And Then It Happened: A Story Prompt

You know how it goes. You’re going through an ordinary day—maybe it’s a Sunday, and you’re just taking it easy—and then just like that something happens to change everything. Maybe a visitor arrives, or a phone call comes, or someone says something they’ve been repressing, or they do something they never thought they’d do. The universe has countless ways of creating narrative by changing an ordinary day into an extraordinary one. The circumstances of our lives put us into situations that change us forever.

Sometimes we read about something in the news, and we wonder about the time that separated before from after. What were people’s lives like before someone took a step, and everything changed? Sometimes we think back to our own memories of life-changing events. Maybe we recall how happy we were just before the moment we wish we could forget. Or maybe we were in distress just before joy found us. Our stories are made up of such pivotal moments.

Let’s think about starting a narrative as close to its crisis point as we can. This writing prompt might be particularly useful for flash forms, either in fiction or creative nonfiction. Here’s an example: Brenda Miller’s essay, “Swerve,” as it appeared in Brevity:

Begin your own narrative with this sentence: And then it happened.

Take that sentence and let the narrative unfold. Lean into the urgency of the telling. Build the intensity. Find a place of no return. Then, get off the stage.


  1. Rhonda on April 15, 2024 at 2:04 pm

    ❤️. Get off the stage . 🤣

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