally? What will they do to me? I have to find…
  3. On Saturday morning I went out to the backyard in my slippers and robe to feed my pet rabbits. When I reached their hutch, I gasped. A large hole had been torn in the wire door and the hutch was empty. Fearing the worst, I scanned the yard for signs of their whereabouts, when suddenly I was tapped on the shoulder. I spun around to find a black bear standing in his hind legs. “If you ever want to see your bunnies again,” he said, ...
  4. Never trust your dreams, they will get you in trouble every time. At least, if they’re anything like mine. Maybe trouble has a way of finding me, but still, you need to be safe. Just last week, I had a dream about…
  5. I'd been tracking him all day, and I almost had him, but I had to wait until he was under a tree before I could pounce. I stood up and scanned the clearing. That's when I realized that I'd been duped. I wasn't the stalker, after all. He was the bait, and I was the target.
  6. A baby sits alone in the plane’s first class section, bright red headphones perched on his head. He stares at me a moment as I pass, then snaps his fingers at the flight attendant to get her attention. Was this another one of…
  7. You’re forty years old and are happily married to your spouse of 15 years. You’re offered an opportunity to go back to your childhood and correct a horrible mistake you made, and you accept it. You fix the mistake and continue moving through the stages of your life as you did before. Only, the day you were supposed to meet your spouse for the first time, they never showed up.
  8. You’re walking down a deserted street downtown when you pass a building with a mural painted on its wall. As you take it in, the faces on the mural suddenly start talking to you, warning you of crimes that are about to occur in the city. You’re unable to shut out their voices or ignore them.
  9. You’re in the car when the person on the radio starts talking about something you did yesterday. Only, you didn’t actually do it, you only thought about it. And it wasn’t yesterday, it was five minutes ago.
  10. You discover a book in your parent’s bedroom that describes everything you’ve ever said and done. But the book is a hundred years old, and you’re just twelve. Or so you thought.
  11. She stepped off the plane looking different from how I remembered her, which was strange as it had only been a few months. But she was taller somehow, her eyes were darker, her features more sharp. What had they done to her at that retreat?
  12. Sometimes I wish I could just get into a waterproof bubble and float away, forever, away from all of this. Leave it all behind and start over. I never actually thought it would be possible, until...
  13.  The house started to shake, and at first, I thought it was an earthquake. We’d trained for those at school. I ran to the nearest door frame and pushed my hands and feet into it as hard as I could. But this wasn’t a normal earthquake. None of the other houses outside were shaking, for one thing. And it went on much too long. As the shaking got more and more intense, a hole opened in the middle of the house, and from it rose...
  14. I can talk to animals. It’s just something I’ve always been able to do. I didn’t even know it was weird until some kids at school saw me shooting the breeze with a murder of crows at recess one day. Now I have to keep it a secret. If anyone else finds out...
  15. You’re walking home with your friends from school one day when one of them vanishes down a manhole. You jump in to save your friend without thinking and discover that in the sewer lives an entire species of...
  16. Leonard sat down on the park bench to tie his shoelace. An old man walked up with his dog and asked Leonard if he’d watch the dog for five minutes. The man never returned, and Leonard…
  17. I walked through the market timidly, unsure of what I was looking for, but somehow feeling sure that I would find it here. A flash of light flickered almost imperceptibly to my right, and instinctively I turned toward the stall that I’d just passed, but it was gone. In its place…
  18. Yesterday, my mother was turned into a rock. Yes, a rock. The kind that’s small enough to put in my pocket and carry around. In fact, that’s where she is right now. I have one week to figure out who did this and find them if I ever want to see her face again.
  19.  I knew robotics were dangerous. I’ve been warning them for years. Even when I was seven, I could see the harm they were capable of causing. But nobody listened to me. Until now. Now that an evil robot is threatening to destroy the world, suddenly they come running back to me for help. Good thing I’m thirteen now. Maybe they’ll actually listen this time.
  20. It never occurred to me that it would actually work. Who would have thought that the teleporter at the Star Trek Museum was functional? You’d think they would have put up a sign warning kids about that, or something. Anyway, that’s how Jamie and I ended up in this barren land. Now we need to figure out how to get back.

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100 creative writing prompts and story starters for older kids and teens
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