Using Great First Lines from Literature to Create Your Own Story

Kim Stafford, a writer-poet who also is founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, wrote a wonderful essay for Teachers & Writers Magazine in which he suggests that writers searching for writing ideas consider using the first line of their favorite book or poem as a way to start their writing.  Let the first line of a favorite book stimulate your imagination to create your own story.

He gives these first lines as some examples:

.”I read about it in the paper, in the subway, on my way to work.” (This first line came from ”’Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin.)

.”There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck.” (This first line is from ”The Rocking Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence.)

.”The grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida.” (This first line came from ”A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Conner.)

Stafford offers a stimulating idea to help us in our search for things to consider writing about.  Why not try it out, starting with one of your favorite first lines from a novel or poem?

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