The Magic is in the Details

“The sky was as blue and delicate as a porcelain teacup, and the hills rolled gently in all directions, intersected occasionally with the silver ribbon of a river.” -Alyxandra Harvey, Haunting Violet

Descriptive detail in stories is an important but tricky element of writing.

How do you know if you’re using too much? Or too little?

Mosaic

I believe knowing when and how to use the right amount of description is an intuitive skill that’s learned over time and is mostly based on personal preference. Establishing the perfect balance between description and action in a story is like trying to achieve the perfect balance between dressing acceptably but still maintaining individuality. Continue reading

Weird But Useful Writing Prompt: Paint Swatches

This may seem really unusual but whenever my family and I look at paint colours in a hardware store, I always take a paint swatch or two with me.

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Vibrant pinks

I’ve gotten into the habit of collecting them (sometimes for possible new paint colours for my room) but mostly because of the creative names associated with them, like Blue Midnight or Summer Rain (I’m totally making these up). Whenever I read the names, a certain image or feeling pops into my head and I think later on that I might be able to use it for inspiration. One of the colour swatches even reminded me to get back to my high adventure story about pirates.

When I explain this to my family, they’re really surprised that I use these swatches as writing prompts or that I collect them.

Writing Prompts

The paint swatches that inspired the writing prompts below.

 

It makes me wonder: Am I the only one who experiences this?

Perhaps it’s the combination of visual inspiration and the written word that gets you writing. This is the case with paint swatch booklets that feature artfully-decorated and beautifully-painted rooms as examples. I know some people who search up images as a form of a prompt, using that picture to tell a story or to brainstorm.

While looking at some paint swatches the other day, I discovered something really fun. The format of the paint swatches was fairly uniform: there would be three colours, of varying shades, each with a unique but related name. Sometimes it would be various lilacs or roses, other times it would be similar concepts like “ghost ship” and “evening eclipse.” These two could easily be paired together and prompt one idea to the next, creating a snowball effect.

I ended up finding some more paint swatches, stored away in a box while cleaning. I decided that instead of hiding them away I had to place them somewhere else as visual reminders instead of just letting them sit in a dust-covered shoebox. I finally added them to my writing notebook, leaving them there as visual prompts in case I ever needed them.

I’ll share my most recent writing prompts, based on the paint swatch names:

September fog, frappé, carriage house 

Ghost ship, shark loop, evening eclipse 

 I put these writing prompts to the test and found they really stretched my creative muscles, challenging me to successfully work them into existing stories or connect all three together cohesively into a new story.

Do you have any quirky techniques you use for writing prompts?

Do these work as writing prompts for you? Let me know in the comment section below 🙂