Opening Scene Prompt

Here is my last opening scene prompt to wrap up January’s theme of beginnings. The instructions for it are the same as last week’s prompt. Write down your first impressions of this photo for characters, setting, and plot. Then use those impressions to write an opening scene for a story.

Characters 

  • Workers on their way home
  • People bundled against the cold
  • Everyone looks alike

Setting

  • Winter
  • Cold
  • Dismal
  • The world is gray

Plot

  • A worker is depressed.
  • A worker is frustrated with the every day dullness of routine.
  • A worker wants to break free.

Here’s my opening:

If I don’t make a change soon …

I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, my left boot sliding on a patch of ice hidden under the charcoal-streaked snow.

People, workers leaving their jobs like me, bundled to their eyes against the freezing weather, trudged past, heads bent. Were they watching for slick spots or could think of no reason to lift their gaze?

Fat flakes drifted from a putty-colored sky. Even if enough snow fell to cover all the dirt, it wouldn’t change the fact that underneath, the snow was stained, spoiled.

I turned my face to the sky, the flakes brushing against my skin on their way to oblivion. That’s where I felt I was heading.

For more prompts to start a story, click here.

Opening Scene for a Story

This week’s photo prompt combines all the ones from the last three weeks. Instead of focusing either on characters, settings, or plot, write down your first impressions of this photo for all three. Then use those impressions to write an opening scene for a story.

Characters

  • Two girls, not older than ten
  • Wearing summer clothes
  • One girl is holding summer flowers, the other maybe leaves or a turtle
  • Look enough alike to be sisters or cousins
  • The one on the left looks slightly older

Setting

  • In the woods or in a park
  • Paved path or road
  • Summer
  • Girls are comfortable in setting

Plot

  • The girls are making up from a fight
  • The older girl is telling the younger one about something she saw
  • They are chatting while they wait for something
  • The older girl is suggesting something to do

Here’s my opening:

My cousin Lucy and me sat on the empty road. We wouldn’t get squished. Nobody used the road any more except hunters in the fall and winter. The road was a little warm because the sun ooched between the branches of the tall maples and sycamores.

I stroked the baby turtle I’d found near the car where the man and woman were arguing. I said, “I wished they’d leave.”

Lucy wiped some hair away from her mouth. “I know. We can’t play Princess Rescue with grown-ups around.” She tilted her head, listening, so I did too.

I heard a kind of buzzing but it wasn’t bees. But I wasn’t sure if it was the man and woman talking either.

Lucy looked at the asters in her hand. “Do you recognize those people?”

“Nope. Nobody ever comes around here since Old Mr. Hardy died and nobody works his farm.”

A scream made me and Lucy jump up. Then it got real quiet, creepy quiet.

I stepped closer to Lucy. “Was that a happy scream or a scared scream?”

How would you use this opening scene for a story?

Plot Story Starter

For this week’s prompt, use the above photo as a plot story starter. I always find inspiration for plots from my characters and settings. Using the same technique I suggested for the character story starter and the setting story starter, write down what you observe about this photo without analyzing it too closely.

My observations are:

  • Two elderly men
  • Could be chatting, could be arguing
  • Looks cold, they’re wearing warm clothes
  • The bicycle and hats make me think European

Here’s my opening to a story:

I heard them before I saw them.

Mort and Lester’s raised voices could be heard a block away this early in the morning when most citizens were just crawling out of bed. Every morning, except one, since I’d taken the job as a security guard at the university, the two old men would meet at the corner of 12th and Broad Street and usually end up yelling at each other and stalking away. After a night on patrol, I really didn’t want to listen to another confrontation. Not that they paid much attention to me. All my “Good mornings” had been met with grunts. I called them Mort and Lester because they reminded me of my grandpa and his brother. But Gramps and Uncle Lester didn’t cuss each other out every time they met.

I ducked down the alley between the empty house and the pawn shop. The voices died away. They were probably stalking away now.

As I stepped onto the sidewalk on Townes Street, a shout reached me. I jerked toward it, then picked up my pace. It had sort of sounded like one of the old men, but the cry seemed more like a shout of surprise. And not a pleasant one.

I reached 12th Street, looked to the intersection with Broad, and ran. Mort, the one who always pushed a bicycle, lay on the ground moaning. Lester was nowhere in sight.

For more plot story starters, click here.

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