Why Write Flash Fiction Stories Based On Photo Prompts?

Today I was moved to write my first blog that is not a flash fiction story. I hope it is not too boring, especially as it is four to six times the usual size of my posts here. 😳

Today a new follower of mine, Mel Gutiér, made this comment on my flash fiction story Offering Oneself

“For some reason I don’t like prompts. They annoy me. I should go deeper as to why, I think.”

Mel’s comment got me thinking. My blog is completely the opposite: my last fifty-five posts have been based on my responses to two writing prompts:

1. FridayFictioneers – hosted by the novel and short story published author Rochelle Wisoff-Fields;

2. WhatPegmanSaw – hosted by the talented writers Karen Rawson and Joshua Hardy Carroll.

For the last twelve weeks I have written, on average, two stories per week for each of these photo prompts. Some weeks, I have written three stories for a particular FridayFictioneers photo prompt.


Okay my blog was set up to “Keep Calm and Write Flash Fiction” and in the early weeks I was writing flash fiction to be offered to The Drabble, who use photographs in much the same way novels use their front cover artwork: to support their stories, and pique reader interest.

But why, after having half a dozen stories published by The Drabble, did I then opt to concentrate of writing one hundred word and one hundred and fifty word flash fiction stories based on photographs that were easily worth a thousand words, often more?

Was it about being more economical in my word usage without sacrificing on meaning, a useful exercise in tightening my prose, not having that wiggle room that novelists could enjoy?

The answer to this question is, ‘Yes and no’ as I have been a short story writer since winning my first short story competition in the spring of 2006, even during my MA in creative writing from 2012 to 2014, which concentrated on the major forms of storytelling using the written word: plays for theatre; plays for radio; short stories for radio; short stories for anthologies, mass market novels and self-publishing; scripts for television and scripts for the film industry.

So, was I not a good enough writer to use my own imagination and not rely on photo prompts?

There is no simple answer to this question. Sorry. I suppose there is something about the challenge I like. That competitive side of me comes out, maybe. However, for me, it is not about competing, not about proving I am better than another author, rather it is about showcasing my stories. But even that is not correct because I enjoy spending more time on other’s work than my own – by commenting on as many of their stories as I can, supporting their efforts and encouraging them. And even though common story threads appear each week, it never ceases to amaze me the variety of different stories and styles that are created by the aspiring and published authors. The buzz surrounding these stories is significant, as is the amount of research performed by some writers for their stories.

Despite all this, what it really comes down to for me is – I believe it is better to give than to receive. Truly. I know many of those bloggers I follow and read regularly may disagree with my sentiment, but in immersing myself in these photo prompts each week, I feel part of a community of supporting and encouraging writers, who read my work, and understand it – and offer constructive criticism when they do not, criticism that is more meaningful as they offer their work to be read and commented on, something Rochelle  actively promotes and polices in the kindest and friendliest way imaginable.


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8 thoughts on “Why Write Flash Fiction Stories Based On Photo Prompts?

  1. It’s good to read the ‘why’ of other writers, so thank you for this post.
    I like the challenge of flash fiction in telling a story in so few words, the paring down. Coming up with an idea to a prompt is usually the stumbling block for me. I stare and stare and nothing comes to mind. A writer’s imagination is all very good, but often when under a deadline it fails.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love being prompted to write flash fiction amd i prefer photo prompts to other prompts, because the viduual impact activates my imagination. I also agree with your words ‘I feel part of a community of supporting and encouraging writers, who read my work, and understand it – and offer constructive criticism when they do not.’ It’s great to get feedback and feel part of a community of writers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow Kelvin, those two wonderfully talented girls, Maria and Mel, have said it all. And I’m sure you know how much I admire your writings. So just keep writing, and if you choose, you may broaden your horizons,
    Your old friend, Ivor….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kelvin, after a while of getting to know you through our interaction in comments, it is lovely and refreshing to read a post in your voice. I think you should make it a weekly thing, where you reflect on your method, on the art of writing, on other posts which touched or moved you and just share your wise and insightful thoughts with us. I think you’re depriving us of another facet of you if you don’t. So you can take my eloquently worded demand and use it as a ‘prompt’ and keep talking to us once in a while in your voice.

    I know, I’m so bloody charming and endearing 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with charming and endearing! Enjoyed hearing from you personally. I’m not partial to pics over word prompts. Some pics work for me and some don’t. When a prompt clicks, it’s like Christmas in my head. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You are so thoughtful. This was a great response and I’m so touched I inspired you for this. Thanks fir the mention BTW.

    I agree with everything you said.

    Honestly, I seem to draw a blank with prompts. I’m not sure why. I might go deeper into this on my 100days project.

    Thank you for your insight.

    Your new friend.

    Liked by 2 people

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