September 14 – Perspective: What Do Others See?


Selfies aren’t a new phenomenon. They’ve existed for centuries in one art form or another. Like all natures of art, selfies are all about perspective. But that also extends to other kinds of art. What if your main character is someone in a piece of art by Vermeer or Rembrandt or Warhol? What does he or she see from where he or she is in that painting? What does Rodin’s The Thinker see from his seated position? What do those people in Mathew Brady’s Civil War photos see beyond the camera?




The Prompt

Write a story from the perspective of someone in a piece of art.


• In May, I wrote a short story that discussed the people portrayed in specific pieces of art. I thought it might be fun in September to pretend a main character in a story is in a painting. Feel free to choose your favorite painting, but you can also use sculpture, photography, or even performance art.

• I used to host and perform at many open mikes. Although humor often helped me ease into my presentations and performances, I also tried to remember that everyone there probably shared my nerves and my anticipation and my expectations. Use a similar experience in your life to help you guide your main character’s story.

• Don’t hesitate to allow your main character to interact with not only other people and things in the piece of art (if there are other people and items) but also—and especially—people and things we can’t see. You don’t have to portray a complete view. Sometimes, focusing on one other person or element or thing we can’t see can go a long way.

• If you’re having a tough time finding something that strikes your fancy, use your favorite search engine to combine something you’re passionate about with an art form. For example, search for “pizza” and “sculpture.” See where that leads—even it’s to a pizzeria.

• Don’t forget that you can use any perspective for your story. Just because you want to write about someone in a painting doesn’t mean he or she needs to be your narrator. You might even consider second person for such a story.

Let’s do this—and have fun!

Post a comment to the blog to let us know what you wrote about (including linking to your story on your own site or elsewhere) and/or join the community and post in the Victory Dance group.


Christopher Stolle is a professional book editor and sometimes writer. You can find his stories for this month at https://storiesbystolle.wordpress.com, and you can find some of his recent poems at https://www.facebook.com/stolle.poems. He has published dozens of poems in several countries, and he has written two nonfiction books for Coaches Choice: 101 Leadership Lessons From Baseball’s Greatest Managers (2013) and 101 Leadership Lessons From Basketball’s Greatest Coaches (2015). He finds inspiration in cooking, taking long walks, and ASMR videos. He lives in Richmond, Indiana—the cradle of recorded jazz.

17 thoughts on “September 14 – Perspective: What Do Others See?”

    1. I wasn’t so sure about my *own* prompt once I got to writing it, but I like your take on it. I didn’t really think about that idea. And I love the names you chose for your characters!

    1. I love it! I was hoping someone would pick the Mona Lisa and perhaps include some anachronisms or just a really funny running dialogue. And you did it splendidly!

    1. I love the perspective and observations. I find that once I’m into the writing, I become committed to something, and it can often be not what I had thought I’d do. But if another direction really moves me, I at least jot down those ideas, hopeful to pursue them another time.

  1. I’m behind on posting and sharing my stories:

    * Day #12: The prompt was to write a 100-word story: https://storiesbystolle.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/day-12-oh-by-the-way-which-ones-pink. The password is 12.

    *Day 13: The prompt was to try to focus on two characters and offer a conflict that hinged on different things each person wanted: https://storiesbystolle.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/day-13-back-covers. The password is 13.

    * Day #14: This was my prompt (https://storyaday.org/sept-14-perspective). I used this photo to write about: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b6/Syd_Barrett_Abbey_Road_1975.jpg. I didn’t really do what I had thought I might, but I guess I’ve been in a Pink Floyd mood for a few days, so I went with this: https://storiesbystolle.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/day-14-unrhymed-couplets. The password is 14.

    Something is missing from my work this month, and I think most of that relates to attitude. I’ll have to continue to work through that. I have to reinforce the idea that writing should be fun, not work.

    1. You have a terse and inviting style. I think you’d agree that there’s room here to expand this, and I hope you consider this. And the dialogue is so short yet so expressive!

    1. Short and sweet. Is it typical for you to write short pieces? I really thought you could have written something longer, especially because you could have introduced a conflict and ran with that. And imagine the dialogue on that! But this is a succinct and vibrant story nevertheless.

      1. My intention for this challenge is to stick to flash fiction or micro fiction. I almost never write 50-100 pieces but decided to give myself the extra challenge when I start out feeling stumped. I’m extremely happy with how this story turned out.

        1. I’ve really been enjoying your stories, but as soon as I get into one, it ends! 🙂 Nothing wrong with that, but I struggle to write short pieces, so you’re certainly giving me lessons on how to do it well!

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