Beginnings | StoryADay 2024 Day 12

Your opening lines are important…that’s why we leave them until last

Day 12 cover

The Prompt

Write a story that starts when your character enters a new environment with a plan to achieve something that matters to them…and immediately faces an obstacle.

When you have finished writing, go back and put a new opening on your story.

Things To Consider

Have you ever felt unable to start a story even though you want to write today?

You’re not alone.

Often writers get stalled at the start, because we’re aware of how important those opening lines are.

After all, a good opening should:

  1. Introduce the main character
  2. Set the scene (time and place – relative to  the reader)
  3. Set the tone.
  4. Hook the reader (ways to do this: intrigue, dialogue, surprise, contradictory information, introduce a mystery, start in the middle of the action, seduce the reader with the language, 
  5. Establish the story question or problem

That’s a lot of pressure.

So for today’s story, start writing in the middle of the action. Your character has just arrived somewhere new, in order to pursue something that matters to them, and they run into an obstacle within the first two sentences. 

You can do this with dialogue (“Well, that’s a problem.”) or with a little bit of scene setting, “She heaved the ornate oak door open and saw…a solid brick wall.)

Get your character into and out of trouble a couple of times until they have achieved their desire or otherwise changed in a satisfying way.

For added symmetry, end the story with your character leaving the environment they entered at the beginning.

NOW, look at your story and write a new opening for it that hits all five of the points listed above (it won’t take you five sentences to do this. You may be able to repurpose what you’ve written already).

Here are some possible opening line templates:

As [character name] [active verb][setting], they [verbed] a [noun]. [Image]. [Transition]

e.g. As Joanne fled the crowded pub, she lobbed what remained of her lemonade over her shoulder. With one last look over her shoulder she saw it arc through the air–globules caught in the security lights like fireworks–and spray across the faces of her three meathead pursuers, momentarily slowing them down. She put on a burst of speed. How had it come to this?

[Vivid details about something disastrous]. And to think, just [time period] earlier, everything had been going so well…


A [profession] in a [setting] doesn’t usually end up with [unexpected result], [conjunction]

Things To Consider

Leave a comment and let us know how it went!

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14 thoughts on “Beginnings | StoryADay 2024 Day 12”

  1. First story that I didn’t finish. I’m disappointed in myself because of this. I really liked this story but Mother’s Day got in my way. I tried going back to write but I’m just too tired. I will definitely go back and finish it next month when I go in and edit all my stories. Better luck tomorrow.

    1. I didn’t even start anything because of Mother’s Day. I like writing every day, but some days there are more important things.

  2. Wrote a short, very silly (and slightly sacrilegious) story that started “in the beginning was the Wordle…”

    But I also fixed some tech issues (partially) and recorded and published a podcast episode. A short and silly story was all I could hope for today. Feels good to have written it though.

    Not bad for my day “off” 😉

    1. Julie,

      I can imagine the juggle – story-a-day for me is my writing objective at the moment, do find myself flitting between other side projects all the time. Oh and of course there’s my day job that just keeps getting in the way. (I’m writing this between meetings and tasks).

      Have a good day.

  3. I wrote a very short, very bad story about a student unable to do his homework because he has made the young computer programmer’s favorite mistake: writing a script to run a program and giving the script the same name as the program, so the script endlessly runs itself. That was the action in the middle that I started with. I went back afterwards to put on a beginning about how he is eager to get his homework done. All a bit precious and mechanical, but sometimes that’s what happens.

  4. “I’m going to sue your paper!”
    Wow, this man is worked up about how I exaggerated the story I wrote about him, Sue thought, sitting at her desk in the office of the smalltown paper.
    Dave, the editor, was trying to calm him down. After the man left, Dave asked Sue to take a couple weeks off. He hated to ask her because her exaggerations lately had upped their subscriptions tremendously. The article about the elderly woman whose neighbor had complained about her having 400 cats had been changed from four cats by Sue. The one about 300 people wanting a build stopped was actually three people. The fireman who had nearly died when he fell from a tree rescuing a kitten hadn’t actually fallen.
    And so on.
    Sue had been so bored covering small town city council meetings and cat rescues that in order to stay sane she’d been exaggerating a lot lately. She took her two weeks off to work on a novel.
    I wrote a draft then changed it around a few times. Finally, because of the outrageous lemonade scene in the prompt, I realized my story had to start stronger so I inserted the man causing waves in the newspaper office before Sue gets sent home. The lemonade scene also encouraged the lunacy in my story even though the first time I read the lemonade scene I thought it was way too far-fetched. I tried to cut my final draft to five sentences as was mentioned in the prompt was possible, but I ended up with 11 sentences.
    For whatever reason, when I first read the prompt, I was reminded of when I was a writer for my college newspaper and my journalism teacher had referred me to the editor of a local paper. My first assignment was to cover a city council meeting. I found it so boring I couldn’t come up with anything to write about it. If only I’d tried harder I would have had a good job. Wimpy me said I couldn’t do it.

  5. Spent more time with my baseball players for this one. Alfie goes into a club, when he’d much rather stay home, looking for Rhys. Not sure if this will fit into their larger story or not. 777 words

    1. Teresa,

      I had a read, the premise is sound, i.e. wrong class wrong time (who hasn’t done or witnessed that). My feeling was you needed to make it more your own, I missed the point that she’d stolen the teacher’s seat and did a quick re-read of that transition.

      Dwell more, describe more, and add some depth through descriptions, the flow and dialogue is good, but I found myself wanting more. Look around the first room longer, and when you enter the second room ‘all eyes turn on her as she enters’, throw some emotion into it, embarrassment? defiance? indignation?



  6. I am sorry I couldn’t do the last part of the prompt wherein we were supposed to put another new beginning to the story. So, let me share the first draft for the time being.
    Characterless Projita :
    Characterless Projita

    As the door creacked open, Projita looked down at the bottom of it. Moth-eaten, ravaged by the onslaughts of time ( The last flood a few years back had left its toll on the lower part as water from the nearby lake had inundated most of the the apartments on the ground floor in the locality. They were also told that no one stayed in the apartment as a result for almost a decade. So, in simple words, the apartment had to be renovated), but they were getting it cheaper than its current price fixed by the Municipality and they had to look for a new place to stay in.

    Arnab and Projita had been married for twenty five years
    when they bought and shifted to their new apartment in Baranagar. Arnab was a good man inspite of his suspicious nature. And he had his temper tantrums to boot!

    The door had to be replaced. That alone would cost nearly twenty five thousands. Projita calculated to herself as she cautiously pushed the door open. Arnab and she had visited the apartment a few months earlier, having come across an advertisement about this 2KB in Baranagar. As the price was negotiable, they decided to have a look at it at first. Besides, their only child, Anuradha, who was in the final semester of her B-Tech Course, was getting to be of marriageable age. Being a brilliant student, she would land up with a job before her Final Semester through the college campassing.
    It is as time to move.

    The flat belonged to her now. But Arnab told her at the time of handing over the cheque to the previous owner that he had already spent down to his last rupee on the apartment. He wouldn’t be able to afford the renovation money immediately.

    “Twenty five for the door. Add to it another 1.5 lacs for the renovation. It will come to nearly two lacs”. An ordinary housewife as she was, from where was she going to manage this amount? She wondered.

    “How nice it would be If Bapi kept in touch with us! I could have asked for the amount straight away from him.”

    But her father surprisingly, never contacted her after the untimely demise of her mother. How Projita wished that her mom was still alive! She would have come to know about her problem just by looking at her. She had called her closer a few days before her death and whispered into her ear :

    “Mamoni, (she called her by that name as most of the Bengali mothers do call theirs) I want you to open the Godrej almirah and take the blue jewelry box from the upper cabin. Keep it with you for Anu’s marriage. Though I won’t be here then….and one more thing, don’t utter a word of this to your Lord.”
    Projita had refused at first. But then who could refuse Mom anything? In the end she had to bring the jewelry box to her in-laws’ house.

    Thinking about her Mom and the jewelry box, an idea came to her head. Why couldn’t she pawn the bangles to Runuda, the local jeweller? Once Anuradha was employed, she could easily get it back from him. She could easily borrow the money from Anu and get the bangles back. They were made of pure, solid, 22-carrot gold. On second thought, she realised that only one of the pair might fetch her the desired money for the renovation and the door.

    Projita carried out her plan to perfection.

    From then on, she kept coming to the apartment and supervising the repair work on the days the plumber brought the teak door and started cutting out a bit of it from the side to fix it in the door frame. The polish kept him busy for almost six hours the next day before the brass door lock was holed in.

    She brought Arnab along with her again the day the painters put the final touches on the walls to her satisfaction. Anu’s was the smaller and more colorful of the two rooms. Projita had one side of their bedroom painted in creme colour, the wall opposite was light green. She ordered a matching almirah from Dakshinapan, a thriving shopping complex in Central Kolkata.

    The pundit had been consulted to find a suitable date for the housewarming ceremony. Close relatives were invited, the caterer informed and all other arrangements made for the event.

    Things had gone off quite well till they shifted to their new house. That day, Projita had invited a close relative from her parents’ side. Now for some reasons, Arnab was never comfortable with anyone of his in-laws’ connections.

    He had spent the entire day, pretending to be busy with his laptop for the purpose of staying away from Mitali Massi’s proximity. Hardly had she left their apartment in the evening when Arnab started raising hell. Projita, familiar with this mood of her husband ( in this foul mood, he was simply a beast), preferred to keep quiet.

    “Something’s been bothering me since your relative turned up…” he told her bluntly before adding, “How did you manage the renovation money? It must have cost you at least one lac or more! From where did you find the money?”

    He went on,“I hope you didn’t borrow it from your father?” Arnab’s suspicious nature was one of the reasons why Bapi decided not to keep in touch with them. Whenever something went wrong between the couple, Arnab always put the blame on her parents.

    Projita simply didn’t know how to counter him in such a mood. Replying to his queries at such a time was risky. She thought about the scenes they had had in the past, even in her parents’ house!

    “When you’re asked a question, you are supposed to answer it. Did you borrow it from your father or from one of your past admirers?” Arnab was yelling by now.

    Projita kept mum still. Once, only once did she think of telling him the truth but then there was no knowing Arnab’s reaction as he could never stand the sight or smell of her late mom.

    Then hell broke loose, Arnab went on calling her names. He didn’t even mind bringing her parents, bad-mouthing them in his one-sided accusations.

    The whole night, Arnab carried on venting his anger on her in the new apartment. Anuradha, from the doorstep of her room, finding her mother standing like a statue, couldn’t help asking her why she was taking it all from her husband without telling him the truth.

    But Projita knew better for keeping quiet still. The next day, Arnab left early and spent the whole day outside. She tried calling him a number of times but his mobile was switched off. He must have gone back to his parents’. A sense of impending doom and gloom seemed to rush through her ardelines.

    Her assumption proved correct when she received the notice from Arnab’s lawyer a few days later. Arnab, after twenty five years of staying married with Projita, had asked for separation on the ground that his wife was a cheap, characterless woman!

    The end

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