How to Put Your Spin on Fantasy Plot Ideas (Plus 25 Original Fantasy Prompts!)

Doug Landsborough
March 1, 2024

There are worlds where dragons soar above ancient keeps and magic is entwined in powerful artifacts, places where people (aka your readers) want to get lost in wondrous tales of mythical creatures and epic quests. If you want to write one of those incredible stories, then you have my axe. Or at least all the words in this article.

And while your Fellowship of the Not-ring for copyright reasons might be filled with complex characters, the core of every fantasy story lies in its plot. It’s those quests your characters go on that give you an opportunity to dig into their backgrounds and relationships, that push them to explore your fantasy world, and that grip your readers and force them to invest in your story.

Yet, in a genre defined by bounds only limited by our massive imaginations, how do you go about creating a new plot idea that feels fresh and unexplored? How do you ensure your sword and sorcery adventure stands out in the sea of myths, magic, and mysticism? 

If you clicked onto this article, you know I’m going to give you the answers. We’re going to start by looking at the foundations of fantasy storytelling to make sure we have the basics down. Then I’m going to hit you with prompts spanning a handful of fantasy subgenres so no hero feels left out. We’ll wrap things up by looking at different ways you can put your own spin on these fantasy prompts, with settings and character development.

So don your armor, grab your magic sword, and let’s start our quest to come up with some fantasy plot ideas.

The Fundamentals of Fantasy Writing

Now that we’ve left our Shire-like home (again, copyright), let’s take a moment to understand what tools we have brought along. These are going to be your fundamental elements of writing anything in the fantasy genre.


Up first, worldbuilding. I’m not just talking about mapping out Elvish kingdoms or dictating the laws of magic—though, let’s be honest, those are a lot of fun. It's about creating a living, breathing universe where every river, market, and shadowed alley has a story. Your world should be a character in its own right, with its own motivations, secrets, evolution, and (most importantly) purpose.

It doesn’t matter if your story takes place across sprawling continents or just a tiny seaside village, fantasy readers crave a great world to get lost in.

If you want some worldbuilding resources, check out these DabbleU articles:

Character Development

Though I just hyped it all up, a unique fantasy world is all but useless if you don’t have a stellar cast to live in it. It's through their eyes that we explore these fantastical realms, and it's their journeys that keep us riveted.

In this genre, character development isn’t just about growth but transformation. There’s a reason the Hero’s Journey is such a popular story structure in fantasy stories.

How our characters react to events, how they face the struggles of their past and overcome them in the now, and how they embrace or reject the world around them all contribute to a memorable story.

If you want to write a great fantasy tale, remember the strength of a character isn't measured by their magical powers, prowess, or sweet sword skills but by the depth of their struggles, victories, and growth.

If you want to refine your character development skills, here are some great places to start:


Sure, we’re taking a piece of jewelry to Mount Not-doom to destroy it, but what’s the point? I know we’re going to save the world, but so are the heroes and anti-heroes in a hundred other fantasy stories releasing this month.

The themes you brew into your fantasy novel are what makes them matter. At the end of the day, it can be an exciting journey to Mount Not-doom, but what really makes the story exciting is how we have to work together to overcome obstacles, how our morals are tested, and how we resist the corruption of My Preciou—that jewelry along the way.

Because these things share truths about the world and teach our readers important lessons. For something so subtle and important, themes are the hardest of the fundamentals to understand. So bookmark some of these articles to help wrap your head around writing themes a bit more:

Now that we know what we’re working with, let’s dive into our adventure: coming up with those elusive, captivating plot ideas. Are your quills ready?

Fantasy Writing Prompts

This is what we’re here for. So, armed with our fundamentals, let's dive into the heart of this adventure.

I’ve divided these writing prompts into different subgenres to really fuel your imagination. But I suggest you read through all of them, even if you only write urban or epic fantasy, in case you get struck with an arcane bolt of inspiration.

High Fantasy Story Ideas

In the epic stories of high fantasy, heroes are called to fulfill destinies that intertwine with the fates of kingdoms and the very fabric of the magical world itself.

These are your Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones stories that span multiple characters, countries, and even eras. Deep magic systems, different species of humanoids and monsters, and intricate worldbuilding are hallmarks of this subgenre.

Here are some epic writing prompts to get you thinking about large-scale, exciting high fantasy plots.

  1. An ancient tome is found, not in royal archives, but in the hands of a streetwise thief. This tome doesn’t just contain history; it alters it, weaving the thief into the lineage of kings and setting them on a collision course with destiny.
  2. An exiled group of people settle down for a new life on the fringes of the kingdom they used to call home, only to discover that something in the forest lured them there to cure the blight eating away at the land.
  3. Under the rule of a tyrannical mage-king, a peasant teenager discovers they have the long-lost ability to influence fate itself. Now they must wrestle with their newfound, unpredictable powers while being thrust into the role of rebellion leader at an age when most of us can barely do our homework on time.
  4. Five realms, each with their own unique style of magic, face oblivion at the hands of a forgotten god. Each land sends a champion to try and stop the ancient deity from rising, but all of them have their own motivations and skill sets.
  5. A village and lineage of dragons have made a pact: the villagers worship and tend to the dragon, and the great beast protects them. But when the dragon’s only egg is stolen, someone from the village has to volunteer to go out into the larger world to retrieve it, lest the dragon go from protector to destroyer.

Urban Fantasy Plot Ideas

Nothing gets the imagination (of writers and readers alike) going as much as picturing elves, orcs, and magic in a modern-day city. Urban fantasy is such a fun, unique subgenre, and I’m obsessed with it.

These are worlds where graffiti can hide protective runes and subway systems can serve as networks to other realms. So let’s figure out how you might combine the magical and the mundane with an urban fantasy story.

  1. A barista discovers they can brew potions in the coffee they make, affecting the lives of customers in extraordinary ways. This, admittedly, is a morally gray thing to do (at best), but will be deadly in the hands of the witch who begins hunting them.
  2. Urban explorers find a map of the magical ley lines that criss-cross underneath the city. They use this knowledge to have fun, at first, but soon find a cult using the ley lines to summon an ancient evil.
  3. A taxi driver for supernatural entities ferries people between worlds and dimensions. But when they pick up a bleeding passenger claiming to be a god, they’re forced to become a getaway driver in a heist that can mean saving the world… or dooming it.
  4. A librarian discovers their small-town library is actually a nexus between magical realms. The more they read, the more they discover that the books on the shelves contain all the knowledge of the realms the library is connected to, and that power starts to corrupt them.
  5. On their 18th birthday, a street artist learns their graffiti can come to life. Their new gifts attract the attention of multiple factions in the city, ranging from fae to vampires to government organizations.

Dark Fantasy Story Ideas

As much as I fawn over high and urban fantasy stories, dark fantasy is where my heart really lies. And the fact that this genre blends all the best parts of fantasy with horror should tell both of us something about my subconscious, if that’s the case.

Dark fantasy doesn’t promise cheery moments or happy endings—which makes them all the better when they finally do happen. Your characters are put through some very difficult ordeals, often needing to choose the least awful option. But I promise it makes for a very engaging story.

  1. In a land where shadows feast on the fears of the living, a group of unlikely companions must journey to the heart of darkness to light the first sun, a celestial body believed to be a myth.
  2. A necromancer’s apprentice must navigate the complex political landscape of a macabre religion to stop the destruction of a tree that grows from corpses and provides prosperity to their small town.
  3. Cursed with immortality, a knight delves into the darkest corners of the kingdom and Hell itself to search for a cure… and redemption for a life filled with selfish actions.
  4. An epidemic of nightmares plagues a city, plunging residents into comatose states or turning them into walking horrors. An exiled dreamwalker must venture into a tenebristic realm between reality and dreams to find the source of the nightmare plague.
  5. A mercenary troupe only concerned with greed seeks greater glory when a mysterious kingdom hosts a gladiator-style tournament. It’s only when they face horrifying monsters that they realize the sorcerer behind the tournament has no intention of ever letting them leave.

Fairy Tale Retelling Plot Ideas

Some of the most fun (and frightening) fantasy stories take well-known fairy tales and myths and put a unique spin on them. This requires a balance between maintaining the familiar but making it your own.

For these prompts, I’ve included some clever little names to hint at the source material.

  1. The Virus of Sleeping Beauty - A virus is washing over the land, plunging people into a deep sleep until they wither away to nothing. A rogue alchemist believes the cure lies with the original infected person who is imprisoned in the heart of a land guarded by dragons and dark mages.
  2. The Last Mermaid - The ocean is dying and driving its inhabitants further towards the surface—and the shores of the kingdoms of man. Our protagonist must journey into these kingdoms to search for a solution or broker a treaty for the survival of their kind.
  3. The Sorceress Rapunzel - A party of heroes are hired to find and defeat Rapunzel, a witch who kidnaps villagers and weaves their hair into her own. I’m grossed out that I even thought of this one.
  4. The Thief and the Beanstalk - Though it’s been centuries since anyone has seen a giant or risked the climb up the beanstalk into the clouds, a young, ambitious thief assembles a team and leads a heist into the realm of giants.
  5. The Witch in the Woods - Hansel and Gretel, two siblings who want to continue the evil work of their mother, hunt a witch who protects ancient knowledge… and bakes delicious treats made exclusively of not children.

Cross-Genre Fantasy Ideas

Finally, I want to drop some ideas for stories that blend fantasy elements with other genres. You can mix that magic with basically anything else (especially romance if you want to sell books like hotcakes right now).

This is a great way to add a fun twist to classic formulas. See if any of these ideas tickle your fancy.

  1. A sullen ex-detective turned magical P.I. gets hired to find someone, only to get caught up in a series of enchantment-based crimes linked to a ritual to summon a terrifying creature.
  2. In a steampunk city, a sorcerer uses a combination of magic and machinery to barely scrape by. But when they get hired to craft a bomb that would destroy the city’s machine heart, they dive into the city's underworld to try and thwart the attack.
  3. A mage on the run from the law stows away on a spaceship. A few planets over, they learn of aliens intent on invading their homeworld and must embrace the magic they’ve found in space to save their home.
  4. When fighting the ancient evil threatening their kingdom, a knight is flung forward through time into the modern day. They must navigate this new landscape while trying to find a way home, unaware the monster followed them through the time rift.
  5. In a cyberpunk future, a hacker accidentally downloads a witch’s grimoire, filling their mind with arcane knowledge. This plunges them into a war (and love triangle) between technological titans and arcane forces vying for control of the city.

Explore Your Fantasy World

Hopefully all those prompts got your gears turning and the… imagination juices flowing? Gross.

For the rest of the article, I’m going to focus on ways we can take parts of our storytelling and use them to inspire your unique fantasy plot. You don’t need prompts to come up with cool stories, but thinking about ways other elements of your writing can influence your fantasy plot idea is a great way to come up with something novel.

Up first, we’re looking at settings. A well-crafted setting shapes the plot, characters, and how your readers get lost in your words. 

This won’t be a breakdown of how to write a great fantasy setting, mind you. Check out all those links I shared earlier for articles on that. Rather, this is how you can leverage setting for inspiration.

So here’s how you can use the power of setting to breathe originality into your fantasy plots.

Amplify the Conflict

Use your setting to heighten the stakes and deepen the conflict

A city divided by towering walls can symbolize societal division. An enchanted forest where magical beings thought of by the townsfolk as “savages” can challenge your characters' understanding of their world.

These might seem like small changes, but consider how differing attitudes to the forest folk can totally alter a chapter or climax of a story.

Characters Interact with Their World

Think about ways your characters can uniquely interact with the world they live in. What story ideas can you pull from these interactions?

What plot lines can you think of from a character who can commune with the spirits of a temple’s mausoleum? What would the story look like if your main character lived in the labyrinth of sewer tunnels under the streets?

How your characters act in the setting can inspire interesting solutions to obstacles you throw at them.

Environmental Challenges

Now consider how the physical environment of your setting can change up elements of your plot.

A floating archipelago where each island has its own distinct governance and magic system can offer countless different options for alliances, enemies, economics, and neutral zones.

A world experiencing perpetual twilight requires a different way of life, affecting everything from agriculture to social activities.

The Impact of Magic on Technology

If you want to use magic or tech to get some plot inspiration, we need to figure out how they interact.

In some stories, the existence of magic makes technology lag behind. Why would we develop cars if we can teleport?

In others, magic fuels technology, potentially as a fuel source, to enhance the potency of technology, or to unlock the full potential of magic.

But then you also have situations where magic and tech are on opposite sides of conflicts or social issues. Is magic the tool of the working class and expensive tech only available to the rich? Does technology enable a militaristic civilization to expand their empire and magic is the only thing slowing their progress?

Both magic and technology are such powerful forces that they have to affect your plot in one way or another. How will they impact yours?

Dive into Character Development

Alright, after taking a stroll through the mystical landscapes of our settings, let's pivot to the crux of any good story: the characters. 

Without compelling characters, even the most intricately designed world can feel lifeless. More importantly for us, you can’t have a freakin’ plot without characters to go through it.

Here are some ways to use characters and character development to inspire our storytelling.

Character Traits as Catalysts

Let the attributes of your characters help shape your plot, especially the obstacles they need to overcome. Think about how a character's unique magical abilities, heritage, or flaws can help provide a new approach to the story you’re thinking of.

If a fungal rot is creeping across your world, what happens to your story if the main character is immune to the spores? What if they could harness those spores for power? What if the fungus threatened to corrupt your protagonist’s mind rather than their body?

The same premise, but changing just one trait in a character results in wildly different possible stories.

Their Transformation is Part of the Plot

Fantasy tales thrive on transformation. It’s impossible for an epic quest not to change someone. And character arcs are just a fundamental part of writing fantasy stories in general, so this is absolutely something you need to consider when coming up with your plot.

There are two parts to a character’s transformation that can help inspire your story:

  1. The actual change they go through (i.e., a timid librarian finding an ancient tome that plunges them into a conflict where they are forced to find their confidence and strength)
  2. The obstacles they face (i.e., a secret society of book burners who pursue the librarian)

Both of these elements can help you come up with ideas as long as you have an idea of how you want your character to change.

Let Relationships Affect Conflict

The relationships between your characters can be a goldmine for plot ideas. Not only will pre-existing relationships define things like motivation, their Ghost, goals, and more, but new relationships can be great inspiration for plot ideas.

What would it be like if a devout priest had to team up with a mercenary who acted like a heretic? Or a grizzled soldier needed to work with a pacifist druid? 

Your relationships don’t have to be so confrontational, either. Romantic and familial relationships are great for pushing characters into uncomfortable situations.

Wield Your Own Magic and Write a Great Fantasy Story

I’m not going to pretend like coming up with a great fantasy plot isn’t as vast and varied as the worlds we build and the characters we make to fill those plot lines. When your options are basically infinite, it can almost seem harder to pinpoint or even brainstorm exactly what you want.

I hope this article didn’t just give you some prompts but helped you look at basic storytelling elements in different ways to help you come up with new plot ideas. 

But, just like the intrepid heroes we write about, authors need to embark on our journey equipped with the right tools for the job. Enter Dabble, the novel-writing software basically designed with a fantasy author's unique needs in mind. 

Dabble simplifies the complex process of weaving together the many aspects of your fantasy world. With features like the Plot Grid, character profiles, and worldbuilding notes, Dabble provides an organized, intuitive space for your creativity to run wild.

But the true magic of Dabble lies in its ability to be both powerful and accessible. There's no need for arcane knowledge to navigate it. Dabble is user-friendly and allows you to focus on what you do best: telling stories that transport readers to realms unseen. And with cloud syncing, your work is always safe, accessible from anywhere, and ready for when inspiration strikes.

If you’re ready to embark on your next fantasy adventure, do it with Dabble. You can even try it for two weeks without putting in any credit card info by clicking here.

Now go write something epic.

Doug Landsborough

Doug Landsborough can’t get enough of writing. Whether freelancing as an editor, blog writer, or ghostwriter, Doug is a big fan of the power of words. In his spare time, he writes about monsters, angels, and demons under the name D. William Landsborough. When not obsessing about sympathetic villains and wondrous magic, Doug enjoys board games, horror movies, and spending time with his wife, Sarah.