Begin Again #7 – That Was The Year

I drove down the road, careful to observe the 35 mph speed limit. Children live here. Dogs live here. People do life stuff here.

And there, in the neighborhood on the left, just down the first sweeping hill, a group of vultures. They lifted and lighted in a strange wave.

The writer in me thought only briefly of the poor, dead thing which was the focal point of the flighty group. My thoughts dwelt longer on the story potential of the entire scene.

Before I passed the spot, I had a first line, a series of questions worked up in my head to flesh out the first line, and another Begin Again for all my writing friends.

First Lines

That was the year the vultures starved. 

Grim, right? But not really. Do you get the depth of possibility here?

First lines demand answered questions:

  1. What would cause the vultures to starve? (A lack of food source.)
  2. What made the food scarce? Is this a positive event or a negative event? (Positive would be no more death) (Negative would be all the food source had already died.)
  3. Someone had to survive in order to be the narrator of that first line. Who is it? How and why are they telling the story now?
  4. Why should we (the readers) care that the vultures died?

And The Other Stuff

In the writing of this Begin Again, I had to conduct a little research. Since I am into words, the words are important. They must be the right ones in the right order.

According to, vultures are social creatures. Not really something I like to consider a lot. I want to not like them with their creepy heads, their patience, their ominous shadows. They are family-oriented. Never mind that they tear rotten flesh from lifeless bones …

But what to call a group of them?

A committee, a venue, or a volt.

A committee of vultures in flight is called a kettle.

A volt of vultures feasting on a carcass is called a wake.

Of course, each of those words conjures different connotations.

So, have a little fun with this one. Take whatever you need.

The first line? It’s yours.

The idea of a Vulture Committee? (Suddenly, I thought of a church, or a city council meeting. With a little dove right in the midst.)

What if two people have a conversation about a volt. Using subtext, make one person think the conversation is about the Chevy Volt (a car) and the other person is speaking of a Vulture Volt. Put them (the people, not the birds) in a car. Who is driving? Where are they going? (Depends on which one is driving, right?) What is the surprise at the end?

And what of the spiritual implications of a group of vultures? Peruse the Proverbs of Solomon.

Take another look at that first line: That was the year the vultures starved. 

Replace the word vultures.

Replace the word starved.

Have fun.


As always, happy writing.


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