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. I’m impressed with several of your story ideas. Congratulations on starting a new story each day. I wrote a poem a day last April–it was harder some days than I thought. Good luck with your goal to write a horror poem every day.

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    1. Yes, I remember you wrote a poem a day last April. I thought it was a brilliant idea, and that maybe I could do the same thing but with a horror twist. It’s still a little intimidating, but I’m 90 percent sure I’m going to try it! Thanks for commenting (and thanks for the April idea).:-)

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  2. Yay! Congrats. So impressed. Isn’t it funny how writing gets easier the more you do it? It makes sense I suppose. Good luck with the anthology! I love the sentence opening you shared. Now, 30 zombie poems sounds amazing!!!!

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  3. Ooh, I like that story about the mother and the casket. I’ll be looking forward to reading that when it’s finished and published!

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  4. Writing story starts without having to worry about finishing them is a cool idea. Sort of like putting food by, maybe. You can haul them out when you need inspiration. And I’m impressed you did one every day!

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  5. Twenty-nine ideas – I would have panicked, Priscilla! Taking it one day at a time would have decreased the stress and, like you said, your shortest one was 13 words. What a fantastic way to challenge yourself. And I really liked the story about Mother – you could expand on that one easily.

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  6. That’s a great way to challenge yourself. I enjoyed day 21 – I think I’d like to read that one, family conflicts interest me. I wondered what caused the rift between mother and daughter. And, let’s not forget, where did the mother go? You left plenty of unanswered questions! I hope you do continue that one.

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  7. It’s cool that you completed the short story challenge. Sounds fun! With my attention span, I probably would have stopped the second I saw a prompt I didn’t like…It is good discipline though to try. Maybe I’ll try it next year.

    Keep smiling,

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  8. Huh, what a really cool idea! I kind of used to do something similar; I was a massive fan of the game Skyrim, and every time I started a new character, I’d write a background for them, and a small fanfic piece about their adventures in the world. It was great and very freeing to write small pieces that would not go anywhere but allowed total freedom and creativity. Unlike now (bogged down in book 1 of a 3 book series that’s going nowhere fast!)
    Cool post, Priscilla 🙂

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