Pictures are Powerful Prompts in Writing
Get up, go out and about, and let nature speak to your inner creativity
Words are more powerful than swords.
Or as English author Edward George Bulwer-Lytton wrote in 1839 in his historical play Cardinal Richelieu, “the pen is mightier than the sword”.
But I say that pictures hold the same level of power for writers – as writing prompts. This is also true for images that meet the eyes, and the scenarios they trigger in our mind.
While a pen is used to communicate thoughts and ideas that can cut through the heart, a sword can wound but it can miss the beating heart.
A first glance, meanwhile, at a picture or image nudges us on the aesthetics of the object in focus. See our featured image above?
But a second or third hard look can stir in us our creativity that is lying lazily within. Was the girl in the featured image mauled or eaten by the lion, you’d wonder? Or perhaps it only was a taxidermy lion at a fair, and parents have to pay $10 so their kids pose or take selfies with the huge stuffed animal.
Creative energy gone stale
The best thing is, you don’t necessarily have to scour the Internet for pictures and images to find the ones that would speak to your inner creativity.
Think of the spent energy that had gone stale after all the hours you spent indoors, ruminating and chasing ideas on what to write about. To chase something evanescent in a confined space might be, could be, ethereal.
Best thing to do is get out there. Breathe in fresh energy into your mind and body, and let the images that will greet you stir your imagination.
See, feel, hear the stories in your mind
It is possible to see a story in your mind as soon as you leave your crib.
Maybe you spotted the postman leaving a neighbor’s house at past noon when he usually finishes his delivery at 10:00 a.m. What was he doing in the married woman’s house for two hours?
But, nah, it’s not a good idea to write a story about a neighbor cheating on her policeman-husband.
So move on, walk on the path towards where nature beckons.
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On the way there, maybe you’ll happen to peek at the neighbor’s open window and see Thor.
Do see a story there?
Did Thor’s owner, a marathon champion, run his dog to near-death?
Can you see the title of your article?
Rescued dog from Serbia panting to return to his homeland!
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Perhaps you’ll pass by the closest church to your crib. This one is less than a 100 years old so it is relatively new compared with centuries-old churches in the country.
Why is it never open, you might ask yourself?
Is the vicar dead? If so, why is there no deathly smell?
How do you cover up the smell of rotting corpse, by the way?
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You may want to swing by in the graveyard for a walk. There are loads of stories that a writer, especially of historical romance, can concoct just by examining the text on the gravestones. Check this article, Creativity Comes Alive in Graveyards, for tips.
A walk in a cemetery might, just might, awaken your creative lethargy.
When you’re in Whitby in England, however, make sure you don’t wander by the grave of a certain Count rumored to be buried at St Mary’s Churchyard. Bram Stoker, by the way, lived in Whitby between 1890 and 1896. His novel, Dracula, was published in 1897.
Benches fascinate me. I envisage stories after stories whenever I see a bench during my frequent walks (with my husband) in different parks, nature reserves, in the woods, along the river paths.
My husband does not share my fascination with benches that have become part of nature’s scenery.
He has his feet on the ground, unlike me.
My head is in the clouds, and my hand extended with a mobile-phone camera. I’m always on the look-out for images that will speak to me.
But I am actually disappointed in not having seen, to date, a ghostly figure seated on a bench, likely waiting for the partner to join in their favorite bench. It’s a plot that I’ve been developing.
Speaking of plots (not the ones in cemeteries), I was plotting a book with the simple title, Benches, with all the story plots percolating in my head – until the prince of whinge and the muckraker-partner came up with a children’s book with the same title. That ruined my inspiration for the writing project brewing in my mind.
The consolation is that I have benches (plural) and theirs is just a bench (singular).
Sensurround writing ideas
Check the writing prompts below. You may be able pick up other ideas for stories outside of the prompts.
A group of horses on different days. One day, two of them were lovey-doveys; the next they’re social distancing.
Is the couple having a tiff? How are domestic animals affected by the Covid-19 pandemic?
What happens to race horses who are old or have broken legs – are they really “destroyed” as reported?
(There’s a research article waiting to be written!)
A stone circle that embraces all paths towards paganism, and welcomes all with friendship and respect. To a writer seeking sears of creativity, and who is uninitiated in the ways of a pagan, would you not wonder –
what the ceremonial middle stone is for?
Or what is paganism? How do pagans worship?
What sacrifices are they into using the stone circle?
What happens when a pagan falls in-love with a non-pagan?
(Either another research article with this topic with a romance novel in the offing.)
A gaggle of geese feeding by the lake. You wonder:
are the snow geese the foster parents of the ducklings?
If so, why adopt so many?
Will the goslings of the snow geese try to murder the ducklings when they’re all grown due to inheritance fight?
When roasted, which would taste better, a goose or a duck?
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Or what about getting the shock – or bewilderment – of your life when, as you turn at a very familiar path, you saw something that made you suddenly stop on your tracks.
You saw the bench where you used to meet your ex whom you just toyed with.
The bench was unoccupied.
But your attention was on the tree laden with red berries facing the bench.
There was no tree that tall on that spot just a month ago.
Surely, you thought, that tree wouldn’t appear there from out of the blue.
Then you remembered your ex-girlfriend’s words as she sobbed because you broke up with her: When I die, I would return as a tree by this bench, wait for you to walk by and smother you with the blood oozing from my broken heart.
And you pictured this image in your mind: the copious berries dropping on you in one whoosh, the soft berries erupting and splattering you all over with its red juice, the color of fresh blood, in fulfilment of your ex’s promise.
Run is all you can do – run home and start writing. Make use of your rich harvest of creative ideas!
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First published here.