Writing Challenge: Hey Mr. DJ, Put a Record On

by Evan Yeong

Writing this on a Tuesday, it’s hard not to have The Bachelor on the mind. That’s fortunate, however, as it’s the perfect show to emphasize the effect that musical ability can have on a relationship. Take, for example, Jed Wyatt, who “won” (see: beat out the 32 other contestants) Season 15 of The Bachelorette, only for it to be revealed that he was dating someone else back home. A definite factor in his success: the love songs he wrote and played for Bachelorette Hannah Brown.

That’s not even the first time a musician has sought to use the show’s exposure to promote their musical career. The original perpetrator was a decade ago in Season 5 (the first season I watched, before a five-year break), when Wes Hayden charmed Canadian Jillian Harris, all the while harboring the exact same secret.

But ABC isn’t writing me a cheque for this, so let me cut to the chase and state that music has a powerful, intangible impact on our emotions. Writing (and researching for) Monday’s blog post, as well as your incredible comments, was a strong reminder of the feelings a song or artist can bring up, and how they can serve as the basis for a character, scene, or even an entire book!

This writing challenge diverges pretty starkly from others I’ve made in the past, and is easily the most open-ended thus far. What I want is, in 450 words or less, for you to write a scene that draws inspiration from one song (please include the title and artist at the beginning or end). Now I don’t want to malign more independent musical tastes, but it will help the editors judging if they are able to immediately recognize the track in question. It’s not to say that you can’t use something like Caroline Polachek’s “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings,” but there’s something to be said for the benefits of familiarity.

And, yes, the scene should be from a romance! It doesn’t have to be from a romantic scene, per se, but we should be able to recognize it as being a snippet of a full work that revolves around a happily-ever-after. I’m not looking for both leads to be present, but at least one, please!

The cutoff for submissions is 11:59 PM EST on January 26th, Sunday. We’ll be reading over what you’ve written on Monday, and I’ll be back to update this post with our Editor’s Top 3 that afternoon (sometime before 4 PM, which is when I’m off for the day). 

I sincerely hope you enjoy scrolling through Spotify, YouTube, your iTunes library, or maybe even your record collection to find the perfect song, and can’t wait to read what you come up with!

UPDATE: First things first, if you were interested in listening to some of these songs while reading your fellow contestants’ submissions, I’ve got you. That’s a link to a Spotify playlist with every single bit of musical inspiration you drew from (and I even included both versions of “A New England”).

As for our Editors’ Choice Top 3:

Michelle in 1st Place, for managing to introduce not one, but two different engaging relationships (ex-lover and infuriating brother) in just under 450 words!  

2nd Place goes to Michael , who made us laugh with his clever descriptions, awkward reunion, and dedication to Alanis Morissette’s definition of the word.

In 3rd Place is Jodie DeMarco, whose submission was last but certainly not least. Another sweet and funny scene with the hero in an unexpected outfit!

Thank you so much for participating! I wasn’t sure what to expect after giving such a broad prompt, but you all delivered as always! Just as a heads-up, the next challenge likely will not have an Editors’ Choice Top 3, but will have a little something for every participant!