Editors Blog

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

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

  1. Amyithist

    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.

  2. GypsySue

    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.

  3. jheath

    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.

  4. rthomasriley

    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?

    1. Breezybealle

      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.

  5. Devin

    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.

  6. capriden

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

  7. baquri

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

  8. helene2013

    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.

  9. jayclason

    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.

  10. John Buss

    “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?

    1. Steven Banker

      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.

      1. John Buss

        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.

  11. Suzy

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

  12. Spriha Amara

    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.

  13. Spriha Amara

    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.

  14. jummie

    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

  15. adamwilliams_storms

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

  16. jummie

    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.

  17. bluesocksblues

    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.

  18. AngelHush212

    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 . . .

  19. helene2013

    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.

  20. Suzy

    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.

  21. AlaskasOwn

    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.

  22. steviedow

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

  23. Bruce Retallack

    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.

  24. Sylavash

    ‘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.

  25. tkwismer

    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.

  26. jpbaker

    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.

  27. Breezygirl

    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.

  28. lindakim

    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.

  29. jimpick

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

  30. denoftn

    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.

  31. tallglassofnick

    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.

  32. Inksister

    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.”

  33. jpbaker

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

  34. sparkyeco

    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…

  35. jpbaker

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

    1. LTorossian

      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.

  36. Jo-sephine

    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.

  37. TriteStatic

    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.

  38. Anthopants

    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?”

  39. Mary O Paddock

    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.

  40. korenlis

    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.

  41. KMF1029

    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.

  42. tygerrose

    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.

  43. korenlis

    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.

  44. jimbone21

    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.

    1. jimbone21

      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.

  45. TriteStatic

    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.

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