29 Short Story Starts

Street signs that say to be continued

I started a short story every day in February. It was part of Kathryn Ptacek’s February Story Starts challenge. (Ms. Ptacek is the Horror Writers Association’s newsletter editor.) You start a new story each day, but you don’t aim to finish it. The challenge is about consistency and creativity. I know from NaNoWriMo that I can type at a keyboard every day, but I was worried about thinking up 29 different story ideas.

Surely I’d run out of ideas.

I didn’t. In fact, the challenge got easier as the days ticked by. I can honestly say I no longer fear running out of ideas. That was nice to learn.

Day 11, blech.

I also learned that I am definitely not a science fiction horror type. I tried a spaceship thing for day 11, blech.

Moving on, I discovered that I found inspiration in real life events. I came across an historic figure who was a bad guy done real bad. So I created a pyromaniac character who got revenge.

Most story starts were about 400 words long. My longest was 2000 words, and my shortest was 13 words:

Blood spilled across the horizon. We were at war again with Cthulhu’s spawn.

Day 15

I got so excited about Day 18’s idea that I went on to write the whole story in one setting, edited it, and then sent it off to an anthology’s slush pile. Maybe the story will find a permanent home at that anthology.:-)

Day 21, worth revisiting.

Some other ideas I will revisit in the future, like this one:

I was the first family member at the funeral home for Mother’s viewing. The attendant stayed at the entrance to greet guests while I proceeded to the viewing room. Mother wouldn’t have approved of my navy skirt and cream blouse, but she wasn’t in a position to complain.

There she was, hands folded over a Bible—as if—and wearing the green dress I picked out for her. Mother hated green.

I hid my face for a second while I snickered. When I looked at her again . . . hadn’t her hands been resting on the little white Bible? Nah, surely they had been by her sides as they were now.

Cousin Harold’s voice, loud as ever, carried from the anteroom. I rounded my shoulders and tried to squeeze out a tear.

“Darleen,” Harold crooned as he approached and kissed my cheek, “you poor, poor thing.” He looked over my shoulder at the casket. “Well, where is she?”

I spun around. Mother’s casket was empty.

Day 21

This month-long exercise in story starts was affirming and fun and a good learning opportunity. I’m doing the challenge again next year for sure.

Speaking of challenges, did you know April is National Poetry Month? I’m thinking of writing a poem everyday in April. Thirty zombie poems, or thirty witching hour poems, or . . .

Feature Image by Reuben Juarez on Unsplash

Kathryn Ptacek’s February Story Starts challenge: http://horror.org/private/newsletter/?article=a-not-so-final-note-from-the-editor-27

86 thoughts on “29 Short Story Starts

  1. How interesting to start a story every day for awhile. I’d probably run out of ideas pretty quick. I do like how your examples started – maybe someday they will be a full on story!
    Several times I’ve done the April poetry challenges, and they are lots of fun. Maybe I’ll try again this year, but I already have two other April challenges to do. Yikes!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Priscilla!
        Yes, I have a habit of wanting to do every single challenge out there. Two is plenty for this April, I agree.
        Hope y’all are doing good, too. We’re staying home except for groceries. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love poetry. My TBR post next week is about National Poetry month 🙂 so, looking forward to those Zs poems!
    This challenge is great! Cool way to stay creative and to feed an anthology project. I love the empty casket story 🙂 As usual, really enjoyed your writing Pri!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this idea. What a great exercise. I can understand that there are a few blechs, Priscilla, but how great to have those good ones and future possibilities for development. I might try this when I finish my current slog. Thanks for the smile. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have to admire your willingness to attempt that challenge. It sounds exhausting! And yet the positive outcomes you mentioned are on point. Especially for the aspiring author. A retailer must have hundreds–if not thousands of products just to make a profit on 15% of them. If one is trying to get their name on the map, this is certainly an excellent idea! I would be too afraid of becoming attached to one of them, and temporarily abandoning more important works, but this is a great tool for mental exploration. Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s