More short story starters

Over the years, I have posted many of these articles. They have become some of the most popular posts on this site.

These story starters are designed to get your creative juices flowing. We all have those dreaded times when we just can’t think of an idea to write about. These story starters are designed to get you going. You may end up not using the exact wording I have given. You may even change any names I have used. The setting I have proposed could also change. It is really up to you. Accept my ideas if they suit you; change what doesn’t ring true for you.

These short story starters could be used exactly as I have suggested. They could be the start of a story which you finish, polish up, rewrite, edit, proofread and send off to a journal or magazine or even a writing competition. Or, you may just use some or all of these ideas just as writing exercises – warm-up writing attempts to flex your writing muscles before your work-in-progress gets attention for the day. It is entirely up to you how you use these ideas. Or not.

Short story starters:

  1. Frank found what he was looking for, but not where he had expected. He felt totally perplexed. How did it get in the washing machine?
  2. It was moments like these that Greta enjoyed. The sudden appearance of her best friend in the cafe opened up the day to untold opportunities.
  3. How on earth could Harry complete this task in the time allotted? He knew that his fate was in his own hands. What he did in the next hour would determine the course of his life, one way or the other.
  4. ‘What are we to do now?’ asked Ingrid. ‘That was the last chance we had.’
  5. Finding her husband lying on their bed in his pajamas was the last thing Jenny expected that day.
  6. Karen raced to the check-in desk and stopped. Hardly able to breathe she waved her boarding pass and waited to be served. ‘What if I’m too late?’ She suppressed the thought and smiled.
  7. Tony and Lauren knew from the first day that it was going to be a struggle. Despite the challenges ahead, they stepped out believing that they were up to the task set before them.
  8. At the beginning of the week, Murray had believed that he was on top of the workload for the month. What he hadn’t foreseen was the accident.
  9. Naomi blinked. She couldn’t believe what she had just witnessed.
  10. The children ran screaming towards the open door. They crowded around the visitor, jumping and reaching towards the box he carried.

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 website or on your blog let me know so I can make a link to it for others to read.
  • Now start writing.

Good writing.

Trevor

Book review

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

I must say from the beginning that this is more of a personal response than an actual review. I have done many book reviews on this site over the years, and I plan to continue writing reviews from time to time. So much has already been said about this novel that what I could possibly add would be lost in a very crowded space.

Why did I read this book now?

I had always intended reading this classic. I just never got to read it. Throughout my other life as a primary classroom teacher here in South Australia for 35 years, I mostly read children’s books. After one disastrous event, I always made it a personal policy to read a book myself before reading it to my class. It had to be suitable and appropriate for those in my class. Now in retirement, I am enjoying being able to read anything that interests me. Because of all the hype about Harper Lee’s recently released second novel, Go Set a Watchman, and her more recent demise, I thought that it was about time I focussed my attention on her classic.

I am pleased that I did.

Classic status

I am not a good judge of what constitutes a classic piece of literature. I will leave that to the experts in the field. As with art, I am more of the “like it” brigade; I know what I like, and if I don’t like it but others do, then that merely shows a difference of taste and opinion. Let’s not get too upset with one another.

By any of the standards that I judge a book by, this has to be a classic work. It certainly has stood the test of time and is possibly more popular and more widely read than ever before. It is certainly well written and engages the reader like any great book should. It has memorable characters that stay with you forever – or certainly for a long time after reading. It has a simple premise and an intriguing plot. The story line carries the reader on, always turning the pages to see what happens next. I could go on, but I promised a personal response.

My response to this book:

In the previous paragraph, I indicated some of the elements that make this book a memorable classic work of literature. While I certainly concur with all of these statements, for me this book was far more than that. It has left a lasting impression. It is a glimpse into the times and culture of a small American town in the 1930s. It has made me realise the importance of the little events of life which have such an impact on ordinary people. I couldn’t help thinking of my own period of growing up in a small Australian farming community in the 1950s, and comparing the two.

Racial tensions

The most outstanding theme of this book – and arguably what makes it so outstanding – it the author’s portrayal of the racial tensions of the times in which it is set. The contrasts are stark. The legacy seems to be ongoing. (That’s if I read the current American culture correctly.) The inequalities and differences between all levels of society are certainly drawn starkly, and the reader is left in no doubt about those divisions.

Australian literature

Australia has been largely free of racial tensions until the last few decades. And so far, we do not have an outstanding classic work of literature which has addressed the obvious tensions in our society. Layered upon that is the multicultural aspect of modern Australia and we have a simmering melting pot. Our country is ready for such a work as this. Or am I being too critical of Australian literature? The only works which seem to come close to Mockingbird would be Kate Grenville’s The Secret River and David Malouf’s Remembering Babylon. Remember, though, I have not yet read widely in classic Australian literature, so listing only two titles seems rather inadequate.

Conclusion

In summary, I can now understand why To Kill a Mockingbird has received so many accolades. I can appreciate its place in the annals of American literature; indeed, it stands tall in the literature of the world. It is one of those books which should appear on every “Top 100 Books You Must Read” list.

One question remains: Did I enjoy the book?

To that I give an unqualified “YES”.

Readers

Questions for my readers:

  • What are your responses to this book?
  • What about the book did you enjoy – or hate?
  • Leave a few comments, please.

Good reading – and good writing.

Trevor

 

Writing prompts: Who lived here?

Who lived here?

Who lived here?

During our tour of Morocco some years ago now we came across many beautiful buildings. Many of them have exquisite tiled floors, decorated walls and ceilings and were architecturally very interesting. As we travelled through the Berber regions in the southeast of the country, through the Atlas Mountains and the intervening valleys, we came across many abandoned kasbahs, similar to the building shown above. In fact, this photo was taken on the Road of a Thousand Kasbahs.

Writing prompts:

  1. The Road of a Thousand Kasbahs has an exotic and interesting ring to it. Write a story explaining how this road came to be so named.
  2. Ask yourself the question: ‘Who lived in this kasbah?” Write about their lives, their romances and perhaps why this was their chosen place to reside.
  3. Write about how this particular kasbah came to be deserted sometime in the distant past.
  4. Write a series of love poems about a person who had lived in this kasbah, and how their love had been thwarted by political or family events.
  5. Research the history of the Berber people or the kasbahs in this region. Incorporate some of your discoveries in a story of fiction, weaving real events into your fiction.

 

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 website or on your blog let me know so I can make a link to it for others to read.
  • Now start writing.

Good writing.

Trevor

Sweet moments in life

Life can get very hectic at times.

That is true for many people, me included. Although I retired from classroom teaching just over 12 years ago, I seem to be as busy as ever. Not only am I trying to establish myself as a blogger and writer, I also have many community responsibilities, especially within the life of the church we attend. Still, it is a lifestyle I have deliberately chosen, so I shouldn’t complain.

Family

At least once, preferably twice annually, my wife and I plan a few weeks into our busy schedule to travel to Sydney to visit and stay with family. Our son and his family live there and we love spending time with our grandchildren, ages 7 and 4. It is during these times that I set aside extra time to spend with family, especially the children. While I am totally dedicated to my life as a writer, I realise that the times spent with the grandchildren are some of the sweetest moments in one’s life.

Grand cuddles

Both of our grandchildren are at the stage in life where they love cuddles with both sets of grandparents. We try to ‘visit’ frequently via Skype and through telephone calls, but you cannot give a hug or cuddle over the phone or the internet. That is why they love having us visit for an extended time. This time it will be a day short of four weeks. That’s great.

And only a few nights ago I was sitting on the couch watching a video with the children. Both were snuggled up to me. The youngest held my fingers in her little hand. The oldest was leaning against my shoulder. ‘How wonderful is this,’ I thought, smiling inwardly. Sweet moments like this do not come along every day, especially when we live over 1300km away  – two days’ hard drive.

Contentment

While both of our grandchildren struggle from time to time with life’s issues, sometimes resulting in emotional melt-downs, these are far outweighed by the precious moments in each day. These are the sweet moments that should be a part of every child’s life. These are the delightful times of pure joy which should be in everyone’s lives. These are the times when a shared experience, a moment of laughter, a sharing of a song or the relating of the day’s highlight which can bring sheer contentment.

Treasure those moments

These special moments must be shared and treasured.

They can sometimes be so fleeting, so transient.

They are moments denied so many people in this world of ours.

Try to look for life’s wonderful blessings, those precious and sweet moments in life.

Trevor

 

10 more short story starters

Popular articles

Over the last few years, the posts in this series have remained some of the most popular articles on this site. You can use the search facility at the top of the page, or the cloud of topics on the sidebar to search for more of these writing hints.

They are designed to get you thinking before you write. Use any of these story starters to get you going whenever you are struggling to come up with an idea for a story. I have received plenty of positive comments from writers (and teachers) who have used these ideas.

Over to you.

Short story starters

  1. Adele froze on the spot. The eerie noise continued to come from somewhere just ahead of her. She had no idea what it was.
  2. Before Betty could react, most of the ceiling collapsed onto the furniture below, except for the spot where she stood.
  3. Carl sprinted down the path in the direction of the explosion. As he ran he fumbled with his phone.
  4. It was almost midnight when Dave finally dragged himself to his bedroom. As he slowly undressed, he was aware of a presence in the room.
  5. On the first day in this strange land, Ella’s stomach was jittery with anticipation. She could barely wait to explore her new surroundings.
  6. As the storm clouds gathered to the north, Harry lengthened his stride as he hurried towards home. Flashes of lightning lit up the dark cloud, and the thunder cracked ominously.
  7. ‘How could I ever think so poorly of you,’ asked Julia, ‘when I have done so much for you these last five years?’
  8. Katie stood and stared at the sign. ‘Oh, no! Not today. Of all days – this has to happen. I can’t believe my rotten luck.’
  9. As Nola opened the old book, a paper fluttered to the floor.
  10. ‘Can it get any better than this?’ said Peta. ‘This has to be the best place ever.’

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 website or on your blog let me know so I can make a link to it for others to read.
  • Now start writing.

Good writing.

Trevor