Tuesday 2 October 2012

it will be a start....

In my quest to do more writing, I'm not only struggling for time to actually sit and write, but I'm also struggling to make the time to think up a few decent ideas to get writing about.  I've written a couple of short pieces - one of which I published here last week - but apart from that, I've been running a bit dry.

Rather than let this beat me, I'm trying to think up new ways to trigger some creativity.  My jumping off point today is that I really like the way that most of the Grimm fairy tales start simply with the word "Once".

As Philip Pullman says in the introduction to his recent volume:

"The opening of a tale, for example. All we need is the word 'Once . . .' and we're off:

Once there was a poor man who couldn't support his only son any more. When the son realized this, he said, "Father, it's no use my staying here. I'm just a burden to you. I'm going to leave home and see if I can earn a living."
"The Three Snake Leaves"

A few paragraphs later, he's already married a king's daughter."

Inspired by that, I thought I'd brain-dump out a few first lines.

I'm not saying that they're brilliant or anything, it's just that they're a start.  What I intend to do next is select a few of them and just get started: to write a paragraph or so and to see where that first line takes me.

Maybe you can help me choose the ones to take further:

  • Once there was a cat that just couldn’t get comfortable.
  • “Soup for tea again” he said, sadly.
  • Honesty, it seems, is not always the best option.
  • I killed Jeremy Clarkson. It wasn’t easy, but I killed him. As far as I know, he remains dead to this day.
  • Let’s be honest, his smug, leering face was asking for that axe.
  • He simply did not have any underwear worthy of the name.
  • When the most enduring friendship of your life is with a long-dead hamster, let’s be honest, you’ve got bigger worries than your love-life.
  • If I didn’t need the job, I’d’ve killed my boss years ago.
  • Fuck RyanAir. At least I get an allocated seat on my broomstick.
  • The weathervane was lying. I don’t know how – or why – but there was no longer any question about it.
  • She remained proof positive that practice did not always make perfect.
  • I’ve always fucking hated Tom Jones.
  • From the day I killed for the first time, I knew I was destined for a career in politics.
  • The only possible reason for a conservatory is if you have a body to hide.
  • I’m telling you, the bears have it all worked out.
  • Living in a boat is fine as long as there’s water.
  • If I can help it, I wear fancy dress every day.
  • I loathed him from the very first moment I saw his trousers.
  • All those long, neat rows of houses. I hate them and I hate all the smug, accepting bastards inside them. I hate you all.
  • I kill people. We’ve all got bills to pay, and that’s how I pay mine. It’s a job, like any other.
  • I haven’t got a magic bone in my body. If I planted a magic bean, once it had grown, I’d be making soup, not climbing a beanstalk to a magical, far-off land filled with giants and golden eggs.
  • Look around you: if we’re evolving as a species, it isn’t forwards.
  • To be honest, I haven’t stepped on a plane since the day I realised I could fly. Would you?
  • Of course I’m winging it. Isn’t that all any of us ever do?

Some better than others, of course... but what each of them have in common is that they could be a starting point for something.

Cast your vote - or add your own suggestions- below.....

Let's see if we can't get things started.


  1. You want some plots? Or opening lines ?

    "I always knew I'd die. Never knew I'd end up like this."

    "The day the aliens landed I was going to go to the supermarket."

    "I always thought the cat was looking at me funny. The day I realised he worked for the CIA I found out why."

  2. I love "He simply did not have any underwear worthy of the name". Can't help but notice a bit of a homicidal bent to many of the others. It's probably important that you continue to write on a regular basis.

    My one idea: a tube train leaves one station okay but on arriving at the next everyone onboard is dead!! I've never been able to come up with a good story to explain it but I'd say it's got plenty of potential: Could it be down to aliens? Zombies? Vampires? Nazis?

  3. Mark - love that one about the cat especially. Although, as you know, no cat is going to work for the CIA without their own agenda. Mine would be a double-agent at least. Wait. That's a great idea...

    Artog - good start. I'm saying that zombies and vampires are too of the moment. Nazi aliens? (and yes, I noticed the homicidal bent too. Best not analyse that too closely, eh?)

  4. I want to write a story about scottish spiders. All spiders are scottish, you know. Originally, anyway.