The next few days, I'm going to post some writing prompts. One of the more interesting ones we've done in my critique group is the Picture Prompt. Everyone receives the same photo, then they write a short story or few paragraphs that might be the beginning of a short story--perhaps even a novel.
Twenty people can look at this picture of the rugged coastline in--ooops, maybe I shouldn't tell you where this is.--and there will be twenty different pieces that come from it. Some will be of a light nature while others will write something very dark. They might study the picture and place a tragic happening there or lovers meeting secretly or a weather disaster. It could be a myriad number of events that might happen in this setting. Don't forget to include sensory details.
You can enlarge the picture by enlarging the font on your screen, but that may not be necessary. I think the picture here gives you a good idea of the setting.
Here's a second picture to stir your imagination. The one above requires you to add people to the setting, but this one already has a person in it. Study her and write a few paragraphs. If it goes well, keep on going with an entire story.
Pre-school teachers often use picture prompts to stir imagination in small children. They tell the story they see in the picture and the teacher writes it on a story board. Teachers in the early grades and even beyond sometimes use picture prompts to inspire creativity in students.
You can find countless pictures online to use for a prompt. As you do more of these picture prompts, you'll be able to let your imagination soar. Who knows? You may find your next publishable story from one of these exercises. Give it try!