Writing Prompt Story Starter: Ship In A Bottle


Shutterstock © ship in a bottle

I’ve always liked seeing a ship in bottle. Not so much as, “Well, that’s an impressive fit,” but more the idea that the ship itself is special – special enough to have its own glass arena all to itself.

As a story starter, an impossible bottle conjures up all sorts of story scenarios. It could feature as a hobby for a character and become a catalyst for what is to follow.

What would happen if someone accidentally broke the ship in a bottle – despair, heartache . . . or blessed relief? The smashing of the bottle might symbolise freedom, or a lifestyle change for the character.

Looking at the enclosed image, I see unfathomable dreams enclosed in the bottle. “I will achieve this because I can.” The birds in the sky act like enthusiastic supporters, willing the ship to sail. And its journey – beyond the horizon, of course, where the future is yet to be written.

Set sail

When it comes to “Friend” storylines, it’s good to leave a little to the imagination. That is, story events aren’t clearly mapped out with each page; surprise the reader with story-turning events.

I don’t mean surprise for the sake of it. Rather, what happens is spontaneous yet in keeping with the narrative.

If you’ve created a character who is frightened of water, there’s a good chance the reader will find out how that is resolved as the story unfolds. But it doesn’t have to be in an obvious way – swimming lessons or a newfound love for the sea.

If a character hates the sight or sound of water, that “negative” trait can still have an impact on a positive outcome. Someone who lives in a lighthouse might not like living next to the sea. But it can pave the way for an interesting storyline.

The ship in a bottle can stay on display for ever more, admired for what it is, or it can symbolise new and enchanting story adventures. To set sail, all you need is a little imagination.

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”.