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The Value of Word and Photo Prompts

John is a poet and short fiction writer who enjoys collaborating on stories with other writers, and partaking in challenges.

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The Benefits of Word and Photo Prompts For Writers

All writers find inspiration from different places, like everyday life and the people and situations we encounter, news stories, music, nature, various causes that we feel strongly about etc. but if you are like me, your muse will also be aroused by prompts and challenges issued by others.

It often takes me days and quite a bit of contemplation to decide on a subject to write about. I wouldn't say I actually had "writer's block" but it is just difficult to decide on a topic. It is one of the reasons I started my "Poems From the Porch" series, where I ask my readers to provide me with prompts for poems they would like me to write.

I also enjoy writing short fiction and flash fiction stories, but unless someone like Bill Holland issues a photo challenge I can't usually decide what to write a story about. In a similar vein, I look forward to Brenda Arledge's weekly word prompts.

If you are stuck on what to write, and need word or story prompts, a quick search of Google will find you an abundance.

Examples of Using Writing Prompts

One example of Internet prompts is Reedsy which gives you a list of short story prompts each week and also offers a $50 prize for the one selected as the best if submitted with them. You can however, if you choose, just use the prompt to kick-start a story and publish it wherever you like.

I wrote one story "Mine! Mine! (or The Old Man and the Boat)" for a picture prompt flash-fiction challenge at a site called "Author's Community" and received a runner-up award. So, don't just sit there twiddling your thumbs in front of a blank page on your notepad, tablet, or computer. Just, search for word, photo, or story prompts, find one or two that catch your eye (or your muse's attention) and you're set!

The following poems and micro-fiction story are further examples of how prompts can be used to inspire your writing.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Word Prompt ~ Raindrops

Friend and fellow writer Brenda Arledge kindly provides us all with a weekly word prompt. The prompt for Week 13 was "Raindrops."

“It looks like today it's going to rain all day, so I can't seem to get this word off my mind.

  • Maybe a poem about how raindrops make you feel or how one tiny raindrop becomes a flood.
  • Maybe you want to hide beneath the covers all day or you are waiting for a storm to pass.

Use your imagination. Have some fun and let me know what your muse decides to write.”

Thank you Brenda. The two following pieces are my response to your word prompt “rainfall.”

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Bed

*this is a parody of the song “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” by B.J.Thomas, written and composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

Raindrops keep fallin‘ on my bed

and just like the guy whose thoughts are too big for his head,

nothing seems to fit.

Those raindrops are fallin’ on my bed, they keep fallin’.

I wish there was a roof above my bed

and I wasn’t lying underneath the moon instead,

sleeping in the rain.

Those raindrops are fallin’ on my bed, they keep fallin’.

But of one thing I’m sure,

the wolves that come to greet me

will not eat me, because I’m quick

and I’ll be scootin’ up the nearest tree.

Raindrops keep fallin‘ on my bed

so I guess this umbrella will have to do instead.

Whining’s not for me,

‘cause I never want to stop the rain by complaining

because I’m free,

nothing’s worrying me.

It won’t be long ‘till sunshine steps up to greet me.

Raindrops keep fallin‘ on my bed

so I guess this umbrella will have to do instead.

Whining’s not for me,

‘cause I never want to stop the rain by complaining

because I’m free,

nothing’s worrying me.

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Raindrops~ an Acrostic Haiku Poem

Rain is essential

All life depends on water

It rejuvenates

Not much can survive

Drought and fire’s destructive force

Raindrops most welcome

Oh, for rain on soil

Petrachor a perfect smell

Such an earthy treat


Word Prompt ~ Childhood

For Week 14‘s prompt Brenda said the following:

“This week I have chosen the word, "Childhood.

I think this word will inspire us to be creative.

We all have childhood memories. They might be tender and loving, funny, or traumatic. Or you can write something about your grandchildren's childhood or childhood in general.

I'm not exactly sure where this word will take us. But grab your pens and jot down a few notes. Let's see what we can write.”

For my response to this prompt, I decided to incorporate it with Bill Holland‘s picture prompt mentioned below. To me, they can both represent the theme of “childhood.” In addition, I wrote another acrostic haiku type poem for this prompt as well.

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Picture Prompt ~ Mini Challenge

In Bill Holland’s ”The Writer’s Mailbag: Instalment #30, Bill issued the following challenge: "Here‘s a pic for you to play with. Give me one paragraph describing emotions based on the pic. Come on, you can do it! Dig deep!”

I would like to thank Bill for the prompt. It is quite a powerful black and white image. The expressions on the faces of mother and son say so much, and beg the viewer to imagine their story.

Bill asked for one paragraph, but I decided to turn it into a micro-fiction story. Micro-fiction usually requires stories to be around 100 words in length. The following piece “He Will Be Back Soon” is 118 words.

What is micro-fiction?

It's actually a subset of flash fiction (short stories typically told in 1,000 words or less.) Definitions vary, but generally, microfiction is any story told in 300 words or less, and could even be as short as a paragraph, one sentence, or just a few words.

He Will Be Back Soon ~ a Micro-fiction Story

“I rested my head on my mother’s shoulder..”

“I rested my head on my mother’s shoulder..”

I rested my head on my mother’s shoulder to try to offer some comfort. She didn’t smile anymore. It seemed so long since she had. My baby brother slept a least when he wasn’t crying.

I am grateful for the canvas shelter that protects us from the sun and rain, but I’m hungry. Mom says we have to stretch what little we have and make it last.

At least father will be back soon. He left three or four weeks back to look for work on the railroad. He said not to fret, when he returns he’ll have money, food and presents for us all. He will be back soon.. tomorrow I think..or the next day.

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Text added with Picfont

Childhood~ an Acrostic Haiku Poem

Childhood is fleeting

Hold onto it while you can

It is here, then gone

Learn what you need to

Do not even waste a day

Happiness the key

Often we recall

Our childhood and reminisce

Days of joy and fun

© 2021 John Hansen

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