I have a playlist of Broadway tunes on my phone, and I accidentally started playing it on shuffle. We went from “The Confrontation” (Les Miserables) into “Thank Goodness” (Wicked), and I thought, wouldn’t it be an interesting story how those two songs might go together?
To my non-writing mother, who happened to be in the car with me at the time, it seemed strange to try and piece together the fight between two men with a longstanding quarrel and a celebration that takes place in spite of the looming presence of a wicked witch. But perhaps the two men live in a world where magic is common, and both are powerful wizards. The little girl that one of them vows to raise could become the misunderstood witch of the second song.
An Inspiring Playlist
I decided to gather a variety of songs from Broadway plays onto a single playlist and start it playing on shuffle just to see what kind of story might emerge. I’m using Spotify, because while I own a wide selection of Broadway music, there were a few plays I don’t have yet that I wanted songs from.
My list includes music from Camelot, Jane Eyre, Jekyll and Hyde, The King and I, Les Miserables, My Fair Lady, The Little Mermaid, The Phantom of the Opera, The Pirate Queen, Wicked, South Pacific, and Cinderella. I chose Broadway songs because they are already written to be parts of a story, though I know there’s a wide range of music that would work. Let’s put it on shuffle and see what happens.
My Shuffled Writing Prompt
Here are the first three songs that played for me:
- On The Street Where You Live (My Fair Lady)
- A Lovely Night (Cinderella)
- The Simple Joys of Maidenhood (Camelot)
A man wanders down a street, singing his love to a girl behind the windows. Is she watching him? Does she even know he’s there? It does not matter — just to be near her is enough for now. He will stay there as long as he must to get a glimpse of her.
A girl sings about a lovely night of dancing with a charming prince. It is a memory she will treasure all her life, though she must conceal the fact that it was real rather than a flight of fancy.
A princess bewails her loss of freewill, being betrothed to a man she has never met. There is so much she wants to do before she gets married — mostly she longs to entertain hoards of suitors and see them pine after her and fight over her.
Put Them All Together
Here is a summary of what I thought this story could look like starting out:
The king and queen of Edesh (name from Fantasy Name Generators)throw a party to celebrate the betrothal of their son Camden (the prince from song 2) to Fleurette (the princess from song 3). It is the largest party ever given in Edesh, and everyone who has ever had any contact with the court is invited.
A young woman named Alice (the girl from song 2) sneaks into the party. She was not invited, though her stepmother and sisters were. She means to stay in the background and just enjoy the party from the sidelines, but she catches the eye of a Lord Devan (the man from song 1) who begins following her. Trying to escape him, she stumbles into a back room where Prince Camden is trying to escape from his fiance, who is flirting with every man at the party except for him.
If I have time, I may write this out at a short story and share it as next week’s post. I’d love to hear what you think, and how your idea turns out if you try writing from a playlist shuffled songs.