Free Sample 1
Would you like a taster to get an idea of what the full menu will be all about? Try this.
This exercise involves writing a few sentences to continue a suggested idea – and then looking at the results from a different perspective. Avoid reading the second part before you do the first part!
The beginning of your story is where you either capture your reader – or lose them for good. Try writing the second sentence (or more) for each of these three beginnings.
I stepped back, pressing myself so hard against the wall that I could feel every rough stone imprinting itself on my skin. The lion …
The memory of the flowers would stay with me always. When I closed my eyes …
‘Oi!’ The dirty child eyed me with a nasty scowl. When he moved closer …
Finished? (Not looked for clues from the next section yet?) Good. Now think of the word stereotypes. It is what we all tend to leap for in a crisis – and what I am trying to avoid leaping for here.
There are an infinite number of ideas you could have followed with any of the three beginnings. They could have come from your own experience (hopefully not the lion). They could have come from your reading, thinking and – most importantly – imagination. Were they predictable? Have a look back. Consider whether you stepped outside the conventional line, or not.
Now do it again. This time deliberately make your sentences totally unexpected.
After (and only after) you have done this, you could have a look at one way I might have done this non-stereotype exercise. There is, by the way, no right answer in these write answers. Just differences.
I stepped back, pressing myself so had against the wall that I could feel every rough stone imprinting itself on my skin. The lion came so close that I could smell the meat he had eaten for breakfast (last week). He gazed at me for a moment with huge and – it seemed to me – sorrowful eyes. Then he rubbed his head gently against my knees and purred.
The memory of the flowers would stay with me always. When I closed my eyes I could see in my mind, as clearly as if it were yesterday, the line of the sand behind the huge white breakers, the palm trees tossed by the last of the storm, the silvery sand of the beach. As I made my last desperate effort to stay alive in the churning sea, I could smell flowers, soft and sweet on the air. I could smell life.
‘Oi!’ The dirty child eyed me with a nasty scowl. When he moved closer, I could see that he was half-starved as well as filthy. My hand closed on the heavy purse in my pocket. Was he a thief? ‘You want to watch out,’ he told me. ‘Rough types round here.’
Next … Oh. I forgot. This is supposed to be a sample only. But I can’t resist adding that next, you could think about time and landscape in each of these stories and make a few adjustments.
Over to you …
‘The beginning of your story is where you either capture your reader – or lose them for good.’