Chautauqua Institution, where I spend my summers, is famous for porches nestled together, usually just feet from the road.
For the most part it’s also a pedestrian community, so put all that together and you have. . . A distinct lack of privacy.
It’s not unusual for me to run for the phone in my house only to discover the ringing belonged to a neighbor, not me. Or to know what’s on everybody’s grill. Or to overhear snatches of interesting conversation with absolutely no context.
But what’s that got to do with aspiring authors, you ask?
This summer I just couldn’t help myself. As a writer I had to make up stories about the bits and pieces I overheard, all kinds of stories, depending on what was served on the wind.
At some point I decided I would write down the most interesting tidbits, and when season ended (it did last Sunday) I would present them to you. Not to show how nosy I am, (I am pathetically nosy, like all writers) but to share them with you so that YOU can write your own stories around them. That’s where “aspiring authors” comes in.
Do not panic!
Even if you don’t want to write, don’t walk away. This is just for fun. I promise no publishers are watching. But if you feel so moved, why not use one of the following prompts as the first sentence in the first paragraph of your own story. And then, if you feel brave enough? Put it in a comment below and entertain us.
There’s a real variety of choices here, and yes, I did hear every one of these tidbits. So I’ve done a lot of the work for you. All you aspiring authors need is an abundance of creativity and the courage to share it. I see all kinds of potential for every possible genre.
Ready? Here we go:
- So I find out from a text that the baby’s been born, and I didn’t even know she was pregnant.
- The only way I could cut the groove in the wood was to take the guard off.
- So now I have to stand on the table to turn it off and on.
- And they ALL had blue eyes.
- I thought I was your best friend.
- A black cat just crossed the road. I don’t think he crossed in front of us, do you?
Do you feel a story coming on? Want a few hints? The best opening paragraphs give just enough information to give a reader a feel for what’s to come. If you can introduce a character and let the reader know when and where the story will take place, that’s great. But hook them into reading farther without boring them with unneeded details. Hook is the key.
Choose one sentence. Start with it. Then finish the paragraph or even a bit more.
Most of all have fun. Are you with me?