Moving Pictures

It’s not often I feel inspired by something my children hanker after on-screen – certainly neither Minecraft nor the CBeebies app do little to light the creative fire in me – but this week I’ve been really impressed and moved by the power of a (free) children’s site called Storybird. storybird2

If you have primary age children and haven’t had a play already, you might want to let them loose on it. It has them writing their own picture books or poems (or for older children, novellas), inspired by the child’s selection from a great library of connected images. And the end product, with the gorgeous illustrations that the site provides, looks incredibly professional, and can be saved and shared with friends and family or on the site.

So far, so nice. I have no connection with this site, by the way, just blown away by the power of it, & the amazing boost in creativity the children seem to derive from writing in conjunction with the pictures – my 7 year old can hammer out a story of sorts, but with Storybird she was coming up with characters and plots that intrigued and surprised both of us. It got me thinking about the times I’ve used picture prompts in my own writing, particularly in combination, and how I should do more of it because it almost always seems to generate something worth developing. Who knows what alchemy is at work, but even a single image seems to get the imagination churning in a way that the blank page definitely doesn’t, and a combination of images often seems to spark even more ideas.

Flickr‘s a good place to start, isn’t it, although there is a risk of getting sucked into a wormhole of procrastination. I sometimes put a single word in the search box and see what comes up. Today (for this purpose, using only images with no known copyright restrictions) I popped in ‘interesting’ and this is a selection of what I got. Choose one, or a couple, and see what they give you.

I enjoy a few Twitter feeds for the same sort of thing. Libraries and museums are good for this (for example, try @nlwales, @natlibscot, @britishmuseum, BBC Archive, British Library,  London Library), along with History Lovers Club (rare historical photos) and PostcardFromThePast (real text from old postcards, along with the image).

I’ve mentioned before that Halo magazine has some great photo prompts on Pinterest. And I also enjoy the prompts that come by email from Jude Higgins who (amongst other things) co-runs Writing Events Bath – you can sign up to their blog which includes the photo prompts here. And finally, if you like to get competitive, try Faber Academy’s Friday #QuickFic competition – a 250 word photo prompt challenge, launched at 9.50am each Friday morning on Twitter.

That’s all from me but I’d love to hear about the images that move and inspire you.

Until the next time, Chloe.


2 thoughts on “Moving Pictures

  1. Great post, Chloe. I often use picture prompts for my writing – to inspire me to begin writing, and with bigger works, to describe a scene. I’ve just started doing creative writing classes for kids, so thank you so much for that Storybird tip.


    1. Thanks Fiona, and very happy to have passed on Storybird, such a lovely site. A friend and I were running a children’s writing workshop (6-11) at weekends last year and it was great fun – taking a break for for now to work on other projects but when our younger children are old enough to enjoy it, we’ll start up again. I do miss it – they have such hilarious ideas!


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