Story Starter: Storm Clouds


Storm clouds provide a metaphor

Last week’s story starter was quite specific, showing a thatcher at work, which (probably) means that the stories that result will be about a thatcher. Or perhaps about craftsmen or skills of the recent past. So I thought this week’s storm clouds might evoke more of a mood instead.

This was taken last March in Dundee’s seaside resort of Broughty Ferry. It had been a lovely morning, but as you can see, by the time I was down there for my daily lunchtime walk, the storm clouds had begun to roll in from the north-east. I can’t remember now if they dumped the rain that looked a certainty. Probably, this being Scotland. Actually if you look closely at the left of the pic the sky has that grey tone which I think is a sign of rain falling there.

But a sky like that offers a metaphor, too, doesn’t it? Storm clouds can erupt in so many aspects of our lives: emotional, professional, friendships, domestic, parenting… I’m sure you’ll think of lots more.

Of course, as with any of these Story Starter pictures, you can make of it whatever you want.

One of my writers found that this week. After a couple of rewrites of a story, the resulting final draft – which I’ve just bought – had moved quite far from the original idea, which had been prompted by the gateway and path picture a few weeks ago. But that doesn’t matter. The final result is a solid emotional story. And she can always go back to the original idea and rework it.  Story Starter: the gift that keeps on giving!

Anyway, back to this one. Maybe you’ve focused on the sign directing cyclists away from the usual cycle path. Or the man walking his greyhound. Or noticed that almost every car is black….

What’s that big building on the left with the high archway?

Maybe what catches your eye is the Victorian (Edwardian? I’m not sure) terrace of villas in the background with the corner stonework precisely picked out in cream. Speaks of house-pride that, doesn’t it?

You can see that the street sign reads “Castle Approach” so I can tell you that behind where I was standing (in the middle of a car park) to take this picture is Broughty Ferry Castle, a 16th century edifice with a fascinating history.

Anyway, there’s lots more detail to observe, or you might pull your focus right out and let the mood wash over you. So long as your story is 2000 or 3000 words, the rest is entirely up to you!

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.