Finding Visual Inspiration For Your Writing


We all know that a few words or sentences can prompt a story. But so can a strong visual.

Ultimately, a prompt is a way of firing your imagination, serving as a catalyst for new ideas.

I have listed text prompts in a previous post entitled the Seven-day Creative Writing Challenge. Now I want to highlight how visual prompts can also help formulate story ideas in your mind.

Some writers will look at an image and replicate the exact scene in their stories.

Others might just use a part of the image, or they might let their imagination come up with something totally different from the original image.

As always, the beginnings of a story is all that matters.

On the Fiction team, we often send out illustrations to writers, hoping it will prompt them to write a story.

If you are reading this and think it’s something you’d like to try, let us know!

What do you see?

Remember: the image is merely used as a prompt.

Modern stories can be borne from historical scenes; desolate landscapes can suddenly teem with life.

Personally, I prefer images with characters in them, serving as a focal point to begin my musings.

The key words here is “begin”. You can’t rush the creative process.

An image might not “speak” to you straight away — it might take days, weeks or even months. A good exercise is to regularly look at an image, analysing various aspects of it.

Take the above illustration as an example.

I am a big fan of characters’ expressions. To me, the lady in the illustration has a determined look about her.

Who or what is she looking at? Is she resting against the tree, or hiding behind it? Can the tree symbolise the need for support in her life? Even the dog — do you think she owns it, and what lies behind the trees?

I like that the left-hand side of the illustration is slightly blurred, which could signify yet unknown or new paths to take.

You can see how analysing an image can open up lots of possible story scenarios.

One scenario isn’t better than another. A visual prompt is all about engaging your imagination, so a story begins to take shape.

For more great writing advice from “The People’s Friend”, click here.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.