Weekly Writing Challenge: Image vs. Text
For some of us, blogging is personal. Others are trying to educate or entertain; many more are hybrids. Yet we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges help you to push your writing boundaries, show off your blogging chops, and, hopefully, spark more post ideas.
To participate, tag your post with DPchallenge or leave a link to it in the comments. (It would also be great if you could link to this post to encourage people to take part – the more the merrier!) Your post should be specifically written in response to this challenge. We’ll keep an eye on the tag and highlight some of our favorite posts on Freshly Pressed on Friday.
Once upon a time the web was a text-only medium. And to this day, a lot of people seem to harbor the illusion that it still, kinda, is. In today’s writing challenge we pull said illusion from its horse and devour it like a pack of brain-hungry zombies. Yes, it’s time to get visual again. Here’s the barebones version of this week’s challenge:
Detail a three to five step story or process, and illustrate each of the steps with something visual.
Here’s the slightly longer version if simplicity capsizes your mind:
Detail a three to five step story or process—anything from a how-to, to turning points in your life so far, to a story with a beginning, middle, and end—and break up the parts with eye-catching, attention-grabbing images.
At this point some of you may be panicking. “I’m not an artist, I’m a writer,” you might be saying, as you simultaneously jiggle your legs, bite your nails, and order another double espresso. And that’s ok. We’re here for you. Whether you’re an interweb Da Vinci or someone with all of the artistic mojo of a flock of drunken buzzards covered in paint, there’s a solution to this problem. Here are a few ideas:
Things you can do with images
Depending on the angle you’re taking, images can serve a number of functions. Here are a few:
- Arrest attention: Sure you’re writing yet another post about the antioxidant merits of green tea, but do the others have naked people, painted blue, drinking green tea from uncomfortable-looking medical apparati? I don’t think so.
- Provide a counterpoint: Whether you decide to serve up a slab of visual irony, drive your hard hitting point home with this-could-happen-to-you in the manner of an anti-ANYTHING ad campaign, or you decide to provide a subtly unnerving pastoral scene in counterpoint to the circus of terror and woe that is your post, images can be used to creatively oppose your content.
- Elucidate a point: From infographics that make facts and figures easier to make sense of, to cross sections of eyeballs; from pastel illustrations of criminals being sent down to life, to complex electronic schemata; images can clarify and make sense of complex ideas.
- Brand! If your blog has a distinct visual style or brand, how could you use “on-brand” visuals in your posts to reinforce the design aesthetic that appears in your header, sidebar, or background?
- Divide and conquer: In the battle against dwindling attention spans, simple illustrations, section breaks or other visuals can help “chunk” your post in such a way as to make it feel easier to read, or, erm, scan.
- Comics: Trying to tell a three-frame story? Why not make a three-panel comic?
Approaches you can take with images
Ok, so not all of us have a fine knack with paintbrush, pencil or wacom. That’s ok, there’s more than one way to skin a cat:
- Photographic: Run out there and take some photos with your camera, or phone, or… cameraphone. Or else, scour Flickr for Creative Commons images you can use with attribution, or stump up for stock photos.
- Sketchy: For years artists have been disguising their complete lack of draftsmanship by scribbling down inane, childish scrawls of images. You can do the same. We’ll call it art.
- Typographic: Typefaces and fonts can be beautiful. Take a leaf from Mallarmé, Dadaism, and, erm, Wordle, and use letterforms to illustrate your post.
- Infographic: As hideous as a PowerPoint graph, or as personal as a hand-drawn, watercoloured derivé through the history of a city, infographics needn’t require artistic mastery to pull off.
- Collage: Can’t draw? Why not stick other people’s pictures together in arresting and wondrous ways? Problem solved. Why not also make sure that you attribute the source images. That would be nice.
- Geometry: You’d be amazed at what can happen when you stick some lines, squares, circles, triangles, and stars together. Ask the modernists.
Hopefully that’s given you some ideas. Now stop procrastinating and hit up that challenge. We’ll look forward to seeing your text/image hybrid goodness in the comments.