A lot of writing prompts try to help the writer understand that. Here are two from John Gardner.
1. Describe a lake as seen by a young man who has committed murder. Do not mention the murder.
2. Describe a building as seen by a man whose son has been killed in a war. Do not mention the son, war, death, or the old man doing the seeing. Then describe the same building, in the same weather, as seen by a happy lover. Do you mention love or the loved one.
Although that last writing prompt comes close to the satirical ones in McSweeneys, such as “Write a scene showing a man and a woman arguing over the man's friendship with a former girlfriend. Do not mention the girlfriend, the man, the woman, or the argument.” (for more fake prompts, click here).