NOTE: This season is CLOSED FOR SUBMISSIONS, and this page is for referencing the glories of the past.
Music moves us. It shapes the world and immortalizes each generation. It speaks more universally to the human soul than any other art form, and it tells stories in a way that stays with us forever. As writers, we often strive to weave something close to that magic, and what better way to do that than to weave a story from those most powerful songs?
We’ve put together a handy collection of Author Resources for this season (including story prompts, links to lyrics, a sample story, etc), since it involves finding songs with story-inspiring lyrics and titles.
The 1950s (July 2019)
The music of the 1950s blended prewar big band, gospel, blues, and country/western. It birthed Rock & Roll as we know it, but how well do we know those hits that our parents and grandparents lived and died by? Great Balls of Fire: a Hollywood man meets a fire witch and explores the darker side of 1950s Tinseltown? What if Elvis heard about an actual police Hound Dog that tripped and slobbered and bumbled its way through a hilarious manhunt?
The 1960’s (August 2019)
Emerging from post-WW2 patriotism and optimism into distrust and restlessness, the 1960s underwent some of the biggest social changes the United States has ever seen. Maybe The Sound of Silence was warning us of a virtual reality world where we seek simulated happiness and false gods to the point of our own destruction. Sugar, Sugar was almost certainly about an eccentric-but-lonely candy maker who built his own wife, right?
The 1970’s (September 2019)
Ah, the 70s. You don’t have to stretch your imagination to create mysterious, wacky, and out-of-this-world stories from these songs! Bohemian Rhapsody: a Spanish girl journeys to Hades to save her poor boyfriend, who died at her mother’s hand. Stairway to Heaven: the path back to the real world for a kid who tumbles into a wonderland. Or join two friends in their ridiculous Kung Fu Fighting video game as they race to battle the final boss before dinner!
The 1980’s (October 2019)
Some of history’s best science fiction came from this era, and music was the sounding board of the culture. Blue Monday: a desperate cyborg would rather sink into the ocean than remain under the control of his oppressive creator. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go: Dr. Jekyll’s serenade to his own Jitterbug serum. An ancient relic known as the Eye of the Tiger grants its owner untold power but leaves him with a deadly desire to possess it forever.
The 1990’s (November 2019)
Whatever. Who wants to be cool, anyway? Our parents don’t understand, the government doesn’t understand, and our teachers don’t understand. The 1990s had all the social unrest of the ’60s, but they were too cool to admit it. Hey Man, Nice Shot: the story of a world-famous sniper who sacrificed himself to save a young private from a horde of approaching enemies. Good Riddance: the last words of a woman from the distant, dying future, spoken to the time traveler she fell in love with when he leaves her to save his own life. What if a werewolf escapes her curse when she discovers a mystical symbol, but when she tries to show The Sign to her lover, he refuses to open up his eyes?
Open Mic Night (December 2019)
Let’s finish 2019 with a bang! Any song, any era. Broadway musicals, TV theme songs, nursery rhymes, or if you just missed your chance earlier in the year, our Open Mic theme has got you covered.
A few notes unique to this season:
- In order to avoid plagiarism, don’t use more than a few words or a phrase from the original song. And try not to use the title anywhere in your story. Leave it to our readers to guess the song that inspired you! If you’re from outside the USA, feel free to share with us your retellings of your region’s biggest hits, but don’t expect our readers to guess them!
- Also, remember that while there are some songs with very adult themes out there, our submission guidelines require all of our stories to be PG-13 or lower.
- Include the name of the song, the full lyrics (if available), and a link to it on YouTube (if available), on a separate page at the end of your submission.