20 Prompts to Help You Start a New Story

First Lines

The first line of your story— whether it’s a novel, short story, or work of nonfiction—must hook the reader. It’s probably the most important line in the entire book. It is the first impression, the easiest line in the book to find, the easiest line in the book to say “no” to. A good first line is in itself interesting, and makes the reader wonder, and to fulfill their curiosity, they’ll read the next sentence or two, and on and on until you’ve convinced them to trust your storytelling and that they should read the whole book. At least that is the dream.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on a single line of a book. It’s the kind of pressure that feeds the blank page, building it into the scary beast we all fear as writers. If you already have a story started, hopefully you’ll revisit your first sentence before you submit it. The good thing is that your first line does not have to be perfect until the book is done.

For most of us, the fear of failure is hard to overcome. And if you want to write a story, but you don’t even have an idea for a story, that can intensify that paralyzing fear. I urge you not to let it keep you from writing the first line of a new story.


I’m here to help you start a new story! Below are 20 first lines to new stories that haven’t been written yet. Feel free to use any of them to write, to change them however it suits you (different names, POV, etc.), and by no means do you have to keep this line as your first line by the time you’re done with your story. Don’t let anything limit you.

If you need a jumping off point, here’s 20:

  1. With Josephine at the wheel, we knew we were in safe hands—or were they claws?
  2. Tony tried climbing the tree at least eight times, and when he fell on his ass, I turned back to my boss and asked, “So does this mean I get to keep my job?”
  3. Heather jumped onto the slick pool deck with bare feet and her second case of chicken pox.
  4. Instead of me, Jeremy asked Daniel, who I thought would have told him not to touch the creature at all, but just as I tried to sit back and relax, I spotted Jeremy on the other side of the lawn, clamping his teeth into a dead rabbit while Daniel cheered him on.
  5. When dessert was served, Tammy reached for her spoon, but it was gone.
  6. Betsy wouldn’t have told the truth about the whole ordeal even if the tequila she’d been downing since three had been truth serum.
  7. Dana put the car into gear, and then she looked at me and said, “Uh-oh.”
  8. Dave had always ignored the five second rule.
  9. Andrew didn’t like mosquitoes, especially not when they came to the door selling encyclopedias.
  10. Helga might have taken a seat for once if it wasn’t for the bees.
  11. I decided not to come out of my room until my dad stopped yelling, “The dentist appointment is at 3:15, Carol!”
  12. I would have given anything to watch my grandpa shove the woman’s microphone down her throat, but I was sure even that wouldn’t shut her up.
  13. The grass groaned and the trees yodeled.
  14. I didn’t think I deserved a screw in my omelet, but what did I know?
  15. Hamburgers were the Beauty part of the Beauty and the Beast analogy.
  16. Have you ever seen a lamb in a vest before?
  17. Hamlet would have been my favorite Shakespeare play if it was about breakfast sandwiches the way it sounds like it should be.
  18. Darryl shoved Mrs. Henderson onto the concrete of Sting’s driveway.
  19. When I taught history a few years ago, I had a student named R03eR7, and today while I was shaving, I thought of him again.
  20. “I don’t think your doctor would have told you that if he wanted you to stay in bed,” she said, stirring her iced tea with her pinky finger.

If none of these really work for you, that’s fine! The key is to come up with a tiny mystery or to mash together things that you wouldn’t expect together or to toss in a person doing something that isn’t normal. There’s no wrong way to do it. Use these however you need in order to get the juices flowing!

Already have a story written, but don’t know how to talk about it? Boil your story down to one sentence you can memorize and have at-the-ready, by using this worksheet to make the perfect elevator pitch/logline.

Fangs for reading! Snatch ya later. UvvU

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