How to use YouTube as inspiration

A little while back–right here to be precise–in a post about writing tools, I mentioned that YouTube can be invaluable.  I even promised to show you how I used YouTube as research for one of my novels.  So, here’s the post to keep that promise.

In Dolphin Girl, there is an important  scene where the main character, Jane, swims with the dolphins. So, because I live in Florida, I drove down to the Keys to do a dolphin swim in a more natural environment.  It was amazing and I was able to use a lot of it in writing the scene.  But even with the luxury of personal experience, the scene still wasn’t right.

The problem?  During my “real life” swim, my head stayed above water for the entire time and with Jane’s swim it was taking part mostly beneath the surface.  I wrote the scene  and wrote it and wrote it, but it kept coming out one dimensional.  Enter YouTube.  Check out this video:

In Dolphin Girl, the two dolphins end up playing the bubble scene with Jane. Here’s another video I used.  This one gave me the underwater sound experience.  Plus it was great to see this real life dolphin girl.

Cool, huh?  The clicks and creaks and bubbles and silence. These videos changed the way I wrote the scene and it became less about the action, more dream-like.  I think.  At least that’s what I was aiming for.

Anyway, I’m sure this won’t be the only book where I’ll tap into YouTube for help.  It seems like it would be great for figuring out setting. Or even to help picture a not-quite-fully-fleshed-out character.  In the meantime, I’m really curious, have you ever used YouTube for your writing?  If so, please leave a comment and let me know how.  If not, you can leave a comment anyway. 🙂


September 29, 2011. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized.


  1. taureanw replied:

    I LOVE this idea. This is something I will have to start utilizing, thanks!

  2. Kelly Hashway (@kellyhashway) replied:

    What a great idea! I love it. I’m going to have to start scouting things out on YouTube.

  3. Mirka Breen replied:

    My daughter turned me on to YouTube and its many charms. Nice post!

  4. Heather Ross replied:

    Great idea! I don’t know what I’d do without the Internet for research and this makes it so much sweeter!


  5. s h e l d e l i s l e replied:

    Thanks everyone, for stopping by. Here’s to hoping you find just what you need on YouTube!

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