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Last call! Writing Challenge: Write the Opening Sentence to a Story Based on This Photo

Categories: Fun, General, There Are No Rules Blog by the Editors of Writer's Digest, WD Magazine, What's New Tags: Writing challenge, your story, Zachary Petit.

To anyone not currently wandering the halls of Book Expo America in New York, loaded down with so many books you wish you’d brought a wheelbarrow (my favorite part of the event): How about a writing challenge?

Basically, in every issue of Writer’s Digest we give our readers a chance to get  published in the magazine by responding to a writing prompt. Here’s the latest, from our May/June 2013 issue:

 

In 25 words or fewer, write the opening sentence to a story based on this photo:

YSMJ

Your Story #50

 

Want in? Post your entry in the Comments section below, and it’ll automatically be entered in the competition.

The rules:

  • Your sentence (just one, only one!) must be 25 words or fewer, no exceptions.
  • The deadline is June 3, 2013.
  • One entry per person, please.
  • How it all works: We’ll select the top 10 entries and post them on our forum. In mid-June, readers will vote for their favorites to help rank the winners.
  • This is a free writing competition. The prize is publication in WD.
  • You can also submit your sentence via the form here.
  • Finally, as we say about this contest in the magazine: “You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc. It is, after all, your story.”

Good luck! And, of course, happy Friday.


Zachary Petit is the senior managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine. 
He finally caved in and joined Twitter, and is now hopelessly distracted: @ZacharyPetit. 

*

 

Need some help surviving and thriving in the writing life? Check out James Scott Bell’s The Art of War for Writers

Successfully starting and finishing a publishable novel can be like fighting a series of battles—against the page, against one’s own self-doubt, against rebellious characters, etc. Featuring timeless, innovative, and concise writing strategies and focused exercises, this book is the ultimate battle plan and more—it’s Sun Tzu’sThe Art of War for novelists.

 

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136 Responses to Last call! Writing Challenge: Write the Opening Sentence to a Story Based on This Photo

  1. josule says:

    I got out of the cab and raced through the airport gates only to find out that my flight had left yesterday.

  2. Amyithist says:

    As he stood in front of the window, watching the airline jet lifting into the clear blue sky, Richard knew he was too late; and he knew this meant only one thing: His life was over.

  3. nangrosy says:

    It is amusing how a single incident could spin the thread of an altogether new story in the journey of your life.

  4. michellehiggins says:

    Would I regret changing my mind?

  5. michaeldurban says:

    Eugene, having failed his pilot license for the fifth time, was always amazed by how a plane could fly without flapping its’ wings.

  6. Lynn Thomas says:

    I stood, peering through soggy eyes, knowing I have to call and tell her I’ve broken another promise.

  7. mbarthelmes says:

    Simple. Impressive. Finite.

  8. Bluesqueen says:

    He said her right kneecap looked like a face ready to tell a story, taking a picture to show her, hoping she might speak again.

  9. bookwormgrrl says:

    He knew that she was on that flight; the beautiful woman from the lounge.

  10. GypsySue says:

    As he stood watching, a single tear ran down his smooth shaven face and said, ” It’s only for a week, enjoy it while you can…” with a grim smile, he walked away.

  11. jheath says:

    I know I’m late, but c’mon–the limit is 25 words, folks. The requirement isn’t 25 words. Here’s what I’d do.

    Damn it.

    Plain and simple.

  12. rthomasriley says:

    The mystery wasn’t the reappearance of Flight 127; the mystery was where had it been for the past fifteen years, and was anyone still alive?

  13. cemartin2 says:

    About to destroy his target, Dmitri relished that the one thing he could get past any airport security was his mind- and it was deadly.

  14. Breezybealle says:

    The briefcase in his hand was not as heavy as the weight upon his heart. Their life was in jeopardy and he could do nothing.

    • Breezybealle says:

      Crap, that’s not the sentence I meant to actually submit! I hit the POST COMMENT button before I edited it!! This is what I I finally came up with:

      The briefcase in his hand was not as heavy as the weight upon his heart while he watched the plane slowly rise.

  15. Devin says:

    Magnus looked at the plane that would take him away from abuse, fear and self-loathing and hopefully land him in a place where he would learn to love and respect himself again.

  16. NicoletteCastine says:

    Jack had nothing left to do but wait for the phone call when Claire ignored his warnings that flight 673 would be her demise.

  17. W0RDSM1TH says:

    He did a double take at the ominous figure in his painting. He had not drawn him. Was it looking at him or the plane?

  18. thomastongirl says:

    To get lost in the world takes blending in and a business suit, a briefcase, and an airline ticket is all that is required.

  19. Steven Banker says:

    Hearing about a plane crash is one thing; knowing before it happens is something else entirely.

  20. capriden says:

    Lionel watched as the plane descended. The white collar correctional facility had its perks, but flying commercial? Really? Suppose he missed his yoga class?

  21. MisterX says:

    The pilot stared as his plane took off without him, just who the hell was flying that thing?

  22. lloydvance says:

    As I remove my shirt, I see the crappy corporate art of an airplane taking off and it’s the nicest thing in the pornographers office.

  23. mjfbinks says:

    Why is it that she has to leave before I can make myself decide: “I want to be with HER.”

  24. writenow11 says:

    He stood there wondering why he didn’t get on that plane with her.

  25. baquri says:

    He watched helplessly, held immobile by the two aliens disguised as plants, who kept him from reaching the bomb override button in his briefcase.

  26. Leslie says:

    Long after the gallery rooms emptied, I remained fixed in front of one photo—a dark figure alone in the glow of an empty airport.

  27. HCarpenter2 says:

    If I could do it all over, knowing all that I know now, knowing that plane would be my last salvation, would I change anything?

  28. Carl_42 says:

    It was only at that moment, when it was too late, as Luke watched the plane rise into the air, that he realized his mistake.

  29. helene2013 says:

    The apocalypse upon them, Steven watched with sad relief as the plane took off with his family on board, hoping they would survive the chaos.

  30. Getty says:

    I’m terrified – not of the plane cuz I’ve been on planes plenty, but of what’ll kill me if I don’t get on in time.

  31. jayclason says:

    As the plane lifted, going on the better and brighter places without me, I realized my ticket had been in my jacket pocket the entire time.

  32. gallard says:

    A sinister smile slowly spread across the terrorist’s face, the plane would never reach its destination.

  33. kahoaglin says:

    Lisa, the only woman that made him feel alive was gone but, it was time for Tom to get back to his home, reality, his wife.

  34. rjconnors says:

    Momentarily alone, Herr Mueller found his grip on the attaché still tense, wondering if he had, in fact, thrown his deadly pursuers off his trail.

  35. akrivash says:

    His task completed, he watched as the plane carrying it’s concealed message ascended over the Pacific Ocean.

  36. bmiller7210 says:

    “Oh, shit,” Harry thought to himself as he watched the 747 disappear into the evening sky, “I left the money on the plane.”

  37. John Buss says:

    “There is a point when we realize, no matter how free to move about, that we are all in a prison.”

    I posted this originally on Friday, May 31st but I don’t see it posted. Is there some step that I have missed?

    • Steven Banker says:

      Was it the first time you’ve commented on anything on this site? If so, it has to go through a moderation process first before it’s actually posted.

      • John Buss says:

        I see that the original sentence from 5/31 has been posted. I will write a 500-word essay on being patient, spelling and punctuation counting.

  38. Suzy says:

    Standing in the deserted airport terminal I watched the very last plane take off, leaving me behind with the monsters in this godforsaken city.

  39. Spriha Amara says:

    The biggest airlines company-his own creation which he had created with his very own blood and behind which stood a bloody and painful story.

  40. Carl_42 says:

    It was only then, when it was too late, as Luke watched the plane rise through the air, that he fully comprehended his mistake.

  41. Spriha Amara says:

    The biggest airlines company-his own creation which he had built from his very own blood and behind which stood a bloody and painful story.

  42. RebekahDMartin says:

    Maybe it’s true, what they say; a handful of seconds can irrevocably alter your life…one Mississippi.

  43. akrivash says:

    His task completed, Jake watched as the plane carrying it’s concealed message ascended over the Pacific Ocean.

  44. adamwilliams_storms says:

    Leon Dawson watch the white metal bird carry his son to safety, now if he could only survive to see him once more.

  45. jummie says:

    From the plane, I saw David clutching my briefcase with fake currency, my smirk disappeared when I realised the diamonds he traded me were missing

  46. adamwilliams_storms says:

    Leon Dawson watched as the white mechanical bird flew took his son to safety, now if only he could survive to see him again.

  47. jummie says:

    From the plane, I saw David clutching my briefcase with fake currency, my smirk disappeared when I realised the diamonds he traded me were missing.

  48. Genovel says:

    imprisonment –
    only the spirit unstoppable
    to fly freely

    (a haiku the opening to a story based on this photo)

  49. bigbluemug says:

    Packing his briefcase was one thing. Packing his child onto a plane headed to Honolulu was another. Jeb wanted to die.

  50. bluesocksblues says:

    We saw him every day, in the same ill-fitting suit, clutching the same scuffed, apparently heavy briefcase, watching the planes, clenching his fists, waiting.

  51. AngelHush212 says:

    He recalled it in a flash, his lost flight, the one that went up in flames, the flames that licked at his heart for an eternity . . .

  52. LB_Zumpshon says:

    As he watched his life fly away, Jim thought about the mistakes that had led him to this, the moment of his demise.

  53. scfrager says:

    Memories flooded through his mind as he rubbed his eyes and realized this time, it was really goodbye.

  54. ANonEMouse says:

    As he watched the plane take flight frustration turned to insight: he still had time to make the connection that mattered most.

  55. At least I’ll never have to see his crooked leer or wolfish glare again, Jason thought as the 767 started to clear the runway.

  56. LZClotho says:

    This was it; that was his plane coming in, the one that would take him away from here, away to his new life.

  57. helene2013 says:

    The apocalypse upon them, Steven watched in sad relief as the plane took off with his family on board, hoping they would survive the chaos.

  58. ThePonda says:

    Every morning he would pick up his empty briefcase and go to the airport to watch planes disappear into the sun.

  59. Suzy says:

    Standing in the deserted airport I watched the very last plane take off, knowing I was left behind with the monsters in this godforsaken city.

  60. KLHeglund says:

    The plane hung there, taunting him with the one dream he would never achieve.

  61. yellowlfc10 says:

    I am nervous as I look out at my girl on her first ever ride. I have always wanted my creation to soar the skies.

  62. AlaskasOwn says:

    Tom slept through the flight to Thailand and now, watching his plane takeoff from the terminal, he knew he’d never have his bag of peanuts.

  63. steviedow says:

    Watching the plane ascend higher and farther every second, he was certain for the first time that he would never see her again…alive.

  64. funkykara says:

    No matter what window Robert looked out, he felt trapped.

  65. Rosario says:

    O’Brien stood almost not moving, his panic fading and told himself, “It is safe now – no one will ever know.”

  66. Bruce Retallack says:

    OK – I just read the information provided at the top. Who knew reading could actually provide the answers you were looking for?! Herewith my offering….

    Jonah watched his last chance at redemption lift off into the burnished dawn, his carefully assembled ‘atonement bag’ now useless, and leaden in his grasp.

  67. Damesek says:

    As a child, Pete had come with Grandma to this airport to watch the very same planes take off every Saturday, but not anymore.

  68. Bruce Retallack says:

    I posted my entry using the submission form – hope it went through, but not sure how to check.

  69. JR MacBeth says:

    The horrific news sent shivers down my spine as it dawned on me that I would have been on that plane, if not for her.

  70. Irynne55 says:

    “Miss Wallace, why is the man I ordered you to kill last week standing right in front of me, watching a fucking plane take off?”

  71. Genovel says:

    imprisonment-
    only the spirit unstoppable
    to fly freely

  72. Genovel says:

    the imprisonment –
    just unstoppable spirit
    to fly only free

    (this would be a motto expressed by a haiku!)

  73. Sylavash says:

    ‘The jet hung frozen in the air just beyond the glass that was slowly encasing him in a future void of her presence.’

    — I tried to post something similar a few days ago but it never appeared, It it went through, please ignore this reply.

  74. tkwismer says:

    The whine of the jet engine pressed into Jethro’s mind, as inescapable as the old President’s last words: Honor me once more. One last assignment.

  75. It had worked; Sonia had boarded the plane without hesitation while Eric remained safely on the ground.

  76. Marie Valden says:

    Sweaty palms, rapid heart rate, and the twitch above his right eye didn’t take away the fact he did the right thing, he said good-bye.

  77. Leloni Tabbyra says:

    “My eyes may never see the sun again … and a plane just comes along to ruin the moment.”

  78. alyn217 says:

    The irony was impossible to ignore–384 passengers aboard a standard Boing 747, and most of them were aliens.

  79. jpbaker says:

    Correction: Sweat slowly slithered down my trembling jaw, dripping onto my newly bought suit jacket as I gripped tightly the handle of my empty suitcase.

  80. ninachan2 says:

    This is the perfect end to our story, he thought and tried to smile, as he watched her plane take off into the sunset.

  81. ankur86modi says:

    Just before boarding, I felt that it is better to serve my country and I left my flight & that lucrative job abroad.

  82. Breezygirl says:

    So this is what it feels like to play God, Jack thought, watching the plane make its last climb and the passengers, their final journey.

  83. moscoboy says:

    I noticed the jet’s landing gear was down and I wondered if the pilot was going to land in Central Park?

  84. KalaSathinee says:

    Damn,damn,damn, not again, he thought, watching the flight– his flight– sail off the tarmac without him.

  85. itsasine says:

    It was the last flight — not of the day — but ever, and I the last witness of its skyward retreat.

  86. Nibeau says:

    My psychic senses sparked but swiveled amidst confusion as the aircraft lifted off, unable to grasp what I feared to be a deadly reality.

  87. lindakim says:

    She looked out the window of the plane and saw the man standing alone and wondered, not for the first time, what she was doing on this plane.

  88. davidbarton says:

    Mike stared up at the plane destined for home, the plane with his seat filled by an imposter intent on destroying his life.

  89. Loren says:

    As Eric helplessly watched David’s plane take off he felt a pang, How would he tell his wife?

  90. itsasine says:

    It was the last flight — not of the day — but ever, and I the last to witness its skyward retreat.

  91. jimpick says:

    Engulfed in the twilight, and, almost tragically alone, I knew the landing of that plane somehow signified the final chapter in my life.

  92. brandiauset says:

    Maybe, after a few in-flight cocktails and nothing but an empty house awaiting her return, she’d regret leaving him behind.

  93. denoftn says:

    David finally realized the truth in Stephanie’s accusation that he was a workaholic as she took off on their honeymoon without him.

    I reposted this because the first time it didn’t show up.

  94. denoftn says:

    David finally realized the truth in Stephanie’s accusation that he was a workaholic as she left on their honeymoon without him.

  95. John Buss says:

    “There is a point when we realize, no matter how free to move about, that we are all in a prison.”

  96. tallglassofnick says:

    As I gripped my briefcase watching that 747, the idea of never seeing her slipped away, knowing one day I’ll have a seat on that plane.

  97. tygerrose says:

    He stood staring out the window watching the plane take off with a lone thought, ‘But I have the keys.’

  98. joelcobbs says:

    Many years later, as he lay in bed dying, Aaron remembered missing that early Tuesday flight and the person he used to be.

  99. Filipa says:

    Johanna, your wings fly higher than my heart could ever follow, and I, my missing love, shall, desperately, ache for you.

  100. gmbrunner says:

    In ten more seconds the plane would be a flaming heap on the runway and all of Jack’s problems would burn with it.

  101. Inksister says:

    No Memories. No thoughts, questions, or ideas on how he came to be here. Just a briefcase he had to deliver, and a name- “Steeleheart.”

  102. gmbrunner says:

    In ten more seconds the plane would be a flaming heap on the runway and all of John’s problems would burn with it.

  103. jpbaker says:

    Sweat slowly slithered down my trembling cheeks, dripping onto my newly bought suit jacket as I gripped tightly the handle of my empty suitcase.

  104. sparkyeco says:

    Bomb in hand, Jack wondered how he’d explain that American Airlines flight AM622 would land safely a few hours later in Chicago and whether he would be truly safe with his new identity…

  105. barianne says:

    He watched the plane rise as the sun set, a poetic juxtaposition between light and dark, good and evil, hunter and hunted.

  106. jpbaker says:

    Sweat slithered down my trembling cheeks, dripping onto my newly bought suit jacket as I gripped tightly the handle of my empty suitcase.

  107. alyn217 says:

    The irony was impossible to ignore; 383 passengers on board an ordinary Boeing 474, and most of them were aliens.

  108. sparkyeco says:

    Bomb in hand, wondered how he’d explain that American Airlines flight Am652 would land safely in Chicago and how to

  109. LTorossian says:

    If I focus hard enough, I can see the outline of her face in the jet’s window as she takes off without me. She’s smiling.

    • LTorossian says:

      Oops – one sentence rule – easy fix (I think):
      If I focus hard enough, I can see the outline of her face in the jet’s window as she takes off without me – she’s smiling.

  110. Jo-sephine says:

    With the sun in my face, standing beside a potted plant, I tried to ignore the irony, as my flight disappeared in the clouds.

  111. Jo-sephine says:

    With the sun on my face and a potted plant to my left and right, I caught my breathe and tried to ignore the irony, as my flight disappeared in the clouds.

  112. Diego says:

    He felt the weight of the suitcase sinking in his hand, as the last plane to the future rocketed into the sky.

  113. nicolem says:

    The shadows from the jet embarking on a new journey darkened the airport lobby as Greyson squinted at the sunset of the life he built.

  114. TriteStatic says:

    The anxious terminal commotion provided rhythm to my internal orchestra of a racing heartbeat and sinking stomach, as the last plane traced the morning horizon.

  115. RASlater says:

    As he watched the jet take off against the backdrop of early morning, Andrew was filled with the foreboding certainty that he would never see Kimberly again.

  116. Anthopants says:

    Too little too late. Howard, bomb squad, watched an overfilled commercial airplane escape the tarmac. His mind raced: “How do I get on that plane?”

  117. Robe says:

    The flight was coming in for a landing, 25 years later and David was about to meet the son he never knew he had.

  118. Mary O Paddock says:

    Lockwood studied the stranger with the briefcase; how he never looked away from the tarmac, like watching Boeings take to the air was a religion.

  119. mommyto4mjs says:

    He had ran, briefcase in hand, to find she was gone, the plane was ascending and the daughter he had just met was aboard.

  120. korenlis says:

    The low angle of the plane, that odd cardboard cut-out, and an impossibly clean floor means fakery abounds and old Pete will be thrilled.

  121. KMF1029 says:

    Derek’s hand gripped the briefcase handle so hard his arm shook; he watched the plane ascend with a final roar, taking his soul with it.

  122. TheWittySmitty says:

    It was finally over. He watched in silence as the worst week of his life flew away. At last, he could breath again.

  123. tygerrose says:

    He stood at the concourse’s picture window and stared out in disbelief of the plane taking off in front of him. It was the plane that he was supposed to be piloting.

  124. marstonhall says:

    my daughter struggled hard, biting my chest as we said our final goodbyes.

  125. korenlis says:

    The low angle of the plane, that odd cardboard cut-out and an impossibly clean floor means fakery abounds and old Pete will be thrilled.

  126. lmspurcell says:

    Jake stood in the terminal and watched the jet take off, the one he was supposed to be on, the one that went home.

  127. jimbone21 says:

    Thomas held tightly to his briefcase as he vowed to enact revenge upon the vandals that had torn the verticle strips from his favorite painting.

    • jimbone21 says:

      ugh, spellcheck was off:

      Thomas held tightly to his briefcase as he vowed to enact revenge upon the vandals that had torn the vertical strips from his favorite painting.

  128. TriteStatic says:

    The anxious terminal commotion provided rhythm to my internal orchestra of a racing heart and sinking stomach as the last plane traced the morning horizon.

  129. jasonfink88 says:

    The prison cell holding Jose’s client, Lockheed “The Killer” Martin, was much bigger than expected.

  130. MegCurrell says:

    She watched in disgust as he gazed at the airplane outside the window. All of his focus, any shred of emotion, was spent elsewhere.

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