Writing Prompt: A Voyage Beyond Reality

Would it be shallow for me to say that my favorite thing about Life of Pi, the film based on Yann Martel’s novel of the same title and nominated for eleven Academy Awards this year, was the pictures?

Natural ocean scenes, like storms and sunsets, take on wildly exaggerated forms in the film. Black waves the size of office buildings threaten to crush Pi’s tiny lifeboat during a ferocious storm, only to give way to a scene in which the ocean remains mirror calm, perfectly reflecting the livid oranges and reds of a burning sunset. The mirroring effect returns later for similarly dramatic results: here, the ocean reflects the spray of stars in the night sky, making Pi and Richard Parker look more like astronauts than ocean wanderers. In another scene, the ocean gives off a phosphorescent glow brighter than a highlighter in a radioactive waste dump. The most surreal of all scenes, however, comes when Pi and Richard land on a floating island made entirely of carnivorous kelp, complete with towering green kelp trees and a thriving population of meerkats. These scenes have stuck with me, even months after seeing the film, because of their creativity and their surreal take on the natural world.

In today’s prompt, make a surreal visual feast for your reader, just like Life of Pi did for me. Imagery can make or break a story, and good imagery, whether in film or in print, grabs a reader’s attention and keeps him or her interested.

Write a scene, either based on reality or completely imagined, in vivid and surreal detail. Exaggerate! Manipulate! Don’t be afraid to jot down whatever crazy things come to mind, just make sure to describe your scene well enough so your reader can picture it too.