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Writing from an image prompt by focusing on the details

I've written from about a dozen image prompts. I found it infuriating at first, because nothing naturally seemed to arise—I didn't always feel "inspired" even when I liiked an image. But after a while, I found ways of making sense of images as prompts.

One way of writing from an image prompt I've found useful is to focus closely on the details. For example, given a drawing of a (fictional) person, I might ask:

  1. How are they dressed? Well or poorly? For school? For a night on the town? For a date? For a casual hangout?
  2. Do any colors stand out? Patterns? Textures? Materials? What is their stuff made of?
  3. Do any logos or brands appear? What do those say?
  4. Do they have tattoos? Are they temporary or permanent?
  5. What parts of their appearance (clothes, grooming, ...) do they keep neat? What parts are messy? Why might they want to keep their appearance the way that it is? What message does it send?
  6. How do they hold themselves? Is it a "candid" where they don't seem to know they're being drawn, or are they posing? What does the way this person holds themselves, in the context they do (candid vs. pose) say about them?
  7. Is there a background to this drawing? If so, where are they? Does that match up with how they are dressed, posed, etc.? What might that congruence or disagreement say about them?

This isn't a checklist I go down. It's more a list of prompts — ideas for things that I might notice and look at while I'm examining the drawing.