I like to use visual images as prompts as I think writing about a visual stimulus creates a conversation between different parts of the brain.
There are four people in this photo by Weegee, and an implied fifth, the photographer/viewer. I love the hands, and the faces, and the shapes and tones, and the mood. My suggestion for using the photo as a prompt: stare at it for at least 30 seconds without writing. Then write quickly, don’t pause too much to think, or worry about whether it’s good or even grammatical, where it’s all going, what form or genre you’re writing in. Let in unexpected associations. Watch what emerges without judgment.
Matthew Sharpe is the author of the novels JAMESTOWN, THE SLEEPING FATHER, NOTHING IS TERRIBLE, and other books. He has taught writing and literature at Columbia, Wesleyan, Bard, and elsewhere. He is a freelance book editor.