Chapter 39 – From Music to Stories

I draw a lot of inspiration from music. I’ve mentioned this before but I wanted to dig a little deeper, maybe even help you do the same.

Picture by Alan

Music can inspire me in a lot of ways. Sometimes it’s the melody, sometimes it’s the lyrics or the voice of the singer. Usually songs give me glimpses of something: a scene, a character, even just colors that somehow get me inspired and excited to write.

More often than not this happens when I’m not trying to be inspired or when I’m listening to a playlist when already writing. It strikes when I least expect it, as the cliche goes. It helps if I know the lyrics so I can just sit back and let the song wash over me, but it’s not necessary. Sometimes a song affects me strongly and I start examining it closer, finding things in it that could help with my current (or future) stories.

Listen to some of your favorite songs the next time you’re not sure where to go with a story. Even if the song doesn’t seem to fit the story at all (like a super happy cheery pop tune when you’re writing dark depressing horror), give it a go. Maybe nothing will come out of it but at least it gives you a little break.

Think about why the song captures you. If it’s the lyrics, why? What in the words speaks to you? If it’s the music, try to pinpoint the “best” part (I say “best” because sometimes every part is great. Stil, choose one) and carefully listen through it. What does it make you feel or think? What kind of scene woud fit it (if your own mind draws a blank, try thinking about movies where the song could be used)? Could something be transferred to your story?

For a more “out of the blue” example, I recently heard a new song on the radio and it instantly brought a character to my mind. I don’t know if I ever get to use her anywhere but at least I have the option. I’ll tell you what I thought after linking the song so you can listen to it first if you want (I haven’t seen the video by the way, so for a similar experience you can leave it playing on the background):

Did you get inspired by this? In my head I created the image of a tall woman with long black hair, who wears a luxurious dark purple and black dress, possibly made of velvet and decorated by lace. She wears an elegant hat that casts a shadow on her face, only leaving her smile visible. She’s somewhere dark and foggy, with a bluish hue (almost like a glow) on the background. No idea who she is.

I’m not sure why this character came to be, but there’s the obvious Lady in the song title. The deep, low tones in the chorus inspired the purple-black theme. I’ll have to inspect it closer if I ever start a story she could star.

To briefly sum up: think about why you like certain songs and what they make you feel/think. Listen to new songs, maybe try a new radio station or ask a friend to make you a playlist (doesn’t work if you listen to same songs). And don’t worry too much.

Do you have music-inspired characters? Maybe plot points? Has a song ever helped with a story that’s been stuck?


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