Writing Prompt Story Starter: Rebirth


Story Starter

Rebirth. Regeneration. New opportunities. For once the Story Starter is continuing a theme.

It’s the one I started last week, on demolition. If you recall, that showed an old jute spinning mill that had been demolished. Nothing left but a heap of stones.

This week’s picture shows another of Dundee’s mills; same vintage, this time Grade A listed. Far from being demolished, this one has been refurbished into a luxury apartment complex. Thinking about it, it now houses the kind of homes that the workers who used to toil there couldn’t even have imagined.

But some of the mill complexes were huge, with different buildings for different purposes. And you can see that part of this one was demolished.

Fine building overall, though, isn’t it? There’s a grandeur about it. Built to symbolise the importance of jute to the city, I guess. Or the ambition and prosperity of the owner….

The Five Senses

I don’t know if you’re familiar with a mill like this, but the noise they used to produce was tremendous. A great clackity-clacking as all that machinery spun the fibres into twine and wove the twine into cloth. And it had such a distinctive smell, too. It smelt dry and fibrous.

And that’s an important writing point I’ll make in passing: about engaging the five senses in your writing. Let your reader hear the sounds of the machinery; feel the heat of the loom at work, or the nipping fingers of the chilly early morning start…. Let her smell the scents of the raw materials, or of all those bodies standing side by side at their looms. Let her see the colours of the workers’ clothes. Drab? Grey? And let her taste the jutey flaxy air – or the meagre meal the wages could provide.

It’s over to you to see what you can do with a theme of rebirth, or regeneration, or new opportunities. Or you might come up with your own. That’s how inspiration works.

There’s more about using the five senses in our Writing Tools.

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.

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