Focus on the opening, ending & title
- Write a sketchy first draft today. Tear through it. Get the story written.
- Then go back and craft an opening line that contains a strong sense of who is telling the story, when it is set, where it is set and what kind of story it’s going to be (Is it going to be a murder mystery? Get the body into the first line. Is it a historical romance? Give me gas lamps and corsetry!)
- Next, work on your ending. Echo the opening scene with a similar-but-different scene, symbolizing your character’s growth/change. Or leave us with an open-ended question, but make sure we know enough about your character to have an idea what their next action might be. Or use a poetic line that sums up the theme of the story.
- Finally write a title that doesn’t tell me what your story is about but intrigues me with an unusual idea, phrase, pun or twist on an old saying or song title. Remember the title is the sizzle that sells the story.
Some of my favorite short story titles:
- Vampires in the Lemon Grove
- Baby’s First Kill
- ‘Gator Butchering for Beginners
- An Open Letter To The Person Who Took My Smoothie From The Breakroom Fridge
- Stop — because if you’re paying attention, it represents two different meanings of the word
- The Lady Astronaut of Mars
- A Perimenopausal Jacqueline Kennedy, Two Years After the Assassination, Aboard the M/Y Christina, off Eubeoa, Bound for the Island of Alonnisos, Devastated by a Recent Earthquake, Drinks Her Fourth Bloody Mary with Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr. — a fine example of how to circumvent the word-count limit in flash fiction!
- Afterthought, Aftermath, Aftershock
- The Worshipful Society of Glovers
- A List of Forty-Nine Lies
I’d love it if you’d leave your opening and ending lines and title, below!
Leave a comment and let us know how it went today.
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