Words and Pictures: 3 Writing Prompts to Spark Your Next Story or Poem

WE WRITERS CAN BE AS VISUAL AS WE ARE VERBAL. Each of the following prompts capitalizes on that by inviting you to start with images and find words to accompany them. Use these exercises to spark a new story or poem—or to just have fun!

Writing Prompt 1: That looks good enough to eat!

  • Find an image of a prepared food dish that intrigues you—because it looks delicious, or ridiculously complicated, or for any other reason. Then, without knowing the ingredients, write the recipe. Now, write a scene in which your dish is prepared and served—for better or worse.

If you particularly enjoy this exercise, you might like the journal ALIMENTUM: THE LITERATURE OF FOOD.

Writing Prompt 2: Every picture tells a story

  • Children’s picture books and graphic novels both rely as much on illustrations to tell their stories as they do words. For this prompt, find half-a-dozen compelling images (funny, absurd, poignant, intriguing) online or in a magazine. Cut them out or print them, then arrange them so they tell a story, which you then write.

If you have fun with this, your inner comic-book writer might like MAKING COMICS by Scott McCloud or DRAWING WORDS AND WRITING PICTURES by Jessica Abel.

Writing Prompt 3: Colorful language

  • Go to the hardware store and grab a handful of appealing paint chips. The color names are often almost poetic! Combine some of them to create a found/collaged poem—or write a story about someone who names paint colors for a living. Be sure to include plenty of color words in whatever you write.

If you’re interested in another color-centric prompt, check out this post: “Color My World.”

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Need help with your book? I’m available for book coaching! And check out Should I Hire a Writing Coach” in THE WRITER magazine.

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