Using Music to Inspire Writing


A lot of people create a playlist for their novels or short stories. I know I do. It gets me into the mood as I’m writing the novel. When I hear the songs, my brain immediately triggers that story and I begin to process different possibilities and ideas, without even really realizing it.

Have you ever used a song as a springing off point for a novel or a short story? Or a scene in your novel?

Music is riddled with passion and emotion. It’s filled with characters and heart-wrenching perspectives. And we can learn from it. Consider the following two songs and think of scenes that you could possibly create for your own short story or novel that incorporate it. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to incorporate it exactly. In fact, it shouldn’t. Maybe you glean that your character learns something similar to what the singer learned. Or maybe she’s experiencing similar emotions. Or maybe he understands a concept in a uniquely personal way for the first time.

Can you come up with five or six different ways that you can use some aspect of this song in your work? What about this one?

What songs have YOU used for inspiration?

Share some of your ideas!

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  1. I like writing to music, but it can’t have any words. I find myself listening to the story in the song rather than creating my own story. But I often stream instrumentals like Theme from a Summer Place…if I’m writing a murder scene, I’ll put on the Phantom of the Opera. lol Great post

  2. Often, I listen to Celtic or “epic” music from movie soundtracks. Since “Melody of Courage” revolves around violin and more classical music that I have very little knowledge of, I’ve been trying to listen to more of the stuff that Adrianna would listen to. Maybe enough of that will sink in before I actually have to write those parts!

  3. Robin says:

    Pat – I like writing to music without words, but I like brainstorming to music with it. But I think it’s especially awesome that Phantom of the Opera is your go-to for murder. Love it.

  4. Robin says:


    That’s interesting. I love the idea of creating a playlist of music your character would listen to. During the conference session I was at a few hours ago, the author (Erika O’Rourke, author of “Torn”, “Tangled” and “Bound”) shared the playlist she would write to and how it would help her get into her characters’ head for different scenes or emotions.

  5. As a musician, I can only listen to instrumentals, no lyrics. Jazz tends to inspire me, as I search for that particular setting in which to have the character come to life. I began this practice while in high school. I found that this music genre catapaulted me to the next level, thus, aliviating stressful situations that might block my thought process. Thank you for your post. Very enlightening. Blessings.

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