Writing Prompt Story Starter: Japanese Garden

Story Starter

Let Fiction Ed Shirley’s latest Writing Prompt Story Starter inspire your next story . . .

The lake, the water lilies, the pagoda ornamentation; this tranquil garden setting has a Japanese flavour. Does it transport you?

What’s the story? Is it a modern tale of a dream come true? A visit to Japan is top of many people’s travel bucket list. Bucket seat list, I should say!

Or perhaps your story has a period setting. It could be a drama about Pearl Harbor, for instance. Or much earlier. Words popping into my head are Shogun, Tenko, kimono, tea ceremony, courtesy, geisha. I know that last one’s not right for “The People’s Friend”, but thought association is a remarkable process. And who knows where it might lead? E.g. kimono – kino – cinema . . .

Just listen

That reminds me of an exercise we tried at our latest story writing workshop on Saturday past (something I’ll write more about next week).

It took place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre right on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. A vibrant street, thronging with tourists.

We had a few minutes to spare at the end of one of the segments, so as a different kind of writing prompt I opened the windows and we simply listened to the sounds drifting in from outside. Traffic. Voices. Hubbub.

Then I asked the group what story it had inspired.

One thought the hustle sounded like a street market. That’s the way it had struck me, too.

Another had tuned in to the traffic — specifically a heavy vehicle, a delivery lorry or a bus. It made her think of someone missing the bus, or being late because it was stuck in traffic.

But late for what, or who? Or maybe being late brought about a meeting?

One focused on the fact that the pedestrians were groups of tourists. Where from? Groups of strangers or friends travelling together?

It neatly brings us full circle back to that Japanese-inspired garden and the bucket seat list . . .

Over to you. It’s particularly 3000-word stories I’m looking for at the moment!

Click here for more Story Starter inspiration.

Got something for us? Take a look at our submission guidelines here.


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.