Shenandoah Writers: December Writing Prompt

This series is for everyone following along with us while we read Brian Kiteley’s The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction.

It has been chosen.

This month in 3 A.M., we discover what Kiteley has to say about images.  **Please read all the exercises and do whichever ones that capture your interest on your own time.

However, for those of you following along with the group, please do exercise 16.  Here it is:

Two Paintings.

Write a story that is an attempt to bridge two photographs or paintings by, for example, Diane Arbus, Eric Fischl, Cindy Sherman, Edouard Manet, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Tina Barney, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Roy Lichtenstein, Max Beckmann, Mark Tansey, Weegee, or Paul Klee.

This will mean researching these or other artists you know.  Use two distinct and unrelated paintings or photographs by two artists.  You need not use fine art photography; collections of old and recent news photography or advertising photos might also be inspiring for this exercise.  Choose two paintings or photographs that are very dissimilar. 

600 words

He goes on to say:

I’m suggesting something like an old literary critical exercise, which would be to imagine a set of Raymond Chandler characters wandering into a Henry James novel.  But in this case, take two distinct images, and build a story around the attempt to synthesize their subject matters.

If you use two paintings, you’ll have your work cut out for you—especially landscape paintings with no apparent action in them.  But all painters frame and organize their images very carefully, using shapes, angles, and lines to create a harmonious package.

The key to this exercise is to study two images very carefully, taking notes on what you see, long before you’ve come up with any ideas about the story that might grow out of these two images.  It might be fun to take two abstract paintings, fields of color and shape but no narrative at all, and see what you can come up with when all story has apparently been erased form your raw material.

**A couple of notes from me: Be sure to include your two pictures or paintings with the assignment so we can see the inspiration.

Also—do not use what the artist or photographer says is the story behind the print; just get the two images and figure out their distinct stories for yourself first.

I’m torn, though.  I also like #21…maybe I’ll do both?

If you choose to do any of these, please send them to me at – OR – if you are a member of Shenandoah Writers Online, please post them there.

Incidentally, if you *aren’t* a member of Shenandoah Writers Online, why not??  In short, we are a brand-new online community of writers—from all over the country—on Ning.  Click the above link or e-mail me for more information.

Oh yeah, and happy writing!

I don't even want to tell you how long it took me to get this horrible picture. More like SCARY writing!