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50 Compelling Fantasy Writing Prompts and Plot Ideas for an Epic Story

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For the creative writer with a strong imagination, writing fantasy stories is a great joy. It allows us to stretch the realm of what is possible and create worlds completely unlike our own, for better or for worse. If you or your writing students need help getting started with your fantasy story, here are 50 exciting fantasy writing prompts and plot ideas to get you started.

50 fantasy writing prompts - text overlay with two pictures of a teenage buy writing in a living room

If you’re looking for a fantasy plot idea for your fantasy novel or short story, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve pulled together 50 of our best fantasy story ideas for you in this post so you can get started right away writing your new story.

The fantasy genre is an exciting one for both readers and writers, as it opens new doors that we may be unable to open with other genres of fiction. From superheroes to wizards, witches to dragons, fairies to queens, fantasy worlds are filled with memorable characters who take amazing–and often devastating–actions.

But it’s not just the characters who make these stories come alive. The settings are just as vivid, often taking on a role just as important as those of the characters. Whether the story is set in an entirely fictional world or the writer has written magical elements into life on earth, readers love getting lost in a place that is different from anything they’ve ever known.

Once you’ve looked through the following list of fiction writing prompts for fantasy stories, you may also want to check out these other resources we offer:

Types of Fantasy

If you’re a long-time fantasy fan, you are probably familiar with the various sub-genres that exist, but for those who are new to the worlds of mythical creatures and magical beings, here is a quick rundown of a few of the more common fantasy styles. The number of subgenres varies widely depending on who you ask, and this is not intended to be an exhaustive list, merely an overview.

The nice thing about fantasy prompts is that you can take them in any direction you want. For example, you could combine elements of a fairy tale with dark fantasy writing prompts to produce a dark twist on a formerly cheery tale. Or you can take an epic fantasy writing prompt and cross it with a medieval story prompt and create a magical world filled with castles, nights, and battles. The only thing limiting you is your imagination.

Dark or Grimdark Fantasy

  • Written in a foreboding tone
  • Frightening and disturbing themes
  • Elements of horror that evoke a feeling of dread
  • Usually set in supernatural worlds with a gloomy atmosphere

Epic or High Fantasy

  • Settings are vast (or epic)
  • Tons of characters
  • Set in new worlds
  • Massive event or quest (the fate of the entire world is usually at stake)
  • Typically centers on one main character
  • Often written as a series

Fables, Fairy Tales, and Folklore

  • Relies heavily on motifs and plots from folklore
  • New spins on timeless tales
  • Often feature morals and lessons, which may be a reversal of those taught in the original tales

Historical Fantasy

  • Set in a real historical time period, usually before the 20th century
  • Factual events blended with supernatural elements
  • May be set in the real world or in a fictional world

Low Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, and Urban Fantasy

  • Set in the real world or something like it
  • Magical elements occur in an otherwise-normal world
  • Supernatural characters dealing with everyday life
  • Urban fantasy takes place in a predominantly urban—not rural—setting
  • Contemporary fantasy is set in the present day (or the time in which it was written)

Magical Realism

  • Touches of magic are incorporated into the real world
  • Blurs the lines between fantasy and reality

Medieval Fantasy

  • A subgenre of historical fantasy
  • Set in the Middle Ages
  • Includes elements of medieval European culture such as castles and knights
  • Also includes fantasy elements such as dragons, sorcerers with superpowers, and mythical beings
  • Includes the subset, Arthurian fantasy, which brings in references to the knights of the round table

Paranormal Fantasy

  • Set in the modern world
  • Mythical creatures such as vampires, werewolves
  • Can overlap with urban fantasy
  • Includes the paranormal romance sub-genre, which usually has a love story between a human and a mythical being

Science Fantasy

  • Presents fantasy elements as hard science, even though the science is not real

Superhero Fantasy

  • Follows heroes with supernatural powers and the villains they oppose
  • There’s often a scientific explanation for the superpowers

Sword and Sorcery

  • Heroes with swords on big adventures
  • Character-driven, focuses on personal matters
  • Usually in a secondary world

Now that you probably have a clear idea of the type of fantasy story you’d like to write, let’s jump into the writing prompts.

50 Fantasy Writing Prompts and Plot Ideas

  1. One day in the marketplace, you meet a scatterbrained magician who can’t seem to keep his thoughts straight, but then out of nowhere, he solves a marketplace crime. You try to distance yourself from him, but he convinces you to become his partner.
  2. What if you had x-ray vision?
  3. Write a story about a dryad (a tree nymph) who adopts a human child she finds in the woods and with whom she must work together to save her forest from deforestation.
  4. Write a story about a wizard who finds a potion that brings his best friend back to life.
  5. Write a story where someone has invented shoes that enable people to fly, but the shoes are extraordinarily expensive.
  6. Write a story about a yeti whose village is melting.
  7. Write a story about two kingdoms in a fantasy world who are at war with each other over a scarce resource (like water or fuel, or something completely unknown in our world).
  8. You’re visiting some relatives when your three-year-old cousin floods the bathroom. You try to dry it up but the water level keeps rising. You and the kids jump into the bathtub just as it begins its transformation into a beautiful boat.
  9. Imagine that a child discovered they could time travel using old coins–whatever year and country the coin was minted in, that’s where they can travel to. Write about their adventures.
  10. Your great-great-aunt, whom you met only once when you were still too young to form memories, has died and left you her ancient typewriter. You’re planning to use it as a doorstop, but after having it for one night, you realize it types out beautiful masterpieces while you are sleeping.
  11. Write about a regular child who realizes they have magical powers, which they must immediately put into use to protect a community of people who are in imminent danger.
  12. What if you received a special watch as a gift and it kept talking to you?
  13. Write a story about King Arthur who time travels to the present day and tries to take on the British royal family.
  14. What if unicorns existed and lived on an isolated island but were now considering an attempt at world domination?
  15. You open the mailbox one day and find a strange letter addressed to you. The time has come to fulfill your destiny, it reads. The world is counting on you. Come quickly, and bring your secret sketchbook.
  16. Write about a priest who takes in a child abandoned on his doorstep, only to learn sometime later that the baby was not fully human.
  17. Sleep and pray. Get me out of here. The door creaks open and a withered hand tosses in a gray wool blanket. “Wouldn’t want you to catch a cold.” The soft voice filters into the cell and wraps itself around me like a warm hug. And just like that, I know what I have to do.
  18. You discover a book in your parents’ bedroom that describes everything you’ve ever said and done. But the book is a hundred years old, and you’re just twelve. Or so you thought.
  19. What if you suddenly realized that your life story mirrored the plot of a Shakespearean play?
  20. Write a story where there are two earths, 100 miles apart only one is inhabited by people and the other is inhabited by dragons.
  21. You wake up to find your room mysteriously clean and a paper bag sitting on your desk. You open it up and an angry-looking brownie jumps out. “It’s about time!” he yells. “My brother locked me in there hours ago. We’ve got to find him!”
  22. You find an ancient text etched into a wall in your basement. Translating it, you realize it’s an escape plan. Just as you’re muttering to yourself about how much time you’ve wasted, the door to the basement slams shut and the stairs melt away.
  23. It’s all over the news. Random events are taking place. What if someone discovers that they’re my dreams coming true, literally? What will they do to me? I have to find…
  24. What if your mother told you you had to go to Peru and fight a monster you’d thought was a legend?
  25. What if you created a magical potion that caused everything it touched to grow exponentially?
  26. Write about a girl who lives in pre-industrial times who finds a twenty-first-century smartphone that has all its modern capabilities, including those provided by WiFi, which of course, nobody in her time knows anything about.
  27. Write a story about a man-eating dragon who falls in love with a human and goes on a quest to become human too.
  28. Write about a team of young wizards who communicate with each other through telekinesis, and who must find a way to stop the evil villain–one of their professors–from infiltrating their thoughts and stealing secret spells for his/her own purposes.
  29. What if your best friend got trapped inside a book?
  30. What if you were canoeing in an inlet when a pod of whales came up underneath your boat and lifted you out of the water, at which point your boat took to the air?
  31. Write about a group of people who find flying carpets and decide to race them.
  32. What if you traveled back in time to ancient Egypt and discovered that their world was even more modernized than ours and included more advanced technology but that they’d destroyed all evidence of these advances in an effort to protect future generations from making the same devastating decisions that they had?
  33. Jack glanced around furtively, making sure no one could see him. Then he ducked down the alley. He had taken no more than two steps when he was pulled into a nearly invisible hole in the wall. He was met with rancid breath and a hairy hand around his throat. “Where is it?” said the young man. “Where is my…?”
  34. Write a story about someone who discovers a secret castle from the Middle Ages and learns that a whole other world exists inside it.
  35. Write about a guitar that plays itself and accidentally makes an accountant into a popular musician.
  36. What if you were babysitting a kid who went to the kitchen to get a snack and came back as a gnome?
  37. What if you were a jester in a medieval castle and you had to keep the king entertained all the time?
  38. You’re sitting on a bench outside the library when a dog approaches you with no leash on. He climbs up on the bench, looks you right in the eyes, and says, “I heard you have the spell for turning dogs into people. Help me, please!”
  39. An enchantress creeps into a room unseen, her cloak of invisibility her only protection. She just needs to get the book and get out of there. She shutters as she hears a loud rip. Her cloak is caught on the door!
  40. I walked through the market timidly, unsure of what I was looking for, but certain I would find it here. A flash of light flickered almost imperceptibly to my right, and instinctively I turned toward the stall that I’d just passed, but it was gone. In its place…
  41. What if every character you wrote automatically came to life and a foreign government was after you to create spies for them?
  42. You’re sitting by a pond. You lean over to touch the water and realize you have no reflection. It’s disappeared. It turns out you’ve accidentally become invisible.
  43. You and your friend happen upon a mysterious underground society that is trying to bring dragons back to the world. But dragons never existed. Did they?
  44. What if you discovered that certain garments could be unraveled and the threads woven into gold?
  45. Your aunt shows up at your house unannounced and declares she is taking you on yet another quest. “Grab your bike, your bearded dragon, and your book of incantations. The rest of the club members are waiting.”
  46. After your grandmother passes away, you learn that the baby blanket she knitted for you when you were born has secrets from the past woven into it. When it begins whispering stories to you at night, you realize there’s a family mystery you need to solve.
  47. Write a story about a centuries-long war that’s stopped by a couple of rebels riding on highland cows.
  48. Write a story about a teacher who can read the thoughts of their students, but can’t tell anybody their secret.
  49. The pirate bound my hands and stuffed a gag into my mouth. I kicked him in the shins. “Ow!” he said, glaring at me as he pulled the rope tighter. “Now, tell us where the gold is, or I’ll…”
  50. A disease is spreading through your town, but it’s not passed on in the usual ways. It is only transferred from one person to another when an infected person teaches someone something.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these fantasy writing prompts and plot ideas. I can’t wait to hear about the short stories and novels you come up with. Leave a comment below to tell us what fantasy fiction writing prompts you’re using and what you’re working on.

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