Writing Prompt: Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal”

Writing Prompt: Watch the music video below the cut and write about whatever inspires you in this music video, whether it’s the actual music, the content, or a combination of the two.

Here is Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal”

You can also view the video for this writing prompt, but try not to get sucked into the comment debate over whether or not liking the Fleet Foxes makes you a hipster. The only thing I hate more than hipsters is people arguing over whether or not something is hipster. That and public speaking, of course. But that’s aside from the point, so let’s get back to the writing prompt!

If you’re still stuck on ideas for this writing prompt, you can consider the following things:

  • You could treat this video as a premise for a writing prompt with one of your own characters.
    For example, what images would your reader see if your character found something s/he could spin and have time rewind around them? And what would happen when it snaps back and everything quickly goes back to the current time line? Would it go too far? Would your character survive?
  • You could consider the dark lyrics of the music (found below).
    For example, red scarves around throats to keep your heads from falling off can create an image of bleeding necks. And even the phrase “swallowed” could suggest something more aggressive and violent. Is there another way you could interpret and illustrate these lyrics for this writing prompt? If this was a story rather than lyrics, would it be told differently? Would it be more violent?
    I was following the,
    I was following the,
    I was following the,
    I was following the,
    I was following the,
    I was following the,
    I was following the,
    I was following the,
    I was following the pack,
    All swallowed in their coats
    With scarves of red tied ’round their throats
    To keep their little heads
    From fallin’ in the snow
    And I turned ’round and there you go.
    And, Michael, you would fall,
    And turn the white snow
    Red as strawberries in the summertime.

  • You could consider the contrasting of the chipper music against the above darker lyrics.
    For example, why would your character or narrator look at a death or injury in a positive light? Is it possible they’re so cold in the winter that he or she is not thinking straight?
  • You could focus on the background setting of the video for this writing prompt.
    For example, the music video changes seasons with the plants and water going in reverse. What would happen to a character walking through an environment where things were rapidly going backwards. Would the character age backwards as well?
  • And if you’re completely stumped, you can always use this writing prompt to simply write a quick written translation of the video or a quick story behind the video.

No copyright infringement is intended by using this video as this writing exercise is intended to inspire you to keep writing to get yourself writing again rather than actually stealing the content from the video for profit. Because this is just an inspiration-based weekly warm-up writing prompt, you should focus more on buckling down and writing instead of the content or the depth of your work.

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