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Story Opening One

by Sally Jennings

Finish writing the following story. If you want to make it all your writing, after you finish it, remove my story opening and write your own. Don't forget to add your own title.

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A slight girl picked her way gingerly through the tall dry grass and bushes on the hilltop. Her dark hair, damp with sweat, clung to her head, attracting flies. A redwing blackbird shrieked, and as if in answer, chickadees flitted nearby, chirping. Two squirrels sassed each other, and then her ears caught it again. That sound. In spite of the hot August evening, she shivered through her thin cotton shirt. Where was it coming from? Crouching slightly, she spun around silently and stared. The sunset rubied the grass and bushes. The wind whispered her name.

From a thicket of hazelnut bushes she turned forward again to scan the gaps in the canopy of trees along the slope at her feet, searching. Not there. Staying in the thicket, she moved deliberately to a large rock to her right, climbed the side away from the slope, and scanned below again. An eerie colored glow pulsed in the deepening shadows. Startled, she raised her binoculars and looked. Lit from behind with a flickering light, colored bottles lined the second floor window of a cabin sitting by the bank of a rocky stream.

She slipped on a dark jacket from her backpack, and keeping hidden from the cabin, soundlessly made her way downslope among the tree trunks. Clambering over a rotten deadfall in the gloom, she caught her bootlace. Bending backward to unfasten it, the sound came again, from the top of the slope this time, behind her. She froze. There and gone. Too fast to be understood. Too persistent to be harmless.

Under cover of a fringe of tall ferns and wild rhododendrons on the stream bank, she threaded her way through the thick undergrowth, circling around the cabin, her body tensed like a tight spring. The sound came again, halfway down the slope. She ducked behind an ancient tree stump on the stream side of the cabin, hidden, but facing the door. An axe sat on the porch next to a freshly cut pile of stove wood. A large shadow crossed the lamplight in the curtained window. The cabin door opened.

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Questions you may want to think about before you write a middle and an ending for this story

  1. What times of day is it?
  2. What do the animals and plants tell you about where the story takes place?
  3. What is the girl wearing?
  4. What is she carrying?
  5. What emotions is the girl feeling?
  6. How many people are in the story?
  7. What is the significance of these words and phrases: slight, shivered, crouching, whispered her name, eerie colored glow pulsed, shadows, froze, thick undergrowth, tight spring, axe, large shadow.

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