I like to listen to music when I’m writing. Whenever I start a new project I make a playlist of songs to listen to while I write. I even try to order the songs in attempt to make a soundtrack that will follow the plot of whatever I’m working on. That way when I’m working on a particular part of the plot, I will repeat those songs until I move on. Sometimes I can listen to the same song on repeat for days.
Listening to music can inspire me to come up with a story. I have a few scripts fully inspired by a song I listened to on repeat for a week. My short film Live to Tell was inspired by the Madonna song of the same name. I have a Romantic Comedy feature script based off of two completely different songs. Each song is to represent the personality of each person in the couple that meet, have hilarious hijinks, then fall in love. Opposites attract and all that. Because of how different the songs were, it really affected the tone of the script. I could tell that one song was overwhelmingly influencing the script and I had to work to even it out. I’m still not sure if it’s even now, but after five drafts, I moved on to the next script.
I try not to work on the same thing forever. If I can’t get what I’m working on perfect, I move on and hope the next thing will be better. And, in my opinion, it usually is. I’d rather have a body of work that tracks the progression of my writing skills than have one perfect script or novel. Currently I have moved on to the second novel in my fantasy series. I still have to get the first one edited, and there are a couple of character arcs I need to flesh out more, but I can’t keep working on the same thing forever. It’s like I’m programmed to move after a certain amount of time.
I had a script based off an old Michael Jackson song that made it to outline, but since it was just a comedy and I had moved on to focusing on fantasy, sci-fi and action, I had to abandon it. One day I may turn it into a fantasy and write it anyway. I love the concept of that story, it had an Almost Famous feel to it. I have another script concept based on a Boyz II Men song that I whenever I listen to it I can’t help but put it on repeat for days. This one I will be able to write since it is a Fantasy Romantic Comedy. But since I’m working on a novel right now and promised to work on an action movie script in the spring it may be fall or winter before I can start on that one. Though it has been rolling around in my head for at least two or three years now.
Songs that tell stories are generally what grab me, but any song that moves me and inspires some sort of emotion in me can plant the seed of a story within me. As I listen to the song over and over again I can see the story playing out inside my head. Each time it is fleshed out more until I have enough to outline the story from beginning to end. The consequence of listening to so much music is I have several stories floating around in my head. The only reason I can still remember the plot of them is because they are now permanently tied to the song that inspired them.
It’s like when I make fan videos on YouTube. Every time I hear the song I used in a particular video, I see the video I made playing out in my head. Below is an example of a video that is now permanently associated with the song in it.
My stories are inspired by many different things. But the inspiration that more often than not gives me an almost complete story rather than just a concept, is music. I guess that’s why the Muses in my fantasy novel are very musically oriented.