Story Starter: Room With A View

This room with a view reminds me of the Flat Iron building in New York

This week’s Story Starter from our Fiction Editor, Shirley, might make you think of apples again, big apples!

How’s this for a room with a view? It reminds me of one of my favourite buildings in the whole world, the famous Flatiron Building in New York. Do you know the one? It’s the inspiration for this weeks story starter.

This local example did actually look sharper when I was underneath it taking the photo than it does in the photo itself. How does that happen? I know – focal plane, perspective…. there’ll be technical explanation for it.

Anyway, how about the outlook from the top floor flat? I know what the view is, of course, but what do you imagine? Do you reckon the family who live there bought it especially for its spectacular “open aspect” as the estate agent would say?

And don’t you love that turret on the top? So elegant.

So good they named it twice!

Now, going back to the Flatiron Building…..I can’t remember the last time we had a story set in New York. Idea? It’s a way of doing something different with the familiar.

Think about a love story. There are only so many ways you can tell it, only so many ways you can keep the reader guessing. But ultimately, she does always know how it’s going to end, doesn’t she? It’s the writers ambition, though, to make the story as enjoyable as she can and to make the journey to the known outcome as interesting as possible. So, one way to do that is to play around with the setting – like, for example, transposing a romance that’s placelessly assumed to be the UK, to somewhere more adventurous. That somewhere else is usually a holiday destination like the Mediterranean, but it can be mixed up again if you think beyond the conventional, and choose places like Boston, Texas, New York….

I’m a fan of Michael Portillo’s various Railway Journeys; maybe watching something like that will help you set a different scene.

In an upcoming issue of the Friend – February 17 – feature writer Neil McAllister uses his bus pass to get around the Lake District and it makes for such an interesting read as he hops on and off the various routes. See? It’s an example of how a different approach can freshen up the familiar.


Have you used a story starter as inspiration? Check our writing guidelines to see how you could get published in the “Friend”.



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.