Every short story writer needs a "go-to" story, a story that she can write without hesitation any time an editor says, "I need 3,000 words by Thursday." The go-to story might arise from a basic plot, a hook, or some other device that the author favors, but it must be one that can consistently provide an infinite variety of stories.
For example, a writer of short romances might go-to the basic girl-meets-boy, girl-loses-boy, girl-gets-boy-back plot.
Start by imagining a job or life situation for a female character and a male character:
She's a waitress; he's a truck driver.
She's a kindergarten teacher; he's a single father.
She plays second base for the company softball team; he's a league umpire.
Then give them a "meet cute":
While serving him at the truck stop where she works, she spills hot coffee in his lap.
It's the first day of school for his child and he arrives at her kindergarten class with his crying child in tow.
When she's at-bat, he calls a strike on a pitch that's clearly high and outside.
Although I've written a fair number of short romances, this isn't my go-to story because I only get as far as the meet cute before I fumble.
My go-to story is far more versatile because I can hang an infinite number of stories from a single hook:
A woman discovers (learns, realizes, confirms, suspects) she's pregnant.
What's your go-to story?