Writing Prompt Story Starter: The Eyes Have It

Shutterstock / Lana Tikhonova © Story Starter

For this week’s story starter, I wanted to capture facial expression. In particular, the eyes. We’ve all heard the famous idiom, “The eyes are the window to the soul”. This, of course, can change on our mood, or even if we were to put up a pretence. Regardless how we feel, our eyes are a good barometer as to what is going on in our heart.

Whenever I go to art galleries and look at portraits, one of the first things I notice is the subject’s eyes. Does the person look happy, bored, wistful or even annoyed? Of course, most of the time I’m only guessing, but a talented artist can capture a look that penetrates the heart.

Smile, please

One of the most famous portraits is Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. She has a fixed gaze and, of course, there’s that enigmatic smile. Altogether, for me, that expression can act as a muse for many potential storylines – just like the enclosed image.

If Mona Lisa’s is a steady gaze, then this lady has a more searching look. What does it say to you? Could it be defiance, disappointment, strength of character – or simply love? Sometimes all it takes to fall in love is seeing someone in a different light.

I like the splashes of colour on her face – possibly signifying different emotions/moods. The painting effect is striking, and the stands of hair could resemble the threads of her life, still growing, still dreaming. The yellow background complements the subject and her inquisitive look.

I see someone with lots of questions, or even one big question that needs an answer. Perhaps she already knows the answer, whether it’s something she agrees with or not.

A story starter will hopefully raise a question or two for the writer. Then maybe those questions can be incorporated into the plot of a story.

Where to start? If the inspiration is a person, why not start with the eyes?

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”.