Ah, I’m finally home! *hugs house* Seriously, I never want to leave Fairbanks again.
Not that we didn’t have a great time. We did. We saw tons of friends and family, had many an adventure, and I was able to get lots of notes taken, even if I didn’t quite get around to much actual fiction writing. (More on that next week.) Another thing I was able to get a lot of: vacation photos.
A picture says a thousand words, or so goes the famous adage. But without a translator on hand, exactly what words are being said isn’t always totally clear. For example, what would you say is happening in this picture?
It kind of looks like two kids are flying an airplane and are calmly about to crash into a tree. Or maybe you see a dystopian future wherein child soldiers are sent on bombing raids. Or maybe even fully grown space aliens who just happen to look like human children who are about to land on Earth on a mission to prepare the planet for hostile takeover. (It’s actually my kids at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, dangling over the rhinoceros pen. Go figure.)
This has been the longest vacation of my life. I have lots of pictures, and lots of stories. But if I weren’t around to tell you why there is a chipmunk on this man’s face…
… you could probably have a really fun time making up your own version. And your version would probably be even better than the truth, at least from a storytelling standpoint.
Vacation photos can make wonderful writing prompts. They’re often of people outside their element, at interesting places, doing unusual things. In a single snapshot, you typically have a setting, a character, and a basic scenario. You can write about the photo at any point in time: write either how the photo came about, what’s happening in the photo at the moment, or the aftermath of the photo’s events. Or you can simply grab a single element of the photo- say, an interesting person in the background, or Cousin Judy’s red sweater- and write up a spinoff that otherwise has nothing to do with the picture at all.
When using these visual prompts, it’s probably best not to use your own photos. When you already know the real story attached to the image, it can be hard to set that one aside and start fresh. I know what this is all about-
-but you don’t. So I would have a harder time coming up with something that isn’t just a retelling of the events than you would. But if I were to look at someone else’s pictures, I wouldn’t have that limitation. Fortunately, hats off to the internet, there’s no shortage of vacation photos floating around to inspire you.
Have a few more!
Remember that inspiration is all around you. If you find yourself stuck on your writing, maybe spending a little time nosing around through Uncle Terry’s vacation photos just might be the thing to get you thinking again.