By Michelle Lynn Senters
Where do good story ideas come from? EVERYWHERE! Writers find ideas for characters and stories from everyday life. Perhaps your sister creates an epic mess in the kitchen. Story idea. Perhaps you see two people having an argument while you are walking at the park. Story idea. Perhaps you see a tiny ant carrying a leaf to its home. Story idea.
And perhaps you read a story that has a perfect first line…
Can you borrow that first line to create a new story?
YES! In fact, that is exactly what we are going to do today.
Read the following first lines from published books. Do any inspire you to write?
- “The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play, so we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day.” The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
- “All children, except one, grow up.” Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
- “Where’s Papa going with that axe?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.” Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- “Once on a dark winter’s day, when the yellow fog hung so thick and heavy in the streets of London that the lamps were lighted and the shop windows blazed with gas as they do at night, an odd-looking little girl sat in a cab with her father and was driven rather slowly through the big thoroughfares.”
A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett
- “Flora Belle Buckman was in her room at her desk.” Flora & Ulysses by Kate
- “Everybody knows the story of the Three Little Pigs. Or at least they think they do.” The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
- “Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J. K. Rowling
- “Marley was dead, to begin with.” A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
- “When I was a boy, I dreamed big dreams!” When I was a Boy… I dreamed. by Justin Matott
- “Everyone was perfectly fine with the way things were.” Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
Now, can you imagine a new story, using any of the first lines above? I’m imagining a story using “All children, except one, grow up” from Peter Pan. Instead of a story about a flying boy and Tinker Bell in a land called Neverland, I’m imagining a story about a young child who has an imaginary friend. As the child grows up, the imaginary friend remains young within the child’s mind…. Hmmmm. I need to think more about this. It might be time to start writing a new story!
All children, except one, grow up. Imaginary friends remain young forever and such is the case with Percy….
Writing Prompt of the Day
1. PREPARATION: Choose a first-line from a book in your home or choose from one of the above. This line should inspire you to think of something new.
2. WRITING PROMPT: Borrow this first line to write a NEW short story. Use this line as YOUR first line, but be sure to change the characters and plot.
3. CHECK-IN: In the comment section below, share your first name, age, state, and country. Please share the “Borrowed First Line” you chose and include the book title and author.
Michelle Lynn Senters is the Founder and Director of KIDS ARE WRITERS. She spends her days working as a teacher and spends her evenings writing books for children and adults. You can learn more about Michelle HERE and at www.michellelynnsenters.com.