What We Can Learn: Music

Hi everybody! I say this tentatively…but this might be the last post in this series. We’ll see. I hope you’ve enjoyed it!

One of my favorite things to do is to connect songs with characters from books, movies, and TV shows I like. I enjoy having context for a song, and finding the perfect one for a character. You could try doing this with your own characters. Listen to some music, and look up the lyrics if you need too. Music adds a whole other dimension to writing and characters, and it can really make you feel more for the people you are writing about.

You could also do it the other way around. Find an interesting song, and see if you can make up a character for it. Try to be specific. For example, one character from a Rick Riordan book fits well with the chorus of “Try” by Pink (Where there is desire there is gonna be a flame, where there is a flame someone’s bound to get burned, but just because you’re burned doesn’t mean you’re gonna die, you’ve gotta get up and try, try, try). This connection works because the character is “fireproof” so to speak; he can produce fire and it won’t hurt him. He’s had a hard childhood too, so some fans of the book imagine his mom singing this to him, encouraging him to keep going. See what I mean? The song doesn’t have to mean a literal flame, but it can be interpreted that way as an interesting trait for a character. See if you can use things like that, single words or phrases, to create a unique character.

Some songs may even suggest a plot. I like songs that seem to tell a story through the lyrics, or that have “characters” of sorts. An example would be “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman. This song is also a good example of one that evokes emotion.

I also know that some people have specific music they listen to while writing, for inspiration or background noise. I’ve never done this, but I know some people work better with music. I believe Elizabeth did a post here once about her novel’s playlist. I think this would be interesting to try, getting songs that match the themes or plot of the story.

What about you? Do you match songs to characters? Has a song ever inspired you?