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Last updated on Aug 12, 2022
How to Write a Short Story in 6 Simple Steps
Writing a short novel can be a challenge: in the space of a few pages you’ll have to develop characters, build tension up to a climax, and resolve the main conflict.
To help you with the process, here's how to write a short story step-by-step:
1. Identify a short story idea
2. define the character’s main conflict and goal, 3. hook readers with a strong beginning , 4. draft a middle focused on the story’s message, 5. write a memorable ending, 6. refine the plot and structure of your short story.
Step by step, we’ll show you how to take a blank page and spin it into short-form narrative gold.
Before you can put your head down and write your story , you first need an idea you can run with. Some writers can seemingly pluck interesting ideas out of thin air but if that’s not you, then fear not. Here are some tips and tricks that will get your creative juices flowing and have you drumming up ideas in no time.
Pro-tip: Interested in writing short stories? We recommend taking this free 10-day course taught by professional editor Laura Mae Isaacman.
How to Craft a Killer Short Story
From pacing to character development, master the elements of short fiction.
Start with an interesting character or setting
Short stories, by their very nature, tend to be narrower in scope than a novel. There’s less pressure to have a rich narrative mapped out from A to Z before your pen hits the paper. Short story writers often find it fruitful to focus on a single character, setting , or event — an approach that is responsible for some true classics.
John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” is about one character: a suburban American father who decides to swim through all of his neighbor’s pools. While Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” has a larger cast of characters, the story takes place perhaps over one hour in a town square. By limiting yourself to a few characters and one or two locations, you may find it easier to keep your story from getting out of hand and spiraling off into tangents.
Mine your own anecdotes
When it comes to establishing a story’s premise, real-life experiences can be your first port of call — “write what you know”, as the old adage goes. While you might not have lived through an epic saga akin to Gulliver’s Travels, you probably have an anecdote or two that would easily form the basis of a short story. If there’s a funny story you always reach for at a party or a family dinner, you could repurpose for a piece of writing or let it serve as a launchpad for your imagination.
Eavesdrop and steal
There is beauty in the mundane. Writers these days often have a document open in their phone’s notes app to remember things that might spark their imagination at a later date. After all, something you overhear in a conversation between your aunties could be perfect short story fodder — as could a colorful character who turns up at your workplace. Whether these experiences are the basis for a story or function as a small piece of embellishment, they can save your imagination from having to do all the heavy lifting.
It’s not just your own life you can take inspiration from either. Pay extra attention to the news, the stories your friends tell you, and all the things that go on around — it will surely serve you well when it comes to brainstorming a story.
These little snippets can serve as the genesis of a story, or could even make it in verbatim as inspiration for your dialogue. Want more dialogue writing tips? We've got a free course for that.
How to Write Believable Dialogue
Master the art of dialogue in 10 five-minute lessons.
Try a writing prompt on for size
If you’re still stumped, looking through some short story ideas or writing prompts for inspiration. Any stories that are written with these resources are still your intellectual property, so you can freely share or publish them if they turn out well!
Once you have your idea (which could be a setting, character, or event), try to associate it with a strong emotion. Think of short stories as a study of feeling — rather than a full-blown plot, you can home in on an emotion and let that dictate the tone and narrative arc. Without this emotion core, you may find that your story lacks drive and will struggle to engage the reader.
With your emotionally charged idea ready to go, let’s look at structure.
You might be tempted to apply standard novel-writing strategies to your story: intricately plotting each event, creating detailed character profiles , and of course, painstakingly mapping it onto a popular story framework with a beginning, middle, and end. But all you really need is a well-developed main character and one or two big events at most.
Short stories should have an inciting incident and a climax
A short story, though more concise, can still have all of the narrative components we’d expect from a novel — though the set up, inciting incident, and climax might just be a sentence or two. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, writers should aim to start their stories “as close to the end as possible”. Taking this advice to the extreme, you could begin your story in medias res , skipping all exposition and starting in the middle of the action, and sustaining tension from there on in.
What’s most important to remember is that short stories don't have the same privilege of time when it comes to exposition. To save time and make for a snappier piece of writing, it’s usually better to fold backstory into the rising action .
Each scene should escalate the tension
Another effective short story structure is the Fichtean Curve , which also skips over exposition and the inciting incident and starts with rising action. Typically, this part of the story will see the main character meet and overcome several smaller obstacles (with exposition snuck in), crescendoing with the climax. This approach encourages writers to craft tension-packed narratives that get straight to the point. Rarely do you want to resolve the main conflict in the middle of the story — if there’s an opportunity for tension, leave it open to keep the momentum going until the very end.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with structure and form
Short stories by design don’t really have the time to settle into the familiar shape of a classic narrative. However, this restriction gives you free rein to play around with chronology and point of view — to take risks, and be experimental. After all, if you’re only asking for 20 minutes of your readers’ time, they’re more likely to go along with an unusual storytelling style. Classic short stories like Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” did so well precisely because O’Connor redrew the parameters of the Southern Gothic genre as it was known — with its cast of characters, artfully sustained suspense and its shocking, gruesome ending.
Want to get creative with POV? Check out our free course to master the concept, and pick the perfect perspective for your story.
Understanding Point of View
Learn to master different POVs and choose the best for your story.
A lot rides on the opening lines of a short story . You’ll want to strike the right tone, introduce the characters, and capture the reader’s attention all at once — and you need to do it quickly because you don’t have many words to work with! There are a few ways to do this, so let’s take a look at the options.
Start with an action
Starting with a bang — literally and figuratively — is a surefire way to grab your reader’s attention. Action is a great way to immediately establish tension that you can sustain throughout the story. This doesn’t have to be something hugely dramatic like a car crash (though it can be) — it can be as small and simple as missing a bus by a matter of seconds. So long as the reader understands that this action is in some way unusual, it can set the scene for the emotional turmoil that is to unfold.
Start with an insight
One highly effective method for starting a short story is to write an opening hook. A 'hook' can seem an obtuse word, but what it really means is a sentence that immediately garners intrigue and encourages your reader to read on. For example, in “Mrs Dalloway” (originally a short story), Virginia Woolf opens with the line, “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” The reader then wonders: who is Mrs. Dalloway, why is she buying flowers, and is it unusual that she would do so herself? Such questions prompt the reader to continue with interest, looking for answers.
Start with an image
Another popular way of opening a story by presenting your reader with a strong image. It could be a description of an object, a person, or even a location. It’s not to everyone’s taste (especially if you love plot driven stories), but when done well, a well-drawn image has the ability to linger on the reader’s mind. Let’s go back to our example of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”. This story starts opens with a vivid and detailed description of a village: The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. Though this description seems to be setting the stage for a pleasant, lighthearted tale, “The Lottery” actually takes a darker turn — making this opening image of an idyllic summer’s day even more eerie. When this story was published in The New Yorker, readers responded by sending in more letters than for any story that had come before — that’s how you know you’ve made an impact, right?
[ PRO-TIP : To read some of the best short stories, head here to find 31 must-read short story collections . ]
The old maxim of “write drunk, edit sober” has long been misattributed to Ernest Hemingway, a notorious drinker. While we do not recommend literally writing under the influence, there is something to be said for writing feely with your first draft.
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Don’t edit as you write
Your first draft is not going to be fit for human consumption. That’s not the point of it. Your goal with version 1 of the story is just to get something out on the page. You should have a clear sense of your story’s overall aim, so just sit down and write towards that aim as best you can.
Avoid the temptation to noodle with word choice and syntax while you’re on the first draft: that part will come later. ‘Writing drunk’ means internalizing the confidence of someone on their second bottle of chablis. Behave as though everything you’re writing is amazing. If you make a spelling mistake? Who cares! Does that sentence make sense? You’ll fix that later!
Backstory is rarely needed
Hemingway ’s Iceberg Theory — correctly attributed to the man — is well suited to short stories. Like the physical appearance of an Iceberg, most of which is “under the surface”, much can be inferred about your story through a few craftily written sentences. Instead of being spoon-fed every single detail, your reader can ponder the subtext themselves and come to their own conclusions. The most classic example of this is “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” — a six-word story with a whole lot of emotionally charged subtext. (Note: that story is attributed to Hemingway, though that claim is also unsubstantiated!)
In short, don’t second-guess yourself and if your story truly needs more context, it can always be added in the next revision.
Nothing is more disappointing to a reader than a beautifully written narrative with a weak ending. When you get to the end of your story , it may be tempting to dash off a quick one and be done with it— but don’t give in to temptation! There are countless ways to finish a story — and there’s no requirement to provide a tidy resolution — but we find that the most compelling endings will center on its characters .
What has changed about the character?
It’s typical for a story to put a protagonist through their paces as a means to tease out some kind of character development. Many stories will feature a classic redemption arc, but it’s not the only option. The ending might see the main character making a choice based on having some kind of profound revelation. Characters might change in subtler ways, though, arriving at a specific realization or becoming more cynical or hopeful. Or, they might learn absolutely nothing from the trials and tribulations they’ve faced. In O. Henry’s Christmas-set “The Gift of the Magi,” a young woman sells her hair to buy her husband a chain for his pocket watch. When the husband returns home that night, he reveals that he sold his watch to buy his wife a set of hair ornaments that she can now no longer use. The couple has spent the story worrying about material gifts but in the end, they have learned that real gift… is their love for one another.
Has our understanding of them changed?
Human beings are innately resistant to change. Instead of putting your characters through a great epiphany or moment of transformation, your ending could reveal an existing truth about them. For example, the ending might reveal that your seemingly likable character is actually a villain — or there may be a revelation that renders their morally dubious action in a kinder light. This revelation can also manifest itself as a twist. In Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” a plantation owner in the Civil War escapes the gallows and embarks on a treacherous journey home. But just before he reaches his wife’s waiting arms, he feels a sharp blow on the back of his neck. It is revealed that he never actually left the gallows — his escape was merely a final fantasy. For these character-driven endings to work, the readers need to be invested in your characters. With the precious few words that you have to tell your story, you need to paint enough of a picture to make readers care what actually happens to them at the end.
More often than not, if your ending falls flat, the problem usually lies in the preceding scenes and not the ending. Have you adequately set up the stakes of the story? Have you given readers enough of a clue about your twist ending? Does the reader care enough about the character for the ending to have a strong emotional impact? Once you can answer yes to all these questions, you’re ready to start editing.
If you’re wondering how to make your story go from good to great, the secret’s in the editing process. And the first stage of editing a short story involves whittling it down until it’s fighting fit. As Edgar Allan Poe once said, “a short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build toward it,”. With this in mind, ensure that each line and paragraph not only progress the story, but also contributes to the mood, key emotion or viewpoint you are trying to express. Poe himself does this to marvelous effect in “The Tell-Tale Heart”:
Slowly, little by little, I lifted the cloth, until a small, small light escaped from under it to fall upon — to fall upon that vulture eye! It was open — wide, wide open, and my anger increased as it looked straight at me. I could not see the old man’s face. Only that eye, that hard blue eye, and the blood in my body became like ice.
The rewrites will often take longer than the original draft because now you are trying to perfect and refine the central idea of your story. If you have a panic-stricken look across your face reading this, don’t worry, you will probably be more aware of the shape you want your story to take once you’ve written it, which will make the refining process a little easier.
A well-executed edit starts with a diligent re-read — something you’ll want to do multiple times to ensure no errors slip through the net. Pay attention to word flow, the intensity of your key emotion, and the pacing of your plot, and what the readers are gradually learning about your characters. Make a note of any inconsistencies you find, even if you don’t think they matter — something extremely minor can throw the whole narrative out of whack. The problem-solving skills required to identify and fix plot holes will also help you eventually skim the fat off your short story.
What to do if it’s too long
Maybe you’re entering a writing contest with a strict word limit, or perhaps you realize your story is dragging. A simple way to trim your story is to see if each sentence passes the ‘so what?’ test — i.e., would your reader miss it if it was deleted?
See also if there are any convoluted phrases that can be swapped out for snappier words. Do you need to describe a ‘400ft canvas-covered, steel-skeleton hydrogen dirigible’ when ‘massive airship’ might suffice?
Get a second opinion
Send your story to another writer. Sure, you may feel self-conscious but all writers have been embarrassed to share their work at some point in their lives— plus, it could save you from making major mistakes. There’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes to point out something you missed. More than one pair of eyes is even better!
Consider professional editing
If you decide to go with a professional editor, it’s your lucky day! Freelance literary editors will work on short stories for a lot less than they would for novels (from as little as $100 for a story under 5,000 words) — and it’s the perfect opportunity to get some experience working with a professional who knows exactly what a great short story should look like.
Now that you know how to a short story people will want to read, why not get it out into the world? In the next post in this series, discover your best options for getting your short story published.
Douglas Smith | Writer says:
08/05/2019 – 12:28
I'm a big fan of Reedsy, but the above para on submitting is woefully inadequate, incomplete, and wrong. Contests? Sorry, but I rarely recommend entering contests and certainly no contest (or market) that charges an entry fee. I'll give a biased recommendation for my book PLAYING THE SHORT GAME: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction. I'm a multi-award-winning writer of short fiction published in 26 languages. The book gives a clear strategy on how to go about getting your first sale, then managing that sale, and learning to develop a career in short fiction by leveraging your stories via reprints and other means. Available at all the major retailers: https://www.books2read.com/b/bo6R14 And Reedsy, if you're interested, I offer workshops on each stage of short fiction careers. Would love to partner.
↪️ Vanessa Saxton replied:
17/09/2019 – 03:00
I respectfully disagree here. Any contest that does not charge an entry fee screams amateur. Any writer worth their salt knows this. I am also an award-winning writer, published author, and award-winning writing teacher,
Zack Urlocker says:
14/01/2020 – 05:51
I've written only novel-length stories, and I found this advice very helpful. Of course, it's still not easy to craft a short story, but this has given me some constraints to make it easier.
René Rehn says:
15/04/2020 – 03:04
What a great article! I truly think that mastering the short story is a prerequisite to writing a novel. I've been writing more than a hundred short stories in the past two years and I've learned a lot during that time. Still, there's some information here that made me think quite a bit. The focus on a central emotion is a great point. It's something I've not been thinking about. Sure, my stories end in a sad or terrible way, but I think my stories are generally broader and only lead up to the aforementioned events and emotions. So that's a great point and something I might want to think about on the next one I'll write. Thank you for the great article!
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50+ Short Funny Stories That Will Crack You Up In 60 Seconds
1 . Now that’s what I call stupid : In my junior year of high school, this guy asked me on a date. He rented a Redbox movie and made a pizza. We were watching the movie and the oven beeped so the pizza was done. He looked me dead in the eye and said, “This is the worst part.” I then watched this boy open the oven and pull the pizza out with his bare hands, rack and all, screaming at the top of his lungs. We never had a second date.
2 . The fake report card : I failed the first quarter of a class in middle school, so I made a fake report card. I did this every quarter that year. I forgot that they mail home the end-of-year cards, and my mom got it before I could intercept with my fake. She was PISSED—at the school for their error. The teacher also retired that year and had already thrown out his records, so they had to take my mother’s “proof” (the fake ones I made throughout the year) and “correct” the “mistake.” I’ve never told her the truth.
3 . All the fish : I went to this girl’s party the week after she beat the shit out of my friend. While everyone was getting trashed, I went around putting tuna inside all the curtain rods and so like weeks went by and they couldn’t figure out why the house smelled like festering death. They caught me through this video where these guys at the party were singing Beyoncé while I was in the background with a can of tuna.
4 . How to win at video games : When I was little, I would go on Nickelodeon.com all the time and they had this game similar to Club Penguin , except it was called Nicktropolis . And if you forgot your password, a security question you could choose was “What is your eye color?” and if you got it right it’d tell you your password. So I would go to popular locations in Nicktropolis and write down random usernames who were also in those areas, and then I would log out and type in the username as if it were my own and see which of these usernames had a security question set to “What is your eye color?” (Which was most of them, since it was easy and we were all kids). I would then try either brown, blue, or green, and always get in, then I would go to their house and send all of their furniture and decorations to my own accounts. And if I didn’t want it, I could sell it for money.
5 . Drama at my drama class : One time my drama class’s teacher had gone home sick so we were just put in a classroom with a movie to entertain us for the period when an alarm went off. None of us were sure if it was the fire alarm or the lockdown alarm, so we all head out into the hall to check and no one’s out there, so we head back in and climb under our desks as is lockdown procedure. Cut to an hour or so later when a teacher bursts in and nearly dies of relief because the school was on fire and we were the only students not accounted for and half the faculty and fire department had been searching for us for ages. Literally, the whole school had filled with smoke while we’d kept super safe under our wooden desks.
6 . I drew a penis with a glue stick on the whiteboard : My whole class once got detention because I drew a penis with a glue stick on the whiteboard and when the teacher went to wipe off the board all the fluff came off and stuck to the glue. I never got in trouble for it because my whole class found it too funny to tell the teacher it was me.
7 . The day my teacher stole my headphones : During my sophomore year of high school, we were doing silent work and my history teacher said that we could listen to music but if it was too loud he would “break our headphones.” so I’m doing my work quietly with my music on low, and this obnoxious kid sitting next to me had his music really loud. I could hear it over my music but ignored it. My teacher thought it was me. So he comes up to me & ripped my BRAND NEW Apple headphones, looking ruthless. He suddenly realized it was the guy next to me and he was completely embarrassed. He came in the next day with a new pair and an apology note taped to them. He couldn’t look me in the eye for the rest of the year.
8 . Oh—semen : When I was in high school, I was pretty quiet around people who weren’t my friends. The high school’s wrestling coach also taught geometry, and he was my teacher. This resulted in a lot of wrestlers skipping class and barging into our classroom to hang out and not get in trouble. One day, seven wrestlers come in yelling about new wrestling uniforms, and how excited they were. When they go over and pull out the uniforms, the whole class is kind of side eyeing them. Even without what I mention next, the suits look funny. I mean, it’s tight royal blue Spandex with a suspender style top. Absolutely funny already. But the wrestlers grab the uniforms and rush out of the room to go change in the bathroom, and come back to show them off. Which, is also hysterical because Spandex hides NOTHING; you could see all of their junk.
Anyway, we live in a town called Ocean City. It’s commonly abbreviated as “OC”. On the back of the Spandex uniform, it says Ocean City Men in large letters. Except… they used the abbreviation. On the back, it says OC MEN. Which isn’t awful, but then I sound it out in my head. OC MEN. Oh—semen. I almost spit out the water I was drinking.
I looked around frantically, trying to find out who I can tell, because I didn’t have any friends to tell in this class. I turn to the girl next to me, and I had no idea who she was and had never talked to her before. I told her what I found and we both cracked up.
The whole time she saw me as the quiet teacher’s pet who was shy as hell. The first words out of my mouth were “It says oh semen.”
We’ve been best friends for 7 years now.
9 . Ow, my shit! : When I was a kid, I was always excited to learn new vocabulary. When I was in first grade, my teacher taught me that “shin” was another word for leg.
Later that day, I was walking with my mom, when I tripped and hit my leg on the ground really hard. I yelled out “OW, MY SHIN” although my mom heard “OW, MY SHIT.” She started yelling about how that was a bad word and we didn’t say that word, and she was going to wash my mouth out with soap. I was a crying, bawling mess of a child, to the point I was doing that weird cry, stutter, hiccup noise. She paused in berating me and said “Who taught you that word?!” Of course, I told the truth and said “M-m-my teacher t-t-t-taught me that word!” and she started ranting about how she was going to call the school and get that teacher yelled at.
I tried to explain, “T-te-teacher said that shin meant leg I’m SO SORRY ILL N-N-NE-ne-never say it again.” My mom got quiet and realized her mistake. “…What did you say?”
Of course I started crying harder and I said “NO it’s just a test you’re going to wash my mouth out with soap again.”
When I finally calmed down enough to say it again, my mom apologized and to this day I always say “shin” loudly just to see her face blush.
10 . I swear to God he levitated : I have a friend who I’ve known since I was very little. One day, when he was six, I was at his house when he got this absolutely god-awful stomach pain. I mean, he was literally writhing in pain. So, his mom took him to the doctor’s office, where the doctor took one look and told her to take him to the ER. She feared something along the lines of an intestinal rupture. About half way to the hospital, my friend suddenly let rip the loudest, most powerful fart any of us had ever heard. I swear to God he levitated. We thought the upholstery in the car seat had ripped. After a good 30 seconds of intense farting, he looked at his mom and said, “I feel all better now!”
11 . We don’t have a fucking doorbell : So a couple years I moved out of state with a boyfriend. Was super excited about it but with reason had anxiety about being so far from friends and family. One of the ways my anxiety was coming out was with nightmares and night terrors. I’d wake up violently sitting up in a cold sweat, gasping and whatnot. On one particular night I had woken up the sound of our doorbell ringing. Which at 4 in the morning is fucking nerve wracking. So I shook my boyfriend fully awake and told him I heard the doorbell and to go check it because I was scared. He quickly jumps up. Puts on clothes and grabs a bat. Goes all the way to the front door and opens it. I, scared shitless, am peeking around the corner watching it all go down. I see him step outside and I nervously await the verdict of the situation when I hear him call out to me. “Babe?” And I respond real shaky, “Yes?” He stands in the doorway with a real frustrated tired look in his eyes and says, “We don’t have a fucking doorbell.”
12 . The whole school thought I was going to star on Drake and Josh : In second grade, I told everyone that I was leaving school before next semester to move to Hollywood to play Megan’s cousin from Vermont on Drake and Josh . At first I just told my best friend, but then the whole school found out. I had people coming up to me and asking me for my autograph and a teacher even asked for a picture with me. When I showed up on the first day of school in third grade, I told everyone that the show was going off the air after the season finished (even though I had no knowledge of when it was ending), and so they wouldn’t need me. AND THE SHOW ENDED AFTER THAT SEASON AND EVERYONE BELIEVED ME UP UNTIL LIKE 6TH GRADE BUT NOW MY BEST FRIEND WILL NEVER LET ME FORGET ABOUT IT AND I’M SO ANGRY.
13 . Classroom Chaos : So in 8th grade I used to read during class a lot. At the time I was reading an Artemis Fowl book, and for some reason I had two copies of the same book. So one day in my English class we were reading this other book (which I had already finished reading three days earlier), I was reading my own book and when it was finally my turn to read, I had no idea where we were. So the teacher took my book away, I found my spot, read the part and passed it to the next person to start reading.
So after I read my part, I took out my second copy of Artemis and picked up right where I left off. Skip a few minutes ahead, gets back to my turn to read, and again I don’t know where we are. So teacher takes a look at me, sees the book in my hands, then back to her desk obviously confused for a second. But shrugs it off knowing it’s me she’s dealing with (I’ve caused similar problems like this before), takes my second book and puts it on her desk, and makes me read my part.
Now my friend that sat two chairs down from me was also reading Artemis at the same time as me and with a quick look to him he knew exactly what I was planning. He took it out and passed it over without hesitation. I opened to a random spot and just pretended like I was reading. (At this point it was just to mess with my teacher.)
So skip forward again and my teacher sees me with the book again and says, “How many of those do you have?” I gave my smartass remark as “enough.” She took away that book, too. But now at this point I was out of books, and the rest of my class knew it. But the teacher didn’t know I was out. So she continued with her lesson and another friend of mine took two of her books and switched out two of the Artemis books on her desk to make them look like they were still there.
He passed the books slowly around the room, one at a time, until they were back to me. Then I took one out, opened to a random spot and just kept it open, waiting to get caught. I silently signaled to a few people in class and they started laughing. The teacher looked at what they were laughing at and saw me with yet another book. She looked at her desk where there were seemingly 3 Artemis books and saw me with a 4th. She took it, walked back to her desk, put it down, turned around, and saw me with the second book that got taken back on my desk!!!
The teacher thought she was going to win this game but underestimated my teamwork with my classmates. So the second she came over to me to take the seemingly 5th book, another classmate took back the other two books from her desk and split them up—sending one to me one way, and the other another way.
The teacher was very flustered and laughing hysterically at this point and there was no more teaching going on. The entire class was also going ballistic trying to see who would win. It was just a game of “How many books does this one 8th grader have?”
So at the end of the class she thought she had taken 11 books from me. I took pity on her and told her what was really happening. I told her that I had already read the first book, and all the teamwork that went on. We were both laughing and making jokes. In the end she agreed to let me read my own books as long as I kept track of the actual book we were reading. (Meaning, I ask the person next to me tell me when it’s my turn and they point out my spot to read so I don’t actually have to keep track.)
14 . Victoria’s no longer a secret : So my oldest brother Ethan doesn’t like wearing pants while at home, he wears boxers (because he’s a gentleman) but REFUSES to wear pants.
So one day we’re all just chilling on the couch when Ethan comes in wearing his boxers. My younger brother Eric asks if he can take off his pants too and Ethan says yeah, just make sure you have clean underwear on.
Eric leaves the room, goes upstairs, comes back 3 or 4 minutes later without pants in my underwear, and not just any underwear; Victoria’s Secret, MY VICTORIA’S SECRET (only girl in the family).
Ethan is laughing his ass off, Nate (next oldest brother) is rolling on the floor, and I’m just sitting there like WTF.
My dad chooses the best time to come in with guests, when one of his 10 year old sons is standing in the living room wearing his only daughters frilly Victoria’s Secrets, his oldest isn’t wearing pants, and the other two sons are on the floor dying.
The neighbors haven’t come over since.
15 . My favorite teacher : One time in 6th grade we were at recess and while I was running to my friends, I just so happened to kick a HUGE rock (keep in mind, I was wearing flip-flops so it hurt like hell) and without thinking, I shouted at the top of my lungs “MOTHERFUCKER!” And with my god-awful luck, my math teacher was sitting at the bench right BESIDE ME. He then took me inside to what I thought was yell at me but he just couldn’t stop laughing and sent me back outside with a literal candy bar. He is still my favorite teacher I’ve ever had.
16 . Lotion boy : One time in my chemistry class, while the teacher was talking, this guy asked loudly, “Does anyone have any lotion?” The teacher stopped talking as some girl gave him some hand lotion.
The guy proceeds to slowly rub the lotion on his face as the whole class watches him in confusion.
The teacher asks him what he’s doing, and he responds with “I forgot to moisturize this morning” and puts even more on his face.
The teacher asks him to go to the hall to finish his moisturizing because he’s being a distraction, and after about 10 minutes he still hasn’t come back in, so someone opens the door to check and he’s still smearing lotion all over his face. He finally comes back in and hands the girl her lotion, and he’s used up half of it. Now people call him lotion boy.
17 . I never got to eat my Pringles : Okay, so this was in fourth grade, and I was in this class with all these dumbass kids.
Here’s the back story: My parents usually pack me fruit for a snack, but on this day they packed me like half of the leftover Pringles from the day before, you know, in that cylinder container. I was really excited since I LOVE PRINGLES. But when recess came around so I could take MY Pringles and go eat it outside, they weren’t in my bag. I started scoping the area, trying to find my Pringles. I call the teacher, she tries to find them but she can’t either. Than this thought comes to my mind—What if MOIRA STOLE IT?
Moira was this chubby girl in my class that literally ALWAYS wore this purple princess dress that should be classified as a bad Halloween costume (seriously) and was known for being a bitch.
Being the judgmental 9-10 year old I was, I straight out concluded that she must’ve stolen my damn Pringles. I just tell my teacher, “Well too bad, I’ll just go out for recess now. It was just PRINGLES.” Being a little angel. So I stomp out of the class and start searching for Moira. I’m talking checking areas, finding witnesses, wasting my time. So after a solid 10 minutes, I find a group of these kids crowded at the side of one of the portable classrooms. I rush over to see what it is. The kids were eating Pringles. Barbecue flavored Pringles. MY PRINGLES. I start raging as I smack the Pringles out of the kids’ hands and start ripping people away from the main source. And in the middle of all the kids, sat a smug looking MOIRA with my PRINGLES. I look all mad and rip the BLOODY EMPTY CONTAINER OF PRINGLES OUT OF THE DAMN BITCH’S FILTHY HANDS. By now even dumbass Moira knows what’s up, she’s a goner. I would’ve murdered her at the very least, but a supervisor saw us and ran over.
Moira was forced to apologize and I was forced to accept her damn apology.
I never got to eat my Pringles.
To this day I’m sure she fears my cold dead hands, ready to rip her lying face off.
18 . Why my parents can’t take me seriously : So one time I was home alone and it was around dinnertime when I decided to make myself something to eat. I opened the freezer and dug around until I found what appeared to be chicken nuggets in an unopened plastic bag that for some reason, didn’t have any cooking instructions. Thinking that my parents must have thrown away the box for box tops, I called my mom to ask how long and at what temperature to cook chicken nuggets. She told me both of them, I laid out about 20 on a tray and stuck it in the oven, setting the timer before I walked out of the kitchen. When it was almost time to get my chicken nuggets, I walked into a cinnamon scented kitchen. I searched all over that kitchen, trying to find the cinnamon scent, leading me to the oven. I decide to turn on the oven light to see if maybe my mom had stuck some cookies in the oven and forgot to bake them, but instead, I find that the tray my chicken nuggets were on has cookies on it instead! As I’m trying to process what just happened, I hear the front door open and my mom shout delightedly, “Ooooo what’s that smell?” She walks into the kitchen and catches my confused expression. That’s when the spark ignited and she realized exactly what had happened. Somehow in some form, I had accidentally baked snickerdoodles. And that is why my parents can never take my cooking seriously.
19 . Painting a roller coaster : So in my junior year of high school I got a project to make a roller coaster for my physics class. Everything was going fine until the day my partner and I had to paint the thing. We were in my garage spray painting the tubes and these two guys come marching up to the house across the street and start yelling at the top of their lungs, beating on the door. Now let me say in my defense the neighborhood I lived in was in south Dallas and it’s still not a safe place. Well I called the police, closed the garage and parked myself in front of the dining room window. Long story short the police showed up in full gear broke down the door and brought out the two boys at gunpoint. And that’s the story of how my entire block found out that the abandoned house had new owners.
20 . Jellyfish fiasco : So when I was like 9 I went to this aquarium thing and it was a pretty amusing trip overall. But then suddenly I just kind of saw these jellyfish without any tentacles floating around in the water and was like “oh cool.”
The next day at school, the teacher asked us what we had done over the weekend. Now normally I never raise my hand. But I did this time. I fucking did it this time. The worst possible time. So I raised my hand and everyone was obviously shocked to see my hand up in the air so the teacher said “yes?”
and after confirming the fact that she picked me I said
“I saw this jelly fish in the aquarium and I thought it was really cool because it didn’t have any -testacles-.” and then like the classroom just emerged with so much laughter and I had no clue what was going on so I pleaded my friend to explain what was so funny I mean even THE TEACHER WAS LAUGHING AND I WAS GOING WTF.
So eventually my friend explained to me (it literally took 2 hours of convincing) and then ofc I was pretty embarrassed but the thing is the fucking teacher then asked me if she could tell this to the other teachers and that’s the story of how I switched schools.
21 . Eighth grade games : So when I was in the eighth grade, science class was the most boring hours of my life. Everyone would play games on their computers (we used computers to take notes) but would play them in a super sneaky manner (volume down, looking at the board so it looks like you’re taking notes, etc.). I wasn’t one for playing games during class but I was soooo bored…so I searched up Pac-Man on Google and started playing (I didn’t know what else to play).
So I started playing and just my luck I didn’t check how high my volume was….IT WAS ALL THE WAY UP. I started panicking because the game noises were excruciatingly loud. I kept playing and got eaten by a ghost almost after I pressed the start button (my hands were shaking like crazy)….my strict science teacher looked me straight in the eye..
22 . I literally “fell” for him : Since my crush sits behind me in class, when we stood up to do the pledge I stood up too fast and I stumbled over to him so to not fall on the ground I reached to grab his desk but I accidentally GRABBED HIM and I ended up falling on top of him and we both screamed. Luckily I didn’t hurt or crush him. My teacher and everyone else started laughing and I got so red afterwards. Now when we stand up for the pledge, he moves all the way to the back of the room away from me…
23 . 5th grade teacher : In fifth grade, my teacher loathed me. She would do anything to make me cry and sent me to the principle’s office any chance she got. Don’t believe me? I’m left handed. So still, to this day, I get my hands confused. On this particular day, we were doing the Pledge of Allegiance and I had put my left hand to my chest (it’s supposed to be your right hand over your heart). She got mad at me, telling me that I wasn’t being ‘patriotic’ and sent me to the principal’s office. The principal and I were quite aquatinted at this point and so I told her why I was sent back to her office again, and she laughed. And laughed. I didn’t find it funny at all, I mean all the kids in my school thought I was a delinquent so they didn’t want to be my friend. My principal wrote on the back of my hands, L and R. What I didn’t realize was that she wrote L on my right hand and R on my left hand. She did the same to hers. Then, she walked me back to the classroom, and made our whole class redo the Pledge with our ‘right’ hand, with me leading the class, and it was one of the happiest moments of my elementary experience.
24 . In the closet : OK, so one time when I was really little I had a best friend who was kinda strange but so my mom got a call one day asking if she was over at my house because they couldn’t find her and so they call again about two hours later to ask if we could help look for her and so about three hours of looking we had basically covered the entire neighborhood and they were about to call the police and we decided to check their house one more time and my mom went into her room and found her completely naked and sleeping on the top of a super tall shelf in her closet.
25 . Cringey! : My best friend and I are super weird, and whenever either of us see an attractive person we tend to take a picture of them and send it to each other, because why not?
Anyway, I was on a cruise ship with my grandparents, and I spot this super cute guy a couple years older than me. Naturally, I freak out a little, & I whip out my phone. Bare in mind I’m sat next to my grandparents in the middle of a crowded lobby.
So I open my camera, take a picture- and guess what?
THE FUCKING FLASH WAS ON, WASN’T IT?
I make eye contact with thus cute guy, look at my Grandparents who both look extremely disappointed, and a few other people are looking at me. Obviously I left the room immediately.
26 . Sporting goods : So I have this health teacher who is really insane about exercise. This woman has done ironman triathlons, and talks about going to the YMCA at 5:00am.
Yeah she’s crazy.
Basically we have this project to pick a health goal to do for a month. Things like drinking water or doing squats. For that you need some motivation so we were talking about physical things to reward ourselves with.
She decided to tell us about her sporting goods fetish, where she goes into a store and buys a bunch of gear like they were books. In the middle of this she suddenly goes, “I really like Dick’s” Realizing what she just said, she turned red and in a more quiet voice goes, “please don’t tell your parents.”
27 . How bugs feel : When I was about 5/6 my mom and stepdad bought my sister and I bikes for Easter. After church they were like “do you wanna learn how to ride them?” And I was like??? Duh?? I had finally gotten the hang of it and I was riding around the circle showing off, and my mom was like “say cheese” so I look over at her for a second and I FUCKING RAM INTO A CAR AT FULL SPEED. A parked car that I didn’t even see, like at all, so I just rammed into this car and I fell off my bike and I was crying and all I could think about was “this must be how bugs feel” like they’re flying around living life and then SPLAT. Looking back that was my first existential crisis
28 . In dreams : I’ve always had super vivid dreams and it takes me a while after waking up to realize that they’re not real. Sometimes, it’s a disappointment but generally I just forget about it and move on. Now, in 6th grade I had one really close friend who I never actually got into a fight with. One night, I had a really vivid dream where my friend and I had this huge falling out over something that I can’t even remember now.
I was really good at holding grudges because I was not a forgiving child, so for three weeks I completely ignored my best friend in anger to the point where she started crying in front of the teacher and he asked what was going on. Of course, as I’m telling the story I realize the events were super weird and that it was all a dream. I fall silent and just look at my friend who’s still extremely upset and don’t know what to say because I had fucked up so badly.
29 . Sniffing candles with my best friend : So my best friend and I were in a super market and there were a lot of new candles. They all smelled strange so we started to think about names we could give them ‘grandma’s toilet cleaning agent’ or sth like this. Whatever I guess we sniffed to much candles because we started laughing very hard and I lay on the floor and my best friend fell into to pasta shelf which made us laugh even more and louder and people were already staring at us. Suddenly my brother’s best friend stood behind us and from this day he’s thinking that I’m taking drugs.
I just sniff candles with my best friend to burst out in laughter.
30 . Skull lover : So I was sitting at a lecture when I feel like being stared at, and in the corner of my eye I see this really handsome guy, who’s literally just staring at me. I don’t think much of it and continue to listen to the professor. After the lecture the guy comes up to me, and lays his hand on head and I’m like “eeeehm, what are you doing” and he stares me dead in the eyes and says “I’ve never seen such a gorgeous skull” and then he turns around and leaves.
31 . All glowed up : After the final bell, my friend and I were walking to our buses after school through a crowded hallway. We were talking about childhood and reminiscing about old memories, and we somehow started talking about which people became hot since middle school. My friend mentioned this guy named Keenan and I said “Yeah, he is pretty hot now,” and my friend practically screamed “DUDE HE GLOWED UP SO HARD!” (“Glowed up” means I guess like someone became attractive). Anyway, right as she said that she turned her head and he was RIGHT BEHIND US (this is so so very cliché but I swear to god there he was). Anyway, right as she saw him she screamed “OH! HE’S RIGHT THERE!”. And OF COURSE he heard her, but it was so awkward so he just walked past us looking down at his phone and my friend fell on the ground from embarrassment.
32 . Chinese class : I took Chinese at school as a freshman. On one particular day, we didn’t have anything to do in class since we had gone through the whole curriculum for the semester. Our teacher wanted us to watch a Chinese movie in that free time, and I just so happened to watch one recently on YouTube. I offered to find it, and my teacher let me use her computer, that was connected to a Promethean board so that the whole class could see what I was doing on the screen. After a couple of minutes of searching, I couldn’t find the movie since I didn’t know the exact title, so I logged into my YouTube account and decided to find it in my history. When I opened my history I was mortified since stupid me had forgotten that being the awkward virgin that I was at the time I had searched up tutorials on kissing and making out that previous night. The whole class was hysterically laughing, my teacher was extremely confused, and I almost cried as I scrolled past all the kissing tutorials and finally found the movie. I went back to my seat and didn’t speak to anyone in class for the rest of the week. I still haven’t lived it down.
33 . Coca-Cola disaster : A couple years ago my friends and I were going to see a movie in the theatre at the mall. Instead of paying the ridiculous movie theatre prices for pop and candy, we decided to go to target to buy some stuff. This was when Coca Cola started to put people’s names on their bottles. My friend told me she had seen a bottle with my name on it inside this bin of Coke. I was weirdly excited since I hadn’t gotten one with my name on it yet. After I had bought the drink, I opened inside target, and it exploded EVERYWHERE. The pop was at least five or six feet in diameter. I watched as people passed the mess and made looks of disgust. Imagine if I had opened it inside of the theatre…
34 . Panic! at the pothole : Once upon a time I had a friend that was going to a Panic! At The Disco concert and she promised me she would face time me so that I could watch with her. So she messaged me at like the middle of the night telling me to answer her FaceTime call but I was at my neighbors house (which also happened to be my cousins house) so I started running out the door and my sister followed me behind and was chasing after me. She asked me where I was going so I started running as fast as I could screaming “WE HAVE TO GET HOME, IM NOT GONNA MAKE IT! I NEED TO SEE, WHY CANT I SEE!?!”
Keep in mind that it’s like midnight right about now but I’m running and halfway through screaming. I stepped inside a pothole in my neighbor’s lawn and completely fell in mud but I got right back up and kept running, muddy as hell, trying to get to my house while my sister was dying from laughter behind me. That’s not even the sad part, the sad part is my friends phone died so I just sat there with mud all over me at the dining room table staring at my blank phone just waiting. I waited for almost two hours, refusing to take a shower even though the mud was starting to dry up. This was two years ago and to this day every time my sister sees the pothole she starts dying from laughter.
35 . The toilet phase : When I was younger, around 3 or 4 years old, I had a phase of flushing things down the toilet. I would flush McDonald’s toys I didn’t want anymore or change I had found in my room. the biggest and most hilarious thing I ever dumped was a gallon of milk. one day I was bored and was looking around in the fridge low and behold there it was, a new gallon of milk. my tiny body dragged the bottle on the floor all the way to the bathroom. I opened the cap, let it go into the toilet, and flushed. I thought I was smart enough to let it go unnoticed but I’ll never forget what my dad yelled out when he walked in. “why in the hell is the water white?!“ my mom found the empty carton and just stared at me.
36 . My mom’s thong : One day when I was 3 I decided I wanted to be like my mom and wear “big girl” panties. I sneakily went through her drawer and grabbed the first thing I could find – a thong (I didn’t know what it was at the time). She didn’t know until we went to breakfast with some friends and took me to the bathroom. She still won’t let me live it down!
37 . Slappy trails : One time in fifth grade, I was walking back to class from the bathroom. Before I continue, I should specify two things.
1. My classroom was literally just around the corner from the bathroom, next to the lockers.
2. There was a boy that I had a crush on for the past year in my class.
Now for whatever reason, I was swinging my arms around in a wild half-windmill motion. Don’t ask me why, I was just filled with child-like glee I guess. So there I was, swinging my arms dramatically, then just when I got to the corner…
I had accidentally slapped someone in the face. It took me a second to realize who it was: my crush.
I was mortified, but he just started laughing. To this day I can probably cite that as one of my top clumsy/socially inept moments.
38 . The ramen incident : I have decided to remain anonymous to protect my identity from the foolishness. last night, I became hungry and decided to make some ramen. I removed the various packets from the bowl, added the flavor and vegetables, then put the bowl in the microwave.
After about a minute or two, I realized something was wrong. A terrible burning smell had filled my kitchen.
I opened the door to my microwave and…low and behold…I had neglected to add water. There was some smoke coming from the bowl. Not wanting to waste the ramen, I went to the sink and added water, which filled the room in acrid smoke for several seconds. I then returned the bowl to the microwave and cooked it for two more minutes before attempting to eat it.
Well….It went okay for a little while, until I discovered a globule of blackened noodles which had turned into some sort of strange crystalline substance yet seen in nature by humankind. I had a change of heart.
39 . First phone accident : When I was in the 6th grade my parents decided I should get my first cell phone because I was going to middle school now and things were different. It was a pink little slide phone where you’d slide it sideways and have the texting keyboard and all. I took decent care of my phone and never needed a replacement. Well, flash forward to Memorial Day weekend. My family and another family went camping up in Pennsylvania for the weekend. Well, one of the days we were up there my buddy, Oliver, and I decided to take the kayaks out on the lake. Genius me, decided she wanted to listen to the 4 Selena Gomez songs I had on my phone. I thought it would be a brilliant idea to put my phone in a plastic bag to protect it from the water. When we got back from kayaking I took my phone out only to find the bag was submerged in water. We had no rice or anything to save my phone so we tried laying it out to dry, not even 15 minutes later it starts down pouring destroying my phone even more. My mom ended up giving me her first flip phone which didn’t even have a camera or the option to have music or photos transferred. Lesson learned.
40 . Little thief : When I was around four or five I was with my mom at this store buying some Christmas gifts. as we were leaving I saw these little plushy dinosaurs that fit perfectly in my hands. I grabbed two of them and stashed one in each of my pockets. my pockets were so small that they made me look like I had two rumors on each of my hips. I still remember the rush of energy I got from actually leaving the store undetected. well, when my mom and I got to the car, she found them and called the store back and made me apologize. I had the absolute worst social anxiety when I was a kid so I was a absolutely sobbing, telling this poor employee how horrible a person I was. like I was having a mental breakdown, it was so bad my mom apologized to me afterwards and bought me a nice milkshake!
41 . Driver’s license : So I was at the local DMV to get my driver’s license when my dad pissed off the lady at the counter. turns out she was the lady that had to do the actual road test with me. We get in the car and I thought I was doing pretty well, until she starts freaking out? She has me pull over, tells me I’m the worst drive ever. after yelling at me, she demands I go back to the DMV. and the rest of the time she is on her phone. When we get there, there is a state trooper waiting for me. gives me a field sobriety test. Literally had to take a sobriety test when I tried to get my license. At least I passed one test that day.
42 . That one time I got lost : So about a year ago, I was in Phys. Ed class, and we went around the neighborhood for a jog at the beginning of each class. I hadn’t done it before because of medical reasons, but the teacher evidently forgot about it. I’m incredibly bad with directions and easily distracted, so I lost sight of the rest of the group and went completely the wrong way. I ended up being lost for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. the best part is that I single handedly changed my school’s Phys. Ed policy.
43 . Popcorn : My sister, mother, and I were waiting in a long line at the Sam’s Club food court. The entire time I was waiting, I was mentally rehearsing what my order would be “one slice of cheese pizza please”, my mind was repeatedly screaming at me. when we got up to the cashier to pay, I got distracted by his cuteness so instead of asking for the pizza, I confidently said “one popcorn please”, which SAMs Club food court has none of. Once I realized my mistake, I screamed out “noooo”, loud enough for 50 people to look at me. embarrassed, I ran away and my mom and sister had to bring me the slice of pizza from my finding place in the freezer section. To this day, I beg people to order for me when anyone remotely attractive is working the cash register.
44 . 50 shades of butt : So to begin my story I should tell you that I work at a Medical Spa as front desk and my job entails mostly computer and customer service related tasks. however, I am also there to assist the on shift technician, obviously not with the lasers as I am not certified, but with well…helping shaving clients to prepare them for their treatment. So this particular Saturday I was asked to help shave a client’s back, which was fine it’s part of my job and I just needed to be professional about it and it’s something I’ve unfortunately had to do before as well so no big deal right? wrong. So I do the usual I put on my gloves grab a razor and begin assisting the tech however much to my surprise (and displeasure) the tech suddenly pulls down the client’s pants and underwear to which I am greeted with a hairy behind. It is all I can do in my power to keep from laughing from sheer shock. I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say it was not totally normal colored…trying to stay professional I then had to proceed and hold the clients butt cheek taunt to shave it. I finished as through and quick as I possibly could and booked it the hell out of the room. Later when I had to book the clients next appointment neither of us could look the other in the eye because of that traumatizing encounter. I will probably never be able to live down the moment I looked at the multicolored butt right in the crack.
45 . Thanks, Mrs. Miller, you the best : One time way back in sixth grade math class I had to fart really bad. Me being the idiot that I am decided that it would be silent. Big surprise it wasn’t. The only person talking was the teacher and she was interrupted by freaking cannon fire farts. She said she was disappointed I couldn’t hold it in and proceeded to tell a story of how she taught a famous athlete who did nearly the same thing.
46 . Weed birthday : Last year, during class, my algebra teacher let us listen to music while we did our classwork and whatnot. So, I was just jamming, being super confused on this one problem and I look up from my paper to ask my friend how to do it and EVERYONE is intensely looking back and forth between me and another girl with their fingers on their noses. As you can imagine, I was super confused. So, naturally, I also put my finger on my nose. Everybody yelled “OHHHHHHHHHH” and turns out, it was a “nose goes” thing and the other girl had to ask the teacher if she’d ever smoked weed on her birthday because it was 4/20…
47 . That time in freshman year : So I was always the person who’d try to leave class really fast so I wouldn’t always being paying attention to some very crucial surroundings. So I’m sitting in math class where our teacher makes us put our book bags against the wall to the side of the room. The bell rings and being that kid that wants to get out I don’t bother putting all my stuff away and I just grab my RED backpack and I’m gone. I get all the way to my science class and set the book bag at my desk when LO AND BEHOLD it’s not my backpack. It’s another ALSO RED backpack that I had mistakenly took in my rush to get to science. So I have this mini freak out at my friend Seth sitting next to me. As a freshman and quite socially inept I decide not to really do anything about it until lunch which was next block. I had some paper in my arms from last class so I decided to use those and figure out everything during lunch instead of making a scene at like literally the first week of my high school career.
So we go into science class and since it’s the first week we’re always doing the scientific method lesson before anything else. My teacher asks the class for a problem we can apply to it right? Well guess who raises his hand? SETH. Now my teacher adored Seth so he gets called on and you know what his answer was?? “what if you accidentally stole someone’s backpack? like, you thought it was yours and you didn’t mean to take it” and my teacher was like why don’t you tell me more about this so Seth goes “oh it’s not my problem it’s HERS” and POINTS TO ME. Complete mortification. and even then my teacher was confused thinking I had just come up with the problem but no. only if. I hold up the stolen backpack and my teacher had the most dumbfounded look like I have never encountered someone that failed at life more than you. so he calls my math teacher yada yada I get my backpack. the worst part? We ended up continuing with that scenario and took notes on the scientific method using the very problem that I had created. my hypothesis? If I wasn’t a complete fail then I’d be able to get my own bag properly.
48 . Virtual-reality self-prostitution : I used to play a game called Phantasy Star Universe and I would be my own pimp AND my own hoe. I had my main account (let’s call him Dudeman) and my hoe account (let’s call her Galchick). so there was like the main floor area and people would like try to sell nudes for money (in-game, not IRL) and I was like “nobody actually does that… do they?” so I made Galchick and I took off her clothes so she was in her underwear, and then I said ONE thing on the main floor and some guy took the bait right away. he invited me back to his house and I was like “omg I’m sorry, I’m new to this! how do you transfer money?” and he did it to show me how… and then he asked for my character to teabag his and moan into the mic, and I was like a 15 year old boy, so instead… I just blocked him and took the money. that’s when I realized my one, true calling. I did it for months and I’d transfer the money from Galchick to Dudeman and all my friends wondered how I had super good gear. I miss that game everyday…
49 . A full sun : After an exhausting, weeklong festival I was getting a lift back home in a car full of my friends. We were coming up over a mountain road with a really beautiful ocean view just at sunset.
I’ll never forget the outburst that followed when I said “wow it’s so beautiful, and it’s even a full sun!”
I momentarily forgot that only moons have phases, and that the sun is generally always ‘full’ … my friends have never let me live it down.
50 . Socially awkward fail : So one day I was walking around, just chilling with my friends when I see this guy reading a book. He was new there but the book was a book I read and LOVED.
So naturally I approach this boy hoping to make a new friend and bond over the series. Being the socially awkward fail I am I planned out ahead of time what I’d say: “Hey, we’ve [my friends and I] wanted to come over to say hi cause I say you were reading a book I liked and I hope we can talk more in the future.”
Once we got to him I panicked and just had to blurt out “We’ve come to hello you.” and I think my voice cracked and I almost started to cry.
Never gonna talk to them again.
51 . Don’t sit on cold ground : So a couple weeks ago, me and my friends were sitting on this cement kind of pedestal (as we called it) It’s basically the steps up to the portable. (classroom that no one uses) and this weird supply French teacher comes up to us and says: you shouldn’t be sitting on this ground, it’s too cold and it’s bad for your ovaries. I asked her how or why and she said that if children sit on cold ground their ovaries will freeze and that we won’t be able to have kids. Now it’s an inside joke between us about not sitting on cold ground.
52 . Gay teacher : So about a year ago we had to do a speech about something we were passionate about. These would then be recorded to put on the school website. I decided to do one about gay rights as it was not yet legalized in my state. I decided to mention that I was gay during the speech, which wasn’t that much of a surprise to people. In the end it went really well.
Then a couple of hours later, during lunch I was walking past the staffroom to get to the lunch hall when I heard my speech being played, being curious I stopped and I heard them replay “I am gay myself actually” a couple of times over. Out of the corner I could see my 6th grade teacher give my computer studies teacher 10 dollars. Then suddenly, I sneezed really loudly, the teachers turned around and saw me standing there.
My 6th grade teacher has pretty much gotten over it but my computer studies teacher refuses to make eye contact with me.
53 . Foreign student trauma : When I first moved from Lithuania to America I was 5 years old and didn’t speak any English. On the first day of kindergarten I was crying so much that my teacher picked me up and let me sit on her lap, meanwhile the rest of the kids sat on the carpet in front of me and watched me cry while she explained to them what was going on (in a language I didn’t understand). Our school was 3 buildings put together, and the pick up was at the “blue” building but my classroom was at the “red” building, so they put a sign over my neck that said “I don’t speak English and I’m going to the blue building” and sent me away to follow a crowd of other kids. I’m still traumatized…
54 . His face looks like the best chair : So there’s this really hot kid in my creative writing class. And everyone knows I like him.
But one day, he walked in looking like a freaking GQ model, and I accidentally out loud whispered “Shit, his face looks like the best chair” and the girl who sits in front of me turned around and said “WTH, that’s freaky and gross” and she moved her seat.
She gives me weird looks every time she sees me now.
55 . Never wear a dress in Chicago : So when I was younger, my aunt was kind enough to invite me to come along with her to Chicago for my cousin’s paintball tournament. I had never been to Chicago before, so naturally I had to go see the big city.
Just like any other girl, I wanted to get all dolled up before walking around in front of people. I wore an extremely soft red dress that I was in love with, and some wedges.
One thing that Chicago has plenty of is vents, and I ignored them because the ones in my city are never on. This was a mistake, because I just so happened to walk over one that was on. Only to be met with steam hot enough to burn leg hair off, and my dress being blown up to my neck around hundreds of other people.
56 . SonofabitchAdam : I used to babysit this little boy who was a real handful. He was always in trouble and it seemed like every time his dad had to call him it went like this…
Dad finds disaster left by Adam.
Dad yells out, “Son of a Bitch! Adam!”
One day I have to pick up Adam’s older brother at school. A Catholic school.
His teacher, a nun, sees adorable little Adam with his chubby cheeks and face like a cherub and asks him his name and he answers flat out, “SonofabitchAdam.”
57 . As it turns out, I am gay : When I was around 9 years old I was starting to get confused about my sexuality so I would always look up “Are You Gay” quizzes on our family computer because I was scared and confused, and my mom eventually saw the searches in the history and confronted me about it. I lied about it and said I had accidentally clicked an ad. As it turns out, I am gay.
January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University.
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15 Really Funny Short Stories
Tfb short clips.
15 Really Funny Short Stories. more funny short stories here .
Funny Short Stories For Parents of Older Kids
Funny roommate short story as text
Mom wins top prize for the best of funny short stories.
Funny short story with a twist as text
I guess this makes for a Christmas funny short story! You kids are the punchline to a month long joke!
Funny short story about the marines ( text format )
Go get them, Alice!
Funny Short Stories For Parents of Young Kids
Funny short story about a robot that detects lies as text
Get rid of that robot!
Really funny short story about a little girl’s omens as text
“Daddy” didn’t have anything to worry about!
Read the full text of this funny short story here
Johnny is a clever little boy with a clean mind!
Short funny story about an old ladies’ roadtrip as text
After this grannie road trip, they’ll sure have funny stories for their grandkids.
Hilarious Jokes to Tell Your Grandparents
Make your own funny memes here, tfb trending posts.
funny story of a cunning old lady as text
That’s a lady who knows how to make a bet!
Story Joke For a Funeral
Funny story to tell at a funeral that’s not too inappropriate as text
If you ever need a funny story to tell at funerals, this is it.
Funny Short Stories For Her
Funny plane story to break the ice with a stranger as text
This is a great one to add to your flying short funny stories collection to use to strike up a conversation with a stranger . It also reminds me of one of those funny sayings… No good deed goes unpunished.
Funny short stories for flights as text
This woman probably has a PhD in comedy… She’s also $490 richer!
Funny story about a woman who confesses to murder as text
Save this to your funny stories collection so you can tell your friends on a road trip!
A Few More Short Comedy Stories
Funny story that terrified my cab driver as text
The taxi driver will have a fun story to tell his family after his shift!
man gets arrested for creeping this lady out on a bus. His explanation to the judge was golden. a lady about 8 months pregnant got on a bus. she noticed the man opposite her was smiling at her. she immediately moved to another seat. this time the smile on the man’s face turned into a grin, so she moved again. the man seemed even more amused now. when she moved the fourth time, the man burst out laughing. the pregnant lady complained the driver and the driver had the man arrested. when the case came up in court a few days later, the judge asked the man (who was about 20 years old), “what do you have to say for yourself? ” the man replied, “well your honor, it was like this: when the lady got on the bus, i couldn’t help but notice her condition. she sat down under a sign that said, the double mint twins are coming, and so i grinned. then she moved and sat under a sign that said, logan’s liniment will reduce the swelling. and i had to smile. then she placed herself under a deodorant sign that said, william’s big stick did the trick. and i could hardly contain myself. but, your honor, when she moved the fourth time and sat under a sign that said, goodyear rubber could have prevented this accident! i just lost it. ” case dismissed
Sure he got arrested, but he’ll have the best of funny short stories to tell his grandkids!
the best irish joke ever. This is gold the men were smiling next to each other at murphy’s pub in london after a while, one bloke looks at the other and says, “i can’t help but think, from listening to you, that you’re from ireland”. the other bloke responds proudly. “yes, that i am! ” the first one says, “so am i! And where about from ireland might you be? ” the other bloke answers, “i’m from dublin. I am. ” the first one responds, “so am i! ” “mother mary and begora. And what street did you live on in dublin? ” the other bloke say, “a lovely little area it was. I lived on mccleary street in the old central part of town. ” the first one says, “faith and it’s a small world. So did i! and to what school would you have been going? ” the other bloke answers, “well now, i went to st. Mary’s, of course. ” the first one gets really excited and says, “and so did i. Tell me, what year did you graduate? ” the other bloke answers, “well now, let’s see, i graduated in 1964. ” the first one exclaims, “the good lord must be smiling down upon us! i can hardly believe our good luck at winding up in the same place tonight. can you believe it? i graduated from st. Mary’s in 1964 my own self! ” about this time, vicky walks up to the bar, sits down and orders a drink. brian, the barman, walks over to vicky, shaking his head and mutters, “it’s going to be a long night tonight. ” vicky asks, “why do you say that, brian? ” “the murphy twins are drunk again. ”
This crazy twins story is pure funny short story comedy.
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Quick links on this page:
- comedy should be used to support an amazing story
- how to use humour in stories
- things to avoid in comedy writing
- learn from humorous films and books
- humour is subjective
- funny stories
- useful links to other comedy resources
This post contains lots of comedy writing tips and advice to help you pen a successful funny short story.
I’ve used some real-life humour writing examples, taking extracts from my own published stories to clearly illustrate how the tips were used in practice to achieve success.
I’ve also highlighted some common mistakes made by authors trying to write humorous tales so you can avoid them.
ha ha ha haaa ha haah haha ha ha hah he heh heeeee ha haaaaaa he
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Comedy Should Be Used to Support an Amazing Story
Writing comedy isn’t easy. Many authors struggle to place humour so it sits naturally and unobtrusively within a story.
I run and judge To Hull & Back , a humorous short story competition offering a £1,000 top prize. Because of this, I’m fortunate to read all sorts of different styles of comedic stories from writers residing all over the world. The best funny short stories I read all have the following in common:
The writer uses humour to support a great story.
They do not try to be funny for the sake of being funny.
Think of a story like a roast dinner. The main focus is the meat – beef, lamb, pork, chicken or whatever. Gravy is used to compliment the meal. In this analogy, the story is the meat and the humour is the gravy.
If the beef is chewy, or the chicken dry, an awesome gravy is not going to make the meal enjoyable, even if it’s cooked by Nigella Lawson.
A story is the same. The characters need to be excellent, the plot gripping, the idea original and engaging, the presentation professional. The humour should simply complement the story, giving it style and making it more enjoyable to read.
The same principle can be applied to any style or genre of writing. For example…
Just because you have a vampire, a derelict castle, some screaming virgins and copious amounts of gore, does not mean you have created a horror story filled with suspense and intrigue.
Just because you have a handsome hero who can drive really fast without crashing, stand in the middle of gunfight without getting shot and blow shit up without hurting any innocent bystanders, does not mean you have an entertaining action thriller.
The story itself – its subject matter, its moral, its meaning – is the most important aspect of any successful tale.
me looking stunning with lights on my head, ho ho ho
How to Use Humour in Stories
I find the best way is through:
Let’s look at these individually. I’ll use some real-life examples in this section.
If you give your characters a sense of humour – particularly the central character whose viewpoint you are likely to be writing from – their voice can add a comedic tone to the story in a natural way. For example, they might make funny observations about events, the situation or other characters and use amusing synonyms.
In my story ‘ Devil’s Crush ’, the main character, Joshua, has a strong sense of humour – it’s all that’s allowed him to keep his mind after losing his legs at war in Afghanistan. This allowed me to add a tinge of dark humour to the story, despite its serious subject matter.
In the story, Joshua encounters a demon. This is his description of the demon when it first appears:
I know the demon is a he because he’s naked. He’s a he with the right to be proud of just how much of a ‘he’ he is. His skin is the colour of burnt rust, his body slender yet muscular and he wears a goatee on his chin more like the animal it is named after than a man. His two horns are long and curved like warped blades of molten rock, his hairline a mass of flickering flames and in his eye sockets are two glowing coals which ping and hiss like the embers of a dying fire in the breeze. He is the source of the acrid stench which fills the room.
The second sentence in this paragraph delivers an element of humour without detracting from the description. This comes from Joshua’s voice – the way he sees and describes things. As the story is told in the first person, I used this tone throughout. It’s not laugh out loud hilarious; it simply adds an amusing undertone that helps engage the reader. Joshua’s sense of humour also helps develop his character, adding depth and believability to a fantasy story in a subtle manner.
The situations characters find themselves in can be amusing. This is often used very successfully in sitcoms.
The danger here is making the situation slapstick in an unbelievable way, with characters acting out of character or a plot being manipulated to generate a laugh. This can feel unnatural and disengage a reader. While common in sketch shows, this is not appropriate for a short story. Readers expect more depth.
When writing, I find it’s the way the characters react to the situation that makes it funny, not the situation itself.
An example can be seen in the video below. This is a very famous scene from the UK sitcom Only Fools & Horses .
Del falls through the bar - famous Only Fools & Horses clip
It’s the way Trigger (played by Roger Lloyd-Pack) reacts to the situation after Del (played by David Jason) has fallen over that makes this so funny.
Here’s an example from one of my stories. In ‘Shot in the Head and Left For Dead’ the main character, Dave, is in a band. He’s playing at Wembley Stadium in London and half the crowd have turned into zombies. It’s the way Dave observes, describes and reacts to what he’s seeing that makes the situation amusing.
There’s a gore-fest of pandemonium going on in the audience that would make Quentin Tarantino proud. Half of the crowd are trying to eat the other half’s brains. The ones who are reluctant to have their heads ripped open are trying to run away and, or, kill their attackers with anything they can use as a weapon, including bits of other people. Things couldn’t be redder – it’s like a tomato puree production factory.
Before I can fully digest the scene, a mass of smoking devilry dives out of the sky and starts munching zombies like a ravenous bulldozer. It’s about the size of a three-bed semi. Its teeth are as big as buses and it stinks like sulphur.
I look at the rest of the band. None of them seem to be zombies, although it’s always hard to tell with the rhythm section. At the side of the stage I notice two of the roadies eating one of the sound guys, while my guitar tech is using a spare Les Paul to try and behead what used to be our A&R man. Everything is turning to shit faster than swill through a pig.
I grab Maiden’s arm. "Fuck the fuck," he says. "What the bastard?" Eloquently put. Kind of sums up what I was thinking.
"Noise," I scream. "We need to make lots of it."
He looks at me like I’m mental. To be fair, he might be right. Bollocks to it. This zombie-monster-fest is coming to an end. Now.
The events that are occurring are fantastical. Dave’s voice brings humour into the situation. The characters are confused, not acting quickly, which seemed believable to me. While the situation might be so ludicrous it’s amusing, the characters remain in character – they don’t act how I want them to act; they act how they should, given what’s happening around them.
I often write without excessive plotting as I find this allows me to develop characters naturally in this manner. I always write with an end in mind (it helps steer a plot in the right direction) but don’t plan the detail. It works for me. Why not try it yourself?
What characters say and how they react to what is said can be very funny. Dialogue is the method I use most frequently to add humour into a story.
‘Death of a Superhero’ is a story that contains a lot of amusing dialogue (it isn’t available to read online, but is in the 1st To Hull & Back short story anthology or you can hear it on YouTube ). While what is said is amusing, the main purpose of the speech is to reveal the story and develop characters.
In this story the main character is Death. He is faced by a recently deceased woman who is pretending to be Batman.
“You’re listed here as Doris Claymore,” he said.
“Never heard of her,” said Batman.
Death reached out and stroked the decaying blade of the scythe that rested against his desk. “This is quite simple, Doris. To progress peacefully into the afterlife, you need to confirm your name. It means I can be certain of who you are, what you’ve achieved in life and, therefore, where you should spend eternity.” Death dished out his best glare. As glares go, it was pretty impressive. In the past, it’d made stars think twice about shooting. “Can you tell me your real name please?”
“Already told you. I’m Batman.”
“How can I put this politely?”
“No need to be polite,” said Bat-Doris. “Got skin as thick as armadillos, us crime fighters.”
Given the invite, Death decided to be blunt. “Not only is Batman fictional, he…” Death left a pause which he hoped would scream with meaning, “…is a man.”
“You have breasts.”
“No, they’re breasts,” said Death, “and Lycra does little to mask their magnitude. I feel I should add that Batman was always depicted as an athletic individual, at the peak of physical fitness. Clearly, you’re not.”
A tear trickled from beneath Doris’s mask, suggesting her skin might not be as thick as she’d led Death to believe. “OK,” she whispered, “point taken.”
Despite the scythe, the rotting cloak and the distinct lack of flesh coating his crumbling bones, Death was a sensitive individual. He disliked causing upset. Most people found the experience of dying traumatic enough, without him being disagreeable.
In a more gentle tone, he said, “Good. What’s your real name?”
As you can see, the dialogue in this extract helps to develop character and reveal the plot, making the reader want to find out what happens next. Death and Doris have clear voices – Death has an underlying sense of humour, while the humour is Doris’s words come from her defiance to admit the truth. The question is, why is she behaving like this? Well, if you read (or listen to) the whole story you’ll find out.
'Death of a Superhero', a funny short story performed by Christopher Fielden
Things to Avoid in Comedy Writing
Being funny for the sake of being funny.
Don’t try and be funny for the sake of it. Humour needs to evolve and present itself naturally. If you chuck in a slapstick moment when your story doesn’t need it, it can disengage the reader.
Arthur is the central character in a story. He’s having to come to terms with how he’s slowly losing his wife to Alzheimer’s. The story is written in a humorous style – Arthur is an amusing character and his sense of humour allows him to find ways of dealing with the pain his wife’s situation is causing him.
If, during the story, Arthur is at B&Q and needs to urinate but is so desperate that he decides to use a display toilet and gets caught by a member of staff, is that funny? Does it fit?
Well, it depends how it’s handled.
If the situation is placed in the story to generate a laugh via bared willies in a busy shop and inappropriate torrents of urine, then no. The reader will not be able to suspend their disbelief. They will disengage from the story and ask questions like:
- Why didn’t Arthur just go to the toilet provided for customers?
- If he was that out of control of his body, wouldn’t he just wet himself?
- Why am I reading this story? I think I’ll stop…
The act Arthur is performing wouldn’t seem realistic or believable. Yes, I’ve seen very similar situations presented in stories submitted to the short story competition I run many times.
However, if Arthur acted like this on purpose, to gain attention or help, and the B&Q staff member was a kind young man named Jim who wanted to help Arthur, then the situation and their conversation could be presented in an amusing manner. It would have a point and add to the story, revealing character development and plot. In this situation, it’s not the bared willies and public urinating that’s funny, it’s the resulting conversation and reason behind the situation occurring in the first place.
In everyday life, farting, poo, wee and snot will always be funny. However, in writing, these subjects have been covered comprehensively for decades by extremely talented writers and actors. It’s very hard to come up with an original way of inserting amusing bodily functions into a story.
I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m simply saying be very careful if you do – make sure your story requires Grandma to fart, for example, rather than just putting it in there for the sake of it.
Because Pauly (a good friend of mine) is a teacher, I’ve been lucky enough to judge a children’s humorous writing competition for his school. 95% of the stories kids aged 7-9 write involve farting, poo, wee, vomit and/or snot. That’s what children find funny.
Bear that in mind when writing for adults. While some of us still smirk when we drop a violently aromatic guff in a confined space shared with a loved one, it doesn’t always translate into a gripping focus for a story’s plot.
When I judged the competition for the school, I did this short video for Pauly to show the kids. I thought I'd include it here as it's about humorous writing.
me, talking about comedy writing
Avoid clichés. When you read a lot of short stories, like a magazine editor or a competition judge might, you encounter a lot of clichés – the same hackneyed phrases, used time and again (see what I did there? I’ve highlighted it in blue in case you missed it…).
Clichés become clichés because they are commonly used. This means they are not original. They do not help a writer create a unique voice. They do not engage a reader. They are unlikely to help you become a published author. More often than not (I did it again, did you notice?) they will lead to stories being rejected.
Cliché doesn’t just refer to common phraseology. It also refers to overused themes and subject matters. For example, I find a lot of older writers tend to write about people struggling to come to terms with retirement:
- Wives that find their husband’s constant presence annoying
- Husbands who decide to take up DIY to fill their time and make hilarious (often not…) mistakes
- Couples realising they have grown apart now their children have left home and try to do something about it
I see these types of stories a lot in the competition I run. If you’re going to tackle a subject matter like this, you must come up with an original angle.
Below is a video by InkTears CEO Anthony Howcroft. It’s entitled ‘How to Win a Short Story Competition’. It’s worth watching the whole thing, but pay special attention to tip number 1.
Exclamation marks do not make your writing funnier. If you use more than 1 at a time, they do not exponentially add hilarity to the previous sentence. In fact, they can have the opposite effect.
In my experience, many writers overuse exclamation marks, especially when trying to write comedy. There is plenty of advice on this elsewhere and opinions do differ. Still, the best comments I’ve seen are by Terry Pratchett and Elmore Leonard which were shared by the Guardian on Twitter.
The humour in a story should be natural and obvious. Exclamation marks should not be necessary for a reader to understand the joke. I don’t use exclamation points at all in my own short stories. When I edit the To Hull & Back humorous short story anthology every year, I remove them all. Am I right to do so? Feel free to discuss in the comments below.
Canadian author, Olivier Breuluex, recently took me up on the offer at the end of the previous paragraph. Our discussion was interesting, so I created a blog post from it. You can read it here .
Learn From Funny Films & Humorous Books
You can learn a lot from others. When you read a funny book, or watch a comedy film or TV programme, enjoy it, but ask questions:
- What makes you laugh?
- Is it the situation?
- Is it something someone has said?
- Is it how people interact?
- Is it the strength of character?
- Is it gags and jokes?
I find watching funny scenes a second time allows me to appreciate the techniques used to make someone laugh. First time through, it makes you chuckle. Second time through, ask yourself why you found it funny. You can then apply the same techniques to your own writing.
The authors I’d suggest reading are Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt and Douglas Adams. Yes, I like funny fantasy stories, and these gentlemen are the best in the field. Whether you like their style or not, you can learn from reading their work.
Here are a list of the funniest books I’ve read:
- A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
- Paint Your Dragon by Tom Holt
- Puckoon by Spike Milligan
- The Discworld Novels by Terry Pratchett (I think there are 44 novels in total – see reference here )
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and all the sequels) by Douglas Adams
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend
I think Only Fools and Horses is a great TV series to study. The stories are good, the characters incredibly strong. It’s usually the way they interact and talk to each other that makes the situation funny. John Sullivan had a talented way of switching from quite an emotional scene to something funny in a natural way. You can learn a lot building character from watching that programme – Del Boy and Rodney are incredibly strong and identifiable.
Others that have wide appeal and have been very successful:
- Absolutely Fabulous
- Fawlty Towers
- Garth Marenghi's Darkplace
- I’m Alan Partridge
- My Name is Earl
- Only Fools & Horses
- Police Squad!
- The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
- The Simpsons
- The Vicar of Dibley
Well, there are many. The ones that make me laugh the most are:
- Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
- Blazing Saddles
- Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
- Dr. Strangelove
- Dumb & Dumber
- Monty Python’s Life of Brian
- Shaun of the Dead
- The Big Lebowski
- The Blues Brothers
- The Man with 2 Brains
- The Naked Gun
- The Pink Panther Strikes Again
- The Producers
- There’s Something About Mary
- This Is Spinal Tap
- Trading Places
- Wayne’s World
Humour is Subjective
It’s worth mentioning that humour is subjective. What one person finds hilarious might irritate another. You can never hope to please everyone when writing a funny story, so don’t try to. Select an audience and try and appeal to them.
For example, I tend to write fantasy stories, and add the humour via the methods described in this post. It’s not ‘laugh out loud’ hilarious humour, it’s more subtle and underlying, often giving the stories a dark undertone. This doesn’t appeal to everyone, but I have been successful with the style and had a lot of stories published.
So don’t give up if one person doesn’t like your work. Listen to a wide range of opinions before deciding whether your use of comedy works or not.
There are a lot of comedy short stories available to read for free in the short stories section of the site. Many are written by me, but there are some by other authors. I am now publishing work from other writers. Please visit my submissions guideline page to learn more.
As a measure of quality control, every story featured on my website has been previously published, either through short story competitions, magazines or writing journals. So each story has been successful and deemed as being publishable by professional editors and competition judges.
Accompanying each story you will find information about how and why it was successful. This is to help other writers learn and apply tips and advice that are proven to work to their own writing.
You can also read lots of humorous short stories in the To Hull & Back anthologies. So far I’ve released two. At the time of writing I’m currently in the third year of running the competition.
You can learn more about the anthologies via the links below:
- To Hull & Back short story anthology 2016 contains 29 humorous short stories
- To Hull & Back short story anthology 2015 contains 26 humorous short stories
- To Hull & Back short story anthology 2014 contains 27 humorous short stories
Useful Links to Other Comedy Resources
Below are some useful links to other posts about writing humour.
- How Do You Write Good Comedy? by the Independent – features tips from comedy writers like Andy Hamilton, Graham Linehan, Holly Walsh and Ross Noble
- Comedy Writing Tips by the Guardian – concentrates on comedy script writing
How To Write a Short Story, Get Published & Make Money
If you found the information in this post useful, you might like my book ‘ How to Write a Short Story, Get Published & Make Money ’.
It contains lots of very detailed information about my experiences of writing funny short stories and getting them published. I use a lot of real-life case studies in the book, showing the reader whole stories rather than extracts, so they can fully understand how I used the different tips and advice to achieve success. I also share details of how much money I’ve made through writing, giving readers a clear idea of how much work is involved and what they can expect to earn from their own writing.
As always, your comments are welcome and I do my best to reply to everyone.
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Shirley M I spent yesterday learning how to write horror stories so here is another option, many thanks.
Chris Fielden Thanks, Shirley. Good luck with your horror writing :-)
Steph M Useful, thanks Chris. I'm up to over 33,000 words now on my book Top Hat Man. Phew.
Chris Fielden Thanks Steph.
That’s excellent news about the book – quite an achievement. Congratulations :-)
Chris D Hey Chris, I have actually been thinking about the issue of comedy in the modern age a lot... there is an awful lot of political correctness out there and it is interesting to me to see that things that people of our age find (found?) funny severely disturb younger people. I have a number of different projects in various states of disarray no doubt some of which could get me tarred and feathered in certain quarters.
Paul B Thanks Chris, I'm going to start working on a humourous piece this week so thanks.
Chris Fielden Chris - I know what you mean. I tend to ignore being PC – I think it can go too far sometimes. As long as you laugh with others and not at them I think you can poke fun at most things without causing offence. That’s what I like to believe, anyway!
Paul - excellent, good luck with it :-)
Mark F Nice!
Jan D Hello Chris. Humour, as you so rightly say, is subjective. Fantasy and Science Fiction attempts at humour leave me cold. As does resorting to foul language. Wee and poo jokes are hilarious to children and old boys.
I think humour should be used to break down political, cultural and religious barriers. Let's all laugh at ourselves and others. Beneath every successfully funny joke lurks something sad or serious. My interest (I'm 65 soon) is in comedy script writing.
Wishing you continuing success with your short stories.
Chris Fielden Hi Jan, thanks for commenting. I agree - using humour to break down barriers is a good idea.
I wish you the best of luck with your script writing endeavours.
Chris D Thanks for the reply.
I was working all weekend on a long story (10,000 words!) which I have been attempting since 2013 and will eventually finish. In your experience, is there any kind of market for stories of such a length? It has the same kind of realism as your story about the war vet - it's just much, much longer. I know it is sort of a grey area between the short story and novellette/novella family, so I don't want to waste my time sending out to magazines that don't consider that length of story. Any advice most appreciated!
Chris Fielden Hi Chris. The market for stories around the 10K length is a bit limited – most competitions and magazines ask for anywhere up to 8,000 words. But there are magazines out there (and a handful of competitions) that accept stories of that length. You’ll just have to do a bit of research I’m afraid.
Luckily there are some good lists on my site which can help you get started :-)
Margaret M Dear Chris, thank you for your writing advice. Do you like David Sedaris? I met him in Bournemouth and he was so... nice. I am a sad elderly (66) woman, with almost constant hip pain and MS. Husband has ME, so you can imagine the fun we have some days. I write most days and will enter your To Hull and Back Competition. At present have RSI, but what's life without whimsy? LOL
Chris Fielden Hi Maggie, sorry to hear about the MS and ME. I'll look forward to reading your entry :-)
Aimee J Hey Chris. Sorry for being a bit of a bother, but does sarcasm generally work well in regards to making a situation humorous?
Chris Fielden Hi Aimee. It can do - it depends on the situation, characters and plot. Just ask yourself whether sarcasm fits and adds to the story.
I think it's subjective really, so there isn't a yes or no answer to that question I'm afraid.
Billy C Thank you for this.
Chris Fielden No problem, Billy :-)
Jeanne J Hey Chris, do you know you're 'shot in the head...' link goes to a pink shopping site? Anyhoo, hope to send you something funnier that.
Chris Fielden Hey Jeanne. Hmm... nice shopping site. Looks like the old site the story used to be on has been hacked so I've removed the link.
Thanks for letting me know - muchos appreciated.
Cheri J Very helpful, thank you!
Chris Fielden No problem, thanks Cheri :-)
Nick B Hi Chris. Brilliant article. I'll be coming back to refer a number of times. As it happens, 2 of my favourite authors are Douglas and Terry. I love the Discworld series - especially those involving the Night Watch characters. I've just started writing again after a 10 yr break. I'm doing fantasy and attempting comedy with it. Two firsts for me. Thank you. Hope I can produce something you would be proud of.
Chris Fielden Thanks very much, Nick. It sounds like we have similar tastes when it comes to reading.
I like the Night Watch stories too. I saw a stage production in London and Paul Darrow (of Blake's 7 fame) played Sam Vimes. It was great.
Anyway. Good luck with your writing. I hope the 10 year break gave you lots of time to come up with some good story ideas :-)
Wesley W It seems I've been making people laugh anyway. I'm wondering, I've got a pile of flash fiction that might raise a laugh, and am thinking I might try one of them.
Chris Fielden Always nice to hear from a fellow humourist, Wesley.
Good idea re flash fiction. There are an ever growing number of opportunities for very short stories. I list many opportunities for flash here .
I hope that's helpful - good luck with your stories and submissions.
Linh N Do you know any comedy podcasts?
Chris Fielden Hi Linh. There are hundreds of them...
I'd recommend just doing a Google search so you can find some that appeal to you.
The BBC is quite a good place to start.
Zoe I This helped me learn a lot of things about writing comedy stories, thanks a lot to Christopher.
Chris Fielden You're welcome Zoe :-)
Ellie A The bottom two links in your "Useful links to other comedy sources" section no longer work.
Chris Fielden Thank you for letting me know, Ellie, very much appreciated. I have removed the offending links.
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Top 100 Short Story Ideas
by Joe Bunting | 128 comments
Do you want to write but just need a great story idea? Or perhaps you have too many ideas and can’t choose the best one? Well, good news. We’ve got you covered.
Below are one hundred short story ideas for all your favorite genres. You can use them as a book idea, as writing prompts for writing contests , for stories to publish in literary magazines , or just for fun!
Use these 100 story ideas to get your creative writing started now.
Editor’s note: This is a recurring guide, regularly updated with ideas and information.
If you're in a hurry, here's my 10 best story ideas in brief, or scroll down for the full version.
Top 10 Story Ideas
- Tell the story of a scar.
- A group of children discover a dead body.
- A young prodigy becomes orphaned.
- A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost.
- A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her.
- A talented young man's deepest fear is holding his life back.
- A poor young boy or girl comes into an unexpected fortune.
- A shy, young woman unexpectedly bumps into her soulmate.
- A long journey is interrupted by a disaster.
- A young couple run into the path of a psychopath.
Why Creative Writing Prompts Are Helpful
Below, you'll find our best creative writing prompts and plot ideas for every genre, but first, why do we use prompts? Is it just a waste of time, or can they actually help you? Here are three reasons we love writing prompts at The Write Practice:
1. Practice the Language!
Even for those of us who are native English speakers, we're all on a language journey to go from beginners to skilled writers. To make progress on this language journey, you have to practice, and at The Write Practice, believe it or not, we're really into practice! Creative writing prompts are easy, fun ways to practice.
Use the prompts below to practice your storytelling and use of language. The more you practice, the better of a writer you'll become.
2. When you have no ideas and are stuck.
Sometimes, you want to write, but you can't think up any ideas. You could either just sit there, staring at a blank page, or you could find a few ideas to help you get started. Even better if the list of ideas is curated from our best plot ideas over the last decade that we've been publishing lessons, writing exercises, and prompts.
Use the story ideas below to get your writing started. Then when your creativity is warmed up, you'll start to come up with your own ideas!
3. To develop your own ideas.
Maybe you do have an idea already, but you're not sure it's good. Or maybe you feel like it's just missing some small piece to make it better. By reading other ideas, and incorporating your favorites into your story, you can fill your plot holes and generate creative ideas of your own.
Use the story ideas below to develop your own ideas.
4. They're fun!
Thousands of writers use the prompts below every month, some at home, some in classrooms, and even a few pros at their writing “office.” Why? Because writing prompts can be fun. They get your creativity started, help you come up with new ideas of your own, and often take your writing in new, unexpected directions.
Use the plot ideas to have more fun with writing!
How to Write a Story
One last thing before we get to the 100 story ideas, let’s talk about how to write a great short story . (Already know how to write a great story? No problem. Just skip down to the ideas below.)
- First, read stories. If you’ve never read a story, you’re going to have a hard time writing one. Where do you find great stories? There are a lot of places, but check out our list of 46 Literary Magazines we’ve curated over here .
- Write your story in a single sitting. Write the first draft of your story in as short a time as possible, and if you’re writing a short story , try to write it in one sitting. Trust me, this works. Everyone hates being interrupted when they’re telling compelling stories. Use that to your advantage and don’t stop writing until you’ve finished telling yours.
- Read your draft. Read your story through once, without changing anything. This will give you a sense of what work it needs going forward.
- Write a premise. After reading your first draft, get your head around the main idea behind your story by summarizing your story in a one sentence premise. Your premise should contain four things: a character, a goal, a situation, and a special sauce. Not sure what that means or how to actually do that? Here’s a full premise writing guide .
- Write, edit, write, and edit. Good writing is rewriting. Use your second draft to fill in the plot holes and cut out the extraneous scenes and characters you discovered when you read the first draft in step #2. Then, polish up your final draft on the next round of edits.
- Submit! Real writers don’t keep their writing all to themselves. They share it. Submit your story to a literary magazine , an anthology series , enter it into a writing contest , or even share it with a small group of friends. And if it gets rejected, don’t feel bad. You’ll be in good company.
Want to know more? Learn more about how to write a great short story here .
Our 100 Best Short Story Ideas, Plot Ideas, and Creative Writing Prompts
Ready to get writing? Here are our 100 best short story ideas to kickstart your writing. Enjoy!
10 Best General Short Story Ideas
Our first batch of plot ideas are for any kind of story, whether a spy thriller or a memoir of your personal life story. Here are the best story ideas:
- Tell the story of a scar, whether a physical scar or emotional one. To be a writer, said Stephen King, “The only requirement is the ability to remember every scar .”
- A group of children discover a dead body. Good writers don’t turn away from death, which is, after all, the universal human experience. Instead, they look it directly into its dark face and describe what they see on the page.
- A young prodigy becomes orphaned. Orphans are uniquely vulnerable, and as such, they have the most potential for growth.
- A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost. What do Edgar Allen Poe, Ron Weasley, King Saul from the Bible, Odysseus, and Ebenezer Scrooge have in common? They all encountered ghosts!
- A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her. “In life every ending is just a new beginning,” says Dakota Fanning’s character in Uptown Girls.
- A talented young man’s deepest fear is holding his life back. Your character’s biggest fear is your story’s secret weapon. Don’t run from it, write about it.
- A poor young boy or girl comes into an unexpected fortune. Not all fortunes are good. Sometimes discovering a fortune will destroy your life.
- A shy, young woman unexpectedly bumps into her soulmate (literally bumps into him). In film, this is called the “meet cute,” when the hero bumps into the heroine in the coffee shop or the department store or the hallway, knocking her books to the floor, and forcing them into conversation.
- A long journey is interrupted by a disaster. Who hasn’t been longing to get to a destination only to be delayed by something unexpected? This is the plot of Gravity , The Odyssey , and even Lord of the Rings .
- A young couple run into the path of a psychopath. Monsters, whether people who do monstrous things or scaly beasts or a monster of a natural disaster, reveal what’s really inside a person. Let your character fall into the path of a monster and see how they handle themselves.
Now that you have an idea, learn exactly what to do with it. Check out my new book The Write Structure which helps writers take their ideas and write books readers love. Click to check out The Write Structure here.
More Short Story Ideas Based on Genre
Need more ideas? Here are ideas based on whichever literary genre you write. Use them as character inspiration, to start your own story, or borrow pieces to generate your own ideas. The only rule is, have fun writing!
By the way, for more story writing tips for each these plot types, check out our full guide to the 10 types of stories here .
10 Thriller Story Ideas
A thriller is any story that “thrills” the reader—i.e., gets adrenaline pumping, the heart racing, and the emotions piqued.
Thrillers come in all shapes and forms, dipping freely into other genres. In other words, expect the unexpected!
Here are a few of my favorite thriller story ideas :
Rosa Rivera-Ortiz is an up-and-coming lawyer in a San Diego firm. Held back by her ethnicity and her gender, she works twice as hard as her colleagues, and she’s as surprised as anyone when she’s requested specifically for a high-profile case. Bron Welty, an A-list actor and action star, has been arrested for the murder of his live-in housekeeper. The cop heading the case is older, ex-military, a veteran of more than one war, and an occasional sufferer of PTSD. Rosa’s hired to defend the movie star; and it seems like an easy win until she uncovers some secrets that not only make her believe her client is guilty, but may be one of the worst serial killers in the past two decades… and he knows she found out .
It’s the Cold War. Sergei, a double-agent for the CIA working in Berlin, is about to retire when he’s given one final mission: he’s been asked to “defect” to the USSR to help find and assassinate a suspected double-agent for the Kremlin. Sergei is highly trusted, and he’s given to understand that this mission is need-to-know only between him and very few superior officers. But as he falls deeper into the folds of the Iron Curtain, he begins to suspect that his superior officer might just be the mole, and the mark Sergei’s been sent to kill is on the cusp of exposing the leak.
It is 1800. A lighthouse on a barren cliff in Canada. Two lighthouse keepers, German immigrants, are alone for the winter and effectively cut off from the rest of the world until the ice thaws. Both Wilhelm and Matthias are settled in for the long haul with warm clothes, canned goods, and matches a-plenty. Then Wilhelm starts hearing voices. His personal belongings disappear from where he’d placed them, only to reappear in strange spots—like the catwalk, or dangling beneath the spiral stair knotted in brown twine. Matthias begs innocence. Little by little, Wilhelm grows convinced that Matthias is trying to convince him (Wilhelm) to kill himself. Is the insanity real, or is this really Matthias’ doing? And if it is real, what will he do to defend himself? There are so many months until the thaw.
20 Mystery Story Ideas
Enjoy a good whodunit? Then you’ll love these mystery story ideas .
Here are a few of my favorites:
Ever hear the phrase, “It is not who fired the shot but who paid for the bullet?” This is a philosophy Tomoe Gozen lives by. Brave and clever, Tomoe follows clues until she learns who ordered the murder: Emperor Antoku himself. But why would the emperor of Japan want to kill a lowly soldier?
Mystery writer Dan Rodriguez takes the subway every day. Every day, nothing happens. He wears earbuds and a hoodie; he’s ignored, and he ignores. Then one evening, on his way home from a stressful meeting with his publisher, Dan is startled out of his funk when a frantic Middle-Eastern man knocks him over at a dead run, then races up the stairs—pursued by several other thugs. The Middle-Eastern man is shot; and Dan discovers a mysterious package in the front pocket of his hoodie. What’s inside, and what does he need to do to survive the answer?
A headless corpse is found in a freshly-dug grave in Arkansas. The local police chief, Arley Socket, has never had to deal with more than missing gas cans and treed cats. His exploration of this weird murder digs up a mystery older than the 100-year-old town of Jericho that harkens all the way back to a European blood-feud.
20 Romance Story Ideas
Ready to write a love story? Or perhaps you want to create a subplot with a secondary character? We've got ideas for you!
Hint: When it comes to romance, a sense of humor is always a good idea. Have fun! Here are a few of my favorite love story ideas :
She’s a cop. He’s the owner of a jewelry store. A sudden rash of break-ins brings her to his store over and over and over again, until it becomes obvious that he might be tripping the alarm on purpose—just to see her. That’s illegal—but she’s kind of falling for him, too. Write the moment she realizes she has to do something about this crazy illicit courtship.
Colorado Animal Rescue has never been more challenging than after that zoo caught on fire. Sally Cougar (no jokes on the name, or she’ll kill you) tracks down three missing tiger cubs, only to find they’ve been adopted by millionaire Bryce Champion. Thanks to an antiquated law on the books, he legally has the right to keep them. It’s going to take everything Sally has to get those tiger cubs back.
He’s a museum curator with a fetish for perfection. No one’s ever gotten close to him; how could they? They’re never as perfect as the portraits, the sculptures, the art that never changes. Then one day, an intern is hired on—a young, messy, disorganized intern, whose hair and desk are in a constant state of disarray. The curator is going half-mad with this walking embodiment of chaos; so why can’t the he stand the thought of the intern leaving at the end of their assistantship?
20 Sci-Fi Story Ideas
From the minimum-wage-earning, ancient-artifact-hunting time traveller to the space-exploring, sentient dinosaurs, these sci-fi writing prompts will get you set loose your inner nerd.
Here are a few of my favorite sci-fi ideas :
In a future society, neural implants translate music into physical pleasure, and earphones (“jacking in”) are now the drug of choice. Write either from the perspective of a music addict, OR the Sonforce agent (sonance + enforcer) who has the job of cracking down.
It’s the year 5000. Our planet was wrecked in the great Crisis of 3500, and remaining human civilization survives only in a half dozen giant domed cities. There are two unbreakable rules: strict adherence to Life Quality (recycling doesn’t even begin to cover these laws), and a complete ban on reproduction (only the “worthy” are permitted to create new humans). Write from the perspective of a young woman who just discovered she’s been chosen to reproduce—but she has no interest in being a mother.
So yeah, ancient Egypt really was “all that” after all, and the pyramids turn out to be fully functional spaceships (the limestone was to preserve the electronics hidden inside). Write from the perspective of the tourist exploring the ancient society who accidentally turns one on.
20 Fantasy Story Ideas
Need a dose of sword-in-the-stone, hero and/or heroine packed coming-of-age glory? We love fantasy stories!
Here are a few of my favorite fantasy story ideas:
Bored teenaged wizards throwing a graduation celebration.
Uncomfortable wedding preparation between a magic wielding family tree and those more on the Muggle side of things.
A fairy prince who decides to abandon his responsibilities to become a street musician.
Just try to not have fun writing (or even just reading!) these fantasy writing prompts.
The Secret to Choosing the Best Story Idea
Stories, more than any other artistic expression, have the power to make people care. Stories have the ability to change people’s lives.
But to write a great story, a life-changing story, don’t just write about what your characters did, said, and saw. Ask yourself, “Where do I fit in to this story? What is my personal connection to this story?”
Robert Frost said this:
If you can connect your personal story to the story you’re writing, you will not only be more motivated to finish your story, you might just be able to change the lives of your readers.
Next Step: Write Your Best Story
No matter how good your idea, writing a story or a book can be a long difficult process. How do you create an outline, come up with a great plot, and then actually finish it?
My new book The Write Structure will help. You'll learn how to take your idea and structure a strong plot around it. Then you'll be guided through the exact process I've used to write dozens of short stories and over fifteen books.
You can learn more about The Write Structure and get your copy here.
Get The Write Structure here »
Have a great short story idea? We'd love to hear it. Share it in the comments !
Choose one of these ideas and write a short story in one sitting (aim for 1,000 words or less!). When you're finished, share your story in the practice box below (or our latest writing contest ) for feedback from the community. And if you share, please be sure to comment on a few stories by other writers.
Enter your practice here:
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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).
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How to Write Funny Stories
Last Updated: April 20, 2022 References
This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 198,851 times.
Humor is an important part of everyday life. People use humor to help ease tense situations, relieve stress and sadness, and bond with others over a good laugh. If you have a great sense of humor and you're interested in writing, you may be wondering how to combine your talents. Writing a funny story is not as hard as you might think, so get started on your manuscript and let your comedic tales bring laughter to others.
Funny Story Help
Planning Your Story
- Observational humor involves pointing out humorous or mundane situations in everyday life, as well as poking fun at others, often in a playful manner.
- Anecdotal humor focuses on humorous personal stories, which may be slightly embellished for comedic effect.
- Burlesque involves caricature and imitation, often with exaggerated characteristics.
- Dark (or gallows) humor involves death and other types of misfortune, often with a comically pessimistic viewpoint.
- Dry (or deadpan) humor uses a lack of emotion or expression to deliver funny material.
- Farcical (or screwball) humor uses skits or satire involving highly improbable circumstances, often with exaggerated reactions and frantic movements.
- High (or highbrow) humor involves cultured or intelligent topics/themes.
- Hyperbolic humor uses excess and exaggeration for comedic effect.
- Ironic humor involves either a split from normalcy or a situation in which the audience knows more than the characters know.
- Satirical humor points out a person's or society's weaknesses and downfalls with comedic effect.
- Self-deprecating humor features the comedian or storyteller making fun of themself.
- Situational humor employs some elements of farce, screwball, or slapstick comedy to make fun of everyday situations.
- Slapstick involves acting out mock violence or bodily harm through physical comedy.
- Brainstorm ideas. If you're stuck, try watching funny movies and reading funny stories for inspiration.
- Write down strange or funny situations you've experienced in the past. Don't worry about making them funny right now. Just write out what you can remember about the experience and why you found it humorous.
- Choose a vivid setting that your audience will be able to imagine. They'll be better able to understand the humor if they can imagine the setting. The setting itself doesn't have to be funny (though it can be), but it should make sense for the characters and plot you're creating.
- Think about what you ultimately want your story to say. What will the overarching point of your story be? Is it a story about overcoming adversity? Is it a commentary on modern society?
- Your story's conflict should create tension. Because it's a funny story, that tension may be funny itself, or the circumstances around it (how it builds, or how it is resolved) could be humorous. Most commonly, the way you resolve the tension in a comedic story will provide much of the humor.
- Additionally, always create some kind of stakes. A good story has some outcome on the line for the characters, which may be funny or tragic (but needs to be realistic).
- Sketch out the rising action, climax, and falling action. The climax is typically the high point of tension, and the rising and falling actions build up and relieve that tension (respectively).
- In the Chris Farley movie Tommy Boy , for example, the conflict is the risk that Tommy's evil mother-in-law and her secret husband will sell the business and get away with it. The tension arises from that conflict as the narrative builds to a point where everything must be resolved.
- First person - this is where a story is told using "I," "me," and "mine." It's one character's subjective take on the events of your story, and the narrator is usually either the protagonist (the main character) or a close secondary character telling the protagonist's story.
- Second person - a story told in second person is told directly to "you" (without any "I," except in dialogue). The reader imagines herself as being part of the plot, with the action written in the following manner: "You follow him down the stairs, and you're surprised at what you see."
- Third person omniscient - this is where an omniscient (all-seeing and all-knowing) narrator delivers the story, without ever referring to an "I" or addressing the reader as "you." The reader comes to understand the events, thoughts, and motivations each character experiences.
- Third person limited - while told in a similar narrative style as third person omniscient, third person limited only offers insights into the thoughts/feelings of one character. The narrative follows the protagonist and delivers the world as he/she experiences it.
- Let's say your story is about a man who is invited out to lunch. He shows up to lunch wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops, plus he brought his dog. However, the restaurant turns out to be an upscale 5-star eatery with a dress code. Although the situation itself might not seem funny, it's a great source of humor because it flips your expectations. By contrasting the classy restaurant with the man's casual attire, you can set the scene for readers and help them relate to the character's funny situation.
- Remember that there are many different kinds of humor. Your characters might be sarcastic, dumb, observant, and so on.
- The Three Stooges program offers a great example of funny characters. Their style of humor was predominantly slapstick, but much of the humor arises from their personalities, quirks, and reactions to both situations and each other.
- Let each character's humor arise from his or her personality, and be consistent with that character's traits.
- Don't worry about crafting the character's entire backstory yet (though you will have to do this once you begin the actual writing process). For now, focus on getting a clear idea in your head about what the characters look like and how they behave.
Writing the Story
- A good first paragraph should hook your reader's attention and interest.
- Don't worry about making the beginning funny; you can always insert humor during the revision process. Focus on engaging the reader by evoking the scene or situation.
- Try incorporating something unusual, something unexpected, a striking action, or an interesting conflict in the first paragraph. This creates tension and a sense of urgency, and the reader will want to continue.
- Always know more about a character than you'll ever actually use in the story. Flesh out the character in your head before you begin writing so that he or she will feel real to you and to the reader.
- Brainstorm what makes this character unique. Consider what he looks like, his hobbies, temperament, phobias, faults, strengths, secrets, defining moments/memories, etc.
- Make sure you convey four main characteristics to your readers: a character's appearance, actions, speech, and thoughts. Any other details can support those characteristics, but without those four your character may not come to life for a reader.
- Many people find that humorous stories/anecdotes are funnier than an actual joke. Jokes can elicit a laugh, but they're short lived and generally less memorable than a true story of embarrassment or mistaken identity.
- Don't just stop at your own personal anecdotes. Mine your previous conversations with friends, family, and coworkers, and try to incorporate their moments of humor.
- David Sedaris is a great comedic writer who uses personal anecdotes as a jumping off point to talk about the comedic (and at times tragic) aspects of human nature and experience. Try reading his essays online or pick up one of his many books for inspiration and examples.
- Use specific details that illustrate the point you're trying to make. Instead of telling the reader a character is sad, show him crying and running off to be alone.
- Let the reader assemble the pieces of the scene or event on her own. This will help the reader feel your emotions more genuinely.
- Be specific and use concrete descriptions. Avoid the abstract or intangible, and instead focus on something the reader can imagine seeing, hearing, touching, or feeling.
Revising Your Story to Make It Funnier
- Find a new and interesting way to say something familiar. This can be very funny, and it also keeps your readers on their toes.  X Research source
- Try using funny adjectives in your descriptions. Again, the focus should be on saying something in a way that surprises or delights the reader.
- Many comedians find that words with a hard "k" sound (like "car" or "quintuplet") simply sound funnier. The same is true for words with a hard "g" sound (like "guacamole" or "garrulous")
- Use similes and metaphors that evoke familiar images.  X Research source For example, you might say something like, "Making it through this week will be about as easy as painting an elephant's toenails; I hope I make it out alive."
- A simile is a comparison that uses "like" or "as". An example of a simile would be, "Your love is like a flower."
- A metaphor is a comparison that describes something as though it were actually something else. An example of a metaphor would be, "My heart is a pounding drum."
- A humorous comparison might be something like, "He danced like a horse drunk on wine...but he was still a better dance partner than I was."
- Try out different comparisons until you find one that is effective and makes you laugh, then test it out on someone else to see if they find it funny.
- It's okay to poke fun at others close to you (your friends, family, etc.). But if you just hammer on them without taking a jab at yourself it may come across as mean or arrogant.
- Worrying about offending others can stifle your comedy.  X Research source Making fun of yourself lets readers know it's okay to laugh along with you, since no one else is being unfairly targeted.
- Talk about personal experiences, things that have happened to your friends/family/coworkers, and any other aspects of your life that have brought you funny stories - just be sure to bring the mockery down on yourself at least as much as you make fun of others.
- Let your readers discover the humor of your situation on their own. That will make for stronger storytelling, and it will let your jokes land better for the reader.
- This ties in with the "show, don't tell" rule. Just as you showed your reader a scene or a character with skillful description, you should likewise show your reader the funny description or action sequence without saying it was funny.
- The rule of threes relies on pairing two similar ideas/events/people together so that the reader recognizes a pattern forming.
- Once the reader expects the pattern to continue, you deliver a third idea/event/person that goes in a direction the reader did not expect.
- This works best with groups of three because it's a low enough number that most people will easily remember each item, but it's also just enough items that the reader will come to see a pattern and expect it to continue.
- As an example of the rule of three, you might say something like, "I don't know what's wrong with my dog; I've taken him to obedience classes, I learned how to discipline him, but he still hasn't helped me meet anyone at the dog park."
- Comedic timing may involve an element of surprise, misdirection, or simply building suspense in order to let a funny line land at the best possible moment.
- An example of comedic timing might involve writing something like, "This dating tip always works and it will drive your partner crazy...except for when it fails."
- Don't lose focus of what your story is actually about. It can be a very funny story, but it needs to be a strongly-written story first.
- Try to limit the use of humor throughout the story. That way, when a funny line really lands well, it will be memorable and exceptionally funny.
- It may be helpful to set your story aside for a few days before approaching it to edit and revise. When you look at your story with a fresh pair of eyes, you're more likely to catch the mistakes that you might otherwise have missed.
- Consider having a friend read your story, and ask for feedback. You should also ask your friend to circle or underline any typos, grammatical/syntactical errors, and weak or unresolved segments of the plot.
- Consider writing a parody. Parodies can be very funny, and it might be easier because you start with an existing storyline. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Make your stories unpredictable. Always try to predict your readers' expectations and deliver something totally unexpected. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Remember, ideas won't come to you on your own. You need to be patient and find your own inspiration. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Don't overdo your humor. Too many funny parts crammed into a single story might overwhelm or even bore a reader. It's better to make a few funny parts count, and they'll be more memorable and draw more laughs. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 7 Not Helpful 0
Things You'll Need
You might also like.
- ↑ http://www.dailywritingtips.com/20-types-and-forms-of-humor/
- ↑ http://jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/creative1/shortstory/
- ↑ http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-to-write-funny-dialogue-what-i-learned-writing-storming/
- ↑ http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-mix-humor-into-your-writing
- ↑ http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/may02/seven-steps-to-better-writing-humor-5026
- ↑ http://writetodone.com/how-to-write-funny/
- ↑ http://thewritepractice.com/four-commandments-to-writing-funny/
About This Article
The key to writing funny stories is to come up with funny scenarios and using comedic language to describe the action. Choose a vivid setting for your story to take place in and come up with a funny incident for your plot to build off of. For instance, the setting could be a high school gym and the inciting incident could be a football player dressed as a cheerleader at a pep rally. Introduce your characters by describing who they are and what they look like so your audience can imagine the situation. Your descriptions themselves can be funny and help you set the scene. Try detailing 2 things that shouldn’t normally go together or describe the absurdity of how a person or place looks. Avoid actually telling your readers that something is funny. Instead, let the humor in the situation and the characters make it funny. For tips about how to work in funny anecdotes into a story, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Home / Book Writing / Funny Writing Prompts: 50+ Ideas to Get Your Started
Funny Writing Prompts: 50+ Ideas to Get Your Started
Books, novellas, and short stories that can make readers laugh are always in high demand. After all, who doesn't like laughing? Some say it's the best medicine. But, as any stand-up comedian will tell you, comedy is hard.
Luckily, with the right premise, you can craft a funny story that will make readers hungry for more. And that's just what these funny writing prompts will help you do.
- Tips on using comedy in your writing.
- Some humorous books to read for inspiration.
- Funny creative writing prompts.
Table of contents
- Know Your Genre
- Humor Through Character
- Keep Things Natural
- Make it Relatable
- Read Humorous Books
- Funny Writing Prompts
- Test Your Funny Book Idea
Tips for Funny Story Writing
Humor is subjective, so a funny story that gets one group of people laughing may not elicit so much as a smile from another group. That's okay. As a writer, it's important to know that not everyone will like your work. But with the tips below, you can position your comedic story (or scene) for the ultimate effect .
Humor shouldn't be relegated to only comedies. In fact, authors in all different genres use humor to enhance their stories. But before you start shoving jokes into your work in progress, consider the norms of your genre. What do other authors do? Do you even need comedy in your book? If so, how much?
Even works that are considered comedies aren't all jokes. There need to be peaks and valleys in your story. Because if you're trying to make the reader laugh all the time, they won't be able to catch their breath and settle in for another laughing fit.
One of the best ways to convey humor is through one of your point of view (POV) characters . Maybe your normally stoic main character has a funny habit of breaking the tension with an offhand remark or a silly phrase that he says at the most inopportune moments.
Likewise, you may create a whole character whose main purpose is comedic relief. This doesn't have to be a POV character, but it can be. An inside joke between two characters can also work well, provided the reader is in on the joke!
Readers know when they're being played to. So if you're being funny just for the sake of it, they'll be able to tell. The humor in your novel or story should have something to do with plot, character development , or story. In other words, comedy should arise naturally from the aspects of your story.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to make readers laugh, but forcing it will often backfire.
Most successful stand-up comedians make the mundane hilarious. They take the doldrums of everyday life and provide a new perspective or spin on them. This also works well in storytelling. Sometimes the funniest thing is the one that makes people go, “Oh yeah, it is like that!”
Whether it be observations about social media, a popular book or TV show, or a twist on the daily grind, it's possible to find comedy all around us.
You can't expect to sharpen your comedy writing skills without first seeing how other authors do it. The books below are just a few to consider when studying the craft of comedic writing.
- Anything by Christopher Moore (fiction).
- Anything by David Sedaris (memoir).
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
- Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
- Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
- Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
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Pick a funny writing prompt from the list below to get the creative juices flowing. Since there's a wide range of uses for comedy across all genres, not every prompt below will be suitable for an entire novel. Some are designed to start off a scene or a short story. Others you can use to break through writer's block by writing a poem or a funny anecdote. Do with them whatever you will. They're yours to use freely!
1. Write a scene in which a man is arguing with some unseen character. At the end, it turns out it's his dog. What is the conversation like? Why is it happening?
2. Think about your favorite thing to do on vacation. Now write about a character who's stuck doing that thing over and over again in a time loop.
3. Start a story about two hitmen haggling over who gets to assassinate the known crime lord.
4. What would happen if animals could talk to humans? If this was normal, what would the world be like?
5. Explore the implications of a modern high school student who finds him or herself alive before the internet was invented.
6. Start a story in the middle of a bank robbery in progress. But the robbers are elderly men who can't stop bickering.
7. What would happen if a demon invaded the body of a highly neurotic and eccentric person? Turns out, the demon inside the person allows them to live how they always wanted, but the demon wants to leave.
8. Write a romance about two people who connect over their shared love of extreme ironing.
9. Explore the world of a stunt woman. She continues to put her body on the line for the work, but inside she thinks she's the biggest wimp in the world.
10. In a world of superheroes, the villains have their own support groups where you get to see a very different side of them. Turns out, the villains may not be the real villains of this story. . .
11. A new drug hits the market that makes everyone happy. Unfortunately, your protagonist is happiest when she's miserable. What does this new “happy” world look like through his eyes?
12. A young man suddenly becomes a viral sensation for his comedy routine. But the sudden fame is more than he can handle. Much more.
13. Write about a local neighborhood watch group filled with zany characters who must solve the mystery of the missing garden gnomes.
14. Write about a supervillain's parents. What are they like? Are they proud of their son or daughter?
15. Write about a high school student who learns she can disappear whenever something really embarrassing happens to her. Does she use this newfound power for good or bad?
16. Your protagonist stumbles upon proof that we live in a simulation. How does this change his outlook and actions? Does he try to tell the world?
17. Explore two best friends who are participating in an ongoing prank war that's getting way out of hand.
18. Start your story with an argument between two rival business owners who eventually become fast friends.
19. Follow a protagonist who goes outside one day to find that everyone is naked—and looking at her like she's the crazy one.
20. Start your story with a character successfully outwitting Death to stay alive for just a bit longer.
21. Write about a doomsday prepper who prepares for every eventuality . . . but this one.
22. Write about a character who thinks their television is talking to them by name.
23. Write about a wedding in which everything goes comically wrong—and how the wedding party rallies to make things okay in the end.
24. Write about a utility worker who stumbles on an underground society of mutants in the city sewers.
25. Write about a group of friends who get together once a year to fight each other. Why do they do it? What do they get out of this strange fight club?
26. Start a story in which a character is trying to reenact something they've seen on YouTube – with hilarious consequences.
27. A bumbling father takes it upon himself to deal with the petty crime in his neighborhood. But he stumbles upon a hilarious conspiracy enacted by the homeowners association.
28. A professional athlete starts having terrible luck, both on and off the field. He does everything he can think of to break the bad streak.
29. A billionaire CEO decides after a near-death experience to give all his money away. But there are a whole bunch of people who do whatever they can to convince him otherwise.
30. A woman who's about to be married to an “okay” guy finds a love letter in the mailbox. It has been mailed to her by mistake, and she takes it upon herself to deliver it to the real recipient.
31. Write about a group of scammers getting into a con war with another group of scammers.
32. A group of vampires goes on vacation only to find that their arch-enemies the werewolves have laid claim to their favorite spot.
33. Artificial Intelligence robots are rolled out, but a software glitch makes them act like bumbling idiots who inadvertently threaten the collapse of society.
34. There's something wrong with the world. Something's just a little off. But your character can't quite figure out what it is.
35. Explore what it's like at a national liars convention.
36. A girl realizes she's in a horror movie. But she also knows that she's not the final girl—she's one who dies in the first half!
37. A group of cowboys on a cattle drive in the 1800s wind up getting attacked by bumbling aliens.
38. Write about a wildlife television show host who's constantly getting attacked by animals.
39. Write a time travel story in which the character keeps trying to fix her love life only to keep getting thwarted—by herself.
40. Write about a 4th-grade teacher who wins the lottery and decides to retire. But then her class shows up and begs her to come back to teach them.
41. Explore a character who can't help but dance every time her favorite song comes on. She lives in perpetual fear of hearing the song while in public.
42. An irresponsible man ends up having to take care of his five nephews and nieces after tragedy strikes. He learns to be responsible very quickly.
43. A woman obsessed with American 1970s culture gets the chance to travel back in time.
44. A man gets a hilarious text message from a random number. Thinking it a clever salesperson, he goes along with the messages. But things soon get way out of control.
45. After being told, rather rudely, that he tells the same stories over and over again, a man drops everything and goes on an adventure to get some new stories to tell his friends and family.
46. The utterance of a random word makes a brainwashed secret agent go into assassin mode. Only she turns out to be the worst assassin ever.
47. A woman who thinks she has the best idea for a new product quits her job in spectacular fashion, only to learn that someone else has already had the idea.
48. Write an embarrassing poem from one of your characters’ point of view. Why did they write the poem? What did they write it about? What would happen if someone happened upon it?
49. Write a spoof of The War of the Worlds in which the aliens all develop terrible allergies, which only makes things worse for the humans.
50. Write a few diary or journal prompts for your main character from when they were a teenager. (If they are a teenager, all the better). Make sure to add some cringe to the entries!
Hopefully, the creative writing ideas above have given you some inspiration to use for your next book or short story. You can even take inspiration from a funny joke, your favorite book, or a funny thing you saw on YouTube. Professional writers will tell you that ideas are a dime a dozen. It's the execution that really makes something shine. So pick a fun writing prompt and get to work!
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How to Write a Short Story in 5 Steps
Short stories are to novels what TV episodes are to movies. Short stories are a form of narrative writing that has all the same elements as novels—plot, character development, point of view, story structure, theme—but are delivered in fewer words. For many writers, short stories are a less daunting way to dive into creative writing than attempting to write a novel . This doesn’t mean writing short fiction is easy—it, like every other kind of writing, comes with its own unique challenges.
If you’re wondering how to write a short story, we’re here to help. We’ve got tips for everything from coming up with short story ideas to fleshing out a plot to getting your work published in literary magazines.
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What is a short story?
A short story is a short, self-contained work of fiction that generally falls between 1,000 and 10,000 words.
Because of this length constraint, short stories tend to be less complex than longer works—in certain ways. In a short story, you can build a world, but not to the extent you can build a world in a (longer) novel. Similarly, you can have multiple fleshed-out characters, but you can’t give every character a full backstory and meaningful character arc like you can in a lengthier work. Generally, long, intricate plots with multiple subplots are better suited to novel-length works than a short story.
Don’t take this to mean your short story’s theme can’t be as deep as a longer work’s theme. You don’t need an extensive world with a complex magical system and an entire cast of three-dimensional characters to express a theme effectively. While short stories have fewer words, simpler settings, and smaller casts than novels, they can have just as much of an impact on readers. If you’re looking to read a powerful short story and see how other authors communicate substantive themes in just a few thousand words, check out these famous, impactful works:
- The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
- “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes
- “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin
How long should a short story be?
Like we said in the previous section, short stories typically contain between 1,000 and 10,000 words. Stories longer than 10,000 (but shorter than 40,000) words are generally considered novellas . You might even come across the term novelette to refer to a story between 7,500 and 17,000 words. Once you hit about 50,000 words, you’re in novel territory (and you’ve won NaNoWriMo!)
Stories that clock in under 1,000 words are known as flash fiction and stories of 500 words or fewer are considered microfiction .
There’s really no limit to how short a story can be, though. Consider Hemingway’s famous six-word story:
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
In just six words, Hemingway evokes an entire scene and the backstory that led to that scene. This is an extreme example of a short story, and it relies on the reader extrapolating meaning from the words, but because it does so successfully, it counts as a short story.
What’s in a short story?
Every short story has these five elements:
Characters are the people (or animals, aliens, mythical creatures, or sentient objects) who do the action in your story. Your protagonist is the character who undergoes some kind of change (or lack thereof) as a result of the story’s main conflict. Your antagonist is the character (or something abstract) attempting to prevent the protagonist’s change. To clarify, the antagonist doesn’t have to be a person—it could be the protagonist’s environment, their society, or even an aspect of themselves.
>>Read More: What Is Direct Characterization in Literature?
Plot is the series of events that illustrate the story’s conflict. When you’re writing a short story, it’s generally best to start your plot as close to the end as possible. In other words, if your story is about an alien who visits Earth and then retreats, horrified, back to her spaceship, start your story just as she’s approaching Earth or just as she’s touching down. You can build up a backstory later through tools like dialogue, flashbacks, and the protagonist’s actions. With a short story, you don’t have space for a lengthy exposition, so drop your readers right into the action.
A short story’s theme is its central message. This is the point the author wants readers to take away from their work.
Conflict is the action that drives the story’s plot. It’s the obstacle the protagonist has to overcome or the goal they’re attempting to reach. A conflict can be internal, like our example alien setting out to prove to herself that she can manage a mission to Earth on her own, or it can be external, like the protagonist striving to prove to her society that Earth is a worthwhile planet with which to establish a relationship.
Setting is the time and place where a story’s action occurs. For example, our alien story’s setting might be Nevada in 1955.
How to write a short story
Mine your imagination.
Just like every other type of writing, a short story starts with brainstorming . In fact, the process for writing a short story is the same writing process you use for other kinds of writing, like essays and presentations.
Ask yourself this: What do I want my short story to be about? Jot that down. Do you already have a clear idea of who your characters are or the setting they’ll inhabit? Or are you starting with a theme you want to convey, and now you need to develop a story to express that theme?
Start your brainstorming session with the elements you already have, then flesh out your story idea from there. Write down your setting, your characters, the conflict they face, and any key plot points you have in mind. You can fill in details later; right now, the goal is to have some rough data to use for your outline.
Don’t move on to outlining until you’ve defined your story’s conflict. Without a conflict, you don’t have a story. Although all of the five elements listed above are necessary for writing a great short story, conflict is the one that drives your plot, shapes your characters, and enables you to express your theme.
The next step in writing short fiction is outlining your story.
When you outline your story, you organize the notes from your brainstorming session into a coherent skeleton of your finished story. Outlining your story is a key part of prewriting because it’s where you develop your story’s framework and sketch out how each scene follows the previous scene to advance the plot. This stage is where you determine any plot twists or big reveals and fit them into the story’s sequence.
Next, it’s time to write.
Don’t worry about grammatical mistakes—you’ll fix them later.
Don’t worry about your narration or dialogue being extraneous or not making complete sense—you’ll fix that later too. Right now, you’re working on a rough draft. Just get that story out of your imagination and onto the page without being self-conscious about it.
Keep that first draft as tight as possible. You’re writing a short story, after all, so be economical with your words. Keep these tips in mind as you write :
- You don’t need to explain everything. Give enough explanation so the reader understands what’s happening in a scene; don’t slow them down with paragraphs of backstory and exposition.
- Keep the ending in mind. As you write, determine whether each sentence ultimately progresses the plot. If it doesn’t, either cut it or rework it so it does progress the plot.
- Listen to how people speak. Then, write dialogue that sounds like real conversations. These conversations won’t necessarily be grammatically correct, but they will make your characters sound the way people naturally speak.
Once you have a finished first draft, let it rest. If you have the luxury of waiting a day or so to come back and read what you wrote, do that. That way, you can read your writing again with fresh eyes, which makes it easier to spot inconsistencies and plot holes.
Then it’s time to edit. Read your writing again and note any places where you can make the writing more descriptive, more concise, more engaging, or simply more logical. At this stage, it can be very helpful to work with readers’ feedback. If you’re comfortable sharing your work and receiving constructive criticism, share your rough draft with friends and family—and, if possible, with other writers—and let their feedback guide the revisions you make.
Move past creative blocks
So you’ve got writer’s block.
Writer’s block can strike at any point in the writing process. You might have a great idea for a short story, then find yourself struggling as you try to brainstorm ways to transform that idea into a narrative. Or you might have no problem brainstorming and creating a coherent outline, but then feel like you’re running into a wall as you try to write linear scenes and craft realistic dialogue that advances the plot. Or maybe you aren’t stuck in the sense that you don’t know what to write, but you’re having a hard time determining the most effective way to write it.
It happens to every writer.
Because writer’s block is such a universal condition, we gathered up a few helpful tips you can use to defeat writer’s block and write effective, engaging scenes:
Give a writing prompt a shot
If getting started is what’s giving you a hard time, consider using a writing prompt . A writing prompt is like kindling for your short story. They’re generally brief, at just a sentence or two, and describe scenarios writers flesh out into full-fledged stories. Run a web search for “writing prompts” and you’ll find a ton. You can even tailor your search to a specific genre, like “horror writing prompts” or “romantic comedy writing prompts.”
Skip the scene and work backward
When a particular scene is what’s making it difficult to move forward, skip it. There’s no rule that says you have to write your short story in order. Just move ahead to the next scene that you can write, and then when you’re finished, revisit the challenging one. In many cases, it’s easier to write a scene once you know what happens after it.
We’ve talked about writing sprints before. They’re a great way to make yourself write faster . When it comes to busting through that brick wall of writer’s block, sprinting can put you into a mindset where you’re writing words, any words, just to reach the word count goal you set. You probably won’t craft publishable prose this way, but you’ll likely find creative ways through the difficult scenes that you can build on later.
Where to distribute your short story
If you’re like most authors, one of your goals is to publish your story.
There are two main ways to do that: traditional publishing and self-publishing.
In the short fiction world, traditional publishing generally means having your work published in a literary magazine. There are thousands of literary magazines currently being published around the world, each with a unique combination of editorial focus, publishing schedule, submission process, acceptance rate, and payment for authors.
Some literary magazines accept nearly every story they receive. Others select very few—as in, a single-digit percentage of the stories submitted—to publish. You can find literary magazines and contests through resources such as Poets & Writers , Duotrope , and Writer’s Digest .
If you’ve got a collection of short stories that together are approximately book-length, you can also query agents to have your work published that way. A few well-known short story collections include The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien and A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin.
The other way to publish your work is self-publishing. With self-publishing, you don’t need to have your work greenlit by a magazine editor or a publishing house. Although that hurdle isn’t present, self-publishing can be a complex process. As a self-published author, you’re responsible for everything, including these elements:
- Your story’s cover art
- Professional editing
Whether self-publishing is the right route for your story depends on your goals for the story. If you’re looking to have your work featured in a widely circulated magazine, guaranteeing that thousands of people (or more!) read it, traditional publishing is the way to go. If your priority is to simply get your work out there, or if you want total control of every part of building your platform as an author, self-publishing can be the perfect choice.
Popular self-publishing platforms include Kindle Direct Publishing , CreateSpace , Apple Books , and Barnes & Noble Press . Each has a unique publishing process and royalty rate for authors.
You can also self-publish your short story on your blog . Blogs are personal (and professional) outlets for writing, and if you’ve got a story to tell and don’t want to go through the process of getting it published or going the “traditional” self-publishing route, you can create a blog and publish your work there.
Finding a writing community
For many authors, being part of a writing community is a key part of staying in regular writing practice and striving to grow as a writer. Writing communities exist online and offline, with some existing as simply places for writers to connect with each other and others offering up more structure, like a regular critique schedule. There are also writing communities built around writing challenges like NYC Midnight and NaNoWriMo .
If you think you’d benefit from being part of a writing community, find one that fits what you’re looking for—or start one yourself! You can find writing communities on social media and through websites like meetup.com. Other places to look for writing groups are local libraries and bookstores and if you’re a student, your university. Being part of a writing community can help you get your work published in two ways:
- You can have other authors read and critique your work, giving you direction that will help you make it stronger when you revise.
- Other writers can connect you with literary magazines, contests, and agents to potentially work with. If they’ve been published, they can also answer your questions and give you writer-to-writer advice on what to do (and what not to do) when you’re trying to publish your work.
Tell your story with confidence
We all have stories inside us. Writing your story is what makes you an author, and even the most accomplished authors need help catching grammar mistakes and other issues in their writing. That’s what makes Grammarly an ideal writing assistant. Write what’s in your heart and on your mind, then when it’s time to edit, Grammarly will catch any mistakes you might have missed, flag wording that isn’t clear, and suggest the right tone for telling your tale.
Ideas, Inspiration, and Giveaways for Teachers
We Are Teachers
The Best Funny Short Stories To Teach in Middle and High School
I don’t know about you, but I could use a chuckle!
At least once a year, one of my freshmen would ask me why everything we read in ninth grade English was so depressing. A quick look at our curriculum revealed they did have a point. “Romeo and Juliet,” Of Mice and Men , short stories like “Lamb to the Slaughter” and “The Most Dangerous Game” all told tales of death and despair. While all are excellent, I began to wonder if I could find some different texts to add to the mix. It turns out, while scary short stories and dramatic short stories are easy to find, good funny short stories for middle and high school students are a bit trickier to track down.
With that in mind, here’s a list of funny short stories to use in your classroom when you want to bring a bit of humor to your lesson.
1. They’re Made Out of Meat by Terry Bisson
I love introducing students to science fiction. We really don’t use it enough in our English classes. In this story, two aliens discuss the bizarre new life form they’ve discovered and try to figure out how it thinks and lives. Your students will laugh out loud when they discover that the aliens are talking about humans and love figuring out the everyday activities and items the aliens just can’t seem to make sense of.
In class: This is perfect for introducing a new genre to students. After reading, ask students to craft their own science-fiction short story. As a class, brainstorm a list of activities of events that take place all the time that we think are totally normal. Then, ask students to write their version of an alien race trying to figure out a birthday party, after-school detention, or lunch in the school cafeteria.
2. Charles by Shirley Jackson
Written by the same woman who wrote the eerie short story “The Lottery,” this story is guaranteed to make students of all ages chuckle. The tale of the worst kindergarten student ever, as told by a student in the same class to his mother at the end of every school day, your students will love hearing all about Charles’s antics. The twist at the end of the tale will make students gasp and giggle.
In class: Perfect for lessons on irony , your students can debate whether Jackson’s funny short story demonstrates verbal, situational, or dramatic irony. I’ve also used this story to show students how an author can utilize dialogue as a method for developing characterization.
3. Thank You, Ma’am by Langston Hughes
Like “Charles,” this is another classic, well-known story. An older woman takes a young man under her wing after he attempts to steal her purse. As they spend time together, she teaches him a valuable lesson about life. It’s perfect for upper-elementary and middle school students.
In class: This is one of those funny short stories that lends itself to lessons about dialogue, diction, theme, and characterization. It’s also a great text to use for practice discussions or Socratic seminars. Students could easily develop questions about the actions of the characters. They could consider how they would have responded in the same situation. And they could even reimagine the story as if it were written today.
4. Lord Oakhurst’s Curse by O. Henry
While many students will have read “The Gift of the Magi,” this short story by the same author is much less well known. Lord Oakhurst is dying, his wife is grieving (or is she?), and a doctor arrives to try to help. Your students will be shocked and amused by this quick read.
In class: Indirect characterization leaps to the foreground in this funny short story as students can debate whether Lord Oakhurst’s wife is truly as sad as she says she is throughout the story. The story also makes use of flashbacks, making it great for introducing or reviewing that concept.
5. Wealthy Teen Nearly Experiences Consequence by The Onion Staff
Satire is a tough genre for so many students. The popular satirical online news magazine The Onion comes to the rescue here with a hysterical piece that, while not a short story exactly, certainly tells a tale students will guffaw over. In the article, students learn the plight of a young man who almost received severe consequences for driving while under the influence. Some satirical pieces are almost too serious for students to see as satire, but this one does a great job of taking a serious subject and turning it on its head to make a point.
In class: This piece is perfect for students who aren’t ready to grapple with some of the more complex satirical pieces they’re often given in school. If your group isn’t quite ready for Swift’s A Modest Proposal , this is a great place to start. As an introduction to satire, pairing this piece with actual news reports of cases where privileged young people have received shockingly light sentences for serious crimes will definitely keep your students engaged (and enraged?).
6. Maddened by Mystery or The Defective Detective by Stephen Leacock
This short story caper takes on the classic detective trope and mocks it mercilessly. Over-the-top costumes, mistaken identities, and a ridiculous reveal make this a truly funny short story to share with your students.
In class: I wish I still taught the mystery unit I taught for many years so that I could add this funny short story to the mix. This is a perfect piece to introduce satire. It mocks many of the most common elements of typical detective stories in a truly hilarious fashion.
7. There Was Once by Margaret Atwood
Given her popularity in current popular culture, Margaret Atwood is an author our students should know. This short story about a fairy-tale writer receiving some “constructive criticism” on how to make their story more inclusive is sure to inspire reactions among your middle or high schoolers.
In class: This is a great short story to use when teaching the importance of how dialogue can impact tone. Additionally, it would be a great piece to bring to any discussion of whether or not students should read “old” stories that have language or ideas that are considered problematic today.
8. Machiavelli in Kindergarten by Peter Schooff
Definitely one for older students, this short story had me literally laughing out loud. It is written as a series of concerned letters/emails from a kindergarten teacher to the parents of young Niccolò Machiavelli. The reports of his plans to overthrow his teacher and replace her with the school janitor are hysterical.
In class: I don’t know if The Prince is still used in many English or political science classes, but if so, what a phenomenal accompanying text this would be. It would also work as a paired text with nonfiction readings about Machiavelli. As the word “Machiavellian” appears frequently in the news stories, it could also be used as a vocabulary unit. Finally, it could be used to show students that stories can be written in a variety of formats. Ask your students to imagine what an email or text exchange between one of their favorite characters and a teacher/doctor/neighbor might look like. The results could be hilarious.
9. Joy by Anton Chekhov
The main character in this funny short story becomes famous. He rushes home to tell his family. Your students will love the reactions of his stunned family. They’ll also have plenty to say about the protagonist’s glorious new stardom.
In class: Perfect for units covering tragic heroes or characters who fall from grace, Chekhov’s work is a pretty searing commentary on the ideas surrounding what it means to be famous. Your students will have a great time making comparisons between the protagonist and various YouTube or TikTok stars of today.
10. A Dish Best Served Cold by Tristan Jimerson
Time to throw a curveball into the game. Have you heard of The Moth ? It’s an organization with the mission to “promote the art and craft of storytelling and to honor and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience.” They have open-mic storytelling nights in different cities around the country where people just stand up and tell stories based on a pre-set theme. You can find lots of them on the Moth’s website and on YouTube. This one is about a man who has his identity stolen by a Domino’s Pizza employee. His mission to get revenge will have you and your students laughing out loud.
In class: Many of the stories do include a swear word or deal with adult themes, so be sure to preview the story first. I love the idea of sharing verbal storytelling with students of all ages, especially in the context of a funny short stories unit. It’s great for reluctant readers and could make an awesome alternative assessment option.
11. The Catbird Seat by James Thurber
Written by the same author who wrote “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” this story is also about an unhappy man who dreams of improving his life. The way he accomplishes this, however, is where the humor (and some shock!) comes in.
In class: Introducing students to more challenging text can always be a bit of a tough sell, so it’s nice to have a few short stories to warm students up to the idea. Students can practice transacting with text, asking questions about sections that confuse them, and working together to build comprehension.
12. “I’m a Short Afternoon Walk and You’re Putting Way Too Much Pressure on Me” by Emily Delaney
Another curveball! I love introducing my students to examples of real-life writing that is actually going on today. While many funny short stories on this list are from the early 1900s, this piece was written in 2020 and appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. The site features humorous pieces on a variety of timely topics. While many aren’t appropriate for school, others, like this one, are perfect examples of how people are still writing and creating today. In this piece, the personified “afternoon walk” explains to the person taking it that it can’t be everything the walker needs it to be.
In class: Best suited for older middle school and high school students, I would love to use this as a mentor text. Imagine the creative writing pieces students could create if asked to personify something in their lives.
13. My Financial Career by Stephen Leacock
Confession time—I hate ordering food by phone. It doesn’t matter if it’s healthy or not, or if I’m ordering for one person or twenty. I hate it. I get flustered and almost always end up messing something up. Hence why this story, about a man who gets nervous in banks, spoke to me. Leacock’s description of the main character fumbling his way through opening a bank account had me laughing out loud.
In class: Finding characters from the past that students can relate to is tricky. I like the idea of asking students to free-write or discuss what situations make them feel anxious or uncomfortable. They could write down feelings, descriptions, and images. After reading this story, they could create their own humorous (or serious) stories about their own scenario.
14. Growing Down by Shel Silverstein
Yes, it’s a poem. But it also tells a story, which makes it a great addition to this list of funny short stories. In this poem, we meet a grumpy old man who is always telling people to grow up. But one day, someone tells him to “grow down.” When he does, he discovers he likes it much more than growing up.
In class: This piece would be perfect for students who are struggling to grasp concepts like theme or characterization. There’s plenty of direct and indirect characterization throughout the poem and the message is pretty obvious throughout. Additionally, Shel Silverstein’s voice is perfect for discussions about tone.
What funny short stories do you like sharing with your students? Tell us in the comments.
Looking for even more funny short stories to share with your class check out 70 great short stories to teach in middle school, want more articles like this be sure to subscribe to our newsletters .
Meghan is an Associate Editor at WeAreTeachers. She spent 18 years teaching English/Language Arts in the public school setting and holds a Master's Degree in Special Education.
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104 Of The Best Short Story Ideas And Prompts To Grab Your Readers
So, you want to write a short story — and not just a mildly entertaining short story but one your readers can’t put down until they’ve finished it.
You want a story that gets reactions like “Wow!” and “How did you do that?” and “Do you have more like this?”
What writer doesn’t want that kind of reaction, right?
And since short stories are short, you have less time to wait for your readers’ reactions — but you also have less time to grab their attention.
That’s why a great topic is worth its weight in gold when it comes to writing these little gems.
Even with the challenges inherent to short story writing, you’ll most likely finish a short story in far less time than you would a novel.
So, you’ll get to explore more story topics in less time than if you were writing longer works.
But how do you generate short story ideas that are worth the time you’ll invest in crafting a short story your readers will love?
If you’ve been writing for long enough, you already know good story ideas are everywhere, and you might even have some in mind as you read this.
But which of those ideas should be on your shortlist for story writing projects?
And if you don’t have any great ideas at the moment, where do you get some?
Short Story Idea Generator (how to generate story ideas)
Short story writing exercises, generating story ideas with the short story formula, timeless themes and emotional impact, 35 short story ideas, 69 short story writing prompts.
When it comes to generating new story ideas, you can take more than one approach. You might try these three:
- Writing exercises
- Writing prompts
- The Short Story Formula
Think of your school days when your English teacher assigned an essay or invited you to write a paragraph in answer to a question.
Maybe all you had to do was write one complete sentence. Or maybe your teacher wanted a haiku — or a rhyming couplet.
School isn’t the only place for writing exercises , though. If you’ve ever joined a creative writing group, your leader may have encouraged you to spend some time each day freewriting or writing a character sketch .
The purpose of writing exercises is to practice writing — or to practice a specific kind of writing (voice journaling, essays, persuasive ad copy, song lyrics, etc.).
So, whether it’s NaNoWriMo, Twitter’s #VSS (Very Short Story) challenge, or writing sprints, the more time you invest in these exercises, and the more you open yourself up to constructive criticism, the more quickly your writing will improve.
The most effective writing prompts and writing exercises make use of themes with a history of captivating and inspiring others. Because of this, either one might lead you to a story idea that you can hardly wait to explore.
Take one (or more) of those popular themes and combine them with a context that is both unique and relatable, and you have the formula for a compelling story idea.
Story writing ideas are generally more fully developed than writing prompts. It’s not unusual, for example, to begin with a writing prompt , develop it into a story idea, and then write the actual story.
And don’t beat yourself up if the first idea that comes to mind is a cliché. You’re human, and familiar ideas are the easiest to think of. Nothing wrong with that. The first idea is like a first draft , in that it gives you something to start with.
And don’t be afraid to mix it up — literally. Take one idea, mix it up with another, and play with it for a while. Who knows how you might juice up your story idea without even trying?
The best fiction story ideas make use of timeless themes. You’ll find one or more of the ten themes that follow in most stories that have been written, read, and shared over the centuries.
- The End of a Relationship
- Rags to Riches
- Scars / Wounds
- Ghosts / the Paranormal
- Deepest Fears
- A Soulmate Encounter
- A Journey Interrupted
- Monsters (human or otherwise)
The story idea itself — in its simplest form — doesn’t have to be original, and in fact, it shouldn’t be. But the way you embody and develop that idea should surprise your readers and evoke an emotional response in them.
It’s that emotional impact that makes your story not only worth finishing but memorable.
Short story ideas will look different from novel ideas, though — mainly because short stories have to make a big impact with fewer words. And because of this, the most powerful short stories have what James Scott Bell describes as the “one shattering moment.”
In his book, How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career, Bell describes that moment as “something that happens to a character, an emotional blast which they cannot ignore. It changes them, in a large or a subtle way — in a way that cannot be ignored.”
Any one of the popular themes listed above could you give your main character a shattering moment that would change that character’s life or perspective.
Take a look at the following creative story ideas, many of which combine two or more of the popular themes listed, and feel free to modify any of them to create your next unputdownable short story.
1. Your character’s loved one has died , and he learns while going through that loved one’s belongings that the latter had a terrible secret that unnervingly correlates to your character’s deepest fear.
The rest of the story explores your character’s reaction to this discovery and how it affects his/her relationships and decision-making.
2. Your character has married the man she saw as her “soulmate.” During their honeymoon, he shows her his list of goals for their first five years together, and they have their first real argument over one of those goals — which requires something of her that she never agreed to.
She has a sudden memory of their first date and of the moment when she first decided he was the one, but she sees it now from his perspective, and it changes everything.
3. Your orphaned character inherits a house and moves in to find that it’s already occupied — by the spirits of the character’s long-deceased parents, who aren’t at all like the people other relatives have described.
4. Your character is having trouble getting past his anger over the wounds inflicted by those who raised him and by those with whom he had one failed relationship after the next.
After losing his job, he goes on a journey to change the direction of his life, but that journey is interrupted by the death of one of his parents — the one who hurt him the most.
5. Your character is widely regarded as a monster and doesn’t deny or hide from that designation.
When his closest confidante gets fed up with him, tells him off, and leaves the company they founded together, your character finds himself disoriented by grief and does something different.
6. Your character is content with her life but suddenly inherits a large sum of money and a palatial estate on the east coast.
She sees the inheritance as proof that the Law of Attraction works, and she invites family and a few close friends to move with her and share the wealth. On the first night of their stay, someone dies.
7. Your character’s snake-loving neighbor has just been found in the belly of her pet boa constrictor (who she swore was a better “snuggler” than her ex).
The ex shows up and is angry when he finds out that your neighbor left the house and everything in it to your character. He threatens to ruin her life if she doesn’t turn the house over to him.
8. Your character meets his/her soulmate on a flight that almost doesn’t make it to its destination; both of them respond to emergencies on the plane (one as a cop and the other as a doctor).
Once at the airport, your character learns that this soulmate is already in a relationship with a well-known philanthropist. But your character notices something odd and calls the philanthropist out.
9. Your character’s best friend just announced the end of a relationship, and your character is surprised to find this friend in a celebratory state of mind (rather than heartbroken).
Your character then finds out the disturbing reason for the friend’s manic behavior.
10. One of your character’s siblings is getting married, and during wedding preparations, your character learns something she was never meant to know. This discovery changes her relationships with everyone.
11. The happy couple living next door to your character has died in a horrific accident, and when the parents show up for the funeral, you find out why the couple always changed the subject whenever you asked them about their families.
12. Your character starts receiving messages from someone who knows his/her deepest fears and intends to exploit them. At the same time, your character is discovering a latent ability that relates to those fears but might also help him overcome them. Or they might change him into something the messenger never saw coming.
13. Your character meets a soulmate at a community grief counseling group meeting and learns that this soulmate also attends AA meetings (like your mc) — though with a different group and with a friend who doesn’t particularly like your main character.
The surprising reason comes out when your character goes on a first date with this soulmate. The soulmate’s friend swears he/she knows your mc from a different reality — which he/she visits in dreams.
14. Your character breaks free of a painful relationship and embarks on a journey to discover what she’s capable of. After volunteering at a nursing home — reading to vision-impaired residents and writing letters for them — she agrees to personally deliver one of those letters to the resident’s estranged son.
15. After avoiding close relationships because of deep scars from his childhood, your main character learns something about one of his parents that changes everything for him. He then has an opportunity to take a step off his accustomed path.
16. Your character has been married for 19 years before her spouse — after a weekend that reminds her of when they met and why she married him — hands her divorce papers.
17. Your character is making a list of reasons to break up with her boyfriend of two years when the latter comes home early and tells her he’s won the lottery jackpot.
18. Your character is a locally famous writer whose hero story ideas come from his freewheeling lifestyle and insatiable curiosity about others.
One day, out of boredom, he offers a homeless man $100 to propose to the first woman he takes a fancy to, while he watches from a safe distance. The proposal goes terrifyingly wrong.
19. Your character has just lost a child by miscarriage , and when she comes home, her married life has changed. Her husband, who was always the more talkative of the two, spends their time together quietly grieving in his own way.
Your character, on the other hand, becomes more outgoing and starts spending more time (and money) on her appearance.
20. Your young adult character finds himself suddenly orphaned when his parents die in a plane crash. The funeral is the beginning of a dramatic shift in his perspective and in the choices he makes.
He breaks off a relationship with a woman his parents adored, he quits the lucrative job that he hates, and he leaves the country.
21. Your character has just learned that his spouse has been cheating on him, and he confronts her when she gets home that night.
She reveals that what he saw as proof of her infidelity was something completely innocent — but that she’s already decided to make a permanent and dramatic end to their marriage.
22. The only child of your character is diagnosed with a fatal illness, and your character doesn’t know how to deal with the worry and dread that now consumes her.
Her doctor suggests one anti-anxiety med after another, and her husband and his family urge her to try one — for her husband’s and her son’s sakes. She goes into a fugue state with the experimental drug she tries, and she wakes up to the consequences.
23. Your character’s new glasses — created as a free gift from an old friend with unusual connections — reveal more than the physical objects in his field of vision.
After looking at a coworker and seeing the latter’s death just hours before it happens, he goes to replace the glasses with a plain pair from a local chain. Then he catches his full-length reflection in a window.
24. Your character wakes up alone in an unfamiliar place and is told by everyone he encounters that the life he thought he’d lived for the past six years — with a wife and three kids and with the job that barely paid the bills — must have been a dream.
He’s actually stunningly wealthy, treated with respect by everyone he meets, and desired by more than one woman. So, why is there a picture of him with his nonexistent family on his desk?
25. A year ago, your character met someone who offered her the power to transform the interior of her home to anything she wants — in exchange for a DNA sample from her only child, who is a gifted storyteller.
During the year after she accepted the offer, her home becomes everything she wants it to be, but her son stops telling stories, and one day she finds out why.
26. Your character makes drastic changes to his diet and adopts new habits that alienate him from his usual circle of friends but lead him to a new one.
He then wins a large sum of money from a scratch ticket that an estranged friend (a compulsive gambler) slipped under his door.
27. Your character has returned from a successful quest to find his home empty, with no sign of his loved ones other than a note left on the refrigerator.
Not only does he now have no one with whom to share his victory, but what he learns calls that very victory into question.
28. Your character has spent eleven years living with the consequences of a vow she has taken. When she forges a new friendship with a counselor, she learns something about herself that scares her and makes her avoid the counselor, for his own sake.
Keenly aware of her own vulnerability, she brands herself to ward off unwelcome attention.
29. Your character, after 15 years of living in a house chosen mainly to fit her spouse’s preferences, sees an ad for an apartment in town that represents the life she gave up to make her husband happy.
After hearing him complain about his life and their house for one too many times, she goes to look at this apartment and finds it has almost everything she wants. The apartment manager, a well-dressed woman close to her own age, hears your character’s last name and appears shaken by it.
30. Your character splurges on a new rug for her living room floor — the kind of rug she’s coveted for years — and her S.O. criticizes it and later “accidentally” spills his drink on it.
The final straw is his suggestion that she wait ‘til it dries and return it to the store for a refund or exchange it for something more practical.
31. Your character has recently broken free from a cult that had drawn him in when he was vulnerable from a family tragedy. His new support system — a group of other cult survivors — is having varying degrees of difficulty re-entering society and repairing damaged relationships.
Your character meets with them one evening at their accustomed café table and confronts a server whose off-handed comment provokes him. What begins as a calm request for respectful treatment escalates as other members of the group chime in and the server’s manager gets involved.
32. Your character has joined a church and finds herself under the tutelage of a church member who leans toward the traditionalist end of the spectrum and who regards her as the daughter he never had.
When he decides to renounce the church’s leadership and join an extreme traditionalist group, she backs away from him — after explaining to him why she won’t do the same. His behavior toward her changes and she makes a change of her own.
33. Your character is so desperate for money that he does something he never would have done otherwise. He doesn’t get caught, but he doesn’t get away with it, either. Consumed by guilt, he undergoes a penance of his choosing, which spirals out of control.
34. Your character walks into a tourist shop and buys a homemade “tonic” freshly mixed by the owner, after tasting and enjoying an innocuous sample in the same flavor. The tonic changes him in a way he can’t ignore or undo.
35. Your character inherits an old music shop with a secret back room where his uncle kept a few instruments that can make even someone like him — who has never played an instrument — a virtuoso in seconds. He takes the piano to his apartment and learns why his uncle (in a letter he’d written before his death) had warned him not to — and why his uncle kept the door to that secret room locked.
With writing prompts , you get a launching pad of sorts: a question, an idea, a provocative quote, or something that inspires a reaction — specifically a written one. Maybe that reaction is an argument, or maybe it’s an impassioned defense of an idea.
Whatever it is, the purpose here is to take that prompt and use it to generate a written response in one form or another. The aim of writing prompts for short stories is to get you started on a new short story .
The prompt could be as simple as a word or as detailed as a character sketch or an elevator pitch. It could even be a picture or a song. It could be an observation you make while (discreetly) people-watching.
We’ve create 69 short story writing prompts that flesh out an idea more thoroughly, giving you a good headstart for your story.
1. You get a new job, and your new boss approaches you on the first day with an invitation to the “After Hours Club.” He tells you it’s no big deal if you decline, but you get a strong impression that it would be.
2. One day, on the way home from work, your new car takes over and drives you to a remote area, stopping beside other cars in a clearing underneath a new moon. You wake up underneath a full moon and drive yourself home. But much has changed in your absence — and so have you.
3. You bake pies for a local bakery, and when a celebrity comes to town and tastes your locally famous turtle pie, he invites you to go on tour with him — to a movie set somewhere in Europe — to be his personal pie maker. You say yes.
4. You buy a single rose from a street vendor, and it lasts a week, then two weeks, then three, and then a full month. Only then does someone point out to you that previously healthy people in the neighborhood have been falling ill and dying at an abnormal rate.
5. It’s time for your 10-year-old daughter to make her First Confession, but when her turn comes to go into the confessional, she panics and won’t be persuaded to go in.
6. You’re stranded in a small village down a winding road from Burgos (Spain) on a Sunday. A stranger comes by on a motorcycle and goes to fetch a taxi for you. You’re waiting at the bus station when he tells you he knows you’re meant to replace his recently deceased wife.
7. The bartender brings you your first Irish coffee in what looks like a candy dish. Halfway through, you notice the whole cafe seems to be floating, and since you can’t put the rest into a to-go cup (alas), you pay your tab and head out. You think you’re doing fine until your key doesn’t work in the front door of your apartment building. Someone else kindly lets you in, and you recognize him as the bartender from that cafe.
8. You’re exploring an old Spanish town, and you realize someone is following you. You turn and find an old woman who asks if you’ll help her find her hotel. You help her, and she invites you in, telling you she has a son who shares your interest in all things Tolkien. You’re not in a hurry to get back to your hotel room, so you go up with her.
9. Your fingers don’t respond to you the way they used to, and you’ve been having other difficulties. You go see your doctor, and they run some tests to check for neurological diseases but don’t find anything. They think it’s probably stress-related. Your life has been stressful lately, and it doesn’t help that your new roommate has been acting strangely toward you.
10. You wake up with your heart racing, but you don’t remember why. You almost never remember your dreams but often wake up covered in sweat with your heart pounding. You’re tired of having to shower every morning and feeling sick for the rest of the day, so you decide to undergo hypnosis, hoping to find out what’s going on.
11. Your neighbors have been up to some strange shenanigans lately, and their lights are on well into the wee hours of the morning. You’d like to know why, but every neighbor you’ve talked to who have gone over there to ask about it has, later on, told you that nothing suspicious is going on and that those neighbors are “very spiritual, and so, so nice!”
12. The street lamps that light up your cul de sac have gone dark, and you’re outside waiting for your spouse to get home when something large and dark brushes past you, almost knocking you off balance. Then a man appears and asks, “Have you seen my cat?”
13. Someone has broken into your house while you were away and has taken all the religious articles out of it — every statue, every picture, and every holy water bottle. The thief left everything else alone.
14. You move into an apartment that used to be a hoarder’s paradise, and your manager gives you permission to paint the walls a different color and add some new flooring. You get to work removing the kitchen’s linoleum floor and find something you never expected.
15. You joined a wine delivery service, and the delivery person is every bit as charming as the labels on the posh wine he brings to you each week. When you lose your job and cancel the service, the wine keeps coming.
16. You buy a pound of gourmet coffee beans at a local food festival, and as you’re sipping the first cup from the first pot you’ve brewed, you have a vision, which feels as real as though it were actually happening to you. When the vision ends, you’re still in your kitchen, holding your cup. You take another sip.
17. You’re about ready to gather up all the ceramic village pieces that have been cluttering up your living room and toss them in the trash bin, but your spouse, who knows you hate them, insists you should try selling them on eBay, instead. That’s when the fight starts.
18. You buy a new pair of Bluetooth earbuds that are supposed to enhance your listening experience. You plug them in and use them while watching a movie, and suddenly, you’re there on the scene, about to get flattened (or eaten) by a dinosaur.
19. You need a new toilet, and someone shows up at the door (as though sent by heaven) to sell you a toilet that will flush down ANYTHING. Oddly enough, it doesn’t even need to be hooked up to your septic system. “All you have to do is remove and empty the dust tray at the base every evening, reinsert it for the next day’s flushes, and voila!”
20. You buy a new keyboard , and after typing a few sentences of a new story, it starts typing on its own, and you watch in surprise as it types out a new short story. You submit it to a contest you’ve never won and win first prize. You start thinking you’ll never have trouble paying the rent again! Then you accidentally spill wine on the keyboard, and even stranger things start happening.
Related: 55 Funny Writing Prompts To Inspire Your Inner Comedian
21. Your famous stew recipe has won an award. You go to collect it (a cash prize), and meet the next runner-up, who believes she should have won the first prize instead with her three-bean salad. She warns you not to spend the money, because she will prove you won unfairly. You go home and find a bowl of three-bean salad and a note.
22. You suggest at the breakfast table one morning that you might actually have too many books, and your SO seizes upon this and offers to help you thin out your collection. After breaking up with him, you cull a few volumes for donation and run into the author of one of them.
23. Your first issue of Real Simple magazine has finally arrived, but something has come with it — something you can’t see but that makes your life anything but simpler.
24. A girl scout comes to the door selling cookies, and you tell her you already bought some from her at the table outside your grocery store, and you’ve spent enough for the year. Suddenly, all the food in your house (including the canned food) becomes moldy or rotten. And every bit of food that passes your threshold becomes inedible.
25. You buy a new whiteboard to help you keep track of your writing assignments, but you wake up one morning, and new items have somehow been added to your list. And the new titles have a sinister edge to them. You live alone.
26. You buy a new poster that looks exactly like the TARDIS door, and you put it up on your bedroom wall. One night, right at midnight (you’re up working at your computer), the door opens and you walk through it.
27. You buy a CD with music that’s supposed to help you write more creatively and also lose weight more easily. You start playing it during your writing time, and sure enough, the words flow without effort, and you love what you’ve written. You also start losing ten pounds a week, and soon you can’t afford to lose another ten, but you’ve come to depend on that music CD.
28. You’re a carpenter who has joined a construction team to build a new development of 3,000+ square foot houses. All is going well until someone on the team discovers something buried in the lot for the third house. The foreman removes it and tells everyone to get back to work, but you have a bad feeling. And you’re right to have it.
29. Your boss announces they’re having a potluck and you’re all expected to show up and bring something. He also tells you it has to be homemade. You tell him you can’t cook, but he tells you, “Well, learn, then!” Strangely enough, you do, and you create an entree that has everyone’s mouth-watering when you open the lid at the potluck. But your boss is conspicuously absent.
30. You wake up in the middle of the night and rush to the bathroom, where you empty your stomach of everything you ate that day. Something else comes out, and it’s moving.
31. You stop at a coffee shop while making stops to apply for a new job, and the barista tells you the new bed and breakfast is looking for someone to handle their advertising. You apply, are accepted, and agree to start immediately. But the owner, who openly admires your bicycle, offers you a room at the B&B, so you’ll be more accessible.
32. You have way too much time on your hands since your latest project has earned you enough to more than double your previous year’s salary, and you’re taking a sabbatical. You see an ad for an opportunity to spend a month at a castle in Wales, with full room and board and a bicycle for exploring the countryside. You call the agent and book a flight.
33. One night, as you’re coming back from the bathroom, you see a bright light and follow it to see that your front window is wide open and bugs are swarming in and out. You rush to close it but then you see the view from it — which is not your usual view of the front yard. You see something you want to investigate.
34. Sometimes, people stare when you pull out an index card and start scribbling furiously onto it, but you don’t care. Then someone accuses you of writing something about him and, pulling out a gun, demands you hand the card over to him.
35. You’re starting a new job, and one of your co-workers tells you it’s up to the new guy to keep the coffee pot full for his first week. While you’re brewing the latest refill, muttering to yourself about how little you’re getting done that day, one of your co-workers starts choking and accuses you of trying to poison her.
36. Your home-brewed ale is the talk of the neighborhood, but your next-door neighbor frequently buys up your newest batch. You start imposing limits. He then starts telling other neighbors that your secret is adding pee from your pet guinea pigs, “But it’s cool, because urine is sterile. And that guinea pig pee really adds something!”
37. You inherit a lighthouse from your deceased uncle — along with the small living quarters attached to it. You move right in, looking forward to the solitude. But whenever you’re up at the top scanning the surface of the ocean, you see things that can’t possibly be there. And one of them sees you — and comes to visit.
38. You stop at the local nursery and pick up a new houseplant — a tiny, adorable succulent. The cashier looks nervous as she rings you up. “That plant isn’t normal. If you want to pick another one, I would totally understand.” She’s nodding with wide eyes as she says this, clearly hoping you’ll agree.
39. You live in a studio apartment. Your boss comes to bring you soup when you call in sick and sees the quilt on your bed, which you won at a raffle. “That’s the quilt my mom made!” she says. “She told me someone stole it.”
40. You take your kids trick-or-treating, and you go to your boss’s neighborhood (your boss suggested it). Most houses gave out full-sized candy bars, but one gave out treasure maps, and your kids want to find their treasures before you leave the neighborhood.
41. Someone offers you a chance to win a million dollars just by visiting his website and typing in your address. “I don’t need your checking account info. It’s not safe to give that to just anyone. I’ll just mail the check to you,”he writes.
42. You wonder what it would be like to be a famous actor, and someone, out of the blue, invites you to perform in his movie as an extra — “and, who knows, maybe something more… prominent.”
43. You get a call from the principal’s office that your daughter has been involved in a bullying incident. Someone was bullying her, and she punched him. There were witnesses, and the principal reminds you of their zero-tolerance policy for physical violence…
44. You get a call from the principal’s office that your son has been acting out toward his classmates (who, according to what he’s told you, have been behaving aggressively toward him) and had brought a weapon to school to protect himself. They’ve confiscated the weapon (a paring knife) and have called the police.
45. Your kid has an IEP, and the Special Ed staff at the school always sound so caring and professional at the meetings you attend with them. But your son tells you they behave very differently toward him. The principal assures you that she knows the staff would never do what your son has accused them of doing. She suggests your son may be lying.
46. Your young daughter notices that one of your trees is “sick,” and she goes to visit the tree, talks to it, leans against it, and tells it to please get better. It responds by growing stronger and larger, spreading its branches out and downward to create a sort of cave for your daughter to rest in when she wants to be alone. It becomes her haven.
47. You wake up one morning and start loading your excess possessions into boxes and bags and hauling it off to Goodwill to donate it. That’s when you find the tiny cameras hidden in the bathroom, and bugs hidden in every room.
48. Your favorite coffee mug has broken, and you’re in mourning. The mug you just bought as your “second” just doesn’t feel the same in your hand, but it surprises you by magically refilling your drink with every sip — and keeping it hot for you.
49. The moth on your ceiling doesn’t bother you — much. But every time you look, it’s there. And you wonder why it never leaves. When you finally get a step ladder to get a closer look at it, you can hardly believe what you’re seeing.
50. Your neighbors on the home office side of your house have never been friendly, but one day, the wife comes over with a pie and tells you she made it herself and that she’s tired of being cooped up in the house with no one but her husband to talk to. You look over and see the outline of her husband in an upstairs window.
51. Tired of getting hair in your face, you take an electric hair-trimmer and run it all over your head with the one-inch attachment. You look at the results with satisfaction.
52. Your spouse, who has never done or said a romantic thing since your honeymoon, suddenly comes home with an expensive bouquet and a travel brochure for a place you’ve always wanted to visit. Later on, someone delivers the car you’ve always wanted, and your husband unconvincingly feigns surprise. You ask him if he won the lottery, but he shakes his head and says, “This is way better. You’ll see.”
53. You’re out in your backyard and stumble over something, which turns out to be a small brick half-buried in the grass. You see initials etched into the brick, along with a crudely-shaped heart. You wonder what — or whom — might be buried beneath. Soon, you find other markers like it, and you wonder how you failed to notice them before.
54. Your neighbor invites you over to her house, and you see that every wall has a cross painted on it with crude, hurried strokes. You ask why, and she nervously clears her throat and says, “This place needs them.”
55. You watch an infomercial and order a new face cream, hoping it will restore a youthful look to your face. It does more than that.
56. Your teenage son gets a job and, on his first day, he encounters a rude customer. Unaccustomed to responding with calmness and diplomacy, he lashes out at the customer and gets himself fired. Instead of calling home for a ride, though, he takes a walk through town and runs into the same customer holding up a cardboard sign.
57. You put your headphones on when you start on your writing project, and, at some point, an unfamiliar voice interrupts your playlist to tell you he likes what you’ve written so far. And he thinks you’d get along great.
58. Your spouse starts trying different paint samples on walls all over the house, and you don’t like any of the colors; they’re either too bright or too dark. One day, you paint patches of a pale green-gray that you like next to his acid-bright or dark color patches, and he tells you it’s boring, and that he’s painting the house his way.
59. Someone keeps writing fortune-cookie phrases on your new whiteboard at work, and it’s irritating you. You ask around, and no one knows who keeps writing the messages. Then, one of the predictions comes true.
60. You look out the window while you’re working and you see one neighbor attacking his spouse, knocking her down and then kicking her. You call 9-1-1, but later on, the wife comes over and says, “I know it was you who called. And you’ve made everything worse!”
61. Every time you look outside and see the wind in the trees, you take a deep breath and feel calmer. When the air is still, you feel as though the whole world is holding its breath and that something bad is about to happen. So, when it’s calm outside, you picture wind in the trees and take a deep breath.
62. You see movement in the corner of your eye and whenever you look, you see a huge, black dog in the neighbor’s yard, running back and forth. This time, though, he runs into your yard and starts barking at your front door.
63. Your eight-year-old son gets up and immediately goes for his Kindle Fire to play Minecraft. You’ve found some educational apps you want him to try, so you’ve installed them on his Kindle. He comes to you a few minutes later and says, “This app is telling me to do things I’m not supposed to do.”
64. You try a new recipe for a potluck, hoping it will wow your boss and coworkers, but it turns out terrible, and you end up rushing to a restaurant for something to bring before arriving (late) to find out everyone has already eaten the entree you were most looking forward to trying. When the cops show up later to ask why everyone is violently ill except you, you tell them everything you know.
65. You take your teenage son to his orientation for a new job, and when you come back to pick him up an hour later, you find out no one has seen him — though you saw him walk in the door before you drove off.
66. You’re living in a world where everyone is born with a birthmark that matches that of their soulmate. But you are born without one.
67. You and your best friend are in a terrible car accident, and you both die. Your friend, however, has a very different account of what he saw on the other side.
68. You’re born with the ability to mentally manipulate DNA. You started with plants and moved on to your pets, who now have unique abilities. For the past few years, you’ve been hacking your own DNA.
69. You were raised in the deep South where manners and feigned politeness were a thin veneer covering your family’s questionable history and lingering dysfunction.
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Did you find these short story ideas and prompts useful?
I hope your mind is buzzing with an idea you can’t wait to start playing with. Keep this article handy, so you can return to it when you’re looking for a new short story idea. You don’t have to follow any of them verbatim; take one and change the details however you like to make the idea your own.
Just don’t forget the “one shattering moment” for your character — and the importance of making an emotional impact on your reader. You make this impact as much with dialogue as with description and the structure of your story. Make it all count.
And when it comes time to edit, cut everything that dampens the impact of your story. Your readers will love you for it!
If you found value from this list of short story prompts, please share it and encourage others to pass it on to support and inspire as many fellow writers out there as possible. Why not even invite them to share their new short stories with you after they’ve written them?
And may your creative energy and goodwill infuse everything else you do today.
Crafting a funny short story can improve your writing skills, and it can also help you push through writer's block. The next time you pick up your pen or sit down at the computer, try following one of these funny short story writing prompts and give comedy writing a shot.
Slide funny words, humorous stories, and one-liners into your text where it feels right. 4. Use observational humor. The funniest writing is based on universal experiences that your reader is familiar with. Write your observations of the world with a different point of view to highlight their absurdity.
Writing Your Story 1 Establish your story's elements early on. In any story, you'll want to let the reader know who is involved, where the story takes place, and some hint of what the story is all about. This is true of funny stories as well, but with the added element of humor.
Curated with love by Reedsy. We found 53 funny stories that match your search 🔦 reset. "BOO!" you yell, grabbing the shoulders of a person you think is your friend from behind. They turn around and it's a total stranger. Funny. "I have to go!" she/he said suddenly, jumping up from the table during dinner.
To help you with the process, here's how to write a short story step-by-step: 1. Identify a short story idea 2. Define the character's main conflict and goal 3. Hook readers with a strong beginning 4. Draft a middle focused on the story's message 5. Write a memorable ending 6. Refine the plot and structure of your short story
positively negatively. A feature of the place (e.g. trees, houses, rivers) Two adjectives that could be used to describe that place. Four emotion adjectives (e.g. happy, sad, grumpy) An adjective that could describe an object. Six adjectives to describe somebody's character. An occasion (e.g. party, holiday, funeral)
Get ready for a hurricane of LOL as you read all these funny short stories. 1. Now that's what I call stupid: In my junior year of high school, this guy asked me on a date. He rented a Redbox movie and made a pizza. We were watching the movie and the oven beeped so the pizza was done. He looked me dead in the eye and said, "This is the worst part."
Funny Writing Prompts Enjoy this list of 55 funny writing prompts. And keep track of those that stand out for you. 1. Write about someone trying to explain to a teacher that their dog did, in fact, eat their homework. 2. Write about two characters — with entirely different lives and personalities- switching bodies. 3.
A Few More Short Comedy Stories Funny story that terrified my cab driver as text The taxi driver will have a fun story to tell his family after his shift! man gets arrested for creeping this lady out on a bus. His explanation to the judge was golden. a lady about 8 months pregnant got on a bus. she noticed the man opposite her was smiling at her.
The best funny short stories I read all have the following in common: The writer uses humour to support a great story. They do not try to be funny for the sake of being funny. Think of a story like a roast dinner. The main focus is the meat - beef, lamb, pork, chicken or whatever. Gravy is used to compliment the meal.
Don't tell the reader something is funny, using the verb "he joked" or "chuckled" or saying "and they all laughed." Show a scene and let your audience decide. 8. Self-deprecation is comedy gold. Start by writing a list of all the horrible things you hate about yourself.
Top 10 Story Ideas Tell the story of a scar. A group of children discover a dead body. A young prodigy becomes orphaned. A middle-aged woman discovers a ghost. A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her. A talented young man's deepest fear is holding his life back.
Writing the Story Download Article 1 Write an engaging first paragraph. By the end of the first paragraph, many readers will decide whether to continue reading the story or to give up and set it aside. A strong, engaging beginning is vital, then, if you want your readers to continue through the rest of your story.
The humor in your novel or story should have something to do with plot, character development, or story. In other words, comedy should arise naturally from the aspects of your story. There's nothing wrong with wanting to make readers laugh, but forcing it will often backfire. Make it Relatable
Short stories are to novels what TV episodes are to movies. Short stories are a form of narrative writing that has all the same elements as novels—plot, character development, point of view, story structure, theme—but are delivered in fewer words. For many writers, short stories are a less daunting way to dive into creative writing than attempting to write a novel.
Like "Charles," this is another classic, well-known story. An older woman takes a young man under her wing after he attempts to steal her purse. As they spend time together, she teaches him a valuable lesson about life. It's perfect for upper-elementary and middle school students.
Worksheets and downloads. A short story - exercises 479.92 KB. A short story - answers 195.38 KB. A short story - story 395.91 KB. A short story - writing practice 200.69 KB.
It could be an observation you make while (discreetly) people-watching. We've create 69 short story writing prompts that flesh out an idea more thoroughly, giving you a good headstart for your story. 1. You get a new job, and your new boss approaches you on the first day with an invitation to the "After Hours Club.".
16. "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Poole. This novel is about Ignatius Reilly, a fat man with a funny hat. Various things happen in the story including a parrot attack, a revolt to impress a girlfriend and many accidents. This book was published after the author died and won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.
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