Writing Prompts

A Writing Prompt from Thomas Heise, author of MOTH; OR HOW I CAME TO BE WITH YOU AGAIN

Each Friday we post one new writing prompt created by a Sarabande author. Prompts like this one are included in our online Reader's Guides along with discussion questions and suggested reading to accompany each title. So if you can't wait a week for the next prompt, visit our Reader's Guide page to find them all in one place!

This week's Friday Writing Prompt comes from Thomas Heise, author of MOTH: or how I came to be with you again (2013)


I’m fascinated by old photographs of strangers that I sometimes find at flea markets. They can be rich sources of imaginative material because they give you details to work with—clothing, hairstyle, familial relations, period furnishings, landscapes—but leave so much open for speculation. I have a small collection of them that I’ve assembled over the years. I look and ask how did this picture come to be? What is the backstory of this person or family? What happened in the day, weeks, or years afterwards? Find a few old photos of people you don’t know and use them to write a character sketch, to develop a new story line, or to create a background for a narrator or character.