Writing prompt – absurd and poignant

Tortoiseshell butterfly sunning itself on a pair of white satin knickers by Judy DarleyI love attempting to photograph the natural beauty that crops up in my surroundings, though the shots often have more to do with luck than skill.

One of my best butterfly pics is also one of my most absurd, as I happened to snap this beauty as it alighted on a pair of white satin smalls, on a washing line.

The butterfly has no idea of the absurd elegance of its sunspot choice.

It brings to mind an art exhibition I saw over two decades ago, which appeared to show rows of taxidermy pinned butterflies, which on closer inspection turned out to be exquisite pairs of miniature knickers.

Can you turn this into a story that is comical and poignant, perhaps examining the disappearance of our butterfly species in favour of fast fashion fixes?

Thank you to John Jackson on Twitter who told me this is a Painted Lady butterfly (not Tortoiseshell as I mistakenly believed). How perfectly absurdly poignant!

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 – longitude

Mouse and cat weathervane by Judy Darley. Shows a metal weathervane on top of a school against a blue sky.This mouse and cat weathervane sits on top of a primary school in my neighbourhood.

It’s been a strange year for schools, pupils and parents, with daily routines as changeable as the weather. There’s been a global sense of uncertainty that’s led to some feeling more like prey than humans are accustomed to!

Can you use this thought as a jumping off point to create a tale or artwork with themes of peril, daring and triumph?

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 – biodiverse

Dragonfly by Judy DarleyThis summer our small garden pond has been offering up treasures. Gigantic creatures have climbed from the depths, emerged glittering from their nymph exo-skeletons and whirred skywards like prehistoric helicopters.

It’s like watching a miracle unfurl. Any of these everyday wonders could prompt a tale, but I ask you to consider the magic of the pond itself. The biodiversity layered beneath the surface of the water is as rich as any forest, with extraordinary predators preparing for metamorphosis, and other wee beasties living out their lives.

Could you write or create a piece that showcases the importance of these wet ecosystems to our human-centric world? Write from the point of view of a human, water creature or even the pond itself, and if you delve into the darkness, draw some hope into your tale.

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 – dig

Someone has been digging by Judy Darley. Shows a flowerbed with disturbed soil.We’ve had a mystery occurring in our garden at regular intervals, and often, but not always, late at night.

Someone has been digging in our flowerbed. Sometimes the hole is so deep and neat it looks like a human has been searching for buried treasure. Other times, a profusion of flies lets us know something had been depositing its own, ahem, treasure.

The area in question is now a tapestry of cut brambles, coffee granules and orange peel – my eco-attempt to deter excavators…

So what does this have to do with writing? Other than the obvious metaphors of excavating for treasure and uncovering, ahem, something else?

This week your challenge is to write a story or create some other imaginative work based on the idea of a mysterious act that keeps happening outside or inside a home, and is beginning to slowly drive the residents bonkers. Write it from the point of view of the residents or the perpetrators, and see how you can harness the emerging mystery to drive the characters’ development.

Alternatively, use this as a prompt to push further in your writing. What can you unearth if you really dig deep?

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 – 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 – Unreal

Making friends at the Art Institute of Chicago. Shows woman in an art gallery standing with outsize sculpture of child. Photo by James HainsworthMy hub took this photo a while ago when we were visiting Chicago’s Art Institute. It’s one of the most exceptional art establishments I’ve had the pleasure of exploring.

Imagine waking to find yourself in a world where everything is a) larger than life, and b) slightly unreal. Would you embrace the opportunity of adventure or devote your energies to getting back to reality?

The fact this huge boy-child and I are wearing matching shoes only adds to the sense of the strange, in my opinion. I can’t remember what we’re both staring at, but I appear to share his amazement!

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.