Story Prompts: First Sentences

Whether you’re doing a fun exercise of flash fiction or you’re practicing a particular language topic, sometimes your students need a little push to get started.  Here are some first sentences of potential stories.

  • “What?” I shouted, unable to hear Sam’s words above the crashing of the waves.  …

  • The crystal glowed a bright green as I took another step closer.  …

  • Patty suppressed a scream when she felt the monster’s warm breath against the back of her neck.  …

  • Kyle’s face flushed, but he didn’t back away.  A grin crept across Linda’s face.  …

  • Michael’s legs ached, and his butt was sore, but he didn’t dare let go of the horse’s mane.  “Faster,” he yelled, “faster!”  …

  • With my heart pounding in my chest, I reached for the doorknob.  …

  • It had been six years since Amanda had last sat in the pilot’s seat, but as she gripped the controls, she knew this was exactly where she needed to be.  …

  • The first time I met Jeffrey was in a grocery story parking lot.  …

  • Susan slumped to the floor, her back against the wall.  “I don’t believe it,” she said.  …

  • Alex pushed the shovel into the dirt.  “This is going to take forever.”  …

Your students should begin by writing down their chosen sentence(s) at the top of their page.  You may choose to let them change names and pronouns.  Each student then has to figure out what happens next.

Encourage your students to move forward with the story.  They might want to consider how their protagonist got into this position in the first place, and they could even allude to it, but don’t do a flashback or any other non-sequential storytelling (unless you’re practicing the past perfect tense).  Also, deus ex machina is not allowed, nor is the scene a dream from which the characters can just leave by waking up.  They need to commit to the scene and the tone.

Here are a few things for the students to consider:

  • How does the protagonist feel in this moment?

  • What is the protagonist’s personality like?

  • What skills, knowledge, and resources does the protagonist have?

  • What are the protagonist’s goals (both in this scene and long-term)?

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