I never used to write with music. The lyrics would distract me or it simply wouldn’t work. Many years later, I found music I actually enjoyed using, and I’ve used it since while brainstorming. Today, our guest writer is talking about just that. Using music to inspire her, here is Audrey Leaman.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.
Music as Writing Inspiration by Aubrey Leaman
Ah, yes, that terrifying word: inspiration. How do we find it? And if we find it, how do we turn it into something worthwhile?
For those of you like me who bump (or crash) into writer’s block, perhaps the muse may speak to you through music. Here are some specific ways to help get those creative juices flowing:
1) Pop/Rock: Listen to your favorite song, shuffle a playlist, or find new music…there is always a story behind the song.
For example: “Someone Like You” by Adele: who is Adele’s character? Why did she and her lover separate? What prompted her to show up at his door in the first place?
For example: “Mr. Roboto” by Styx: Is the character an actual robot/cyborg? Or is this symbolism for something else? Why does he need to hide, and why is his life in danger?
2) Classical: Reverse-engineer the story as though it were a movie soundtrack. Who are the characters? What are they doing? What’s the genre (romantic comedy, drama, action/adventure, thriller)?
For example: To me, Maurice Ravel’s “Valley of the Bells” sounds like a man standing above a valley at the brink of a terrible fate. ( Here’s the full story )
3) A song you don’t understand: I don’t know about you, but sometimes I will love a song at the same time that I have no idea what it’s actually about. When you start stringing a bunch of obscure phrases together, while it may sound awesome, I’m not quite sure what the artist is trying to say anymore. So challenge yourself to take those seemingly random phrases and imagine possible meanings for them.
For example: “Hypnotic” by Zella Day: I understand the chorus, but the verses are less clear: “white threads on my laces / stuck on the hinges, swinging the door to the backyard” could represent all kinds of things. Maybe the character is a young girl at the time of being in love, or maybe she is just remembering past childhood days. It could even be representative of how pure and fresh her lover makes her feel.
3) Playlist: shuffle your music library. Each song is the next action or character in the story.
For example: A love song (One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful) followed by an angry song (Bon Jovi’s You Give Love a Bad Name) could inspire the story of a relationship that starts out strong but then bitterly falls apart when the girl changes her mind.
Have you tried something like this before? Can you think of other ways music might inspire a story?
Bio: What if mermaids wore suspenders? What if the White Rabbit played an Olympic sport? What if music could take you on an adventure? Aubrey Leaman loves pushing boundaries by mixing and matching both between and within genres because she believes that the resulting fresh perspective can be both fun and illuminating. So she uses books and music (and more) as diving boards to plunge into the cosmic pool that encompasses anything and everything that can be imagined. You know, in a light-hearted, casual way.
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