Games Writers Play #23: Forking From the First Line

Scott William Carter   June 22, 2010  

This is another game that works best if you you’re using a book or story you haven’t read — much easier to let your imagination go where it wants go.  Here’s how it works:

Pick a book or short story at random.  Type the first line and only the first line into a blank document.  Now write a couple pages using that first line to see if it sparks a new story.

If it’s a famous first line, you’re better off deleting or modifying it when you’re done to avoid the inevitable comparisons (unless you’re doing a parody), but otherwise most first lines are not all that memorable.

I call this game “Forking From the First Line,” because essentially what you’re doing is taking a different fork in the road from that first line.  For kicks, you could go back and read the other writer’s short story or novel later on, to see how different they are.  And trust me, they’re going to be very different.

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