Songwriting for Literature | WIP Discussion

Hey guys! I wanted to discuss the idea of songwriting for literature, specifically if you’re writing a song for the purpose of it being part of the story.


Fun fact: I used to be part of a band. We had members arrive and leave, different band names and styles, but myself and my (then) friend Jess started up a band, inspired by the likes of Busted and Green Day. I can remember the chorus of the first song I wrote for the band, actually:

He’s running through my mind (my mind)
So’s his girlfriend (girlfriend)
But the only one that I
Want him to be with (be with)
Is me (me, me, me)

A bit amateur, right? But we were 13 with barely any idea of how to write songs at all. I was pretty crap at guitar (still am), but I eyed up the opportunity to be a vocalist. I’d written a summertime-themed song for another Music lesson, and it was also around that time when I’d received special recognition for being exceptional in Music. One of my passions at the time was music, and I wanted to write songs. Of course, our band, named Insominax, never played a gig, or even had a jam session. It was a pipe dream, and I stopped writing song lyrics at 18, after I wrote an entire album’s worth of songs about a guy that broke my heart. Yep, I went there.

We had a member that came in, immediately changed our band name from…something, to In Control, and started taking creative control over us, assigning us singing roles and lyrics, a far cry from what we wanted. She started trying to cause conflicts in the band when things didn’t go her way, so we kicked her out and called ourselves Insominax. We did break up when things just weren’t happening, back in 2009.


What does all of this have to do with writing songs for literature? In my main WIP, Ruby White is a singer/songwriter, primarily performing rock and/or metal numbers, but sometimes branching out into different genres. Sometimes the song lyrics leak into extra dialogue between the characters, and there are other performers. So it involves writing lyrics for Ruby, Arlo Anderson, and Pink Scalpel, which is Ruby’s former band. So all in all, I have to write each song that will fit the character and the mood.

Just try and imagine writing a song that’s supposed to be heartfelt, only for Garrot Blanchard to do this:

You gave me those telltale signs
Of dancing in my undies
Eating Chinese with Mr. Bean

Ruby’s response? ‘What the- those aren’t the lyrics!’


The process:

I never liked having full lyrics in literature, as I usually skip through them. However, because the story is from Ruby’s point of view, it’s kinda necessary to do it that way. I’ve discussed this as well, and it also allows me to mess with the lyrics for the benefit of the other characters, see above.

As you can see in my first lyrics for Insominax, I didn’t care for rhymes. However, I now want to put more effort into the songs instead of writing through them clumsily like I used to. I want to use metaphors and songwriting to tell a story beyond the current story. I also want them to rhyme, which has never been my strong point. I’m not exactly eloquent when it comes to writing anyway, and I can be rough around the edges, but it’s another hurdle, I suppose!

I originally just wanted to do smaller snippets of songs here and there, because it’s hard as nails to write a full song in one sitting (from my experience). But I think the songs will come once I’ve nailed down the scenarios and mood, so there won’t be much in the way of songwriting for a while, excluding the one Pink Scalpel song that I have ideas for, as they will have a performance scene.

I have a playlist on Spotify in which I put general inspirations, but then there’s als oa UCoE Radio playlist, both of which I’m trying to fix up with relevant songs, just so that we have a radio request playlist, a general themes playlist and a song dump! That way, I can figure out what kind of songs I want to write for Ruby and Arlo, considering they’ll be both musicians, and of course writing music together.


I have no idea when the next WIP update will be, considering the lack of actual progress I’ve made on the short stories. In fact, a lot of work has slowed down for the time being while I try and fix my mental health and sleep patterns.

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