This month’s writing prompt is inspired by my recent visit to Sheffield, in the North of England but (as it turns out) only a few hours away from me by train. I was visiting Sheffield Hallam University, which is right in the heart of the city, and I was fortunate to have time to take in some nearby landmarks as well – particularly the well known and excellent Millennium Gallery, which hosts the Ruskin collection and three spaces for art exhibitions, and also Sheffield Cathedral and Graves Gallery (which is a gem of an exhibition space hidden away above the city’s Central Library, currently showcasing many drawings and sculptures by Sheffield-born George Fullard, among other artists). All this started me thinking about landmarks and public spaces…
Writing Prompt – Encountering a Local Landmark
• Take your main character(s) to a notable built landmark (somewhere local to the setting of your novella).
– Are there any rituals, traditions, or aspects of culture or history associated with that place? Might some of these inform the action that happens in the story OR what a character notices in the location?
– Are any parts of the landmark notable for being in a state of renovation, development, or repair? Are any elements of the natural world intermingling with the built environment? Is it a meeting point? Or a place for people to find sanctuary? Or is it a place for passing by/through? Are there any striking visual aspects that inspire, uplift, or create a sense of awe/wonder? Or are there any aspects of the landmark that seem strange, off-kilter, or unsettling?
– What is your main character’s relationship to this landmark? How do they feel about it, how often do they encounter it (and in what context/with what motive), and what does it mean to them personally? How does that compare with the experience of other people who encounter this landmark – is the main character’s relationship to it typical or atypical?
– In this flash fiction, be sure to allow something to happen, something that creates a sense of an event unfolding in time – even if it’s only a very small incident, or an action witnessed.
– Let all this material lead the character towards an insight – about the world, their relationships, or themselves.
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