Short story starters
My series of short story starters and writing prompts on this site continue to be very popular with readers, so here is another set of ideas.
Just copy one (or more) of these sentences as the opening to your story.
The rest is up to your imagination.
Warm up exercise: consider using one of these ideas as a short, 15 minute warm up writing exercise before you start on your work-in-progress.
- James hesitated when he reached the basement, wondering if it was safe to enter.
- Katrina knew she shouldn’t be walking through this unfamiliar part of the city.
- Leanne picked up the book with the strangest of titles.
- Malcolm couldn’t resist; he just had to phone his brother and find out the result.
- Five hours had elapsed since Nanette had called.
- Paris had always intrigued Olga, but not for the usual reasons.
- If I had asked Peter a week ago that this was going to happen, he would have laughed in my face.
- She had dreaded this day coming for many weeks, but Ronya was pleasantly surprised by the actual outcome.
- Setting off at midnight was not Sam’s idea, but it was the least of his troubles that day.
- “How can we go on,” said Tony, “when this has just happened?”
- “Unless you let me have the gun,” whispered Vanessa, “we are never getting out of this place.”
- As soon as Wendy opened the rusty gate, she knew that this visit was going to be different.
Conditions of use:
- Feel free to use any of the story starters listed above. Change anything to suit your needs.
- Give it your best shot.
- Edit your work carefully before sending it off to a publisher or posting it on your blog.
- Let me know in the comments section how it went.
- If you publish your story on your web site or on your blog let me know so I can make a link to it for others to read.
Writing flash fiction
A few years ago I went through a period of writing dozens of flash fiction pieces, some of them published here on this site. Some of them have also been published in journals, magazines and anthologies. I haven’t written any short fiction in quite some time, something I should correct.
As I see it, writing short fiction, also called flash fiction, is an excellent practice for any writers of general fiction. These short writing activities – from a mere handful of words up to about a limit of 1000 words – are good exercises for developing the various skills for longer fiction, or even for writing interesting non-fiction. At one stage I limited myself to a mere 50 words. That does not give you much room to move; every word must count.
I recently came across a short article about flash fiction here.
You can read flash fiction on the bus, or while you’re travelling between two train stations. You can read it while you’re waiting at the dentist. You can read it in that short time between sex and dozing off. It’s a small involvement for a much larger pay-off.
- Short fiction – links to some of my fiction published on this site
- Short Story Starters – hundreds of ideas for writing short fiction
- Flash Fiction – article on the SA Writers’ Centre site.
Writing prompt: country scenes
During our tour of Morocco just over a year ago we were amazed at the many similarities with country South Australia. Sure, the houses looked quite different, as did some of the animals. For example, we don’t get too many donkeys pulling ploughs here in rural SA. Nor do we generally get large flocks of goats and the sheep are a quite different breed. Apart from those differences we were constantly remarking on the similarity of our two countries.
- Look at the photo above of a rural scene in Morocco – it could be in many other places, of course. Or you could find a similar country scene in a magazine, book or online.
- As a warm-up writing exercise, describe the scene.
- Imagine what it would be like to live there. Describe how you would feel.
- Add some imaginary characters to the scene. What are they doing, feeling, dreaming?
- Respond to the photo in poetic form.
- Let your imagination soar; the sky – or your imagination – is the limit. Let it break through that limit!
Writing prompt – children
A few years ago my wife and I toured Morocco for two weeks. It was a magical tour with many highlights. I write more about this trip on another site called Trevor’s Travels.
One of the places we visited on the tour was the village of Sefrou which is about 30km from Fes. It was a delightful and interesting place to experience. As we were wandering through the streets we came across this group of children playing. They seemed to want me to take their photo, but were a little hesitant at first. Eventually they posed for me.
Whenever I look at this photo I wonder what their story is. It might prompt one of my readers to think the same, or similar, question.
- Tell the story of this group of children.
- Use your imagination to think about what they were playing.
- Imagine being inside their heads. What were they thinking about this strange Australian taking their photo?
- Write about some imaginary tragedy they might have recently experienced.
Writing prompt – colourful vegetables
A few years ago my wife, daughter and I travelled through magical Morocco for two wonderful weeks. One of the places we visited was the village of Sefrou which is about 30km from the city of Fes. It was one highlight in 14 days filled with many highlights. You can read more about my journeys on another site I write for: Trevor’s Travels (click here).
On our visit to Sefrou we wandered through the local farmers’ markets, featured in today’s photo above. Farmers from the surrounding districts had brought in their produce for sale, set up on stalls in the streets, squares and lanes of the town. The locals crowded into the cramped spaces buying up delicious looking vegetables and fruits. We bought some yummy bananas and mandarins as a treat. Other fruits included oranges, apples, dates and many more. The vegetable range was even more diverse, with tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, silver beet, cauliflower, capsicum, beans, cucumber and much more.
The displays, like that shown in today’s photo above, were colourful and inviting.
Here are some ideas for writing. Use these prompts as an exercise in warming up your writing at the start of the day, or perhaps even as the start of a short story or poem.
- Describe the scene shown in the photo above.
- Imagine being one of the vendors shown in the photo. Describe what you are feeling.
- Write a short story from the point of view of a young child lost in the marketplace.
- Tell the story of the journey from the farm to the home of the buyer. Try it from the point of view of the farmer – or perhaps even a vegetable.
- Write a poem describing the sounds, colours and smells of the market.
- Write about how you would feel if you had no money and was starving and you saw the above scene.