Volcano Essay Prompt

When you look at a picture, do you just see the obvious? Or are you one of those people who dig beneath the surface to find out what is hidden underneath? Do you ask ‘what if’ questions about what is in the picture? Asking questions and digging beneath what is plainly seen is a great way to come up with ideas for stories.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but it is up to the author to write those thousand words. (Richard Petracca)

Below is a picture of an exploding volcano. I have never witnessed a volcanic eruption, but the picture is beautiful and offers so many different ideas for a story.

exploding volcano, imgkid.com

An exploding volcano would be an inspiring, yet terrifying, thing to see. The lava is shooting high into the air, running down the sides of the volcano, and traveling on until it cools. The sky around it has turned shades of purple, red, and orange.

What if you woke up one morning, looked out your bedroom window, and saw this happening? What would you do? Would you crawl back under the covers and go to sleep? I don’t think you would. My guess is that you would get out of your house and away from the volcano as fast as you could. What possessions would you grab to take with you? Would you take enough time to grab any of them at all? Or would you just run?

What if you had been kidnapped and dropped down into the volcano before it exploded? Were you intended to be a sacrifice to try and appease the gods? Or were you someone your kidnappers expected to receive a huge ransom for and their efforts were not successful?

What if you were on the top of the volcano while it was dormant, and your spouse/significant other pushed you down inside? You were knocked unconsciousness, and when you awoke the volcano was getting ready to explode. Could you have somehow found a place inside where the lava wouldn’t get to you and where the heat coming from it wouldn’t kill you? Do you succeed in escaping?

What if you are a member of a tribe of people who believe that the gods make the volcano erupt when they are made angry by one of the tribe? Would just one member of the community be guilty or would all of them be guilty? Would everyone select just one person to leave behind for the volcano to kill? Or would it be mandatory for all to just sit still and wait on their death.

What if the steaming hot lava ejected by the volcano forms into a lava creature?  Would he be angry? Would he go around killing others? Or maybe he is someone who was murdered by being thrown into the volcano years before. Now he has come back to seek revenge on those who killed him.

The Hawaiian Islands were formed from volcanic lava. What if the lava from this explosion forms a new chain of islands? Would you be willing to be one of its first citizens?

The Scream, wikimedia commons

What if you are in an airplane that just happens to be flying over the volcano when it explodes? Would the flight of the plane be disrupted? Would the passengers freak out?

What if you were in a hot air balloon overtop the volcano when it explodes? Would you be sucked down into the volcano’s fiery depths?

What if you were an artist? Would you stay and watch the explosion long enough to capture it on film or on canvas? How long would you put yourself at risk to get the perfect picture? And what kind of picture would it inspire you to paint? Think of The Scream painted by Edvard Munch. Could it have been inspired by a volcanic explosion?

Can you come up with any more writing prompts from the picture of the exploding volcano? If so, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

Tags:artistEdvard Munchexploding volcanohot air balloonkidnappedlavalava creatureLisa Binionnew chain of islandsorangepurpleredRichard PetraccasacrificeThe Screamvolcanic eruptionvolcanowriting prompts

Usually Mondays are not my favorite day because when it’s Monday, it’s five whole days until Saturday, which is usually my favorite day (because it is two whole days away from Monday).

But today is not so bad. In fact, I’m pretty excited today to share my story with you. I hope that, like me, you spent at least some part of the weekend learning about volcanoes. Robbi put up a great post on Saturday morning with all sorts of facts about volcanoes and pictures of volcanoes. I’m including one of them here because I like it so much.

The volcano above is not the volcano in my story. Because the volcano in my story is dormant. At least, at first. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here is my story. I hope you like it.

A volcano named Eddie was sad. His friends were all busily erupting and spewing red-hot magma into the atmosphere while scientists crawled all over them doing exciting experiments.

But Eddie was dormant, which meant no magma and no scientists. Instead, Eddie was covered with trees and grass and tourists, who ate picnics on his head and paused constantly to take pictures of themselves posing next to his crater. It was so embarrassing.

The other, active volcanoes made fun of Eddie for being so dormant.

Eddie’s parents said all the right things, but it was clear that they were just a little disappointed in him.

Eddie tried all sorts of things to make himself active. He held his breath for as long as he could (around 20 seconds), watched action movies in which lots of things exploded (trains, helicopters, toaster ovens, etc), and he thought the most incendiary thoughts he could imagine (birthday candles, fireworks, late night cable news programming, etc.).

But nothing worked. Day after day, Eddie was dormant and useless as a lame duck politician.

But one day, Eddie noticed something. The tectonic plate he was sitting on moved just a little bit. Ten thousand years later, it moved a little more. And so on. Eventually, his undersides started getting a little bit toasty. And then a little more so.

Millions of years passed. Eddie could tell that things were heating up. One day he felt a rumble in his belly and a grumble in his throat. Moments later, a red-hot flume of magma burst through his shell, delighting (and terrifying) the thousands of futuristic cyborg tourists who were picnicking nearby.

Eddie was active at last! But by this time, his parents had turned into modest hillsides with no strong opinions, and all of his friends were dormant and now believed that dormant was the much cooler way to be.

“Literally speaking, it is,” said his friend Hall.

But Eddie didn’t care. Being an active volcano was the greatest thrill of his life.

Well, that’s my story about volcanoes. I’d love to hear what you think of it. But what I’d really love is for you to write your own stories about volcanoes and post them in the comments below.

I’m sure that Eddie isn’t the only volcano out there with a story to be told!

Check back in tomorrow to see Robbi’s drawing of Eddie. It’s pretty great, if you ask me. (I realize that you didn’t ask me.)


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