Reposted, revised on: Sunday, 10 August 2008
Exercise: Create a story in 400 words or fewer that begins with an opening line "borrowed" from something you have read--novel, short story, poetry, travel guide, cookbook.
Imagine how many different stories might spring from the following opening lines:
"Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself." (Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf)
"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow." (To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee)
"I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other." (Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen)
"We lived at 2029 Lafontaine, the last house on the west side of the street from 178th to 179th, a row of five-story tenements that ended in a hat factory." (Bronx Primitive - Kate Simon )
Of course you needn't use any of these. You are free to choose from the whole world of literature. Just let us know at the top of your Sub where your opening line comes from and who wrote it. That information will not be considered part of your word count.
See where the vehicle of someone else's voice and vision might take you.
These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop.