Writing Prompts Are Yours for a Song

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Shameless Self-Promotion
* Writing Prompts Are Yours for a Song (guest post)
* The Writing
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” Ernest Hemingway

“The English major reads because, as rich as the one life he has may be, one life is not enough. He reads not to see the world through the eyes of other people but effectively to become other people.” Mark Edmundson

Shameless Self-Promotion

Those of you who are in southeast Arizona on Saturday, September 23 and would like to chat with me for a little while, remember to stop by Zearings in Benson. It’s on the main drag, and I’ll be there from noon to 3 p.m.

Writing Prompts Are Yours for a Song

If you’re stuck for a story idea, you don’t need to purchase a book of writing prompts or go online for a such a list, just turn on your radio or whatever implement is attached to your hand these days and listen to the lyrics of just about any song.

I’m a fan of classic country music, a style that’s been described as “three chords and pain” and in pain there is … concept. But you can get ideas from the lyrics of any genre of music.

First, consider the lyrics of a Hank Williams classic.

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill
He sounds too blue to fly
The midnight train is whining low
I’m so lonesome I could cry.

Tell me you can’t find a hundred story ideas in that bit alone.

Curly Putman and Bobby Braddock wrote perhaps the greatest country song of all time, which contains the following lines.

He stopped loving her today. They placed a wreath upon his door.

Do you need any more than that for a great story? The heartache, the depth of feeling, the emotion in those words can be a source to power your own vision of the lyrics.

Who is he? Who is she? Did she precede him in death? Was she a bitch? Was he a jerk? How were they estranged? Were they estranged?

The ideas are limited only by your imagination or your deadline.

Of course, you don’t have to mine just the words of tragedy. Country comedy offers a rich vein of humor as exemplified by this Mac Davis tune.

To know me is to love me
I must be one hell of a man
Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble
But I’m doing the best that I can.

Consider Roger Millers:

Dang Me! Dang Me!
They oughta take a rope ‘n hang me.

Roy Clark’s unforgettable lines offer a wealth of ideas in

Thank God and Greyhound She’s Gone!

A writer just needs to put his head into that character and follow him or her to whatever destination they seek.

You don’t need to and shouldn’t borrow the story from the song.

That’s the original writer’s character and besides, you don’t need it. Your character will have an entirely different tale to tell. Finding and relating that story isn’t a challenge; it’s an adventure.

You don’t have to limit yourself to country western music or entire passages. A single line or even a title from just about any song can lead to a great story.

  • There is a house in New Orleans….
  • Only love can break a heart….
  • I can’t get no satisfaction….
  • Knock knock knockin’ on heaven’s door….
  • Oh pretty woman….
  • What becomes of the broken hearted….
  • Won’t get fooled again….
  • Love is like a heat wave….
  • Don’t wanna miss a thing….

Okay, I’m dating myself, but you get the point. Music is everywhere and so are great ideas for great stories. Tune in and see where the music takes you.

(Ed. Note: I once wrote a short story titled “Pancho and Lefty: An Alternate Ending”)

Quote of the Week: “Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands and goes to work.” Carl Sandburg

Recommended Reading: Streetwise Spycraft by Barry Davies

Recommended Online: desertfoothillsbookfestival.com

Want Information on Publishing?

I seldom write a post on publishing, and I’m not going to do one today. Primarily because I already wrote most of what I know about the topic in three books:

  • Quick Guide to Self-Publishing & FAQs
  • Toward Efficiency in Epublishing
  • The Essentials of Digital Publishing

And I’m not hawking them. You can get all three completely free in PDF format by visiting https://hestanbrough.com/the-daily-journal-archives-gifts-dvds/.

Then scroll down a little and click on those titles. They should open in a new window and download directly to your desktop (or wherever your downloads end up). You can open them and read them to your heart’s content.

And did I mention they’re free?

The Writing

I can feel the novel drawing to a close, but I think it will probably take another 5,000 or 6,000 words, so probably another four or five chapters. Of course, it might run longer.

I’m fine with that. The 14 days I hoped for was a false deadline anyway. The sky won’t fall if I don’t complete it in that time.

I do hope to be finished with it before I do the booksigning this coming Saturday in Benson.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

“Romance Books Getting Spanked and More News”

The comments on “Paperback Writer”

“It’s Time To Stop” For those who WITD, this will probably never happen. I will stop only when I must or when I find something else that’s more fun.

“The 2023 Ig Nobels” (Thanks to Bob C for the tip.)

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 930

Writing of Blackwell Ops 10: Jeremy Stiles
The Way Things Go

Day 11…. 3025 words. To date…… 29255
Day 12…. 2649 words. To date…… 31904
Day 13…. 3991 words. To date…… 35895

Fiction for September…………………… 47877
Fiction for 2023………………………… 200186
Fiction since August 1………………… 110199
Nonfiction for September……………… 15630
Nonfiction for the year……………… 190100
Annual consumable words………… 390286

2023 Novels to Date……………………… 3
2023 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2023 Short Stories to Date……………… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 74
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)… 232
Short story collections…………………… 31

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.

2 thoughts on “Writing Prompts Are Yours for a Song”

  1. More country music idea generating lines.

    Why, we used to laugh together
    And we’d dance to any old song
    Well, you know, she still laughs with me
    But she waits just a second too long
    FAR FROM ME by John Prine

    Got a song about a soldier,
    Ridin’ somewhere on a train
    Empty sleeve pinned to his shoulder
    And some pills to ease the pain
    Started drinkin’ in El Paso,
    He was drunk in San Antone,
    Tellin’ strangers who were sleepin’
    How he hated goin’ home
    BROKEN FREEDOM SONG by Kristofferson

    There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes
    Jesus Christ died for nothin’ I suppose
    SAM STONE by John Prine

    Well, I always thought that someday we might get back together
    I just thought you needed time to spread your wings and fly
    But when I saw the lovin’ way you held onto each other
    It was all that I could do not to break right down and cry
    I’D BE BETTER OFF IN A PINE BOX by S. Clark and J. MacRae

    Ain’t I always nice to your kid sister?
    Don’t I take her driving every night?
    So, sit here at my feet ’cause I like you when you’re sweet,
    And you know it ain’t feminine to fight.
    PUT ANOTHER LOG ON THE FIRE by Shel Silverstein

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