The purpose of writing exercises is to practice writing — or to practice a specific kind of writing (voice journaling, essays, persuasive ad copy, song lyrics, etc.).
And because of this, the most powerful short stories have what James Scott Bell describes as the “one shattering moment.” In his book, Bell describes that moment as “something that happens to a character, an emotional blast which they cannot ignore.
It changes them, in a large or a subtle way — in a way that cannot be ignored.” Any one of the popular themes listed above could you give your main character a shattering moment that would change that character’s life or perspective.
Who knows how you might juice up your story idea without even trying?
The best fiction story ideas make use of timeless themes.