First Sentences, Second Sentences

Here are two more fiction exercises from What If? by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. Make a list of ten first sentences. Then choose one first sentence and write a few second sentences for it. Experiment with the direction a story might go, at the very start!

Here are three of my ten first sentences:

Josie’s mom was the first to file a restraining order on behalf of her daughter.

The photo Tim showed me was creased, a line from hair to chin.

I knew before he said no.

And here are my second sentences:

Josie’s mom was the first to file a restraining order on behalf of her daughter. Angela’s parents followed and then the rest of the varsity volleyball team. Within a week, Ashley spent her school days in the high school office.

Josie’s mom was the first to file a restraining order on behalf of her daughter. “Her counselor, for God’s sakes,” she said, “He wrote Josie’s college reference letters. Of course she’s traumatized. She applied to Yale. God knows what he wrote.”

Josie’s mom was the first to file a restraining order on behalf of her daughter. The family attorney was confused until Mrs. Roby pulled a stack of photocopied letters from her bag. “She has Josie’s locker combo,” Mrs. Roby said, “Josie gets one of these nearly every day.”

The photo Tim showed me was creased, a line from hair to chin. Tim pointed to the  man’s cupid lips and then to his own. “I think this is my dad,” he said.

The photo Tim showed me was creased, a line from hair to chin. I shook my head no. I only caught a glimpse, faraway. Tim sighed, put a hand on mine. He said, “Maybe you should report it.”

The photo Tim showed me was creased, a line from hair to chin. “She’s so symmetrical,” I said, “I mean, really gorgeous.” I took the photo from him and thought how he was always this lucky.

I knew before he said no. His face was fire blush. I shouldn’t have said anything. I had to get out of there.

I knew before he said no. He laughed. I shoved away from him, sat at the other end of the sofa. He sobered. “Hey,” he said, “I thought you were joking.”
“Why would I joke about a baby?”
“Because you know me.”

I knew before he said no. He tried to be nice about it. He said he’d like to give me the time off, but if he made an exception for me. I quit listening. The Hobart was steaming the air between us. “It’s my mom,” I said and he clasped his hands in front like a schoolgirl. I saw a busboy looking at us. I untied my apron and held it out.

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