Creative Prompts: Treasure

I spied these beads the other morning while walking my son to the nursery. It was a bright hot day and sunshine glinting off the bright blue caught my eye. The beads were nestled in a collection of old leaves on the edge of a playground, and they seemed to me to be the kind of find I would have been very happy with as a child, making me think of treasure.

Some of the great stories and movies that I liked as a child started off as a hunt for treasure, and I still have a particular fondness for the Goonies. Most of the Indiana Jone’s stories involved the pursuit of some kind of treasure, for a range of different reasons. I think the pursuit of treasure can be a great device to use in a story, as it can reveal many facets of a character or a group of characters personalities.

What might a good treasure be?

Why does a character need or want it?

Greed?

Money worries?

It’s significance as an occult object?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page.

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Creative Prompt: Rope Walk

I took this photograph in a small town in the Cotswolds in the UK. The sign sits high up on a wall that lines one side of a small road that provides an escape from the main high street. The entrance is enclosed on both sides and above by squat old buildings made from Cotswold stone, and the alleyway winds away from the shops through a mysterious series of corridors until you find yourself at the back of the town in the car park.

In the UK many of the street names in old towns and villages had quite literal names. There are a lot of Station Roads that now, or used to, lead to train stations. When I saw this sign I could not imagine how it got it’s name and some google adventures later I still do not know.

The local area used to be famous for it’s cloth trade, and there were many woollen mills in the district from as far back as the thirteenth century. I couldn’t find confirmation that this particular Rope Walk relates to that activity, although the connection seems sensible.

How do you think Rope Walk got its name?

What kind of mysterious things may have happened there?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page.

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Creative Prompt: There She Is

A few weeks ago I left my house to pop to the shop and found that someone had dropped a pack of playing cards all over the pavement down our road. I stopped to take a few photos of some of the cards where they lay, as I always think there’s something a bit mysterious about a solitary playing card, maybe because they have been used in so many murder mystery and super hero films.

As I was doing this I realised that there was a particular card that I wanted to find, and then set about looking for the queen of hearts. I eventually found her loitering by the wheel of a parked car in the middle of the road.

This card has a dual meaning for me in that it reminds me both of the irrational and powerful Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (this is an affiliate link – if you buy this book using this link I’ll be sent a few pence as a referral fee), and of the more generic archetype of the beloved queen or princess in many fairy tales.

I’m particularly drawn to the idea of a character who may be able combine the two different forms of representation, the caring and kind exterior, that may be disrupted at times by actions and decisions that carry power, and that may be unpredictable and make little sense.

Can you imagine such a person?

Who would they be and where may you encounter them in a fictional world?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page.

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Creative Prompt: When shall we three meet again?

When I saw these three chairs sitting outside a house in the area where I live, they made me think of the line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “when shall we three meet again?” Three witches appear in the first act to deliver a prophesy to Macbeth, telling him that he will be the King of Scotland. This event is crucial in sending him off on his tragic way (for a full summary of the plot this website does a good job).

Mother, Maiden, Crone

The archetype of three women, often witches, with supernatural abilities (sometimes referred to as the Triple Goddess) has appeared in mythology throughout history, and across many different cultures. While they may mean slightly different things in different cultures, it is thought that these figures were meant to symbolically represent three different phases of life for women:

  • Youth and innocence in the Maiden
  • Fertility and care in the Mother
  • Wisdom and experience in the Crone

Often the appearance of the women in mythology was linked to aspects of nature such as the turning of the seasons or the phases of the moon(for more information on this wikipedia has a longer and more detailed entry here).

I’ve personally been a fan of books in which the figures of three witches take a more central role than they did in Macbeth, like the subversion of those stereotypes in Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters (this is an affiliate link – if you buy this book using this link I’ll be sent a few pence as a referral fee), or the warmth of Mark Stay’s Witches of Woodville Series (full disclosure, I know Mark a little bit, but I think I would have found these books warm and lovely if I didn’t, also an affiliate link).

Back to my three chairs on the street

I actually walked past the chairs a couple of times before I had a quiet moment in which to take a photograph, and was lucky that they remained in place for so long. Perhaps they were waiting for me as two of them disappeared the next day. There is a sense of mystery around the arrangment of the chairs, as if only moments ago three people sat to discuss an urgent matter, before leaving to follow different paths.

What do you think they may have been discussing?

Where did those paths lead them?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page.

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Creative Prompt: Time Waits For No Mouse

A few weeks ago my little family and I took a holiday by the seaside in the town of Worthing, East Sussex. While we were there I noticed quite a few little pieces of knitted art like this clock that we saw fixed to a lamp post. Most of them were fixed to various spots along the promenade at the sea front, which is a popular public space even when the air is cold, windy and flecked with rain.

I later found out that it was part of an art project called Time and Seasons by the local knitting group Make and Munch (for a nice article about the project read here). I really loved the quiet humour in these pieces, like the little mouse hanging on the pendulum.

It is inspiring to see people use slightly subversive artistic tactics in public spaces to prompt people to stop for a moment and maybe reflect on something important for a moment. Here the juxtaposition of the soft, ‘indoorsy’ feel of the knitting against the raw elements of the sea front caused me to stop and take a photograph, and to wonder what the piece was about.

Public spaces can often feel like they are corporate spaces, simply maintained and organised to sell people things that they probably don’t need. Art in these spaces can do the opposite, especially pieces that are as enigmatic as this one, they can invite people to spend time simply collectively looking and thinking and feeling. Sometimes they can induce a feeling of beloning, that these spaces may be ‘for us’ after all.

If you were able to reclaim a local public space with art, where would that be? What would the project look like?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative Prompt: A Tribute to Mother Thames

When I saw this bike in the mud of the Thames I immediately thought of the references made to Mother and Father Thames in The Rivers of London series of books by Ben Aaronovitch (this is an affiliate link – if you buy this book using this link I’ll be sent a few pence as a referral fee). I’ve been a fan of the series for a long time and these books are definitely an influence on my own work.

I took the photo while out on a day trip with my family, so it was taken a little hastily. It’s also a little fuzzy because I was hanging over a wall a bit, looking down from quite a height while the tide was low, but I’m pleased enough with the monochrome feel of the snap.

The city of London marks a site of settlement that goes back until at least the Roman times, and in Pre-Christian times it was common for people to make votive offerings (Wikipedia has a nice entry on this here) to the local deities of the land and the water. It’s likely that the river will have received many, many offerings over the years for the local spirits from people seeking luck or protection, or giving thanks for a piece of good fortune. 

It makes me wonder, in a different time who may have made such a valuable offering and what did they want or need?

Would the local spirit have been enraged to receive the offer of a stolen bicycle, or entertained?

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative Prompt: OK Computer!

I’m always intrigued when I see pieces of electronic devices laying around in places that you wouldn’t necessarily expect them. I saw this thing that I’m assuming is a computer chip of somekind (I’m probably wrong here) in a playground when I was out with my son. There were lots of kids running around and using the swings and slides and it seemed out of place, laying there in the dirt.

I’m quite attracted to the green colour and the pattern of lines on the front of the chip. It makes me think that it could encode something interesting, and provokes story ideas for me about a computer savvy child finding a computer chip and getting herself into a strange situation through her own curiosity.

What kind of information could be on this chip?

Where could it lead?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative Prompt: An Empty Ring Box

I saw this ring box laying on the floor not far from one of the parks where I like to take my son so he can run around and say hello to the ducks. This little box evokes a sense of mystery for me, it could hold many different stories. The way the box gapes open on the grass, seemingly discarded, and is missing the little cushion that would usually contain the ring provokes a sense of loss or refusal.

Was the ring stolen, and the box discarded as a way of ridding the thief of the evidence?

When I first saw it, many possibilities came to mind:

Did someone buy a ring only to find their gift unwelcome?

Did someone discard the box and it’s contents after finding out that their love had not been true to them?

Was the ring stolen, and the box discarded as a way of ridding the thief of the evidence?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative Prompt: The New Broom

I saw this broom leaning against this tree the other morning and decided to take a photograph because i liked the design of the bristles. I tried a few different angles but couldn’t really get a great shot of them, although in this one you can see how they are bound together with different coloured threads of some kind. Close up the bristles were quite intricately arranged and this detail appealed to me.

I didn’t see anyone around, all the nearby shops were closed and I didn’t see any evidence of a huge mess that needed cleaning up. However the shops close by are all small independent shops, including a post office and a chicken take away, and I could imagine one of the shop keepers wearily resting the broom against the tree before they closed up for the night. It felt to me like quite a nice jumping off point for a character study, so I thought I would post it here.

Who do you think was sweeping up in the evening? What kind of mess did they need to clean up (ordinary, or emotional)?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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Creative Prompt: When the Wheels Come Off

We’ve had a couple of days of sun and I’ve been trying to get out to some slightly further flung spots around the area that I live than usual when I walk. This is another picture from the edge of a railway line, where I saw this wheel poking out from under the fence.

I really liked the juxtaposition of the wheel, which may be from a pram or a trolly, and the empty whisky bottle. There is a story in the image, the wheels coming off a situation, and perhaps as a consequence some commiserations aided by hard liquor.

What do you think could have happened here? What was the consequence?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

If you like the photos featured in these creative prompt posts you may be interested in my latest collection of prints and other things on Redbubble which feature a small selection of my best shots.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. You can read my short fantasy stories here on Simily. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

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