50 Fantasy Writing Prompts
by Fabled Planet
It’s a bit of a paradox. Sometimes, despite being in a genre in which anything is possible, we fantasy writers can’t think of a single thing to write about.
If that’s you, look no further, and check out these 50 writing prompts tailored specifically to the fantasy genre. Since fantasy encompasses many subgenres – and we don’t all like writing the same ones – the prompts are divided into five categories: general, high fantasy (basically, a story set in a secondary, fantasy world), low fantasy (basically, a story set in our world), fables, fairy tales, myths, and retellings, and historical fantasy.
Of course, these are just jumping-off points. Remember that you can tweak them however you feel inspired to do.
1. Take the fantasy book physically nearest to you that you haven’t read. (If you don’t have one, go to Amazon and choose the first book that shows up in the fantasy category.) Find the first full sentence on page 20. Use that sentence to begin your story.
2. Imagine your favourite place from childhood. What if the figurative magic you felt there suddenly became literal magic?
3. Look up from your screen. One of the objects in your line of sight becomes sentient. What does it say?
4. A vampire, a dwarf, and a werewolf walk into a bar… Seriously, roll with it!
5. Write the first chapter of the most cliched fantasy story you can invent. Don’t think too hard about it; try freewriting.
6. Your main character works as one of the following: a plumber, a baker, a hairdresser, a PE teacher. They are also one of the following: a vampire, a ghost, an elf, a fairy.
7. Remember the most vivid dream you’ve ever had. What would happen if a curse, a jewel, and a ballad were involved?
8. How would the last sporting match you watched have gone if all the athletes were monsters?
9. Write about someone who does a magic-based equivalent of your job or hobby. Try to use your expertise to paint a realistic picture of their activities. What challenges might they encounter?
10. Write a story in which the protagonist encounters an antagonist who is a representation of your biggest phobia. (For example, if you’re terrified of cockroaches, the antagonist might be a giant cockroach. If you’re terrified of flying, the antagonist might be a flying creature you have to go (and fight) high up to battle.) The protagonist shares your fear.
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1. A prophet realises that they will be the cause of the catastrophic event they have foreseen – and they’re not so sure they want to stop it.
2. A bard discovers that their songs have the power to control minds and determined to figure out how this power works… and how to use it.
3. What might happen in a world where some people are born without the need to sleep? Consider how this will have affected the world’s whole history from the beginning.
4. Write a story about a character who is trying to stop their whole world from sinking into the sea over the course of the next week – and no one knows which portion will collapse next.
5. Write a story that ends with this sentence: And that is how that world was lost and a new one, our world, was born.
6. In a world where people are reincarnated through the ages, the protagonist has spent their life hiding a terrible secret: they are the only one who cannot remember their previous lives.
7. Write about the training of a new soldier in a world where all wars are fought by mind control.
8. Just before the end of our world, a thousand people from our era escape through a portal to another – a new, Eden-like world to make their own, full of magics waiting to be discovered. What do they do with it?
9. A fortune-teller is forced to serve the person who ruined their life – and they see nothing but success in their new master’s future. How do they use their gift to bring down this enemy?
10. What might a desperate and powerless character do to get ahead in life in a world where near-death experiences confer magical power?
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1. Three friends invite an attractive new co-worker to join their team for the world’s most difficult escape room. Once locked in, they slowly begin to suspect that their co-worker is not quite human…
2. A woman gets pregnant after a one-night stand. After the child is born, she reunites with the father in a chance meeting. He panics, but not for the reasons she predicted – he’s a demon… and the child’s heritage is just beginning to make itself known.
3. A young New York City thief has chosen a life of crime to get by. But when they are given superpowers by a mysterious stranger, will they use them to help others, as they promised the stranger? Or to take their criminal game to the next level and get off the streets forever?
4. A deceased pet from the past shows up in your house – but now, they can talk. And they have something very important to tell you.
5. You wake up with the ability to shapeshift into any animal of your choosing. How do you use this to solve your problems?
6. Write a story in which the local haunted house turns out to be a wonderful, magical place – and the protagonist, the only one who knows, has it all to themself.
7. A modern-day protagonist works in a zoo and rehabilitation facility for endangered fantasy creatures.
8. A stranger from another world, clearly urgently in need, steps out from a portal into your house, but they can speak only their own language.
9. It’s the protagonist’s first day at work at a magical theme park, and they’re the first to notice that visitors are not coming out again.
10. The modern-day tyrant of your choice has secretly attained their position through magic. Now, the magical creature from whom they stole their magic wants revenge.
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Fables, Fairy Tales, Myths, and Retellings
‘1. Do a modern retelling of the Brothers Grimm tale ‘The Three Snake Leaves’.
2. Write a fable, fairy tale, or myth based on these three words: stardust, mirror, scream.
3. Come up with a creation myth to explain a natural phenomenon in your favourite season.
4. Take your two favourite fairy tales and combine them for a retelling.
5. Rewrite a fairy tale so that one of a minor character ends up stealing the show.
6. Retell a fairy tale from the perspective of the protagonist’s love interest.
7. If you already have a fantasy society you’re building, write a myth for how the race/species of (one of) your main character(s) came to be.
8. Choose a fable and rewrite it so that it endorses the opposite of its moral.
9. Many fairy tales have interesting and evocative titles. Find one you’ve never heard of and use only the title as your prompt.
10. Retell a fairy tale you know well by setting it in a different culture, be it a culture of our world or a fantasy world you’ve been working on.
1. Archaeologists have dug up a number of ancient scripts that have not yet been deciphered. Do a Google search for undeciphered ancient languages and let the shapes of the mysterious script and the scraps of historical context around it suggest a world for your next story.
2. In the Age of Discovery, one explorer’s ship takes them not to a new continent but to an actual new world.
3. Write about the Second World War – but with different kinds of magic wielded by each side of the conflict.
4. It’s 1848, and the California Gold Rush has just begun. But the lucky ones who strike gold soon find that this particular gold isn’t any ordinary metal…
5. You wake up during the worst historical event of your favourite historical time period. And there’s absolutely no chance of you ever getting home.
6. Write a story that features three of these four words: petticoat, papyrus, pilgrim, pager.
7. Write a low fantasy story about a world event that happened the year you were born. Yes, that too is history!
8. What if a sculptor in Renaissance Italy created statues so realistic that they began to come to life?
9. What if one of Henry VIII’s unfortunate wives had secretly been a sorceress? How might things have gone differently for her?
10. What if one of the empires of history (take your pick) colonised not other lands for their natural resources but other worlds for their magics?