Writing with Emotional Inspiration by Monica Ropal

For me, the writing (and reading) experience has to be an emotional one. I want a story to push me, pull me and change me emotionally in some way. Writing from an emotional place is something we all have to do as writers and we use everything we have in our bag of tricks to achieve that authenticity of the moment. It may be that you have experienced first-hand the emotion that your character is feeling, or that you have emotional truths (similar feeling, but different circumstance) to draw on. But often we have to artificially recreate that emotion. Not just, I think, ponder it through or research it, but actually empathetically feel what they are feeling.

Many writers I know write to music–creating playlists for their characters or for their project as a whole. I do that too! But I often like to go farther than that. Add another sensory angle. For that we go to YouTube.

YouTube is a treasure trove (and wasteland) but for the purpose of opening you up to emotion, it has what you need–it has a way for you to use that same music in a deeper emotional experience just before settling into write.

Often, if I find a song I really like, that speaks to me emotionally. (Most of the time the feeling I’m chasing is angst. ANGST. I love angst. And angst is the perfect example because to me angst is the emotional embodiment of conflict. Angst is what brings young loves apart and makes it that much sweeter when they are together.) Where was I? Oh, yeah. I head to YouTube and search for an acoustic version. Because stripped down is where you will always get to the emotional core of that song. If the singer is also the songwriter, this can get you closer to the raw emotion. Even if, with this example, you close your eyes, a live acoustic experience is WAY better than the version you have on your iPod.

Do you have your good head phones on?  Good.

Examples: Ed Sheeran. Because . . .  Ed Sheeran. And Emeli Sande because . . . reasons.

But don’t stop there! Sometimes you need to get AWAY from the original. Check out the cover below. The singer is also an actor. Is this a thing? I don’t know, but it should be a thing because when I watch HIM sing the song, the headcanon explodes.

Fanvids: Danger Ahead. If you are still with me then let’s carry on. Shall we hold hands? Yes we should.

I think that we know each other well enough to let you know about my unabashed love for fanvids. You take 1. Amazing song that creates a story and emotion you are going for and 2. A pairing of a movie or show 3. All the delicious clips and BAM! you are INSIDE that story. Or it’s INSIDE of you.

(Sorry. More ANGST ahead.)

Let’s do Veronica/Logan and Ron/Hermione.

Lastly, I have discovered that music inspired DANCE can move me to feel a deeper level of the song. Come on now, you’ve come this far, let’s just try this. This one isn’t even angsty, it’s just all kinds of sweetness. Which is how I like to end things.

All right! Now off you go! Take all of those lovely feelings and give them to YOUR characters. Go on! Write it out!

Monica Ropal


How do YOU get into the emotional of your story?

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