Imagined Cities

Imagine a city.

Step 1

Listen to this playlist.

If you don’t have time to listen to it all, pick a few songs at random.

Step 2

Choose one song.
Let this song shape the mood of your city.

Step 3

While you listen, write down more about your city.

You may find the following questions helpful:

How big is your city? Is it the densely populated centre of a state? More small town than bustling metropolis?

How old is your city? Is it ancient? Brand new? Are it’s origins lost in time? Is it still half built?

What is the climate in your city? Arid, temperate, frozen?

Who runs your city? A far off central government? A corrupt mayor? An elected council of peers?

Who lives in your city? A stable, but aging population? An influx of young people hungry for opportunity?

What does your city look like? Venerable red brick and stone? Shining glass and metal? Paint peeling wood? Crumbling concrete?

What is the source of tension in your city? Is it big or small? Power shortages? Bribery in high office? How often the bins are collected?

Does it ever erupt into full blown conflict, or does it keep itself to muttered complaints and buried grievances?

How does the city feel? Is it much loved and welcoming? A faceless and uncaring place to scrape a crust? Somewhere once familiar but now strange?

Step 4

Write a story, poem, newspaper clipping, recipe, or something else entirely, based on your notes, and your song.

Your notes can form the heart of your writing or stay as the unspoken background.

Step 5


– your song
– your notes
– your finished piece


Submissions accepted until 30 November 2023.

Go and explore.