Freshly Fallen Snow
You awaken with a start to realize you are lying wrapped up in a blanket. When you untangle yourself you realize you're also covered in snow and surrounded by a snowy landscape. Compel this prompt forward by answering these questions:
- What's behind the trees?
- Who left you there?
- Were you supposed to survive - and did you?
- Are there footprints in the snow near you, and to whom do they belong?
Angry Little Girl
A girl runs through the park, grasping her head and screaming. Everyone stops what they're doing to watch her, but then after a pause, they go right back to their conversations, playing, and looking at smart phones. Extend the depth of this prompt by answering these questions:
- Is she screaming words? What is she saying?
- Are her feet covered in something, like mud or even blood? Why?
- Why won't the people in the park help her?
- What is beyond the park?
A Man and His Mop
The doors swing open and a custodian waltzes into the room cradling his mop. He appears very much in love with the mop. The room comes to a hush as everyone watches the custodian and his mop in their loving embrace.
- What event did he disturb? A prom? A wedding? A court proceeding?
- Does he truly love the mop or is this an intentional distraction?
- Is the mop in love with the custodian?
- Is the room full of people, or full of mops?
This man is behind bars, and he's not happy. Delve deeper into what landed him here:
- Is this a jail, a basement, or somewhere else entirely?
- How long has he been here, and how long will he remain jailed?
- For what reason was he jailed?
- Who put him there?
A Box Appears
A small, ornate box appears in an alley. The box makes a humming noise. What happens next?
- Who finds the box?
- Why is the box humming?
- What happens when the box is touched or opened?
- Is anything inside the box?
The Interrupted Conversation
What started as a somber conversation with four people dissolved into a pillow fight.
- What is the relationship between these people?
- Are they enjoying the pillow fight, or is it an aggressive moment?
- Are the pillows regular pillows, or do they contain nefarious aspects?
- What happens after the pillow fight?
The Colorful Explosion
An explosion of color occurs spontaneously. Set up the scene as to why it happened and what it causes.
- Was this explosion anticipated?
- Does the explosion signify something?
- What happens to the people within the blast radius?
- What is the aftermath of the explosion?
You walk across a field and see a lone tree in the distance. As you approach the tree, the colors of the leaves change as if the seasons passed before your eyes. Take this prompt a few steps further by answering these questions:
- Why were you in the field in the first place?
- Were you looking for this specific tree? Why?
- Who else is looking for this tree?
- What is the tree signaling by changing seasons so rapidly?
State of Confusion
This man walks through the grocery store and then realizes he not only forgot the next item on his list - he also can't remember who he is.
- Has this happened to him before - and if so, why?
- What caused his sudden memory loss?
- Does the memory loss trouble him or does he welcome it?
- What is his next move?
The Cat Woman
This woman self-identifies as a cat. She insists on being treated like a cat everywhere she goes. What is her story?
- Are the people close to her accommodating to her requests?
- What happened to her to make her want to be a cat instead of a human?
- Can she speak with cats?
- What does she look like when forced to not dress like a cat?
Your main character looks up in the sky and sees an elephant flying by, as though it is an angel ascending to Heaven. It's a strange beginning to an even stranger day.
- Is the elephant the only animal in the sky, or are there more?
- Is the elephant really an angel, or something else?
- What does the flying elephant signify?
- Does everyone witness this scene, or can only your character see it?
This man appears quite calm about the glass shattering around him. Is that because he doesn't realize what's happening behind him or did he want this to happen? Flesh out your story with these question prompts:
- What happened just before the glass shattered?
- Does he get hurt by the flying glass, or is he somehow immune to it?
- Is he directing the glass to its targets?
An image and writing prompt, followed by clarifying questions to further prompt your creativity, can pull a story out of you that you didn't even know was there. Use this tactic in your writing sessions by flipping through magazines and asking yourself questions.