Music-Themed Prompt Contest

Music can inspire such emotion. That’s why I made it the theme of my February Prompt Contest.

If you’re unfamiliar with my Prompted Contests, every other month, I post three different writing prompts (usually created by Lydia Jane) and ask people to write flash fiction stories based on them. My co-judge for this month’s contest was Kirsten Daniel, an amazing writer and violin teacher (and a dear friend of mine). There’s no one I’d rather have by my side while judging a Music-Themed Contest.

This contest didn’t have quite as much participation as the previous contests, but I think it was because I chose a terrible time of the month to do it. Valentine’s Day, gross weather, the works. But I’m still so excited about the entries. Here are the posts for this month’s contest:

Read on for the winners of the February 2021 Prompted Contest!

Prompt 1

Prompt created by Lydia Jane.

John Watson never dreamed he’d literally get lost in the music. But when you’re working with Sherlock Holmes, anything was possible. John flipped the pages of the music score, blinking at the notes that swirled in his brain.

“Sherlock.” His brows furrowed. “We’ve been examining this for—”

“Pianissimo.” Sherlock’s baritone voice projected the word. His gaze unaltered for the past two hours.

“What?”

“Shhhh.”

An apathetic rely—as usual. John’s lower jaw tensed. “Sherlock—”

“The notes, John. Look at the notes.” Sherlock propelled from his modern leather armchair and snatched the music from John’s hand, holding it out.

“Yes. Notes…” He sighed.

“GECG.” Sherlock shook the paper. “The only chord for the entire score is GECG.” He breathed in. “A 4 digital combination is what we need, and each letter has a corresponding number.”

John took a closer look. “So… 8438?”

Sherlock flung the music into the air and smiled his customary “the game is on” smile…

~ B. G. O’Brien

I can honestly say I was not expecting a Sherlock response to this prompt. B. G. O’Brien’s (@3_leaf_clover) response was so unexpected and fun that Kirsten and I couldn’t help choosing it. Mystery is something I really struggle with writing (and solving), so I’m impressed with both B. G. and with Sherlock himself! Also, the characters were so authentically Sherlock-esque. Awesome entry!

Prompt 2

Prompt created by Lydia Jane.

The subway was empty save some riders and my greatest rival. The ball-cap hid his face but the music note tattoo on his neck was unmistakable: Treble Trouble.

Today, he’d be mine.

A latch clicked, and Treble glanced over his shoulder. Our eyes met.

Drat! But, I could still bring him in, as long as it wasn’t…

A robust melody rumbled through the car. NO!

Treble whirled around with flourish, waving his baton. Instantly the brassy metal of the instrument twisted into a looming monster. Its owner—a lanky boy with a shock of red hair—held his case with trembling fingers.

I shot it with an anti-magic bullet, but it was too late. By the time it crumpled to the floor, Treble had already escaped. I glanced to the kid studying his instrument’s busted remains.

“Note to self,” he muttered, “never play Tuba on the subway.”

~ Holly Black

This entry was totally unexpected. Anti-magic bullets and people who can turn instruments into weapons? I need more! Also, that poor kid. He just wanted to play his instrument. And do you have any idea how expensive instruments are? (I’m a cellist. Trust me, they are not cheap.) Holly Black (@h011y4nn3) created such a fascinating, intense world in a few short words. Kirsten and I knew this one had to be the winner.

Prompt 3

Prompt created by Lydia Jane.

It only took a moment. A tiny breath of time between measures of music.

Her fingers paused over the keys. She almost looked over her shoulder at him. Did anyone else notice how the very feel of the room changed when he entered it?

Not a soul stirred, their faces and attention focused on her hands and the piano keys under them. Before they could notice, she began again. Could the people around her tell her attention was only half on the music? The other half noticed when he took his hat off, and where he sat.

The song ended. She raised her hands from the keys, turning to face the crowd of applause. But her eyes were only for him. He didn’t clap, but he smiled. That was all she needed.

A moment later she was in his arms.

~ Shaina Merrick

Shaina Merrick (@shainamerrickwriter) took what could have been a mundane moment and turned it into something precious. Though we don’t know if the man is a lover, a father, or something else, we can feel the main character’s emotions so clearly. There is so much packed into so little space, giving us a clear look at her surroundings and an even clearer look inside her head. Plus, I definitely relate to the feeling of looking for someone you love in the crowd and that relief, that joy, when you find them there. Kirsten and I loved the sweetness of this little story.

Keep Warm!

Thanks to everyone who participated in and promoted the contest. You guys are what keeps me going! I hope you return for the April contest. Theme suggestions are welcome. Also, a huge thanks to Kirsten for judging and Lydia for making amazing prompts. I couldn’t have done this without you!

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but where I’m at, it is bitterly cold. With wind chill, we’re below zero. So I hope you can curl up with some hot chocolate and a book and enjoy this wintry day.

Happy Monday, friends!

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