Musical Prompt Response

Hello Escritori,

So I have another writing prompt from ages ago for you.

Although I am genuinely terrified of creating expectations in people when I now have no further content to share with you. At most, most recently I wrote a ‘Word Polaroid’ (haha, Polaroid! I should call it that…) which is when I describe people I see very briefly in the street, as best as I can.

I do this mainly because I am terrible at inventing the telling physical make-up of my fictional characters. I avoid this trait of fiction so much that I should probably write for radio.


 Technically, I “failed” this prompt… but meh.

Found iPod with half rap, half classical music on it on the Tube. Introduce the owner as  a story character but do not mention music.

There comes a time in the life of every victim of bullying where the white hot hatred of your oppressors makes you almost murderously bold.

I had no idea they were tracking me to the music shop and back. I had been saving up my allowance to buy three beautifully wax-paper wrapped cakes of resin. By the time they were done I could smell that august sweetness like thick powdered sugar in the air and the iron dark tang of blood on the street.

My only thought was: Thank God I left my violin at home.

Nonetheless I got up and got the Tube home. When I got home I realised my iPod was gone.

The violin was a thing of beauty that in fairness I would probably die to protect. It was my Welsh grandfather’s and had been spirited away into the attic in a dusty sarcophagus until I expressed the desire to learn how to play one. It stuck out in class. It was dark mahogany and its tone was deep. I had minor fits of panic every time I loosened and tightened the strings with the pegs. It deserved only the best resin on its bow so it would sing properly.

And now I’d failed myself and it.

That was the first day I cranked up Gangster’s Paradise* and kicked my room up into a shit heap, because it made me feel better than the sounds and curves of the violin. Then I calmed down and the rage came out in words and fuelled my resolve.

I would conceive a revenge as sweet as the resin that lay smashed like pieces of rock crystal.

Like diamonds from Sierra Leone.**

(© Copyright Pola Negri, November 2014.)


*Gangster’s Paradise, Coolio and L.V with Stevie Wonder sample (1994-95)

**Diamonds from Sierra Leone, Kanye West, (2005.)


5 thoughts on “Musical Prompt Response

  1. This is a great story! Don’t be worried about other people’s expectations- creation (and inspiration!) can’t always be forced.

    In my own personal writing, I too struggle with the physical traits of my characters. Once in a creative writing class I wrote a story with a blonde protagonist and as soon as I mentioned her hair color and the teacher was all, “Oh, well we have to hate her now because she’s blonde!” Needless to say, it made me a little paranoid about typecasting. I’m still trying to figure it out 🙂


    1. Hello B, my ray of sunshine! Ah yes, then of course you have to worry about inverted typecasting, the “smart” blonde or the “flirty” brunette. Ridiculous I say! I would always aim to say something about the character with their hair, so “Her hair was blonde and she used it to hide behind, like a gilt curtain: with no idea that being gilt, it framed her face more than hid it. This was an observation which if pointed out to her would have caused her acute embarrassment.” – Voila, introverted shy blond, who is prettier than she thinks she is.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s good advice- mentioning her hair color turns it into more of a character trait rather than a physical description. It drives the story forward and doesn’t junk it up with unnecessary readers don’t need to know. Love it!


      2. There’s also the glancing mention, ‘as Pola read B’s post she tucked a stray dark curl behind her ear so that it wouldn’t tickle her cheekbone.’


  2. It’s important to know people’s assumptions if you want to PLAY with their expectations. I’d give people something to ‘decode’ and in the ‘coding’ of it, take back control of what I’m trying to present. It’s then up to the character arc to develop whether this character is an antagonist or not. I think your teacher came to the piece with the idea of the blonde Princess type, the Regina Georges of the world. Who knows why YOU personally wanted her to be blonde?


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