If you read last month’s newsletter, you will know that we are running a writing competition – and it’s a bit like a game of consequences! I wrote the opening paragraph of a story, and asked you lovely readers to put flesh on its bones. This month’s winner is Karen Turner who has taken our character down a very dark path – congratulations Karen – your signed book is on its way.
Here’s the story so far:
Friday the 13th was the day that my world fell apart. I hadn’t been expecting it. I was happily splashing a lovely stone coloured emulsion onto the rough plastered walls of my tiny cottage, singing along to an old Take That tune on the radio, thinking how lucky I was to have found this wonderful home in the middle of nowhere, when the old bell hanging in the tiny front porch clanged. Somebody was outside my door – but who? I didn’t think anybody knew that I had moved here, and suddenly I knew I was in danger.
Winner paragraph 1: Ryan Kaminski
Without making a sound, I crept toward the door while turning my attention to the nearest table. That was where I kept my gun. I hadn’t had to use it once in all my time out here, but that could all change now. I peered through the peephole and my heart plummeted to the bottom of my stomach. I unlocked the half dozen locks up and down the doorframe and opened the door. Almost everything about him was the same, from the badge on his belt, to the flakes of dandruff on the shoulders of his suit. The only difference was his eyes, they were puffy and his cheeks sagged, giving his face a tired and defeated look. Before I could form a single word, he looked me straight in the eye and said: ‘Julianne, there’s been an accident. The prison van transporting Danny drove off the road and crashed. He’s on the run. He’s on the run and we have every reason to believe he’s coming after you.’
Winner paragraph 2: Karen Turner
I stared at DCI Stanley McIvor. No, I stared through him, saw his mouth move, heard his words but it didn’t feel real. Like someone reading aloud from a book, turning the pages, weaving the story. But I wanted a happy ever after and I’d thought I had it right up until the untimely clanging of that bell. ‘Julianne,’ he said ‘Did you hear me? You don’t have long to think about this. You need to grab a bag and come with me. I can’t keep you safe here. It’s too risky. Julianne?’ So here we were again, older but really no wiser after all this time. I looked at McIvor and almost laughed at my naivety. Here I’d been merrily colouring in my refuge while Danny had prowled around a cage for eight years, eight long years with nothing to do but think. Well, I’d painted myself into a corner because suddenly that cage was open and the animal was loose, unpredictable, angry and wounded. The voice came again: ‘Please Julianne you must listen. There’s no time left. You know he’ll come. Pack quickly, I’ll wait for you.’ Then McIvor said as he turned to watch the road: ‘Better bring that gun.’
Who will take up Karen’s paragraph and run with it to write the next paragraph? I hope I get as many gems as last month as I’m already looking forward to the next batch of deadly beauties! Good luck!
Runners up this month were:
Ryan Kaminski, who carried on from his winning first paragraph and Val van Rooyen – who was so close! Here they are for you to enjoy but please make sure you only use Karen Turner’s winning paragraph to carry on your story.
I pinched at my legs through my jeans, hoping it would be enough to jolt me awake and return me to the safety and comfort of my bedroom. Yet no matter how hard I pinched, this nightmare refused to end, and Inspector Montgomery still stood in my doorway, waiting for me to say something. This wasn’t the first time I had been at a loss for words in front of him, just as this wasn’t the first time he had come to me with news about Danny. The first time had occurred nearly three years ago. That was when he told me they had arrested Danny for the murder of my parents. All during his interrogation at police headquarters and later at the trail, Danny denied he had a partner in the crime, despite the forensic evidence saying otherwise. Although the identity of his partner remained uncertain, one thing was now perfectly clear. My younger brother was now a fugitive and out for revenge.
Val van Rooyen
My heart sank, I was instantly back to being the terrified and traumatised person I had left behind after a year of psychiatric treatment. My knees buckled and I would have fallen if the big detective had not caught my arm. He said “Pack what you need for a few weeks. I am taking you to a safe house until we get him back behind bars.” I was unable to speak and just nodded dumbly. My cottage had now become the most dangerous place for me to be. I went into the bedroom and mindlessly packed clothes and personal items with no idea of what I was actually doing. Twenty minutes later I was ready to leave. In a matter of minutes my world had been turned upside-down again. Paul picked up my gun from the table and slid it into his jacket pocket saying, “I’ll look after this for you, you won’t be needing it where you’re going. There will be people watching your cottage day and night, it at least will be safe.” I nodded again, still too upset to speak to him. He carefully checked the curtains were closed and locked the door as we left, guiding me down the little pathway to the road where his car was parked. I was still numb, unable to believe that all I had gone through during the past year to get myself back to normal, suddenly seemed to have been stripped away from me, leaving me mentally naked and vulnerable again.
Send your ideas for the next paragraph to me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will publish the best follow-on paragraphs (in my opinion) to build up a short story over the next six months.
Use your imagination, create a world, people it and colour it. That’s what every writer does. All you need is a blank screen or piece of paper and an open mind.