People Watching #4

Have you done any people watching lately? The first time we looked at Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Then we examined a 1930s Charles Walton photograph. After that, we speculated about the dynamics of two girls and a guy at the dinner table.

I loved reading your comments—the ideas evoked by those pictures. The backgrounds, personalities, and situations of each person.

Aside from knowing that a picture is worth 1000 words, a picture evokes 1000 stories.

If I showed a picture to a dozen students and told them to write a story based on it, I got a dozen unique and varied responses.

If I did this with 1000 students, guaranteed, they’d each have a different combination of character interactions, dialogs, motives, and plots.

As I’ve said before, I revel in this creative diversity. We each inherently have this innovative ability because we’re made in God’s image. See “Chickens at the State Fair.”

Whether you’re a story writer or not, your own creativity can shine with a little people watching.

This time, we’ll take a look at another photograph by photographer and past blog guest, Elmer Sparks.

What story is being suggested?

Take a few minutes to immerse yourself in this picture. Then think about these questions. There are no right or wrong answers! You’re calling the shots.

• Who is this girl in this bike race?
• Why is she in the bike race?
• What is the setting (approximate time, date, and place)?
• What is the tone/mood/atmosphere of this particular day?
• Is this her first race or not?
• If she has raced before, how many times, why, and how well did she do?
• What has led up to this race?
• What difficulties did she face before entering the race?
• What is her personality?
• What are her key character traits?
• What is her mood?
• Who is watching her race?
• Who is supporting/sponsoring her in this race?
• Does she have anything to prove to herself, family, or others?
• Does she know the other racers?
• What are the relationship dynamics among them? Are they friends or just competitors?
• What is she thinking at this moment?
• What is a typical day like for her?
• What does she aspire to?
• Where does she wish she was instead? Or is she happy to be here?
• What is the title of her story?

So many story possibilities! All in one picture.

So . . . how would YOU answer some of the questions above about this picture? What story do you see unfolding?

I welcome your comments below!

Ever musing,


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6 thoughts on “People Watching #4

  1. This is so fun! Once again I find myself wanting to teach creative writing so I can utilize this technique.
    Ideas occur to me sooooo slowly that I can’t come up with many off-the-cuff responses to your great questions. But the only title that occurred to me was “My Chin Strap is Too Tight.”
    (meaning no disrespect to the determined lady or the striking photo!)

  2. I love doing this sort of thing. Everyone can tell a story, and I think in this world of stress, everyone loves a zany story. So here’s my best crack:

    This is Tina. She trains all the time, so much so that she puts off doctor’s visits. She hasn’t had her tetanus shot since she was 14. Two days ago, in a previous race, she took a turn too fast and crashed into a rusty chain link fence. Now, in the midst of this race, lockjaw is settling in. Tina know’s its her last race, so she is making sure she wins.

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