September 9 – Will Reader Response Work in Fiction?

Today’s prompt is all about turning a trigger into a larger piece. We’re all inspired by something, and that likely changes daily. Today, we’ll focus on a specific inspiration and then see how each person interprets it.




The Prompt

Write a story based on Gabriel Fauré’s “Pavane.”


• Listen to this orchestral piece written in 1887: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWW7pfXlYLY. As you listen to this song, what do you hear? What do you see? What kind of a scene does this song provide a soundtrack for?

• I chose this piece because of my affinity for its modern interpretation by the legendary British band Jethro Tull. Listen to the band, led by master flautist Ian Anderson, perform this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zAWQtM7X8k.

• Feel free to use either version for what you write. In fact, you might find that both provide plenty of needed scenarios.

• When I was in college, I took an education class where we learned about reader response. We discussed how to encourage students to write nonfiction essays by playing music, showing them art, and having them listen to or read short pieces of fiction or poetry. I’m curious to see how this might translate to fiction, and I think music is the best option for this experiment.

• If neither version moves you enough to inspire you to write a story, you might consider finding an instrumental that means something to you. Use that song to encourage your muse.

Let’s do this—and have fun!

Post a comment to the blog to let us know what you wrote about (including linking to your story on your own site or elsewhere) and/or join the community and post in the Victory Dance group.


Christopher Stolle is a professional book editor and sometimes writer. You can find his stories for this month at https://storiesbystolle.wordpress.com, and you can find some of his recent poems at https://www.facebook.com/stolle.poems. He has published dozens of poems in several countries, and he has written two nonfiction books for Coaches Choice: 101 Leadership Lessons From Baseball’s Greatest Managers (2013) and 101 Leadership Lessons From Basketball’s Greatest Coaches (2015). He finds inspiration in cooking, taking long walks, and ASMR videos. He lives in Richmond, Indiana—the cradle of recorded jazz.

20 thoughts on “September 9 – Will Reader Response Work in Fiction?”

    1. That was one of the best stories I’ve read this month. I’m a huge fan of the Romanovs, and I’ve been to the church in Germany where the man who would become Czar Nicholas II married Princess Alix (who would become Czarina Alexandra). I wasn’t sure why you linked to Nicholas’s mother Maria (as the other two girls aren’t her sisters’ names), but perhaps that was meant to be something else entirely. I hope you expand this story, and if you do, I’d love to read it!

    1. Your opening line is masterful. I am, though, always a little wary about stories where two characters have the same or similar names. I get lost easily that way, and I thought I detected a place where maybe you did too. Your stories rely heavily on relationships, and those are great dynamics to explore in stories. And you end with something poignant yet funny, which isn’t always easy to pull off!

    1. That was a great beginning! It was very vivid, and the small bits of dialogue piqued my curiosity! I hope you’ll keep writing on this story.

    1. I loved it! I kept feeling like I was in some sort of dark Disney movie. You really saw something beautiful and mesmerizing in this song, and I really enjoy what you wrote!

    1. That was such a sad story! But I love the language you used and how you wrote such a quick story that has a lot of twists and turns. And leaves us wanting more!

    1. I’m glad to know that music playing is a distraction for some people. I’m that way something when I edit. If I know the music well, I can write and edit and not be bothered by it, but if it’s new or I don’t know the lyrics well, then it’s a barrier to my creative endeavors. I did, though, really enjoy what you wrote!

    1. That was great, Angie! I didn’t think it was going to end so abruptly, which perhaps mean it’s something you can come back to in the future (that is, if you decide you wish to continue with it and/or didn’t mean to end there). I love the perspective you gave two people from whom society does indeed seem to expect too much.

    1. That was exquisite! And I know what you mean about movie soundtrack instrumentals. I’m glad I added the picture because that seemed to help people who couldn’t get into the music, which is a sentiment I also appreciate.

  1. You are making it hard to write my Comanche story, Chris, but I’m gonna give it a go. I love this prompt ?

    1. I’m glad you like the prompt. 🙂 But Comanches take time to sing and dance, don’t they? I’d love to read what you’ve been writing this month. Are you posting your stories anywhere?

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