back view of a woman in black dress standing in front of the building

Fiction Friday: How writers begin a new story-with something weird in their heads

Before I share this weird “thing” that’s in my head, allow me to explain.

So…I’ve completed one novel and am presently shopping it out. I’m also 5,000+ words into writing my next one, a novella, which will only be 30,000 words. I’ve had this “hit the pause button thing” happen to me before with Inn Significant. With that novel, I had the bones of the story, but something was missing. While I worked on other novels, I continued to figure out where the plot of Inn Significant was going, and I finally pieced it all together. It took me a few years to figure out just what that missing ingredient was, but I ended up finishing the novel and pulling it together.

fresh flowers petals and sheet of paper on pink surface
The power of a blank page.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

The same is true with what I’m working on now. While I can’t share a lot of detail about the novella, despite it’s short length, I can say it’s a rather large undertaking that warrants fear of living up to what I intend to do. So, I go into the writing of it with my eyes wide open of what a tall order it is, while also being quite fearful that I won’t do the project—or the story—justice.

Which brings me to the weird thing.

This morning I woke up with this story in my head. I have no idea where it came from or where it’s going at this point, but I wrote down what I knew this morning, and I decided to share it. It could be something I write on Wattpad or just share in sequence here. So consider the below a prologue of sorts, and please remember, it’s very, very rough. It just came out of my brain oven this morning.

So here it is, for FICTION FRIDAY (I haven’t done one of these in QUITE SOME TIME!)

back view of a woman in black dress standing in front of the building
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

Be Well, the beginning of a novel, or perhaps a serial story (who knows)

by Stephanie Verni

There were only three people who knew the secret. And one of them was dead.

Penelope grabs the paperwork from the table and shoves it in her briefcase. She’s dressed in a simple black dress, believing that this is the appropriate attire to wear for the type of two-person meeting she is about to attend. She grabs the cup of coffee from the barista and sits down at a table. She lets the heat of the coffee slide down her parched throat. She hardly slept. Until yesterday, none of this existed; it was just an old, haunting, lingering memory. For the last twenty years, all thoughts of that time had been pushed to the back of her mind, as she’s tried not to think of it at all.

She breaks off a piece of the croissant and takes it to her lips, then puts in back down on the plate. She’s not sure her stomach can handle food at the moment.

With a quick glance at her watch, she sees the time. The meeting’s not due to take place for an hour. That’s a long time for her mind to reminisce, to wander, and to revisit the past. When was the last time she had talked to him? How many years had she remained distant? Who was with him when he died?

She picks up her cellphone to bide the time, but she can’t focus, not even on mundane social media posts. She’s only seen him one time since she walked away for good—at his only son David’s funeral.  She had positioned herself in the back of the church wearing black then, too. She had worn a hat with a short veil. He had seen her and acknowledged her presence. She disappeared before the burial.

At the time, he had known about Paul. Somehow he had found out and sent an anonymous card addressed to her at the office that simply read “Congratulations—be well.” He had not put his name to it, but she knew it was from him. He signed off every single time, whether in person, on the phone, or in any correspondence, that way. Be well.

And now, he was dead.

Penelope swallows hard and continues walking on the sidewalk at an uneasy pace to meet a man named Freddie Davis, Esquire, who is most likely the only other person who knows the story, or at least part of it, anyway.

copyright 2021/Stephanie Verni

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