Writing Inspiration from Digital Visuals

Sometimes a writer will want to write an article for his or her website or blog but is without inspiration or an idea. While a change of scenery can certainly help – perhaps a temporary relocation or a vacation from the daily humdrum of life – another aid for getting fresh ideas to write about can come from digital visuals. Normally when a writer has completed an article and is seeking an image or two to accompany the article, perhaps one of public domain, digital repositories online such as Wikimedia Commons or Flickr will be used just for this purpose. At the same time, many of the images in these digital repositories can also attract and interest the writer enough to get a new idea on the writing board. The image in question could very well be something that somehow has a special appeal yet be a topic little known to the writer. Such an image can encourage the writer to research and learn about the new topic being written about, as in a recent personal example: the Eddystone Lighthouse, which dates back to the late seventeenth century.

Eddystone Lighthouse By Amilcar de Lafage
Eddystone Lighthouse By Amilcar de Lafage. From the book “Les merveilles de la science, vol. 4”, Louis Figuier. Published by Paris: Furne, Jouvet et Cie, 1870. The Getty Research Institute, The Internet Archive. From Old Book Illustrations.

While Wikimedia Commons and Flickr can certainly be used, think outside the box for digital images to provide that writing inspiration. One of the more original and creative digital repositories online of pubic domain images is Old Book Illustrations. Many of the images on this site are Victorian and Romantic illustrations scanned from old books – think Gustav Dore, Aubrey Beardsley, and Alphonse Mucha. The New York Public Library also has a large selection of public domain digital images, as does the Smithsonian. Across the pond is Digital Bodleian which contains over a million digital images waiting to stimulate the writer’s imagination. State archives, state libraries, private archives, and for the film writer, the many global film archives contain a multitude of digital images that can give the writer ideas to write about.

In short, spend time perusing websites already being used to locate appropriate digital images to accompany your completed articles, but also seek out writing inspiration from public domain images available on other sites.

Writing a modern retelling of a folk or fairy tale

One unique writing form is the retelling of a folk tale or fairy tale with a modern twist. Stories like “Cinderella”, “Puss in Boots”, “Snow White”, and “Hansel and Gretel” have all undergone the modernization treatment, appearing in both print and film format. The writer who is seeking to retell a folk or fairy tale might be presented with the problem of which story to pick (in this case sometimes a less-popular story is worth selecting), then the modernization part: what elements of the story should be brought up to date? Also, should the story being retold include any additional elements to give it a personal touch?

While a certain degree of creativity is welcome in the retelling of a selected folk or fairy tale, what should be kept in mind is adhering to the basic plot without deviating too far from the original story.
For instance, a writer might want to retell the Grimm fairy tale “Little One-eye, Two-eyes, and Three-eyes”, and is familiar with the story. This particular fairy tale can be retold from a humorous to a gripping manner, both methods being able to hold the attention of the reader. To illustrate, here is a segment from the said Grimm fairy tale as told in its original manner:

Once it happened that Two-Eyes had to go into the forest to tend the goat; and she went very hungry, because her sisters had given her very little to eat that morning. She sat down upon a hillock, and cried so much that her tears flowed almost like rivers out of her eyes! By and by she looked up and saw a Woman standing by, who asked, “Why are you weeping, Two-Eyes?” “Because I have two eyes like ordinary people,” replied the maiden, “and therefore my mother and sisters dislike me, push me into corners, throw me their old clothes, and give me nothing to eat but what they leave. To-day they have given me so little that I am still hungry.” “Dry your eyes, then, now,” said the wise Woman; “I will tell you something which shall prevent you from being hungry again. You must say to your goat:

“‘Little kid, milk
Table, appear!'”

Little Two-Eyes with her goat

Here we have the same story segment but with a humorous modern twist:

Then one day Two-Eyes left her gray shack for the fields so that Henry, her goat, could graze on tobacco leaves. Two-Eyes was starving as usual, being forced to consume only a scrap from a Slim Jim from breakfast left for her by her family. She knelt on the bank of the river watching the rapids crash against the rocks and thought about ending it all when all of a sudden a lady wearing a brightly colored dress and large gold hoop earrings arrived by caravan. The lady, who was a gypsy, stepped down and asked Two-Eyes what was wrong, for the girl was crying. Gypsy woman asked: “Why do you cry so? The sky is blue and the sun is shining!”

Two-Eyes replied: “Unlike my sisters, I have two-eyes like other people. My older sister has three eyes and my younger has one eye. Besides, is sucks being the middle child. And because of that, they never give me anything decent to eat or wear. All I had was one bite of a Slim Jim and am still hungry. I’m starting to feel slimmer than a Slim Jim.” Two-Eyes started to wail and beat her chest when her visitor replied:

“Honey, forget about crying. I am going to tell you a magic charm that will keep food on your table whenever you need it. Simply say to your goat:

“‘Baby goat, rap
Table, show up!’

Copyright 2017 of retelling “Little One-eye, Two-eyes, and Three-eyes” by Mary Haberstroh.

In the re-telling of this fairy tale, the added elements are the gypsy woman, tobacco leaves, a personal name for the goat, and a Slim Jim. The basic story line remains the same, although just being a segment of the fairy tale. The most important part of retelling a folk or fairy tale is to experiment while writing, add what the writer thinks will work well, revise as with any type of writing, and not be afraid to try a wide variety of elements. After all, it is a fairy tale retelling.