• Andrew Johnston

26 Science Fiction Writing Prompts for the Terminally Stuck

I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of writing prompts. Better to find your own ideas and then get help developing them into something bigger - that's what I say. But there's no question that some people benefit from getting that first idea upfront, and people can absolutely exhibit a lot of creativity with someone else's idea. Give a dozen decent writers the same foundational idea, you'll get stories that run off in many different directions.


So here are 26 writing prompts rooted in science fiction. It's a big genre - that 26 isn't even a drop in the bucket, more a drop in the Milky Way - and this might help lead you to an idea of your own. These are derived from some of my own works - published, unpublished, unfinished, even unwritten. Perhaps you'll have luck with them.


And if you want more, check out this list of 30 prompts for flash fiction.

My own take on number 7.


Science Fiction Writing Prompts


  1. A radical physicist discovers a simple means to pass one solid object through another.

  2. An ordinary person begins receiving messages from a future version of himself.

  3. An alien encounters a translator, who seeks to find a way to overcome their language barrier.

  4. An astronaut develops an emotional bond with an unseen alien presence.

  5. Earth experiences a temporal disaster which causes time to steadily slow down.

  6. An alien invading force arrives on a mysteriously abandoned Earth.

  7. Colorful “holes” appear in the sky over several seemingly random locations on Earth.

  8. A frozen planet hides an advanced civilization in the ocean beneath the ice.

  9. In a future where people can edit their memories, a person seeks clues as to a tragedy in his past.

  10. A security team fights for survival against a massive life form that never stops eating.

  11. A young child finds a damaged military robot that acts as her pet.

  12. A planet develops a collective consciousness.

  13. An engineer is tasked with “fixing” a computer that has developed sentience.

  14. A researcher develops a “microcosm” - a universe in a bottle.

  15. A business specializes in keeping records on the fates of everyone in existence.

  16. An authoritarian government employs a computer that can censor all forms of media in real time.

  17. A soldier stationed on a backwater planet must face down an invading alien force alone.

  18. A group of strangers all begin seeing hallucinatory words that form a code.

  19. An intelligent household device struggles to communicate with its owners.

  20. A group of robots try to recreate organic life on a dead planet.

  21. An ordinary person develops an uncontrollable teleportation power.

  22. A culture's rite of passage involves a chemical that induces a state of extreme empathy.

  23. New life begins to develop on a planet years after being devastated by an invasion.

  24. A mysterious businessperson seeks help in facilitating the apocalypse.

  25. A group of researchers studying a new species begin to develop swarm behaviors.

  26. An engineer programs a next-generation computer to plan the perfect murder.

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