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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Story Starters

Writing Prompts! Don't you just love them.

Sometimes they are just what you need to get your creative juices flowing.

One of my favorite stories I have written started with a writing prompt.
The prompt was to pick up a book nearest you, open to the first page and write down the first sentence and go from there.

The book was Christy. I cheated a little, and changed the words just a smidgen, but it was the start of my manuscript titled, Lucy of Tupper's Hollow.

Below are some first lines from books laying in the clutter surrounding my computer desk.

Now most of you know I write children's books. So these first liners are all from children's books, which can be anything from a PB to YA. A few may be familiar to you.

1. I understood almost nothing about the woods until it was nearly too late.

2. "I'll take her now," said the large man with old-fashioned braces holding up stained trousers, and a greasy cap on his head.

3. Night winds, moaning around corners and whistling through cracks, dashed snow against the windows of the Mountain View Inn.

4. The tabby kitten hooked his white paws over the edge of the box marked, Kittens 25 cents or Best Offer.

5. You wouldn't think we'd have to leave Chicago to see a dead body.

6. As summer wheat came ripe, so did I, born at home, on the kitchen floor.

7. There was no lake at Camp Green Lake.

8. Ba-room, ba-room, ba-room, baripity, baripity,  baripity, baripity - Good.

Now, just for fun let's start a story with one of these first sentences. All of my blogging friends can participate in this. You don't have to be a writer. Just pick one of the above sentences and in your comment add a few more to it to start your story. I'll be first.

Ba-room, ba-room,  ba-room, baripity, baripity, baripity, baripity - Good. Uncle Joe's '34 Ford finally started. It sputtered down the bumpy road to the county fair. Aunt Lilly wrapped her arms around her patch quilt, cousin Sue held tight to her blackberry jelly and cousin George's pet pig squealed in his crate as it bounced sideways in the truck bed.

Okay now it is your turn. If you don't want to write a story starter, then tell which first sentence is your favorite.

Happy Writing


  1. The tabby kitten hooked his white paws over the edge of the box marked, Kittens 25 cents or Best Offer.
    "Come on, children. We don't have time today," said my mother, who was in a hurry.
    "Ah, look how sweet she is. Can't we take her home?"
    "And who's going to take care of her? With your father out of work, how are we going to feed a kitten?"
    "I promise..I promise. I'll take care of her. And she'll be a good little mouse catcher."
    The kitten came home with us. We named her "Tabby."

  2. What's interesting here is that all these openers are from children's books, and yet so many of them would kick off an adult story really well too. My favorite of the bunch is #4, with the tabby kitten. It's a great visual, and I could see a flustered character scooping up that kitten and leaving their quarter on the table, intending the cat as a late gift for a forgotten anniversary, or birthday. The scrappy kitten would win over readers and characters alike.

  3. Janet, I love your header! And I LOVE this idea for a writer's jump-start! These opening lines are really wonderful and I would love to "run" with some of them! I also am a writer. I have been published in several magazines (mostly local--but I did have an article in Chesapeake Bay magazine many years ago). I gave up freelance writing because you just could never re-coup your expenses for the small paycheck you received! I mean, I did some RESEARCH on my pieces! But, well, that's OK. I have shelved my writing for a while, but plan to start again very soon. Have a children's book in mind (youth) that I want to write and I have part of another novel already done. You have been an inspiration this morning!

  4. Enjoyed the comments so far-and can't wait to see what everyone comes up with.

  5. I write mystery and suspense, so I see possibilities for crime fiction in all of them. But all these could begin almost any type of story. That's what makes a great first line.

  6. I choose #7! It suggests itself so well to humor or mystery or once-upon a time.

  7. Night winds, moaning around corners and whistling through cracks, dashed snow against the windows of the Mountain View Inn.

    "When will they be here, do you think?" Sadie turned from the window and held her hands to the fire.

    The coach was late. Due to arrive three hours ago, the tension inside the inn mounted as the minutes ticked by and the storm grew worse. Outside nothing could be seen except the driving white snow. An aoccasional branch rattled on the roof, broken off by the strong wind.

    At least the rest of us are safe, Sadie thought. The fire is warm and we have plenty of wood and food.

    Her mother smoothed Sadie's hair and replied, "There's no way of knowing. The pass may be drifted shut. Or they might have stopped for the night at a house along the way. This is no fit night for travel."

    A sudden stomping on the porch reverberated through the inn as the door burst open to a swirl of snow and cold.

    This was fun!

  8. The tabby kitten hooked his white paws over the edge of the box marked, Kittens 25 cents or Best Offer. Katy pressed her face against the window, looking across the street, wishing the kitten could be hers. She didn't have 25 cents and she knew Grandma wouldn't have it to spare either. Maybe she could make a deal with Bobby and trade something for the kitten.

  9. LOL Apparently we were on the same wave length today. I see one I thought was great that would have failed Donald Maass's test. ;)

  10. This is such a fun idea Janet! These are great quotes I especially like #5, it sounds like the beginning of a great mystery. I wish I wasn't so tired this evening, I can't seem to wrap my brain around a story, but this is a really interesting idea! I'm going to try this method of "prompting", it is a great way to push through writer's block.

    I do something similar, only with music. Sometimes I will play all kinds of music and wait till something prompts a certain emotionally response, and then go from there. I have had some of my best poems come into the light, after using this technique. Have a nice evening! Delisa :)

  11. Great lines! I want the little tabby kitten! Hope you are staying safe from the storms!

  12. Hello! hope you good.I just want to say this is a great post.Really nice of you sharing it up here.Am staying in touch for more.Keep it up.
    Meanwhile plz do check my blog on freeing your mind read it,follow,be inspired and comment to improve my works too.Have a wonderful day.


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