Chalk Figure on a Hillside: A Writing Prompt for Prose, Poetry or Non-Fiction
What can you make of this?
Time for a Challenge!
I've just been going through my hubs, updating author biographies amongst other things. I noticed that I've taken part in many challenges but not issued any of my own for a while. So here's one to get you going, I hope. Base your response on the photo above, 'The Long Man of Wilmington'. You may include the photo if you wish, with suitable attribution please.
A challenge is designed to test, to dare, to inspire, to enthuse. Get your thinking chapeaux on! Make your fingers dance over the keyboard! Create your best piece of writing yet!
Rules? What rules? Fiction, non-fiction, poetry or prose, just go with the flow!
Study the photo, use the information about it if you want or make it something entirely different. Look at the whole scene, the detail, the minutiae. Look at the shapes, the lines, the earth, the sky.
Try out a few tangents if you're not sure - write a paragraph for each and see what flows best, see what you're most comfortable with. Just let your mind run with itself and you'll probably be surprised at the results.
Here are a few suggestions to get you going. Please don't feel constrained by any of them; they are intended to act as extra prompts, should you need any.
Use your own Experience
Personal experience is often a good basis for a story, regardless of how you use it. Because you're familiar with it, you know what it feels like, you know why it happened, where it happened and the outcome, then you're more likely to write with more depth, more passion, more confidence. However, make yourself vary it. Add other dimensions, bring in other characters. Put it in another place.
Long ago, in another Galaxy!
Use the Elements
Decide on the weather, not by merely saying it was cold, hot, raining, hailing.... but by describing what it felt like, what it did to you or others, what difference it made to the surroundings. I don't know about you but the weather has a huge effect on me; it can make me feel irritable, nervy, blissful, excited or worried.
Immerse yourself in place and time, set your scene as you want it and make sure there is continuity in your detail.
ElementalClick thumbnail to view full-size
Are we going to read something amusing or something disturbing? Will we be made to feel happy or annoyed, thoughtful or galvanised into action?
The mood can be helped by colours, by surroundings, by others' reactions. You might contrast moods or one could dominate with dire consequences!
MoodsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Your piece could cover a particular span of time: a day, a week or much longer. It could be a modern setting or a historical one. It might be in a fictional time and space. Whatever you choose, make it credible. If you believe in it and can see it clearly, then so will the reader.
What's the Time?
Use Texture and Light
Texture can say a lot about an object, a scene, a person. Smooth, rough, knobbly, patterned, it can reflect mood, character or possibility.
Light also creates mood. Light and shade will provide contrast for your characters and your scenes. It will lift or it will cloak.
Soft or Hard? Clear or Shaded?
How are you going to approach this? Will you use the figure as a focus for others? Will you use it as the main character? Will you explore how he got there and why? Will you take the lie of the land as your scene or somewhere nearby?
What will you put into your picture? Consider occupations, problems, interactions, social connotations, history.
The list goes on!
Over to You!
Ok, enough of my suggestions. The rest is up to you. You no doubt already have ideas of your own. Take them and run with them. I'm looking forward to reading them. If you want to write two or more, feel free! Experiment with the genres.
Have fun, use new expressions, be sparing with your words to best effect!
I'll give links to any responses at the end of this hub. Please let me know if you do take up this challenge, in case I happen to miss any.
Basic Facts about the Long Man of Wilmington
All the following information quoted from:
‘The Long Man of Wilmington is a hill figure on the steep slopes of Windover Hill near Wilmington, East Sussex, England. It was formerly often known as the "Wilmington Giant", or locally as the "Green Man". The Long Man is 235 feet (72 m) tall, holds two "staves", and is designed to look in proportion when viewed from below.
Formerly thought to originate in the Iron Age or even the neolithic period, a 2003 archaeological investigation has shown that the figure may have been cut in the Early Modern era – the 16th or 17th century AD. From afar the figure appears to have been carved from the underlying chalk; but the modern figure is formed from white-painted breeze blocks and lime mortar.
The Long Man is one of two major extant human hill figures in England; the other is the Cerne Abbas Giant, north of Dorchester. Both are Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Two other hill figures that include humans are the Osmington White Horse and the Fovant regimental badges. The Long Man is one of two hill figures in East Sussex; the other is theLitlington White Horse.
Origins of the Long Man
The origin of the Long Man remains unclear. For many years the earliest known record was a drawing made by William Burrell when he visited Wilmington Priory, near Windover (or Wind-door) Hill, in 1766. Burrell's drawing shows a figure holding a rake and a scythe, both shorter than the present staves.
In 1993, another drawing was discovered in the Devonshire Collections at Chatsworth House which had been made by the surveyor John Rowley in 1710, now the first definite date on which the figure is known to have existed.
An early suggestion, sometimes stated to be a local tradition, was that the Long Man had been cut by monks from nearby Wilmington Priory, and represented a pilgrim, but this was not widely believed by antiquarians who felt that monks were unlikely to have created an unclothed figure.
Up until fairly recently the Long Man was most commonly asserted to have been cut in the neolithic period, primarily due to the presence of a long barrow nearby, or given an Iron Age attribution based on a perceived similarity to other hill figures.
Professor John North wrote that during the centuries around 3480 BC the figure would have been positioned to mark the constellation Orion’s movement across the ridge above it. The figure, according to this interpretation, may have been a manifestation of a Neolithic astral religion.
Another suggestion was that the figure had a Romano-British provenance, while an origin in the time of Anglo-Saxon England gained credence after the 1965 discovery at Finglesham in Kent of an Anglo-Saxon brooch depicting a figure, (possibly Odin), holding two spears in a similar fashion to the Long Man.
Archaeological work performed in 2003 by Professor Martin Bell of the University of Reading, in association with Aubrey Manning’s Open University programme ‘Landscape Mysteries’, has strongly suggested that the figure dates from the Early Modern period – the 16th or 17th century AD.Bell found that the slope on which the Long Man was cut had gone through a period of instability in this time, after a very long prior period of stability, suggesting that the figure was first cut then. This has opened up the possibility that the Long Man could be a Tudor or Stuart-era political satire in the manner recently posited for the Cerne Abbas giant, or possibly a religious image associated with the Reformation.’
Responses to the Challenge
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© 2017 Ann Carr