There’s a game circulating on Facebook that’s hit a cord: Of the ten bands in this list, which one have I not seen?
I found the game to be a gold mine. For writing, and for illuminating what every good story can, and should, do.
1) Like a good prompt, every one of the bands on the lists holds a story. Either a memory for the person who compiled the list, or a reminder of a story in the reader. My clue came from my own response as I considered my own list.
I remembered the first concert that encapsulated me as part of something bigger. James Brown. An auditorium in Houston, small by today’s standards but feeling big. The exhilaration of being in the midst of 2000 people, every.single.person on their feet, dancing as if we were one giant gorgeous writhing animal.
I know there couldn’t have been more than ten white faces in that 1966 Houston crowd. But it didn’t matter. I was young. It was Soul, and we felt it. I can still see where I was in the room, the low stage at the front, the warm palette of golden-tan and wood on the walls. The sea of smiles.
Another, the best concert I ever walked out of. Meaning best band and fantastic, up close seats. Allman Brothers Band. Duke University. They were incredible. Two drummers blasting. The ear splitting, impeccable guitar of Dickey Betts playing ‘Jessica.’ The ride of that song feeling orgasmic and assaulting at the same time. I still say Dickey never topped ‘Jessica,’ but the four of us got up and left. It was simply too loud.
2) Like details in a story, each band tells us something about the person. Think of the times you walked into a room with music or books in view. Were you compelled to look, even glance, at the titles? Did you notice if the genres were similar? or if it was an eclectic mix? Were you surprised by what you saw?
My music was eclectic. Some expressing a part of me few knew existed until they spent a lot of time and got to know me.
3) The game engaged the readers. Whether it was for the fun of it, or something inside the reader was tweaked, or like me, it brought out a natural curiosity in patterns. Like looking for clues in a story. The odd detail that time might not explain. People responded.
4) Like a good book or essay or poem that brings something new to a reader’s attention, each list had the potential to expand knowledge of the world for the reader. Consider, did you know every name on the lists? Were you familiar with all of them? I sure wasn’t. And reading the lists of people I like, even tho I know a tiny twinkle of the person & his/her life from social media, it prompted me to explore, listen and hear new music.
I confess it appears I read like a writer. It’s something I indeed do naturally. But that’s not what happened this time. I simply found the lists interesting. Only after a few days and the spite of backlash started, and I saw poet Laura Hope-Gil’s comment (and agreed) – “The rock concert game took me back to when we used FB to get to know things about each other.” – did I realize how the game came straight out of a writer’s guide:
- Prompts for stories.
- Use small details to reveal characters.
- Engage your readers.
- Expand the reader’s experience.
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