Last Weekend I gave you the workout of coming up with 50 first lines. That was it, just the first lines. As fast as you can, without thinking about them too much.
If your intention was to write poetry, they could have emerged as first lines to poem. If your intention was a short story, they would have leaned in that direction. That’s the beauty of it!
When I wrote mine, I was thinking of prose. I wanted to write short stories as an exercise, because I’m still tentative in that department. Since college I think I’ve written less than a dozen short stories.
Next thing to do is to pick 10 or more first lines and write the first PARAGRAPH of each. If you’re writing flash fiction, you might just go ahead and write the whole thing. 500 words or less would lend itself to that. Go for it.
I was aiming for something longer, so I opted to write 10 first paragraphs from 10 first lines. This was, in fact, a bit scary to me, which is so odd. I write tons of prose in the form of novels, but for some reason short stories intimidate me. Go figure.
Here are 10 of my favourite first lines from the previous exercise:
It was the colour of vomit… probably because it was vomit.
The clown nose was the last straw.
The idea was half-baked – – but then again, she liked things a little raw.
The horse was her neighbour’s and they were both studs.
Green, blue, red . . . what mattered the colour of his blood when his heart was a broken hinge?
It was a perfect morning for picking mushrooms.
I was taking a short cut through the cemetery when I spotted it. Him. It.
If he had told her about his origami-folding autistic idiot-savant brother in the first place, they wouldn’t be in this jam.
“I think it can be reattached,” he said.
It wasn’t the first time she had been arrested for bar-fighting, and the other time wasn’t her fault either.