Near 500 words: Prompt City

Are you looking for a new type of prompt for your writing? Here’s a method that can work for both stories and essays:

1.Choose the first sentence (or the closing line) of a story or novel you enjoy.
2.Write that sentence as the first line of your essay or story.
3.Continue writing two or three original paragraphs that originated from that opening sentence.
4.Drop the opening sentence.

(The first sentence will be underlined)

1.Opening Sentence from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens:
It’s the best of times; it’s the worst of times,” the President addressed his the college students.
“You lie,” a woman yelled out, then stomped out of the gathering.
Watching this demonstration on his TV, he turned the remote off and turned to his wife. “I can’t stand this anymore. Insulting the President like that. I’m going to do something about it.

In this example, you might want to change that “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times” to another line of dialogue.

2.Opening Sentence from Moby Dick by Herman Melville:
Just call me Ishmael,” Detective Hamilton introduced himself to his new partner.
His partner reached over shook Ishmael’s hand. “Morris. I was in Vice for three years.”
“Hope you’re aware that we do things different around here, Morris. Do I have to call you Morris.”
“My friends call me Mo. Hope we’ll be friends.”
“Friends have not got any thing to do with things around here. And you can call me Ish.”
Ish and Mo headed out to their unmarked car.
“Where we going?” Mo asked.
“To arrest a suspect.”

3.Closing sentence from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. Our boat slips easily through the time tunnel until we reach our destination in another time, another century, another long ago. I study my watch as the hands run backwards at super speeds. We pass the dock for 1900, then 1800, then 1700, then 1600. We move the oars ever so slightly till they’ve turned the boat into an alley where we pass 1590, 1580, 1570. We turn into a new alley.
My partner stops at the dock for the year1664. “This is it.” He steps onto the pier. He grabs my hand and pulls me out of the boat.
On the dock are twelve doorways, one for each month. We walk through April, then step on the mat that reads twenty-six.
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small locater. Types “Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England.” A flash of light and we find ourselves on a dirty street.

As you can see, this can be quite a lot of fun. And who knows? Your characters might end up kidnapping Shakespeare and bringing him to the twenty-first century.

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