Writing fictional songs with genuine emotion

One of the things I haven’t been able to do is to write songs that are entirely fictional; that is, songs with fictional characters and fictional plots. Or to be more precise, good songs with fictional characters and stories. I’ve written some but they’re no good. You won’t hear them. They lack genuine emotion; they seem phony. Well, they are phony; afterall, they’re fictional.

But how does Bruce Springsteen write songs like “The River” or “Youngstown” that have fictional characters, but have such great emotion? How did Harry Chapin write “Taxi”, which I assume is a fictional story with fictional characters, but brings tears to my eyes? How do you do that?

Any songwriters out there have suggestions?

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