Every article relating to:

Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt: Now It’s Your Turn

by Matilda Butler on October 28, 2014

Writing Prompt LogoPost #195 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing Prompts and Life Prompts – Matilda Butler

First Paragraphs

For the past several weeks, we’ve been announcing the winners of our First Paragraph Contest. And if you have been following the posts, you’ve now seen the published first paragraphs of the Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Grand Prize winners. We hope the paragraphs have inspired you in your own writing.

I’m wondering. Are you are one of those who says, “That’s a good idea. I should work on my opening.” But then you get busy and don’t quite get around to it? If so, you’ll appreciate today’s memoir writing prompt because it gives you a chance to focus on just one paragraph — the first one in the memoir or vignette you’re working on.

You Don’t Get a Second Chance at a First Impression

When I was young, my mother often reminded me that I didn’t get a second chance at a first impression. And she assured me that first impressions mattered. It might all sound a little trite, but if you want to have the opportunity for more impressions, even as a writer, you need to get the first one right.

Memoir Writing Prompt

1. Open your current writing document to the first page and focus on your opening paragraph.

2. Quickly write a couple of sentences that explain what your memoir (or vignette) is about.

3. Read your first paragraph out loud.

4. Pretend you are a reader of your story rather than its author. Read the opening paragraph again.

5. Now ask yourself (as the reader):

  • Will this be an interesting story that I want to continue to read?
  • Does the paragraph seem to foreshadow a tale I want to learn more about?
  • Is the main character introduced? Can I see her (or him)?
  • Do I care about the main character?


  • 6. Become the author again and ask yourself:

  • Where have I chosen to start my story? Backstory? Action scene? Ending (and then I go back and tell how I got to there)? Is this the best place to start my reader?
  • Look at my words. Have I used powerful words? Consider alternatives and see if there are better choices.
  • Have I used dialogue? Would it help me engage the reader?
  • Am I “showing” or “telling”? Either works although showing is a better way to bring a reader into a story.
  • Have I taken advantage of relevant sensory details?
  • Is time or place important in my story? If so, does the reader know where I am and when?


  • The answers to the questions are not predetermined and the response of authors will be different. I just pose them to get you thinking about alternatives so that your first paragraph can be a powerful as possible.

    { 0 comments }

    Writing Prompt: A Bit of Inspiration

    by Matilda ButlerSeptember 4, 2014
    Writing Prompt: A Bit of Inspiration

    Looking for a little inspiration? These writing prompts provide valuable messages to bring inspiration into our lives.

    Read the full article →

    Writing Contest Deadline Looms: Enter Now

    by Matilda ButlerAugust 25, 2014
    Writing Contest Deadline Looms: Enter Now

    Thoughts on writing the opening to your memoir or novel.

    Read the full article →

    Memoir Writing: Why Do You Need Another Book About Writing?

    by Matilda ButlerJuly 28, 2014
    Memoir Writing: Why Do You Need Another Book About Writing?

    Check out this video about a solution to the frustrations writers have with their skill level.

    Read the full article →

    Memoir Writing Prompt: What’s Your Gift?

    by Matilda ButlerJuly 19, 2014
    Memoir Writing Prompt: What’s Your Gift?

    Writing is hard work and time consuming. There are also benefits from writing. In this blog, Matilda looks at the “gift of writing.”

    Read the full article →

    Overstory, Understory: Writing Prompt Worth Considering

    by Matilda ButlerJune 24, 2014
    Overstory, Understory: Writing Prompt Worth Considering

    What’s your understory? Your overstory? Consider this new approach and then use the writing prompt to get you started.

    Read the full article →

    Writing Prompt: Happy Birthday and Palm Trees

    by Matilda ButlerJune 11, 2014
    Writing Prompt: Happy Birthday and Palm Trees

    Happy Birthday, Kendra. Help Kendra celebrate her birthday by writing your favorite birthday memoir story from a new angle. This writing prompt will give you a new angle.

    Read the full article →
    Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category News Category News Category News Category