by Mike Ciccotello

I absolutely love sketching prompts. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (@ciccotello) then you may have seen my 10 minute sketches. Every now and then, I post a question asking readers to share their favorite something… maybe it’s animal, or an object, or maybe a mode of transportation. Whatever it is, I compile all of them into a nice big list and create quick sketches from the prompts. Some of those images become finished character illustrations in my portfolio. A few of those illustrations go even further and have become characters in book dummies.

With visual prompts in mind, I thought we could have some fun generating ideas. All you need to do is look at the pictures and let your imagination wander.

Pick a character…

Pick an object…

Pick a setting…

Now let’s put them together. Combine one item from each row. It kind of makes me think of the board game, Clue. What if we put the raccoon in the living room with the gift? Where is the raccoon? Where is the gift? I don’t want to sway your creativity, but these questions will help define the moment. Let’s leave it there and allow you to finish the scene.

Play around with it. Maybe there are two characters in one settings, or one character with multiple objects. Don’t stop there. If this idea is working for you then get out there and pick some more images of your own. Pull images from the web. Clip pictures from magazines or newspapers.

Look at each item and start to ask questions. Why is this character so special? What are they doing? What’s the dilemma? What is the conflict? How will this character grow throughout your story? Use your fantastic writing skills to develop something unique with your voice.

If you are looking for places to get prompts for writing or illustration, be sure to check these out:

Have fun with it and good luck!

Mike Ciccotello received a BFA with a concentration in painting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. He has fourteen years’ experience in broadcast motion graphics, working at CNN and Fox Business Network. Currently, he is the Art and Design Director at Telos Corporation. His art has been featured on, CNN,, Artists & Makers Magazine, and Industry Magazine. He has exhibited at Johnson & Johnson Headquarters and the NY Design Center. He is an active member of SCBWI, CBIG, Drawn to Picture Books, and a contributing member of Visit him at or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Ciccotello is giving away a custom illustrated avatar. It can be in your likeness or just something you admire. But I would suggest it not being Mike. He’s already taken.

Leave ONE COMMENT on this blog post to enter. You are eligible to win if you are a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.

Good luck!

Now, go get visual.