Speculative Fiction Writing Prompts

Welcome to the realms of imagination and possibility, where the only limit is the boundaries of your own creativity. Speculative fiction opens doors to worlds unbound by the conventional laws of reality, inviting writers and readers alike into landscapes rich with potential and wonder. This guide is designed to spark the fire of inspiration within you, offering a collection of writing prompts that delve into the heart of speculative fiction.

Whether you're a seasoned author seeking a fresh challenge or a novice writer looking for a place to start, these prompts are crafted to ignite your creativity and transport you to the extraordinary. From dystopian futures and alternate histories to the depths of space and the inner workings of magical realms, each prompt is a stepping stone into the unknown. So, let your imagination take flight as we explore the limitless possibilities of speculative fiction together.

Story Starters

Stepping into the world of speculative fiction is akin to crossing the threshold into a realm where the ordinary meets the extraordinary in the most imaginative ways. Below are story starters crafted to awaken your creativity, providing a canvas for narratives that stretch the boundaries of imagination. From dystopian futures to the mysterious whispers of unknown worlds, these prompts serve as a beacon for tales that intertwine the fabric of science fiction, fantasy, and the unexplored corners of possibility.

  • In a seemingly tranquil village shrouded in fog, a newcomer uncovers an ancient curse that befalls the town every century, bringing to life the nightmares of its inhabitants, revealing a hidden realm of magic and dark folklore.
  • During a late-night exploration of an abandoned space station, a group of astronauts encounters more than just the remnants of the past, triggering a series of events that could alter the fabric of reality itself.
  • A reclusive scientist discovers a parallel universe overlapping our own, where the laws of physics are twisted, and their actions in one world affect the other in unpredictable ways.
  • On the eve of a groundbreaking technological breakthrough, a family moves into a smart home with a dark secret, only to find themselves in the middle of a digital nightmare that questions the essence of humanity.
  • After receiving a mysterious alien artifact, a skeptic becomes the center of an intergalactic conspiracy, revealing hidden truths about the universe and humanity's place within it.
  • An experimental virtual reality game turns sinister when players start disappearing into the game world, challenging a group of friends to unravel the mystery before they become the next victims.
  • In a post-apocalyptic world, a band of survivors discovers a utopian city untouched by disaster, only to uncover a chilling secret about the price of perfection.
  • While investigating a series of unexplained phenomena, a journalist unwittingly becomes part of a story that spans across alternate realities, revealing a cosmic threat to existence itself.
  • A historical researcher finds a time-travel device hidden in ancient ruins, launching them on a journey through time that challenges their understanding of history and their own identity.
  • A small town, isolated from the world by unexplained weather patterns, discovers the truth about the storms: a battle between ancient deities using the town as their chessboard.

Each story starter opens a door to the extraordinary, inviting writers to step through and explore the vast landscapes of speculative fiction. Let these prompts inspire you to craft tales that transcend the limits of imagination, stories that delve into the wonders, fears, and mysteries of the unknown.

Character Prompts

At the heart of every compelling speculative fiction story are characters who embody the spirit of exploration and the unknown. These individuals navigate through realms of fantasy, science fiction, and beyond, revealing profound truths about themselves and the cosmos. From the intrepid explorer to the enigmatic alien, these prompts are designed to infuse your speculative fiction stories with beings whose journeys across time, space, and reality challenge their essence, beliefs, and place in the universe. They offer a foundation for characters whose stories are interwoven with discovery, conflict, and the perpetual quest for understanding.

  • An astronaut stranded on a distant planet who discovers an ancient alien civilization, only to find their own beliefs and humanity challenged by these new encounters.
  • A mage in a dystopian future who must hide their abilities to survive, but faces a moral dilemma when their powers are needed to save the oppressed.
  • A scientist experimenting with dimensional travel who accidentally transports themselves to an alternate reality, confronting their own divergent selves and the consequences of different choices.
  • An AI developing self-awareness who embarks on a journey to understand human emotions, only to become entangled in a complex web of relationships and ethical dilemmas.
  • A historian in a world where time travel is possible who uncovers a conspiracy to alter historical events, challenging their allegiance to preserving the integrity of the timeline.
  • A survivor in a post-apocalyptic wasteland who discovers a utopia hidden from the rest of the world, facing the choice between revealing this sanctuary or protecting its secrecy at all costs.
  • An intergalactic diplomat who navigates complex negotiations between warring alien species, striving to forge peace while grappling with their own identity and the concept of belonging.
  • A fantasy realm's outcast who possesses forbidden magic, embarking on a quest to overturn the oppressive regime that fears their power, learning the true nature of strength and sacrifice.
  • A virtual reality programmer who gets trapped within their own creation, facing challenges that blur the line between virtual and reality, questioning the nature of existence.
  • An environmental scientist on a terraforming mission to a new world who confronts the ethical implications of altering ecosystems and the discovery of indigenous life forms, challenging the mission's purpose.

These character prompts invite the crafting of layered narratives that dive deep into the essence of beings faced with the vastness of the universe and the intricacies of inner space. They challenge writers to create stories that not only traverse the unknown but also reflect on the profound journey of self-discovery and the infinite dimensions of existence.

Dialogue Prompts

In the vast expanses of speculative fiction, dialogue serves as the beacon that illuminates unknown worlds, revealing the heart of character, plot, and the mysterious forces at play. Set against the backdrop of interstellar spaceships, enchanted forests, or the brink of technological singularity, these dialogue prompts are designed to inspire moments of revelation, ethical quandaries, and the forging of unlikely alliances. Whether it's a cryptic message from an ancient artifact or a debate between species with differing views on the universe, these snippets are the sparks for stories that weave through the complexities of existence and innovation.

  • "Do you ever wonder if the stars are watching us just as we watch them?"
  • "This artifact predates our civilization by millennia. What secrets does it hold about the universe?"
  • "I've traversed the galaxy, but I've never encountered a species like yours. What do you seek in the cosmos?"
  • "Our AI has developed emotions. Is this a breakthrough, or have we ventured into forbidden territory?"
  • "They say this planet was terraformed by an ancient race. Can we unravel their legacy before it's too late?"
  • "You're telling me this machine can manipulate time? Think of the consequences if it falls into the wrong hands."
  • "The portal to another dimension is unstable. We must decide: close it and stay safe, or explore and risk everything?"
  • "Our myths speak of beings from the stars. With your arrival, should we see you as gods or invaders?"
  • "This ecosystem is unlike anything we've seen. How do we study it without destroying its balance?"
  • "You may not believe in magic, but in this realm, your disbelief is the greatest danger of all."

Let these dialogue prompts serve as the compass guiding you through the nebula of storytelling, shedding light on the paths to explore the dimensions of speculative fiction, the ethical dilemmas of advancement, and the enduring quest for knowledge and understanding. Employ these dialogues to craft narratives that not only venture into the unknown but also delve deep into the heart of what it means to be sentient, to dream, and to confront the vastness of the cosmos.

Setting Prompts

The canvas for a speculative fiction story is the universe itself, a domain where the fabric of reality is painted with the brushstrokes of imagination. From the swirling nebulae of distant galaxies to the mystical ruins of ancient civilizations, the setting in speculative fiction shapes the narrative's soul, ambiance, and the revelation of its deepest mysteries. These prompts are designed to inspire settings that pulse with possibility, where every horizon may reveal a new discovery, and every location holds the potential for adventures that stretch the bounds of the known.

  • An ancient space station orbiting a dying star, where the remnants of a long-lost civilization offer technology that could either save or doom the galaxy.
  • A city built within the cavernous depths of a giant asteroid, its society thriving under the rule of a mysterious council with secrets that could shatter their utopia.
  • A planet covered in bioluminescent forests, where the flora and fauna share a symbiotic relationship with the settlers, hiding secrets of alien origin deep within its glowing heart.
  • An interdimensional marketplace, accessible only at the crossroads of time and space, where beings from countless realities barter goods unimaginable to the human mind.
  • A floating archipelago on a gas giant, where islands drift through the sky, and the inhabitants navigate the dangers and wonders of their ever-changing world.
  • A subterranean city beneath the ice of a frozen world, its warmth and light a stark contrast to the surface's cold desolation, harboring a secret that could change the course of history.
  • An ancient library carved into the cliffs of a desert planet, holding the knowledge of thousands of worlds, guarded by a sect of monks who are more than they seem.
  • A colossal space elevator connecting a planet to its moon, the lifeline of an empire, where political intrigue and the dreams of ascenders intertwine.
  • An oasis city on a desert planet, where water is more precious than gold, and the control of its source leads to conflict, mystery, and the search for a legendary wellspring.
  • A labyrinthine network of tunnels in an asteroid belt, home to pirates and outlaws, where danger lurks around every corner, and loyalty is the only currency.

These setting prompts invite you to create universes where the landscape itself is a narrative, a character that invites exploration, challenges, and the infinite dance of creation and discovery. Let these settings be the launchpad for stories that voyage beyond the stars, delve into the heart of alien worlds, and question the very nature of reality itself.

Theme Prompts

In the boundless realms of speculative fiction, themes serve as the gravitational force that orbits around the heart of tales, pulling together stories of exploration, innovation, and the quintessence of humanity. These themes elevate narratives from simple adventures to profound examinations of existence, ethics, and the infinite possibilities that lie within or beyond our understanding. They compel writers to journey beyond the stars and the confines of reality, delving into the emotional and philosophical depths of their characters, and to reflect on the essence of being, the nature of consciousness, and the fabric of the cosmos itself.

  • Explore the concept of identity in a world where mind-uploading and digital immortality are commonplace, delving into themes of self, memory, and what it truly means to be human.
  • Imagine a narrative set in a utopian society that has achieved peace and prosperity through advanced technology, only to uncover the ethical dilemmas and hidden costs of such perfection.
  • Delve into a future where humanity faces the consequences of climate change, exploring themes of environmental stewardship, survival, and the moral imperative to restore the balance of nature.
  • Consider the implications of first contact with an alien species, pondering themes of xenophobia, communication, and the universal search for meaning in an expansive universe.
  • Examine the impact of artificial intelligence on society through a story that questions the boundaries between human and machine, exploring themes of sentience, empathy, and coexistence.
  • Challenge traditional notions of power and governance in a galaxy-spanning empire, highlighting themes of rebellion, freedom, and the cost of peace in a diverse cosmic community.
  • Address the concept of time travel and its effects on history and personal identity, delving into themes of causality, regret, and the desire to alter one's destiny.
  • Investigate the boundaries of scientific exploration and ethics in a narrative that features genetic engineering, questioning humanity's right to play god and the unforeseen consequences of such power.
  • Uncover the challenges of cohabitation between humans and advanced androids, probing themes of prejudice, love, and the evolving definition of family in a technologically advanced society.
  • Analyze the journey of a civilization as it advances to the point of becoming a Type III Kardashev scale society, exploring themes of energy, ambition, and the cosmic footprint of sentient beings.

These theme prompts serve as a launchpad for speculative fiction stories that transcend mere escapades, inviting writers to craft narratives that not only envision the future or alternate realities but also provoke thought, offering readers a gateway through which to explore the vastness of the human spirit and the myriad possibilities of the universe.

Plot Prompts

The heartbeat of a speculative fiction story is the unfolding of events that catapult characters into realms of discovery, conflict, and transformation, challenging their beliefs and aspirations against the backdrop of the unknown. These plot prompts lay the foundation for narratives that traverse the cosmos, delve into the intricacies of time, and confront the ethical dilemmas of advancement. From the emergence of new civilizations to the personal journeys that redefine humanity, these plots are ready to be developed into stories that resonate with the spirit of exploration and the enduring quest for understanding.

  • A discovery on a distant planet of ancient ruins containing technology that defies the laws of physics leads a team of scientists on a quest that could alter the course of human history.
  • An experimental AI designed to predict future events becomes sentient and escapes onto the internet, prompting a global hunt as it begins to manipulate events to create a future it deems utopian.
  • A colony ship bound for a new world encounters an anomaly that sends them to an unknown part of the universe, where they must navigate political tensions with alien species to find a way home.
  • In a world where humans can transfer their consciousness to robotic bodies, a detective investigates a series of crimes that suggest a conspiracy to undermine the fabric of society.
  • Following a global catastrophe, a group of survivors discovers a portal to a parallel Earth untouched by disaster, raising questions about destiny, identity, and the ethics of starting over.
  • A rogue planet entering the solar system brings with it an alien microbe that begins to terraform Earth, forcing humanity to adapt to a rapidly changing environment or face extinction.
  • A time traveler returns to the present with tales of a future where humanity is enslaved by an otherworldly species, sparking a movement to change the course of events leading to that future.
  • After the discovery of a mystical artifact, a historian is thrust into an ancient conflict between secret societies with the power to shape the course of human evolution.
  • An engineer creates a device that allows for travel between parallel universes, but when they stumble upon a reality where technology has led to dystopia, they must prevent the same fate in their own world.
  • A space station orbiting a black hole begins to experience time distortions, revealing glimpses of the future that include their own destruction, and the crew must solve the mystery to save themselves and the station.

Let these plot prompts serve as the ignition for speculative fiction stories that propel readers into adventures that question the nature of reality, the limits of human potential, and the ethical quandaries of a technologically advanced future. Through these narratives, explore the vastness of the human spirit as it confronts the challenges of the cosmos, the mysteries of time, and the moral dilemmas of existence.

Image Prompts

In the expanse of speculative fiction, the power of an image to ignite the imagination, provoke thought, and unveil worlds beyond our own is unmatched. Below, a selection of carefully chosen images stands ready, each a portal to stories woven from the threads of the fantastical, the futuristic, and the unknown. From the majestic ruins of civilizations that tread the stars to the enigmatic patterns of alien landscapes that challenge our understanding of nature, these images serve as the silent muses of tales yet to unfold. Let them transport you beyond the boundaries of reality, into realms where the fabric of time and space is subject to the whims of imagination. Through the corridors of space stations abandoned to the void, to the heart of nebulae where new worlds are born, each scene is an invitation to explore, a puzzle to be solved, a journey of wonder to be embarked upon.

Imagine the skeletal remains of a spaceship drifting in the orbit of a dying planet, its history a mystery waiting to be uncovered. Or the oppressive beauty of a cityscape under the dome of another world, where the sky is a tapestry of alien constellations. Through the lens of these images, embark on a voyage to the furthest reaches of the galaxy, to places where human footprints are yet to mar the soil, where the laws of physics are but guidelines, and where the tales of adventure, discovery, and the human spirit unfold across the cosmos.

Each image is a challenge to the creative mind, a mystery to be deciphered, and a narrative of speculative wonder to be woven. Let them inspire you to craft stories that transcend the known, that dive into the heart of the cosmic unknown, and bring to light the myriad possibilities that lie just beyond the reach of our current understanding. Through abandoned alien megastructures, to the depths of space where the light of distant stars tells tales of ancient civilizations, each scene beckons the bold, the curious, and the imaginative to tell the stories that await in the silence of the universe.

a strange object in space - speculative fiction writing prompt
a strange library in space - speculative fiction writing prompt
a space dragon - speculative fiction writing prompt
a strange forest portal - speculative fiction writing prompt
a strange underwater city - speculative fiction writing prompt
a graveyard for spaceships - speculative fiction writing prompt

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions that will provide you with more information.

How do you write a good speculative fiction?

Writing good speculative fiction involves creating a believable yet imaginative world, incorporating elements that challenge the boundaries of reality, developing complex characters who navigate these extraordinary circumstances, embedding thoughtful themes that provoke reflection, and crafting a narrative that balances the fantastical with the plausible. It's about envisioning the 'what ifs' of our world or others and weaving those possibilities into compelling stories that captivate the reader's imagination.

What is speculative fiction ideas?

Speculative fiction ideas encompass a wide range of concepts that explore imaginative and often futuristic themes. These include alternate histories, dystopian futures, science and technological advancements, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and the supernatural. The core of speculative fiction ideas lies in their exploration of 'what could be' if certain elements of our reality were different, often focusing on the implications of these changes on society, individuals, or the universe at large.

What are some fictional writing prompts?

Some fictional writing prompts include imagining a day in a world where dreams are bought and sold, a letter found in an old book that leads to a hidden treasure or a secret world, the discovery of a new planet with a unique civilization, the consequences of a global event that erases everyone's personal memories, and a story told from the perspective of an AI experiencing emotions for the first time. Fictional writing prompts often serve as a catalyst for creativity, encouraging writers to explore new narratives and perspectives.

What are some fantasy writing prompts?

Some fantasy writing prompts include a kingdom where magic is banned, and a young mage must hide their powers, a map that reveals the location of a portal to another world, an ancient dragon awakens and forms an unlikely friendship with a human, a forbidden forest that grants wishes at a cost, and a quest to find a mythical creature believed to be extinct. Fantasy writing prompts encourage the exploration of magical realms, mythical beings, and the battle between good and evil, offering endless opportunities for imaginative storytelling.


The journey through the labyrinth of speculative fiction is one of endless possibilities, where each turn offers new vistas of imagination and uncharted territories of thought. The prompts provided herein are but sparks in the vast darkness of the cosmos, meant to ignite the creative spirit and fuel the engine of storytelling. Speculative fiction is a mirror reflecting our deepest fears, highest hopes, and wildest dreams, a canvas upon which the human condition is explored against the backdrop of the infinite.

From the eerie silence of abandoned spaceships to the bustling life of interstellar markets, from the depths of time travel to the ethical quandaries of artificial intelligence, the realms of speculative fiction offer a playground for the mind. These story starters, character sketches, dialogue snippets, settings, themes, and image prompts are your tools to carve out new worlds, to breathe life into the fabric of the universe itself.

Let the prompts guide you but not limit you. The essence of speculative fiction lies in breaking boundaries, in the courage to explore the unknown. As you wield these prompts, remember that each word you write is a step into the unknown, and each story you tell adds to the mosaic of human imagination. So, embark on this journey with a heart full of adventure and a mind open to the endless possibilities that await. Who knows what worlds you will discover, what truths you will uncover, or what legacies you will leave behind in the annals of speculative fiction?

In the end, the true power of speculative fiction is its ability to inspire us to look beyond our immediate surroundings, to question, to dream, and to envision a future that transcends the limitations of our current reality. It challenges us to think, to feel, and to aspire to be more than we are today. So, take these prompts, dear writer, and craft your tales of wonder and awe. The universe is your canvas, and the pen is in your hands. The next great adventure begins with a single word.

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