Writing prompt – tree

Victoria Park Black Poplar. By Judy DarleyOccasionally I see a tree that stops me in my tracks. Recently, it was this one in Bristol’s Victoria Park. I think it’s a black poplar. Its jaunty new leaves springing from those pollarded branches make it resemble a literary character.

Do you have a favourite tree, or one that you simply find beautiful? Can you make it the star of a satire, speculative story or other creative work? Perhaps two strangers meet beneath it, or perhaps its foliage or trunk hides a secret. Perhaps the shadow it casts offers a route to another world. Or could you write a satire about human society by focusing on the many species colonising a tree?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – gap

Gap between houses and streets by Judy DarleyI love the gaps between things (houses, trees, ideas…) – they often offer a slightly skewed view that can lead your brain down an unexpected track.

In this particular slice between buildings and streets, I enjoy the shadow on the righthand wall. It seems to suggest a vast ship docking out of shot. What else might be occurring just beyond the camera’s frame? How can you use this to shape a story or other creative work?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – hybrid

Freshford bat-sheep by Judy DarleyI love hybrid writing that allows the reader to muse over whether the words before them comprise prose, poetry, or the enticing ‘other’.

It’s a categorisation, or rebuff of attempted categorisation, that creeps into other sources of inspiration too. Recently I contributed to a book of haikus about mixed-up sea and land creatures, which I rather enjoyed.

So when my hub and I strolled past this lamb, and my hub declared it a “bat-sheep” due to its extremely large ears, I wondered how I could spin that into a poem/prose hybrid piece of writing.

The rather more normally endowed lamp photobombing could be BatSheep’s sidekick. What animal hybrid would you dream up to scaffold a poem-tale around, and what enhanced skills might they show off?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – ladybird

Red ladybird on a red rosebud. Photo by Judy DarleyWith so much rain followed by an abundance of sunshine, everything around us is blooming, and that inevitably includes invertebrates. I’ve been struck by the sheer numbers of iggly wiggles besieging our roses, from vast number of greenfly and aphids to the ants farming and milking them for honeydew.

Happily, the juicy green critters have alerted a patrol of predators, including this beautiful crimson ladybird. Nature always has a solution for keeping things in balance.

Can you use this truth to seed an eco-optimist #clificlifi story or other creative work?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – glimpse

Tree folk by Judy DarleyDuring a woodland stroll, I happened to glance upwards, and my heart jumped in alarm. High above me, a small face peered down – not a squirrel or a blackbird but something utterly unexpected.

I live in the kind of area where fairy doors are added to trees, complete with miniature umbrellas and hats. It’s a fun place to take a stroll!

Imagine the different ways a character might react to this glimpse. Once their heart has stopped racing, are they more likely to smile or scowl? How can you use this response to highlight aspects of their personality, or even flashback to an incidence in their past?

Or, if you like, focus on the tiny figure in the tree. What’s their primary emotion on seeing and being seen by some large lumbering creature like us?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – b-hotel

Bee Hotel, Bristol Botanic Garden. Photo by Judy DarleyI’ve already mentioned No Mow May, and tomorrow is World Bee Day 2021. Visiting Bristol Botanic Garden, I was impressed by the size of their Bee Hotel. It really is the Hilton of Bug  Hotels. It also reminds me slightly oddly of the properties in the opening credits to ‘The Jetsons‘, when the future was full of hope and razzmatazz.

This is a chance to play with concepts of scale to create an adventure tale.

Who might choose to stay here? Might they be a refugee family displaced by the climate crisis? Notice the webs on some parts of the structure. What kinds of neighbours could lurk in shadowy corners? How can the family attempt to keep themselves safe?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – horses

Eastwood Farm horses by Judy DarleyOn the same day that we came across farmland where we’d expected no farm, we encountered two horses behaving uncannily un-horselike. They were motionless in their field, standing there as though someone had forgotten to switch them on.

I’ve since been informed this is perfectly normal – this is them resting while their bodies get on with the exhausting business of digesting hay. But their stillness made them seem like a museum scene, and made me feel for an instant that none of it was real.

Can you use this eerie feeling to build up a scene where someone gains the awareness that their home is no longer quite what it seems? What might the clues be? How might your protagonist test their inkling? What could ensue?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – No Mow May

Bee on purple flowers by Judy DarleyAs #NoMowMay begins, it reminds me of how much damage we’ve done to our busy pollinators with pesticides and eradication of much of our planet’s green spaces.

Happily, this initiative from Plantlife offers us the chance to make a difference by… doing nothing. Don’t tidy your garden or titivate your lawn – allow it to grow unkempt and unruly with wildflowers as bees and other insects search for vital nectar.

If you’ve glimpsed my first short story collection Remember Me To The Bees (available from Tangent Books), you’re probably already aware of how much I love natural in general and bees in particular.

This #NoMowMay, can you write a small, celebratory tale about the important work our pollinators do and how we can help them, whether that’s by banning pesticides, planting bee-friendly flowers or just being a little more willing to let our green spaces run wild?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – walkway

Walkway from here to there by Judy Darley

My part of town seems to be overflowing with building works currently, with scaffolding and partial constructs glinting through every view.

Rounding a corner, I glimpsed a crane apparently leading directly to a cloud, and for a dreamy moment my brain accepted that as truth.

In that instant, I thought, ‘Oh look, a walkway from here to there.’ As though that made perfect sense.

If ‘here’ is the urban centre I’ve barely stirred from for more than a year, where might ‘there’ be?

What optical mis-step or misunderstanding could you weave into a magical tale or work of art?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – communicate

Smiley face written in white against a blue sky by a small unseen plane. Photo by Judy Darley

During the past year, we’ve all learnt new ways to communicate, and to show our affection without infringing social distancing requirements. Facebook even introduced a new heart-hugging emoji representing ‘care; to join the ranks of ‘like’, ‘love’, ‘haha’, ‘wow’, ‘sad’, and ‘angry’. (Still waiting for the ‘frankly confused’ option).

In the UK’s southwest, a local skywriter has been adding smiley faces to our views.

Imagine if your only option to communicate with distant loved ones was by skywriting! How might the public nature of these declarations influence what you choose to say? How might two people be implicated for their shout-out? And given how the image is altered by perspective, what confusions and misapprehensions could ensue?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.