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Why Use Picture Writing Prompts?

Writing prompts help you to jump-start your imagination and generate ideas. You receive a prompt, such as an intriguing image, and you write down all the fictional scenarios that occur to you. You can do it as a timed exercise or not. The point is to have fun and to stimulate your creativity. Photo writing prompts are especially good for this because (unlike text writing prompts) an image can often bypass your analytical mind and elicit a strong emotional response.

You want an intriguing image for a writing prompt. Look for photos that show emotions through people’s facial expressions or body language. Photos that show people interacting are especially good. Because of our focus on characters, we fiction writers are always interpreting what we see. What are these people saying to each other? What are they thinking? How do they feel about the situation? What are they going to do about it? All these questions spring to mind and our imaginations get the biggest boost from photos of people.

But even images of objects or landscapes are helpful if the arrangement and lighting suggest a strong mood such as fear, desolation, or even ridiculousness. We might wonder about the mood of the photo’s composition. Why does the image of shadows stretching across an empty playground seem so sad? Whose viewpoint are we in and what are they feeling? Whose little kid left behind this broken toy? Why did he throw it away? Is he going from fifth grade to sixth grade (which usually involves a graduation from elementary school to middle school / junior high) and he thinks of himself as too grown up for such a toy? Or did the family fall behind in the rent and have to clear out secretly in the night, leaving behind certain items in their haste?

Everyone responds differently to a writing prompt. Only you can write your unique interpretation of what the image seems to suggest based upon your past experiences and way of looking at the world. Using writing prompts can help you blast past writer’s block, get in touch with your issues, and think of new ideas. Perhaps best of all, it can put you back in touch with how much fun writing can be when you’re not toiling on a project to meet a deadline but are just playing with ideas for their own sake. Try it as a refreshing way to take a break and recharge.

I get my photos for writing prompts at Dreamstime Stock Photography. You might also enjoy Write Starts: Prompts, Quotes, and Exercises to Jumpstart Your Creativity available at
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Content copyright © 2018 by Val Kovalin. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Val Kovalin. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Val Kovalin for details.


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