After reading my post about creativity and my mention of The Imaginaries-Little Scraps of Larger Stories by Emily Winfield Martin, :Donna@https://writersideup.com recommended the picture book THE MYSTERIES OF HARRIS BURDICK by Chris Van Allsburg, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1984 and a book of short stories THE CHRONICLES OF HARRIS BURDICK, again published by Houghton Mifflin, this time in 2011.
The picture book came about from 14 images each with titles and captions, which Mr. Harris Burdick had given to Mr. Peter Wenders to consider for publication.
Mr. Wenders liked the artwork and was interested in reading Mr. Burdick’s stories. Mr. Burdick was to return with the stories the following day, but he never returned.
Years later, Chris Van Allsburg told Mr. Wenders that it was difficult to look at the images without making up a story at which point Mr. Wenders brought out a cardboard box containing dozens of stories inspired by the images, which had been written by Mr. Wenders children and their friends.
The book of short stories was written by 14 well known writers: Sherman Alexie, Linda Sue Park, Stephen King and Gregory Maguire to name a few, and the tales tell the stories those authors thought of after viewing the pictures.
I hadn’t looked at the book of short stories until after I tried my hand at a timed story starter writing exercise (ten minutes) afterwards I read what Jules Feiffer wrote after looking at the same image. It was a fun exercise to try and equally enjoyable to read Mr. Feiffer’s full story. Below is what I wrote within my ten minute practice exercise after looking at this image and reading its title and caption.
Malcolm was sure he heard laughter. But how could he have? No one was home and they wouldn’t be for hours. It was just he and Mrs. Murphy, his grandmother’s cat who was sound asleep on the back of the couch. There it was again. Malcolm moved slowly, quietly to see if he could pinpoint where the giggles were coming from. As he passed the basement door he heard a soft shushing. He opened the door a crack and peeked. He didn’t like the basement. It was full of forgotten things. Things that had once been useful, but now were left to gather dust. He flicked on the light, swallowed hard and took a step down. Right foot, left, right foot, left, he was more than halfway down when he noticed a small wooden door painted yellow. It came barely above his ankle. Why was there door there-and so small? Had it always been there?
The timer rang, and that’s where I stopped. It was a fun exercise, and I’d recommend trying it. I’d suggest getting both the picture book and the short stories and having a go at a timed practice. See what you come up with and read what short stories were created from the images. If you try it, please share what you created. I’d love to read and post your tales.
Thank you :Donna for the great recommendations!