Songfics have an interesting place in the world of fanfiction. When done right, they can meld a song flawlessly with a plotline, creating a wonderful experience for the reader, who will likely seek out the song in question if they don’t already know it.
Unfortunately, most of the songfics I’ve seen consist of copy and pasted lyrics with maybe three short paragraphs of plot between each line. This is a definite waste of potential, both for the song and for the idea that can potentially come from it.
So, I’m going to give you a few tips concerning how to make a good songfic, whether you’re doing a oneshot or a chapter piece.
The first thing you need to remember is that the song in question should, first and foremost, provide inspiration and a backdrop for the fic.
Let me give you two examples of songfic concepts. First, imagine a fic that is about one half of an OTP singing the song in question to the other half of the OTP. It is just one scene of the person singing, with the paragraphs between lyrics being thoughts of the characters involved. Now, imagine a fic where an important conversation goes on while a song plays in the background on the radio. As the talk gets more and more intense, the radio seems to get louder and louder until the heartbreaking lyrics overwhelm everything and one of the people just snaps. Which scenario sounds more interesting?
Now, I’m not knocking people who want to write a simple, fluffy scenario involving one person singing to someone else. As I’ve said before, I’m a huge advocate for fluff. I’m just saying that I’ve seen it a million times, and would love to see a bit more variety.
If you’re doing a oneshot, you have a relatively easy job. Just find a way to meld the song lyrics and/or the song itself with a singular scene. This could mean a direct correlation between what’s happening in the song and what’s happening with the characters. It could involve the song leading to a revelation for the characters in question. The important thing is for the song to have a presence. Also, try to actually work the song into the story rather than simply pasting lyrics and splitting them up with only a few sentences. I can’t stress that enough.
Another important thing to remember is that you don’t have to use the whole song. You could just have a refrain or line that keeps being repeated at the appropriate times.
Just keep it so that the plot comes first. Have a plot that is inspired by a song, and then put the lyrics in as needed.
When you do a multi-chapter fic, that’s especially true. One of my favorite Generator Rex fics, a fic titled “Breakeven” by Lina Trinch, was based on a song of the same name by The Script. The song itself is used throughout the story as a motif. Doctor Holiday is listening to it at the beginning, and is seen listening to it several time throughout the fic, usually when she’s thinking about Agent Six, or when she feels herself “falling to pieces.” (From the lyrics.)
The song inspired the fic, features predominantly throughout the fic, but isn’t the basis of the entire plot. The plot itself is a combination of romance, thriller, a touch of supernatural awesomeness, humor… You know, just read the thing. It’s awesome. The point is that the song is important, but it isn’t everything.
Another good way to write a songfic is to imagine your favorite AMV. Think of how people use the songs to correspond to scenes from the series, or a collection of (sourced) fanarts. Then, do the exact same thing with your chosen song. What scenarios would fit in with the lyrics, the tune, and the overall mood? Jot them down, and you have the basis of your fic.
I think the big question to ask is this: Can you imagine someone listening to your chosen song on repeat while reading your fic, and getting an awesome experience because of it? If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track.
Pick a song, add it to an awesome plot, and fly with the rest! As always, keep writing and improving, no matter what.