Story-A-Week #12: Using Objects as Prompts

On my old desktop computer, and in my loft, I have years worth of writing exercises, prompts, and old lesson plans. And this week has seen me searching through old files, dusting off old documents, revamping ideas (with the help of Pinterest), and doing a little testing.

I have tended to present lesson plans/rubrics/exercises in plain old text. But Pinterest is a mine of visual ideas for all sorts of things from how to disguise your dustbin to how to dress like Emmanuelle Alt on a high street budget, and a zillion other things you never knew you needed to know. It also has tonnes of resources for educators, and after an hour or two of idle browsing early last week I was inspired to transform some of my old lesson ideas into exercise sheets with a visual bent.

Here is part of a lesson plan that is designed to lead to students writing rich descriptions of objects. I’d put an object on the table and give them the questions below, often by writing them on a board, and we’d have a five minute discussion before they got down to writing.

Sketching an object with words:

Questions to ask of it:

What is it?

What does it look like? colour; size; shape; solid or hollow?

What is its function?

What does it remind you of?

Who owns it?

What do they use it for, is that different to its original function?

But thanks to something I saw on Pinterest I made this and decided to test it by using it to start my story for the week:

I ‘d already put ‘vintage object’ in the Pinterest search bar and chosen this as my object:

Image from Pinterest

Then I sketched a possible scene/backstory:

The woman who owned it is recently dead. It had originally been her husband’s, he’d been obsessed with the fragrance of his breath, and ate these like a five year old would eat sweets were s/he allowed, and once he’d used the contents she cleaned it out and kept it. There are at least twenty more, stacked on a shelf in the pantry, behind bags of flour and jars of ancient pickles. Her daughter, who is cleaning out the house, has just uncovered them.

And wrote the first scene (rough draft!)

Bat Breath

I remember my father using these, he called them men’s sweets, and we weren’t allowed them. Too strong, he said. I stole one, once, he’d turned to pick up a fallen newspaper and left the box open, I snatched one and put it in my mouth before he could see, but he knew because it made my eyes water and I had to run to the garden and spit it out. He didn’t say anything, I guess he thought I’d learnt my lesson, he wasn’t always angry. Not with me, anyway, the others would probably say different. Joe left home rather than kill him; Cassie tried to take me and mum with her; Michael did kill him, though it was an accident. 

It’s difficult to tell if the worksheet helped me or not, I’m probably not the best person to test these things on because I’ve been writing for years and years, and they are really aimed at people who are new to creative writing. But I don’t think it hindered my creativity, so that’s something, and now the rest of the story is burning a hole in my conscious as I haven’t had time to get it out of my head and onto my screen. But it’s Monday* again and time to begin a new one!

*Okay, it’s Tuesday, I’m a day late, it’s been a busy week and weekend…

Header image: Pinterest

2 thoughts on “Story-A-Week #12: Using Objects as Prompts

  1. Oh dear, I think I would have ended up writing something silly and vampire related…. or maybe I would have created a goth character who collected bat related vintage objects? Blimey, Eryl, I bet you are a good teacher.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice to have you back, Scarlet! I’d like to read a story about a goth who collected bat related vintage objects.
      I like teaching, which reminds me I have a story in my inbox from one of my Café Stories ladies to read and comment on… X

      Liked by 1 person

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