Face Study - Pulling inspiration from a portrait
Face Study - Pulling inspiration from a portrait

Please do not steal my writing, but feel free to do this writer exercise yourself, leave it in the comment section below, or if you post it on your own website, Goodreads, or wattpad, leave a link in the comment section so I can read it! Let’s get creative together!

This face study exercise stems back from my advanced creative writing class, a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…. Using a portrait of a single person, do the following:

1. Describe the face in more detail than you normally would. (Yes, creative license to write a lot of fluff descriptors!)

2. Write a back story for the person in the portrait.

3. Who do you think would be the most important 2 or 3 people in their life? Write out a minimum of two sentences about the relationship the person in the portrait has with each.

4. Is there a conflict between the person in the portrait and each of them? Is there a romance, a triangle, or something else? Write about it.

5. Write out a synopsis of where this story could lead you.

You can write it in the period the piece exhibits, or you can write it in any era you want to, the genre you enjoy writing, etc. 

Today’s inspiration piece is Emma Sandy’s beautiful painting entitled Fiammetta.

Face Study Writing Exercise

Glorious descriptive Fluff:

Her face was stoic as she sat with her head cocked to the side, looking at me. Her almond-shaped, heavy-lidded, dove grey eyes, forlorn, as they sat in her finely chiseled face. Her sparse eyebrows and eyelashes, the same auburn as her hair, seemed to disappear into the rosy complexion of her face, reminiscent of a china doll. Her soft jawline showed her youth, flowing down attractively into her rounded, cleft chin. Her lips, sensual and deeply cupid bowed sat upon her face emotionless. Her wavy auburn hair cascaded down her shoulders, as the sunlight picked up the braided crown that sat so regally on the top of her head.

Back Story:

Amelia was a studious girl who loved to spend time out by the pond on her father’s property reading. She was predominantly happy in life, despite the fact that her father was non-existent in her life as a parent. He believed women should raise the children, with the fathers claiming them as “property”, especially their girl children.

Her older brother had received all of their father’s devoted attention and love, and Amelia resented him for it.

The day she turned 16, her father announced her engagement to a man Amelia didn’t know, and her wedding planning began, she was to be married within the month. One thing stood in the way of her doing as her father demanded, Flavio.

Important people in Amelia’s life:

Ignacio was her controlling father, who loved her but expected Amelia to obey his orders. He wanted the best for his daughter and had promised her to a nobleman.

Philamina was her timid mother, afraid to tell her husband he was wrong. She had married Ignacio out of force, not of love.

Flavio was Amelia’s lover, the man she wanted to marry. He was a poor man, but a good man.


Amelia was in love with Flavio, he was a poor man who did work for Amelia’s father Ignacio. Amelia would sit by the pond, as he cleaned it out and tended to the flowers, talking to him and getting to know him.

Philamina caught the two in a deep kiss and had to tell Ignacio what their daughter was doing and with who, reluctantly.

Ignacio was angry, and forbid Amelia to see Flavio. He fired the man and told him if he caught him with his daughter again, he would see that he would swing in one of the trees overlooking his pond.

Amelia resented her mother for telling her father, and her relationship with him remained the same, cold and non-existent.


After being caught with Flavio, and the wedding day approaching fast, Amelia feigns her own death, drowning in her father’s pond. She escapes with Flavio and goes into hiding.

As her father and brother pull her lifeless body from the pond, they realize the girl is not Amelia, had she committed murder to escape from a life as Amelia described it to her mother, worse than death?

Inara Reynolds is a freelance writer, poet, author of short stories and creator of a few fantasy worlds. She has written character classes for various role playing games, as well as modules.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.