The Key to Good Writing

When this key snapped off in the door leading from our garage into the house, it thankfully was a minor incident, hardly worth writing about. Unless, that is, you use your imagination and picture one of the infinite number of scenarios that could accompany such an occurrence.

Photo of a broken key

Of course, merely picturing something is hardly edifying or entertaining to the rest of us. On the other hand, if you were to, say, give us an opening sentence in a novel that had a broken key as one of its major plot elements…well, now we’re getting somewhere.

What say ye?

Update: OK, here’s my offering…

Martin had many things he wished to share with his fellow criminals in the special corner of hell he now inhabited, and many questions he wanted to ask them should the demons that attended them provide a brief respite from their torment, and not the least of those questions would be whether any of them, in their collective careers as rapists, muggers, burglars, and all-around thugs, had ever encountered someone who could employ the jagged end of a broken house key to such deadly ends as the tiny red haired female who was Martin’s final intended victim.


  1. Mis_nomer, it’s actually a scan. I decided it would be easier to do put the key on the flatbed instead of hauling out the camera and then downloading a photo. And, of course, Photoshopping occurred. But, thanks anyway. 😉

  2. “I want to play! I want to play!” she screamed.
    There was a flurry of activity behind the locked door, but no one acknowledged her urgent knocks or shouts. Desperation was thick in her voice as she cried once again to whoever might hear her pleas.
    “I WANT TO PLAY!!”
    A thought.
    The key. Of course!
    She fumbled for what seemed an eternity until the gold ring finally emerged triumphantly from her handbag. Once, twice she attempted to hit the target. And, finally….success. The lock tumbled hesitantly beneath her insistent turns. And then it happened. SNAP! The head of the key skipped across the floor as it broke free from her hand.
    And the game behind the still-locked door continued…

  3. Mark, funny, but I thought you’d be shorter. Anyway, “goodness” is in the eye of the beholder, and any opening sentence containing both fjord and Pieter is bound to have some redeeming value.
    Deborah, it’s the mystery of the “other keyholders” and the implied competition that makes your sentence compelling.
    Sherry, I especially like the triumphant emergence of the gold ring. And we’ll try not to make too much noise as we continue the game on the other side of the door; don’t be too jealous…we’re probably not having as much fun as you think we are. Probably.

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