Archive for the 'Short Story Starters' Category

Writing prompt: what happened?

Cafe in Rabat, Morocco

While wandering through the streets of Rabat in Morocco we happened upon this lovely looking cafe.

Not a single customer despite the establishment being open at the time, and with a wonderful view over the river estuary and the Atlantic Ocean.

I wonder what happened?

Writing prompt: let your imagination run wild with the possibilities. What happened to all of the customers? Is there any significance in all of the furniture being painted blue?

Good writing.

Musician, Rabat, Morocco

Musician in the Kasbah des Oudaias, Rabat, Morocco

On our visit to Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, we were exploring the Kasbah des Oudaias with its twisting lanes and narrow streets when we came across this musician. He was singing while playing his three-stringed lute – I think it’s called a guinbri or santir and is common and popular throughout western Africa.

Writing prompt:

  • Who is this man?
  • Why is he singing in public?
  • What is his background story?

When I am faced with writing a short story based on an image or photograph or something I’ve seen, I start with the person’s name. I don’t know the name of the man in the photo, so I will have to make one up. I try to be authentic to the setting. I ask a few questions, like those above. Other questions like “what is he doing – and why?” often start a stream of ideas.

I let the story take over, directing my thoughts and just getting down the words as they come.

If the character takes over the narrative and demands to have her story told, that’s exciting. Just go with the flow. Get the words down quickly; editing and rewriting come later.

Good writing.

Writing prompt – what’s behind the window?

Windows in the Kasbah des Oudaias, Rabat, Morocco

On our visit to the Rabat, the capital of Morocco, my attention was grabbed by this intriguing, yet, beautiful, set of windows in the Kasbah des Oudaias.

The writer in me started wondering: what’s behind the windows?

Who lives here? What are the stories of the people living here?

If the windows could tell, what stories would they weave.

This quaint, simple scene is evocative of the mysterious, magical Morocco we experienced throughout our tour.

Could this be the setting for a poem?

A short story?

A murder mystery – or a tearful romance?

Good writing.

Short story starters

It has been a long time since I last listed here a set of story openers. So I thought it was an opportune time to add another in this popular series.

1. Jacinta knew it would be the last time they would meet. Sadly, she turned away and walked…
2. Kelly froze. The shattered glass had crackled under her shoe. She took another step, hardly daring to…
3. Lauren strolled to the door and opened it enough to see who was there. “Peter! You’re the last person I would have expected to…
4. It took all of twenty seconds for Morris to realise what the strange sound meant. By then it was almost too late. He…
5. In the distance Nat could see dust billowing skywards. “At last,” he said to anyone within hearing range. “About time too…
6. Penny slowly dressed in her favourite colours, including her favourite blue top, picked up her phone and purse and firmly locked the door as she left the house. This was to be the last time she…
7. Quentin hated his name. In fact, he hated most things about himself, his job, his home and even his so-called friends. He decided to…
8. At last Ros reached the decrepit building on Seventh Avenue. It was just as she remembered it the night she had…
9. With a delighted grin, Steve climbed into the cockpit and…
10. Terry never knew what hit him. Observers say he never had a chance. His fate was sealed the moment he…


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 from life’s experiences

“When a writer is born into a family, that family is doomed.” Czeslaw Milosz

Write what you know.

Generally that is good advice, especially for writers starting out on their writing journey. Draw on your life experiences and use those in your writing. Your life is what you know best, so it’s a good place to start. A big part of those experiences revolve around your immediate family, so write about them and draw on their experiences too. In your formative years as a writer, especially when you are young, this might be all you have to draw on for your inspiration.

I know that my early stories and novels I drew heavily upon my own experiences and those of my family. Much of this early writing may never see publication; it is part of your apprenticeship in the craft of writing.

As I developed my writing skills I was able to cast a wider net. Now I find I am able to let my imagination soar and take over more and more. I am now less reliant on personal experiences and more on imagination.

Writing exercises:

To help you develop your writing skills, try one or more of these ideas:

  • Start writing a journal about your every day activities.
  • Write a page or so about your favourite toy.
  • Describe the place you went for a holiday when you were young.
  • What happened on a camping trip when you were still at school.
  • Think about your least favourite relative; describe why you don’t like that person.
  • Write about the events leading up to an accident or tragedy in your family or friendship group.
  • Write about your favourite teacher at school.

Good writing.