Classroom Exercise Playwriting

Picture Prompt: The Portrait

Picture Prompt: The Portrait
Written by Lindsay Price


Ideas can come from anything and everything. But it’s always a good idea to give students a jumping off point. Pictures are a great jumping off point for creative writing.

Today we’re looking at the the portrait. There are so many things that can go on behind the scenes in a happy smiling picture. Just because they’re smiling in the picture doesn’t mean everything is okay. And what if they’re not smiling at all? What does that mean? I chose this one because the standing bride’s smile struck me as odd. It’s almost like a grimace. What is the story behind the picture?

Using the picture at the top of the post, take these steps:

1. Automatic write on the picture. Set a timer for two minutes and tell students to write down everything and anything that comes to mind when they look at the picture. Don’t self-censor or judge any thought, just get it down on the page. Explain to students they’re creating source material to draw from for future writing.

2. Have students answer the following questions:

    • Who are the standing bride and groom?
    • Where are they from?
    • What’s their social status?
    • What is going on in their minds as this picture is being taken?
    • Who are the other people in the picture? What is their relationship with the bride and groom?

3. Based on the automatic writing and the answers to the questions, students will write a monologue. Write the inner monologue of one of the people in the picture. What are they thinking about? What do they want? Where do they wish they were instead of taking the picture? What do they think of the other people they are standing with?

Click here for a printable PDF of this exercise!
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About the author

Lindsay Price