1000 Word Sprint VISUAL INSPIRATION and a word on TROPES (Space Island)

Word Weaver SPRINT 1Having trouble getting started on a space fantasy?

Try one of the images throughout this post as your inspiration. (They are repeated in a list at the end.)

The Space Fantasy idea is just one genre you can use for the 1000 Word Story Sprint. You are NOT limited to that today, but it’s gonna be the basis for a different contest called Space Island that we’ll be doing soon. Shh. Don’t leak that secret info.


One of the images on this page may become the cover of an upcoming anthology based on a future contest about space. Got it?

(Click on image to enlarge.)

One big problem we writer types have is

we write stories and then try to see what genre, if any, they fit into. That makes for difficult marketing, which leads to lamenting our lack of sales and general moaning about sucking as a writer.

Why do we do that to ourselves?

We think using a genre’s standard tropes* is painting by numbers and requires no creativity.


* Per Wikipedia, (and I agree) the word trope has come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works.

Heck, I’ve felt that way about tropes.

I wrote Poggi as “an unconventional romance” because it is an unconventional romance.

Featured Image -- 63351
the cover image I went with

I refused to use tropes in the story or to put a six pack ab guy on the front or name it “His Italian Assistant” or some other steam-inducing trashy romance title.

covers I probably should have gone with for a sexy romance

I listened to people who may have confused cliches with tropes and gave me incorrect advice while THEY followed The Hero’s Journey outline for their novel, dutifully hitting the proper plot points at 25% and 50% and 75% of the way through their story.


You can totally see this image and the title “His Italian Assistant” on the cover of my sexy, steamy rom com – and it would probably selling a lot more books!




  • Poggibonsi is a great story that’s a little hard to market so far, title and cover aside, and

  • TROPES are the comfort food in a genre’s books. They are NOT cliches.

Try selling milk in an oil can. You won’t sell much, you’ll spend all your time explaining why there’s really good-tasting milk that’s completely safe your kids, in that very ugly container that looks like it should be going into your engine, not your human babies.

Get the idea?

That’s where I’ve been lead astray, and maybe so have you.

Sell your milk in a bottle that people expect milk to be in. Yes, that may mean cutting back on your creative art cover. You’ll live. Inside your pages is where the magic happens anyway. You have to get the reader there for them to see your story, so get them there by whatever means necessary!

READER, finishing a book: I liked that story. What’s another one that’s similar?

Well, if it has the same genre and the same tropes, a reader will try it – and THEN they can be dazzled by the author’s amazing prose.

I’ve often said I’m not shy about sharing my story ideas because we all write in different styles. If I gave you my outline for my next story (or any of the next twenty – okay, thirty) story ideas I’ve got in my files, I’d do it with no fear.What you’d write and what I’d write would be very different. My readers would like my story. Your readers would like yours. Maybe a few would cross over and like both and realize they had a remarkably similar plot – but some argue there are only seven plots anyway, so at some point they’re all gonna feel similar – except for our unique voice and storytelling style that we bring to our pages.

  • Write a book using tropes and a well-defined genre. It’ll be much easier to sell.

  • Write the next book for you, all wild and not-rule-following.

One for the market, one for you?

That would work. Your market driven people will find you and read your other stuff, and your home grown, creative-type fans, small a group as they may be, will be unhappy with you selling out, so email them or post on your blog and explain why. They’ll hang around.

Okay, where was I?

Oh, so you might not know what you should put into your 1000 Word Sprint. Aha, Dan to the rescue. Because the contest allows for ALL varieties and whatever tropes you choose to use or not. But if you need ideas, here are some visuals to help.

One of the images in this post may be selected for the cover of the anthology that results from an upcoming space story contest called “Space Island” that hasn’t officially been announced yet.

(Click image to enlarge.)

In many cases, your 1000 words for the contest will be a starting point for a cool short story you wanna write. Maybe a book.

Good. That’s kinda the point.

…once you actually start writing.

Meanwhile, check out the images below and elsewhere on this post, to tell me and others:

  1. Which would make a good cover for our upcoming planned space anthology?
  2. Make a comment about each image and give a few words about what you think the story coming from it is.

You can write that story or not, but maybe your comments will help somebody else get started.

I’ve listed all the images in this post below and numbered them to make it easier for us to talk about any that grab your eye. (The ones I am leaning toward are closer to the bottom.)

The IMAGE is BELOW the NUMBER and description.

1 Green space globe.

Not much by itself but it might be a background. Or not.


2. 2001 Looking scene with earth and moon

also a possible background, but with the right title font, who knows?


3. colorful gasssy nebula space images

Background, or cover. I can go either way. The colors are nice but it doesn’t do much else except look spacy.


4. kids with spaceship overhead

I think I’d drop in adults here. That would better represent a murder on space island – but hey, you can write a space story about kids.


5. crashed spaceship with giant roach

Maybe this astronaut crashed on the way to the island. Maybe roaches are on mars. Maybe we cut the bug out.


6 rainbow space colors and spaceship with explosion

I don’t know. It looked pretty.


7. spaceship on red space background

I like this. Red is cool, the space ship is cool. It kinda screams space story to me.


8. spaceship with planet

Also kinda cool. says space story to me, but the colors are kinda dull.


9. Green planets and space station

This one, cropped properly, could do the job. It says the right stuff, I think, but it’s also a bit blah.


10 freaky people in stardust shower

This one’s just kinda freaky.


11 space port and planet

Serviceable but dull. Has a 1950’s look to it. Also a cheap look.


12. fiery spaceship with skull

what says murder better than a fiery red skull? And it has a space ship! And red! Definitely a contender. Covers all the bases.


13 Space station against red background

But then so does this! It’s got MORE red, an obvious space station look, and, well, lots of  red!


14. Fantasy cloud thing

It’s neat to look at, but it’s wrong for this project. I just like how it looks. Someone write a story about this so I can use it sometime. And by someone, I mean me.


15. Another wrecked spacecraft

Can these people not drive?

Maybe this pilot crashed on the way to the space island. At least there’s no bugs. Oh, wait… well, we can crop that little guy out.


16. asteroid, space craft, and planet

This pilot is flying to space Island, I guess. Or is that the space station?


17. space station, no background

Okay, here’s an example of a space station graphic we can use to lay over one of the cool background if we want.


18. Actual image of a futuristic space station/space island

This is probably what a space island with a rocket fixing maintenance area and a hotel would look like outside. Not as eye-catching as that red one from before, though, is it?


19 another, but better, space station

It’s better. And it says space, space station, and… not much else.


20. this is probably a satellite

Uh… what can I say? It looked spacy.


21. space island?

Is this what an actual space island might look like? It has all the elements, it’s just not very eye catching – in this format. Maybe cropping would help, or a cool title font. Definitely worth looking at and playing with.


22. Zombunny 3, Quest For Battle Space

Possible marketing tie in, or cheap plug for a terrific kids book? Get yours HERE

Enter the 1000 Word Sprint!


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Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 50+ titles published in more than 120 countries and over a dozen languages.

16 thoughts on “1000 Word Sprint VISUAL INSPIRATION and a word on TROPES (Space Island)

  1. My first instinct would be Number 3 because I love the myriad of images the universe has to offer us; However being more focused on book covers I agree with you Dan on 7.
    This one has the backdrop of the visual drama of the majesty of the ever-active cosmos, while at the same time shows a space ship as evidence of some determined life form risking the hostile environment.
    Put marry up the two and there’s plenty for the imagination and inspiration to work with.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Good move.
        SF scenes of ‘Space’ are always evocative; which is why there are a good few books referencing the cover artists

        Liked by 1 person

      1. It is a good one. There is an aura of menace in that background. Would you really be happy working a long stint on that space station….Or is that ship everyone escaping……
        ‘Me….Dammit!.. You left me!’

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Dan, Namaste 🙂

    If when you say ‘cover’, do you mean the image is used to wrap the book as one continual image? If so, image ’10 freaky people in stardust shower’ is my choice. not only would the spine sit perfectly mid-point of the image, but each image if seen as a separate panel works as a stand-alone image and would be naturally framed: the back-cover especially. Colour-wise, the spectrum is not wholly confined to conventional space-shots but much more fertile. Thematically, the range of this image is vast and diverse. Aesthetically the image would lend itself very readily to both fantasy and sci-fi, and cross-genres alike. I find it a very powerful image, quite Prometheus-like (the film) but yet differentiated by its ethereal quality. It has a fantastical element I find lacking in the other images presented. I also enjoy having anchor points in the image – ‘human-like’ forms that offer a way in to the imaginative possibilities being explored in the artwork.

    Hope that helps? 🙂

    Namaste 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

        1. I can tell.

          I suppose space will always be the final frontier because it’s so big. We haven’t explored the depths of the ocean but it doesn’t extend hundreds of millions of miles so we probably eventually will do that before we reach Pluto or the next solar system or something.

          Glad you found these pictures inspiring. Are you going to write a story?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes most probably I will make a bold attempt: but whether story-slice or full narrative I’m not sure – I haven’t poeticised flash-fiction before – so I may give that a go else take a different approach completely and just see where the ink leads me lol 🙂

            Space is also a literary frontier for me…stretching the imagination that high is a whole new ballgame for me. A challenge!

            The depth of the oceans hold many secrets as yet unknown. Our Earth is fascinating and always will be. And then there is space and the infinite. It is overwhelmingly huge: conceptualising it is at once both intoxicating and formidable!

            Namaste 🙂


            Liked by 1 person

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