Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: How Would You Begin?

This photo has two obvious ways to start a story: from the animal’s POV or the person’s. How would you begin a story with either one?

Daisy’s wrong. This creature isn’t hiding food. I’ve sniffed it all over. She tricked me again. And if Mom catches me by this weird thing, she’ll probably kick me out of the nest. But it’s all Daisy’s —

It’s moving! And making terrible noises! Mom!

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: How Would You Begin?

Since this month is all about beginnings, my prompts will be pictures that could start a story. How would you begin?

I hugged my cousin Jared as I walked into the huge reception hall.

“Glad you could make it,” he said.

“I figured I had to come. Your mom wouldn’t speak to me at Thanksgiving if I missed your parents’ anniversary soiree. Where’s Maddie?”

Jared threw up his hands. “Who knows? My parents invited so many people I don’t know that I feel like a party crasher.”

As Jared greeted another relative, I scanned the surging crowd. At a table on the far side of the room, my cousin Maddie sat with a women I didn’t know. Maddie looked as sunny as she always did although I knew she couldn’t enjoy chitchatting with strangers.

Keeping an eye on them, I worked my way through the crowd.

The woman leaned over and whispered something. Maddie’s jaw swung loose, her eyes flew open, and she went as still as stone.

The woman, with her back toward me, left the table.

I hurried over as fast as I could. “Maddie, what happened?”


Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: Favorite Opening Lines

My theme this month is beginnings, all kinds of beginnings related to writers, readers, and books. So I’m sharing some of my favorite opening lines and why I like them.

“Ghosts? Mercy, yes–I can tell you a thing or three about ghosts. As sure as my name’s Josh McBroom a haunt came lurking about our wonderful once-acre farm.”

McBroom’s Ghost by Sid Fleischman

This is the first McBroom book I read as a child, and I loved the voice of the narrator. I didn’t know it then, but unique character voices are what pull me into a story.

“Walking up and down the platform alongside the train in the Pennsylvania Station, having wiped the sweat from my brow, I lit a cigarette with the feeling that after it had calmed my nerves a little I would be prepared to submit bids for a contract to move the Pyramid of Cheops from Egypt to the top of the Empire Stat Building with my bare hands, in a swimming-suit; after what I had just gone through.”

Too Many Cooks by Rex Stout

This novel introduced me to the genius detective Nero Wolfe and his extremely engaging assistant and bodyguard Archie Goodwin. Archie narrates the stories. Many of the mysteries, usually the novellas, are great whodunits, but I keep coming back because it’s so much fun to sit with Archie and let him spin his tale.

“To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.”

“A Scandal In Bohemia” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

With that sentence, Sir Arthur created a tale that most Sherlock fans can’t get enough of. Because Irene Adler only appeared in this single story, her fascinating character, and Holmes’s reaction to her, has inspired writers for years.

“The sun was dying, and its blood spattered the sky as it crept into a sepulcher behind the hills. The keening winds sent the dry, fallen leaves scurrying towards the west, as though hastening them to the funeral of the sun.”

“The Cloak” by Robert Bloch

One of the best openings of any short story I’ve read and perfect for a tale of Halloween.

“It is along toward four o’clock in the morning, and I am sitting in Mindy’s restaurant on Broadway with Ambrose Hammer, the newspaper scribe, enjoying a sturgeon sandwich, which is wonderful brain food, and listening to Ambrose tell me what is wrong with the world, and I am somewhat discouraged by what he tells me for Ambrose is such a guy as is always very pessimistic about everything.”

“Broadway Complex” by Damon Runyon

I discovered the short stories of Damon Runyon when I was seventeen. Again, it was the voice that caught my attention. The nameless narrator and all the other characters speak in a style invented by Mr. Runyon to sound like the way New Yorkers talked in the 1920’s and ’30’s. The characters use present tense, without contractions, and slang like “Roscoe” for gun, “gendarmes” for police, and “more than somewhat” for an excessive amount. Also the gangsters, showgirls, gamblers, and crooks go by  their nicknames, like Dave the Dude, Regret, Nicely-Nicely, and Asleep.

What are some of your favorite opening lines?

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: What’s the Christmas Story?

romancew-596094_1280Although Christmas is over, I have one more prompt for the holiday. Romance is the one genre I find the most difficult to get interested in. So if you are inspired by this photo to write a scene for a Christmas romance, especially if you are a seasoned Hallmark Christmas movie fan, please share below.

I can stand romance better if it’s part of another genre, like mystery or scifi. Or how about all three?

The woman in the photo is an alien disguised as a human to conduct Earth research for her doctoral thesis. She’s fallen in love with the man, who has recently discovered during the holiday season that his girlfriend is literally out of this world.

The woman’s professor comes to Earth to oversee her research and is found dead. The aliens send detectives to solve the case, and the woman is the prime suspect.

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