When I think of short story topics, I often think of the short morality tales like those of O. Henry or the fables of Aesop. In these stories, there is often a moral of the story such as learning not to take your talents for granted or to avoid trusting a naturally combative person (or animal). Many of the creative writing prompts I've written on this site could be used for a short story. For this list of topics, however, we will come up with morals you have (or will) learn from life, which will allow you to work from the end of your short story forward. Once you have the moral of the tale figured out, it'll be easy to determine what your story's topic will be.
Short Story Topics
1. What is the piece of advice your parents or guardians have given you the most frequently? Write a story about two characters learning their lesson by going directly against this advice.
2. During history, many nations such as the Roman Empire have learned that growing too large too fast can lead to a collapse. Craft a story about one person learning about this maxim through an error in judgment.
3. According to the famous Beatles song, "Love is all you need." Create a tale in which a downtrodden character learns this lesson through an encounter with someone else.
4. Many of the warnings you may hear from adults, newspapers and signage are about your personal safety. Write an anecdote in which you show how you or someone else neglected to heed such a warning and the aftermath.
5. There are a lot of people in the world who don't practice what they preach. This includes those who are engrossed in a religion of "tolerance" who tend to be quite intolerant indeed. Create a story in which a person of this ilk receive his or her comeuppance and learns the value of acceptance.
6. Without serious action on the part of world leaders and individuals alike, the environment may endure major problems in the next few centuries. Craft a story depicting an official who has the opportunity to save the planet, doesn't and then experiences the consequences.
7. An addict of technology must learn the importance of connecting directly with human beings without a screen in the way. How does this person do it and what does he or she learn from the process?
8. An eternal pessimist has to find out the value of optimism to survive a tricky situation. What is the situation and what does the pessimist come to understand about positivity?
9. An expert in a particular subject area loses his or her ability to use that skill any longer. Examples include a bird watcher losing his sight or a professional contest eater becoming diabetic or contracting celiac disease. How does this former authority learn to cope with this situation?
10. Write a story in which a character learns some guidance first hand that you had to figure out through trial and error within the last year. How does this new information change the character's life?
I hope that these short story topics help you to craft a morality tale of your very own.
Keep in mind that a story of any length can be changed into a full-length novel if you decide to take it the next mile. If you need additional ideas, feel free to check out my best-selling 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts book for just $2.99 digitally or $7.99 in paperback form.
Written by Bryan Cohen
Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.