Writing Prompt Story Starter: New Beginnings


Shutterstock / Claudio Divizia © story starter

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first Story Starter of 2021!

We’d like to wish all our readers and writers a happy, and healthy, year.

At this time of year, we often reflect on the year that’s past, and look to the year that’s ahead of us.

Thinking about times past, and times yet to come.

So, this week’s story starter is the image of Janus – in Roman mythology, the god with two faces who gives his name to January; one face looking to the past, the other to the future. He was the god of beginnings, and transitions, passages, gateways, and doorways.

The inspiration

New beginnings. Transitions. Resolutions. Hope, at the beginning of every New Year. This year especially.

Planning the year ahead. Looking forward to holidays, birthdays, anniversaries.

A blank calendar. I’m thinking of the poem “Promise”, by Jackie Kay, the Scots Makar, our national poet.

Remembering those we have loved. Meetings, and partings. “Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.” (Great Expectations) And yet – “The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.” (Nicholas Nickleby.)

New Year traditions of old – when I was young, we went ‘first footing’ – visiting neighbours’ homes after the bells had rung in the New Year.  Back in the day, the ideal first foot for good luck was a dark-haired man, bearing gifts of coal, shortbread, salt, black bun, and a dram. These represented warmth, food and prosperity, the flavour of life, and good cheer.

Restrictions mean no first footing this year, or Hogmanay get-togethers. Staying in, instead of going out. Zoom calls.

This isn’t the first time festivities have been cancelled, of course. In 1640, Christmas was effectively banned in Scotland, and didn’t become a public holiday until as recently as the 1950s. Christmas was cancelled under Cromwell and the Puritans, too, in England and Ireland, until the Restoration in 1660. No carols, either – Christmas music, in all its forms, is something we’ve really missed this year.

The twelve days of Christmas. Epiphany. Taking the decorations down. And starting again.

Hope this helps inspire some new writing ideas. Best of luck!


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lucycrichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 150 years of 'Friend' fiction!