Writing Prompt Story Starter: This Old House


Shutterstock / Hatalskaya © story starter

Houses make for a fascinating Story Starter.

Or more so, it’s who lives, or lived, in any particular house. After all, a home is moulded by its inhabitants.

The accompanying illustration contains lots of quirky features. I love the fairy-tale aspect. Also, the pastel colours highlight a picture-postcard effect; the fruit-laden tree inviting the viewer further into the scene.

Lots of people’s ideas of their ideal house generally take into consideration location and outdoor space. In this scene, the stream and surrounding foliage creates a sense of perfection.

The beauty of a story starter is writers can be inspired by different parts of an image. Like a jigsaw, some pieces instantly match up, while other pieces require a little imagination.

Dream house

Take the exterior of the house, with its many spires. Who would have dreamed up such a house? Does that person still live in the house?

The flag on top of the tallest spire reinforces the fairy-tale element I mentioned earlier. The house has multiple balconies overlooking the colourful grounds. Designed with the landscape in mind, or simply a brash attempt at grandeur?

The TV show “Through The Keyhole” used to have the famous line by the late Sir David Frost: “Who lives in a house like this?” I don’t know about you, but the house looks lived in to me. Is there love inside – that’s for you to decide?

Though there’s faraway enchantment to the scene, it could be a house from present day. Period stories can offer more scope for suspension of disbelief, but mixing the old with the new in a contemporary story can give you the best of both worlds.

Cobblers and seamstresses conjure up images of old-fashioned jobs, but they are still present-day occupations.

Maybe such an artisan lives in the house of many spires . . .


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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 aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.