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?
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!
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.