Story Starter: Lightning Tree

Isn’t nature incredible? This tree was all but destroyed. I think by lightning – though it might have been by a gale that swiped off the crown.

But look how resilient it is. How it’s coming back to life.

Now, the obvious short story that springs to mind is of the widow learning to live again after the death of her husband. But how often have you read that story in The People’s Friend already? So I want you to muster all your creative will and resist that one. Go on, you can do it.

So that leaves us with the curse of the blank page. Now what?


The next idea that springs to my mind at the moment would also fall into the “obvious” category: woman who’s been unable to have children either finding she’s pregnant or deciding to adopt.

So we’ll resist that one, too.

Delete and….Next.

What else can go through a process of regeneration after a savage blow?

Community. A business. A career. A body. A marriage. A relationship. Emotions. One’s character.

See how this works? If you take your blank screen/notepad and start jotting down thoughts that spring into your head like this, and then start doodling around them…..

You start to come up with characters, phrases, scenarios, situations and problems, outcomes. Some you’ll discard. Probably most, actually, as I did at the start of this, because they’re too obvious. But then you’ll hit on one thought and think, Ah-ha! Got it!

At this point ask yourself, have I read this story recently? If the answer’s no, it’s the green light to keep on thinking.

You might need another half-dozen thoughts to come along before you can begin to flesh out a whole scenario, but you’re on your way.

Your blank page is filling up.


Feeling inspired? Read more story starters from Shirley’s collection here

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.