Using Pictures for Creative Writing Prompts

Pictures tell a story and are ideal to use as writing prompts to help generate ideas, promote creativity and encourage thoughtful expression. The picture might be a personal photograph, famous artwork, magazine clippings, internet images or any picture that will inspire creative writing ideas. Teachers could have students search for pictures at home and bring them to class to share. You may click on the image above to view the resource I have available with 75 high quality images to use as creative writing prompts.

Here are some ideas for using pictures for creative writing:

Picture Quick Writes

Picture quick writes are 3-10 minute exercises where students freely write their thoughts and ideas about an image. Students are allowed to let their writing flow freely and not worry about revising and making corrections.  The teacher may project a photo on the screen and have the class write about anything the photo inspires them to write, even if it is not exactly what the photo is about. Students might write a story, describe a personal experience, tell what they know about the topic, or express their feelings about the image. The writing does not have to be exactly what the picture is about, but it should be inspired by the picture.

Quick Write Steps:

  1. Study the photo
  2. Think about how the picture inspires you as a writer
  3. Write your thoughts
  4. Share your writing with others

Picture Narratives

Pictures are a perfect springboard to writing either a personal narrative or a fictional narrative. Students can write a story with a partner or write stories individually. Writing with a partner is very motivating for many students and pairing a less confident writer with a more confident writer is an effective way to build writing skills and writing confidence.

Picture Narrative Steps

  1.  Choose a picture and study it carefully
  2.  Talk about what is happening in the photo and what your story might be about.
  3.  Plan out your story. If it is a personal photo of an event in your life, make a list of the sequence of events. For all other photos plan out the characters, setting, problem, events and ending for the story. The story does not have to explain the picture, as long as the picture has in some way inspired the resulting work.
  4. Write, Revise, and Edit your story.
  5. Decide how you want to publish your story. The photo may be published with the finished product.
  6. Share your story!

Adding a face to faceless body image is one of the favorite writing projects for my students.  First the teacher needs to print a variety of faceless bodies on plain paper. Have each student choose a body and glue their own photo, or draw a face on the body. Then students can draw the setting around the body.  This page can be used for the cover of the published book. My class created this cover page first, then shared their story ideas with each other, and then planned and wrote their stories.  Click here to download some free pictures of faceless bodies.

Happy teaching!



Many more writing ideas and resources are in these books..