Adventure Book Ideas: 20 Prompts for Survival and Adventure Stories

Who doesn’t love a good adventure story? A young hero or heroine setting off into the unknown, overcoming constant discomfort and danger while discovering new things about the world and themselves. This is the stuff of myths and legends (literally!).

But perhaps you need a few ideas to get your adventure story started? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, you’ll find our twenty best writing prompts that might work as adventure book ideas.

Adventure Book Ideas

By the way, this is part of our longer series on the ten types of stories. You can learn more about each type and find all book ideas for each story type here.

What Makes a Good Adventure Book Idea?

Adventure stories are built around the life versus death value, meaning that the main conflict and most of the scenes turn on survival. The adventure genre can be set in real life or include an exciting adventure in a fantasy world or other far-flung places most readers will never visit.

An adventure story needs a strong physical goal, usually called the MacGuffin and it can be an object, place, or person that’s important to the protagonist (although NOT necessarily to the audience). The climax of an adventure story will usually be a showdown between the protagonist and the antagonist or opposing forces in pursuit of the MacGuffin.

You’ll want to include action and risk to create an epic adventure story for your book, but beyond those requirements, let these story ideas get your creative juices going. Remember, adventure stories can cross genres, so don’t be afraid to go wild!

We’ve been reviewing the ten types of stories and today, let’s try out some fun writing prompts that might work as adventure book ideas.

Twenty Adventure Book Ideas

Try out one (or more!) of these adventure writing prompts:

1. A family inherits a trove of maps and keys from their eccentric explorer grandmother and must beat treasure hunters to the spoils.

2. An overnight camping safari goes horribly wrong when the driver/guide is suddenly mauled by a lion and the party has to work together to get him (and themselves) back to civilization.

3. An alien ship lands in a dense forest and begins to explore, capturing samples of everything in their path, including two children playing. Can the town band together in time to save them and their homes?

4. When a magical sword that protects their boundaries and crops is stolen, a small band of warriors set out to recover it. Their quest is disrupted when an ancient spirit is suddenly unleashed from its hilt, rearranging the landscape and thrusting the countryside into darkness and primordial wilderness.

5. A lengthy hot air balloon journey goes wrong when the balloon malfunctions, plunging characters into ocean waters near a deserted island.

6. A graduate student receives a cryptic message from a beloved professor who’s gone missing on a once-in-a-lifetime dig, and they must follow the clues to save the prof’s life and preserve the integrity of the dig.

7. An adventurous wedding party challenges their families to a race along the Appalachian Trail, only to have the bride and groom disappear.

8. A ghost town family business finds itself back on the map when a podcaster creates a fictional story set there and suddenly dies before the final episode, the key to their demise and re-emergence vanishing with her.

9. An estranged mother-daughter reunite in a quest to bring home their husband/father’s remains from war when the government refuses to pay a mercenary for them.

10. An arctic expedition loses contact with the outside world when an avalanche brings down a mountain and they discover an entire living world beneath the tundra.

11. An underground network of spies loses their main contact with the outside world and employer, and they fight through a web of lies and misdeeds to escape.

12. A community of magical beings finds their power source has been damaged and the only living elder who can repair it is on his death bed babbling seeming nonsense of a source savior in an enemy kingdom.

13. College friends reunite on a tropical island for a friend’s video game launch only to discover the game is a real adventure of survival and they are the players.

14. A bounty hunter looking to get out uncovers a network of casino thefts and double-crosses that could fully fund a retirement off the grid or end his life.

15. An accountant anonymously receives a packet of documents from the 1920’s. While interesting, he doesn’t know what they are until one of his elderly clients ends up dead, and he realizes the package was part of a paper trail to a stash of gold hidden before the stock market crash of 1929.

16. A bachelor game show turns deadly when a volcano erupts on their secret remote location knocking out communication and forcing them into survival mode.

17. An avid RV camper goes missing and his brothers come looking for him when they realize the deeds to their family ranch and land were mortgaged to pay an outrageous debt.

18. A video game treasure hunt turns real when a game master announces his retirement and a real world winning purse to the winner who completes his gauntlet of deadly tasks both inside and outside the video game.

19. A librarian discovers an underground passageway in the archive basement leading to a dusty book in an unknown language, but when she opens it, she finds a charcoal portrait of herself on the title page.

20. A deep sea fishing expedition is stranded when a pod of whale-like creatures attacks.

Do you like adventure stories? What are your favorites? Share in the comments.


Choose your favorite prompt from above and set the timer for 15 minutes. Begin your adventure story or write a key scene based on the prompt.

Share your practice in the Pro Practice Workshop here, and leave feedback for a few other writers. Not a member? Join us here.



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