Writing prompt – language

Bible_St John On The Wall. Photo by Judy DarleyIn Jan Morris’ ‘Over The Bridge: Sydney 1983, part of her Penguins 60s From The Four Corners, she mentions with delight that the motto of a Sydney school: “I Hear, I See, I Learn,” translates into Latin as “Audio, Video, Disco.”

This gorgeous detail is a reminder of how language twitches and evolves, developing and conjuring subtly different meanings, tones and contexts over time.

Match up a weighty old word or phrase with its modern-day interpretation and use this as your starting point. The results may surprise you.

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 – beholder

Artwork at the RWA_Photo by Judy Darley

I caught this moment on camera almost by accident, and love the miscellany of disparate figures and objects. Some of these items are bona fide art complete with a price tag, others are simply clothing or possessions set down for a moment. Best of all, I love the people pausing or passing by.

What jumps out to you when you look at this photo? What do you see as art, or happenstance? Can you express this through fiction, poetry or art of your own?

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 – out

Kalamazoo homeless. Photo by Judy DarleyWhile visiting Kalamazoo, Michigan, I passed a park full of tents. The waitress where I ate lunch confirmed what I feared – the tents were evidence of the growing issue of homelessness. It’s a problem that’s growing in the UK as well, where cuts to benefits are resulting in more people losing their homes when things go wrong.

Think about how that could happen to you, but don’t scare yourself silly. Instead think of what could keep you strong in that situation.

I invite you to write a piece either from the point of view of a) someone holidaying who encounters such a scene, b) from the point of view of someone newly homeless seeing someone holidaying, or c) someone who has been homeless for years responding to a) a holidaymaker, and/or b) someone newly homeless.

Whatever point of view you choose, try rewriting your finished piece from one of the alternate protagonists to see how that changes you reading of the situation.

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 – sea

Oban bay. Photo by Judy DarleyHappy New Year! Have you had any time to write or read over the festive period? I’m currently reading the wonderful A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit. Early on in the book, the author mentions the correlations between science and the creative arts, drawing the distinction between the two thus:

“They [scientists] transform the unknown into the known, haul it in like fishermen; artists get you out into that dark sea.”

What dark sea would you choose to lure readers, viewers and other bystanders into? What might they discover through allowing you to get their feet wet, and following you, possibly far, beyond their depth?

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 – Mall Santa

Mall Santa. Photo by Judy DarleySantas in shopping malls are a familiar sight at this time of year. There’s something so urban and commercial about it, but though the glitter and snow may be plastic, in the eyes of many children this is a truly magical sight.

Imagine your protagonist staring down at this scene. What’s going through their mind? What action might it prompt or provoke in them?

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 – Christmas past

Escaping Christmas tree close up. Photo by Judy DarleyI mentioned to my mum that we weren’t planning to buy a Christmas tree this year, and she immediately offered to lend us her vintage silver tree. She and my dad bought it in the sixties, and I remember it glittering throughout my childhood (when it was already over a decade old!), but it’s spent the last few years in the damp and shadows of a cellar.

When Mum dropped it off, some silvery tentacles were already emerging. I thought I might leave the room and return to find a tinsel octopus creeping across the ceiling!

What magic and mayhem could unwind from your own Christmas past? Or what shimmering weirdness could you unravel from the scene above?

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 – Advent

Arnos Vale Cemetery in the snow cr Judy DarleyToday’s writing prompt offers 25 for the price of one, courtesy the good folks of National Flash Fiction Day’s Flash Flood! On Saturday they launched their Advent Calendar with a writerly twist – this one offers a writing prompt every day.

They says: “To celebrate the holiday season, Flash Flood would like to gift the flash fiction community with an Advent Calendar full of flashy prompts.”

The snowy cemetery scene above is my own, separate contribution to their flurry. To see what they’ve suggested to inspire you already, head to flashfloodjournal.blogspot.com.

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 – mimic

Blackberry Ladybird by Judy DarleyI snapped this photo a while back when I had a surprise when blackberry picking. This gorgeous ladybird has made a fatal choice in mimicking a succulent autumn fruit.

Can you use this idea as the starting point for a story? What error might a person or beastie make when selecting its camouflage or warning spots? How could a stealthy skill backfire?

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 – flight

Glider. Photo by Judy DarleyRecently I had the good fortune to take my first ever glider flight. It was an extraordinary experience, offering the opportunity to ascend through sunlight, mist and cloud to meet the sun head-on. I had a bit of an Icarus-moment, but happily my wings remained unscorched.

The magic of gliding sans engine is accomplished through a boost into the clouds, in my case thanks to a tow plane, which is released when you reach the right spot in the sky. My pilot explained that you then depend on natural lift as the air rises over hummocks in the land. It’s the same principal as birds riding thermals.

I love the fact that a seemingly impossible act is achieved via a phenomenon we cannot see, but trust exists. Can you turn this concept into a written or visual piece?

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 – future

Wind turbines, Colorado. Photo by Judy DarleyI recently attended a workshop run by Bristol Climate Writers as part of Bristol Festival of Literature. Deborah Tomkins, the workshop coordinator, invited us to think about the things that scare us about the future and then write a utopian story or poem in response.

I invite you to do that too. Think about anything that scares you about the future, whether that’s rising sea levels, drought, famine, or simply your own old age. Then write a piece that contains an antidote or solution to that dread, or a suggestion of better times ahead, however fantastical.

For example, in the story of Noah’s ark, a dove carrying an olive leaf offered the hope that land was nearby.

What image of hope can you dream up or devise?

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.