• Songs of Inspiration

    by  • May 30, 2009 • Hobbies, RPGs • 0 Comments

    So, you’re stuck:  Not sure what should happen next, how the plot should unfold, or what sort of twist to add.  It happens to all writers, for a variety of reasons.  One easy way to come up with some quick inspiration is to turn to the radio.  Switch on a station that plays music you like, and when the next song starts, take note of the first lines (or the first lines of the first verse).   If you need to, google the song to get the lyrics.  And then consider how that particular line could apply to the story you’re working on.  Let your mind wander over how to make whatever the lyric is fit with what you already have.  It might be something you can use directly, or something that will have a tangential aspect.   However you apply it, the result is likely to have a random feel to it which can breath fresh air into a stale situation.

    To illustrate, I tuned into Sirius Channel 14 – Classic Vinyl.  Ironically, Led Zepplin’s “Ramble On” was the first song up:

    “Leaves are falling all around, its time I was on my way. Thanks to you, I’m much obliged for such a pleasant stay.” My take on it would be to have a key NPC make an unexpected departure.  Why?  Where are they going?  Are they gone for good?

    Next was Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” (a ban of my RockBand experience).

    “Way down around Vicksburg, around Louisiana way, lived a Cajun lady, aboard the Mississippi Queen.  You know she was a dancer, she moved better on wine.” The obvious suggestion to me would be to introduce a new NPC, a woman.  If a literal interpretation is possible, then by all means, make her a Cajun, a dancer aboard the Mississippi Queen.   In any setting, an exotic, mysterious woman who becomes a part of you story can be an instantly interesting direction to go.

    Followed by the Allman Brothers Band, “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” an instrumental.  Obviously, you might be inspired by it, or you can do what I did and switch over to Sirius Channel 22 – First Wave, where the first song up was “Walking on Thin Ice” by Yoko Ono:

    “Walking on thin ice, I’m paying the price for throwing the dice in the air.  Why must we learn it the hard way, and play the game of life with your heart?” I’m starting to get the impression that the Intertubes like my theory and thus are offering up easy examples.  Perhaps you can find a way to put your players where they slowly realize they’re in jeopardy.  Or maybe taking a chance isn’t going to pay off.

    Pixies “Gigantic” – “And this I know:  His teeth as white as snow.  What a gas it was to see him walk her every day into a shady place.” Oh my… a variety of possibilities, neh?
    Let’s switch one more time, this time, over to Sirius Channel 1 – Hits.   Here, we stumble upon the Kings Of Leon’s “Use Somebody”:  “I’ve been roaming around, always looking down at all I see, painted faces fill the places I can’t reach.” Strangers, half hidden, watching your players?
    Then the Bird and the Bee – “Love Letter to Japan”: “From the west to the east I have flown to be near you.  I have come all this way to be close, to be here with you. And now, all my heart I will lay down precisely at your feet.” Eek, romance!  Having an off-screen romantic interest suddenly appear would definitely be a surprise, don’t you think?
    Over on the Hair Nation, Sirius 23, Judas Priest “Living After Midnight”:  “I took the city bout one a.m, loaded, loaded. I’m all geared up to score again, loaded, loaded. I come alive in the neon light. Thats when I make my moves right.” A nice evocative lyric like this is always good for sparking various possibilities… any ideas?


    Michael has been writing professionally for print, television and the internet for thirty years. As a Senior Producer at CNN International, he examined the future of technology with dozens of brilliant scientists, philosophers and entrepreneurs on the acclaimed series Future Summit. Before that, in the CNN International newsroom, he helped lead the production of award winning coverage of news like the 9/11 attacks, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the devastating 2004 tsunami in Asia. As a director, he has created a dozen short films in the last seven years. He lives with his wife, dog, four cats and two horses in the suburbs of Atlanta.


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