Writing prompt – afoot

Tree foot. Photo by Judy Darley

Trees are magnificent natural sculptors. My sister recently shared a photo of a trunk with one glorious moss-covered ear. I’ll take that ear and raise it with this rooted foot contemplating a Shakespeare-esque or Tolkien-worthy march through the woods in North Somerset. Or perhaps I’ve accidentally taken a photo of Roald Dahl’s BFG without his slippers on, and he really needs to trim his toenails.

Whatever the truth, something’s afoot…

Can you let your imagination run free and turn this into a magical tale?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – bubbles

Bubbles_Photo by Judy Darley

At a nearby sculpture woodland called Ty Sculpture Trail, one of the highlights is a natural phenomenon rather than human-made artwork. At the Bubbling Pond, silvery bubbles rise from the depths to cast circular ripples. It’s a gloriously tranquil setting.

The trail makers claim no one knows what causes the bubbles, and suggest it could be a dragon snoozing in an underwater cave.

What myth or bubble-blowing science could you attribute the bubbles to? Can you create a character who shares this idea as a tale within a tale, and give them a someone to tell it to? What might the consequences be?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – private

Private gate_Coastal Path. Photo by Judy Darley

On the UK’s coastal path between Clevedon and Portishead, North Somerset, there are lovely woodlands, but not all of these are open to everyone. This one is privately owned, yet I’ve never seen anyone enjoying this area.

I found myself feeling annoyed they were keeping it to themselves – surely trees and greenery are for all of us? But then thought about how I would feel if that rule applied to my own tiny garden. Imagine looking out of your bedroom window to see a family picnicking on your lawn below. The smaller the space, the weirder and more intense that would be.

How could you persuade them to leave? Something about this is so absurd it hovers between comedy and horror.

Can you turn this into a story or other creative work?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – tide

High tide swallows a Clevedon beach by Judy Darley

The small coastal town where I live sits on the edge of one of Earth’s greatest tidal ranges. It re-sculpts views and terrains, providing the perfect habitat for wading birds one day and fish the next.

Last week, I strolled towards the path to a rocky beach and discovered it had been swallowed by the sea… Yet I know it will return in the next few days and shrug off its driftwood and seaweed as though it was never hidden.

Can you write a story inspired by this variance? How do these dramatic changes impact your characters?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – between

I’ve always been intrigued by the space between things. In this case, the space shows the view between the boards of a Victorian pier, where the Bristol Channel’s waves beat far below.

Imagine a scenario where someone, or something, slips between these storm-battered planks of wood. Could it be something metaphysical rather than solid, like a promise, a hope or a memory?

Can you turn this idea into a thought-provoking tale?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – reeds

Reed beds beneath blue wintery sky in Clevedon. Photo by Judy Darley

Near where I live, reed beds provide a fantastic habitat for birds such as warblers and small mammals. Whispering in the wind, I find these golden strands quite magical.

I do worry, though, that dogs running and hunting in this area could decimate nests of precious eggs or chicks.

Could you weave a tale to encourage people to keep dogs on leads in these areas?

Alternatively, why not have a dog or human character discover something unexpected sheltering in the reeds?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – peril

Unstable cliff. Photo by Judy Darley

Few things rev up a story like a hint of peril. A warning sign like this one announcing an unstable cliff can lead a tale in a multitude of waves. Add in those colourful swimming goggles and you’ve got a full treacherous narrative at your fingertips, or even a twist on the famous “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” attributed to Hemingway, though that’s now said to be untrue (there’s a tale in itself!).

How did these goggles happen to be hanging here? What happened to the person who owned them? What storm cast them here? What drama was left in their wake?

In a terrible twist on this prompt, there was a landslide here just last week, plunging tons of rock and mud over this coastal path, only hours after I strolled here. The area is currently off-limits for safety’s sake. Sometimes real life is more dramatic than any fiction.

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – season

Red tree in January. Photo by Judy Darley

In the woodlands you can hear spring being heralded by birds forging friendships and boasting about territory.

One small tree shines out in this tiny forest, where its autumnal red leaves blaze against the glossy greens.

What made this tree hang on to its autumn foliage all the way into February? What is it declaring about the seasons?

What will happen as spring fully arrives, and then summer?

Can you weave this into a story of nature and folklore?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – two

Two benches_Clevedon. Photo by Judy Darley

These two benches each offer glorious coastal views, but I can’t help noticing that the one further from the water also provides an excellent view of the other bench.

Imagine a person quietly gazing at the sea and sky, but gradually becoming aware of the person sitting on the bench before them. They might be intrigued or even entranced by the stranger there, but too shy to approach them.

What could bring them together? Is this the beginning of a love story, or something more sinister?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – purse

Mermaid's Purse_Photo by

This black pillowy scrap was lying on the ground in a boatyard, possibly dropped by a gull after being scooped from the nearby rocky beach. These scorched-looking ravioli are known colloquially as mermaid’s purses, which is an interesting idea. Why would a mermaid adorned with peals and shells carry such a dull little bag?

Besides, the truth is even weirder, when you think about it. These are actually egg cases for sea creatures such as rays, skates and sharks. The one I saw looks like it might once have cradled the eggs of a spotted ray.

Imagine the teeny sea creature emerging from this leathery bag!

I love that myths and marine biology have been woven together in this way, making nature even more enticing by creating a narrative. Could you turn this into a story that encourages wonder and respect?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.