If you’ve been here for a while, you might know by now that I take most of my writing inspiration from songs. I’ve talked about how all my story ideas come from songs, and I even have the #FlashFriday thing, which is solely based on music. What you might not know is that I rely on songs to solve plot problems, as well. Let me walk you through some practical examples.

Let’s take Welcome to New York, for instance. I think the inspiration for the title is pretty obvious. But it was also the inspiration for the main characters.

♪♫ Everybody here wanted something more
That’s Alana—someone who moves to the big city chasing a dream, in hopes of a better life.
♪♫ Everybody here was someone else before
That’s Harry—someone who moves to the big city to forget the past, in hopes of becoming a better person.

When I started writing Welcome to New York, I had no intention of turning it into a book, so I had no clear plan, no outline, no structure. I would just sit down and write whatever I came up with at the moment. That resulted in 1) the story being hella long, and 2) the characters having lots of secrets.

Conflict is one of my major struggles when I write, maybe because it’s one of my biggest pet peeves when I read. I hate it when serendipity, miscommunication and/or stupid grudges are the central point of a story. I’m a fan of realistic situations, consistent characters, real and actual problems. Which doesn’t necessarily mean I know how to write them, hence why I gave both Alana and Harry some secrets. I could deal with them later.

When later came and I had to figure out what those secrets were, I got stuck. I wanted my characters to have good reasons to be keeping secrets, and wanted them to be relatable and possible and oh my God now I know why so many romance books have such ludicrous events, writing is so hard! I had no one to talk about it at the time (writing was my secret), so I was on my own to solve my predicament. Do you know where I ended up finding my answer? Yep. A song.

I was on YouTube and came across this cover. It felt like it had been written by Alana herself! It was exactly what her life was like at the beginning of the story. Also, it conveniently contained my answer—which also gave me one of my favorite characters ever, Juliet!

Most of the songs in WtNY’s playlist are about the development of Harry and Alana’s relationship. I’d like to highlight two of them, which I think are the ones that shape their journey most perfectly.

I think this one depicts exactly how Alana and Harry’s relationship begins. They got to be friends first, trust each other, be there for each other.

And then I imagine this is how they felt when they fell in love. Neither of them was expecting it to happen. It just did and it was magical.

For Once in a Lifetime, the inspiration came from this song:

The idea of writing a love story that is short, all-consuming, and has no chance of a happy ending sounded so appealing to me after writing all the fluff that is in WtNY. As I started writing Becky, though, I realized hers wouldn’t be exactly a love story. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of romance in it, but she wasn’t the person who this particular song is about. So, this song wasn’t fitting for the title anymore, right?

But, then, I found another one…

This type of ‘once in a lifetime’ is more of the vibe of the story. Then, as if a more fitting song wasn’t enough, I came across yet another one.

This song is so Becky, you won’t believe it! It encompasses so much more of what she goes through in the book. And the title is still there!

For Pete’s installment of the story, his relationships play a major part on his plot. There’s one in particular that took me a while to get right because I couldn’t figure out where the other person stood. As I wrote it in first person, I only know what Pete sees, and he can’t read minds. What did I want from this other person? How would they react to what was going on in the story?

Of course, once again, my answer came in the form of a song.

I even stole a lyric line to use it as dialogue between those two characters because this song is the perfect summary of their relationship. Or, rather, this is exactly how I built it.

If my life is a soundtrack, my books are, too. Music is probably my favorite art form, and I love how I can use these artists’ stories to make my own.

» All my books have playlists! You can listen to the songs that inspired Welcome to New York on Spotify.

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  1. I don’t know all the artists here, but Taylor Swift, One Direction, The Killers and Two Door Cinema Club are everythiiiiiing to me ♥
    I love how music can influence stories ♥
    Btw, some years ago I just had an idea, which consists in write a story based on one of mine favorites albuns from All Time Low! I haven’t started, but it will happen in the future \o/

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