This is topic Cliche Opening Challenge in forum Writing Challenges at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
Okay, we all know that starting a story by having our hero wake up in a strange new world is considered cliche. Why? Yes, I know, it has been used time and again and always, well, usually almost always, in the same manner. And yet I find I have a use for such an opening from time to time because that's just the way it has to be, he goes to sleep/dies/becomes unconscious and when he opens his eyes, guess what? Yep, you got it.

But, how can we make this tried and true cliche a little less cliched? That's the challenge.

I propose a contest. Everyone and anyone can post as many two sentence beginnings that have the phrase I/He/She woke up in it that they can create. They can even post their favourite such opening by another author so long as proper attribution is given. At the end of say, two weeks, each person who has posted multiple suggestions must delete all of their entries except one. We then each pick our favourite one and that person is the winner. Any takers?

Oh, and each sentence can be up to 50 words in length--a no doubt worthy challenge for extrinsic.

I throw my gauge at your feet sirrah! Will you pick it up?


[ January 20, 2015, 02:39 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
I'll start with:

I woke up in bed with a man and a cat. The man was a stranger; the cat wasn't.
Robert Heinlein: To Sail Beyond the Sunset
Posted by Smiley (Member # 9379) on :
(1. I awoke up with a chill sense of uneasiness, as if I had been here before in a forgotten dream of my own, but when you dream-walk, sometimes you end up where you're never meant to be, and I definitely shouldn't be here. I knew my neighbor, Deplazio, and he wouldn't want me, the chaste maiden as he saw me, to see him like this, but I knew even his perpetually perverted dreams had never taken him into such an accursed vista.

(2. A gruff, hot, growl of a large, unpleasant hound, which in my still muddled mind infused fear and despair into my heart, brought me to my senses, or at least, I woke up enough to recognize half-forgotten sounds. I dared not move, not open my eyes to verify what my ears heard mere centimeters from my head, not take in the deep breath that my aching, burning lungs demanded I take to break this spell of unconsciousness, not even dare hope that I had been deposited anywhere near my beloved Halvershom, birthplace and sanctuary to all my kind.

[ January 21, 2015, 11:53 AM: Message edited by: Smiley ]
Posted by Brendan (Member # 6044) on :
1. I woke up on the promise of a glorious day. Today would be the last day I'd remember.
Posted by TaleSpinner (Member # 5638) on :
When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off sounding like Sunday there is something seriously wrong somewhere.

I felt that from the moment I awoke.

- John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
My original contribution--so far.

He was The Everyman Contingency, and it was his mission to save us from what made us human. Secreted somewhere within it's framework, the ship would wake him up from his hibernation sleep if one of three events occurred.


It just occurred to me I may have cheated in my own challenge. Anyone want to call me out?
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
I only have one story with an I-woke-up opening:

I awoke and sat up, my heart ticking in my ears like a timebomb and cold numbness spreading through my limbs. Darkness clung to the bedroom as I realized I should've gone home hours ago. Sh!t. Debbie's going to kill me, I thought, as I felt something cold and wet slip over my fingers.

Posted by Joanne (Member # 10373) on :
Hello Phil! I'm new to the site and I was just snooping around and found your challenge. Here's something I threw together just for fun--

I woke up with one foot in the grave already. My carbine laser was tapped, Edmunds was outright missing, and that raw trilobite dinner last night had probably given me food poisoning—not to mention, it was impossible to get those wretched calcite appendages out from between your teeth.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Now, didn't say he woke up. In fact, he's still asleep.

My entry:

I woke up and wondered if I was awake. I go to sleep, and wake up in another place. I go to sleep there, and wake up here. One is an ongoing dream and one is ongoing reality. How am I supposed to know which is which?
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
Welcome Joanne, good entry, quirky and amusing. Yep, wetwilly, ya got me. But it did provide me with the subject of an upcoming short story--or perhaps long one.

I'll try and do better next time.

Posted by telflonmail (Member # 9501) on :
When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.

Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
"When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed into a monstrous vermin."

Franz Kafka, "The Metamorphosis"
Posted by TaleSpinner (Member # 5638) on :
A tickling sensation awoke (awakened?) me. I was being read, despite my cliched opening. And I was cold, no longer sandwiched cosily between other stories in the slush pile. Would my story have a happy ending?
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
I do like that one, TaleSpinner. Personally, I'd go with awoke.

Posted by Jed Anderson (Member # 9863) on :
He knows he is alive, but how does he knows this? He knows that the cool fluid that he feels surrounding him is water.
Posted by emperorjohn (Member # 10384) on :
My eyes bulged at the sight, bejeweled men and women staring at me, kneeling. They were holding trays of sweet cakes and ice cream, my favorite.
"Treats for your majesty," One of them said.
I reached to grab one of the plates when instead of sweet cake, I felt ice cold water. "You've been dreaming again," my mother said

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