Take a deep breath and let it out as you gaze at this picture and listen to gentle river sounds. Did you catch the birdsong? What other noises might you hear? How does the sun feel on your head? Are we in early spring or somewhere in summer?
Why is some of the grass mowed? Is this a backyard? If so, what sort of house would sit back from a riverbank like this? If not, what other sort of place is it? Where are we in the world, anyway? Does the abandoned cart indicate a specific location? Is it there as a decoration or does it have another purpose?
Can you smell the green grass and leaves and the rich undertone of river water? See the large shadow in the water. What causes it? What’s on the other side of the river? What secrets do the trees whisper?
What story does this scene inspire? Is it one of a little boy with bare feet and a fishing pole? Or maybe there’s an older man with a limp caused by war injuries? Could this be a meeting place for young love? Or is it where a heartbreak happens? Did something sinister happen here? Does a father reconnect with his daughter here? Does someone ask forgiveness here? If so, what is the reaction?
Who is your protagonist and what does that person want most? Fear most? What conflict interrupts the peace of this setting in your story? Who causes it and what does that person or persons want to accomplish? How does your protagonist react?
What theme does your story suggest? What is the story problem your main character needs to solve?
Think about these questions or come up with your own. While you write your story, you may want to listen to the longer version (8 hrs) of river sounds, below.
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- Visual Writing Prompts created from the original photography of Janalyn Voigt
- River sound bite by Glaneur de sons, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License.
- Video courtesy of Johnnie Lawson.