Flash Fiction Ideas: Brevity and Imagination

Every famous writer has a certain niche. J. R. R. Tolkien was the father of modern fantasy literature. George R. R. Martin prefers dragons, murders, and family issues. Dan Brown has a different focus: conspiracy, symbols, and Renaissance art. Neil Gaiman uses well-known mythological and fairy-tale characters, but presents them in an unexpected manner.

flash fiction ideas

Their fame and significance for the world of literature are hard to overestimate. If you have decided to reach their level, you should also choose your personal niche and style. Of course, you will have to practice a lot and work hard to become a professional writer. It may take years for you to create your first novel.

What if after a few years of work you realize that the path of literature is not for you? We don’t think that it will feel good. That is why we suggest you to give your talent and creative skills a trial run. Flash fiction will be a perfect genre for beginners. Thanks to its brevity, this genre is a good option to try your hand at writing without wasting much time for it at the same time. All you need is one dose of inspiration and one good idea.

Below, you will find a list of flash fiction ideas that may give you some kind of direction. We can’t provide you with a wide range of concrete flash fiction topics because only you can choose a particular theme that will suit your style and niche. Read our guide on how to write a flash fiction story to write a perfect piece of writing.

10 Flash Fiction Story Ideas to Surprise Your Readers

1. Unusual perspective

“I wish I were someone else!” How many times have you heard or said this phrase? Sometimes, we get tired of being ourselves. The everyday routine makes life mundane, and we lose the feeling of novelty. Your readers will be grateful if you give them a chance to look at this world from a fresh and unexpected perspective. Try to imagine the thoughts of your cat, a usual day of a bench, or the emotions of a robot. Give life to material things and make them the main heroes of your flash fiction. We guarantee that your readers will be intrigued, especially if you reveal the entity of your character at the very end. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Still, think twice before writing a piece of flash fiction from the perspective of a turtle or a serial killer.

2. Confession

People love listening to stories about someone else’s mistakes, failures, and sins. We feel better when we understand that there is somebody who is worse or less fortunate than us in this world. You might say that people are not that egoistic and spiteful. Yes, they are – just face it. We recommend you to use a first-person narrative if you choose a confession to be the idea of your flash fiction. This move will make your readers feel empathy and live through suffering together with your main hero. There are a few phrases to start your writing with:

  • I’m so sorry
  • I hate myself
  • I didn’t mean to kill him
  • Lord, have mercy
  • I’ll go to hell for the things that I’ve done
  • I just wanted them to respect/notice/love me
  • There are no more tears I could cry out

Sounds quite intriguing, right?

3. Dialogue

Dialogues are an indispensable part of any novel, play, or movie. They make the stories more realistic and allow us to learn more about the characters. Can you imagine a good book with no dialogues? Not likely. Can you imagine a good flash fiction that consists exclusively of dialogue? That sounds much more real. A dialogical form has many advantages for you as a beginner.

First of all, you won’t have to worry about the settings, portraits, and descriptions. Secondly, you give your readers the complete freedom of choice as they’ll use their own cognitive skills to imagine the characters. Finally, you can express your personal opinion and reveal your hidden feelings with the help of your heroes, and nobody will blame you.

At the same time, this flash fiction idea has one catch: you have to create dialogue in such a manner that your readers will be able to learn at least something about the characters. Use jargon, fancy wording, or even taboo words to make your protagonist more real.

4. Mystery

“The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door …” It doesn’t matter what feeling you have after you read this genius short story created by Fredric Brown: hope, fear, interest, or confusion. The most important thing is that these two phrases awaken emotions because of their mysterious and enigmatic character. People love mysteries: they intrigue us, excite us, and make our hearts beat faster. Fredric Brown proves that the genre of flash fiction doesn’t even need to unveil a mystery. You simply have to give your readers a hint, and their imagination will do everything else.

5. Vivid description

Have you ever experienced a feeling that is impossible to put into words? Flash fiction is a great opportunity to try! You don’t have to tell the story using a first-person narrative. Actually, it’s not important. The crucial point is to pick the perfect wording. If you choose this topic, you have to be confident that you will manage to find a common language with your readers and that they will understand your emotions. Focus on sensory details: describe what you have seen, smelt, felt, and heard. Such a topic requires using literary devices and figures of speech to make your writing language bright and expressive. We can offer you the following flash fiction story ideas:

  • Falling in love
  • Climbing a peak
  • Deep diving
  • Dawn at the seashore
  • Nightmare
  • First performance
  • Skydiving experience
  • Broken heart
  • Rock concert
  • Riding a motorcycle/car/horse at full speed

If you haven’t found something suitable for you, at least, you know where to look for inspiration.

6. Interesting form

Don’t want to surprise your readers with unusual content? Shock them with an extraordinary form! The options are endless, and the only thing you need is your imagination. We’ll provide you with real-life examples that we found to be interesting and inspirational:

Chinese artist Xu Bing has created a book written entirely in emojis. In “Book From the Ground,” he describes a typical day in the life of an office worker exclusively using logos, icons, and symbols.

Serbian writer Milorad Pavić gave his book “Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel” a form of three cross-referenced encyclopedias. There is no clear plot but a common theme.
French author Michel Thaler has written the book “The Nowhere Train” without verbs. Can you imagine 233 pages and no verbs at all?

7. Long story in a few words

If you want to tell a long story but don’t want to spend much time on writing, the answer is obvious: make it shorter! One poet managed to put the story of their whole life in 100 words! We strongly believe that you’re capable of that too. A work of flash fiction can be as short as you want. Sure, you won’t be the first person who will try to compose a tiny masterpiece. You have plenty of types to choose from: minisaga – 50 words, twitterature – 280 characters, microfiction – 100 words, nanotale – 6 words, etc. You shouldn’t think that such short stories don’t require any effort. Despite their length, they still have characters and plot development. So, choose your weapon and improve your skill of conciseness!

8. Life-changing meeting

All of us have probably met people that have changed our lives, worldview, and principles forever. The same thing can happen to your hero. The best thing about flash fiction is that you don’t have to describe what was before or what will happen after this life-changing meeting. Of course, you are free to add some details. Another option is to leave everything to the verdict of your readers. Maybe, they’ll imagine a wedding or a great success. Maybe, they’ll kill everybody in their cruel fantasies. Actually, it is not your business. Your task is to show clearly that the life of your characters won’t be the same anymore after they meet each other.

9. Original interpretation

It is said that a good new story is a forgotten old story retold by a gifted author. There is a kernel of truth in this phrase. However, our flash fiction idea is not exactly about this. We offer you to take a well-known character (mythological hero, historical personality, or Dracula) and present him or her from a brand new point of view. Put them into unusual circumstances or an unexpected epoch, or turn a villain into a hero. This topic is perfect for those who are not creative enough or just don’t have enough writing experience to give birth to a good character without any basis. If you choose this idea, remember copyright law. Don’t “borrow” heroes if you’re not sure about the legitimacy of this move.

10. Tragedy

Just remember: manipulations are not the method you’d use in everyday communications. But when it comes to becoming a popular flash fiction writer, all means are acceptable. Surprisingly, a majority of people give way to sadness and tears more often than to happiness and joy when they fall under the influence of art. You can’t help crying when a favorite pet of the main hero dies in front of him or when two people in love understand that their love is impossible because of a cruel twist of fate. Create a story that is full of sorrow and despair, and we guarantee that you’ll find your audience. Please, just don’t be too banal, and invent something new: sometimes, readers get tired of terminally ill heroes and their unlucky dogs.

We will be upset if our flash fiction ideas were not inspirational enough to help you with your first piece of creative writing. However, we don’t think that it is possible, as the 10 ideas presented above have been generated by our amazing and well-educated authors. We strongly believe that we’ve done everything to create proper conditions for your muse to come. A flash fiction sample can come in handy too. Now, it’s all on you, soldier!

Brilliant flash fiction topics don’t come out of nowhere. Discover the world around you, build connections with new people, and live a full life! Only strong emotions and an open mind can give you the best ideas for your writing. We wish you good luck and a successful path to the peak of your writing career.

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