Inspiration – Musicals



A weekly blog hop where writers come together 
to talk about whatever inspires them.



I thought I’d try my hand at the Thursday’s Children Blog Hop hosted by Rhiann Wynn-Nolet because, now that Project Fairy Tale is over, I need subjects to blog about. I thought I’d start with something that inspires my writing a lot. Music! Not just any music, but songs from Broadway musicals: ballads, big group numbers, love songs, and so on.

Next to Normal Broadway
From “Next to Normal” – “Hi, Dad.” (*sob*)

I’ve posted about this before, but I love musicals. I am a seriously obsessed, showtunes-loving theater geek. I did a lot of musical theater in high school, but I haven’t had much chance to sing on stage since then. I make up for it by going to local productions of my favorite musicals whenever I have the chance. I don’t live anywhere near New York, so I’ve only seen a few Broadway shows, but Milwaukee and Chicago get some great productions. Last year, I was lucky enough to see Next to Normal, Avenue Q, and The Book of Mormon. Next up on my agenda is Catch Me If You Can.

Why do musicals inspire my writing? Because I love the way SO much emotion can be expressed through just one song. One of my favorite musicals, Next to Normal, has very little dialogue, but it’s an incredibly moving, sad, wonderful experience. I would love to be able to channel that kind of feeling, all those huge surges of emotion, into my own writing.

Some of my favorite examples of songs that inspire specific emotion/feels in me include:

Eponine singing “On My Own.”

– “On My Own” (Les Miserables) – a perfect testament of unrequited love.
– “Defying Gravity” (Wicked) – no limits, anything’s possible
– “The World Will Know” (Newsies) – nothing’s going to stop us
– “Corner of the Sky” (Pippin) – something’s out there for me, I’ve just got to find it
– “Light” (Next to Normal) – no matter how bleak life gets, there’s always hope

When I was a kid, in addition to wanting to be a writer, one of my dreams was to be part of a music& lyrics team, like Rodgers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Loewe. At age 10, I actually wrote a mini-musical (with my younger brother’s help), based on a children’s book by Bill Peet called Fly, Homer, Fly (about a runaway pigeon). We then acted it out, complete with paper-plate pigeon masks. Years later, we wrote a very bad musical parody mashup of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Empire Strikes Back (yes, it’s as bad as it sounds). I don’t remember much about it except that “Sweet Transvestite” turned into a song called “Magical Gnome” about Yoda!

For some of my earlier novels (the trunked ones), I actually envisioned them as musicals and wrote a few songs for them. The songs were even worse than the novels, but writing them helped me get into my characters. I haven’t done this for my recent book, Piper Girl, but I can still imagine some scenes as musical numbers (which kind of makes sense, since the heroine is a musician).

Do any songs from musicals inspire your writing?

If you’d like to join the Thursday’s Children Blog Hop, or see what’s inspiring everyone else, Click here to enter your link and view the list of blogs.

9 thoughts on “Inspiration – Musicals

  1. Great post, Carla! I’m a musical junkie, too. Without You from Rent is one of my favorites when writing romance. I love singing along to pretty much anything from Evita, but especially Oh What a Circus. I’d love to write a YA version of Anything Goes. In fact, now, maybe I will. 🙂

    Dannie @ Left to Write

    1. Evita is one of my favorites. Love the poignancy in High Flying, Adored. And my 15yo daughter loves Rent – she has the whole soundtrack memorized.

  2. Well, I can’t say songs from musicals have inspired my writing, but certainly music/songs have. In fact that’s what my post for TC was about this week. My hubs is the Broadway geek in our family, and my older daughter is going to NYC this week with a friend’s family. They’re going to see Phantom of the Opera (which I saw in Boston a long time ago). It will be her first Broadway show, I’m wondering if she’ll love it, or not. Glad to have you here this week, hope you join us again 🙂

  3. Thanks for inviting me to join! Phantom is wonderful – my teenage daughter and I saw it on Broadway last year.

  4. Thanks so much for joining Rhi and me on Thursday’s Children this week. We’re getting to be quite a crowd. I’m an unabashed musical theater geek. I even sing in a Glee-style women’s show choir here in Hong Kong. I could go on and on with the musicals that inspire. Growing up in NYC, I went to the theater all the time––it’s probably what I miss most about my hometown. Anyway, the specific production that comes to mind is the 1992 revival of “Guys and Dolls” starring Faith Prince, Nathan Lane, and Peter Gallagher (I totally watched The OC just because he was the Dad). The moment in Havana when Peter Gallagher as Sky Masterson says to Sarah Brown, “Yeah, chemistry,” I totally got the shivers and, as a 12-year-old girl, developed my first full-blown matinee idol crush. I think there’s still a little bit of Sky in every male hero I write. Sorry this was so mammoth––thanks for bringing up the memory! Kristina x

  5. Oh yeah! Musicals rock : )
    When I’m writing anything, I typically have to listen to “On My Own” at least once, I also like “A Little Fall of Rain” (I think that’s the title??).

    I recently read about a writer who is having her book published along with a soundtrack that she and her husband created. Would you do something like that? Seems like that would be right up your alley since you like to write music!

  6. I’ve never seen a live production, only movies. My favorite is Moulin Rouge with Nicole Kidman. Ewan McGregor singing the last song inspired one of my characters. I’m glad you get to enjoy so much of what you love 🙂 Welcome to Thursday’s Children!!

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