School Supplies 3

Here are some story starters for pre-teen writers, or for those of you who write for them or teach them. Feel free to change names and genders to find the story that’s right for you.

My new book, Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Pre-Teens is now on sale. Click on the photo to the left to learn more.

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Try one of these opening lines to start a story:

  1. Robots aren’t supposed to sweat.
  2. I watched the horse move back and forth at the forest’s edge. I knew two things: it was frightened and it was hurt.
  3. The blare of loud trumpets called us back.
  4. My life changed the day I found Herbert.
  5. The ice groaned and cracked beneath our feet.
  6. My Aunt Muriel was a witch.
  7. Jacob huddled under his blanket.
  8. All our training and practice had led to today.
  9. I didn’t expect it to be so heavy.
  10. Was that light supposed to flash red or yellow when it was safe to open the door?
  11. Have you seen Lisa?
  12. Puppies were cute until they chewed your favourite shoes.
  13. Chris checked the time for the third time in five minutes.
  14. Zero gravity always made me sick.
  15. Mike ducked behind a rock to hide.
  16. Tara stopped and held her breath.
  17. I really didn’t want to tell the others that we were lost.
  18. The fog rolled in from the sea, and I shivered.
  19. “My wallet’s gone!”
  20. I could already tell that missing the bus this morning was going to be the least of my problems.
  21. One more penalty and Chris was going to be out of the game.
  22. I was sure Peter had told me to take the path to the right where the trail divided.
  23. “I’m sorry, but you can’t fly for two weeks.”
  24. Hiding in this cave had seemed like a good idea at the time.
  25. The crown was heavier than I thought it would be.
  26. The candles flickered and died.
  27. I scrambled up the tree just in time.
  28. Contrary to what everyone believes, a dragon’s breath is cold.
  29. Our feet were numb with the cold, but we had to keep going.
  30. Time travel was going to be trickier than I thought.
  31. I slid across the ice and into the boards.
  32. My uncle is a pirate.
  33. For the first morning in ages I didn’t wake up to the sound of crying.
  34. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought tuba players were cute.
  35. New house. New school. New zit. Perfect!
  36. Our guide for the Harley mansion tour said that the house was haunted. She was right. The ghost came home with me.
  37. I looked up, hoping to see clouds. The moon was too bright for what we had planned.
  38. I ran and fought the urge to look behind me.
  39. The coach made Jim captain.
  40. I think vampires are boring, but considering where I live, it’s safer to keep my opinion to myself.
  41. Edges scare me, especially when they’re attached to cliffs.
  42. A puppy was the last thing this house needed.
  43. Hockey tryouts are tomorrow.
  44. “They can’t cancel the dance!”
  45. Camp was going to be fun, but only if I could avoid Madeline.
  46. The poor creature look half starved. I couldn’t leave it in the rain.
  47. When Lily had asked if I could keep a secret, I’d said yes. Now that I knew what the secret was, I wasn’t too sure.
  48. They’d told me that my armor would feel heavy the first time I wore it.
  49. Animals aren’t supposed to talk.
  50. I couldn’t wait for the race to start.
  51. “What do you mean there’s no power?”
  52. Jack placed the box carefully on the table.
  53. The tower looked a lot bigger up close.
  54. My phone chirped. That was weird. I never got texts from Kelly at this hour.
  55. I smelled the creature before I saw it.
  56. “We’ve got a new coach.”
  57. I ducked, but I wasn’t fast enough.
  58. I hated playing third base.
  59. I had never been so hot in my entire life.
  60. The old woman threw the gold chain onto the ground.
  61. The only things Parker Higgenbottom could charm were snakes.
  62. The beach had changed.
  63. Marcy was the only one who thought Henry’s jokes were funny.
  64. Nobody played better guitar than Bill—until Louise came along.
  65. Yesterday, this had seemed like a good idea.
  66. The captain said that a boring voyage was a good thing. Now I knew why.
  67. Dexter was lost.
  68. The rocks shifted and a tunnel appeared.
  69. The door creaked open.
  70. Petra adjusted her night-vision goggles and waited.

Choose one of the groups of words below and use one, some, or all four words in a story or poem.pencils and eraser

  1. Bell, nail, door match
  2. Phone, dog, yellow, bank
  3. Book, flame, corn, fear
  4. Ring, box, glass, leaf
  5. Fire, storm, red, claw
  6. Table, coat, photo, ring
  7. Climb, sky, wire, light
  8. Jeans, box, jar, green
  9. Cloak, glass, frame, stone
  10. Roof, board, candle, snow

Here are some lines of dialogue. Can you think of a story in which the characters might have these conversations?

  • It’s not like Henry to be late.
  • He’s not late. He’s run away
  • I can’t fly that thing.
  • If you don’t, we’ll be caught.
  • Jeremy lied to me.
  • He lies to everyone.
  • Not anymore.
  • That thing’s alive.
  • That’s not all it is.
  • What do you mean?
  • I’ll explain while we run.
  • If you do that, you’ll get in trouble.
  • And if I don’t, they’ll never know the truth.
  • Have you seen this before?
  • No, and I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t have seen it now.
  • But I don’t have any money.
  • Then you’d better find some.
  • I love that song.
  • Thanks. I wrote it.
  • It’s too hot. We have to turn back.
  • No. We’re nearly there.
  • Is that the best you can do?
  • It’s the best I can do for you.


    • So glad you find them useful, Mary! I didn’t think about plays, but the dialogue prompts would definitely be fun for playwrights. If you check the writing prompts for teens, you’ll find more dialogue prompts there. I’ve changed my mailing list sign up, so I’ve added your name to my Aweber list. You will likely get an email from them soon with a link to bonus material. Thanks for dropping by!

  1. Hiyaa. This website is quite helpful so thank you!
    I have an idea for a writing prompt: Toy guns can’t kill people – or so I thought.
    Hope you add it to the list.
    I’m stuck on what genre I should write my story on – I’ve written several horror stories but don’t like sci -fi or science -fiction…?
    Plus, how can I come up with an idea that isn’t too cheesy and un-original?
    Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Hi Aimen! Thanks for the great writing prompt. I will add it to the list today. I wouldn’t worry about what genre to write in because sometimes the rules can be limiting. Just write your story and if you have zombies and dragons, who cares as long as it’s a great story. Some people say that there are only a handful of stories in the world and that everything we read is based on those stories. A love story: boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back again. The unique characters you create, the problems you give them, their friends, the setting–all make your love story unique and original. My suggestion is to just jump in and start writing, see where the characters and your imagination take you. People start lots of stories that they never finish, so keep experimenting until you find the story that you feel that you have to write.

  2. Helloo! No problem. Oh okay. Thank you for the advice – it helped me think and start writing again! By the way, I’m going to start writing a romance (not a typical plot at all!) and I’m anxious but excited. Wish me luck! Thanks again for your advice.

  3. Helloo. I’m in total writer’s block!! I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to be ‘able to write’ recently. Despite scouring the internet for writing prompts (including visual ones) I’m still kinda ‘brain dead’ – It feels really weird not writing like I used to.

    Any advice or website recommendations would be really beneficial please 🙂

    • Writer’s block can be a little scary, but it can be overcome. Sometimes there are other things that get in the way of writing like homework or friends or activities taking up a lot of time and energy. And when life gets busy, it’s hard to be creative. You just have to trust that, when you get a bit more quiet time, you’ll get creative again. When I need to get writing again, my best solution is to change where and how I write. I usually write on my laptop, but when I get stuck, I get out paper and pen (or pencil) and go to a coffee shop. A change of scene can make all the difference. Also, when you first started to write stories, you probably started writing with pen and paper. Sometimes, going back to the first tools you used to write your stories will help get ideas flowing again. Another trick is to set mini-goals for your writing–say only 25 or 50 words every time you sit down. Completing a mini-goal gives you the satisfaction of having successfully written for the day. Repeating those mini-goals will help rebuild your confidence and help you get writing again. You can read more about mini-goals here: http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/2014/08/not-enough-willpower-goals-make-mini-habits/
      Good luck! And I hope you get back to writing soon.

    • Hi! I replied to this earlier on my phone, but clearly that didn’t work. I’m so glad that you liked the prompts and yay! for your new story!! I hope that you create lots of brilliant new stories this year.

  4. Hi Heather!
    I love the list, but I have a question:
    What can I do to make my story more interesting? I know I have good ideas (thanks to your list) But I find it difficult to get it onto paper. My characters seem boring, and I need your help changing this!!!

    • Hi Erin! My suggestion is to find out a little more about your characters. Try the Character Sketch Template under the Templates for Printing tab on the website and check out this post, too. http://www.wrightingwords.com/2012/11/10/does-your-character-have-a-secret/ Make sure that your characters aren’t perfect. Give them flaws, fears, weaknesses, and secrets. If your character is afraid of heights, climbing to the top of a tower to rescue the prince is going to be a lot more challenging. If the character doesn’t want anyone to know that her parents are getting a divorce, how might she act when invited to a wedding or if someone finds out and threatens to tell if she doesn’t go along with them to do something she doesn’t want to do? Hope these ideas help. I’m so glad to hear that you’re writing stories and are enjoying the list. Have a writerly day!

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