What Music Has Inspired Your Writing?

Last week, my prompt was about songs that could be turned into novels. This week I’m broadening my question. What music has inspired your writing? Have you listened to a piece, whether a song or instrumental piece, and imagined a scene to go with it? It’s almost impossible for me to listen to any kind of music and not concoct a scene to accompany it. Here are a few musical pieces that have inspired me lately.

“The Ecstasy of Gold” by Ennio Morricone. This instrumental piece is part of the soundtrack for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It helped me craft a climax for the book that I’m planning to be the next to last book in my Rae Riley mystery series. I hadn’t seen the movie, which allowed me to imagine anything I wanted.

“On Earth as It Is in Heaven” by Ennio Morricone. This is a piece from another movie, The Mission. I haven’t seen the movie, but the piece has given my ideas for the ending scenes in my series. I haven’t been able to find an English translation for the words, but it really doesn’t matter because the voices act like other instruments.

“Lone Raven” by Lone Raven. This one is a little different in that I’d already written a short story, “A Rose from the Ashes,” and felt this music perfectly captured the mood of my climax.

Your turn. What music has inspired your writing?

What Songs Could Be Novels?

I’m sure all of us creative people have listened to a song and thought it had the makings of a great story. Of course many songs tell stories set to music. But I’m writing about songs that would inspire you to expand on the story outlined in the lyrics. What songs could be novels?

Murder Ballads

I have listened to many songs over the years that fall into my writing genre, crime. A lot of them are country or folk songs. I didn’t realize that these types of songs had their own subgenre, murder ballads. I learned this when I read the book accompanying Ken Burns’s PBS documentary on country music. Murder ballads are songs that outline crimes, usually murder, and usually, they don’t have happy endings. I think these ballads came from songs sung in the British Isles. A local Celtic band performs a song “The Cobbler’s Daughter”, a traditional Irish song, about how a girl’s mother is in prison for accidentally killing her boyfriend, who had sneaked into their house.

I also think the “Dying Teen” songs of the fifties and sixties are a kind of offshoot of the murder ballad. Most of the time, crime isn’t involved. These songs deal with teens dying or getting injured, usually a car accident. Songs likes these are “Leader of the Pack”, “Dead Man’s Curve,” and “Last Kiss”. Any of these songs could inspire a longer story.

My Choices

Here are some songs I think could be developed into novels in any number of ways.

“The Long Black Veil” by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin. I first heard this murder ballad sung by Mick Jagger on the Chieftains album The Long Black Veil.

“The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia” by Bobby Russell, sung by Vicki Lawrence. Definitely a murder ballad.

“Lyin’ Eyes” by Don Henley and Glenn Frey, sung by the Eagles. This isn’t a murder ballad but it certainly sets up the situation for one. In a small town, young wife of older husband has young boyfriend. Any one of them could get bumped off if someone used this story as its premise.

“Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul, and Mary based on a poem by Leonard Lipton. I know that either in the 70’s or 80’s a animated version of this song was made. I always hated this song as a kid because I felt so sorry for Puff and thought Jackie Paper was a total jerk. This could be a fun or very touching middle grade novel.

For more for music prompts, click here.

What songs could be a novels?

Haiku That’s Not Based on Nature

The form of poetry called haiku is a three-line poem with a strict syllable structure. The first line is five syllables, the second line is seven, and the third line is five. I love haiku because it forces me to choose my words with great care. Haiku usually uses some aspect of nature as its topic. To play with it a bit, my prompt is to write a haiku that’s not based on nature. Here’s my inspiration:

The alarms erupts.

It’s still night, but I stagger

Into the school sprint.

JPC Allen

I’d love to read your inspiration for a haiku that’s not based on nature in the comments.

For more haiku prompts, click here.

Use All Five Senses to Describe Your … Yard

We’re moving outside for this week’s prompt, the last one for the month dealing with writing from the senses. My challenge today is for you to use all five senses to describe your yard. I stood outside on our four acres and wrote down my impressions.

  • Taste: Nothing
  • Smell: Nothing much. Maybe a little damp.
  • Touch: Cold wind blowing my hair, brushing my cheeks.
  • Sound: All kinds of birds singing (wish I knew bird calls better). Sound of traffic on state route.
  • Sight: Green and brown grass, gray sky, bare trees, white-limbed sycamore, colorful hives, bright yellow, shed, muted-colored barn.

Here’s how those impressions inspire me:

I wiggled my toes as the moisture in the wet grass sneaked into my leaky boots, pulling my collar up around my cheeks as the wind did its best to slice them. Did I really like Dave enough to go birding when the wind chill indicated the morning should best be spent wrapped in an afghan and around a cup of tea? The birds were out in force, all kinds of trilling, chirping, and singing ricocheting from tree to tree. I had no idea what made which sound, but they all sounded deliriously happy in the biting wind and damp air.

The gray sky had turned from pearl to charcoal as the morning had grown old. I wiggled my toes again and hugged my old rain coat closer to me.

Dave darted out of the woods on the other side of the weedy clearing and motioned to me. I squished my way to him, my toes growing numb.

“You’ve got to see this,” he whispered to me. “I never expected–“

A shot made us jump.

Dave glanced back in the woods. “This is a state park. Nobody can hunt in here.”

“Maybe it wasn’t a gun. Maybe something snapped off, like a limb of a tree.”

Several more cracks, one right after the other, reached us.

Dave’s eyes widened as big as my own.

For more prompts for the senses, click here.

How you use all five senses to describe your yard and inspire and a story?

Use All Five Senses to Describe Your…Kitchen

I decided to give you a break with this week’s prompt. It should be easy to use all five senses to describe your kitchen. Here’s what I sensed in my kitchen.

Sight: Honey-stained cabinets, maroon counters, white appliances, cream-colored walls

Sound: Refrigerator humming, dryer in laundry room running, bird chirps outside window

Touch: Smooth counters, sleek appliances, wet dishes drying

Smell: Empty grape juice bottle, nothing cooking, so no aromas from that

Taste: Besides the staples, I can sample dried cherries, Good and Plenties, crackers, milk, orange juice

So now I’ll put these sensations into a story.

Weighed down with a backpack and overstuffed duffel bag, I trudged to the back door of Grandma’s house and opened it. The aroma of cooking onions and bacon flew to me, and I drew it in deep.

Grandma stirred a big pot on the white stove, as if she hadn’t moved since I’d left a year ago. The cabinets were still the same honey color, the smooth counters the same maroon, the dryer was thumping away in the basement, a smaller pot bubbled on a burner.

Grandmas looked up and jumped, then hurried to me. “I need to recharge the battery in my hearing aid.” She held me a hug so tight that I could barely get my arms around her to return it.

“I thought you were coming home tomorrow,” she said, moving back to the stove.

“I found an earlier flight.” I took a spoon from a drawer and dipped it into the small pot. I blew on it and then slurped the sauce. The heat and tang of the tomato sauce tasted like home.

Click here for more prompts using the senses.

What do you sense using all five senses to describe your kitchen?

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