Writing Prompt Story Starter: Wet Paint

Wet Paint. The sign was in a window I passed a couple of weeks ago.

Actually it was an undertaker’s window, but let’s not dwell on that. The paint all around the glass itself, and the baseboards and the door, had been freshly painted a sedate but pleasing grey.

The funny thing was that it was a really, really windy day, and a blizzard of autumn leaves was falling. I’ll bet you can visualise it. The grey paint was covered in leaves of gold, red, brown….stuck all over. Oh dear!

First it made me giggle. Then I thought about it and thought, That’s a Story Starter. About how the best laid plans can go awry. Or as Robert Burns wrote far more lyrically: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft a-gley”.

But it’s true, isn’t it? How often do you make a whole raft of special arrangements only for it all to go haywire. It can be thanks to a puncture, a breakdown, a lost key, no babysitter. They’re inconvenient but in the grand scheme of things, just….life. But sometimes it’ll be something more serious putting that spanner in the works, like sudden illness, or relationship problems.

Sometimes it’s a happy happenstance, like news of a pregnancy or birth, or winning the lottery, or an award.


Going back to my Wet Paint sign, I don’t know about you but my first thought is always, I wonder if it’s dry yet? It’s soooo tempting just to touch it and see. Leaving a fingerprint, perhaps. Like newly-laid concrete marred by footsteps or cycle tracks. Two themes there: curiosity and impatience. Or rebelliousness, perhaps.

As for the leaves that were stuck all over, that’s about planning, doing the groundwork, being prepared. Someone really should have checked the weather forecast before they took the lid off the tin!

Fire up your creative juices with more of Shirley’s inspiring story starters.

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.