Making up a story


Two years ago I made a decision to take an exam in English and in its “Writing” part there were several options one could choose from. One of them was writing a story which must have begun or ended with a specified sentence and was limited by certain number of words. While preparing for the exam I tried to make up a few of those stories but as much as I liked it, it was quite challenging to me. One thing is to come up with a story and another thing is to confine it to defined space. Have you ever tried that? You might end up finding out it is fun. Look at this one:

You are supposed to write a story for a magazine, 120-180 words in all. The story must begin with the following sentence: I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened the front door.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened the front door. A big dog I didn’t know was sitting there staring fixedly at me. I got scared. Though I had intended to go shopping, I closed the door quickly wondering what I should do. Suddenly my mobile started ringing and when I answered it, I heard my husband Larry’s enthusiastic voice: “Happy birthday, darling! Have you seen my present waiting for you at the front door?” I was struck dumb. A present? The dog?? He must have been pulling my leg!

As it turned out, Larry was waiting round the corner and as soon as he came home, he explained everything. He brought the dog called “Conie” from his old friend who was not able to look after her any more and was afraid that I wouldn’t accept her that easily. Well, he was definitely right. But you know what happened? Eventually I agreed and have become friends with Conie. We both enjoy our long evening walks!”



    1. Linda, thank you.

      As for Berta, she is a beautiful dog indeed. 🙂

      As for the exam, I picked out another option when sitting it, I was describing a museum of toys. All of the stories I wrote were an excellent part of the preparation but when I read the defined sentence at the exam paper I didn’t feel confident enough to come up with a story right there. You needed to make the decision quickly as the time was ticking away…

  1. Red

    I can see why people would want this story to be true. You worked in a lot of tension, prediction and empathy in this short piece.
    That's one tough English test.

    1. Red, thank you. It’s interesting to assess the reaction from your analytical point of view, I guess you may be right. As I see it, the story is quite emotional with happy ending but unsure course, in other words, I may see what you can see…

  2. Creative writing is a challenge! You did a beautiful job with this story of so few words! For some reason I couldnt see the photo of the dog, but everyone else did…I think I need a new Computer!

  3. Hello – first time visiting – I do like your blog and shall come back for another visit. I did go and read your story – very nice and I would enjoy a present like that 🙂 Take care

  4. Soosie

    What a brilliant photograph and story – and a wonderful short story as well. Thank you so much Petra I LOVED this. I find that working to a limited number of words is challenging. I talk too much and it seems I write too much as well.

  5. Ginnie

    OMG! How could anyone resist HER! I want to put my arms all around her and never let her go. [It just occurred to me that since the wolf was my animal guide after my divorce, maybe my instinct is to wrap my arms around myself?!] This exercise is better than wonderful, Petra. Thanks for sharing it. You had me at HELLO!

  6. Marcie

    And now you've got me wondering about Conie. Is he yours??? He's the most beautiful dog!! And – I love the 'writing a story' challenge. A good thing to play with…whenever feeling stuck!

  7. Catherine

    Ah Petra there are already too many words in the world so I love the idea of minimising meaning. Your dog is a beauty I find myself just looking into her eyes and feeling raw emotion….I hope she is really your friend? But then that's the power of the story….it draws us in….and we reveal ourselves in our interpretations.

  8. Deborah

    Petra, I love the story you created! I want to believe that it is true, that this lovely dog is now yours and that you found him/her just that way at your front door. Very creative! You have to tell us about the dog no matter what.

  9. Elena Caravela

    Sweet Conie! Great tip Petra. Sometimes restrictions can indeed pump up creativity. I'll have to try your idea for my next post. A lovely tail/tale.

  10. Kelly

    What a great story, most especially if it is true. I'm not showing this to my husband though, he keeps hinting that he wants another dog…. 😉

  11. Barbara

    This picture is beautiful! The writing assignment sounds tough. I took a class in college once where we had to write a short story on an index card. Talk about being succinct. It was tough. I'm wondering too – is Conie yours? Or do you just take evening walks together?

  12. Lisa Buie-Collard

    I love to do "prompt" stories like this one! I used to hate them, felt I was no good at it. But after two years of doing either word or phrase prompts with my little writers group I have found I can actually do it and like it. Sometimes I like the results enough to post on my blog. Great idea, and I love your husband's way of winding you around Conie's paw!

  13. Kate

    Brought tears…I had a dog for 14 years that looked exactly like Conie. We thought she was a husky possibly with some shepard mixed in. My Sylvie had just this look…she had been brought into the veterinary clinic where I worked at the time. She had been hit by a car, had a dislocated shoulder, and her toe had to be amputated. No-one claimed her. She hated the cage at the clinic & chewed the metal grate. I started taking her home at night, and you know how that goes….next thing she was MY dog…for 14 wonderful years and I still miss her. Conie will be a wonderful addition to your household, if in fact he is yours & your story is true ( I hope!):)


    Thank you all for your lovely comments! Do you really want to know what’s behind the photo and story?

    Perhaps I should have written that the photo is just illustrative because the story really is what it’s supposed to be – made up. My husband’s name is not Larry and we have never had a dog named Connie. Nevertheless, maybe that’s just a part of the truth and Berta, which is the real name of the dog in the photo, inspired me subconsciously. Berta is a German shepherd bitch that belongs to my mother-in-law. She and her late husband found her in a dog pound where they were looking for a new dog because the one they had was hit by a car and died. Berta might have been mistreated before coming to the pound but yet she is very friendly and relaxed. She found new home where she is loved and respected. And when I made the decision to post the story, I didn’t hesitate a minute to pick up the vision to the verb.

  15. Juli

    Petra…great story!!! It's amazing how much we can say in so few words. You created a whole world…in what was it, 180 words! Fantastic! And, what a great creative exercise. I think I'm going to give this a whirl!
    P.S..And, your photo of Berta…perfect. She's one happy-looking, beautiful dog!

  16. Maery Rose

    Petra, I think the story in your comments is even better than in your post! I like to hear a happy ending for a dog and for the people that take her or him in.

  17. Carola

    Dogs can make my heart melt… what a lovely story. I remember my school essays when I had to limit them to a certain number of words. Although I love to write, I wasn't a big fan of those school essays. However, your challenge sounds way worthier to try!

  18. Sarah Laurence

    Writing a limited word story is challenging enough in one's first language. Well done! It was fun to read the real story behind the photo too.

  19. Monica Devine

    OH, what a sweet one. I don't think I could resist that eager, ready-to-please face. I took a poetry workshop yesterday where we were asked to write on a postcard…so the piece had to be brief; forcing one to use an economy of words. Then we explored "flash" non-fiction…really fun. You may enjoy Brevity Magazine, a Journal of Concise Literary Non-fiction.

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