First Lines

Adapted from something I wrote in Yale’s “Daily Themes” class. (Great class, by the way!)

The prompt:

Write twelve possible first lines to twelve different stories (fictional, non-fictional, or some combination of both). For a real challenge, let those lines start to feel like they hold together by juxtaposition. See the work of David Markson for a model.

These aren’t good sentences, but I wrote them hoping they could become first lines for first drafts of good stories.

I haven’t written those stories yet, but if you’d like me to write one, let me know and I will do that, just for you.*

  1. Our god is cruel and jealous, and we wish we had a better one.
  2. Today my Anti-Procrastination Friend saw me on Facebook and…
  3. We know that our island is an experiment, run by someone we don’t understand.
  4. The main character of this story was hit by a car just after you finished this sentence.
  5. “This has been my favorite funeral of the year.”
  6. Gambling is for suckers, he thought, and pushed the button again.
  7. There he was, waving his sign like a madman and shouting the true heights of various mountains.
  8. This is my history of the world, factual and proportionate, slave to neither narrative nor…
  9. We abandoned the Earth in our ships, but we left the Amish behind.
  10. You might think that even a very intelligent cloud could never kill a person, but…
  11. According to the actuary table, one of us was dead by now.
  12. They were looking for souls all along!
  13. “This week, life was just one long fire alarm.”
  14. She’d learned to run on water, but that wouldn’t save her when she came back to shore.
  15. You do not fuck with Liz when she’s delivering a pizza.

*With the exception of #9, because the Amish deserve an entire novel. And #8, because it’s the friggin’ history of the world.


(To see all 60+ prompts from Daily Themes, click here.)

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