Classroom Exercise Playwriting

Picture Prompt: What are they talking about?

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.

Here, we’re looking at a conversation. It’s two guys, looking out. Who are they? Where are they? What are they talking about? The possibilities are endless.

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.

Have students answer the following questions:

2. Where was this picture taken? Where are they?

    • Who are the two men in the picture?
    • What can you tell about them by the way they’re dressed?
    • What is their relationship?
    • What is the emotional state of each person?
    • Who took this picture?
    • What is the photographer’s relationship to the two men?
    • What’s going to happen five minutes from now?

3. Based on the automatic writing and the answers to the questions, students will write a dialogue. Write the conversation between the two men. Think about what each individual wants in this conversation. Think about what is going to happen in the next moment. Is it something happy? Something unpleasant? Something dangerous? Something odd?

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About the author

Lindsay Price