1,000 Words

How much easier would it be if the first thousand words of your manuscript were already written for you?

Well they do say a picture is worth a thousand words.

I was watching a repeat of ABC’s First Tuesday Book Club the other day and Clare Wright, one of the book reviewers in that episode (May 2014) reviewed a book by Toni Jordan, entitled ‘Nine Days’.

As part of the review Clare said

“…it’s (Nine Days) very tightly structured around this photo that she (Toni Jordan) found in the State Library of Victoria archives, and she has woven a story around what might have happened to bring these two people together at this particular point….”

I love that. An entire book woven from the story spark of a photograph. I’d say this picture was worth a little more than a thousand words to Toni Jordan.

Nine Days Toni JordanPhoto:http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/

Pictures are all around us. We are a ‘snap-happy’ culture and in the digital age it’s even easier. Accessible and right at our finger tips are pictures and photos of people we don’t know, and are unlikely to meet.

It goes past simply asking who they are. As you look at a picture you begin to break it down. Like a journalist you dig deeper.

  • Who are they?
  • Where are they?
  • Why are they there?
  • What are they wearing?
  • Why are they wearing it?
  • What structure is in the background?
  • Why is it there?
  • What importance does it have on the people involved?
  • What season is it?
  • What day of the week?
  • What time of the day?
  • Who is taking the photograph?
  • Why are they taking it?
  • Who else is out of frame?
  • What has just happened before the shot?
  • What will happen after?
  • Is it a true moment of happiness or are they faking the smiles?

As you ask each question you begin to create back stories, build characters, design a world, breathe life. Suddenly you are no longer looking at a simple picture, you are holding the doorway into your imagination.

Jump onto Facebook, open Pinterest, try your luck on Google and hit ‘image’, scroll through the gallery on your phone, pull out the shoe box of photos hidden deep in your closet…how ever you find the photo, find one now.

It could just be the start of a wonderful story.



So Writers… What photo have you found that opened your imagination and set off a story spark?


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