Story Starter: Hot Chocolate

A nice cup of hot chocolate

Fiction short story ideas can spring for the most unlikely sources, but sometimes all you need is a hook to start you off or to set the scene for your writing…

A lovely mug of hot chocolate! But the dainty mug with saucer tells you this was taken in a terribly genteel establishment.

It was a very traditional Konditorei and coffee house, Cafe Reichard, in Cologne, practically in the shadow of the magnificent Kolner Dom. And I could imagine the clientele have been going there for years and years. The waitresses wore white aprons and bustled back and forth bearing plates of cream cakes. Have you seen German cream cakes? They don’t do things by halves over there, I can tell you.

The poinsettia on the table tells you we were there in December. I remember one gentleman with his cake and his glass of wine and his newspaper, looking like he was set for the afternoon. Well, it was cold outside; why not?

We were tourists, obviously, and looked the part with our backpacks. No maps. We’ve been there lots of times and know our way around, but others around us were browsing their maps and guidebooks, cameras on the tables.

Our table was facing a window which looked out on a hut selling Christmas trees – excited families gathering to choose and have it wrapped in net, and then manhandle it away.

I’m placing this in a Christmas context for you to repeat something that Helen Yendall said on Twitter this week: to note down your Christmas ideas now while you’re in the mood. You won’t remember this feeling in July!

But this doesn’t have to be a Christmassy story. Another one of my writers is in Australia just now, where spring is springing and the temperature’s rising, and has sent me pictures of her cream teas! So if I can borrow the Dogs’ Trusts excellent slogan, hot chocolate’s not just for Christmas…

Does any of that begin to coalesce into a story idea? Check our latest fiction guidelines for story length and submission details.

Other story starters

We have a whole selection of story starters you can use as inspiration for your next short story, including:

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.