Music Inspired Post: How Does It Make You Feel?

I’m trying something new and weird this week.  Struggling for a blog post idea, I gave up while I drove into work.  ‘Blue Monday’ by Orgy showed up during the random song playlist and it got me thinking.  Don’t songs sometimes inspire us to write stories?  I don’t see why it can’t work with blog posts too.

That brings me to the topic of ’emotions in writing’.  The song has a lot about asking someone how they feel about their treatment of the singer as well as how one should feel in response to the treatment.  Certainly has an undertone of anger and abuse, but we’re not getting into that.  I’m thinking more about how authors need to draw emotions out of three targets:

  1. Audience–  This is the main target.  If you can instill specific emotions into a reader, you can get them hooked.  They will connect with the characters and become invested in the ensuing events.  You need to bridge that gap between fiction and reality, which is done through triggering an emotional response.
  2. Characters–  You need to have characters react accordingly, which means determining the correct emotional state.  How do they feel towards the treatment they are receiving?  This may appear to be easy, but you can run into the trap of having all of your characters react the same way.  If everyone has the same emotional range and responses then they don’t come off as individuals.  The audience might have trouble making their connection if everyone is the same.  Consider this another reason why cloning is a dangerous activity.
  3. Author–  Sorry, but we may have to trigger ourselves in certain situations.  There are times we need to feel an emotion in order to write it correctly.  It could be one that we don’t normally feel or one that we feel so much that we don’t pay attention to the nuances.  This is where we recall the physical signs of emotions such as body language, facial expressions, and voice tone.  This would be asking ‘how should I feel’ as he step into the character.

As an author, I always try to hit all three points as often as I can.  This is one reason why I write bios of my characters.  I add a line or two about their personalities and general demeanor, which helps me make a hierarchy of emotions.  There are some that they will feel more easily than others.  Characters may try to avoid or hide a painful emotion, which can lead to issues down the line.  All of this creates an emotional profile that will be carried and evolved throughout the story.  I feel that by doing this, I can muster the correct emotions in myself and, by extension, touch on those of the reader.

Another aspect that comes from the song is when you trick the audience.  This can happen when you’re working with emotions.  Throwing a curveball such as an ally turning traitor or killing someone off can be met with anger.  Many invested readers will start conjuring their own predictions and subplots, which might not match those of the author.  Once something happens to destroy their plan, they may have trouble coming back to the story.  The best way to lower the risk of this is making sure the curveballs are well-written with a proper amount of foreshadowing and sense.  If it comes off as being done solely for shock then a reader might take it personally.  This is a big problem since audiences talk online about their ideas and sometimes think an author is watching their discussions to see if they’ve been discovered.  It’s a weird pitfall of the Internet Age.

Can you write a story without stirring or touching on emotions?  Of course, but I don’t know why you would want to.  That’s a personal opinion.  Even non-fiction is seeking to touch the heart and get you to at least care.  I mean, caring is an emotion.  One that we have to manipulate more than we realize or wish to acknowledge.  Probably the most basic emotion that we need even with our blurbs.  Curiosity can only draw a reader in to give things a look, but caring can hold them for a bit longer.  I think one has to care to be curious too.

So, what do you think of stirring emotions in your stories?  Maybe this music inspiration thing actually worked out.

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About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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13 Responses to Music Inspired Post: How Does It Make You Feel?

  1. L. Marie says:

    Emotions seem key to immersive fiction and nonfiction. If I don’t feel anything, I usually don’t continue reading. I can relate to a character who hides emotions from others if I have access to that character’s internal thoughts, where hidden emotions are revealed. And certainly, music can trigger emotions as you mentioned. Whenever I hear anything from the soundtracks of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse I feel heroic. Whenever I heard the LoTR soundtracks, I want to be a better person. I have written stories while listening to those soundtracks (and that of The Incredibles).

    I like how Tolkien used songs in his books to stir emotions. “The Road Goes Ever On” stirs up different emotions whenever the characters sing it.

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  2. Great post. Emotions are so important that I often read back to make sure the scene resonates the way I want. No anvils falling from the sky to eliminate the sidekick for me. Foreshadowing and build up are important.

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  3. L. Marie says:

    Yes, Across the Universe has music by the Beatles.

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  4. I think you make a great point about emotions. If a story doesn’t cause a reader to feel something, there is definitely something missing. In my mind, the whole purpose of a story is to get the reader’s reaction through emotions.

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  5. Reading stories not only is a relaxing pastime, it flexes parts of our brain that have to do with emotion. So I definitely think emotional engagement is a sign of success.

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  6. V.M.Sang says:

    I think that stirring emotions is essential to get the reader involved. Without emotional connection to the characters, there’s no point in reading the story, IMO.

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