Music is a universal force. No matter where you go in the world, part of the culture includes songs, instruments and the like. Which is why it should come as no surprise that music can also provide a lot of inspiration.
Music, like literature, breaks down into genres. Folk, R&B, country, classical—genres in music as extensive as genres in literature. Each one is earmarked by content and style differences. Sometimes they can bleed together in unexpected ways—again, something literature does as well. Consider your style and genre. What sort of music fits the way you write?
In many cases, lyrics can also tell a story. Whether it’s rock’n’roll or jazz, the words often tell of a situation, event or even a full-blown story. Try it with some of your favorite songs. What stories do they tell?
One way to help use music to inspire your storytelling and worldbuilding is by creating a playlist for a given story or set of stories.
Character Playlists. Think about what your characters might listen to themselves? What are their favorite songs to sing? Which ones make them dance around when they think no one is watching? Also consider which songs reflect their internal conflicts and personal feelings about a situation. What sort of lullabies would they have heard as children?
Scene Playlists. If you’re having trouble getting a scene to work properly, think about what sort of music you’d want playing in the background during the movie version. For action scenes, it can also help you by giving you something to choreograph the scene too. Listening to those songs as you’re writing can help you set the mood and tone by matching the mood you want for the scene.
Inspiration Playlists. When all else fails, think about what you’d want as the theme song for your characters, the TV-adaptation, or even what sort of music video your characters would make for the song in question.
I’m curious. What songs are on your playlists? Let me know in the comments!