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Chalk Figure on a Hillside: A Writing Prompt for Prose, Poetry or Non-Fiction

Updated on September 7, 2017
annart profile image

Ann loves to write & experiment with words & to encourage others to do so by occasionally issuing challenges of her own.

What can you make of this?

The Ancient 'Long Man of Wilmington', South Downs, Sussex
The Ancient 'Long Man of Wilmington', South Downs, Sussex | Source

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!

In France, many moons ago!
In France, many moons ago! | Source

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.


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sinister shadows across the estuaryAtmospheric SpectrumVast SnowscapeIce-cold Visibility
Sinister shadows across the estuary
Sinister shadows across the estuary | Source
Atmospheric Spectrum
Atmospheric Spectrum | Source
Vast Snowscape
Vast Snowscape | Source
Ice-cold Visibility
Ice-cold Visibility | Source

Use Mood

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!


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fun!Spooky!Fed upScary!
Fun! | Source
Spooky! | Source
Fed up
Fed up | Source
Scary! | Source

Use Time

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?

Is it too late?
Is it too late? | Source

Use Texture & 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?

Soft & Mottled
Soft & Mottled | Source
Craggy & Clear
Craggy & Clear | Source


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!


Where will your story be?
Where will your story be? | Source
Undergrowth | Source
Vantage Point
Vantage Point | Source

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.

Responses to the Challenge


Do you like a challenge?

See results

© 2017 Ann Carr


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    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 11 days ago from SW England

      Hi again Devika! Hope you're well. Thanks for the visit.

      Are you going to take up the challenge? I'd be interested to read your response.


    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 13 days ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting and worthy to all writers.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 weeks ago from SW England

      Thank you very much John. You're the first to respond with a piece! I'll be over to read it later today and I'll link it at the bottom of this hub.


    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi, again Ann. I completed my entry in your challenge. It is called: The Pillars of Samson: a Poem

      I hope you like it.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 weeks ago from SW England

      You have as much time as you want, John. I know it will be worth the read. Feel free to use the photo.


    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      Ann, I have the idea I want to use for this challenge but I am just having trouble finding the time to write it down into any sort of constructive form..hopefully that will change soon.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 weeks ago from SW England

      Gypsy Rose Lee: Ok thanks. Looking forward to reading something.


    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 weeks ago from Riga, Latvia

      Most interesting challenge. At the moment making no promises but I will see if anything pops up.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 weeks ago from SW England

      Thanks, Dora. I hope you dream up something!


    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for the challenge. Will have to dream first, but something good can happen.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 weeks ago from SW England

      Thank you Glenis. Yes, the Westbury Horse is not far from where I live either but this one is from my home territory of long ago! There is a white horse in Sussex too so they were obviously a popular art form in their day! I chose this one because of the figure, as I thought a man might be easier to write about. You could just weave something around what you see but research might give you a few more ideas I suppose.

      I'm sure whatever you might write will certainly be worth the read. Looking forward to it!


    • Glenis Rix profile image

      Glenis Rix 4 weeks ago from UK

      Hi. I was hoping the chalk figure would be the White Horse at Westbury, which is just down the road from my sister's house. I had never heard of this chalk figure before today, so need to do a little research, after which I will attempt your challenge. I'm not too confident - my forte is life writing and biography - if anything worth reading emerges no one will be more surprised than me.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 weeks ago from SW England

      Thanks, Flourish! I hope you are among that number?!


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 weeks ago from SW England

      MizBejabbers: Yes it is supposed to be the one in the title of the hub but I understand how it could be confusing. The other photos were just illustrating mood and placing etc. It's the chalk man photo which is the prompt. Sorry! I'll make it clearer in the first paragraph.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 weeks ago from SW England

      That's ok, Shannon; thanks for reading and I'll be happy if you do manage to write a response later - there's no time limit!

      I see what you mean about Gulliver; I wouldn't have thought of that!


    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 weeks ago from USA

      I look forward to reading the responses!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 4 weeks ago

      Ann, I'm a little confused. You included so many photos, good ones I might add, were we supposed to pick one or just write from the one mentioned in your title? It's tempting, maybe I'll take you up on the challenge.

      Right now I'm reading the second sequel in Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth series, and Follett's tale came to mind. I submit that he beat us to the punch, and I certainly can't rival him. LOL

    • shanmarie profile image

      shanmarie 4 weeks ago

      Gulliver! Gulliver's Travels by Swift is the book I was thinking of. Sorry about that.

    • shanmarie profile image

      shanmarie 4 weeks ago

      Unfortunately, I don't think I will do this particular challenge. At least not right now. But the first thing that came to my mind when I saw that picture was ...oh dang, now I can't think of the name of it!!! Well, isn't that annoying? It's a famous literary piece, too. That guy who gets tied down by all the tiny people. Sheesh, that's the scene that comes to mind and the title of the book was on the tip of my tongue and gone now.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 weeks ago from SW England

      Thanks, Jackie. Hope you take up the gauntlet! Looking forward to reading your response.


    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 weeks ago from The Beautiful South

      Sure interesting, I will give it a good thought, maybe see what others do with it. I love challenges too.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 weeks ago from SW England

      Dover is too busy! Where did you go in Sussex, Eric? Do you mean you've seen this figure on the hillside?

      I don't cross sevens either, nor do many English; it's a European thing as in 'on the continent'! I still don't consider myself as European and hopefully won't have to worry about it for much longer (I'm an optimist!).

      Thanks for reading, Eric. Can I tempt you to respond to the challenge?


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 weeks ago from SW England

      Thanks, bill, I understand and expected as much! I hope you manage to find a few minutes to throw some genius together though.

      Splashing... Saturday sounds great! I'm having a lazy one, trying to get round to smoothing down a door. However, it's nearly tea time so I've a feeling the door will wait until tomorrow.

      Enjoy your splashing!


    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Been there and done that ;-)

      My elder sister insisted that Dover was not where it was at, but South Sussex was not so touristy and we had a hostel nearby.

      We begin with my birthday of my passport read by Euro folk as my seven being a one - no slash through. Trouble!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I would love to, Ann, you know I would, but how would I fit it in. So many things are already on the back burner. I'll think about it, my friend. Hercules certainly came to mind very quickly...and then Prometheus unchained.....sigh!

      Anyway, it is Saturday, painting awaits, so have a splash-of- superlative Saturday!


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 weeks ago from SW England

      Thanks, John. I'm sure you could base some poetry on it even if it's just a description. Maybe you could come up with a reason he has two sticks!

      Anyway, it would be great if you can write a response; I'd love to read it. Thanks for reading. I appreciate your continuing support.


    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      Ann, this is a very interesting challenge. The chalk figure on the hillside is intriguing. I am not sure I can come up anything, but I do often need a prompt to write a new hub and this certainly fits that bill.