Are you looking for some ideas for your science fiction story? In this post, we’ve included 31 original science fiction writing prompts with ideas for hard science fiction, soft science fiction, dystopian science fiction, space opera, military science fiction, space western, cyberpunk, space horror, and science fiction romance.
Hard science fiction writing prompts
1. A scientist invents a time machine to save his wife, who died in a car accident ten years ago. How does he create the machine? How many times does he need to go back into the past to get to the right moment? What changes is he causing to the timeline by doing so? Is he successful in his attempt to save her or not? What does he learn along the way?
2. An engineer creates a portal to a parallel universe. What kind of a world does he find when he crosses over? What happens to our world as a result of his discovery? How many parallel worlds can he go to? Are there any parallel worlds where dinosaurs are still alive? Now that the portal exists, can any humans or animals from the parallel universe cross over to ours?
3. A space exploration team lands on a new habitable planet. What is the environment like? How big is the planet? What is the gravity like? What does the team find on the planet? Does the planet have any sentient life? If yes, what is their society like and are they a spacefaring species? Why is the team exploring the planet? Is Earth dying and they need to find a new planet for humanity as soon as possible?
Soft science fiction writing prompts
4. A space pirate gets captured by interstellar authorities. Instead of sending him to prison, he is given a mission: to find and capture another space pirate, who used to be his childhood girlfriend. Which planet (or planets) do the two pirates come from? Why did the two of them become space pirates and criminals? Why are the interstellar authorities looking for the woman? How does he find her and where?
5. A sick man is offered to be cured by a miracle drug, with the caveat that the scientists don’t know what the side effects would be. The man accepts and is cured. What are the side effects? Did he get turned into a woman? Did he develop strange superpowers? How does he fare with the changes? What does he now need to eat and drink to live? How does his seemingly successful treatment affect the world and society at large? Does he become a target for government agencies?
6. In a world where all organs – including the heart – can get cloned using cellular agriculture, after an accident, a woman gets her brain cloned and replaced. After she wakes up from the surgery, what happens to her? Has she retained the memories of her previous life, or is she a completely different person now? How is this technology going to be used moving forward, and why is her remembering her old life so important?
7. A person from the present day gets accidentally transported five centuries into the future. What kind of a world do they wake up in? What is the society like? What happened to Earth itself in the meantime? Do people live close to nature, or have most of the world’s big cities become big mega-cities that span thousands of kilometers?
Dystopian science fiction writing prompts
8. After a plague killed billions of humans, the survivors of the disease developed superpowers which they passed to their descendants. What is the life of those descendants today? Are they segregated into different walled settlements and unable to ever leave? What happens to any descendants who are hiding their powers and living outside of these segregated settlements? What happens if they are caught and sent to a segregated settlement? Will the descendants rise and fight for their freedom, using their superpowers? What kind of superpowers did they develop?
9. An AI-powered tool is used to determine people’s affinity and profession; after which they get a job for life. Poverty has been almost eliminated. A 15-year-old boy wants to be a painter, which is not considered a profession, and his tests place him as a factory worker. What does the boy do to avoid his fate? Are there others like him, who wanted a profession that was considered useless? Where do these people go?
10. In a future where most people are infertile, women are implanted at birth with a chip that will detect if they are pregnant, after which they get taken to a birthing center to ensure the babies are born. The babies then get taken from the mothers and raised in special facilities. When a woman finds out she is pregnant but doesn’t want the baby, where does she go? Can she remove this chip, and if yes, what are the consequences? Does she want the baby, but wants to avoid being separated from it at birth? Who is going to help her?
Space opera prompts
11. A man living on a planet mining an element that is used in weapons by a space empire loses his job as an engineer when he refuses to build a gun that would instantly vaporize an opponent. He is drafted as a miner. In the mines, he meets the other miners, enslaved and living in substandard conditions. They have been trying to form a resistant force. Does he start to work together with the resistance? Do they want him to build weapons for them?
12. After the near destruction of Earth, a fleet of generational ships was created to take humanity into space. The first habitable planet they come across to is very small and wouldn’t be enough to sustain all of the people from the ships. What do the ships do? Do they engage in a war for the rights to colonize the planet? How many ships were created? What are the ships like?
13. Humanity has reached the stars and established space empires, which regularly go to wars for planetary resources. After the fall of one of the biggest empires through a planet-wide destruction, a maid rescues the heir and goes into hiding. Where does she go, another planet, or a neutral space station? Is she passing the heir as her own baby to avoid discovery? Who is going to help her, and why is the heir so important?
Military science fiction prompts
14. After a thousand-year war with mysterious aliens, a fleet captain discovers the enemies are other humans. What does he do with this knowledge? How does he discover this fact? What do the higher ups in the military do when they discover he has that knowledge? Does he become a deserter to save his fellow humans? And what about the other side of the war? Do those humans know they’ve been fighting fellow humans all along?
15. Several young people are drafted into a space academy to become soldiers for a frontier war. What is their training like? Who is the enemy they are fighting, humans or aliens? Are they a peaceful people or a violent people? What do the young people discover about the war itself in the course of their training?
16. After a devastating space battle against aliens, only one ship remains. The crew get taken as prisoners of war. What happens to them? Do they get taken and drafted as slaves? What are the aliens like? Do the remaining humans get brainwashed into fighting for the aliens? Or, are the aliens a peaceful race and it was humans who started the war in the first place?
17. An advanced alien race rescued a million human babies when humanity was destroyed by another malevolent alien race. They have modified them and raised them to fight the malevolent aliens. What kind of superpowers did they develop? What is their military command like? Who are the malevolent aliens they are fighting, and why are they fighting them? Did they really destroy humanity, or are their benevolent masters hiding any secrets?
Space western writing prompts
18. On a barely habitable planet, a bounty hunter goes to one of the domed settlements, looking for his missing sister. Where does his search take him – other settlements on the barely habitable planet, or other planets that are more plentiful? How do they inhabitants of the settlement receive him? Is his sister the only woman missing, or are there more of them? Is there a human trafficking ring catering to the rich on other richer planets?
19. A group of young people with no money but different skillsets decide to become bounty hunters. Who is their first target? Are they successful? How do they use their various skills on the missions? Do they continue to take more and more difficult targets? Do they get to hunt any criminals they are personally connected to?
20. A frontier colony on a small, desert planet has gone missing. A crew of bounty hunters from a nearby planet are sent to investigate. What do they find in the settlement? Are there any signs of where the colony might have gone to? Was there a species of natives on the planet that attacked and killed the whole colony? What happens to the bounty hunters once they arrive at the settlement?
21. In the near future, a man loses his arm in a work-related accident. He gets a new robotic arm with an AI connected to his brain. What happens after he recovers? Does he try to go back to his job? How are these AI-enhanced humans viewed like by society? Does he keep or lose his job? Can he use his robotic arm for another purpose? What happens with the AI in his arm? Is it sentient enough to take over his brain?
22. In a world where people use a specific chair to jack into a virtual reality game, several kids go missing. A prodigious gamer, who is able to mod the game, gets tasked with finding the kids inside the game. What does he find? Where are the kids hiding and why? What are the kid’s identities? What skills does the young man have to find them and how does he use them to solve the mystery? Who is helping him on his quest?
23. A corporation has developed AI and robotic technology that uses DNA of two people to give them an artificial baby. When a couple lose their newborn baby, they agree to get an artificial one. What is the baby like? Does it run on batteries? Does it cry when it needs to be fed (charged like a phone), or does it cry on a set schedule? How do the parents react to such a baby? How has the existence of the corporation affected the world at large? Are people accepting of artificial babies, or are they considered abominations?
24. After his wife becomes quadriplegic, an engineer creates a humanoid robot and transplants her brain into it. What is her robot body like? Does it have rubber-like skin and glassy eyes? How does she react to what he had done to her? Does she love her husband even more, or does she become hell-bent on destroying herself?
Space horror writing prompts
25. A captain of a merchant spaceship comes across an SOS signal in deep space. Upon answering it, the captain and their crew discover a huge husk of an empty spaceship, seemingly devoid of any life. What happened to the spaceship? Where does the spaceship come from? Is it an alien spaceship, or was it manned by humans? What is hiding in the depths of the ship?
26. An exploration crew lands on a planet where mist falls each night. All is well while they stay on their spaceship, but one time, two members of the crew remain outside as the mist falls. One of them disappears, while the other one loses their mind and starts to hear voices in their head. What is happening on the planet? Who is behind the voices the crew member hears? What does the captain do to protect the crew?
27. After successfully exploring a planet, an exploration crew is traveling back home. The mission has been a success – they found no life on the planet, but collected mineral samples that seem promising. All would be well – except for the weird scratching in the walls of the ship, and several of the samples going missing. What is causing the scratching inside the walls? Where are phials with the samples? And why is one of the crew members acting oddly and seems to have forgotten how to speak?
28. A young frontier colony has been on the planet for merely two months. All has been going well so far, except for one night, when a giant monster comes and destroys the newly built structures and the planted crops. The colony has to find a way to fight off the monster before it kills all of them. What do they use to fight it? Can they escape on the ship they came down on? Can they ask for help, and if yes, whom will they ask?
Science fiction romance prompts
29. In a world where humanity has conquered space, different family owned corporations fight for mining rights to different planets and regions. When two families get into a dispute over one planet, they each send one representative on a mission to divide the planet equally. On the planet, the representatives discover they have a lot in common and fall in love.
30. A retired mercenary living on a far-away outpost on a lonely planet comes across the wreckage of a spaceship. There is only one survivor. As they nurse the survivor back to health, romance blooms. The only problem is – where did the spaceship come from? And why is the survivor showing signs of not being fully human?
31. A space princess wanting to escape an arranged marriage offers a large sum of money to the captain of a pirate ship for passage to the furthest possible planet. The captain accepts, but their voyage is interrupted by those who are sent to capture the princess and bring her back home. Both of them have to use their skills and rely on each other if they are to survive the journey, which leads to them falling in love.