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Unique story ideas from Save the Cat genres

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Because I’ve always been making up stories in my head, I’ve kind of taken my imagination and all my ideas for granted. But I noticed a lot of people are googling for story ideas, and I figured I should use my skills for good and help them.


I’ve used the genres in Save the Cat! Writes a Novel in this post, because they are more specific than “horror” or “supernatural romance”. They’re not about the tone of the story (like is the story scary or is it funny) but about what kind of a transformation the characters go through and what the message of the story is.

If you haven’t heard about Save the Cat! Writes A Novel (or about the original book about screenwriting), it’s one of the best books for beginners that explain the elements of good stories and how they go together in a plot. It’s one of my favourite book recommendations for writers and worth reading no matter where you are in your writing journey.

You don’t need to use these ideas as they are, but I hope they will help you come up with more fresh and unique story ideas that you can use in your writing. If you’re not quite sure what to write about, using the Save the Cat genres to generate story ideas can be a really helpful exercise.

Related reading: Ideas for summer romance novelsConflict ideas for storiesGrow your plot with these questions


Whydunit stories are mysteries, usually involving a crime of some sorts, that reveal something about the dark side of humanity. Yikes! Here are some ideas for this genre:

  • A popular crime novelist is found in the middle of a series of actual, real-life murders. The detective investigating the case finds out the novelist is guilty, and yet the killings were just a cry for help.
  • Susan has always been accused of being too nosy, and yet nobody else is willing to investigate why her dead parents’ belongings start turning up in charity shops and garage sales.
  • It’s 1954 in London and people have started disappearing. Every single one of the victims was last seen holding a bouquet of red roses, and the florist’s daughter is going to find out why.

Rites of passage

In a rites of passage story, the hero’s problem is something unavoidably human, like death or puberty. Here are some story ideas:

  • A travel blogger finds out her mother has been diagnosed with MS so she needs to choose between her blog and helping her mother. She tries to fake new travels on Instagram, but in the end she starts a new blog about living with MS in the family, and it turns out to be even more popular than her old blog.
  • When our hero’s beloved cat dies, he vows to never love and lose another animal again. Unfortunately, he falls in love with a man running a sanctuary for elderly animals.
  • Morgan is about to turn 20 and she has no idea what to do with her life because she had always thought she would die before becoming an adult.
  • Kitty never thought she’d get a divorce at 50 and now she’s forced to share house with a newly orphaned 21-year-old student who’s completely unequipped to deal with the real world.


These stories are about some kind of a group, family or institution, and your hero must either join them, escape them or destroy them. Here are some ideas for this genre:

  • Everyone in your hometown works in the factory, and this year it’s your turn to join. The thing is, nobody really knows what the factory makes or why it’s so heavily guarded.
  • Brian has worked his entire young life towards being able to attend a fancy boarding school despite his working class background. On his first day he finds a school full of profoundly unhappy students and he decides to find out what’s wrong with them.
  • Our hero was born to imprison or kill anyone who breaks The Law, and she doesn’t question her lot in life until an unnamed rebel tells her there are no such laws in other continents.
  • Gillian has always been homeschooled and she’s never seen people outside her gated community, but all that changes when she gets delieverd the wrong book by mail and she finds out other families don’t face daily violence in the name of religion.


In superhero stories, an exceptional character finds themselves in an ordinary world and must come to terms with their greatness or chosen-ness. Here are some ideas on how you can use this genre:

  • After surviving a fire at a second-hand bookstore that should have killed him, our hero realises he has the ability to see what everyone has ever written, no matter how private.
  • You have felt uneasy around birds your entire life. One day you find out they’ve been sent to watch you, making sure you don’t find out about your true powers.
  • At 16, Dorian realises not everyone can smell the changes in weather and he becomes crucial in helping his country survive a natural disaster when all he wanted was to tell the boy he loves about his feelings.

Dude with a problem

In this genre, a regular person finds themselves in extraordinary circumstances, and the story is about how to get out of that hairy situation rather than how they got there. Here are some ideas for this genre:

  • When a witch’s experiment goes wrong on Halloween and the number of visible ghosts goes up drastically, it’s up to an unassuming librarian to restore order and send the ghosts back to the aether.
  • Usman has worked with computers all his life, but what will he do when a sudden solar storm leaves everyone on earth without internet connection?
  • When a popular movie star is assassinated right in front of you, you end up in the middle of a plot more than worthy of Oscar buzz.

Fool triumphant

In these stories, an underdog rises up and wins the fight against some sort of an “establishment”. Here are a couple of ideas for these stories:

  • Steve is all out of options after graduating from college and he decides to become a professional eSports player to pay off his student loans. However, the local league all know each other from childhood and they don’t care for newcomers, let alone total newbies.
  • You won a summer job at a prestigious social media marketing company. How will you share your ideas with the boss about using memes for marketing when your coworkers don’t let you do anything besides proofread their Instagram captions?
  • Darian was only allowed to join The Circle because no one else would woluntarily watch out for demons after the previous incident. When something goes terrible wrong at his next summoning, Darian is forced to show he’s more than just a useless demon bait.

Buddy love

In buddy love stories, your hero is transformed by meeting and loving someone new, whether it’s romantic or platonic. Here are some ideas for this genre:

  • Your hero has just got out of prison and he’s certain he’s just going to end up back there before summer. That is, until he meets a sick kitten who needs care around the clock.
  • You ended up working as an editor for a big publisher although you can’t stand the authors you have to work with. Then one day you meet a debuting author who is even more annoying than all the others combined – at least at first.
  • Laina has always known she will be the last of her kind – she couldn’t bear giving her “gift” of Dragon Words to a new generation. Will she change her mind when she finds an orphan girl who does not think she is as frightening as the other folk do?
  • Thomas has no interest in relationships as he’s certain no one on earth would be compatible with him, but when he encounters a lonely author on a midnight walk, he learns what it’s like to be truly heard and seen.

Out of the bottle

In this genre, your hero is temporarily touched by magic somehow, and they end up learning to appreciate regular, normal life with no magic whatsoever. Here are some ideas for this genre:

  • After spending far too much time trolling people on social media, Stacey realises she can now see everyone’s real-life like count. What will she do after noticing that everyone’s number is higher than hers?
  • You asked for the gift of immortality back in 1920. However, now it’s 2090 and it looks like earth won’t be inhabitable for much longer.
  • Nobody knows that your hero, a reality television star, has an unlimited number of wishes from a genie. After yet another successful season of his show, he finally gets tired of having everything he wants and decides to take drastic measures to get some excitement into his life.

Golden fleece

In this genre, a hero or a group goes on a quest to find something specific, but instead, they find something else (perhaps themselves or the true meaning of friendship). Here are some story ideas you can use for this genre:

  • Kira and her friends are on the hunt for the most difficult-to-find geocache in Norway. After their car breaking down, getting stranded in a fjord and losing their GPS device they don’t only find the geocache but also a whole new confidence in their ability to tackle the adult life.
  • Leaving the king’s court is not something people do without permission, but the unpopular Prince Thaniel needs to cross the wilderness in search of a cure for a disease that could eventually take his life.
  • You’re travelling across Europe to adopt a stray cat from Greece because you only feel valuable when you’re doing the absolute most to help others. However, the people you meet on your journey teach you a little something about your personal value.

Monster in the house

A hero or a group must face a monster in some kind of a limited setting, and usually one of them is responsible for the monster being there to begin with. Here are two story ideas for this Save the Cat genre:

  • When the electricity goes off at a pyjama party, you start reading books in candlelight. Unfortunately, one of you reads from an old spell book, causing the characters of everyone’s least favourite books to come to life.
  • Going to high school is a nice change of scenery for Amira whose father researches ancient curses for a living. One day, she accidentally brings a cursed item with her in her backpack, and students start disappearing one by one.
  • A group of backpackers is saved from a raging thunderstorm by a hotel owner, but would they have been safer outside in the wilderness?

Want to read more about Save the Cat genres?

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel is one of the first books I recommend to new writers who want to learn to create compelling stories. Besides these genres, you will also learn one of the best ways to structure your story the right way. If you haven’t read the book yet, go buy it now or borrow from one of your writer friends.

Want to find YOUR best story idea?

What if you read through all these fun story ideas and you still don’t know what to write about? Fortunately for you, I created a workbook that solves this problem for you.


You’ll get your Google Docs workbook delivered straight to you and you can find your best story idea ever today.

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