What's it about?

This blog has a very specific purpose: it's a place to post prompts for creative writing during the time of the lockdown. Initially it was for the use of my writing group, as we cannot for the time being meet in person - but I want to open it up to anyone who'd like to have a go at creative writing. I very strongly believe that writing is good for you: while you're writing, you're off somewhere else - you've escaped! And that can only be a good thing during lockdown.

Do sign up to be notified by email when a new prompt is posted - usually on Thursdays - and I would love to hear how you're getting on in the comments. Have fun!

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Stories in pictures

Some years ago, my mother-in-law was living in a care home. She had a lovely room, with French doors that opened onto the garden, so that she could watch the birds. All her life she had loved books, but recenly, she had lost the ability to read for any length of time: we never could quite work out whether this was becuse of her sight, or because she couldn't retain the memory of one page when she went on to the next.

Anyway, one day when I went to see her, she was gazing at a picture on the wall of a French town. "I've been looking at it for hours," she said serenely. "There's so much going on in it, isn't there?"

There's a lot going on in the three pictures below, too. Have a look at them all - a really good look. What is the setting? The people in them - what are they like? What are the relationships between them? What's happening in the picture?

Then you could go on to think about the artist's intention. What reasons were there for his/her choice of the objects/places in the background? Is his/her interest in the people alone, or is she/he trying to make some more general point?

Then choose one as a focus for your writing. You could:

  • Simply describe what you see, and see what happens - it may develop into something else, it may not.
  • Home in on one particular character, and imagine what they're thinking and feeling - describe that. (This is a monologue.) Is there something crucial about this moment in time? Does the character have a secret which is about to be revealed, something s/he wants to say?
  • Find a story in the picture. What happened before the events of the picture? Or is the picture the beginning - does the real story happen afterwards?

The Dance, by Paula Rego
David Hockney's portrait of his parents
Home from the Pit, by Ron Gribbons. Gribbons was one of the Pitmen Painters. You can find out more about them here.

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