Some ideas for short stories include the beauty of an ugly concept, a mixture of random ideas or words that form the basis of the plot, and a pre-written first line that begins the story. These ideas can all help writers get started and generate ideas.
Try taking an ugly concept such as war, death, fear, hate or cruelty and examining it to find something positive. Rather that writing in favor of these subjects, writers can try to think about what effects they create and how these can be beneficial. After considering how beauty comes from ugliness, try to write a story that illustrates this idea.
Constraints can often breed creativity, and combining a random sequence of words, images or ideas that all must be used in a story can be one way to get started. Creative Writing Now offers a list of writing prompts, such as “a taxi, an old enemy and Valentine’s Day,” but writers can just as easily write ideas down on pieces of paper and randomly select a few in order to dictate the parameters of their stories.
Taking a pre-existing first line as the start of a new story is another way to begin writing. Writing Forward offers a range of first lines that trail off into ellipses, forcing writers to continue the stories. Alternately, try taking a random line from a book or another story and using it as a starting point.