What’s in a lyric?

As most of you know, I love music.  I mean I REALLY love music.  So, it’s no real surprise that I only write listening to music.  Most of the time I listen to soundtrack music, something from the movie 300 or Batman Begins that gets my emotions going.

But lately, I’ve been listening to music with lyrics that remind me of a quality in one or more of my characters…

Like these, for example:

  • “Have your nails scratched the deepest; Have you broken skin this time; Made your mark and took me deeper; As you drown me with your eyes”
  • “I forget to dream in color; I am better off alone; Honest hearts are undercover; We are shadows on our own.”

Those particular lyrics help me get into the head of one of my new characters…hear his voice, so to speak.

  • “I don’t know anything at all and I’m somebody else; It could take years to find you, it could take years to find myself.”
  • “Am I still breathing, have I lost that feeling; Am I made of glass ’cause you see right through me; I don’t know who I am and you’re the only one who sees that.”

These are more about a character from my first two books – one whose POV I need for the last book in that series. 

And ANYTHING by Evanescence throws me into the head of my MC from my first books instantly.

The more I look at lyrics, the more I find that good music with phenomenal lyrics that speak to my characters really helps me get into their voice.  

As I have said in many other posts, getting into a character’s voice – and staying there – is really the key to writing fiction that speaks to the reader.

So, let me ask you guys…what kind of music do you listen to when you write?  Are lyrics important to you too?  Or is it just about the music?

11 thoughts on “What’s in a lyric?

  1. Nisa

    Music is so powerful! It definitely helps me get in the right mood, not just for character development, but the entire mood of my novel. A lot of instrumental music does it for me, but I also get help from a few musicals like The Scarlet Pimpernel or Phantom. Anything with lyrics has to be in a minor key, a bit haunting, but they work too.

  2. I love writing in silence. Or I can write if something is on tv that I have absolutely no interest in. ie Dora or sports, but aside from that – nothing. I’m weird, I know.

  3. During Christmas break 2007, I spent a week writing backstory to help me get into my character’s head. A few months earlier, I had been sent a copy of Lennon Murphy’s CD Damaged Goods for review at work. I popped it into my computer and started listening. Her lyrics, her voice, her sound really helped me SEE what was going on in my character’s life.

    Wow! It was incredible.

  4. I HAVE to listen to music to write. And most the time, music with lyrics. I have songs for certain scenes, songs for certain characters, and so forth. They help give my characters voice and my scenes emotions that I don’t think I’d get without.
    Music most listened to while writing, Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, Evanescence, Paramore, Coldplay, Radiohead… you get the idea.

  5. Christine Fonseca

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one.

    Michelle – I just love Evanescence
    Nisa – haunting minor key…NICE
    Lisa – complete silence – WOW, I couldn’t do that!
    Kat – So cool…Music has had the same impact on me as well
    Sarah – We have SUCH similar taste in music😀

  6. I love listening to music, but mostly so I can listen to Adam Lambert. Sometimes the lyrics affect me, but most of the time I tune them out completely. But I really miss it if it’s gone.

  7. Lyrics definitely play a huge part in my writing process. Sometimes I can visualize a whole scene from the line of a song. I just blogged about how much lyrics affect me. Right now one of my #1 songs is “If Today was Your LAst Day” by Nickelback. I love that I can understand several languages and that not only I enjoy the melody, but also the words to the music I have always playing on the background.

    1. Christine Fonseca

      Elana – HEHEHE..How did I know you were going to say that😉
      Yamile – Thanks for visiting. I love Nickelback. Nice song choice!

  8. (James) J. William Turner

    I am an Australian author of teen fiction, and have recently had my first book published in the USA by Eloquent Books. I like to write, as well, stories without obscene language, but action and adventure, in this case, Dangerous Days – The Autobiography of a Photojournalist, set in Australia and England. All the best with your writing.

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