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Paint Sample Writing Prompts

A NaNoWriMo/Vocal Fiction Series Challenge

By Rachel M.JPublished 3 years ago Updated 2 years ago 6 min read
Paint Sample Writing Prompts
Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash

Well the days of November are tick-tick-ticking away, and our time to meet that 50,000 NaNoWriMo word-count is ticking away right along with it. Perhaps you're stuck for inspiration, or maybe you'd simply like a reason to get out of the house while still calling it work.

I have the perfect DIY solution for you. Paint. Sample. Writing. Prompts.

By Christina Winter on Unsplash

I went to the hardware store in search of pot-plants, and found myself leaving with 15 slips of free paint-samples, instead. I was drawn to the isle by the bright colours, (yes I'm a very effective adult) but stayed a further 20 minutes when I became enraptured with the names on the cards -

Magnetic Magic, Pretty Maiden, Whispering Peach...

Did I go home with too many paint sample slips? Yes. And did I obnoxiously proclaim that it was for the purpose of painting my feature wall (which I don't have)? ... Also yes. But I simply couldn't help myself!

Because these gorgeous words didn't sound like names for a bucket of paint to me, but more like whispers from the NaNoWriMo (or Vocal Fiction Series) Gods, urging me to solidify them not on my feature wall, but in pieces of fiction. Thus inspired the Paint Sample Writing Prompt Challenge - of which I now extend to you!

The guidelines are simple; head to your closest hardware store (or visit their page online) and choose any number of paint samples with names or colours that inspire you, then transform that slip into a piece of flash-fiction. I'll be sticking to a limit of 50-100 words, but feel free to alter the guidelines however you see fit.

After shuffling through my 15 colour sets, I settled on 5 that struck my inspiration. Here are the colourful little fellas all laid out...

For those of you who don't have telescopes for eyes, the samples read as follows;

  • Dewmist Delight, Sherbet Lime, and May Apple
  • International, Sea Note, and Swift
  • Softsun, Sunbound, and Pale Daffodil
  • Orange Embers, Orange Slice, and Marblebar
  • Still Here, Silver Spy, and Perfect Storm

Now, onto the fiction!

Orange Embers

From the trellis of smoke climbed an almost inaudible whisper; so slight, that she might have believed it were her imagination, if it weren’t for orange pulse emanating from the fire-place.

She lent in, “What?” The embers didn’t change. “Tell me again!” She pleaded.

One tendril of smoke – floating and gossamer – carried the echo of the meaning she had missed,

They’re coming.

“No.” The color drained from her face.


Her face was always sunbound

Looking up, as if she might find the answers to unasked questions in the clouds, the smog, the towering skyscrapers lining the city. But tonight, it was in the neon-lights.

She watched them, and I watched her, and sometimes someone would watch me; they’d cast a knowing glance… the kind that made me question if her gaze was skyward for her own delight, or if it were a plea for me to preserve my dignity.

Because if she caught my eye for only a second... well, we both knew what she would find.

Dewmist Delight

You can see the delight in how a fox leaves it's print.

If it barely grazes the grass, then it's near hovering with joy. Blink, and it's trail is gone, concealed by the dewmist. Strain, and you still won't find them. Them. Because what’s disappeared before it’s even had time to settle is a second and a third set of lithe little prints, belonging to the young who travel at their mothers’ tail.

And here they sit; at the peak of the foggy mountain, with snouts turned downward, and white silhouettes cast against the gathering pink lights of dawn.

Still Here

Carmen knew that this was Matthew’s favourite place. She knew… because they used to come here together.

“The chocolate cake, please,” she told the waiter, although she need not – it was what she had ordered every Saturday for the past seven weeks. Saturday. Matthew’s only day off.

He strolled in, arm slung over a slender blonde, and his smile crumpled – crumbled – at the sight of her.

She grinned, toying with the cake, and licking it from her middle finger.

“That’s right, Matthew. I’m still here.”

Sea Note

"I want something from the sea."

Her voice was a receding tide - too gentle to demand anything, yet, her longing was familiar to him, akin to the light on the rippling sea.

He returned with a jar, and when he pulled it from his cloak she saw that it was empty. No sea-glass inside, or stars, or conch-shells that she might hold to her ear. But she would not show her disappointment.

But when he cracked the lid, a single note chimed from the jar - lilting and serene. "Is that?" She gasped.

"It is," he whispered.

By Art Lasovsky on Unsplash

After writing five pieces of flash-fiction I grew tired of my own voice, so I extended the invitation - or more so, desperate plea - to some of my favourite writers from the Vocal community. They write for a free magazine named the Vocal Creators Chronicle, and each one of them has a unique style very different from my own, so not only was I excited to see what they would write, but I wanted to see which prompts they would choose based on the slips I sent them.

So let's have a look...

The first writer to finish his flash-fiction was James, and I was excited to see that Sea Note also stood out to him. He took a different approach to the challenge and ended up writing an enchanting poem;

Sea Note by James U. Rizzi

The earth strikes her chord, with every crash of the waves. But it’s because of her my life has been saved.

Gently she keeps time as I float on. Singing in step her favorite song.

I find myself here because of turbulent mind. Heavy heart and clouded sight. But your melody works it’s charm, for when I resurface . From where I sit my vision is perfect.

Sometimes you must rest your mind so you don’t lose it.

The silent notes of the sea….

For me… is music


*Sigh* Such beauty captured in so few words. Next we have a piece from Sarah, who chose the prompt 'Gypsy Canvas'. This came as no surprise to me because she is particularly adept at fantastical fiction.

Gypsy Canvas by Sarah St.Erth

Aubrey shuffled his feet, haphazardly kicking stones, as he walked to the shop that Friday.

He had made a fatal error with the sails, sails that belonged to the ship of the terrifying Captain Bluebeard. His mentor Mr. Spar had sent him home telling him his wages for the week would be garnished for the foreseeable future; to pay for the Gypsy Canvas that had been damaged by his ineptitude.

He would be lucky if he didn’t walk the plank. Little did he know he would soon be onboard the famous ship, the S.S Treasure Hunter.


*Double sigh* - And she's done it again; created an entire world in as few as 96 words. There's still a few pieces in the works, but for now I'll close the piece with a few thoughts on how this process has impacted my writing.

By S Migaj on Unsplash

Turning these words and colours into flash-fiction served me in more ways than expected. Not only did it get me into the groove for the Vocal Fiction Series and NaNoWriMo, but I found that having to stick to a 100-word limit was the perfect way to determine which pieces truly needed to be expanded upon, and in what ways. I never fancied that a story would erupt from the word 'sunbound', but here I am, itching to get it on paper.

I also found that the best prompts are the ones that demand the least. Using a single word or a shade from a palate frees you to explore an idea in anyway you like. So if you haven't yet, consider adding these little slips into your repertoire, and if you can't make it to a hardware store, fear not! The shades and pretty names are available online as well, so pop-in for a visit on their websites, as well!

You can visit my personal favourite here

This piece was featured in the Vocal Creators Chronical, Volume 6. Return to the Chronical for similar stories by clicking - here -


About the Creator

Rachel M.J

Magical realist

I like to write about things behaving how they shouldn't ~

Instagram: Rachel M.J

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