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  • Writer's pictureWriting Voices

Pick four images that inspire creativity and explain why you chose them.

We get our inspirations and ideas from a world of resources and a lifetime of experience. The internet and social media has made it exceptionally easy to access millions of images at the click of a button and many writers take full advantage of that opportunity. We asked the scribble to pick out four images which appealed to them and explain how they might use those images to inspire their creative process.

Image 1. I adore this type of image; it really gets my motor running. Tall, stark buildings, neon lights, pollution - it evokes strong dystopian science fiction vibes. Dark, grungy, gritty; maybe a little bit steampunky. This image makes me think of an overcrowded city with a dirty underbelly. The people probably don’t make eye contact with each other. There’s poverty, there’s crime and there’s greedy decadence. Survival is everything. The ruling class is made up of the ones unscrupulous enough to make it to the top and hang on. Everyone else is there to be exploited.

Image 2. There’s something about big lakes, isn’t there? I’ve written about lakes before. You could be sat next to a contained body of water, with nobody else for miles, and you probably wouldn’t feel genuinely alone. What’s lurking in the depths? What has managed to go unseen for all this time? What only talks to children, because it knows no one will believe their stories? At some time in our lives, we’ve all looked at the water and wondered.

Image 3. I didn’t particularly like this image when I first saw it, but you don’t have to like an image to be inspired by it. There’s something incredibly topical and chilling about a faceless man in a plague mask, out in our modern world. At no point over the last couple of years have I felt remotely inclined to write about the pandemic; but I am intrigued with the idea of pushing our recent reality to a bit more of an extreme. The emergence of pandemics is linked with global warming, so what would the world look like if pestilence were the social norm? I’ve had the start of an idea sat on an otherwise blank page on my harddrive for about a year now; this has got the wheels churning a bit more, added some flesh to the bones of it.

Image 4. I’m in love with the idea of sky ships and interstellar sailing, and my mind goes straight to that place when I look at this. You’ll find the idea of solar sails crop up quite a lot in my work. The idea of voyages is just so intrinsically stitched together with the thrill of adventure, of exploration, of discovery. When you pair that with the final frontier, I think it offers up some amazing clashing mental imagery that just puts my imagination into overdrive. I don’t think you can really separate sailors from the stars, and why would you want to?

Image 1. Surely no one can look at this picture and not think of all sorts of witchy wonderfulness? It has me envisioning broomstick rides, magic spells and weather-beaten cauldrons smoking away as they brew a potion. There's something safe about this one, it makes you feel like the night wraps around you, as if it's your old favourite blanket. It sets up the atmosphere for a story about witches with good intentions, ready to do battle with the darkness and one or two unknowing humans who get thrown into the mix. A little sin, a little magic and a good sprinkle of cackling!

Image 2. I chose this one because I can smell it just by looking at it. That freshly rained on, autumnal woods scent. It's one I always associate with bleary-eyed solo dog walks. The ones where you're having words with yourself about life and walking with hunched shoulders. A million things could happen down that muddy path. Maybe you find a body? Maybe you meet someone? Maybe you make like Alice and find yourself down a rabbit hole; the options are endless. It's the perfect place to start a story when you don't quite know where the characters are taking you.

Image 3. This one got me thinking about all the tiny details in the world. The gills on a mushroom are such a small thing, something you don't often think about, but look how beautiful they can be. The smallest detail in a story can make all the difference! More literally, this picture made me think of sumptuous velvet, sinful behaviour and otherworldly-beauty. A poisoned chalice, a princess and a four-poster bed...

It's a lot to take from a mushroom, but sometimes the strangest things spark inspiration!

Image 4. This picture makes me feel as if I'm right there, in an Austrian town, taking a big gulp of beautiful, fresh air. I love landscape imagery like this, I can always pop myself right into the setting in my mind and just take a stroll around, or plan a whole day there in a few seconds. It's perfect for me, because it helps me develop settings for stories. This image in particular drew me in and made me wonder what kind of gossip that tranquil exterior is hiding. It set my brain running on a creative spiral of murder, deception and affairs, all just with one glance. It's an excellent inspiration shot!

Image 1. What attracted me to this image is the incongruity of the straight and sturdy stone path in the misty natural setting of the forest. Someone has built this path, and for a specific purpose. It made me think of age-old folk tales, when the dire warning ‘You must keep to the path!’ is met with derision and disaster. Have villagers, tired of cleaning up the remains of careless travellers, built it to keep them out of harm’s way? Or is it an elaborate double-bluff, designed to lure careful treaders to their doom?

Image 2. My first thought on seeing this picture was, ‘Let’s see you get out of that, then.’ And that could be a story in itself. But on looking more carefully, I got the impression that the person in the orange jacket doesn’t seem to want to get out of his situation. He seems quite happy, perching there on the strong arm of the tree, and something about the set of his head and the way the tree seems to be leaning in his direction, suggests a communication, even a relationship, between the human and the arboreal. I find a lot of healing power in plants and trees, and would like to write something on that theme. The tree in this picture certainly looks like it has been around for a very long time, and would have a lot of stories to tell…

Image 3. I find the sea mesmerising, and this image, with its juxtapositions and contradictions, enhances the natural mystery of the setting. The girl in this picture looks like she’s waiting; I can’t decide whether she is waiting to leave, or waiting for someone to return. She is wearing a beautiful crown of flowers, yet they are slightly bedraggled, and her hair is wild, suggesting that whatever or whoever she was waiting for is late, if they are coming at all. Has a promise been made that may not be fulfilled? The blackness of the girl’s clothes is in stark contrast to the summer brightness of the flowers - is there cause for grief, for celebration, or both? The clouds are gathering, the wind is rising and the girl has her face turned to the sea; will it claim her, or deliver her?

Image 4. A ticket to ride always speaks of adventure, but this picture in particular I found to be ripe with possibilities. Look closely at the name on the ticket - ‘John Doe’. This man is travelling incognito, or maybe he genuinely does have that name? What sort of problems would that misfortune cause for someone trying to fly across the Atlantic? Surely suspicion would be aroused, which could lead to a grave injustice, or a comedy of errors... On the other, more sinister, hand, we know that anonymous corpses are given the name John Doe...what could that mean? Has this person risen from the dead, and if so, what will happen at the biometric scanning machine? Or is he on a special flight, for those who are lost on their way to the afterlife? Airports are full of stories - reunions, partings, exciting new beginnings and reluctant returns...every story is a journey, after all.


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Images credits

  • Liz

    • Image 1 by Victor Rodriguez via Unsplash

    • Image 2 by John Salvino via Unsplash

    • Image 3 by Diogo Fagundes via Unsplash

    • Image 4 by Johannes Plenio via Unsplash

  • Stacy

    • Image 1 by Ron Fung via Unsplash

    • Image 2 by Phil DuFrene via Unsplash

    • Image 3 by Juan Martin Lopez via Unsplash

    • Image 4 by ELG21 via Pixabay

  • Nic

    • Image 1 by Robert Balog via Pixabay

    • Image 2 by Free-Photos via Pixabay

    • Image 3 by Free-Photos via Pixabay

    • Image 4 by Joshua Woroniecki via Pixabay

Cover image by Stefan Keller via Pixabay


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