Over the last few years I have written many posts similar to this one. Many of them have proved to be very popular with my readers and consistently draw many readers. I have also had good feedback from readers who have used them.
The idea behind these lists is to start your thinking off on a certain track – and then to let your imagination run wild. Use any of these ideas as you like, adapt the ideas to suit your thinking and away you go.
Each one could be used as an opening line, or a finishing line, or a sentence somewhere in your story.
- ‘How on earth could you think that about me?’ shouted Nancy.
- Olivia hesitated as she came into the room. Her handbag was not where she had left it.
- ‘Now where have I put my glasses?’ muttered Peter.
- It was strange how Queenie always found a way out of her frequent moments of embarrassment. Like yesterday.
- As Robert closed his front door, he drew his coat tighter against the bitter wind. ‘What a night.’
- Sam raced to the letter box, flung it open and grabbed the only letter. “Yes! This must be it!’
- ‘How can you be so sure it was me?’ demanded Tina. ‘I wasn’t anywhere near you when it happened.’
- ‘If that is how you feel,’ said Ursula, ‘this is the final straw.’
- Vince was completely flummoxed. How was he going to get out of this toxic relationship?
- ‘That will do!’ yelled William. ‘That is the perfect spot for my pride and joy.’
You can access many more short story starters 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.
On our tour of Morocco several years ago I photographed this very patient mule standing just outside a shop in the busy medina of the city of Fes.
It just stood there patiently, ignoring the milling throng all around, oblivious to the movement, the noise and the general confusion.
- Write about a time you had to be very patient.
- Write about an occasion when someone had to be very patient with you.
- Write a list of the virtues of patience.
- Write a poem titled “Patience”.
- Write a short story starting with the words: “After three hours of patient waiting…”
- Write a short story finishing with the words “It had been a day that severely tested my patience.’
More on Momentum
I read recently about a good idea for keeping up the momentum of writing a novel. I have no idea where I read or heard this idea. I got it from somewhere. I could have dreamed it up too. I’m not sure. Like all writers, teachers, children, bower birds and other obsessive compulsive collectors, I gather/borrow/steal/commandeer ideas and words and concepts from everywhere. Nothing is off limits. On-one is exempt. None is too sacred.
The writer/speaker was suggesting that it is a good idea to stop each day’s writing in the middle of a scene. Or even in the middle of a sentence. Then the next morning when you sit down to start writing you have somewhere to start. That’s brilliant.
I’ve been trying it for a few days and it seems to work. It also seems to suit my style of writing too. Sure, it’s nice to finish a chapter, close down the computer and go off to peaceful sleep for the night in the knowledge that that part of the novel has been put to bed. The problem I find is that too often I don’t get to the end of a chapter when tiredness takes over, or family responsibilities mean I have to leave off writing and do something else. Coming back to a half finished scene or an incomplete sentence gives me a running jump into the writing again. I finish the scene or sentence and we are away.
More articles in this series: writing a novel: a writer’s journal
My short story starters remain popular month after month.They are the most accessed articles on this blog. You can access these ideas by clicking on the link below.
Also becoming popular are the articles in my writing prompts series of articles.
Today we have another 20 writing prompts. Use these as warm up activities, or for ideas for stories or articles or blog posts. Use them however you like. Let me know in the comments how you went using these ideas.
Twenty Writing Prompts:
- Write about your favourite fruit.
- Who is your favourite famous person in history (alive or dead)? Write down a list of questions you would like to ask during an interview.
- You are waiting for a bus. A public phone starts ringing and you answer it. Write down your conversation.
- You go fishing and catch your best fish ever. As you take it off the hook, it talks to you. Record your conversation.
- Describe the life of a clock – from the point of view of the clock.
- A small spaceship flies in through your window and lands next to your computer. Describe your reaction. What do you do next?
- Describe the worst disaster you’ve ever experienced.
- Write the first sentence of the novel you want to write someday. Make it great.
- “It’s not over yet.” Write down what you think might happen next.
- Write about the things you wish you had done on your holidays.
- “That’s what’s wrong with this organisation.” Make a list of the things that need correcting. It might be best if you don’t leave this list lying around at work.
- Write about the things you are not certain about.
- Describe what happened tomorrow.
- Imagine you are an ant living in a colony of ten million ants. How valued do you feel? Write about your feelings.
- One of your hens hatches an egg containing a small dinosaur. How do you look after your new pet?
- Imagine your best friend has died. Write an obituary for your friend.
- “I thought this would never happen to me.” Describe what happened and how you dealt with the situation.
- Make a list of things you could do when sick in bed.
- “My life is based on a true story.” Write about the things that you wish had happened in your life.
- Make a list of the highlights of your life so far.
Writing while you sleep?
Now – there’s a thought! Wouldn’t it be ‘luvverly’ if you woke up each morning and the writing pixies had been busy all night on your keyboard? Sure to be nothing but fairy tales though.
Say – there’s another story idea – WHAT IF you wrote a story about pixies writing your story while you slept?
See – I’m full of ideas!
And pleeeeze – do not say I’m off with the pixies! That would be fairy insulting and damaging to my elf-esteem.
(Picks up large jar full of tablets. Looks at clock. Yes – time for my medication.)
Seriously folks – there will be times when you’ve been working hard on a story and you get blocked, or tired or just cannot see where to go next. In those situations it might be better to quit writing, get some good sleep and let your sub-conscious take over for a few hours. Then you can come back to the writing with fresh eyes, and a refreshed mind. Might just work wonders.