Visual Writing Prompts – Mindmapping Your Path to Your Book

With today’s easy access to books, magazines, travel, social media and the vast Internet, combined with what we see in our daily lives, we are inundated with images that can become visual prompts for our writing. Just think what glorious story you can write for kids from the picture above. What if dinosaurs and humans coexisted peacefully together? Is it a secret for everyone? What can change it? Does the myth of dragons come from a deep memory when we lived together on the same planet?


These may be the shapes that you continue to notice even though the actual images are different in other respects. It may be the same time that appears every day. When you are pregnant, you notice how many other pregnant people are around you. Buy a new car and you’ll see similar ones every time you drive. As you walk, you see the same bird every time and when you google it to see if there is any meaning to that bird, the answer starts a story in your mind.


A picture is worth a thousand words is correct because it takes a lot of words to tell someone else what you just saw in an instant. People have different ways of learning, so they have different ways of coming up with story ideas. You can hear something and your mind is turned off. You read a headline or a prompt and the beginning of a story comes to mind. Visual ideas do the same. Smell the fresh bread and what are you thinking. Everyone reacts in different ways when we see and respond to stimuli of what we have already learned in our life.


Visual prompts help us access more of our subconscious, which allows creative ideas to surface. One of the ways to sort out your ideas for a new story is to create a moodboard. You can do this digitally on Pinterest or Canva (or other programs you use). You may want to do this by removing pictures from magazines or printing them out and placing them on a corkboard or sheet of cardboard. It helps to expand your knowledge of the world and its characters in your story. Words from the same sources can highlight the ideas you have.

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You can take your own photos or buy postcards. Sometimes you can take a series of photos to show how you want your story to unfold. I find that having an image that’s close to what I think they look like helps me write about my characters as if they were people I knew. Their landscape of the world in pictures does the same. I used to put them on a Pinterest board to remember them. Other writers like me have done it too. Do what you find that works for you if you respond to visual images with story ideas.

What pictures can you tell?

  • They can bring back feelings or memories associated with the image
  • Is what you see really there or improved by your mind in some way
  • Do you love or hate this picture
  • How can you change the story around the image
  • Select a random image to help you bypass a writing block
  • Use pictures to write something in a different genre
  • Does the image change your thoughts or perspective in any way
  • Is the image you are noticing related to a problem you may have
  • What do you see when you close your eyes.
  • Does music conjure up an image in your mind that helps you
  • You might learn more about yourself or your story.

February 21, 2020

Pictures can go a long way in helping you explore your creativity. As you read a book, you take the character description and picture it in your mind. I like to take an image of a person, mine or someone else’s, a photo, a painting or an illustration and use it to organize my description of my character. Earlier in my blog on WordPress, I did a post on Moodboarding for your story here

Using the images you put on a moodboard can help you choose a story or better envision the story you are writing. I did this with my writing group using old magazines. We all cut out images that we liked and glued them onto a sheet of A3 paper in a pattern that we liked. Each was different but each was useful to the person who made it. We went through our moodboard images explaining why we chose each image or title and created our own story narrative from them.

Moodboard your book

My moodboard for an MG novel I’m working on

The mood board is a suggestion that can be done digitally or physically. Your subconscious chooses the images that often help you understand the 5W and H in a story. Pinterest, Canva, Photoshop or any similar program can be used for a digital MB. Using a cork board hung near your writing space makes it easy to see the inspiration you got from the exercise in using pictures and you can extend it slightly with notes that explain this. that you got out of it. Washi tape means you can apply pictures, maps, diagrams, etc. directly on the wall next to you, as they will not damage wall surfaces. Each individual can organize their inspirational images however they like best.

True story

Historical novels need you to know the food, clothing, means of transportation, unique words or sayings of general use, for the exact time you are writing about. Images make it easier to understand, use and describe your writing. The present has its own problems and the future depends on you, but people are already trying to figure it out in advance. Fantastic stories have a large number of images to help understand what their inspiration is.

At the HPWG last fortnight, we had to find a picture of a person speaking to us from a cover or from the inside of a book. Our homework was to do the first three pages of an in-depth study of the characters on them. In the next fortnight, we’re supposed to collaborate a bit on stories involving one of the other member’s characters. We had a picture and a short description that the group leader would email us after the meeting.

Your images can come from magazines, newspapers, photos, paintings, sculptures and nature. These could be places we live or work, places we have been, and others that we may have only seen in movies on TV or on the internet but would like to visit. You tell how the image speaks to you. Since we are all individuals with different life experiences, there will be different reactions even from the same images. One person may like the image of an airport because they love to fly to new places, another may have seen loves leaving them forever, and some people hate airports because they are phobic about flying.

POV is different for everyone and you can use your POV however you want. If you find the selection process difficult, it may mean that you don’t really have a clue what to write about. Determining a question you want answered before trying to find pictures can make it easier for you. Don’t overthink your selection process. If you like it, cut it or copy / paste it to a file or pin it. Sometimes closing your eyes and lowering your finger to the part of the page that warms your finger can give you the right image. The images you choose can end up taking you in a better direction or bringing what you are working on to a very interesting point.


The moodboard made in my writing group

Many authors use tarot cards to plot their stories. They can be fun to use to give you a new vision. Use a deck of tarot cards that you like most. You alone shuffle the cards and re-wrap them in silk after each use to limit outside influences. It is a way for you, as a writer, to access your subconscious by bypassing your inner critic while you are doing it. Your subconscious is thinking about your writing while you are doing other things. We’ve all had AHA moments in our writing while ironing, walking, or exercising – times when we move automatically more than consciously. If you’re stuck in your story, ask for inspiration as you shuffle the deck and choose the card (s) that’s right for you. Your answer will be in them.

A hero’s journey

There are also several online tarot cards that you can access for free. They can be just as effective as you spawn the necessary cards if you believe in quantum physics. Take what you feel on the cards, then check the book or digital file for what it means and what it may affect. All of the intents involved and the actual pictures may show something when you take a deep look at them that helps you.

Possibilities in my stories

The main reason people love Facebook or Instagram is the number of images they contain. It takes a lot of words to fully describe an image that your brain instantly picks up on and makes a myriad of connections in your brain about it. Writers use these words in their stores. The image I selected for the HPWG may still end up having a 50-75,000 word story written about it. It gave me a number of great ideas to use in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by women.

Posted by writuremindmapper

I write because I love to do something creative that also uses my mind. My articles are the work I have done towards what I hope will be one or more published books. I run a writing group who wanted to learn more about all kinds of writing topics. We found that using a mind map gave them a big picture and that they could add their own observations to the reverse side for the smaller picture. It was easy to understand and allowed them to focus.

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