Sometimes you want to write just to exercise the muscle, but you don’t know what to write about. Maybe you want to write about something small to take your mind off of what you’re currently working on. Maybe you’re trying to get in the habit of writing every day, but you need help getting started. Today, I’ve come up with 20+ short story ideas to help you get over the hump of trying to come up with new screenplay ideas! Everybody needs something to jumpstart their writing once in a while, and maybe one of these prompts will be just the thing to get your fingers typing.
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Screenwriting Story Ideas by Genre
Romantic Comedy Story Ideas:
Your main character is in the library. They’re supposed to be studying, but they find their mind drifting to something embarrassing. They sit up straight in their chair and think, “Yikes. Sorry to any telepaths listening in.” They focus back on their book when someone approaches, sitting across from them. “That’s okay. I thought it was funny.” Genre: Rom-Com
Your main character’s parents begin describing the way they met. That’s funny, she thinks, because her adopted boyfriend told a similar story about how his biological parents met. Oh no … are she and her boyfriend related?!
There’s something in the water – a love potion has cast its spell on an entire town, and it’s even working on mortal enemies. But your main character feels nothing, and they’re beginning to wonder if they’re destined to be alone until his childhood sweetheart shows up in town. Perhaps this love potion only works on people who were destined to be together?
A Las Vegas wedding officiant who dresses like Elvis swears off love in Sin City until a Cher impersonator stumbles into his chapel.
A bride-to-be believes her groom has an embarrassing past as a circus clown, and she and her friends will stop at nothing to prove it.
Comedy Story Ideas:
It’s the zombie apocalypse, and something’s happened that nobody prepared for: The zombies talk, and they have a lot to say.
A ten-year-old boy sits alone in a diner. He’s reading a newspaper and drinking a coffee. Someone approaches him.
The historical figure of your choice wakes up in 2021.
Things come to a head when two rival pizza restaurants are both mistakenly invited to cater a town event.
Two moms sit on a mall bench looking defeated on Black Friday. They start to talk.
A hero is called to action by a talking tree; the tree says they’re the only person who can save the world. But the hero has a job and student loans to pay off. What kind of salary does saving the world offer?
A boy and his father mysteriously switch bodies one morning. The boy quickly learns that his dad is not who he thought he was when he shows up at his place of employment: a Chinese restaurant that dishes up more than just takeout.
A farmer heads out each morning to tend to his animals. But this morning, the normal animal sounds are replaced with animals who suddenly have a British accent.
Romance Story Ideas:
Two beauty pageant contestants find themselves caring less about the competition as they make a meaningful connection.
An old family feud keeps two lovers apart, and one family is prepared to take drastic measures to right a wrong. Can they mend their families’ relationships before it’s too late?
A solo trip abroad and a case of mistaken identity lands your protagonist in a foreign prison. The only person who can prove their innocence must risk destroying their marriage to save the lead character.
Two workplace enemies get the assignment of a lifetime, but they'll have to compete for the job. Is their only chance at success working together?
Drama Story Ideas:
Astronauts on an experimental space station become cut off from mission control. They must work together to make the best of things.
A woman meets her biological mother for the first time. It doesn’t go as expected.
Two siblings reunite for a cup of coffee. One of them just got out of rehab.
A fairytale type of princess rescues herself.
A young man discovers the virtues of a slower pace to life when he sees something unexpected on a bike ride that he otherwise wouldn't have noticed if he had whizzed by in his car.
The entire family of your protagonist is in town for their child’s first birthday party. But an unexpected party guest throws everyone into a tailspin.
The protagonist finally buys a vintage motorcycle they’ve been searching for for a decade. But the person who sold it? It wasn’t theirs to sell.
Action Story Ideas:
A mailman witnesses a porch pirate stealing a package. He goes after them.
A fairytale type of princess rescues herself.
The key to dismantle a planet-crushing bomb is mistakenly launched into space with a few billionaires on their new rocket.
A woman seeks revenge for the murder of her husband, only to find out that her sister was responsible.
Thriller Story Ideas:
A woman is talking on the phone distractedly walking down a busy sidewalk. She bumps into someone. When she looks up to apologize, she sees a woman looking exactly like her staring back at her, surprised.
Political tension is at an all-time high, and your protagonist must battle mob mentality and an ever-growing occurrence of state-sponsored information to save their engrossed parents from ruin.
A neighbor begs your protagonist to offer them a hiding place from an enemy that only the neighbor can see.
Mystery Story Ideas:
A couple is flipping a house for the first time. They discover something surprising.
One by one, everyone goes missing at a family reunion.
Two women have a fun night partying on a cruise ship. The next morning, only one woman wakes up in their cabin; the other has vanished.
A sealed time capsule from 200 years ago contains what appears to be a modern laptop. How did history miss this?
The protagonist turns off the stove on a hissing tea kettle and pours themselves a cup of something neon green.
Horror Story Ideas:
There really is something living under a child’s bed, but no one believes them.
Passengers on a mid-air plane begin getting sick, one by one, starting from the back row. The race is on to figure out how the illness spreads to prevent the pilots from suffering their passengers’ fate, too.
Your protagonist is mistakenly buried alive, and the race is on to figure out which cemetery plot they’re in.
Your protagonist knocks over a glass of water in a restaurant, and all the guests look toward their table aghast. They saw the glass seemingly fall off the table on its own, but they can’t see your protagonist.
Any Genre Story Ideas:
In the hospital, two patients strike up an unlikely conversation.
A teenager discovers a security vulnerability in a popular new cryptocurrency that allows them to create infinite wealth. What will they do next?
Your protagonist discovers an uncharted island where the sand is made of gold and must make a choice: stay and protect their treasure or return home and risk never finding the island again?
An online Instagram scammer gets a taste of their own medicine when the person on the other end of the DM scams them back.
Did any of these ideas inspire you to write? I hope so! Getting started is hard, so hopefully, these prompts can take some of the pressure off and let you get back to writing quickly.
We’ll update this list as we come across new, great story ideas! Let your imagination wander. Happy writing!