Skip to main content

Your Story 44: Winners!

Prompt: A nosy man eavesdrops on his co-workers and immediately regrets it.

Prompt: A nosy man eavesdrops on his co-workers and immediately regrets it.

Write an opening paragraph (to a story) of 100 words or fewer based on the prompt above.

Thanks to everyone who voted on WD's Your Story #44! Here are the results. The winning entries, in ranking order, are as follows:

A. An icy wave cascades across my face. It’s jarring, but not jarring enough to snap reality back into focus, as I’d hoped. Bloodshot eyes reflect back at me in the mirror. Why did I hide behind that door when they came into the office? I guess I never could resist eavesdropping on a little juicy office gossip, but this? How could it be? John Davis dead? I reach down to splash more water across my face and my eyes flick to the mirror and catch it. There, reflected in haunting reverse, my name tag stares back at me: John Davis. (Zephyrus White)

B. Minutes pass before I remind myself to breathe. The office that once surrounded me evaporates. I try to pinch myself out of this nightmare but I can’t move my hands. I’m sinking into a sea of hurt. A chuckle brings me crashing back to reality. The chuckle belongs to Brian, my first friend here at the firm. It’s the same chuckle he has when he’s beating me on the court. The same chuckle he had when he became my boss. Now, he’s chuckling to his water cooler audience as he describes the dragonfly tattooed just below my wife’s left breast. (Lauren Zwiernik)

C. “See you after work for drinks!” The words circled in Sam’s head like the lyric of a love song stuck in a scratch of an LP. He wiped the sweat from his forehead. Drinks. He imagined the shot of whiskey searing its way down his throat and bringing the warm relief. With a shaking hand, he downed the cold water he kept on his desk. 'Why did I take off my headphones to listen to them?' he thought. Sam tore off "Day 1" from his 100 Days Of Sobriety calendar and chucked it in the trash. (Irene Palatics)

D. I stood transfixed, overhearing the conversation from my hiding place in the walk-in cooler. The words "revolutionary suicide pact" jangled inside my brain. The assistant cook protested about killing babies and toddlers while our boss told her to keep quiet and start mixing the potion. I peeked out at the two arguing and hoped for a quick, silent escape. I gazed past them to a window where the teeming rain forest framed our outpost’s front gate and armed mission members patrolled under the banner flapping in the noon day breeze, proclaiming “Welcome to the People’s Temple, Jonestown.” (Judith Grout)

E. I opened the office door and there they were, my three co-workers—Amy, George and Angela. I couldn’t believe how casually they were standing there having this conversation. Although I did have to creep in a little closer to hear exactly what it was they were saying, the fact that they would openly discuss such a matter in our place of business was appalling. And here I thought I was joining a company with high class. Never would I have guessed that my co-workers would be ruining the ending of The Dark Knight Rises before I got to see it. (Micah Alexander)

For more writing exercises to spark your creativity, check out Take Ten for Writers!

How Inspiration and Research Shape a Novel

How Inspiration and Research Shape a Novel

Historical fiction relies on research to help a story’s authenticity—but it can also lead to developments in the story itself. Here, author Lora Davies discusses how inspiration and research helped shape her new novel, The Widow’s Last Secret.

Poetic Forms

Saraband: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the saraband, a septet (or seven-line) form based on a forbidden dance.

Karen Hamilton: On Cause and Effect

Karen Hamilton: On Cause and Effect

International bestselling author Karen Hamilton discusses the “then and now” format of her new domestic thriller, The Ex-Husband.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: The Ultimatum

Plot Twist Story Prompts: The Ultimatum

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character give or face an ultimatum.

6 Things Every Writer Should Know About Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company

6 Things Every Writer Should Know About Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company

Sylvia Beach was friend to many writers who wrote what we consider classics today. Here, author Kerri Maher shares six things everyone should know about her and Shakespeare and Company.

How Writers Can Apply Business Tools to Their Writing

How Writers Can Apply Business Tools to Their Writing

Author Katherine Quevedo takes an analytical look at the creative process in hopes to help other writers find writing success.

Nick Petrie: On Following the Most Compelling Story

Nick Petrie: On Following the Most Compelling Story

Award-winning author Nick Petrie discusses how he listened to the story that wanted to be told in his new Peter Ash thriller novel, The Runaway.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 596

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a punishment poem.

Jacquelyn Mitchard: On Forgiveness in Fiction

Jacquelyn Mitchard: On Forgiveness in Fiction

Award-winning novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard discusses the chance meeting that led to her new novel, The Good Son.