Francesca and Elaine discuss how inspired they are when they listen to music.

Francesca: Over the years I have found songs useful not only for sparking fiction ideas, but for finding titles for short stories I’ve already written.

When will the characters meet again?

When will the characters meet again?

Some of these stories are still in idea form in my ‘Cooking’ notebook. Others have been written but not polished enough to send out, for instance This Old House, about someone visiting what used to be their home. The Night Has a Thousand Eyes was just the right title for a story about someone wishing on a star for the perfect love when he was right in front of her. When Will I See You Again was number 1 the day many of my friends left school and always reminds me of that time. It inspired a story about meeting someone again many years after, you guessed it, leaving school.

For the story of a Valentine’s dinner that burst into flames (based on a true incident in my life) I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire was the perfect title. As Tears Go By, is about a girl missing her… but if I tell you that and it’s published, I’ll give the twist away.


Flicking through a record collection for inspiration.

Among the stories I have had published, Memories Are Made of This (Sweden’s Allas  and India’s Woman’s Era) seemed an apt title for the tale of a hoarding grandmother. Goat’s Head Soup (The Weekly News), is about an unusual dinner party. Waiting on a Friend (Woman’s Weekly) is about an old man about to meet a good mate he hasn’t seen in many years.

Three of my all time favourite songs/tunes, Summertime (from Porgy and Bess), Stranger on the Shore and Sleepwalk, have, oddly, never engendered any story ideas for me. I think perhaps only the middle one would make a good story title. All three do remind me of long, hot summers as a child and are therefore useful for mood creation – but that’s a different topic altogether.

It’s time I tidied up some of those unpolished stories and got them out there.


Elaine: One of my favourite pastimes is listening to music.

My grandson with his piano.

My grandson with his piano.

Music can set the mood, time and era in your writing. This is something I have included in my novels, however I do believe there is a copyright issue, depending on how much of a song or title you use.

For me, song writing is the ultimate short story and the titles are often used for these. The lyrics of songs have been known to reduce me to tears on more than one occasion. Music is linked to events in my life, the obvious one is a wedding day, but it can also send me back in time, and suddenly I’m reliving my youth, even if it’s only for three minutes. Therefore, it is logical to link music to situations.

I can’t say I have ever listened to a piece of music and been inspired to write something, which is strange in itself, as I know other authors have.

When I write a short story, it tends to stem from a situation, but as I’ve said, music sparks situations in your mind, so therefore, I will set myself a challenge to pick a song and be inspired to write a story. Am I alone in this? Let me know your thoughts.



If you’re struggling for inspiration, why not trawl through an old copy of a hit singles book or the internet for song titles/themes? This site has the top 100 UK hits for all the decades from the 1950s till now:


6 thoughts on “Imagine…

  1. Well that was food for thought. I have been inspired by music but not song titles. Thank you for that. Last weekend with my caravan door wide open to the sunshine I listened to my father singing in 1928 a song called Moya My Girl. He worked at the BBC before they had schedules and one sang until ‘the next chap arrived’/ See you’ve got the memories going.

    • I agree that music itself can be inspiring, Moya. It can be used in all sorts of ways. I know people who have music from a certain era on in the background if they’re writing something set in that period. And I love the idea that the singers sang until the next chap arrived! Such different times.

  2. Very interesting blog, Elaine and Francesca. It really made me think about my own relationship and reaction to music. Despite music being a very important part of my life, and having very eclectic tastes, I don’t think that any specific piece of music has engendered a piece of writing, at least not consciously, although, subliminally, who knows?
    When I write I like complete silence, and the only time I’ve written to a background of music was when I was writing a very tedious thesis for my Master’s: otherwise i would have fallen asleep over my own work!
    I love the idea of using song titles for stories, and the potential for stimulus to the imagination is boundless, but like Elaine I have not yet used music in such a direct way.
    However, when I write poetry I am aware that there is a rhythm in the words I use, and its absence suggests that something is wrong. There is rhythm, too, in prose, and sometimes that can enhance the power of the writing e.g. Scott Fitzgerald. I see that ‘Cider with Rosie’ is being televised tomorrow. Reading Laurie Lee’s luminous prose is like listening to music.

    • It’s interesting that you compare the rhythm of music to poetry, Angela. When I was a teen I often wrote poetry based on the rhythm of a song, so that the poem could actually have been sung to the tune. I found it a good way back then of maintaining a rhythm.

      Oh dear, I see Cider with Rosie is on the same time as Y Gwyll. Thank goodness for i-player!

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