Thursday Writing Prompt No. 8

dead tree

This dead tree at Yellowstone National Park is coated with minerals.

What should we write about this week? I found myself at a loss for writing prompt ideas, so I’m resorting to the photo prompt. Actually, that makes it sound a bit desperate, but it isn’t. Photographs — and for that matter, any kind of artwork — can be excellent inspiration for writers (and other artists, too).

I work in downtown Washington, D.C., and there’s a small gallery that opened last year about a block away from my office. I’ve gone into it a couple of times just to browse. Sometimes I really like what’s on display, and the artwork gives me ideas. And sometimes I just don’t get it. But that’s okay.

But you don’t have to go to a gallery for ideas, so don’t feel sorry for yourself if you don’t happen to live somewhere that’s close to a gallery. Just look around. No matter where you live, you’ll find architecture, lawn ornaments, signage, and any number of other man-made things to give you inspiration. For that matter, just go to any store and take a look at the in-store displays. Graphic artists spend a lot of time coming up with effective point-of-purchase displays. Those are the cardboard boxes that display anything from cigarette lighters to DVDs to canned goods in the grocery store. Take a good look at them, because some of them are very artistic.

Of course, nature can be inspirational, too. This photo I took of a dead tree may strike you as a bit weird. If so, you’re already on the way to writing about it. Write about the weirdness. If you’re thinking “So what?” and finding that you don’t care about the tree or are wondering why anyone in their right mind would bother to take a picture of it, then you’re also in good company. Write about the photographer.

You see, it doesn’t matter how the photo strikes you: it only matters that you have some kind of reaction to it, whether you’re intrigued or bored. Because that’s what writers do: they react to things by writing about them. Sometimes they react to real-world events and things, sometimes they make up stuff and react to it. While this tree is a real-world item, it can just as easily be from a scene in a fantasy or science fiction story.

I’m not going to tell you what to write about this week. The image above is your inspiration. To me, the eeriness of this tree covered with minerals tells a story. Now you just need to write it down.

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