Tilda dug at the frozen earth among the tender shoots that were trying to grow despite the cold of winter which tenaciously wasn't relinquishing its hold. The sky above was a gun metal gray.
"It's got to be here somewhere," she thought. "I'm the only one who knows."
Unless it had moved itself again. These enchanted objects were so difficult to keep track of and conceal from everyone else. What would she do if someone found out?
Tilda knew what she would have to do. She would have to go tell the council that she lost the crown. They would not be happy.
She stood up and brushed the mud off her knees. "Oh who cares?" She tossed the old spade on the ground and tightened her kerchief. The ground trembled.
Suddenly the ground beneath her erupted into a giant hole with the crown in the center completely clean of dirt and grime.
"Well, at least I know where you are now." Tilda grabbed it before it disappeared again. Taking up her spade she quickly filled in the hole and covered the loose earth with leaves so know one would see it. She pulled her kerchief off her head and wrapped the crown up in it. "Now where to hide you where you can't get away from me again?" Tilda sighed when she saw the lumps of old leaves scattered across the green where she'd dug looking for the pesky thing.
My many thanks to the following contributors: Jocelyn Kasper, Margo Dill and Anonymous. I added the last paragraph to the story. It is a fun exercise to do with other people. This story beginning has the right elements to keep the reader wanting to know more and what will happen next. We are immediately drawn into a setting where it is trying to be spring but the cold is still present. It is an overcast day and Tilda has a problem. She has lost an important object and is desperate to find it. We learn that the object is enchanted and it is a crown. But we are left still wondering who Tilda is, who does the crown belong to, and why is she the one hiding it? I still want to know how old Tilda is, and what she looks like, and what is going on? We have just enough information to keep us reading to figure out the answers.
So next time you are stumped on your story opening maybe try writing something new and ask a friend or other writer to contribute a tidbit or two. Then look at the elements of the narrative and see if it helps you figure out what needs to be changed in your own story. It is a fun collaborative thing to try and it might help you see the trees among the forest.
And if you want to keep this story going then add a line or so in the comments. Storytelling doesn't always have to be a solitary art.