A Picture Paints A Thousand Words

Can’t think of anything to write about? If you’re at a loss for words, try looking at a picture. Pull out that box of old photos and unearth one of your favorites. Better yet, grab your camera and take a fresh shot of anything that inspires you—trees, animals, food, people, the sunset. Then go back to your desk and study the picture. Imagine all the possibilities it has to offer for a story.

Take this photo of a buck that appeared outside my husband’s office window. At first glance it’s just a buck, one of many we Minnesotans see meandering through the wooded areas of our cities and suburbs. But look more closely at the image and consider all the ways you could write about it.

Start with the buck’s physical traits, like his enormous size and thick belly. This guy could easily weigh 200 pounds or more. Look closely at his impressive antlers. How many branches or points do you count? Notice his eyes. He’s staring directly at the photographer (my husband), intensely and fearlessly. Now study the scene. He’s alone in a wooded area in the wintertime. But imagine what you can’t see too. What’s beyond the trees? Are there other deer nearby? How did he get here? What’s his next move? Is he in any danger?

Together these details could set the stage for an engaging fiction story, either for children or adults. Alone they offer numerous topics for a nonfiction piece—from antler uses to buck behavior to wild animals living among civilization. The point is, just by studying a picture you can come up with all kinds of writing ideas. Try it and see how easily the words begin to flow.

 

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