A Prompt of One’s Own or How to Start a Story—from Ruth Perlman

A Prompt of One’s Own or How to Start a Story


  1. There are no rules for how to start a story.
  2. Suggestions, though:

Start in the middle (jump right in).

Start at the end and work backward.

Start at the beginning.

Think about what you want to write about.

  1. Think of a situation or an event that resonates with you.  Change some of the details.
  2. Think of an interesting character, made up or real.  Write about him/her.
  3. Think of a place you have been.  Who lives there, who is visiting?
  4. Think of an issue that you care about.  Who are the people who disagree with you about it?  Why?

Once you have figured out what you want to write about, you are ready to begin.  Tell the story.  Tell the whole story.  If you get to the third page and you are only halfway through, then you are writing a six-page story.  If you are out of time, then at the end of page three, write “End of Part I.”

Remember the guidelines that we have talked about:

  1. A story is about something that happens to someone.
  2. It’s better to show than tell.
  3. Vivid writing includes details that make the characters or incidents come alive.
  4. Great writing evokes an emotional reaction.  What reaction do you want?  Make that happen by creating characters your readers will care about.


April 24th is our last class before the break.  For next class, start your longer story, using your own prompt.  Send it to me in a Word document by end of day on the 23rd.  Don’t put your name on the doc.  (I’ll know who sent it to me, but that’s okay.)  On Monday night, I will email all the story starts.  Then on Tuesday, we’ll discuss and see if we can identify the authors.


I’ll be back from Spain in time to meet on May 22nd.  Hope to see lots of long, juicy stories!  At that point we can discuss whether you’d like to have a reading in early June and when we should break for the summer (doesn’t that word sound exciting!)

It’s a pleasure to meet with all of you and read your stories.  Great work you guys!






About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on April 21, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: