The longer you write, the more you begin. The more you begin, the more you accumulate false starts, mis-steps, and generally unusable fragments.
Writers are hoarders, at least of ideas: a good writer never throws anything away, and it can be years between writing a false start and finding the one perfect moment, idea, or circumstance that allows us to finish the story. My personal record is 11 years between abandoning an opening, and completing– and selling– the finished story (At The End There Was a Man, which appeared in the Coeur De Lion anthology Anywhere But Earth). I know of other authors who have gone more than 20 years between beginning and finishing a story. Ask around: we’ve all got one.
So, for your entertainment and education, here are five openings I’ve been carrying around for over 5 years, waiting for that spark to see them through to completion.