Short Story Starters

It has been far too long since my last set of short story starters was published here. Entries in this series of articles have proved very popular with my readers for several years now.

Use them

I invite you to look through this latest list of short story starters. If anything grabs your imagination, run with it. Borrow my idea and use it for a short story (or even a novel).

Writer’s block

If you are suffering from the dreaded Writer’s Block, these ideas are the ideal way to write yourself out of that slump. Take one of the ideas and just write – anything that comes to mind. Don’t worry if it seems like rubbish. Just write – and soon the words will be flowing again.

New writers

If you are new to writing, here you will find some great ideas to get you going. Don’t worry too much about the technicalities of spelling, punctuation and grammar on your first, rough draft. You can go back over those things later, once you have the main bulk of the story written.

Here they are – more Short Story Starters:

  1. As Alice rounded the corner she could hear the train coming. She…
  2. Before I had a chance to fully grasp what was happening, Ben had whipped out his knife. Seconds later he…
  3. Considering his past record, this latest move was sure to create a new round of controversy. Peter knew this, but he was adamant that he must go on. He…
  4. ‘Don’t come in here!’ she shouted. ‘After what you’ve done I don’t want to see you again. Get lost.’
  5. Even as I entered the room I could tell that she was not happy. She had that certain look that spoke volumes. I knew…
  6. ‘Fine! You just go ahead and leave – tonight! Good riddance, I say. And don’t think I’ll come running after you.’
  7. Getting over the party was the least of my worries. The cleanup could wait; that mess wasn’t going anywhere. I had to find George and explain. He was probably wondering…

Show – don’t tell

Notice that I start in the middle of the story. Many short stories start in the wrong place. Beginner writers tend to give far too much background detail and the real story starts part way through.

In the example above I have tried to get the action going immediately. Pages of background information is fine if you are writing a novel. Short stories are just that – short. They are tiny glimpses into one scene, two at most.

Beginner and inexperienced writers want to tell everything, going into the minutest of details and their short stories have nothing interesting happening in them. ‘Show – don’t tell’ is a mantra repeated endlessly by teachers of writing. Show the character’s motives through what she does. Show your character’s emotions through what he says (see example 6 above). Notice that I’ve broken my own rule in number 5 above. Sometimes telling is needed; you have to know the rules before you know when to break them.

Good writing.

For more short story starters click here.

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.

2 Responses to “Short Story Starters”

  1. Hi. Thanks for these really useful tips. They confirm a few things for me. And give me hope that I am on the right track. (I think)

  2. Trevor says:

    Thanks for visiting James. Sorry about the delay in responding – I’ve been quite ill in recent weeks.

    It’s great that you found these ideas useful. All the best with your writing endeavours.