A New Kind of Challenge Scene: Use Pictures

Jun 4, 2013 by

While working on my Inspiration From Mexico post one of the pictures put a scene in my head as soon as I saw it (so it had to go in the post, haha). While writing it I found out two things:

One, having a picture helps you establish the setting, since you have it to look at (and clearer than it could be in your head) it’s easy to put descriptive details in the right places; and after you’ve practiced with pictures it will probably become easier without them.

And two, it’s a fun challenge to take a picture and try to set a story in it. Like say, take a picture of Ireland (hint, hint) and envision your characters are standing there; or new characters, whatever fits.

Of course why stop at places? You could try to make a character based on a picture of a person or give a character an item from a picture, whatever sparks your imagination!

Below the picture (the one that inspired me) is my 500 word scene (511 actually but whatev). Did I do a good job with the setting?

P.S. I don’t have more of the story than this so please don’t ask for it.

Inside EPCOT Mexico

I stare blankly at the computer screen and sigh. I have no idea how long I’ve been sitting here staring at this white screen.

Everyone else sitting in the open air café probably thinks I’m crazy for staring at screen when I’m surrounded by brightly colored tables overlooking a Mayan temple that’s back dropped by jungle trees-and in the distance-a volcano. I’d agree with them except such a scenery is why I’m here with my laptop; see I’m a writer and this café is usually seeping with inspiration but it’s been a long tiresome day and it’s hard to think through this headache that came from it.

My gaze meanders to the solitary mountain in the distance, to the red rimming its top and the smoke drifting up into the dark sky.

“Buenos noches, senor,” a familiar voice snaps me out of my trance.

I turn suddenly to see to see a young Mexican lady smiling at me with her big brown eyes. She’s a waitress here who always waits on this table. I’m not sure if this is my usual table because it’s hers or if she waits on this table because it’s mine. I always hope it’s the latter but it’s most likely the first.

“Your coffee,” she sets a glass mug on my table to the right of my laptop, just where she knows I like it.

“Gracias, senorita.”

She folds her hands in front of her. “How is your story coming?”

“Not so well today.”

“Oh, Oh well, there is always tomorrow!”

I smile at her optimism. I lean my left elbow on the table and run my hand through my short brown hair, suddenly remembering that I forgot to comb today. Great, I probably look like a stressed out mess, which wouldn’t be too far off. Slightly embarrassed I drink my coffee and look at the screen, pretending to be absorbed in it.

“Anything else I can get you?”

“No, I’m fine.”

She nods and walks off.

I stare at the screen for at least ten minutes before giving up and closing my laptop. Seems tying to focus is just going to make my headache worse. Taking off my round silver glasses I lean my elbows on the table and close my eyes as I massage the sides of my head. I sigh, seems that isn’t going to work, maybe I should just go home and call it a night.

I finish my bitter cup of caffeine, grab my laptop and get up to go, leaving a nice sized tip under the lantern occupying the middle of the table.

As I walk away I feel a shake from under my feet. A large blast goes off and suddenly all the chatter in the café is silenced.

The waitress is standing in front of me staring shocked at something behind me.

“What’s wrong?” I ask getting scared.

Her voice is a whisper. “The volcano….”

I turn and am equally shocked. In all the years I’ve lived here something like this has never happened. The volcano is erupting!

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