How to Begin a Story: 3 Quick Ways to Improve Beginnings and Endings

by Sue Weems | 50 comments

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My family moves a lot. Beginnings are often stressful, disorienting things, while endings might be joyous, grief-filled, and everything in between. Funny how stories are like that too. It's often so difficult to know how to begin a story or how to tie it up at the end. Why are beginnings and endings so hard to do well in writing and life?

How to Begin a Story: 3 Quick Ways to Improve Your Beginnings and Endings

Here are three tips to improve your beginnings and endings.

Tip 1: Eliminate character sketch introductions

Emerging writers often begin stories by introducing the main character through a laundry list of his or her attributes, beliefs, and fears.

John is thirty-five and wears a trenchcoat even in summer. His wavy brown hair and green eyes came from his mother, but his habit of pulling his right ear came from his father. His wife left him three years ago, and he’s been living alone since, afraid to be hurt again.

What’s wrong with a sketch?

It’s boring and a little weird. Characters who begin by explaining everything about themselves are usually not to be trusted. Also, as you read that sketch, did you imagine him standing still on a blank stage or canvas, as I painted details on him? It’s classic telling instead of showing. As a reader, I’m already asking John, “So what?”

When we meet new people, we come in contact with living stories. Some are exciting, others are sad, some are triumphant, and most are a mixture of different kinds of stories. No one shakes our hand and launches into a full body sketch and family history (no one you want to talk to for long anyway).

Some things might be obvious right away from clothing or the way a person carries himself, but most things are revealed over time in how a person (or in our case a character) acts in sticky situations.

How to begin a story: Salinger’s non-sketch opening

A great example of a novel that subverts this kind of opening is Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

Why does Salinger’s opening work?

He sets up the voice and stakes. This character is going to upend what we believe about coming-of-age stories, and he sets it up in this one rambling sentence in Holden Caulfield’s distinctive voice.

Tip 2: Eliminate waking-up or dream scenes at the beginning or end

(I know, some of you are already sharpening your pitchforks on this one, so I’ll say it up front: of course, a wake-up or dream scene can be done well, but they must be done on purpose for a specific reason to be effective.)

About 75% of the first stories I receive from young writers will include one of these two things: They begin with light streaming through the window as the character gets out of bed. Or, the story will end: “And then I woke up.”

Most of their stories are stronger the moment they scratch out the entire first scene or redline the words “And then I woke up.”

Why we don’t want to wake up

Ending a story with “And then I woke up” thwarts reader expectations (and not in a good way). It is a cheap twist or surprise.

When I discuss this ending with my student writers, they tell me they wanted to take the character back to the “real world.” Why? Why can’t the character live and operate in the world of the story? The Lord of the Rings doesn’t end with “And then I woke up” and neither should most stories.

If a character makes choices and acts in bold ways during the story to create a character arc, ending with “it was a dream” robs the character of his change. He ends essentially the same person he was at the beginning.

What about waking up at the beginning?

The second I start reading a story that begins, “Light streamed through the window and she opened her eyes. She padded to the bathroom and stared at her reflection in the mirror …” I’m skimming down to find out where the action begins. Does the reader really need to see this character wake up to understand her, what she wants, and what will keep her from getting it? Most times, the answer is no.

If we are using sleep as a disorienting factor in our openings, such as when a loud banging wakes a character from sleep, that might work well depending on the genre, but ask yourself if it is overused. Sometimes I find myself using wake-up scenes because it’s easier, and that is definitely not a good reason.

But DuMaurier used a wake-up scene

Of course recounting dreams can work in an opening, but they have to be used in interesting ways on purpose, not because I couldn’t think of a better place to start. In fact, one of my favorite novels, Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, begins with a dream:

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited.

How can I use a dream like DuMaurier did?

Think about how this scene works in relationship to the rest of the novel. First, it sets the scene and introduces the character. The description of the deserted grounds at Manderley foreshadows the end. The nameless narrator has survived a harrowing nightmare of an experience, and she will recount those events in the course of the novel.

But consider this: she also “wakes up” to realize she is stronger than she imagined. She no longer lives under the belief that she is a weak, poor substitute for her husband’s first wife.

If I’m going to use a dream or vision at the beginning of my story, I want to make sure that it is where the story really begins and that the reader understands why my character would change her life’s course because of a dream.

If I can’t wake up, where do I start a story?

We’ve all heard the advice to begin like the Greeks, “in medias res,” which means in the middle. But in the middle of what? In the middle of the action.

Better advice for how to begin a story? Begin the story as late as possible including only the first scene that builds, foreshadows, or impacts the climax. A great opening needs to do orient us to the character and world, and keep us reading. Study first pages in your genre. How do they begin?

Tip 3: Eliminate any saviors or deus ex machina at the end

Here's one final tip that can save your ending (but not your character). In one of my courses last spring, we had a children’s book author come to discuss his book and process. After the author finished reading his book, one of my more skeptical writers asked, “But does he really act to solve his problem? Is that really strong action?” (So proud!)

His question echoed the questions I always ask my writers about their endings: How does the character act to solve his own problem? Does anyone save him? Does nature or fate or some god swoop in to fix the problem? If so, the story might be in trouble.

We love our main characters. We don’t want them to go through anything difficult, but strong action makes for strong characters, even when they fail.

One way we inadvertently save our characters (and weaken them) is by using a “deus ex machina” (god from the machine—any sudden abilities, saviors, or circumstances that save the character from acting). If our character suddenly remembers his judo from 4th grade (and we’ve not seen it during the course of the story), then we’re undermining our ending. If the antagonist trips and falls into a hole and disappears in the climax scene, saving the protagonist from a fight, we’re weakening our character.

Don’t let anything or anyone steal the climactic choices from your character. Make him act to get what he wants.

Beginnings and endings are connected

The next time you finish a novel’s final chapter, flip to the front and reread the first chapter. How are they connected? Are seeds of the ending planted (even subtly) in the opening? How does the ending reflect or resist the first scene? How is the character different in those two scenes?

If your research uncovers some books that begin or end in the ways listed above (and it will!), ask why. Is that really where the story begins or effectively ends? Is that scene critical to understanding the character, conflict, and resolution coming?

As you revise your beginnings and endings, I hope these tips and questions will help you avoid some common pitfalls.

What are your favorite beginnings and endings? Do you have any other tips for how to begin a story or end it well? Share in the comments.


Take fifteen minutes to research openings in your genre. Read the first page of five to seven successful books (you can also do this with television shows or films). How do they open? Share a couple titles and a quick sentence summary of what you found in the comments below. (My students always find the wake-up scene that begins The Hunger Games.) If you find any that open with wake-ups, sketches, or dreams, see if you can analyze or break down why it works (or explain why it doesn't!).


Take fifteen minutes to write or revise an opening for your own work in progress. Remember, openings introduce a character in his or her world in a way that makes us want to keep reading. (Don't worry if it doesn't come out the way you would like the first time. Most writers rewrite their openings several times!) Share your opening paragraph or sentence in the comments.

As you comment, encourage one another!

Free Book Planning Course! Sign up for our 3-part book planning course and make your book writing easy. It expires soon, though, so don’t wait. Sign up here before the deadline!

Sue Weems is a writer, teacher, and traveler with an advanced degree in (mostly fictional) revenge. When she’s not rationalizing her love for parentheses (and dramatic asides), she follows a sailor around the globe with their four children, two dogs, and an impossibly tall stack of books to read. You can read more of her writing tips on her website.


  1. Hindra Saputra

    Well, my two all the time books include two don’ts from the article.

    Scarlet O’hara was not beautiful but men seldom realized this so on and so on (two paragraphs dedicated to draw Scarlet O’hara built.)

    Katniss Everdeen waking up in the morning just to find her sister Prim climbed their mother bed.

    The first one then selected as one of the best classic. The second one made almost other modern dystopian YA novel I read turn to pale (IMHO)

    Could you explained the anomaly with that two books please ?

    • Sue

      These openings can work (and obviously have!), if done with a purpose. In Gone With the Wind, the writer actually explains it in the second paragraph: “Seated with Stuart and Brent Tarleton in the cool shade of the porch of Tara, her father’s plantation, that bright April afternoon of 1861, she made a pretty picture.” Mitchell means to make Scarlet a static picture in that opening scene, because by the end, Scarlet will have transformed through action.

      As for The Hunger Games, my students and I have discussed this opening at length. Here’s what we decided: 1. the wake-up works because it doesn’t belabor morning routines- the end of that first paragraph plants the hook with “the reaping” and 2. one student argued that it is important to see the ugly cat and be able to tell the story about Prim defending it, which allows us to understand further why Katniss volunteers to take her place.

      Great examples, Hindra! Thanks for reading.

    • Hindra Saputra

      Why thank you !! Now I see why Mitchell had to draw Scarlet O’Hara like Leonardo Da Vinci paint The Last Supper but what bothers me a lot is why that hideous Buttercup managed to get back to twelve while the silent-brave girl who gave Katniss her symbolic pin had to burn down to ashes plus, yes I’m a THG trilogy die harder but I do admitted there’s flaw here and there, Katniss decided to follow Gale to jump into the rebellion but then she get rid of him that easy after she shot Alma Coin down ??? I’m a true Everlark fanatic but hey, it just not fair. Gale is not in the position to gave order to drop those hummingbird trap bomb and I already know from the first book that the Everdeen must be with the Mellark but, at the very least, the author could made The Hawthorne matched up with the Undersee (based on Haymitch hints about the strawberry in the Catching Fire). These ending kept haunting me everytime I re-read the trilogy as a whole story.

      And I’m not going to bursting out about the end of Gone With The Wind because it will be too long and whiny.

      It seems that both Mitchell and Collins wanted to give some kind of a plot twist at the ending but they done it hurriedly.

      Could you please explained is that kind of ending is really necessary ?

      Thank you very much, again. For the beginning explanation and pardon me if I’m asking you about the ending of those two books.

    • Sue

      It sounds like you have thought through these endings far more than I have! Most writers want to work for a surprise or twist at the end of their stories, but the trick is making sure that once readers see the surprise, they think, “Gosh, yes, I see how that makes sense” instead of “Wait, where did that come from?” That usually means using hints, foreshadowing, and small details throughout the story that only become a full picture at the end.
      Some readers love being left with questions, while others want every loose end tied up. It’s probably impossible to make every reader happy, but I think most writers try to stay true to the character and genre expectations (at least in part) to satisfy the story’s needs and the reader’s wants. I hope that helps!

    • Hindra Saputra

      This is truly helpful indeed !! Thanks Sue and I personally agreed with the make sense ending.

      With Scarlet O’Hara it’s a little bit understandable if we look at the Civil War timeline but with THG trilogy …. I think it such a waste to pluck Haymitch hint about the strawberry in the middle of the story just to forget about it at the end. It would be interesting to hear what Katniss though about the reverse version of her and her boy with the bread. Tee-hee !!

      This is a wonderful article and definetely making me rewrite my story rightaway. Keep up the great job !!!

  2. EndlessExposition

    I posted the opening from my current WIP on another Write Practice article, and I’d hate to be redundant. Something I could use some feedback on though is a short story I just finished today. It’s a new format for me, but it’s essentially three connecting short stories that each tell the beginning, middle, and end in three paragraphs. I’m not sure if I pulled it off, so reviews would be very much appreciated!


    They met in the forest, halfway between Brigid’s village and Eithne’s hut. All her life Brigid heard the tales of the witches who lived in the woods, and she was warned not to stray too far lest she be stolen away. When she heard the cracking of a twig underfoot, she first guessed it to be a doe in the trees, the sound was so soft and unassuming. The instant she met Eithne’s green eyes through the underbrush, she knew the others were right – the witch had stolen her heart.

    In the months after they met by the light of the moon, deep in the woods. The trees spoke to Eithne, and the river, and the stars, and she recounted to Brigid what they said. She spun Brigid tales of the mighty Dagda and the Morrigan, of fair Lugh and wise Danu, half-forgotten whispers in the fairy stories of Brigid’s childhood, but for Eithne the still living gods of their land. She told Brigid about the goddess who was her namesake, beautiful Brigid who taught the people smithing and poetry and which herbs were good to eat. She taught them how to whistle for each other in the dark if they were lost.

    When the children fell sick, the village came for Eithne. Brigid knelt with her at the base of their special tree and Eithne whispered, “I will come for you always. I will find you in the dark.” Brigid hid when they took Eithne away. All she saw of the bonfire was a pinprick of light in the distance.


    They met in a pub called The Green Man. Laura was new in town – a young teacher fresh out of school herself and far from family or friends. Her intention was to sit down confidently at the bar and make some friends. But the moment she walked in everyone turned to stare and she lost her nerve. She was scurrying to a corner table when she heard it – a soft whistling. The tune was oddly familiar and yet foreign. She should never have turned to look. Because the instant she met Rhiannon’s eyes, she knew everything she’d ever feared about herself was true.

    She should have stayed away, not only because of her growing attraction to Rhiannon; the mothers of her students whispered that the woman who lived alone at the end of the lane was uncanny, unchristian. But she couldn’t stay away. Night after night she found herself in the armchair by Rhiannon’s fireplace with a cup of tea. She told Rhiannon about her brother Sam, and playing the piano at church, and her university friends. Rhiannon didn’t like to talk about herself much at first, but with time she opened up about her childhood in Wales, raised by her mother’s sisters. She told Laura secrets she had never told anyone else, about dancing with her aunts around a bonfire on Midsummer’s Eve. She showed Laura her altar to the Master and Mistress of the Earth, and her journal of spells.

    Little Sarah Parker saw them together through Rhiannon’s window. Mrs. Parker was at the school house the next day, hissing things that Laura barely heard through the ringing in her ears. She sat at her desk for a long time after Mrs. Parker had left, thinking. She thought about Sam, begging his fiancée not to leave. She thought about her mother sitting in church, sullied and ashamed. She left a note in Rhiannon’s mailbox before she walked to the millpond, and Rhiannon’s face was the last thing she saw before the darkness.


    They met at a psychic convention on Halloween. Rosario’s roommate dragged her along, insisting she would have fun. She got in line for the aura interpreter because, why not. Soon enough it was her turn. She sat in the chair on one side of the table. All traces of her skepticism quickly became irrelevant. Fifteen minutes later she left with a chart detailing her aura and Selina’s number.

    One date turned to two, then three, and soon after Rosario lost count. They spent long hours talking on the phone. Friday nights were reserved for marathoning Buffy the Vampire Slayer over Chinese takeout. Rosario cooked for the potluck dinners at Selina’s coven meetings. Selina’s friends gently teased her for dating a “muggle”, but they welcomed Rosario warmly into their strange world of tarot cards and cones of power and crystal gridding. And even stranger, Rosario felt more at home there than she ever had anywhere else.

    They bought a house in Salem. Rosario went to work in the morning, and Selina did aura readings in the living room. Every night, Rosario parked the car in the driveway. She pushed open the front gate. Inside, the lamplight silhouetted a familiar figure on the loveseat, and a quiet whistling drifted through the open window, guiding Rosario home through the dark.

    • Sue

      I read this several times, looking for the patterns and connecting threads. The dark and the whistling were great motifs for cohesiveness and added to the eerie tone. I wasn’t sure if the characters were reincarnations of the original relationship or simply three examples in time. Interesting concept though, and I’m sure it was a challenge constraining yourself within the three paragraphs. The strongest paragraph for me was the final one in part 1– her voice and the image of the bonfire was vivid. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jennifer Shelby

      I thought the reincarnation aspect was obvious. I’d recommend you don’t explain that as it would dismantle the ethereal theme. You might be able to pull it off through the story’s title, though. I did find the use of the Greek goddess’ name Selina for the pagan lover jarring after two Celtic goddess names. What about considering another Celtic goddess name? Diana is still a common name in 2016.
      Overall, I enjoyed this. Thanks for letting me read it.

  3. Claire

    Good post. Here’s my contribution:

    Mireya was born into poverty, so when the time came to leave her birthplace of Regla, a municipality of Havana lying across the Havana Harbor, she jumped at the chance. It was the beginning of 1958, and Mireya had just turned eighteen. As far as she could remember, she’d always wanted to live in Havana where her grandmother, Violeta, resided.

    Mireya loved the rhythm of the capital, its pulsating energy, and the beauty of its landmarks. One of them was the famous Malecón—a broad esplanade with a five-mile seawall stretching along the Havana coast. This had always been a favorite meeting place for Cubans and tourists alike. She remembered the idle hours spent sitting on the seawall looking out into the ocean always wondering what lay beyond that vast sea. So when her parents decided to let her live with her grandmother, she was thrilled. It was during that time that Mireya met George.

    • Sue

      Hi Claire,
      I can already tell Mireya is a dreamer– wanting a bigger life in a bigger city.
      When you write “She remembered the idle hours…” is she remembering a time in Regla? Or is she looking at the sea AFTER she moves to the capital?
      (I wonder if moving “She remembered the idle hours…” to the second sentence might clarify?) I found myself wondering what she saw that created the rhythm and pulsating energy– it might be a place you could include more details that help us see what she sees and values.
      I have a feeling that her yearning for the sea coupled with George might be at the heart of her story, and if so, you’ve captured that beautifully here in so few lines. I’m already rooting for her.
      Thanks so much for reading and sharing your practice!

    • Claire

      Thanks for the encouraging words, Sue. I really appreciate it.

  4. Zaina

    Is this a good first chapter?

    “Lexi! Lexi what are you doing up there you’re going to be late to school.” yelled Paula while full of frustration.
    “Coming auntie, just packing up my bag.” replied Lexi in a relaxed tone opposite to her aunt’s.
    Around two minutes later, Lexi hurried quickly down-stairs and put on her dull black school shoes. Lexi looked very smart in her school uniform. Today, Lexi’s long dark wavy brown hair was put into a loose braid (which Lexi braided in the 2 minutes she took off from her breakfast time resulting her to have only 3 minute to take down a whole bowl of cereal which might have explained why she was having some seriously painful stomach cramps while getting changed). Paula came into the room and started lecturing Lexi about when people should pack their school bags.
    “I’m telling you this for the hundredth time Lexi: pack up your bag before going to bed. Two minutes of your reading time won’t kill you but going out two minutes late to school in the morning can.” declared Paula, “And take the bike with you today: so that you may have a chance of getting there before 8:30.”
    Lexi got her bike out of the garage and left it to lean next to the front door while she went inside to grab her school bag. She grabbed it and ran out of the front to door to school. The road to school was very short. It would take around 7 minutes walking and 4 minutes by bike. Lexi would normally walk to Tessa’s house – which is on the way to school – then finish her journey to school along with Tessa. Although today, Lexi was cycling alone as Tessa would be at school by now. Suddenly, Lexi saw her phone ring. Luckily, she was wearing her earplugs which were already connected to her phone. She looked at the name, it was Abi. She pressed answer.
    “Hi Abi, what’s up?” asked Lexi.
    “What do you mean ‘ what’s up ‘? Where are you? We’re worried about you, especially Tessa.” said Abi. You could notice a slight tone of concern in her voice.
    “I left the house late because: I forgot to pack my bag before going to bed yesterday night. Again. But don’t worry I’m on the way.” replied Lexi calmly.
    “Lexi, its 8:29. We’re the last people outside now. You must hurry.”
    “Ok, I’ll be a minute.”Replied Lexi” You guys go inside, I’ll be there soon”
    Just before Lexi ended the call, Lexi’s bike tripped over an unusual rock lying in the middle of the footpath. The bike flipped forwards and threw Lexi off it where she landed next to a tall old tree. Lexi lay on the floor with blood soaking through her tights staining the cement which lay between the bricks on the footpath.
    “Abi, Abi help! Quick!”Shrieked Lexi.
    Lexi tried to get herself up – but when she did, she collapsed instantly smacking her head on to the concrete pavement. Her phone sat facing upwards on the rough floor a couple of centimeters away, still on call with Abi.
    “Lexi, Lexi what happened? Where are you?” asked Abi.
    No one answered. Lexi still lay on the floor, breathing rapidly but with no sign of her consciousness. Tessa snatched the phone out of Abi hands and put it on speaker.
    “Lexi, what happened?” said Tessa in a panicking tone.” Are you okay?”
    But still with no hope, no one answered.
    “She’s not going to answer. Something happened, its 8:30 you two go inside. I’m going to go back in the route Lexi takes and check what happened to her.” instructed Tessa.
    “No! If Lexi isn’t here by registration: we tell Mrs.Levings.We can’t risk you going out too.” said Chris.
    But Tessa wasn’t listening. She ran out of the school gates to check on her cousin.
    “What if something really has happened to her?” thought Tessa.”I hope she’s okay.”Tessa kept running at her fastest speed. She was sweating madly as if someone was pouring a bottle of hot boiling water on her head. Her legs started to get tied up as they couldn’t keep hold of her. The roads were empty, as if she was wandering outside at midnight in a place where there were no organisms alive but herself. Everyone must be locked up at their homes. No one would go out at this hour. No one has found Lexi thought Tessa. As Tessa turned the corner; her eyed where pulled towards a figure of a 16 year old teenage girl thrown on the floor with a river of blood rushing out onto the footpath and then sprinting till they reached the sewage hole on the road.”Oh my God!”Whispered Tessa. She was frozen to the spot. She couldn’t move as all the fear started building up inside her. Tears started welling up in Tessa’s eyes and . Tessa suddenly remembered what they have learnt about in their last history lesson: The beginning of heat strokes- Douglas J.Casa. As it was quoted by the video they watched, it mentioned:”Heat strokes are 100% survivable although if action isn’t taken quickly then the victim might not have a full chance of survival. You should always call for help immediately in this matter as cell damage can begin 30 minutes after the victim is affected by the heat stroke.”Tessa started breathing rapidly and quickly ran to Lexi. She kneeled down next to her and put her hand on Lexi’s jumper above her chest. She was still breathing. Tessa quickly took out her phone from her backpack to call the ambulance. Just as she was opening her phone, she collapsed.

  5. maulana hafidh R

    Grey wait before me, walking back and forth impatiently. “We have to get going, Maul. We’re running out of time” said Grey and then grumbling softly but not clear so I couldn’t hear it with my wolf ears.

    “I’m done,” I said while holding the stolen pendant in my paw. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me.

    I could feel something wrong beneath my feet. “Grey, Is it an earthquake?” I asked, almost tumbling. I could feel something inside me rising. Some kind of power raging inside my body. I thought, ‘What is this power?’

    Suddenly, a black tendril caught my leg and made me fall to the ground with a loud thud. “What is this thing ?! ” I gasped, deeply shocked. And then I realized that the tendrils came from the wall behind me. The strong winds blew from the hole and sent me flying.

    “Oh my god, Maul !!” he shrieked and ran to me. The tendrils were aware of Grey’s presence and attacked him until he was thrown away and hit the wall hard. He howled in pain on his back.

    “GREY!!” I screamed to him.

    I struggled from its strangling grip but it was no use. The tendril’s grip was too strong. The tendrils slowly pulled me into the black hole in the wall. The hole swallowed my legs first. I felt my legs burning in pain. I was terrified to see my feet began to tear apart when entering the hole. I screamed in agony.

    “Maul, NOOO!!” he yelled to me and run at my direction. He ran swiftly as if he would lose everything. The strong winds make him difficult to reach me. He was stretched his paw and tried so hard to reach me. I grabbed back and held it tightly.

    “Help !!” I screamed with fear. I watched with horror in my face as my body started to get inside. I felt like flames was consuming my body as it tear apart and sucked inside the hole.

    “Don’t let go of my paw. Please…” he whimpered as tears escaped from his yellow eyes. I felt my tears fall down on my cheek and flew away to Grey’s forehead. Desperation in his face when he saw my eyes closed slowly.

    The force was too overwhelming and I couldn’t hold his paw anymore. I got no other choice. I saw him pleading for not to let go of his paw.

    “Grey, take this with you.” I spoke softly and threw the pendant to him. I let go of his paw because I didn’t want Grey sucked to this hole with me.

    “No maul, NOO!!!” he shrieked. The tendrils attacked him once more to stay away, like I ordered to do it but I wasn’t aware.

    My body began to lose its consciousness when I entered the hole. But I have to stay awake. My eyelids felt so heavy. I opened my eyes slowly to see the blackness surrounded me, and I cannot escaped it.

    I felt numb all over, but then I saw something familiar in front of me. Something I always loved. I nearly cried when I see it. It was Grey, standing in front of me. But something wrong about him. He was…crying?

    I didn’t remember what had happened here but my body started moving closer to him. This was my first time I had ever seen him crying like this. I moved inch by inch closer to him, which made me able to see him from close range.

    I was shocked by his appearances. His face was full of hate. His eyes were black and cried with inky tears. He was very frightened, his body was trembling hard. I could feel something wrong in here, the dark power I felt before, I felt it in Grey too ‘What is this feeling ?’ I thought.

    He looked at me with sarcastic smile. “Maul, Why you do this to me ?” asked Grey with sarcastic grin on his face. How curious, he was wearing the stolen pendant around his neck and holding his hunting knife.

    ‘What had happened to him ?’ I thought. He is so weird this time. He raised his paw as if to reach me. As I came closer to him, the hurting dark power inside me raged once more. It hurt myself a lot.

    He touched my left shoulder and pull me into a hug. His body felt so warm and comfortable. But I felt his body beginning to cool. I wanted to let go of his hug but I couldn’t. His body’s temperature started to freeze me. “Grey, you’re freezing me.” I said and a bit frightened.

    ”Please, I don’t want to let go.” he said with low voice almost like a growl. His embrace looks like he wants to crush me. My head started to feel dizzy. “Grey, please stop.” I’m pleading to him to stop. I felt my eyes started to blurred out.

    After a short while, I could feel burning sensation on my stomach. I looked down on my stomach and shocked at what I saw. I saw his knife pierce right in the middle of my stomach. My breathing began to feel tight and my vision is getting worse. I could faintly hear him speak something to me. “Have a nice dream, Maul.” he said with his evil grin on his face. ‘No, I can’t be dead right now. I don’t wanna die, I have to survive. No, No, NOOOO’


    “NOOOOOO” I shrieked very loudly. I just got up from my bed and it still 2PM. I opened my bedrooms window and looked out. The sky was still dark and very clear. The atmosphere still very quiet and the moon still shining bright. I heard the wolves howling from afar. I like it.

    “Oh, it’s just a nightmare.” I whispered to myself while looking at the full moon above me. I remembered a bit of the nightmare I had. ‘What the hell was that creature in my dream ? It is a wolf but it was standing like a human. How odd.’ I thought. I enjoyed the night breeze that hit my skin.

    I had an urge to go outside and run away. But my mind blocked the idea because of what happened when I did that before. I got smacked in my head by my father. I got locked in my room for 2 days by my mom. Luckily, I was still given 2 meals a day. Yeah, This way my life after all.

    (This is my opening or my first chapter)

  6. TerriblyTerrific

    Here goes. Not sure if this is good for the first paragraph of the 1st chapter of a short story. My son gave me an interesting plot for this short story. Okay, here goes:

    I have always wanted to own a house. And, one that hasn’t been inhabited by any other. I wanted one all my own. It would make me feel like I am the owner of a castle. All the land is mine. I will rule over it, and it was claimed just for me. That is all I ever wanted in life. Something that is mine, and no one else’s.

    Someone, anyone, let me know what you think. This was just from the top of my head.

    • Sue

      So glad to see you post the beginning of a work-in-progress!
      The character has a strong goal (the house), and it sounds like his or her world is sometime in the past (with the mention of castles). It feels a little repetitive with the “I wanted” throughout, and I found myself hoping he or she would show us a little about why this is the goal and how they will go about getting it.
      There are some strong word choices that made me think this character wants power (all the land is mine, I will rule…).
      I hope you will keep writing on this, because when a character wants something badly enough, conflict is usually brewing in the background.
      Thank you so much for being brave and posting your practice.

    • TerriblyTerrific

      Thank you. I will work on it some more….

    • Lynn Bowie

      I read this several times because that is how I am feeling right now. I want to be ruler of my own domain. I want to leave and find my own solace, and it will feel powerful! I like how you want something new and untouched, not just refreshed. What is the driving force behind the character? Is it independence, frustration, anger, despair, or hope for something better, a brighter future? It’s the beginning of something wonderful!

  7. Pebbles

    First time posting on The Write Practice! I’ve always been a lurking reader haha

    Here’s my wip:

    Arzaire took his torso strap of black knives from behind the headboard and replaced the wall panel. It clicked seamlessly into place. He fastened the blades over his singlet so that the hilts were easy to reach, back and front.
    A glance at the alarm clock told him it was twenty minutes until the task began. His target, a traitor who’d stolen an item pouch from his District, was due at the central mall’s most popular supermarket, to be joined by his associates. They had planned a hostage situation for reasons Arzaire didn’t need to know. He wasn’t trying them for justice.

    Criticisms appreciated : )

    • Sue

      Congrats on your first post! This definitely sounds like it starts very close to the main problem or conflict in the story. You ground us in this character’s world through action– it appears he has a score to settle. The only thing that stopped me was “They had planned…he wasn’t trying them…” by “they” and “them” does he mean his associates? Or the traitor? Is he planning to kill them all? Why would they be tried for justice? (as opposed to being tried for treason?) Also, “item pouch” seems a bit unclear–I’m guessing there is something valuable in that pouch to warrant killing. I really like the imagery from the colors in the opening to the elements of sound you included (like the wall panel clicking closed).
      I would keep reading to see who this vigilante is and why he’s armed. Thank you for reading and sharing your work.

  8. Azure Darkness Yugi

    In my openings, I like to start with a bang, both figuratively and literally.

  9. Ken Hughes

    Another excellent Wake Up scene is *The Hunger Games.* Katniss wakes up to find her sister has crawled into bed with her– and no wonder she’s nervous, “Today is the day of the Reaping.”

    It’s like a checklist of what an opening scene should do: grab our attention with the threat or change that’s coming, and show the context (it’s a direct omen to how, of the whole District, it will turn out to be little Prim that’s picked) and a setting or method that fits it (how simple and close the sisters’ life is). All in one small-ish paragraph.

    It just happens to be a waking up.

  10. Wesko Damaskov

    Here is my begining of a story:
    Lauren wasn’t supposed to end that way but the circumstances led here. I can’ denny that I kinda hopped to but still it was shocking to me just as it was shocking to her. However to actually understand and appreciate why Lauren end up that way and why she deserves it we need to take it back all the way to the last summer. Last summer when all begann, the first day of the summer vacation, the day I met her and my life changed.
    Someone let me know what you think any ideas? Critisicm appreciated 😀

    • Sue

      The first phrase is compelling. It sounds like the narrator knows how Lauren was supposed to die, but she didn’t die that way. Without knowing anything else about the character and world, I don’t know if this is the strongest start of the story. I had a writing coach tell me once, “Don’t tell me you’re going to tell me a story, just tell the story.” The second and third line of this remind me of that advice, because it sounds like the narrator is warming up.
      I want to see that first day when the narrator met her, and how that meeting changed the narrator. You certainly establish some strong stakes though, as we know Lauren will “end.” Thanks for reading and sharing your practice!

  11. Nwogu Maxwell

    I had a childhood obsession to be a professor. Dad told me i had to work hard to really attain professorship. Though i never knew what a professor does the tools he uses, i just wanted to be a professor. Could i have picked the word professor from my aunts who spend a week or more with us during the short breaks?.
    At age 7 we made a tour to the university of Ibadan. We had a filled day seeing various animals in the zoo, the laboratories and the technical workshops. Our last point of call the office of the dean faculty of science. Mrs. Okafo had told us earlier that he is a professor of mathematics and and can fix all Our questions about science.
    The bus drove slowly through, tDogoyaro trees adorning both sides of the drive way shielding the scotching sun.some people strolledeisurely leisurely while some huried on.
    Professor Femi spoke in low tones eu unlike our headteacher Mr. Mike who would bark like thunder while addressing the pupil. For the first time i had a practical knowledge of who a professor is harmonising my blind ambition with reality. I have always worked hard towards being a professor.
    I had a horrid experience in the year 2012. Dad had sent off the bomb shell after my graduation from secondary school….

    • Sue

      You cover quite a bit of time in this short opening. You establish the character and the world along with what he wants. The last line seems to jump time though, which jarred me a bit. It does seem to hint at the conflict though, of what will get in the way of his dream. I like how you showed us the things he sees on his university visit, and that might be a place you could elaborate further, to show what the 7-year-old found fascinating that cemented his desire to be a professor. Thanks so much for sharing your writing with us.

    • Nwogu Maxwell

      Thank you for the comments. I’ve been stuck many times over. Hope i can share some of my frustrations in this platform

  12. Breana Layne

    Rain, rain, go away.
    No no, I like the rain.
    The droplets knock on my bedroom window as I lay here on my bed uncomfortably cold because of the rainstorm. I watch and hear the knocking raindrops fall. The blanket on my body isn’t warm enough, and I’m getting annoyed because of the loud police sirens passing by my house. It’s not uncommon. The sound barges through my ears, bursts through my skull, and crashes in to my brain. They ring and whistle in my mind. Seeing the lights of red and blue reflect off the white walls of my desolate room makes me think. It makes me think about the walls. Sometimes, sometimes I sit and I stare at them.


      I do not agree
      The whole rain is good

    • Sue

      This feels very poetic– we have a character who is in a room where sirens roam often, which gives us a glimpse into the world she inhabits. Her thoughts about the walls make me wonder if she is in captivity of some kind and if her goal will be to free herself. Haunting tone established in so few lines. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Breana Layne

      Thank you for reading it. It means a lot.

    • Lynn Bowie

      I picture the character either in jail or a psych ward, mainly because the bed is uncomfortable and one blanket not sufficing. At first I thought of a lonely hotel, and then put in a layer of possible despair, like drug addiction or depression. What would make a person “think about the walls?” What thoughts are happening when sitting and staring? Something malicious, mischievous, or mystical perhaps? Or is it guilt? hmmm

  13. Brianna

    This is the day that they told me that my mom was going to die. I remember not being able to cry, I remember the dryness of my cheeks, my eyes, my mind, and then I remember the unfairness of it all, the screaming and Dad holding me as I burst with the weight of it all, telling me we didn’t have any money left, we couldn’t keep her alive.

    I was five years old.

    And then I remember Dad taking me to the car. He said we were going for a car ride. I don’t remember if this was hours or days or weeks after they told me, but we were going for a car ride. It was a long, long drive, but I didn’t say anything and neither did Dad. We didn’t go home; we stopped at a shop. It was light inside. I couldn’t read the sign, because the letters were in a funny font, a funny shape, too difficult for my young mind to decipher. We went inside and Dad told me to stay with a lady with pictures all over her body. She was kind of scary but I followed her anyways, because Dad asked me to.

    She brought me into a white room with a white table and told me to sit on it. It was like going to the doctor’s for a check-up. When she told me to close my eyes I didn’t want to and I wanted Dad to come back but the lady grabbed my arm and gave me a needle, and that hurt a lot. I remembered Mom and Dad telling me to stay still for my flu shot, because it would hurt more if I didn’t. Maybe the shot would have hurt less if I hadn’t moved so much.

    The next thing I remember is screaming. It was dark and I was screaming but no sound was coming out, my body was moving in the darkness, moving, moving, but I wasn’t the one moving it. There was nothing else.

    It was like this for a very long time. It was scary and I was tired and cold and it was dark. I hated it. I had nothing to hold onto, no control. The world was slippery, like silk sheets, only I wasn’t in bed and I wasn’t dreaming. I wanted to see, I wanted to hear and feel, I wanted out of this jumbled nothing. I wanted it so badly that I made it happen, through sheer force of will conjured up from nothing but the absolute blind horror of having no control. Hours, days, months later, I could see, I could see the white room, no longer sterile but streaked with the blood that oozed from the gouge marks I’d carved, uncontrollably, into my own skin. The walls were also clawed with black scratches; maniacal, broken, swerving scratches.

    I realized that my body as well as my mind was in agonizing pain. It seeped and flared from inflamed scratches and deep bruises that pooled like the great lakes on my body, pain from not sleeping, pain everywhere, pain everywhere that wouldn’t go away. The pain was so much that everything went black again as whatever controlled my body threw itself against the wall with far more power than any five year old could comprehend, than any five year old could bear.

    I don’t think I was quite so childlike, so trusting after this. I mean, I suppose it’s no surprise that being possessed by dozens of different demons for three days straight would break a child in some way. When you can’t trust your body to be your own, and your father to protect you, there isn’t much left to trust in. Black scratches on white walls, piercing screams in a quiet room, these are things that I will never forget. The time wasn’t mine, although it was in my body, my life. You would think that, if anything was yours at all, it was your body. The intense vitality of the panic is like a puncture to the lungs, the heart, the mind, and the oxygen leaves, the blood roars, your thoughts tumble.

    That was nine years ago.

    I’m no longer in the white room.

    I no longer pass out when I’m possessed. It took a lot of work, but I had long decided that if I was going to lose control of myself so completely, I would be awake to see everything I did. It was the only modicum of control I could have.

    It’s a sunny day out, I have a knife in my right boot, and I’m waiting, like I always am on a Wednesday afternoon, to be possessed. I stare hard at the ground. I don’t want to see the faces of the people I’ll soon be killing. Flaring my nostrils, I breathe out hard, trying not to panic, even after all these years, as I feel my muscles slack, face loosen and eyes unfocus. I hear and feel myself breathe in, but it isn’t me who’s doing it.

    My body stands up, takes the knife out of my boot, and slashes a passing pedestrian clear across the neck, smatterings of blood flying into my face and coating my hand. I can feel it, hot and wet against my skin, life turning to death.

    The massacre begins.

    • Sue

      Such an emotional opening! You definitely don’t start with a wake-up or dream scene here, and it is compelling. It is largely backstory, which can work well, especially when compressed like you have it here, but the story for me seems to begin “It’s a sunny day out…” that’s the place where I wonder how she’ll proceed– what does she want? Does she want to be free of the possession? Does she want to own herself again?
      This is certainly a dark world you’ve created for her, and it’s clear why she is violent, but it will be interesting to see how she regains possession of herself, or how she is manipulated for others’ agendas. Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your practice!

    • Brianna

      Thank you very much!! Would you mind clarifying- when you said “for me seems to begin “It’s a sunny day out…” that’s the place where I wonder how she’ll proceed– what does she want?”, is that a contributor the story will proceed, or how I should change the beginning? Thank you so much for your time and feedback!

    • Sue

      If the first draft of the story or novel isn’t complete, then I wouldn’t change anything until you type the last word and let it sit for a bit. If it is complete, what I meant was you might consider if all the background information is needed before that opening action, or maybe select which thoughts/history fit with her action, while the rest can be worked in elsewhere. Just an idea– so disregard if it doesn’t fit with the larger work. You know your story best. Good luck!

    • Brianna

      Okay, thank you for clearing that up! 🙂 It isn’t complete yet- I originally wrote this kind of as a short story, so that’s probably why there’s so much backstory- I’ll see if I need to change that when I’ve finished the first draft (let it happen someday), as you’ve suggested!

    • gemma feltovich

      This is great! Good writing, new and interesting topic. The only thing I would say is that it doesn’t really open with action. The reader doesn’t at all expect the excitement that you’ll get from this read (which is, I’ll repeat, very well-written and enticing, though perhaps in need of editing down). Many people probably read that first paragraph and put the book down. I thought about it, but didn’t, and was pleasantly surprised. But to hook a reader, maybe start with the character doing something like what happened at the end. And then put in exposition. “The first time I was possessed…” etc after the action has drawn the reader in.

    • Brianna

      Thank you so much! I’ll keep that in mind while I’m editing it.

    • Rico Elhady

      I really enjoyed it, and how you grabbed the readers attention easily. Great job. It is a beautiful short story (that is if it is). Hope to read more of your work, its a fascinating piece of art.

    • Brianna

      Thank you!! It was originally written as a short story, but right now it’s serving as my first chapter of the novel it was written about 🙂

  14. Lynn Bowie

    i will look for you.


    This was my very first bit of writing and I have never published it nor have I tried to finish it. Here goes…

    As Sharon pulled out of the parking garage, looking in the rear-view mirror, she let out a shriek and slammed on the brakes. There was a stranger in the backseat of her car!
    ‘Don’t be scared’ the woman said holding her hands up.
    ‘Who the fuck are you? and how did you get in my car?’ demanded Sharon.
    A few seconds passed while they assessed each other in silence.
    ‘Have you been following me?’ inquired Sharon.
    ‘Yes. Are you Sharon?’
    ‘Who’s looking for her?’
    ‘Sharon is my biological sister. I’ve been looking for her ever since we got separated when we were kids’
    ‘Sharon’s never said anything about a sister.’
    Sharon was now searching her brain for any memories of a sister that she might have had, but she wasn’t adopted so why was she trying to find any memories? Something was tugging at her mind and she instinctively know this woman was telling the truth.

    • Rico Elhady

      This is really good piece. I admire your writing very much.

  16. David Maxwell

    OK, I’m finally posting something after many months of just observation. This topic is something I really struggle with. Starting, for me, is the hard part.

    “So, how are you?” Hunter asked in a voice lower than a whisper. I couldn’t help but glare in awe at his silhouette from the moonlight, turned mosaic, as his nose lightly rested against the window screen. “You haven’t been at school since Monday, and you haven’t returned any of my text messages. I sent you like, 100!”

    “I know, I know. I’m sorry,” I replied, desperately trying to make out his face through the graph lines. I felt the cool breeze from outside sneak through the tiny holes in the screen and slightly penetrate the confines of my room, my house, my new life. Hidden in a tall tower, my prince outside in the cold. He has not come to save me. “My dad took my phone away. He grounded me for like, life.”

    “Why haven’t you been at school?” He asked taking a step back away from the screen. I couldn’t help but hear the confusion and alarm in his tone. To him, everything was to continue as if it were last Friday. This drew me closer to the barrier between us. I noticed while he shoved his hands in his pockets and kicked at the rocks under his feet that he was wearing the t-shirt I bought him from the Fall Out Boy concert. It was white with the F.O.B. and crown logo in black on the front. The fact that Hunter was here, he was wearing something I bought, and he missed me not being at school made me feel better.

    “I was embarrassed. I thought you wouldn’t want to talk to me anymore. I woke up sick to my stomach on Monday morning. I didn’t sleep a wink all that night just wondering if you’d even look at me.”

    “Are you serious?” he said, coming to a complete stand still.

    “Somewhat,” I said, second-guessing my assumption causing him to look at me and cock his eyebrows.

    “Really,” he finally said. Which was more of a statement than a question.

  17. Rico Elhady

    This is from my book: Do you Know What a Cat-Lady Is? A book I am currently not finished and writing on the website: I know it isn’t perfect but here goes nothing:

    Chapter 1: A new neighbor

    Danny rushed quickly to his wardrobe and got out a green army patterned, baggy pants and a yucky green shirt. And dressed rapidly. When all was done. He dashed out of the room, down the stairs, and out of the house in an instant. Outside, in front of porch gate, stood two other soldiers, Corporal Omar and Sargent Major Hiro. They stood there talking happily, as if there wasn’t anything important happening today.

    ‘They seem happy today.’ Thought Sargent Danny. He walked towards them with a nervous smile on his face. Corporal Omar was the first to notice him.

    Sargent Danny took a deep breath and said, “Hello, gentlemen. How are you guys today.”

    Both soldiers smiled at him and said at the same time, “Good, and you.” they giggled at the end.

    Danny giggled along with them, as well. But he was worried, really worried. He looked at them worriedly and said, ” So, shouldn’t we get going now. The General wouldn’t want us to be late today.”

    Sargent Hiro looked at him and said, “Relax, Danny boy. Everything will be okay. Just take it easy.”

    “Easy for you to say.”, muttered Sargent Danny.

    “So, you guys ready?”, asked Corporal Omar.

    The soldiers nodded and started walking to the base.

    The General heaved a big breath. He was getting impatient. ‘My men should have been here by now’, he thought,’ What is taking them so long?’ His ears concentrated on his surroundings. But all, he heard was the thumping sound of his foot.

    Suddenly, voices echoed from down below. His men had arrived. The General stood up, tidied his clothes, and got ready to give his troops a warm welcome when they would enter.

    The first of the troops appearing was, Sargent Henry. A tall and strong soldier. His complexion was interesting. Afro-American by birth, but the blood of American-Indian, German, and African played in his blood. His hair was a dark chestnut color and his eyes matched it as well, with a hint of green in it. He stood proud and tall in front of his General. But he was nervous. They just violated the general’s number one rule: NEVER BE LATE! It wasn’t the first time they violated the general’s rule. A few weeks ago, they violated another of his rule: To never surrender to the enemy. Sadly, they did just that. They were on a cold case of a problem happening in their sector. Men and women started disappearing at midnight and weren’t found anywhere, until two days later, in their basement, pale and fragile.

    Sargent Henry took a deep breath. He knew that the general was going to fire them. He just knew it. The General never left a single of his troops without a punishment. And when they violated a rule. It meant for other quotations. Being fired! Or, in other safer terms, hard-duty work.

    A few milliseconds later, the rest of the soldiers piled in. And formed a horizontal line, in front of, the General. They stood straight and silent. Not a soldier gasped for air. The General looked at them one by one. Showing no expression on his face. ‘Seven.’ He thought,’Where is the eighth?’

    The General stared at his men angrily. Not one dared to blink. The general sighed and said in a low voice,” Where is Mack? ”

    Not a single soul responded. . . .

    Anyway, this is just part of the chapter. I know that it may seem a little boring. But your feedback can improve it. And thank you very mush for reading it and if you have given me some advice to make it stronger.

    Rico Elhady

  18. P. Earls

    stockade came into view on the fifth day of our walk. Papa held his head high
    as he watched the sun set on our new home. He turned and looked toward our
    homeland as darkness engulfed us. He hung his head. The only time I remember
    him hanging his head before is when Mama died.

  19. Karley

    He inhaled sharply as the boiling tea missed his cup entirely and scorched the skin of his leg. Eyes wide with silent suffering, he made not a sound.
    “Oh, George!” the woman exclaimed. “I am so sorry!”
    She shuffled round in three tight, panicked circles before finally asking where he kept the napkins. As she wailed her apologies in the distance, he heard the sound of ice cubes clinking.
    “Don’t worry about the ice, dear. A napkin will be fine.”

    One wasn’t supposed to ice a burn. A common misconception that had been spread by the words of one concerned mother’s mouth to another time and time again. But repetition doesn’t create truth; ironically, it was often used against it. For every one person who uttered a sensible thought, there were two or five more standing by ready to swear by its’ direct opposite.

    “Here we go, then,” she said with a red face, placing the fetched napkins in his lap.
    He smiled gently. “You know, it’s a common misconception to ice a burn, but did you know that it actually does more harm to the exposed skin than good?”

    Her eyes followed as he slowly pointed across the room to a plant in the corner.
    “Bring that over to me,” he commanded, “and I will show you the best way to treat a burn.”

    He felt that outright deception was hardly as malicious as the unwillingness to share truth: especially in a circumstance with such opportune timing.

  20. Davidh Digman

    I’d love some feedback on this short story opener. WARNING: this is a horror story and contains some gore.

    He stooped, reaching into the cold darkness of the washing machine and found what he was after: his favorite polo shirt — gray, breast pocketed and new.

    The polo was more tangled than curled around the spindle. A grating judder scraped and scrawled up his arm as he tried to pull it free, wet fabric grinding against wet fabric, until suddenly, it stopped yielding.

    First he felt it, and then he could see it. The gray was mottled with something like dark ink. A stain.

    Pushing a towel out of his way, he pried a bit more of the polo free. The mottling blended into a solid, dark patch. He felt something slimy slide onto his knuckles. It squelched between the joints of the fingers of his left hand. He jumped.

    Holding his arm away, he could see that amid the darkened stain was a blob. Glistening and globular, the blob had something stringy matted into it. He reached down again to yank at his polo.

    As it flopped out of the fabric of the polo shirt, it glared up at him, a terrible anger scalded into its face. Its right paw, sodden and streaked with ginger and black hair, was upstretched, claws extended. It looked as if it wanted to yank him in with it.

    This thing had obviously crawled inside, where it thought it was quiet. Peaceful. Safe.

    As he pulled his hand out of the machine, he noticed it was streaked. With blood. A large clot wobbled, a gelatinous mirror twisting and contorting his bloody-hued reflection. He stumbled for the tap and washed himself.

    He went to cradle the back of his head with both hands, shuddered and pulled his left hand away just in time to avoid bloodying his hair… He kept his hand away, hovering it above his scalp.
    He rocked backwards and forwards a couple of times.

    ‘St… Stoo…’

    The larger pieces of cat corpse were coiled and ensnared around the agitator of his washing machine. Much of the rest was entangled in his brand new, favorite polo shirt.

    ‘Stoopid… Stoopid dumb guy…’ he said, each syllable echoed by a right-handed slap on his scalp.

    The cat’s head was twisted around, neck vertebrae protruding and ajar. The white of the right eye was clouded over, bluish-gray. The left eye was bulbous and loose, ready to drop out of its socket.


    As he uncovered the feline’s distended form, he saw that there were things living in it. Obviously, he had again neglected his wet washing a bit too long.

    He pushed his left hand away from him, stretching it out as far as it would go. He reached for something, anything, with which he could clean his hand. He found the remains of a bottle of hand wash in the cupboard beneath the sink and emptied its dregs onto his hand.

    ‘You’ve really done it, dumb guy! Whoever owns this cat’s gonna be pretty pissed now! Stoopid dumb guy!’

  21. TOXIC

    hELLO dear writers… Please correct my word combination and grammar… Here’s my fictional story…

  22. Amber

    I twitch as a raindrop trickles slowly, agonizingly into my ear. I tilt my head sideways and scrub the ear with my shoulder. The fluff from the hood of my coat just tickles my ear even more. The water is still slowly moving deeper into my ear canal. I growl under my breath, but I can’t do anything about it. I’m holding a taut dog leash in one hand and a huge vase of obnoxiously yellow flowers in the other.
    I stumble forward as Skipper lunges after some unseen squirrel or bird. The vase threatens to keel over onto the street. “Skipper,” I croon as calmly as I can. “Come here, please.” She ignores me and starts barking, straining toward a row of bushes.
    The little drop of rain has now completely clogged my ear. I shift the heavy vase and yell, “Skipper!”
    She suddenly turns to face me, panting desperately. She actually listened to me! But even as I laugh in relief, she pulls backward so that her collar manages to slip over her slender head. “Skipper!”
    She turns and bolts toward the shrubbery, yapping incessantly. On the bright side, I can only hear it out of one ear.
    I groan and jog awkwardly after the little dog, struggling to heave the vase, which is slowly filling up with rainwater, after me.
    I open my mouth to call her name again when the hedge explodes.
    Kind of.
    Leaves and sticks flutter to the ground as a huge–enormous–gigantic bird leaps forward onto the street in front of us.
    I gasp and realize I’ve dropped the vase. Shards of glass glint in the puddle at my feet. But I’m slightly more worried about the monstrous creature before me.
    Steely eyes and a prominent, very sharp beak stare me in the face. There seems to be a metal stick clasped in the beak, but it’s hard to tell. Though thing is the size of a large car, I’m still across the street from it. Somewhere in the midst of my terror, I wonder vaguely how large its wingspan is.
    And then I realize that this is no ordinary bird. Catlike legs are visible behind the talons in front. A tufted tail lashes around, flicking water droplets everywhere. Wait…what? I can’t…
    A shrill bark jerks me from my dazed thoughts. Skipper is tearing fearlessly toward the–the creature. She’s about ten feet away when I realize that she’s in danger. The eagle eyes are narrowed, and the mismatched legs are tensed.
    “No!” I run forward, skidding on the broken glass. “Stop! Stay away!” I’m not going to get there in time. Now, fear starts its icy journey through my veins. Skipper is three feet away–two–
    And then, simultaneously, the bird both drops the shiny stick onto the pavement–and disappears. Vanishes. Instantly and silently, unfathomably, inconceivably…it’s gone. Skippers barrels headfirst into the bushes, to shocked to even bark. I’m able to stop running before I do the same–but only because my foot lands on something hard, and I shoot backward into the air.
    Landing hard on my back finally dislodges the water from my ear, and as I pant and stare at the sky, I discover that the rain has stopped. I carefully sit up, gasping.
    What just happened? A–a fairy tale animal appeared and then disappeared in front of my eyes. Why?
    Could the answer to the second question have anything to do with the silver tube the bird dropped, the one I just slipped on?
    I pick it up and notice a lid on one end.
    There’s only one way to find out.



  1. Better Beginnings and Endings - Sue Larkins Weems - […] over at The Write Practice today on Three Quick Ways to Improve Beginnings and Endings. My students get frustrated…
  2. Friday Snippet #121 | Northern Chapters - […] I’ve been reading their articles and tips for a long while now, and they still continue to produce quality…
  3. Pen to Paper at Last! – rjverity - […] Weems’ article on How to Begin a Story was really useful for determining which scene I should open with. And I promise…
  4. Writing Links Round Up 10/30-11/4 – B. Shaun Smith - […] How to Begin a Story: 3 Quick Ways to Improve Beginnings and Endings […]

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