[Writing Prompt] A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words

…but sometimes so are a thousand words!

The Prompt

Go to the Flickr Explore page and pick the first photo that catches your eye.

Stare at it for five minutes or so and write a story inspired by it.


  • Pick the most visually arresting picture, the one that interests you immediately.
  • It might not be obvious what the story is going to be.
  • This will probably make the story better.
  • Don’t waste any time writing backstory. Think hard then start when something is happening or about to.
  • Remember that stories are all about character. What does your character want? What is getting in her way?

Remember to post in The Victory Dance when you’ve finished your story today. You’ll get congratulations and inspire everyone else to finish their stories.

(You don’t have to post your story anywhere, just let us know you have written today)

36 thoughts on “[Writing Prompt] A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words”

  1. It was easy for the words to flow as soon as I saw the picture with all the tulips. Ill post my piece when it is fully proofread and edited again and again and again….

  2. I missed out on day one, but then I decided to give day two a go yesterday. I’m really, really determined to break through my writer’s block and write a story a day. I loved yesterday’s prompt, but had no time to finish the story. I’m going to backtrack a bit now and finish it before starting on today’s. 🙂

    1. Hooray!

      I find this kind of daily commitment (and the prospect of public humiliation) a very powerful tool in breaking writers’ block. I believe blocks are largely about worrying your writing isn’t good enough. Here, you KNOW you’re not going to write a masterpiece when you’re writing a story a day, but you CAN get a first draft out. Perfection is the enemy of … well, most things.

      Stick with us! 🙂

  3. Hi all,
    I’m posting the stories to a blog as I create them. Here’s the link to today’s story: http://guptacarlsonshortstories.blogspot.com/2013/05/lost.html
    Yesterday’s story is at the site, too.

    I should come clean and let you all know that I am “cheating” a little. I am doing some revisions to a non-fiction book manuscript so much of the material so far is coming from there. I also have pledged to read and analyze a short story each day in May. Today I read a piece by Julia Alvarez entitled “Our Papers”, which was initially published in 1988, and is included in an anthology called Crossing into America: The New Literature of Immigration.

    Enjoying it all.

    1. I love the idea of reading and analyzing a story a day too. Good for you. (And ‘cheating’ is positively encouraged, as long as you’re not cheating yourself!)

  4. I tried it for the first time. What a challenge! Never wrote anything so short and still got up to 109 words but I’m happy with the attempt. Are we supposed to pose what we write? Sorry, I’m a first-timer. 🙂

    1. Good for you! (And welcome).

      You can post your story here or anywhere or nowhere, depending on your preference. A lot of people like to post their stories because, dang, it feels good (especially when you get feedback). But other people don’t post stories (especially ones they think they might try to get published somewhere, because some publications view any online posting as a ‘first publication’ and won’t accept such stories as ‘new’). So use your judgement and have fun!

  5. Done mine. Not pleased with it, and it’s very short, but it is done at least and that’s the important thing!

    Looking forward to tomorrow.

  6. All righty then. I missed yesterday for too many reasons to outline. and I’ve just slapped together a wordpress site (How to Eat an Elephant) so I can link stories there for here. And I’m cold and hungry so sorry for sounding a little rushed.
    Picture was of Northern Lights. (Once I get a few minutes to tinker with the website I’ll put up a pic of them but most of youse know what they look like, right?)
    I grew up on the prairies in Alberta, so these were a relatively common event. Mostly in winter but every so often they’d show up on summer nights. A little bit of nostalgia and a little bit of a twist (I hope). Just a first try and I already know how I’d cut it up ’cause it’s way too long.
    So pass the bottle and move a little closer to the fire…I remember this kid from school…http://wp.me/p3tYWh-2

    1. I liked this and your note about how you came to write it. See? See? It’s what I keep telling people: once you really commit to writing you start seeing ideas and synchronicity everywhere.

  7. Accidentally began Story a Day yesterday with a little piece inspired by a friend’s nail polish collection.

    As I’ve started already, I thought I might as well give it a go for the rest of the month! I figure it must be serendipity that I decided to write a short story on the 1st May when I should have been knee-deep in novel revisions.

    It’ll be a nice change of pace….Already completed today’s with a photo prompt of my own!
    Take Care, Cat

  8. My yesterday writing happened right before I fell into my bed, but it was a longer than prompt wanted.

    But I was really surprised at the prompt, never before using the pictures as inspiration. But as I went through Flicker, that picture just left a piece of conversation in my head, a flash fiction that wanted to be written.

    So thank you for you inspiration.

  9. Excellent suggestion, I write (now 9 years) every morning my French blog, (il y a de la vie après 70 ans) looking at one of my pictures. Of course, only few of them are in explore. And yes, friends pictures or daily frustrations and joys also inspire me.

    But blog notes are only at times full blown stories. Now, I will try for longer. It is no more ‘dabble’ is it?

  10. I looooove picture prompts. Been collecting them all year on my Pinterest board. 🙂

    I was delighted to have these prompts in advance in the email: I had already selected my picture as of this morning. I’m doing a bit of the opposite — hyper planning, outlining, character sketches. This one’s going to be a long one, I can tell! 🙂

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