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How to Write a Story Using a Picture

Teachers can use picture books to help students create memorable story characters in their writing.
Yellow Dog Productions/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Creative writing can be a difficult process that requires the writer to look for a little outside help at times. If you feel that you are experiencing writer’s block (the inability to write), use a picture prompt to get your pencil moving. The picture prompt gives you a setting, characters, a circumstance and even the mood of the characters. Once the picture sparks your imagination, you can start writing an interesting story. Feel free to branch away from the story you find in the image as you write to expand on the characters and scene of your story.

Hold the picture under a 60-watt light bulb. Examine the faces of the people in the photo carefully to understand their current emotional climate. Knowing whether the characters are happy, sad or angry will help in the progression of the story.

Name all the characters in the image or create some of your own characters. Determine where the characters come from, what kind of people they are (kind, cruel, or apathetic, for example) and how they came together in the image. Write backstories and character profiles for each person.

Focus on the characters’ clothing next to determine the kind of weather they have in the picture. If everyone is wearing shorts and T-shirts, it is likely the weather is warm, so your story should reflect that. If they all have heavy clothing on, chances are it is cold.

Study the background of the image to determine the setting of your story. For example, if the image has many trees and no buildings in the background, it is safe to say the scene takes place in a forest or large park.

Examine the picture as a whole to determine how the characters fit into the image. Based on how the characters interact with their surroundings, you can determine how to start your story. For example, if your characters are in a dark-looking cave with huddled stances and frightened expressions, you can start the story mentioning that they are all lost and worried.

Brainstorm the plot of your story. The plot is the sensible progression of events in the story starting with the beginning, transitioning into the middle and then finally concluding. If your characters are lost in a cave, that is the beginning; when they try to find their way out is the middle and when they escape the cave is the end.

Things You'll Need:

  • 60-watt light bulb
  • Magnifying glass
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