Scene Prompt #1: The still shot

I got this prompt from a book by Laura Deutsch. To prep for this writing prompt, imagine your point-of-view character in the scene you’re working on. Take a mental snapshot . . .

Better yet, google “guy sitting on bus” or “lady posturing before a fight” or whatever your character is doing, click the “images” tab, and scan the photos for something that resembles what your character is doing in this scene.

Once you’ve got your still-shot, here’s the writing prompt:

“In this photo you are . . .”

Tell us what your character is doing in this part of the story and what’s happening to them in this still-shot, and ultimately the scene. I can’t tell you how helpful just writing those five words primes the pump for more to flow. If you run out of things to say but still want to keep writing, keep exploring the scene, then shift your focus:

“What this photo doesn’t show is . . .”

And that’s it. I’m amazed just how much I can write with these two prompts. If I hit a block, I jump characters. Take a still shot of another character, and do the prompts again, hopping back and forth among characters until the scene (and sequence!) is fleshed out. Good stuff. I hope you like it too.

If you want to, post your scene or a link to your scene in the comments and maybe we can share some feedback. Make sure to let us know what kind of feedback you’re wanting–help with structure, achieving an emotional effect, optimizing escalation, whatever–but try to be specific to make it easier for feedback givers to stay on point.

Books Mentioned in this Post

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That’s it for me!

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