Writing Prompt Story Starter: Sunflowers


Shutterstock / Ivailo Nikolov © sunflowers

Do you have a favourite flower? How about the ubiquitous symbol of love, the rose, the sweet-scented lily or easy-to-grow tulip? When looking for this week’s story starter, I came across this lovely painted illustration of sunflowers. It’s another favourite flower type for many. The sunflowers painting has such striking colours – the yellow petals complementing the evocative sky.

What I also like about the sunflowers painting is the absence of people. I’m a fan of having someone in a story starter, which serves as a focal point. Especially if a particular mood or emotion is conveyed. So, does this not contradict our story starter?

In a word – no. But it might mean having to work harder for that all-important source (or should I say “seed”) of inspiration. Back to the sunflowers . . .

When looking up sunflowers, I came across some interesting facts. The sunflower can contain as many as 1000 to 2000 seeds. The plant can also absorb toxins in the air. Millions of sunflowers were planted after the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power plant disasters.

Turns with the sun

Also, the flower tracks the sun. The sunflower in French is “tournesol”, which means “turns with the sun”. Young sunflowers face east and track the sun throughout the day, slowly turning west. At sunrise, they slowly revert to the east to begin the cycle the next day. Over time, as the sunflower grows, the plant will typically stay facing east.

I found this a fun fact, and one that could possible help germinate (I can’t help myself) story ideas. For example, if you were to compare sunflowers to people, you could write a story about someone who matures through the course of a story.

Through the unfolding of events, a character learns more about her place in the world. Whether she achieves her goals or not, this won’t be as important as the journey and the lessons learned along the way.

The “Friend” likes nothing more than a good moral to a story.

I haven’t even talked about the sunflowers painting as a complete scene. If a character walked/travelled passed the sunflowers field, it could offer inspiration, a sense of peace or encouragement. Nature often has the reassurances we are looking for – including the wonderful, inspiring sunflower.

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”.