500-Word Stories, Stories

An Experiment in Beginnings

Like I’ve said during my Friday posts: I’ve been busy at work planning for Summer Reading. What does that mean? It means I don’t have a lot of time to write–at least, not write chapters in my current stories that I think are up to the quality they should be. And yet it is story day on the schedule, so… quite a dilemma. But then I thought it might be fun to try my hand at some “flash fiction.” It would be a good writing exercise for me and still (hopefully) provide an enjoyable read. So I found a prompt and challenged myself to write that story in only 500 words or less.

Prompt: Write the opening to a story “in medias res.”

Jem was vaguely aware that someone was going to come get him.  He was sitting, hugging himself, fingers digging into his arms so hard that it hurt.  He felt like he should scream; he was wet, not just with the rain but with some other liquid, thick on his clothes and skin. 

A flash of light brought him somewhat to his senses. There were voices, and Jem tried to wave, to let them know that he was here, but his body didn’t want to move.  It wanted to stay there, hunched over, staring at the ground, waiting to wake up.  Because this had to be a dream, right?  Things like this didn’t happen in real life; they happened to characters in books and movies, imagined only by the minds of sadistic writers so that audiences could lap them up like thirsty dogs.  Lest the masses forgo their stories.

The voices were coming closer, and Jem closed his eyes.  What would he say?  More importantly, what would they say?  There was no way he could explain any of this.  He could hardly believe it himself, let alone expect someone else to understand.  They wouldn’t.  They would blame him, say it was all his fault–

Though it was, wasn’t it?  Jem shook his head, blocking memory after memory from his mind.  He didn’t want to think about that, but he knew he would eventually have to recount the tale.  If only it could be better, if only it ended with a “happily ever after” like the stories he’d enjoyed as a child.

But who likes stories like that, anyway?

Copyright Sarah Davidson 2021


Hmm…. this was kind of fun to write. Not sure what would happen next, but it was definitely a good writing exercise. I tend to start stories with a very clear “beginning.” Kind of like, “Hi, I’m the character. Here’s the story starting.” I kind of feel like I need to branch out of my comfort zone and write more stories by just dropping the reader in. The more I think about it, some of my favorite books start that way. So… this seems like a pretty successful writing exercise. It definitely gave some food for thought.

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