Writing prompt – boater

Floating boater, Oxford by Judy DarleyThe moment I saw this boater floating in an Oxford waterway, I had an image of how it came to be bobbing there. I suspect you can envisage it too: the inept holidaymaker or undergraduate attempting to steer a punt, the near collision with another vessel, or that sharp and historic corner, the flailing that enabled them to regain their balance and retain their dignity, but lose their hat…

But I challenge you to take your story somewhere else. Confound expectations and dream up an entirely unique and breathtaking series of events that ended with this particular hat languishing in the River Cherwell.

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’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – borders

Borders cr Judy DarleyI have a fascination with the borders of things, when one thing is on the brink of becoming another. Child to adult, land to sea, safe to unsafe, sane to insane, living to dead…

Some of these changes can happen in the space around two beats of a pulse, and alter everything you thought you knew. Others creep in so stealthily you barely notice until the whole landscape has shifted around you.

Take this idea as your starting point and place your character in a period of flux, then observe how they emerge on the other side, if they do…

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’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – transience

Train station cr Judy DarleySeptember seems to be the perfect time to pack a bag and venture out to see a bit of the world. The weather is often beautiful and golden, the crowds diminished and costs a little lower.

Travel, whether by train, plane or automobile (not to mention, boat, bus and on foot), presents the ideal environment for gleaning new ideas for stories, whether from snippets overheard or glimpses seen, or simply through having the space and time to daydream. Those brief pockets of transience open up the imagination and give it room to unfurl.

Alternatively, travel itself can provide your story’s setting. Deposit your protagonist on a train station, consult a timetable and see where the journey takes them, you and your future readers.

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’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – harvest

Reap and sow cr Judy DarleyAs the fields fill with combine harvesters, reaping all that was sown so many months ago, consider performing your own, writerly version of a harvest and see what it might yield.

Take a look through your old notepads, if you use them, or even explore the reams of text messages, IMs and emails no doubt resting in your phone or computer. Could one spur the start of a new story? A chance line, image or burst of emotion could provide you with the seed for a new idea to nurture and develop.

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’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – art

Philip's art. Photo by Judy DarleyToday’s #WritingPrompt is inspired by my dad. It amazes me how art can help to sustain us in the most challenging of circumstance. I myself write prose poetry and poems to manage the emotional strain of visiting my dad in his care home. He’s afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease and Semantic Dementia which has made language particularly elusive.

Yet on a recent visit, following a fairly nonsensical chat, he picked up some pieces of napkin, tore them and placed two of them as shown above. It felt like he was trying to both make sense of and communicate something. He told me the middle piece was the people, and the one underneath was something he couldn’t get to or reach.

I added the top piece. He considered it with great seriousness, and then smiled. I think the collaborative, ‘reaching out’, aspect of it pleased him.

His earnestness really moved me, and I believe that many admired artists could toil for months with a far less profound outcome.

Strip back a message or emotion to two or three components that interest you, then create a story or a piece of art imbued with those words or feelings. Alternatively, take the words expressed here: people, out of reach, collaborating or reaching out, and write something inspired by these sentiments.

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’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

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Writing prompt – perception

Bristol Botanic Garden_Luke Jerram_Mother and Son_Photo by Judy DarleyThis artwork is currently in situ at Bristol Botanic Garden. Created by Luke Jerram, it’s part of his exhibition The Impossible Garden, which warns us not to take what we see at face value. It’s entirely possible, he reminds us, that nothing is quite as it seems.

Bristol Botanic Garden_Luke Jerram_Mother and Son_Photo by Judy Darley

Use this as your starting point. What could seem real, but might be entirely false? What disturbing truths could lurk just below a veneer of normality?

And if you get the chance, do visit the exhibition. Set against the curated wilderness of the Garden, it’s designed to make you questions your impressions of your surroundings in every day life, and is also provide rather beautiful additions to an already contemplative space The Impossible Garden will be in place until Sunday 25th November 2018, so you have plenty of time. Or so it seems.

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’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – mechanism

Mechanism by Judy DarleyThis piece of metal is part of a disused mechanism that stands on the cliff edge of Dorset’s Jurassic coast. The shore here is littered with relics from history, and pre-history, rife with potential plot lines.

What could this machine have been used for, and by whom? What might that have to do with the many dinosaur fossils found in this locale? And what chance encounter could occur here? Write a story with this strange object at its centre or providing a scene-setting backdrop.

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’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – signpost

Too Far_photo credit Judy DarleyIf you’ve visited Bristol, you may be aware that certain sign-posts have been added too with helpful advice. This one seems like it could be a warning against heading to Temple Meads Station and actually leaving the city. On the other hand, there’s something enticing about following a sign that invites you to go too far!

Bristol is wonderfully blessed with a population that loves to contribute a hint of weirdness and magic to the urban landscape. To me it speaks volumes about the local culture and personality.

Where could this sign lead? What would you put up in its place to reflect your own neighbourhood’s character?

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’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

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Writing prompt – farm

Toy farm animals cr Judy DarleyI encountered this herd of cows, chickens and other beasts on a random table-top recently, and was briefly dazzled by a wave of nostalgia. Did you play with these as a child? Did you watch someone smaller play with these? Did you imagine being really small and strolling among them?

Write a piece that plays with time, memory and scale inspired by these farm animals.

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’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

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Writing prompt – proposal

Marry Me street art, Stokes Croft. Photo by Judy DarleyWhat better way to declare your undying love than with a gigantic bit of street art that spells out your honourable intentions for all to see?

Get inside the head of the person who went to all this effort, or of the person this grand gesture was intended for. Do you think the outcome was a happy one?

In case you were wondering, the real life version of this scenario had a happy ending, but it’s entirely up to you whether your characters fare likewise…

Marry Me response_StokesCroft. Photo ju Judy Darley

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’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

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