Music can often build its own narrative, whether that is through the lyrics or through the melody/instrumentation. It could be through the whole album or even just though one song. Typically an album which tells a story is known as a concept album. Therefore, if you can tell a story through music, you could easily be inspired to tell your own story inspired by the music you listen to!
Music and writing stories often go hand in hand. At the end of the day, they are both art forms and many art forms inspire each other! The album “The Emptiness” by Alesana was actually inspired by Edgar Allen Poe and other forms of horror!
In recent times, there has been more comic books and graphic novels made to go with albums. For example, Danger Days by My Chemical Romance and The Ghost of Ohio by Andy Black. As far as I am aware, both of those comic books actually have something in common. The ideas for them were both formed before the ideas for the albums! I may be wrong about that, but it is definitely interesting to me that the writing inspired the music. (In the case of Andy Black, the album is more inspired by his own experiences as opposed to the story of the comic.)
So how can we do that in reverse? How can music give our writing that magic touch?
Think of the song and what it makes you feel
Simply allowing yourself to listen to the song and applying it to a situation can help with scenes in your story! Especially if you have writer’s block. If the song is angry, then apply it to one of your characters. Why are they angry? If the song is peaceful you can do some really nice scene-setting. If the song is sad then think of what makes it sad, then you can apply that to your story.
I was talking to a friend about the song In Your Room by Halestorm and why that was so heartbreaking. I came to the conclusion that because the song is being sung to somebody, it allows empathy. This isn’t too different from writing a sad scene where the reader can relate to the situation. Sometimes as a writer, you can tell your reader what they need to hear and give them a message to take away with them.
Think about the use of music in The Perks of Being a Wallflower – not just in the film, but in the book too. The songs used are all very emotional and help with character depth. People can relate to emotional characters and this can make them more likeable. Since music is often a way of expressing emotions, it can really help with this.
If your story was a movie and that song played what would happen?
As the author, you should have a pretty good idea of the plot of your story. So, when you are sitting down listening to your playlist and you hear a song come on, try to think of a moment of your story it can apply to. Sometimes when a really high energy rock song comes on, I automatically think of all the characters in my story partying like crazy. This leads me into the thought process of “why is there a party?” From that, I make not only one scene, but an entire chapter of a story. This is all because of the questions generated by the scene I envisioned from the song!
It can help to think of your story as a movie. It doesn’t just help with the overall narration. Also, the score and soundtrack help to set the scene, which can have a big impact on how good the film is. Having a song in mind when writing your scenes can really help with the flow of your story and setting a good scene.
Making playlists which suit the general vibe of your characters can be useful for a few things. As music taste is a personal thing it can really help with character building. You could even release the playlists as an extra thing for your reader to listen to in order for them to know what was in your mind when making your character.
In all honesty, making a playlist that goes with your story is a very good idea. Not just because it can help you set the scene! It can also help you remember parts of your story you may have forgotten about. Especially if you are not the kind of person to write down your ideas. You can add to this playlist whenever you listen to music. If it makes you think of your story, save it.
What if none of this works?
Nobody has a brain that works the same way as everybody else. You may not find inspiration through music because that isn’t how your brain processes information which is fine! Everybody is different! However, for many people, music can really provoke thought. I encourage you to not only listen to your usual music but also to branch into genres that you do not often delve into. We have an amazing music category on the forums and a great community with different music tastes who would be more than willing to help.