He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

Writing Prompts Based on Songs (Part 2)

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This is the second part of a two-part series of Creative Writing Prompts.

Visit part one.

16. St. Vincent: “Save Me From What I Want”

A woman reveals to someone close to her that she has gotten everything she has ever wanted yet still feels disappointed in life. What does that person tell her?

Save me, save me
Save me from what I want
Save me, save me
Save me from what I want


17. The Beatles: “Hey Jude”

One of two boys throwing rocks in an abandoned field reveals that his parents are getting a divorce. What does the other boy say they should do to help him feel better?

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better


18. Bright Eyes: “First Day of my Life”

Write a single paragraph about a couple and make it clear they’re madly, wildly, blindly in love. Just give the slightest hint that it might not stay rosy forever.

And you said “this is the first day of my life
I’m glad I didn’t die before I met you
But now I don’t care I could go anywhere with you
And I’d probably be happy”


19. Enya: “Only Time”

Write an entire lifelong love story in the space of a page, including how the couple met, how they were briefly separated, if they got married, if they had kids, what illness they lived through, and who died first. Don’t be afraid to risk sentimentality.


20. Fleetwood Mac: “Dreams”

Show a lonely character seeking intimacy from another person, but that person remaining standoffish.

But listen carefully to the sound
Of your loneliness
Like a heartbeat.. drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost…
And what you had…
And what you lost


21. Vampire Weekend: “Blake’s Got a New Face”

Write a character who has dipped into his or her child’s college fund to pay for plastic surgery, and have them try to convince their child it was the right decision to make. Don’t be afraid to have it be an unusual form of plastic surgery.

English breakfast tastes like Darjeeling
But she’s too cute to even ask
Blake’s got a new face (Blake’s got a new face)


22. Quantic and his Combo Barbaro: “Linda Morena”

Write about a social group of people who abuse a member of their group, told through the plural first person point of view (we, us, our) of the abusers.

How can they treat you so bad
When you lookin’ so good


23. Dumbo Circus Music

Write about a type of circus: an innocent person at the center of a media circus; a group of Cirque du Soleil members stuck somewhere; or financiers attempting to revive a Big-Tent-style circus troupe during a time of national turmoil. Bonus points for incorporating slapstick humor or using words associated with circuses (ringleader, elephants, clowns, etc).


24. Hamza El Din & Kronos Quartet: “Escalay (The Water Wheel)”

Write a multicultural story with at least three characters of different nationalities or ethnicities.


25. Pink Floyd: “Money.”

Write about someone who spends five-or-six-figure amounts of money, but who doesn’t have that type of money to spend. What are the consequences? Try to write the story mimicking the staccato rhythms and cadences of the song. Bonus points for writing with bravado.

Money, get away
Get a good job with good pay and you’re okay
Money, it’s a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
New car, caviar, four star daydream
Think I’ll buy me a football team


26. Goyte: “Somebody I Used to Know”

This song alternates between a man and a woman telling their respective stories about their breakup. Write a story where every paragraph switches POV between two characters in a relationship, as they tell their own versions of an accident.

But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough


27. U2: “Where the Streets Have No Name”

Although some writers have written beautiful stories that withhold names (Kafka comes to mind), the usual job of the creative writer is to name the world. Look up three names for things you don’t currently know — a plant, a type of animal, and a psychological condition — and work them all into a single paragraph of a character describing their residence.

I wanna run, I want to hide
I wanna tear down the walls
That hold me inside
I wanna reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name


28. Ravel: “Bolero”

This is one of the most famous examples of a repeated theme in classical music, but the music progresses because each repetition grows in intensity and volume. Write a paragraph about a character doing an everyday thing in great detail, and in the next paragraph show them doing it the next day, and so on. Each time have little variations that show the character changing.


29. Hozier “Take Me to Church”

In this song Hozier uses the extended metaphor of church to talk about a relationship with a woman. Try to write your own extended metaphor, where you talk about a relationship in the specialized language of a subject very different from it.

My church offers no absolutes
She tells me, “Worship in the bedroom.”
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you


30. Bach “Little Fugue in G-Minor”

A key technique of classical music is counterpoint, and it should be a key technique in your writing, too. The video above helps you really understand what counterpoint is: the two lines musical lines are different yet complementing each other. Try to write a short counterpoint piece that alternates between two characters’ stories, and have the stories be parallel and complementary to each other.

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