The Music Of Fiction

Do you ever hear a song that makes you soar above the clouds? For me, a particularly inspiring song usually gets my writer brain going. I can’t listen to music while I write, but I can’t create a story without music. This is how it usually goes:

I got a story idea for my WIP (work in progress) that I loved. But then I got stuck. Who are these characters? What do they want?

While painting a refurbed dresser for my sister I heard NEEDTOBREATHE’s “Clear.” That quickly became my main characters’ love song. I listened to it about thirty-seven times in a row while painting and getting to know Jonathan and Amy.

I was on Highway Fiction, driving straight into the sunset at seventy miles an hour, when I got stuck again. I’ve got the backstory, but how does Amy feel right now?

Sitting in my favorite writer’s chair (aka, the driver’s seat of my minivan with the kids strapped down where they can’t spill or break anything) I heard “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” by Danny Gokey. Yes! The lyrics beautifully describe what my heroine is going through. I started writing dialogue in my head as I drove.

The storyline cruised along for a bit, but it felt weighted, even a little depressing. Not exactly what we’re looking for in a romance, huh? I tapped into an old favorite, “They Say It’s Love” by Cindy Morgan. That was the perfect background music for Jonathan and Amy’s high school romance. I set it on replay while dreaming up the best time they spent together as teens.

But that’s still backstory, and I still had trouble getting any current day sparks out of them. While dancing with my two-year-old daughter, streamers in hand, we listened to the instrumental version of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” Wah-lah! A scene flashed into my mind. The music is playful and fun and inspired an attraction that will make my characters fall back in love.

Now with my underscore arsenal, I’ve got backstory, depth, romance, fun, and a bunch of great music to enjoy.

What are you listening to right now?


By day, Kelly D. Scott is buried in Excel spreadsheets, which is why she must write.

She graduated from Texas A&M University with a BBA in Accounting and, almost ten years later, she completed her MS in Accounting at UT Dallas. She wrote her first manuscript in 2017 when a photo in People magazine sparked an idea. 130,000 words later, that book is parked safely under her bed.

Kelly resides in the Dallas area with her illustrator husband (whom she met on Eharmony) and her two boys. She has lived in Texas all of her life, except for two and a half years when she was a missionary in China and Thailand. Oh, and she did spend a summer as a missionary in Australia where she learned how to do the Tim Tam slam. When Kelly isn’t writing or lost in Excel, she enjoys reading, cooking, baking, watching football, and spending time with her family. She is a member of ACFW.

By |2018-06-01T01:51:37+00:00June 1st, 2018|Beth Olsson|9 Comments

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  1. Lara Storm Hitchcock June 1, 2018 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    Music is so powerful. It’s amazing the kind of emotions it can churn. Great idea to use tunes to harness the raw power of creativity behind those emotions. I still remember your birthday challenge and the songs I chose for my main characters. It’s so important to have a backup plan when the blank wall of writer’s block strikes 🙂 I’ll have to check out those songs you mentioned.

    • Beth Olsson June 2, 2018 at 2:08 am - Reply

      It’s been a bit of a forced method for me, since I usually have more opportunity to hear music than sit at my computer and write. But it’s worked out well so far!

  2. Loraine Nunley June 2, 2018 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    I like to plug in and have music playing in the background when I’m writing. Most of the time it’s background, but sometimes there will be a song that will seep in a little deeper. When that happens, I jot down the name of the song (or lyric) because I figure God is helping me out with my story there. 🙂

    • Beth Olsson June 5, 2018 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      What do you like to listen to? My husband suggested soundtracks but I haven’t found anything yet that works well to listen to while writing.

      • Loraine Nunley June 9, 2018 at 10:59 pm - Reply

        I listen to a lot of instrumentals like Lindsey Stirling and The Piano Guys. I also have Christian soft rock artists, like Jeremy Camp, Firelight, and Kutless on my MP3 player. I just let it shuffle songs.I feel inspired by soundtracks in general, but there aren’t any that I “go-to” when I’m writing.

    • Beth Olsson June 5, 2018 at 4:24 pm - Reply

      Haha… “fingers hovering over the keyboard, overthink my plot points.” Don’t we all! It’s so great to have another form or art to inspire our work and get us through the slumps.

  3. Austin Ryan June 3, 2018 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    I do exactly what you do, Beth 🙂 random music I hear will either a) give me a story idea b) reveal to me how a character feels deep down c) help me concentrate on the writing I’m in the middle of. I actually love when writers release their ”book soundtracks”. because it helps me stay in their story for a bit longer. And… nothing motivates me to write like reading a good story.

    Right now I’m listening to random country music (mostly Easton Corbin) on Spotify. Because Spotify playing in the background keeps my computer from going into hibernation while I, fingers hovering over the keyboard, overthink my plot points. It’s the biggest pain 😉

    Thanks for another great post!

    • Beth Olsson June 5, 2018 at 4:25 pm - Reply

      Haha… “fingers hovering over the keyboard, overthink my plot points.” Don’t we all! It’s so great to have another form or art to inspire our work and get us through the slumps.

  4. Barbara Ellin Fox June 15, 2018 at 1:23 am - Reply

    Oh Music! I remember a critique partner once who asked me to share my character’s song. It was so much fun. Now when I send my subs out, if there is a song for the scene, I include it in the email. Sometimes the music for a scene is exactly what I need to feel the emotion my character feels. You are so correct about music!

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